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Eat My Traps

How good is your poker face? Go back a couple of years ago and I had my fair mix of success and failure with traps and tricks, but Jeremy was my nemesis. Every time I put an agenda in a remote he took. Whenever I double advanced a trap he ignored it. Ultimately I got fed up and had to ask his secret. “Just luck I guess” was the reply. There was no secret to his decision making – no obvious tell I was giving away. He just chose to run or not more or less at random and somehow over several weeks avoided all my traps.

He wasn’t completely running at random though, obviously. He was judging credit totals. Can I get in? Will it be worth it if I do? Is it worth a go anyway just to make the Corp rez some stuff? What’s the worst that can happen? Sometimes you have to go with your gut though…

At the Manchester Regionals last year I had a player run through three pieces of ICE to a double advanced card, whereupon he paused. I looked down at the card, gave a half-hidden smirk and then straightened my face, looked up and enquired “access?”. Notorious for playing Aggressive Secretary as I was, my opponent stopped and spent a good two minutes agonising over it. Then jacked out. Next turn I triple advance and score a Hades Fragment. I basically won a game by smirking.

During the King of Servers event at Worlds weekend, Zach killed more people with a 6-advanced Junebug than has ever been recorded in the entire history of the world. (I have no evidence to back this up.)

Getting people to eat traps seems to come down to one’s ability to “sell” them. Encouraging people to run traps you advance over several turns is even more skill-intensive. Arguably getting them to access cards you haven’t advanced is even more tricky.

How good are you at getting the traps to happen? Do you pack Back Channels to recover your losses, due to being so rubbish at it? Are your sparring partners run-happy or risk-averse? What’s the secret to spoiling Runner’s fun and raining on their parade?

What about the other way round? Can you sniff a bluff at 20 paces? Or might you just as well tattoo Snare on your face the numbers of times you run into one?


I’ve started using the word ‘credible’.

Even without proper traps, the idea of getting a runner to run a remote fruitlessly is pretty important. One of the most important things is to make it credible. Putting a card facedown in a remote is not credible with 2 credits. As NBN, it’s credible with 3 - because Astro is a big deal. Other corps need higher credit totals to make it a credible threat, as scoring the agenda can do more to hurt their chances of winning than helping.

On the flipside, putting a corp under heavy central pressure can force agendas out and into a remote before they’re ready. It’s amazing what a Sneakdoor or a Lamprey, or even a load of permanent drip economy, will force out and into the remote. The credibility calculation changes again.

Four points, an Astro token, three credits, and a single advanced card is a very credible threat. But beginners won’t know that. That’s a tough one.

And sometimes the reaction is not to go for the remote - it’s to pound centrals desperately, thinking it’s game over unless they win now!

It’s very game state sensitive, and very opponent sensitive. Some runners - often those who have been burned too much by corps rushing or FA too often - will push hard to get into a remote when it wrecks their board state. Others fixate on centrals and don’t ever want to push past a remote Tollbooth. It’s hard and important to identify the general runner strategy, and it’s important as a runner to mix it up.

I don’t think there is or will ever be a reliable way to manage this sort of thing. It’s well known that in poker, randomly including bluffs into your play will improve your returns over never doing so, and all good players add bluffs into their play. That fact that there’s a high amount of human interaction and reading your opponent is what makes Netrunner so different to MtG (though perhaps there’s a larger amount of hidden information in that game than I understood from my limited play). It also makes it quite fun.


Shall I just come back later? It’s hard trying to read your post when it keeps changing ;).

Sorry! I’m done now!

I let them die at 4 adv.

I don’t play trap deck cause many people thought all it takes is acting skill,but no.It also involves decent set up,constant (and on the right point) pressure,good econ situation,and bluff at the right time.Netrunner is indeed a very brain-damage game and trap deck like PE or something made it more brain-damage for me to play.

That being said I play against PE many times as a Leela,you just basically install some breaker and have a econ set up,then just siphon them down,keep them poor so you can check those un advanced card safely,don’t be too greedy to grab points,bounce back their mushin,cautions about the cards in the grip and maybe there is a Ronin you forgot to check.It’s a mind-breaking match up but I enjoy it as much as I fear about it.

But everytime I see a PE scored Profiteering I always suffer from heart attack.

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I sometimes try to give fake tells. Little smirks, shuffling hand, etc. I try to make it a full psychological war when i play jinteki. The moment the other person can get into the other’s head and make them second guess themself, it’s over. There is also looking at the effort. Is it really going to be a trap if it’s protected by a caprice and a couple pieces of ice?

I do that no matter what I’m playing. I always make sure I give fake tells and mix in the real ones so that my opponents don’t really know how to read me. I can’t have my inability to keep a straight face destroy my chances of winning, so I try to build up an impression as a trickster so that they never know what to expect. It’s especially fun when you’re not running any traps but your behaviour makes your opponent play around them.

In my local meta, I can always sell traps, but almost never sell agendas as traps. Even in non-trap decks I cultivate a reputation as someone who will put an agenda anywhere, anytime. It pays off when runners spend their entire first turn paying gagarin credits to check PADs or special ordering a breaker to get in and see a jackson.

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with a cybernetics deck i’m playing where the threat of overwriter is supposed to keep people from checking (since overwriter isn’t actually all that great as a win condition, but people are extra scared of it in cybernetics). problem is, everyone checks all my bluffs. the result is I end up losing a lot of games to runners with zero hand size…

Nope, my Snares are never protected by Caprice. And certainly I would never install a Junebug and advance it twice behind a Caprice and two ICE… You should always run on me when I do that.

PSI Mastery Achieved

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Clearly you need some punitives

I have a bit of a reputation in our meta for landing traps. The ongoing joke is that every deck I play is a Jinteki deck, regardless of faction. My trap-loaded Biotech went undefeated at Durham regionals and we had a pretty strong field, so yeah.

When you play this kind of deck enough you’ll start to catch onto other people’s bluffs. There’s a pace to it. It’s hard to explain. Play a lot of PE, Biotech, IG, whatever you like and you’ll die to it a lot less.

Things I’ve learned:

  • Always ask if they want to access. Every time.
  • When you Mushin something advance it a fourth time. This has won me too many games.
  • Bid zero all the time, except when you don’t.
  • Jackson back Snares.
  • Throw agendas away. Play like you’re flooded. Legwork suicide is funny.
  • Play Profiteering. My Biotech list had Chronos Project instead, but that was because everyone was playing Prepaid Kate. Profiteering is the right card now.

For a more serious reply lacking in sarcasm…

It’s about Patterns. This is why the first Mushin is the most dangerous, from both the Corp and Runner perspective, at Tournament play. Neither player has an existing pattern of behavior to draw from, so does the Corp think the Runner will run on it? Does the Runner think that the Corp thinks the Runner will run on it? Does the Corp think that the Runner thinks that… ok rabbit hole’s too deep now.

This is why conventional wisdom tells you to Always Check the First Mushin. Even if it blasts you with a Cerebral, you’ve learned something about what the Corp is trying to do. You gain insight; that the Corp is a player who assumes Runners will hit their first Mushin. Usually those players won’t pull the same trick twice. … Usually.

Patterns are why Jinteki PE has to throw so many possible traps out there. If you establish a pattern, you have to break it to get the Runner to fall for your traps. You’ll see a lot of PE players Mushin a Fetal, advance it once, and then leave it for several turns, even using Trick of Light off of it, to establish the Pattern that reinforces the thought in the Runner’s mind that it isn’t really an Agenda.

This play concept was reflected beautifully in Dave Hoyland’s Semi-final at Worlds against Timmy Wong. He established a pattern of Assets behind the Ichi, and Timmy decided he didn’t want to bother running through the Ichi anymore. Dave then put down a GFI and left it there for multiple turns, because it followed that pattern, leading Timmy to believe it was something other than an Agenda, because why would you put an Agenda behind just Ichi? And I mean, he’d put Assets/Upgrades there the last two times, so surely it’s another one… Must be a BBG that he’s baiting me with… I’m at work and can’t grab a link for the stream right now, but perhaps someone else can get a link…?

I played a Jinteki deck in Cube Draft.

First turn? Mushin out a HoK, take a credit. Keep in mind that I don’t have PE’s ability…

(I also had two Philotic in that draft. Glorious. You realize very quickly why it’s Limit 1 per deck. Especially with 24/7…)

Oh my god multiple Philotics would be filthy. Good stuff.

Also had Project Beale and Genetic Resequencing. So… :smiley:

It’s eye-opening how many restrictions the Faction limits put on the game, and how carefully Agendas in particular are crafted and placed in certain factions.

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I’m pretty bad at getting traps to land, I often have to play rushy fast decks to get them to fire. It’s why my preferred trap ID is Biotech, running stuff like EoW and Chairman Hiro over Snares and Junebugs. I’m quite inconsistent with asking to access and my meta is very remote-shy vs. Jinteki with exception of 1 or 2 YOLO players, so getting people to run remote traps often involve scoring out here, not playing the more interesting tango with a remote-hungry Runner meta. I also loathe playing trap decks in casual weekly play, as people often play completely differently than they would in a tournament, and I just don’t have the cajones to bring a trap deck to events reliably enough to practice them there.

Against strangers or in tournament games, I always run the first Mushin no Shin. Always.

This puts the Corp into a mindset of laying traps out recklessly for the next few turns, and you can safely ignore their next few installs. Then you just scan for desperation or watch how many cards left in R&D before you start checking remotes again. That is my personal opinion of trap strategy, and of course it’s open to many avenues of getting wrecked, especially Back Channels decks who lead with traps more often than not.

I was writing a several page article I wanted to try to get posted at stimhack on the value of bluffing and assigning ranges to players as it pertains to netrunner, derived from poker…never quite got to finish it. It was basically a long winded explanation of the purpose of bluffs in poker, and then translating some of the mechanics to netrunner, and hopefully bring some light to advancement traps. I suppose I could start working on that again lol.


Was that another bluff? :wink:

Fellow poker player here. I’d love to read your draft if you still have it around. It’s a perspective that I think really helps with this game.