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Cerebral Imaging - What changed?

Hello there!

I was unfortunately away from Netrunner when CI was all the rage. It’s a deck I have been enjoying on OCTGN (the Scorched version), and I wonder why it has seemingly vanished from the meta; I have some ideas as to what happened, but I do wish to discuss them (I’d love if PeekaySK could give his 2 cents ^^):

  1. Noise resurgence
    I get that Noise can be a problem for this ID. However, with the amount of money this thing can make, I would think Scorching him shouldn’t be too much of a problem, especially given all the recursion the deck has.

  2. NEH and Blue Sun
    I think this is one of the big ones. The appearance of NEH got everyone and their mothers talking (and playing) nothing else, and now with Blue Sun showing up, people are turning to the Big W for their flatlines, be it with AD combo or without.

  3. Legwork
    Legwork is a good card vs this ID. I am well aware of that. However, it really isn’t THAT different from a Maker’s Eye if you run the 9 agendas build, is it? Usually, I sit at 3-4 agendas in a 12-14 card hand by the mid game, which is one agenda out of 3-4 cards. The usual agenda density in R&D is about 1 in 4-5 cards. Considering this deck runs 3x NAPD Contract and a way to punish the runner for being broke, Legwork shouldn’t blow this out of the water like some people seem to believe.

Given these considerations, I’d like to ask a few questions:

  1. Is Scorched CI a “bad” ID in the current Noise/Legwork meta (I get that it’s probably not on the exact same level as RP and NEH, but maybe Tier 1.5/Tier 2? Tournament worthy, you guys think?)
  2. Is Blue Sun just a better ID for killing people? I like flatlining runners, and have been running Cambridge PE, Blue Sun Power Shutdown Combo (on OCTGN), Scorched Imaging and Scorched NEH. Out of these, the one I have both played the least and have all the cards to play without proxies at the moment is CI. Do you guys think it is worth it to sleeve it up or just wait until I get Up and Over?

Thanks for the feedback!

I played CI Scorch early in the summer, and actually just played a few games with Reuse in the deck recently. I like it quite a lot, and I’m probably going to play it for a while after Worlds. I don’t feel like I have time to learn the playbook well enough to comfortably take it to Worlds, but if I did, I think it would actually be a pretty good choice.

In your shoes, I’d sleeve it up, get to know how it runs, and then cut one SfSS for one Reuse when you get Up and Over.

It really is largely legwork. Even in Scorched Imaging, I lost too many games to legwork before I had the necessary combo bits together to engage maximum overkill.

Noise isn’t a particular problem.

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Noise is presently a nightmare matchup. Trying to assemble double Biotic, EC, Shipments and the means to recur the Shipments under pressure to all three centrals, and constant mill is very unlikely. By the time you score your first EC, you’ll have insufficient cards remaining in R&D to finish scoring out. Scorching the runner is unlikely if the Runner plays it smart. Unless you draw SEA, double Scorch early on (with no Plascrete from the runner), Cache powered Noise will keep up with you economically as he’ll be relying on Parasites and D4V1D to deal with ICE, rather than paying to break it.

Triple Archived Memories can also give CI good odds of winning, but this is obviously an unlikely draw.

Well, since you asked so nicely :smile:

First, you really shouldn’t underestimate Legwork’s impact. The comparison to Maker’s Eye isn’t completely representative - imagine the usefulness of Maker’s Eye, Nerve Agent and Legwork graphed out over time, as the game progresses.

  • Maker’s Eye is a downward slope, as the game progresses and agendas move to HQ
  • Nerve Agent is all over the place - early game it’s easiest to get tokens, but you’re not really all that likely to find so much. By the time you can reliably find stuff, the runs usually become too expensive to repeat multiple times per turn (barring some corner cases like a well-connected Escher, Battering-Ramming through multiple Elis and what have you),
  • Legwork, on other hand, is just a steadily rising line. Unlike the other corporate IDs, CI just gets to hold all the agendas it draws. Late-game, it’s not uncommon for the agenda/non-agenda ratio in HQ to approach 1:1, so a Legwork run could easily be worth 4-5 points (and it’s virtually guaranteed to hit at least 2). This is much more than the average expectancy of both Maker’s Eye and Nerve Agent

Now, onto your other points:

Yes, Noise is a problem I feel. He can both keep you in the early game (if he draws a lot of Parasites/Recursion) and puts you on a timer. Random mills sniping off 3-pointers aren’t unheard-of, either (and they really, really hurt). You do have a ton of recursion, yes… but you actually need it for your primary game plan, so if you end up having to burn it to fix the trouble Noise causes, it gets overtaxed. Also, you really really hate Imp, as it’s a tool that threatens multiple servers (which means rez money, which means lower hand size and parasite vulnerability) and can take apart your carefully assembled combos in hand. Don’t count on Scorching Noise too much - you’ll need two to three Scorches, and both they and your econ cards will get trashed left and right. Also don’t forget that he’s easily a threat when not running (the solitaire versions of Noise).

I think NEH and BS are problematic for you because of the requirements they put on runner decks to be viable. NEH mandates early multi-access, BS mandates non-money ways of surviving multi-scorchings and efficient getting through large ICE pieces. Neither of these traits are really good news for you if you’re Scorched Imaging. They might not mean an auto-loss, but they sure as hell don’t help with the reliability and consistency of your primary game plan.

Scorched Imaging can still be viable, but you really need to pay a lot of attention to your ICE suite. That’s the biggest place for changes and tweaks currently (HB got some neat pieces lately).

I think CI is still very strong, but I’m getting the feeling that non-Scorch builds might be better currently. Here’s three variants I’ve been experimenting with lately:

  • Neural EMP / Snare, to capitalize on the popularity of Legwork.
  • @bayushi_david’s Tricky Crisium Ice Wall version, for easier and cheaper fast-advance with no flatline threat
  • Arthurian CI, because I still feel that Grail ICE is super strong in CI. What to do with the rest of the influence, I haven’t decided yet (there are several ways you can go with it).

This is the Trick of Light build. It’s pretty rough and ready because, although I think it has potential, it is not the most exciting deck in the world to play with or against (massive understatement). As such it tends to stay on the shelf and hasn’t had as much playtesting as I would have liked. So any thoughts are very welcome.

Early game you are looking to rez stuff to tax the runner and keep your hand size low in order to rez IQ for cheap. Then you start piling on the cash, advancing Ice Wall whenever possible. The advantage of the build is that you don’t have to keep 3/2 agendas in hand for very long and Crisium Grid makes landing Legwork/Indexing/Makers Eye/Account Siphon an expensive prospect that you can see coming a mile off.

Cerebral Imaging: Infinite Frontiers (Creation and Control)

Agenda (10)
3x Accelerated Beta Test (Core Set)
3x Project Vitruvius (Cyber Exodus)
1x Efficiency Committee (Creation and Control)
3x NAPD Contract (Double Time)

Upgrade (3)
3x Crisium Grid (First Contact) •••

Operation (22)
3x Archived Memories (Core Set)
2x Biotic Labor (Core Set)
3x Hedge Fund (Core Set)
3x Trick of Light (Trace Amount) ••••• ••••
3x Green Level Clearance (A Study in Static)
3x Restructure (Second Thoughts)
3x Blue Level Clearance (Fear and Loathing)
2x Reclamation Order (Double Time)

Barrier (6)
3x Ice Wall (Core Set) •••
3x Eli 1.0 (Future Proof)

Code Gate (4)
2x Viktor 2.0 (Creation and Control)
2x IQ (First Contact)

Sentry (4)
2x Ichi 1.0 (Core Set)
2x Architect (Up and Over)

15 influence spent (maximum 15)
20 agenda points (between 20 and 21)
49 cards (min 45)
Cards up to Up and Over


Thx, I was searching for this via your profile, but didnt seem to find anything else than what you said about it in the world meta thread.

edit : as you dont need EC that much anymore, why not play 2 3/1 instead ? IMO an early Gila could help you a lot :slight_smile:

Space to be honest. But yes, Gila would be enormously helpful if it could be included.

I m trying your list, with some minor tweaks :
-2 ichi + 2 roto. Roto seems a bit worse, but its helps against a 4 str atman, and with architecht you should be ok saving them from parasites. Mimic could be a problem tho.

-1 EC, -3 GLC : +2 gila, +1 Victor 2, +1 biotic

This is pure conjecture. Maker’s eye is only a downward slope if you’re assuming a normal variance of card distribution, which is just as likely as having an abnormal variance. Same goes for legwork. And a 1:1 ratio in hand? That’s either a gross exaggeration or you play CI vastly different than I do. I can honestly say I’ve never had a 1:1 ratio, ever. At best, I think once I had 15 cards in hand and 5 were agendas. I got legworked, and they took 1 agenda for two points, which is exactly what I expected.

Legwork is annoying for CI, but hardly a deck-killer. Use your ice as a detriment, not as a total ETR run stopper. By mid-game, I typically have 1 ice on HQ and 2 ice on R&D, and that’s pretty much it. All it has to do is deter/tax the runner, since you will never stop them completely. Even a single Eli over HQ is enough to slow them down by forcing them to choose between making runs or keeping pace with your economy and not getting scorched.

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In my meta at least, Andy has started to run Sneakdoor Beta -> Emergency Shutdown regularly which is bad news for CI.

I haven’t built the deck on paper in a while because I get annoyed having to count the number of cards in my hand, and I find remoteless play boring.

crysium on HQ counter sneakdoor pretty well :slight_smile:

Edit : oups, my bad. crisium dont cancel the sneakdoor effect. Interaction with this card are kinda weird sometimes :slight_smile:

If by “counters pretty well” you mean “Corp pays $3, Runner pays $5”, then sure.

Click 1 install Sneakdoor, Click 2 use Sneakdoor, they get an access on HQ and can trash Crisium.

Then they can still Sneakdoor twice more, or Sneakdoor and Shutdown.


Aw man, all my Andy tricks from 2013 :).

This is not pure conjecture, it is statistics :). I have extensive experience with CI builds, similar to @PeekaySK’s: against good, aggressive runners I don’t think I’ve ever been able to keep a 2:1 ratio of econ/utility to agenda cards in hand by the mid/late game. Late-game, by the time you’re ready to start scoring, you often have a higher ratio of agendas than you’re really comfortable with: perhaps not 1:1, but very close. A single Legwork that hits for two agendas is backbreaking, and anyone who is good will hold Legwork until late to hit that more ideal distribution. Plus even if we accept that “half the time you don’t get a normal distribution”, we have to assume that half-of-that-half-of-the-time we’d be getting a worse distribution (e.g. agenda flood) rather than a better one :).

But I haven’t played a normal netrunner game in months, so maybe things are different now. I doubt it, though.


I’ve been asked for my opinion, so I put my experience into words. Having played CI quite a few tournaments at the competitive level, I find myself hard-pressed to label these experiences conjecture.

Maker’s Eye is a downward slope, simply because standard remoteless CI plays a lot of early turns along the lines of “draw cards and play the econ you draw, keep the rest”. Because you both draw more cards than other corps tend to (ok, maybe except NEH), and some of the econ cards draw you cards as well (BLC, GLC if you’re running it), the agendas tend to move from RnD to HQ at a faster rate. What’s more, being agenda-flooded isn’t a reason to stop drawing (unlike with other corp IDs), quite the opposite - thus accelerating the process. So, yeah… downward slope.

The cards you draw are:

  • Econ (which you end up playing shortly afterwards)
  • Combo pieces (either kill tricks or score tricks, possibly both)
  • ICE (which you’re light on to begin with, and usually need to install as soon as you get to it)
  • Agendas

From this, we can pretty safely extrapolate what the contents of your hand often look like, on the runner’s turn.

Are you seriously telling me that you always have twice as many combo pieces as you have agendas, especially on the turn where you’ve used 2-3 combo pieces to score one agenda? Because that’s the turn any runner worth their salt is going to Legwork your ass.

It shouldn’t be hard to tell how I play CI, my lists are all over the place (literally). How do you do it?

This sounds like a very reliable recipe to get Siphoned/Vamped into oblivion, especially if you’re running porous-but-taxing ICE like Eli over actual hard ETRs.

edit: also, what Hypo said :stuck_out_tongue:


Yes. Usually, you wait for that first double Biotic that pushes out the EC. Then, you IMMEDIATELY drop the Legwork. Usually good for at least 1 Agenda, and, since they’re already lower on creds, the CI player will prob. be reluctant to rez any more ICE on HQ, making it easier to temporarily get in.

I think BS really hurts, as you’re going to see more Plas going back into dex, thus, countering Scorch CI’s main threat.

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@PeekaySK @hypomodern

Here’s where I’m coming from. A “typical” game (inasmuch as any game can be typical): You’ve got 10 cards in Archives, three ice on the table, 12 cards in hand, and no agendas scored for either side. With only 9 Agendas in a deck of 49 cards, I would expect 3 of of those 12 cards in hand to be agendas.

What you both are telling me is that by this point in the game, you’ve managed to get 6 of those 12 cards in hand to be agendas (a 1:1 ratio), leaving only 3 of the remaining 24 cards in R&D to be agendas. And this is normal for you?

It seems like the Runner isn’t forcing you to spend or lose money? If you’re scoring with 24 cards left in R&D then you’re doing it a lot faster than people I’ve played against.

When I play against CI I focus on connecting with Siphons, efficient accesses, and forcing ICE to get rezzed everywhere including on Archives. On the turn after they score out the EC, there is something like:

  • One agenda stolen by the Runner earlier
  • One EC scored
  • 5-6 ICE rezzed
  • Five agendas in hand of 10-15 cards
  • 2 agendas in an R&D of 10-15 cards

The Runner has literally the entire game with no pressure from Corp to prepare to connect with a Legwork on this critical turn, and that Legwork has a very respectable chance to pull two agendas for the win since HQ is between 1:1 and 1:2.

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That sounds like a pretty typical early game to me, not the mid-to-late game. You’re not yet ready to score and the runner has struck out on the long odds of R&D pulls. If people are legworking you at that juncture then it’s likely to only hit one agenda, probably no big deal. But you also don’t have enough ice out yet to counter serious threats, and your bank probably isn’t big enough to start scoring unless the runner is just playing solitaire.

edit: if there are only 24 (< 50%) cards in R&D in a deck with 9 agendas, there are at least 4 agendas in hand, perhaps 5, btw. Unless you’re discarding agendas or the runner’s stolen them.

I see. That, to me, is the beginning of the period where I start scoring. I’ve found that waiting too long to score is death with CI. Perhaps you both are just waiting too long, which would explain why you are having issues with your hand.