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Devil's Advocate: Runner/Corp Imbalance


#1

So it’s a slow day at work and I’m reading some heavily trolled thread on bgg about runner/corp imbalance to pass the time. A question I’ve been thinking about for a while is whether or not the runner/corp imbalance is even important.

I understand arguing for a 50/50 split between sides makes sense if that’s how we assumed the world should work. However, if we simply accepted the idea that you will win less with corp than runner, it’s fine – typically you switch sides in a match, and you’ll both have the opportunity to run.

What do you guys think? Just playing devil’s advocate here, I’ll withhold my opinion for now :smile:

One thing I would say is that, if you take it to an extreme (let’s say it were 95% runner), game-winning combos become more important for the corp. Taking those free wins when the stars align means much more if you’re not capable of agenda wins. Still, we’re not quite there… yet. Haha.


#2

My gf only likes the idea of playing corp and that makes me consider the imbalance quite bad because whenever she loses as corp she gets quite furious.

She gives me this exasperated look, after her having managed to sneak 5-6 points worth of agendas past me, yet I just glide through and prevent her from winning and win the game as runner. Then she says, “this game is so dumb! I spent the last hour trying really hard to score these points and you just lock me down and take my points”.

Also, she gets quite angry when I Account Siphon her or either Parasite or Emergency Shutdown her ice.


#3

Some advice:

  1. Walk into her Neural Katanas/Rototurrets
  2. Don’t use offensive cards like Account Siphon and Parasite
  3. Congratulate her for disproving the runner/corp imbalance :smile:

I taught my gf to play ANR on our trip to Hawaii, and she hated it (she really likes board/card games in general). She didn’t even try to remember what the cards did, so I was getting flustered… then she beat my Jinteki deck with Gabe. She laughed and laughed, and we agreed to never play again. We’re still happily together, haha.


#4

Ugh, that thread has been annoying me a ton. So much polemic, and so little systematic analysis.

I think balance is important, and the design team should (and I’m sure does) strive towards getting it as close to 50% as possible. But the game as is is far from unplayable, and we’re nowhere near the stage where a corp win is something rare or surprising.

Especially since OM, it feels more and more to me as if Corp has got a lot stronger, and I think as people learn what works and what doesn’t in the new meta, it will get even better. The balance may even swing back in favour of the corp. If the rumours are true, and there is indeed a neutral reprint of Credit Consolidation in the next datapack, then that will swing the balance further still, as the Corp still seems to be at an economic disadvantage at the moment.


#5

Yeah, when a runner gets their econ going it’s like playing poker with an opponent who has an endless bank roll and you don’t keep your winnings :smile:

The obsession with whether it’s 60/40 or 55/45 seems like misallocated attention, and honestly I don’t notice it… one thing I do notice is I almost always have to work hard as corp, going through potential runner lines of play, while I’ve had basically free wins as runner by doing very little.

These kinds of games are pretty rare, though, and I’ve learned to construct my decks in such a way to mitigate the frequency of those autolosses as corp.

And yes, the thread (Tuism’s thread, I’m guessing) is really annoying, haha. It’s not Tuism’s fault… it’s just the nature of the internet I suppose.


#6

How else do you evaluate balance other than with win ratios?

I think corp side has more complexity than runner side, which leads to feeling harder to play. In my opinion, everything becomes really well balanced when you toss out criminal.

Across the board, the combination of numerous powerful effects and under-costed influence puts its power level a few cuts above the other runners.

Corp side, I’d say the factions are pretty well balanced against eachother. HB certainly has the most options, but it doesn’t make them the “criminal” of corp side; I think this is due to the influence costs of HB cards being well balanced.


#7

I think we all agree runners have an advantage in higher-level play. There’s a lot of evidence to back this up.

The question I’m raising is if it’s an issue worth caring about. If so, why? I’m interested in hearing people’s reasoning.


#8

Besides angry girlfriends, the only downside I can think of is that tournaments might be too swingy because if a person gets higher in swiss or elimination rounds due to a lucky rare corp win then they might cut ahead of a higher skilled player who didn’t fare as well in getting his corp deck to work.

I guess I’d like to see how significant is luck versus skill in the percentage of games high skilled players win with corp. That would be the primary factor to consider perhaps.

But yes, you make a good point to ask, if everyone’s on even ground with corp, then what’s the big deal?

I haven’t thought it through well enough, but do you think it might make tournaments too swingy if (1) runners must win (lose too much prestige otherwise) and (2) anyone who gets lucky enough to win as corp gets much further ahead? (for example, in conditions under which the stats are skewed 80/20 in the runner’s favor)


#9

I just found that thread, and I noticed people keep talking about banning Datasucker, which would not be cool (that would destroy so many decks). Further, that card is so fun!

If corp is currently 40/60 against runners of equal skill, then that looks pretty balanced to me, especially considering that everyone has to play both sides (and wouldn’t be a big enough disproportion to make tournaments swingy).


#10

For me at least, I think it’s really frustrating. One of the big things I like about this game over other games is the fact that it’s gameplay is 80% skill and 20% luck - compared to Magic, which I would say is 70/30 at best.

The imbalance is an issue for me because I feel like that 20% of randomness is heaped almost entirely onto the corporation. Getting lucky with the corp just means that you don’t lose right away, getting unlucky with the corp means you can just lose immediately.


#11

Well one reason I read is that once you make single-elimination, where they use the old match structure, winning the first game as runner puts you at a significant psychological advantage. Now you only need to score X many points as corp and the game is over, even if you’re down 6 points or whatever. Elimination rounds for tournaments seem like an important but infrequent case, however.

Yeah, I was thinking about it a little bit in a more extreme case to try and find answers. In your example, I agree that the more skewed runner/corp performance gets, the more you are punished for losing a runner game or rewarded for winning a corp game. That’s kind of interesting, I guess… still, 99% of my play is not tournament-related.


#12

I remember reading that in high level chess white aims to win while black aims to tie (since white plays first and thus has a huge advantage). At least with the old tournament structure, runner could play to win while corp could play to score enough points to secure the match. Right now, there is no lesser, secondary aim that the corp has during rounds of swiss; their only aim is to win which is difficult (but I think Spin cycle is going to make it easier for corps, and a small disproportion seems fine as everyone plays one of each side).

Nevertheless, I do prefer the new/current tournament structure in which both runners and corps that have to give up a few agendas but then swing around for the win have no disadvantage during swiss.

And at least then returning to the old tournament structure during elimination is cool, since corps can once again have a lesser, secondary aim (the aim of scoring sufficient agendas to close the match, e.g., perhaps at the cost of leaving R&D undefended and giving up a few agendas from there), just like black in chess.


#13

I think we all agree runners have an advantage in higher-level play. There’s a lot of evidence to back this up.

The question I’m raising is if it’s an issue worth caring about. If so, why? I’m interested in hearing people’s reasoning.

Yes it matters. Mainly because, if you play against another skilled player frequently, and the two of you both win 75-80% of the time as runner, then it feels pretty bad to play corp. Also, it can be hard to test runner cards. You take any good runner deck, you change it some, and it doesnt matter because you stomp the opponent no matter what.

For example, I’ll talk to asroybal, and he will be like: I really like Gabe now! I like runner cards X and Y too!

And I’m like: Yeah, I’m sure you win tons with those cards. And you would have won tons with Andromeda, or with any other card in those slots as well, because its runner. So it doesn’t matter, you just win easily.

Andromeda is good, Gabe is good, Kate with Atman/Suckers is good, etc. Meanwhile over here, the poor corp is just trying to win a game. Even games that start out really promising tend to turn into close games and often losses, even when the corp gets good defenses going. The runner just manages to get enough stuff out, hit your R&D for three cards, and agendas appear.


#14

@Alexfrog I imagine that it is 75-80% when it is JopeJope’s Gabe deck against a massive field of people testing fun decks on OCTGN, but is it really that skewed with two players of equal skill?

(which is why I prefer looking at OCTGN league stats or aggregates of tournament data)


#15

There was a BGG thread a couple of weeks back analysing some huge number of OCTGN games (I have in my head 100,000). Using the time stamp on games the analyst was able to apply an ELO ranking (or equivalent) to effectively rank the players. This enabled him to look at subsets of the games to only consider matched skill levels and it turns out the runner-corp gap gets bigger the higher up you go.

@Alexfrog may be able to link you to the article I’m referring to.

He also makes a good point about card evaluation. It’s so hard to work out what’s good because almost any vaguely sane line is viable for the runner right now. It’s also hard to wade through the public opinion because so much of it is formed by people who are playing sub-optimally. When someone says X card is great, is that because X card is genuinely good or because you’ve played it against three muppets who have no clue how to play? Anyway, that’s off-topic…


#16

That might’ve been the thread I was indirectly referring to by mentioning JopeJope: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1023635/lets-talk-about-balance

He’s won 81 out of 94 games with his Gabe deck prior to July 1st.

How far back does this data go? because I’d prefer to see current data that only includes highly skilled players, which is why I like data from the Beta league:
http://boardgamegeek.com/article/13135230#13135230

There it doesn’t look like Engineering the Future and Building a Better World are doing too bad.

Nevertheless, of course, what I really rather see is a 40-45% win percentage for at least one identity under each of the corp factions.

Ultimately, I think a 55% for runner 45% for corp would be nice to strive for in design (as I kind of like it being a bit harder for corp, just not as much as it currently is overall).


#17

When its a high skill player using a top deck that they are good at, vs the FIELD, its MORE than 75-80%. Of course, I also beat the field as corp significantly over 50% as well, though not nearly as strongly.

When its me and SneakySly playing each other, its like 75-80% runner. Like, we can play over and over, and then finally the corp wins one and we are like: man, the corp finally won!

Back before regionals, in June, I was testing a bunch with SneakySly, and I was trying to perfect my HB deck. So I played corp over and over. And I wasn’t winning, like a single game (with a version of the deck that I routinely beat almost everyone I played with). Finally I won one game, where like the 3rd instance of SanSan City Grid behind several ice finally broke him, and the 4th SanSan won the game (archiving). I felt at that point that SanSan was literally the only hope for a corp against a top runner, other than killing them. (It also helped that the SanSan also could sometimes just stomp an average player, allowing 3-4 agendas to be scored sometimes if they couldnt get it).

The difference between an average runner and the best runners is immense. The best runners force you to rez all your ice, keep you broke, kill the ice and keep coming, while not falling into traps or getting wrecked by things, because they have sufficient preparation. Average runners will apply insufficient pressure and like, let you get off a melange activation or an Adonis campaign, which then sets you up to continue defending.


#18

75-80% sounds intolerable. Fortunately I don’t have that problem :smile:


#19

Agreed, at that point playing runner is just a formality and the whole game is about who can squeak out those impossible corp wins.


#20

Agreed, at that point playing runner is just a formality and the whole game is about who can squeak out those impossible corp wins.

For a long time, when SneakySly and I would play, it was pretty much “Well, corp got to 6, that was a good game for corp”. And We liked HB the most because no corp ever won a game, but HB consistently got 6 while losing, and others didnt, so it would be best for match play.