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Agenda Composition: Are 3/1s Any Good?

3/1 agendas are really weak. They aren’t worth the difficulties they take to score, as they have 3/2 friends that are worth twice as much for the same difficulties.

The only way 3/1 agendas will become widely playable is if they confer really strong benefits that justifies them doubling the amount of agendas you need in your deck over 3/2’s. Basically, 3/1 agendas have to play the dual role of agendas and strong operations that trigger when scored (or provide you an instant speed ability, like Astro).

That seems right. There are a few 3/1’s that are good in the right deck already. House of knives seems like a promising candidate, and false lead has an ability that can be incredibly powerful in the right deck. I think these agendas have a bit of an uphill battle to prove their worth, but I’d be willing to test all of them to see if they might fit somewhere.

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Absolutely agree. BIfrost does have the potential to function in this capacity, but will depend on the other agendas in the deck having abilities which fall into this category.
If HB got a card like Philotic Entanglement which keys off number of agendas scored/stolen then that could provide a strong enough motivation to run multiple small agendas. That does tax the runner more as well, since the payoff for a single run is lower, but the costs to do so remain the same.

I’d tend to disagree, actually. There are literally no blank 3/1 agendas (ok, maybe Veteran’s Program and a scored TGTBT), and their effects can almost always be leveraged into more points, whether directly, economically or by flatlines. Thus, a 3/1 in a remote server is an excellent play if you’re not certain whether the runner can get to it or not - for him, it’s just 1 point, so it doesn’t move him that far ahead. For you, however (provided your deck isn’t built senselessly), it’s both 1 point now, and a couple steps forward in your game plan. Two-pointers don’t really have this trait - if you do this with a 2pt and it fails, you’re just a random agenda grab away from match point, which sucks.

The downside to this pretty huge upside is that you’re more vulnerable to bad shuffles, but hey - it’s a card game, after all.

Edit: I feel like the biggest problem is that it’s much easier for runners to win off of centrals. Whether that will ever change, I don’t know… but it’s one of the reasons the thing I outlined tends to work better for Jinteki than the others (innate RnD protection).


I don’t think that was quite what @Narziss was saying. The point isn’t that 3/1s are useless, it’s that they’re half as efficient as a 3/2 both in getting you to the winning line and in meeting your agenda deck-building requirement. They have the worst cost/score ratio that we’ve currently seen in the game (excluding Domestic Sleepers), but take up the same amount of deck space. They have exactly the same disadvantages as 3/2s, but for half of the reward. So the argument is that the pay-off for scoring a 3/1 needs to be significant in order to warrant selection over a 3/2.

There are a finite number of cards in your deck and you want to keep it trim for the purposes of efficiency. If agendas aren’t doing anything for your gameplan then you want as few of them as possible. A blank 3/2 has a lot of utility just in terms of its basic gameplay, but if you’re going to substitute one for two 3/1s they have to really be adding something to the deck to justify the hit, both economically and in terms of deck space.

I would argue that most 3/1s aren’t quite there in terms of power level. They’re not exactly blanks, but they only really find popularity in specific niche decks. In most cases players would rather run a blank 3/2 and/or NAPD.

The same argument applies to Domestic Sleepers. It’s literally the least efficient agenda in the game and doesn’t contribute to your deck-building requirement. It clearly has utility in closing out a game, but is that worth using up a deck slot for?

The way to increase the value of 3/1s and 2/0s is in cards like Philotic Entanglement which key off the number of scored/stolen agendas. More effects like that will increase the value in running multiple smaller agendas. More Corp cards like Archer that require forefeit of agendas would help too.

The reason Jinteki was so far behind for a long time was that their agendas were mostly inefficient and useless. If you look at the other Corps, their agendas double as economy ops, click efficiency ops, search/recursion ops and fast advance. Jinteki had blanks and an agenda they would rather not score because it’s better as a trap.

A lot of the secret to a good Corp deck is having as many of those 49 cards working for you as possible. Take the argument to the extreme, would you run 20 3/1s in a 49 card deck when you could run 10 3/2s? If the 3/2s were blank but the 3/1s were also equivalent to a Sure Gamble then you might, but even then it’s close I think - each scored agenda is netting you $1. I think that’s the kind of power level the 3/1s need to be at in order to be a viable alternative to 3/2s.

Bifrost is interesting because it lets you re-use the useful effects of your other agendas. It will grow in power as we see more agendas with instant “when scored” effects, but it feels a little combo-ey because you have to have scored something else useful first in order to get value from it. If you’re ever only scoring it out for points you would always rather it was a 3/2.

The counter-argument to my line of thinking is in the number of runs the Runner has to make in order to win. I’ve seen a lot of people make this argument but it’s a little bit flawed. The agenda score expectation value of a successful run on a central is the same, irrespective of your agenda composition - the thing that changes is the variance. If you ran all 3/1s the runner would need seven successful accesses to win the game - but your agendas are numerous so he would achieve a score approximately one in every two runs. If you ran only 3/2s he would need fewer accesses, but he would, on average, score half as frequently because your agendas are less numerous.

What does change, however, is the dynamic of the game. For most matchups Netrunner still has the traditional “three-phase” model that favours Runner-Corp-Runner. The longer the game goes on, the more it favours the Runner. With that being the case, you don’t really want a Corp deck that needs to forge multiple scoring windows to force through inefficient agendas - you need to get as close to your target as possible in phase two and make each window count for as much as possible. In the majority of cases this means 3/2 agendas.

I think FFG messed up slightly in making the 3/2s so good. They’re the most efficient to score, but also some of the most powerful in terms of their abilities.


I tend to agree. The onky 3/1 I’ve ever really run was Gila and that’s more as an economy card than an agenda. Even House of Knives - which is utterly vicious - doesn’t quite make the cut because deck space is so tight and I need the slots for other things. And honestly I don’t see either of these changing that.

Disclaimer: not disagreeing for the sake of being argumentative, I just seem to disagree and this is definitely an interesting topic, hence the wall of text :stuck_out_tongue:

Yes, and that is exactly the point I’m disagreeing with, here.

  • They don’t have the same disadvantages as 3/2s, for exactly the reasons I went into earlier.
  • Cost/Score ratio - in terms of the point strictly, sure. Other than that, I’m not so certain - they either win you the game, or get you money, or get you scoring more agendas. The only one where the cost/ratio bit is a concern is the last type, and even then I’d wager it’s comparable to an Ash/agenda situation - it’s just different in that if you draw a ton of Ashes and no agendas, you can’t score.
  • Deck space is a valid concern, but it’s compensated - the lack of an appropriate early RnD defense tends to be less swingy in terms of results. Yes, the runner will pretty much get some points reliably, but he will have a tougher time getting to match point just from early RnD leakage. This is most definitely not the case when you’re running something like 222222233
  • Getting to the finish line and the utility of blank 3/2 - well… problem is, the seventh point is so much more important than the first two. Having six points is probably worse than having five and a really good 1-pointer ability available (except for very specific cases). For FAing, 3/2s are boss, of course… for other things, I’m personally not so certain.

Domestic Sleepers - I’ll just say one thing: it’s pretty obviously an “I need 6, you need 7” kind of thing. Seeing how there are entire decks built around that (out of Harmony Medtech) and they’re not total pushovers to play against, surely this can’t be bad in the faction that has two 3/2s and Biotic Labor? Also, Archer is most definitely a bitch in HB - if you’ve never tried it, I heartily recommend that experiment. I’m personally not that sold on Bifrost specifically though, because it can be a blank a lot of the time (sort of like Veteran’s Program in a Profiteering deck - if you draw them in the wrong order, you’re hosed).

Mostly agreed on the Jinteki front, with one caveat - Nisei is probably the strongest 4/2 in the game. The faction just didn’t have the tools to leverage it properly until now, I feel.

You’re totally spot-on about one thing though - the 1-pointers can’t be used as thoughtlessly as the 3/2s. You have to have a reason to include them, and the ones you pick have to have good synergy with the rest of the deck. I’m just saying that it’s much easier to fulfill these two conditions than it would seem at first.


@Arkhon This is really well articulated, and you hit on all the points.

Another example is using FA operations like Biotic Labor or Trick of Light to score a 3/1 vs a 3/2. There are only so many Biotics/Tricks in your deck, so you are better off pairing them with 3/2’s to get the most out of those FA operations.

The 3/1’s would have to be given really good abilities to make up for the fact that the corp could’ve used a Biotic/Trick to score a 3/2 instead. The 3/1’s ability should at least make it much easier to score another 3/1 plus have some bonus benefits to make up for the deck space.

Many FA decks try to score early out of a remote while defending the remote from a runner who lacks breakers, and these and other windows occur too infrequently to be wasted on weaker 3/1s.

Absolutely, agreed!

Yeah this is the point I made about variance. You might lose on turn 1 due to an agenda flood or unlucky R&D accesses if you played all 3s and 2s, but just as frequently you concede nothing in the early going when your agendas don’t show up. The average number of points conceded will be the same, irrespective of your agenda suite (notwithstanding self-protect effects like NAPD or Future Perfect).

I see what you’re saying though and “average” isn’t necessarily the most instructive measure of central tendency. You’re right in that the “modal” result in both cases would be different - with your choice of agendas the Runner consistently scores 1, with mine he scores 0 or 2 with equal frequency. So in your model the Runner needs a consistent number of runs, whereas in mine you will experience “swingy” losses but when you win the margin will be greater (this was certainly relevant under the old tournament scoring).

The question becomes how much extra playability does the extra deckspace give you to offset the variance? Being able to pack a few extra ICE and/or economy ops can certainly offset R&D leaks. A couple of cards is not an insignificant percentage of the deck. You only have to look at the numbers in the various NEXT Design threads to see that one ICE in the deck can make a significant impact on the number you get in your opening hand.

Netrunner is all about tempo. The Corp needs to get into phase 2 as quickly as possible, and he can only achieve that with good ICE and economy. Having more agendas increases the chances of being flooded which, although it might not concede you many points if they’re all 3/1 (or 0/2 Sleepers), means you have fewer cards working for you in advancing you into the mid-game. Having useful 3/1s is all well and good, but if you can’t actually make a window to score one then it’s basically waste paper.

I think the main concern for me though is that playing more one-pointers guarantees that the game goes longer (which plays to the Runner more often than not) and also gives you some tricker play decisions. I totally get that playing out a 3/1 at match point is safer than a 3/2, but what about all the times your 3/1s show up before your other agendas? Do you waste resources scoring them out, or do you hold them and hope that the Runner doesn’t snipe in the meantime? If you only ever plan to score one to close out a game then scoring a second one early is surplus to requirements.

If you play one-pointers then the runner must make a lot of scoring runs. He will eventually run out of one-shot surprises and access tricks (Faerie, Inside Job, Leg Work etc.), and that makes the pay-off per run or trick much lower. But by the same token, as @Narziss points out, your own tricks are limited in number as well - so your Biotics and ToLs will be comparatively less valuable. One way or the other you will need to make scoring windows and, as the game goes on, they will be harder to find.

The only disadvantage they don’t have is the pay-off to the runner when stolen. But that’s a double-edged sword because it’s just as disadvantageous to you.

This is exactly my point and I think it favours 3/2s more than it does 3/1s. If a 3/1 is winning you the game then a blank 3/2 is just as good. In any situation where the 3/1 hasn’t won you the game you now need to score another one to put yourself in the same position you would have been in had it actually been a 3/2. So, in order to make up the difference and score that extra point, the pay-off from your 3/1 has to be worth at least $3, 4 clicks and a card slot, which is what it has cost you in running an extra 3/1 as opposed to the 3/2 (and this doesn’t factor in the oft-debated “click to draw”). I’m not convinced any of the 3/1s are that good.

Oh yeah, I’ve tried it - he’s the bomb. But he’s that much of a game-changer that you probably win when he hits regardless of what you forefeit. I’d ditch a 5/3 to rez him if he’s guaranteed to wreck the rig because in most cases that seals the deal to close out the game at my leisure. Some Shapers can recover, but they would need to be a judgement call.

I think the only one I’ve ever played was False Leads - back in the day before there was much choice and more recently in Supermodernism Weyland. But False Leads is there to set up kill windows for Weyland, not so much scoring windows.
I guess I probably also played Posted Bounty right at the start.

Yeah this is really true for Jinteki. They need all the same things the other Corps need, plus all the tricks and traps. Their agendas have to work overtime. That’s why Future Perfect is such a big card for them - it’s just a space-saver that protects itself.

Yeah it’s definitely there or there abouts, but until now Jinteki had no way to make a scoring window to ever force one through. Very potent nowadays though.


I think there’s two arguments being made here, that don’t connect completely?

Peekay’s (and what would be mine), isn’t that 3/1s are something you should do instead of all your 3/2s. Just one, usually. If you only score one 3/1 in a game, it’s just as valuable as a 3/2 – and I’d be glad to score a single Bifrost. If I’m running two, I might use the other as a test (make sure this server is safe before trying to score something with more points), and so on. For non-FA, I find have 2 5/3s is also useful, even with the 3/1s, because it evens out what you both need, and if you’ll score both 5/3s, then the 3/1 is again just as good.

(For the record, the above is where I’d want Bifrost. Score a PriReq, use it to protect the scoring server. Score a Bifrost to make sure it’s safe and get another PriReq for cheap/easy. Score a 5/3 to win. Fast Track makes that, if not easy, at least more generally possible. Alternatively, instead of Gila Hands in my 28 Ice NEXT deck, so it can be ABTs 4 and 5)

Domestic Sleepers is worth it, especially in a Midseasons deck that otherwise runs only 5/3s, but I think in more regular builds as well. Not FA, and not every deck, but it has its place for sure.

But having more than a handful of 3/1 Agendas is super hard to justify, that’s true – but that’s rarely something that happens for no reason, itself.


I understand that you only want to score one, in which case it’s as good as a 3/2, but what about the times when you draw a second? Do you score it wastefully, or keep hold of it and hope the runner doesn’t access?

For me, personally, if I’m going to commit to having agendas in my deck that I can’t score straight from hand and will need to leave in play for a turn during a scoring window, I’d rather they were rich in value to buy me space for other things. Every 3/1 I run is an economy card I’m not running, If the 3/1 did the same job as the card I could be running in its place then that would be ideal - but it’s not really the case.

In every faction I can think of 20 agenda points I’d rather have in my deck ahead of any of the currently available 3/1s for most archetypes. There are only two grounds on which I would currently be selecting a 3/1:

  1. Its ability is useful to my strategy.
  2. I have 19 APs already (because I’m running 3 x 5/3s) and would prefer to make the numbers up to a flat 20 - but even then a 3/2 or 4/2 with the right ability still gets in ahead of a 3/1.

Deck space is just too much of a premium and that situation is only going to get worse as we get more and more cards.
Bifrost is an interesting card and it might make the cut under either or both criteria above for the right deck. But it will heavily depend on what agendas the deck is already packing. I agree that NEXT probably likes it as a one-of to complement Pri Req, ABT and presumably either Efficiency Committee or Vitruvius.

Sleepers in a Midseasons deck? Hmm, maybe. Presumably we’re talking Custom Biotics now?
Perhaps this deck runs only 5/3s plus Sleepers (looking for 2 scores vs. Runner’s 3) and packs Midseasons, Psychographics, and Punitive Counterstrike? I’m still skeptical, but I will definitely give it a fair try.

I’m not a huge fan of 3/1’s either due to deckspace limitations, but I do agree with including a couple in several builds.

Also, I’ve been of the opinion for quite some time that Custom Biotics is a sleeping time bomb. NBN and Weyland have some of the most desirable cards in ANR right now, and HB has quite a strong foundation. CB will certainly improve at a faster rate than ETF as the cardpool grows.


Big time.
My friend has a CB deck using Midseasons to land a tonne of tags and then Psychographics out an over-advanced Project Ares to ruin the Runner’s day. It’s pretty fun :stuck_out_tongue:


I think both the hb and nbn 3/1s have strong enough abilities to warrant play. Bifrost only goes in combo decks, but it refreshes an efficiency committee for 3 clicks while netting points, that is going to be part of some 7 point combo. NBN grabbing free sansans is equally as powerful as worst case scenario the runner loses a click and 5 credits

You mean the new ones, right? The current NBN 3/1 is terrible.

It’s hard to see a place for License Acquisition in current FA Builds, but it could very well feature for the new ID. Its effect is a lot closer to the power level I would expect from 3/1s.

License acquisition feels like it should be in Weyland. They’re the ones with the big expensive upgrades that don’t see a ton of play, like off the gird and soon the root as well. Recurring a San San is strong, but if your San San has been trashed, how are you scoring a 3/1 anyways? With an Astro counter or biotic? Seems a waste. If, on the other hand, you can play this into a remote and defend it, then you’d probably rather be scoring other agendas, like an Astro. In Weyland, on the other hand, there are probably more opportunities to sneak this in, especially since people are less likely to run unadvanced face down cards in Weyland- if you don’t run then at worst they score an atlas with no counters, which is not too bad, while a run can result in a snare! or sea source.

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Yeah, this is kinda my point about 3/1s. Their ability needs to be epic in order to be preferable to even a blank 3/2.
Off the Grid was one of the things I was thinking about for the new agenda, but it’s really hard to see how NBN really benefits from it. Their ICE is quite porous so stopping an HQ run isn’t the easiest.

[quote=“Arkhon, post:28, topic:1304”]
I understand that you only want to score one, in which case it’s as good as a 3/2, but what about the times when you draw a second? Do you score it wastefully, or keep hold of it and hope the runner doesn’t access?
[/quote]Well, it depends slightly on other Agendas – if you’ve only got 1 and 2 pointers, no, scoring the second isn’t as useful. If you’ve got 3 pointers? Sure, because that evens out to 4 scored Agendas anyway, even if it’s not ideal.

But it also really depends on the effect. A second Gila Hands is literally useless, a second Bifrost (assuming you’ve scored something useful in the first place) is still beneficial. But I generally expect to lose a 3/1 sometimes, which is why I test a server’s strength when I’m unsure using 3/1s. Score the 3/2 when I’m fairly sure I’m in a spot to do it, do the 3/1 to follow-up if there’s an even chance they can do something to break it.

Not every deck wants them, and which ones are best for a deck changes pretty heavily, but I think they’ve got a place. (I do like the one-of idea with 3 5/3s, though. Might give that a try sometime.)

[quote=“Arkhon, post:28, topic:1304”]
Sleepers in a Midseasons deck? Hmm, maybe. Presumably we’re talking Custom Biotics now?Perhaps this deck runs only 5/3s plus Sleepers (looking for 2 scores vs. Runner’s 3) and packs Midseasons, Psychographics, and Punitive Counterstrike?
[/quote]I’d go Scorched over Punitive just as a matter of personal preference, even in a deck with only 3 and 0 pointers. Might splash a Punitive as well, but aside from that it seems you’ve got hold of the idea, yeah. Score a Domestic in between/after your 5/3s and end the game when you damn well please. Not sure it’ll work, but it might do. To be fair, I’m looking at Domestic also as, more or less, a Notoriety that can trigger Midseasons more than an actual Agenda.

Yeah, like I said, I’ve been switching between Gila Hands and Profiteering there for Econ, but I’d take that away for a chance to score another one of my other Agendas, even if it’s at fewer points.

EDIT: Also, while FAing a 3/1 isn’t as nice as a 3/2, it’s easier than a 4/2.

EDIT 2: Aaand with Domestic, it’s worth noting that while it does cost 3 clicks to give it the point, you only need to do that when you’re about to win anyway.

Yeah, but if you’re still waiting on a Domestic to show up in order to close out the game then that’s a potentially large window for the Runner to exploit.

True, but I can’t see any of the traditional FA decks rejecting their current agenda suite in favour of a 3/1 unless it was insanely strong. For NBN and HB I guess NAPD is the least FA-able agenda, but I’d still take the over any of the 3/1s we currently have available and I don’t think License Acquisition changes that.

Punitive synergises with the agenda suite better and costs half as much influence. If you go with Scorched you’re then obliged to pack Sea Source as well and the whole thing starts to look a bit combo-ey. It’s not too bad out of Weyland because you can use Atlas to get a missing piece of the combo, but that’s not accessible to HB (plus Custom Biotics can’t use Snare either, so you’ll need alternatives).

I’d rather see it (outside a FA situation) than a 3/2 or 3/1, though. I can score it from hand, and then I win next turn if the runner can’t first. A non-FA 3/2 can be stolen from a server late in the game. Then again, can be put into the server at the end of a turn of drawing through R&D lock, so there are advantages to each.

See, I like Midseasons-Scorched. You can nail them with so many tags they’re not able to lose them all (at least right now, we’ll see if Paper Tripping changes that) and then can Scorch them at your leisure. It does more damage more easily, too – it takes 3 Punitives to kill through Plascrete and three cards, where two Scorches will suffice, and the Runner (with Link/econ) can avoid one easily enough… making the whole business pointless.

I dunno. I’ve seen far fewer deaths from Punitive, even from decks trying for them. Taking the wrong Agenda, not being in place when one is stolen, etc. Sure, if the runner grabs two 3-pointers, or even a total of 5 points, and is broke, you’ll kill 'em. I’d just rather go for the comparatively sure thing.

That said, in CB, might be wanting to do Grail Ice, in which case Net Damage might be prevalent enough to make Punitive more effective.