Home | About | Tournament Winning Decklists | Forums

Actually, Parasite is Good and Icebreakers are Bad - By SimonMoon

Originally published at: https://stimhack.com/actually-parasite-is-good-and-icebreakers-are-bad-by-simonmoon/

Discuss the latest article here.


In so far as there is a “Sifr is the problem” vs “Parasite is the problem” debate, I was on the “Parasite is the problem” side before reading this article, and after reading it I think I am a convert. Nice to have a reminder that while I don’t like my ICE getting trashed, Parasite gives me, as the corp, a lot of interesting options to keep my ICE alive.

I really liked the broader point of the article too. Non-icebreaker means of dealing with ICE have always made the game more exciting and have given the runner more fun options to consider, especially with making some last desperation run for the winning agenda, when the runner is out of credits but not out of gumption.

I also appreciated the implied point that giving each faction a bunch of ways to get around ICE that operate differently, you promote interfaction runner diversity. If anarchs are dominating, you can (theoretically) bring in an ICE suite designed around taxing anarch stuff. This makes shapers and criminals, who don’t interact with that ICE in the same way, more powerful.

Thanks for the articles.


I really liked this focus of the article as well. With the spoiled cards from terminal directive, I’m particularly excited to try out more criminal derez and bypass effects to deal with corp ICE without breaking. Historically, these have been viewed as weaker options than ICE destruction or recursion, but I am hopeful that some interesting new decks will leverage these effects to offer new, more interesting ways for criminals to run.


An important thing I didn’t get to talk about is yes stealth shaper is a toxic archetype for reasons stated.


Is that old stealth (which could be taxed out by enough ice in the late game) or the Flashpoint stealth tools?

I always found the old Stealth being weak early, strong mid, and weaker late made for an interesting play experience.


I was wondering what your opinion about stealth was. It seemed to fit the problem of being a rig that maximizes breaker efficiency and nothing else. It is interesting that fans of Smoke seem to like best her ability to make ice irrelevant. Her rig is a form of Blackmail spam in the terms of your article. It makes all ice the same and equally pointless.

Overall, your article is excellent. Thank you.

1 Like

Yeah, I always enjoyed the old games against Stealth Andy of trying to build a remote server of the same ice type faster than she could build sources of Stealth credits to get into it. Stealth creds were a non-economy resource that you can tax, of the type that @simonmoon discusses in the article. But the Smoke stuff in Flashpoint is indeed nonsense that totally removes that type of counterplay by giving essentially infinite stealth creds.

Re the article: really good, @simonmoon! You’ve got at the heart of what makes the game interesting - battles over limited resources that are not money - and it’s pretty clearly illustrated in the PPVP Kate part of the article.

That said, do you think you’re romaticising Anarch somewhat? While I too have fond memories of the time where playing Anarch was having a pile of very powerful stuff that you were forced to use inefficiently - such as having to use Parasite as your gear check solution rather than on a powerful ice - it’s been a long time since they played that way. In that context, maybe Parasite is a problem - cards are only problematic or not in a particular environment, and I don’t know if we can go back to the time where Parasite was a fun and fair card and not a key part of the “all ice is pointless” juggernaut that modern Anarch often seems to be. I mean, I don’t want it to be a problem, but sometimes I think maybe those people are right.


Yes, we can definitely say that certain cards become problems only when combined with other cards, for example Data Leak Reversal and Wireless Net Pavilion. Parasite has always been good, and I agree with @SimonMoon that it is a fun staple of Anarch play. People complained about dumblefork, but that was mostly the combination of Faust,Wyldcakes that drove an anarch ice destruction deck past the threshold of what should be allowed. Parasite by itself is fun, Sifr by itself is fun. Parasifr is a combo that needs to be prevented. Where before I needed 5 entire turns to pass, or 5 datasucker tokens to trash a tollbooth, I can now nuke 1 per turn for an upfront cost of 5, and avoid the on encounter effect to boot? They could have easily opened up deckbuilding for Null and his breakers by having the drawback be “ice cannot be trashed this turn” but for some reason they went with a drawback that is laughable.

Parasifr is a combo that should have prevented this card from being released. Now that the mistake has happened, we need FFG to fix the mistake and prevent the two from being in the same deck.


Nailed it

If you look at the worlds meta, the winning temujin whizz list was the sort of dynamic and inconsistent Anarch I was talking about. Parasite wasn’t spammed and was used largely in the way I talked about, and the deck was interesting and fun to play against.

Getting Anarch back to that point (minus some of the power of temujin) seems to be the way to go. Getting rid of sifr and depowering Faust (ban) would go a long way to preventing an ice destruction meta where all Ice is destroyed on the spot.

I focused a little more on Anarch than the other two factions because they’re currently the best faction and as such the target of most complaints. I wanted to discuss what parts of the faction were good mechanics and worth keeping (Parasite, datasucker) and which mechanics should be culled (sifr, Faust).


For me the issue is summed up nicely in my deck boxes. I have two runner decks right now. One is SifrFork. The other is Abram Jopp’s Kit. The article is accurate about the Kit deck. It is a good deck and has lots of interesting tools and decisions during game play. It takes work to win with it, but it can work well. I think it rewards skill and requires it.

The SifrFork is just a sledgehammer. There really is not any argument for ever playing the Kit deck if I want to win in a competitive environment. In games I’ve played with SifrFork – once I figured out the basic strategy — it just destroyed everything. And I’ve seen better players than me use it to just devastating effect.

Since Abram Jopp was instrumental in the development of both decks, I know the difference is not that one was built by a poor deck builder and the other was built by an expert. The difference is that one is just massively better in a way that makes the game less interesting to play.


Agree enough with everything you say to not bother with a few miniscule objections. Like the other article, well argued and interesting perspective.

I do not agree to the extent that you seem to imply that alternative resources are the best part of the game. I think credits should be at the heart of the game, since they as a convertible resource offers more interesting decisions in some ways than limited specialized resources do. Both, is my answer, with credits as central mechanism.

I think the best point in here is the value of powerful cards. I believe people overreact to certain cards, where it really is the synergy of a deck (or power-level) that is the real problem in most cases.

1 Like

@SimonMoon “It’s my second favorite mechanic in the game behind milling cards with DLR”

Was with you up to “I hate degenerate strategies, but I like this ONE degenerate strategy.” :wink:

I think that you’re right, though. Playing with parasite is exciting and there’s plenty of counter-play in a world without insta-sifr. I have problems with the numbers on Yog and David, but I think the game gets more interesting if you slow down Anarch by banning Faust and get rid of the mistake that was Sifr. The issues present in Netrunner right now are due to an overload of cards into an “alternate economy” that is already extremely efficient and, frankly, didn’t need any help. The strategies that Sifr and Faust encourage are warping the metagame and are dull, dull dull dull. Dull.

(EDIT: I also agree that stealth is hugely boring and close to the same level as Sifr-Parasite)

1 Like

I do think DLR is way healthier than stuff like mopus, stealth, or dyper because it requires you to be tagged and therefore allows the Corp to interact with you on a level not far outside the standard gameplan (make money, trash things or score) where as with dyper and stealth the only solution is to score out faster. It leads to very different games which I find interesting. However it was mostly a throwaway joke because I was already defending a ton of stuff people hate.


Excellent article. Faust also makes the rest of your deck more efficient because you can convert cards to value without playing them (saving many clicks across a game) and you can pack more focused silver bullets than other breaker suites because you can convert them to value better than anything else (except PW/Supplier + Aesop jank), and even then that’s restricted to certain subtypes.


Very well written and succintly sums up why a so-called ‘fair’ pure economic contest where it is only icebreaker vs ice makes for a pretty uninteresting game and you need alternative ways of running and dealing with ice, while corps need direct and indirect threats beyond stacking giant servers.

Should be required reading for novice netrunners :slight_smile:


I think also that stealth should have been less about “here are super-efficient breakers with funky economy” and more about being less efficient but able to do things that aren’t possible on regular runs. Example: “Make a run. Unless you have used a non-stealth program this run, you may bypass any rezzed sentry ICE you encounter by paying 3c.”


My only comment would be that while I totally agree with what you’re saying, it’s only been a month…

I mean can we go 6 months? And then if everyone is playing Sifr to death, then MWL I guess right? Now it’s just new hotness! right? I mean in our meta most guys have the parasifr builds, and we played some games against it, but people have other decks they are trying out still. Now don’t get me wrong they may just be playing other decks holding back their juicy parasifr tweaks, but IDK like I said it’s only been a month.

A friend of mine were mainly talking about how Sifr is just a meta-shaping card because it just forces corps to play all cheap ICE with low cost and STR, this in turn brings back Yog.0 as playable, cause corps can’t afford to REZ and have that ICE die… so it’s gotta be cheap, which retroactively allows cheap icebreakers to soar! Allowing in essence the Runners to have an advantage, wether they use Sifr or not, I mean they don’t even have to use Sifr and others get to rejoice… and parasite by itself just kills the 0 STR ice that they go so low as to use, and it goes back and forth, move up from Quandary to Enigma, etc… “Living Card Game

Loved the article. I’ve felt for awhile that a flaw in Netrunner is the fact that ice rarely fire. With reusable breakers you’re just doing maths as opposed to weighing options as to which subs fire. This makes ice - the primary corp defense and a significant portion of their decks - essentially just a pair of numbers. How uninteresting.

I’ve always like the dog breakers from a design standpoint. The idea of limited resources used for breaking makes you think twice about how to get past ice. Cuj.0 and Rex don’t get played of course because they’re not as good as the standard, reusable breakers.

Sidebar: Wouldn’t it flip the meta on its head if there was an upgrade that said, "Remove from the game: Choose an Icebreaker. That card is blank for the remainder of the run."? Not saying this is a good idea, but it would certainly make ice more relevant. Plus there’s Interdiction and Councilman for counterplay.

Deck building for Ice is most intriguing when the Runner meta is faction diverse, and each faction is using their own style of breaking rather than everyone trying to use the same best regular breaker (or the strongest in-faction breaking options operates the same way in every faction).

So this comes from the original article.

Has the new MWL done anything to move us toward this state?

Are people finding that they need to swap around ice to respond to different approaches to dealing with ice? I imagine that the all-in anti-Sifr ice is no longer a thing. Are we seeing other changes?