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Allow me to Break the Ice: A Guide to Analyzing Ice in Netrunner

Originally published at: https://stimhack.com/allow-me-to-break-the-ice-a-guide-to-analyzing-ice-in-netrunner/

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I really like this secret love letter to CTM, aka the best Corp deck there ever was! :wink:

Damon was right in that ‘EtR is a crutch’ nowadays, as it should be tbh. Since the limitation and subsequent ban of Astro, EtR ICE has become less and less important. With Astro, EtR was very important to be able to rush out the first one - you could coast on that score for getting your other 5 points.

I’d say Resistor is perfect for rushing out agendas in CTM, and has upside to Vanilla in this regard. In the early game, it’s a made up 80% of the time a clean ETR. Sometimes, the Runner will pay through, which opens up a HHN window. This is clearly win-win for the Corp. Maybe this is playstyle, but CTM is very much a rush deck to me.

In general, great article and a nice read. Good to reinforce the basics.


Yes, the point that paying through Resistor gets a lot worse if your opponent has HHN is very true. I was thinking about discussing it but felt it would take too many words to explain why CtM is an extremely strong deck when both people are on low credits.

Tbh I don’t really understand what EtR is a Crutch or Jackson Howard is a crutch mean so I have a hard time arguing for their trueness or their falseness. EtR is basically the strongest subroutine (largely because it gets rid of all the options other than using cards to deal with it), and Jackson Howard was always a strong card and fit in every deck for positive value.

That being said, I can certainly say that Data Raven was extremely underplayed in early Netrunner, and the game is certainly better and more interesting when the best Ice have subs that are not EtR (though they obviously need to draw strength from being relatively stronger in other areas).


I heart Netrunner Strategy thinkpieces like this. Great for the “kinda new” player who got bit by the netrunner bug and is searching for game strategy content, but also great for the “kinda veteran” players that reinforces how far down the rabbit hole you can go when thinking about the game.

But even more pragmatically, I think the article paints an accurate picture about why certain cards are good (or bad) even though on first blush, it may not appear to be the case.

This one deserves getting shared on all the interweb pages that have to do with ANR. Well written!


Something described as a crutch means it’s something people rely on but shouldn’t need to.

But does he mean a crutch for the players, i.e. Good players don’t need to use this effect in their decks?

Or a crutch for the designers, i.e. We should be able to balance the game without printing cards with this effect?

Jackson is clearly not a crutch for the players. Good players recognised his power. But why is agenda flood a problem for the game? Could it be avoided by changing the rules like agenda density or maximum hand size, or is it unavoidable? I actually think the reason we need Jackson like effects is because of HQ multiaccess- any deck can easily import a Legwork so you can never assume agendas are “statistically safe” in HQ.

Etr is clearly not a crutch for the designers. It’s an effect you would expect to exist even from the flavor of ice if not for the game mechanics. For the players, it depends on the metagame. When siphon was around you wanted etr on HQ and why should rush decks not exist? I like how SSL endorsement gives the corp a good reason to install it early like the aforementioned astrotrain.

It’s because tag punishment (and corp econ) wasn’t good enough, so eventually the runner would just go tag-me and you would have wasted 8-12 credits on ice that doesn’t do anything. But nowadays QPM, EOI (and GFI), and Resistor make it almost impossible to go tag-me and win (unless you are winning that same turn).

Well, I mean, if you take away impactful HQ events, then sure. Without Siphon or Vamp that punish the Corp for a lack of EtR on HQ, EtR isn’t as useful.

There’s still a ton of Rush decks that rely on EtR. Most prominently, Jemison and Titan decks.

Great article! Always love @simonmoon’s content.

I agree that Political Assets as a design space are really interesting. There are some really strong ways of protecting them, however, so their power level needed to be a little bit lower, unfortunately. They’re weird because you can’t design them to be put in the average deck. For example, Bio-Ethics in PE is far from overpowered - in fact, it is probably not strong enough an include. But in IG with a Hostile, it is crushing. The same goes for Bankers. Clone Suffrage is a bit dependent on what you’re bringing back, and it is basically a lesson in why recursion is strong and probably not good design space to exploit like this. Sensie was busted AF tho - cards are always better than credits, even for the corp, and any kind of card filtering is immensely powerful.

I want a blue Parasite that derezzes instead of trashes. I think it could pair with Datasucker to bring back a run-based crim deck.

What are people’s thoughts on Hippo?

It’s like Parasite but doesn’t cost MU or require support. However, you have much less say on which ice gets trashed, and the corp can protect their ice by installing more. Also, it RFG’s itself so it can’t be recurred.

I like it, as my beef with Parasite was that it was an “AI” solution to ice (unlike ice type-dependent cutlery) that was too easy to use and abuse with datasucker. This retains the AI effect but has another restriction, and it can’t be spammed.

I like Hippo.

It solves a lot of issues associated with Parasite. Having to actually break the ICE means it’s always interactive; at least right now there is no way to just destroy it on sight (i.e. Sifr + Parasite + Clone Chip or Peddler). Furthermore, since it’s restricted to the outermost ICE, there’s better corp counter-play. Similar to putting a Quandary in front of a Tollbooth to protect it from getting spooned, you can play around Hippo by keeping your stronger/more valuable ICE on the inside of important servers.

Interesting Side Note related to the comment on Hippo:

One of the things that makes me smile about many in the netrunner community is that we are happy when we get “fair” cards. Hippo is more fair than Parasite. The new account siphon (it’s name escapes me right now), is an “account siphon done right.”

When I listen to podcasts like Limited Resources (fwiw, while I don’t draft a lot, drafting MtG is a blast), the focus is on “upping your win percentages” and how to crush your opponents.

While there is a place for that competitive talk in our community, I notice that A LOT of players care less about Super High Powered cards and more about cards that make the game interesting and allow you to create interesting decision points during the game and while deck building.

Anyway, as a long time player, it’s one theme I’ve noticed over time and it’s worth appreciating.

End Side note. Please return to discussing the article at hand. :slight_smile:


I’m extremely confident it was just people not knowing how to build netrunner decks that great early in netrunner (which is to be expected) Psychographics + CA was good enough to let you pay the only ice that didnt cost a million to rez and also taxed the runner.

Well I’m extremely competitive, I just prefer it when the best cards are fun and challenging to use (read: decision intensive). Good development is about making sure the best stuff is fun to play with on both sides and imo it’s all about focusing on making sure the cards are choice intensive (both using and playing against).

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As far as Hippo goes, it’s fine but compared to Parasite is bad design when it comes to Ice selection.

It’s fine because Hippo when installed will lead to different dynamics of Ice Placement (protecting ice with dummy ice etc) which is cool. However, what Ice is good is still exactly the same because destroying ice is still based around standard Ice Breaker interaction and ice good against breakers are still good.

Parasite was cool and well designed because it brought a different set of considerations to Ice. When it came to Ice whether or not Parasite was good against it came down to the following:

  1. How easy was it to place the parasite on the ice (Komainu require tanking some net damage or paying to break it once, Kakugo did not)
  2. How easy it was for parasite to kill the ice (str, how well the deck cut off access to data suckers)
  3. How big of an investment was the ice (cost) relative to being destroyed

These were considerations that were very different from how Ice Breakers interacted with Ice, and made the selection process for ice more interesting. It made ice selection diverse by promoting different dynamics in evaluation. Aumakua (and to a lesser extent Atman) are basically the only cards in the game right now that lead to different Ice selection than just break cost. These cards are both good because they lead to different play and counterplay and games that feel different. But we don’t really have anything that is Subroutine independent and are missing that.

Even beyond that, how anyone can look at do nothing kakugo PU, Ashigaru cI, and tour guide asset spam and think Parasite being gone is a good thing. Everyone should playing against Kakugo PU without hate cards and lose over and over against a deck that’s only plan is to do nothing until the runner dies from running through kakugo a million times.


How early is “early”? I don’t buy that there were actually-good Raven decks pre-D&D.

I think until NeH was out Data Raven NBN was the best kinda.

Trivially, this deck ran 2.

It was just massively the most taxing Ice available at a click 2 creditd and the trace and all you need to do was slot 2 CA (which combos with BN anyway) and 1-2 psycho to make floating a bad proposition and it was so far and away the best ice outside of Eli at the time it’s ludicrous to me people were not doing it.

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Great article @SimonMoon

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Hippo is a fine card, but it’s far more like cutlery than parasite. I really hope that it’s not the parasite replacement we were promised!