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Caprice Nisei: Exactly as influential as predicted?


#1

We’ve all seen a lot of hysteria, predictions and both ‘doom’ and ‘awesome’ declaractions at new cards or playstyles. For the most part these have resulted in overblown statements (Will o’ the Wisp is terrifying!) or (Account Siphon is finally dead!) or even more modest (Well, Lotus Field is useful but doesn’t ruin Anarch), as for the most part when a new tool comes, what’s in vogue changes along with the original problem. Look at Sealed Vault for example, a card that’s a dead hard counter vs Vamp and Siphon, but sees no play because the rest of the game has moved past Siphon lock.

But Caprice. Oh, dear Caprice, I fear you actually MAY have been about as strong as the doomsayers said! It’s the core component of the most powerful corp deck ever, the RP Archtype (substantially more powerful IMO than Astrobiotics was at any point in it’s time.). The reason is that there’s no counterplay possible. None.

Yes, the game is not random. But it doesn’t mean it’s a solvable problem. An infinite economic advantage as the Runner cannot defeat a Corp that has enough credits to play the Psi Game 2 or 3 times, then score a winning or crucial point.

Drive By will be useful, but it will just force Caprices to (unsupririsingly) be rezzed early. Hardly a counter, more of a declaration of what we’ve already known. It does reduce ‘flex caprice’ use on a Central only to be re-rezzed ont he scoring remote, but still. It’s the one ETR that no amount of money can defeat, and can be used an indefinite amount of time. Double the amount of time if the corp has scored a Nisei Mk2 as well.

If only she had a limited number of counters to spend, to give an upper limit to how many Psi games are possible. But alas, that ship’s sailed.

So would you all consider Caprice as omnipresent and meta-dominant (or meta-warping) as we’d feared? I find myself slipping her more and more into non-RP or even non-Jinteki decks, to form a more assured win condition.


#2

To be fair, it’s the only thing that can allow RP to score late game. Without it, Kate would have just money up and wait for an advanced card in the remote. The RP win rate would drop like crazy.

Is it fun to lose because of psi game ? NOPE. But the runner meta force the corp to play such game.

I think your idea of X counters on Caprice would be a good way to “fix” what’s wrong with the card but sadly it’s too late.

Let’s hope for a nicely designed silver-bullet.


#3

If you want my opinion, I think TFP is way more broken than Caprice.
You can avoid Caprice and try to win on another server.
You can’t avoid the Psi-Game on TFP when you access the card on a central.

Not stealing TFP made me lose more game than psi-game on a remote / R&D Caprice.


#4

Well it’s more like the combo Caprice / Nisei MK II / TFP is what makes it unfun.
In the same way than the Astro / Sansan / Biotic / Fast Track did for NBN before clot (in my opinion).

Remove one of those cards and it’s really not that much of a problem.


#5

Complete your quest my friend and caprice isnt going to help them


#6

Im looking foward to film critic. Will solve alot of issues runners have with current agenda layouts corps are using. Napd and FP both just become 2 clicks for points. Gov takeover wont get you Punatives. No midseaaons shownfor you nbn.

Meta shifting time.


#7

Yep. If you want to beat RP with shaper, play Film Critic and hit the centrals. You will be able to win from there in the near future.


#9

First of all I let me say that I love Caprice. I too was nervous about her when previewed but having lived with her for over a year now she’s been a constructive force in Netrunner both in deckbuilding and playing.

Here’s why I love her: You’re absolutely right that no amount of money can defeat her, and that’s the point of Caprice. She solves the econ problem, which is that in an asymmetric game, one side will always be more efficient at generating credits. Credits are the second-most important resource in terms of being able to play the game (clicks being the first, but they are much more difficult to generate/lose.) Rezzing ice, advancing agendas/ambushes (and then triggering the ambushes!), even playing most operations all take credits. If the runner is more efficient at generating credits then a smart runner will always be richer than the corp, and this effectively kills glacier and tag’n’bag decks. Early successful corp decks in Netrunner were Fast Advance (which didn’t need to have more credits than the corp, just enough to score from hand) or Never Advance (which cut the cost on bluffing, by never advancing remotes). To be fair there were other reasons why these decks saw most competitive play, but I believe this to be a major factor.

Normally the solution against glacier decks is to not run, stockpile massive amounts of credits, pack an infiltration or two, and only run when the corp tries to score an agenda. Cards like Ash, Red Herrings, Corporate Troubleshooter, etc all relied on credits to stop the steal, so if the runner plays clever with Deus X, Inside Job, Femme, Stimhack etc they can greatly reduce the cost of infrequent runs. In a similar vein efficiently costed ice doesn’t help if the corp can’t force the runner to run frequently. Now along comes Caprice. Suddenly no matter how cheap the runner makes the run, or how many credits they have, they’re not guaranteed the steal. So now the runner has to run a server multiple times to ferret out the Caprice before the corp goes for the score. Suddenly that efficient ice is relevant again and more windows open up for the corp. And glacier decks are viable again, because (like Fast Advance) the corp doesn’t need to have more credits, just enough credits to play the psi without crippling themselves.

Designwise this opens up the econ space. Instead of being very conservative with cards, trying to keep runner and corp econ across seven different factions within a small margin of each other (a ludicrously difficult task) FFG now has much more flexible tolerances for what is too good at credit generation.

Okay so maybe Caprice is good for the game, but that doesn’t mean that she’s fun to play against. Most people complain about her adding an unnecessary element of randomness to the game, which detracts from competitive decision making. I say this is also false. You mention that the psi-game is not a solvable problem, when actually it has been solved. Here on BGG coffeeyay uses game theory to solve the Caprice game. You should absolutely read the whole thing, but I’ll try to summarize. How much the corp or runner should bid depends on the expected value of the runner winning the psi-game. The closer to infinite the value is (i.e. winning the game) the more the corp should bid evenly amongst the three options (i.e. roll a die / random) but at lower levels (e.g. Caprice protecting herself) the corp should bid 2 much more often, and 0 much less often. As a simple example, take a Caprice on HQ and the runner Account Siphons. coffeeyay breaks down what the corp should bid based on how many credits they have left in this table here. TL:DR - there is a line of bidding that is not bidding evenly between 0, 1, and 2 that will advantage the player following it (even if they’re not winning the psi-games).

This ideal Caprice/psi-game strategy deepens the games playing strategy in two ways: Deviation and conditioning. Deviation in knowing when to abandon the game theory optimal play, and play for short term gains. And conditioning in establishing patterns of play to later exploit them. These are common elements of games like Yomi which is absolutely competitive.

If after all this you still hate Caprice, then still there are several runner-side work arounds. Vamp is a popular one, the corp can’t play psi if they’re broke. Quest Completed also eliminates the need for psi-games. Still these solutions require multiple runs (runs needed to clear Crisiums or other Caprices out of centrals) and a fair chunk of credits. Which is good because they don’t upset the economic balancing effect Caprice brings to the game, and add to the strategy Caprice brings, rather than silver bullet her.

*(Sorry if this is too much, I’ve had this article in me for a little while and this post was a great opportunity to write it out.)


#10

‘Liking’ a post should be on a scale, like the ice cream sizes at Coldstone. This post is more of a ‘Love it’ or ‘Gotta have it.’


#11

No.

She’s definitely highly present, but I think she gives something the corp kinda needed - a way to score without FA in the face of an overwhelming econ advantage.

One of the structural problems the game has is that if the runner can lock a glacier remote. Especially given the basic balance of pushing runner econ more than Corp econ (which is broadly correct for other reasons). This leads to a highly frustrating gamestate where a Runner (usually a Shaper, but not necessarily) can keep the corp locked out.

She’s kinda like plascrete - changes a situation where you HAVE to have a lead, to a situation where a lead is useful.


#12

Caprice is crucial for glacier, so that unconventional tactics and cards are more viable I think.


#13

This, I’ve always thought TFP was the problem.


#14

The problem with most 5/3 agendas (and most 3/1 agendas for that matter) is that the payoff isn’t enough to justify the risks of being stolen and costs of scoring them.

That’s not what the link says. The link gives you a set of distributions to use for bidding. The generation of the distribution is non-random, but they’re still distributions. It’s also worth noting that generating the correct distribution on-the-fly is not trivial (the author used computer assistance to generate his table).


#15

Don’t let this kid’s handle fool you; she’s not our average street punk.


#16

Also, have to love that most powerful cards on BOTH sides are female.


#17

This is a critical point. “Random” is not the same as “even distribution.” Knowing how to play the odds in Blackjack doesn’t mean you’re not gambling anymore.

Having said that, I agree with the bulk of erinrockabitch’s post – Caprice is probably, on the whole, good for the game. Without some effect similar to her, remote play can become virtually unplayable in a hurry, which forces the meta into a pretty boring place.


#18

I definitely agree that Caprice makes the game (as we have it now) better. What I think the community is hoping for in the future is that FFG look at alternative methods for the Corp to score, rather than have an increased emphasis on Psi.

May the playmat live in forever infamy.


#19

You’re 100%. I suppose what I meant to say is that a simple even distribution is not the best line to play. I suppose you could roll 2d10 and use that to generate a random number that’ll jive with the stats. But really since you’re probably going to have a small number of psi-games (<10) in any given match the exact percentages are not going to conform to the distribution. Obviously following a pattern (bidding 2,0,1) is easily exploitable.

I try to look at psi-games like this: If I’m the corp, suppose that no matter what I bid the runner will win. What do I want to bid knowing that? Most of the time, if my econ’s good (not that I have more credits than the runner, but that I’m generating at a reasonable rate), I’d rather bid 2 and tax the runner that little extra. Reverse question for runner bids, if I know I’m going to lose what would I bid?


#20

It’s interesting to see how similar Caprice is to pre-Clot NEH Fast Advance.

They both circumvent the remote game. NEH did it by not making any remotes and scoring out of hand while Caprice makes a server nearly 100% secure baring horrible luck on psi-games. The Neisei train is certainly as hard to stop as an astrotrain once it starts rolling.

They both have cards that seem intended to counter them (The Source, Chakana, S&W 35, Drive By) but fail to have any effect because they suck. If The Source hadn’t been a horrible card all around or Drive By capable of killing a rezed Caprice, then we might be having a different kind of conversation.

They both are beatable yet clearly the best choice if you want to win. Both NBN and RP were beatable by certain decks. Leela for instance had a good matchup against old NEH and I think the current anti-RP is some flavor of Anarch. Yet you can pretty much be sure that RP will find its way into the top tables of the latest store championship.

If the history repeats, I would expect FFG to make a heavy handed anti-caprice card in the next big box set. They seem to design cards a cycle at a time which makes their responses to the meta always 1 cycle behind. My guess to how things went was something like this: FFG ship Order and Chaos -> NBN is knocked from it’s throne -> FFG designs the San San cycle -> RP rises to dominance -> FFG starts to designs next big box.

Now it could be said that Clot was a fluke. FFG is very bad at printing counter cards, anyone remember Traffic Jam that was also supposed to also stop FA (it sucked). Clot just happened to fit well in another faction’s deck where it was more effective since it could be installed at instant speed. Maybe they’ll whiff again if they try to print an anti-caprice card and we won’t see a repeat of Clot.


#21

This element of psi-games is not fully integrated into netrunner, and is a separate skillset, that, though it is skillful, may not be the same sort of skill that someone is looking for in netrunner. It’s kind of like the ability to analyze game trees. Many people like it, like me, but it is a skill that is not qualitatively the same as the other skills involved in some particular game. Another example is memorization, whether of chess openings or of the cards you see in Indexing. It certainly involves skill, but the skill involved is less fun for many people. (I find it interesting that Sirlin is so much in favor of the mechanic of yomi, while so much against the mechanic of memorizable openings. Each is fun for a different subset of players, and name-calling doesn’t help that)