Are tricks and tech bad for player development?

Are tricks and tech bad for player skill development?

Last night, I lost a game playing Whizzard vs Jemision. The key moment was when I ran an Archer without a way for my Mimic to get to strength 6. It wrecked my board, and I did not recover in time to keep him from winning.

I was outplayed and simply forgot that Archer was something to worry about when running that remote. As I think back on the game, I had a possible line of play that might have helped me bounce back, and I can think of at least one point early in the game where I wasted 2 credits that would have made a big difference late. So, basically, if I’d played better, I would have had a chance still in that game.

But on the drive home, what I was thinking about was how playing my favorite Shaper would have protected me from my mistakes. If I’d had various forms of Shaper tricks, I could have overcome the fact that I forgot that Archer exists. In the aftermath of a play mistake (and getting out played by a better player), what I thought about was how different cards in my deck might have helped me out rather than how I might have played the game differently with the cards I had.

My own thought process has me thinking that my development as a player is improved when I play without tricks and tech that cover up for my play mistakes. If I have to suffer for my mistakes, I’m probably more likely to over time to reduce them.

This is not a post criticizing Shaper. I am just trying to reflect on my own learning process and see if others share those experiences or conclusions. What do you think?


I think this is more highlighting differences between the different factions.

Shaper has an abundance of abilities that they are able to fire mid-run to mitigate any unexpected ICE, and ample recursion abilities to recover from any (programs) lost to damage or trashing that does happen. For these reasons, I tend to find shapers to be the most resilient of the runner factions.

Anarch has a lot of powerful abilities, but but somewhat inflexible breakers in the fixed strength breakers. They often need some support cards (installed or powerful events) to be able to handle some ICE or other corp defenses. Anarchs have strong recursions options, and leaving them very resilient to damage and program trashes.

Criminals, I find are the least flexible runners. They have very limited recursion, but good sentry breakers to avoid program trashing. I find criminals need to be the most prepared to break into a well-built remote, but are able to offset this by aggressive early play and punish centrals to exploit a weakened corp board state. Again, recursion is weakest in criminals, which leaves them most vulnerable to damage and program trashing. Mistakes often feel very punishing.

I feel like these are attributes of the color pie to a certain extent. As criminal I feel that I need to have the best read on my opponent and understand where they are weakest to exploit. As Shaper I feel I need to only pay a little attention to my opponent and just set up a late-game lock that they cannot break out of. Anarch I just burn everything and see what’s left in the ashes.

Obviously these are just my opinions, and I certainly recognize that there are varying archetypes in each factions for which these generalizations do not apply.


To come back to the question in the thread title, I think the answer is no, provided that the tech isn’t just being shoved into the deck to avoid having to play well and think about the matchup being teched for.

For example, back in the dark days of Whizzard v IG, there were various tech cards that Whizzard could try, but just cramming slums and strike and film critic and hacktivist into your deck without understanding the matchup is unlikely to help much. I say this as someone who tends to lose to prison decks almost regardless of runner faction or number of tech cards.

I think it’s almost inconceivable to play a runner without including some number of trick/tech cards, though. I can’t imagine there’s a competitive deck that doesn’t have any of the following at all: employee strike, film critic, sac con, meat dmg protection, net dmg protection, rumour mill, political operative, etc ect. It also isn’t possible to play all of them, so part of any deck building will be picking your tech slots. Beyond a certain point, adding tech cards is definitely more useful than adding more economy or draw.


I believe @TheBigBoy touched on tech cards and learning on the Winning Agenda, way back in episode 62:


Thanks for this. I wish I could download the older episodes on iTunes, but TWA seems to only have its last 10 or so episodes available via download that way … unlike RLC which has all the episodes going back to No. 1 available.

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I feel like this discussion has focused entirely on tech cards, which were only mentioned in the title question, but not otherwise discussed in the OP.

I believe the original question was about ‘tricks,’ which I took to mean primarily paid-ability installs that allowed a (shaper) runner to run without as careful of preparation as another (anarch) runner that suffered ill consequences on an Archer rez when he could not break Archer.

Even when the shaper was not anticipating an Archer rez, they can typically adapt to it readily with multiple options to get through it, or at least mitigate the impact of its program trash subroutines.

The anarch needed to be prepared to deal with the Archer before they ran, and if they encountered it unprepared, they lost programs (and therefore tempo) such that they were not able to contest the final scores of the game.

To me, the focus of the original post is not related to tech cards like Slums or Film Critic, but rather about the different play styles of the runner factions.

I agreed with everything you said in your first response, so didn’t feel the need to rehash it, and instead picked up on the tech part of it. I think both are relevant.

OP seems to be saying that playing as anarch forces him to play better due to not having the safety blanket of SMC/Sharpshooter. I can relate to that, and have found various aspects of deck construction affect my play: my first major runner was Noise, but then I went to Val and played a deck much more orienated around making runs and breaking ice. I found when I tried reverting to Noise for any amount of time, my playing skill felt like it dulled because I was often temped to just install some viruses and try my luck on archives, rather than figuring out where the agendas were, whether the newly installed card in the remote was an agenda, etc.

More recently, I find putting legwork in my shaper decks causes me to play better because it forces me to think about what’s happening in HQ. I believe I’ve seen OP himself say in another thread that he plays Foodcoats better if he doesn’t have biotic in the deck. It’s definitely worth trying to work out what causes you to play better!

Yes, you did see me say that about Foodcoats. I do think my main point was as @BubbaTheGoat outlined, but I appreciate the conversation about tech, too.

It does feel like there are many match ups these days that you cannot win by playing around problems. If you don’t have tech, you lose.

Case in point: Played Gabe vs Moon online today (casual lobby) and a no-Temujin Whizzard vs CtM. Lost both really hard but tried to just approach it as “okay, given this board state, what is my best line of play.” Neither deck had a reasonable chance to win, but I did get within game point as Whizz. Conceded Moons games after they scored SFT of a ten counter Moon pop.

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Playing as Shaper forces him to play better due to having issues with slow setup. Every deck is worse at something and playing that deck forces you to make up for those gaps using skill. Bad Shaper players sit back and setup while the corp runs away with the game, bad Anarch player have their rigs wiped out in careless runs. That’s why a good way to increase your overall skill is to play various decks with different strengths and weaknesses so you have chance to focus on and improve multiple areas of your play.

I think most card games wind up having this issue one way or another, particularly once such a large card pool is available. Magic mitigates it by allowing side-boarding (swapping cards in your deck between games) which is impractical in A:NR given the influence system and tournament structure.

I don’t know that it’s such an issue in the competitive scene because it rewards making good meta calls and adds an extra layer of strategy during deck construction. I can see where this can be a drag among casual players when they have to play against some dumb PU mill deck without Slums/Employee Strike/Feedback Filter though.

I think this is an issue with iTunes that we’ve tried to fix before - is it possible to access it through the website?

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Yes. That is how I listen to the older episodes. I’d listen to more of them if I could get them on iTunes. Great podcast.

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Its not tech cards that make you bad its Shaper.

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I’m starting to like you!

I find playing the TD campaign has forced me to learn Crim basics, a faction I never spent much time with. The limited card pool has pushed me to focus on what they do best, and play agressively early, without some of the safety nets Shaper or Anarch has.