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Fundamentals of rush deck?

I have this idea that rush is not a terrible archetype right now, and I want to try to experiment with some rush decks. I’m not sure, though, what the fundamental pieces are that make a deck a “rush” deck vs. a deck that you just try to rush out with because you think your opponent will win the long game.

I had a couple of thoughts.

  1. Cheap gear check ice in sufficient quantity to reliably get it early.

  2. Agenda tutors (Fast Track and ???)

  3. Counters to things like bypass (Guard?) and AI (Swordsman?) that can undermine your gear-check strategy.

  4. Burst economy so you can move fast early.

Anything else? What are the fundamental pieces of a good rush deck?

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Card draw is good. Jackson is slow tho, ditch him.

You need agendas that give you tempo when scored. Preferably money or something else that advances your game state because most of your clicks are spent advancing agendas.

Pure rush is not gonna win. You’ll get to 5 or 6 points and lose. Have a backup plan that allows you to score the last points.

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Luck. And a Chimera if not (ie some kind of a morphing “menace”).

My most successful rush decks have all been out of Weyland, so my opinion may offer a limited look.

  1. A reason why the runner can’t keep stealing your agendas.
    Typically a kill threat via trace + meat damage.
    I also had some success taxing cards as Jinteki in a never-advance deck and also in a Valley Grid Biotech deck, but I’d never say these decks were truly good good.
    I had an HB click-taxing deck that used ELP + Ruhr Valley. Hard to click through Bioroids and hard to keep up with econ + breakers.
    Finally, I had some success with a Bryan Stinson Reversed Accounts deck that used some modestly taxing ICE. Hitting runner credit pools rarely does much in this meta, since runner economies are so over powered, so it also had to pair with a Midseasons-Boom package.

  2. ICE that complements point 1. Tax whatever it is you are taxing to slow the runner down. Cortex Lock can be great rush ICE, but it should fit into your larger strategy. If the runner ending his turn on 0-1 cards doesn’t change much for you, then you probably want a different piece of ICE.

  3. Card Draw or Agenda Tutors (Fast Track). I think Jackson is usually fine for this, and you may want to get back some econ or other key pieces. Agenda flood is less of an issue, but not a non-issue.

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This is a great article about decks that rush out agendas while they can and then fall back to a Plan B to win. It’s old, but still insightful. His opinions on GRNDL’s and NEXT Design’s strength were pretty far off, but in my opinion NEH fast advance did fulfill his prediction of rush hybrids dominating the meta game. Today, most decks that score with Caprice still fit that mold.


I think the main thing is not to get too hung up on the idea that you have to score all your points in the first 6-7 turns of every game - as someone mentioned above, just pure rush will typically lose. You want a backup win condition, which typically will be:

  1. A kill threat, SEA source in the old days, probably midseasons now.
  2. Fast advance. Biotic labour is great for this, bypassing the problem of getting to match point and getting locked. You can create somewhat of a hybrid deck by playing 3 biotics.
  3. Defensive upgrades. You’re not a glacier, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use things like ash, caprice or batty to help you score your agendas.
  4. Rig disruption. Sometimes combined with upgrades, by using Batty. Have ways to reset the rig, like hunter seeker, powershutdown, even Willow Wisp (though it’s not that good).

I think the biggest error I made in my inexperienced days trying to make rush decks was going too all-in and too cheap with my ice. You probably do want a fair bit of ETR and faster econ (clearances, assembly lines over breaker bay eves for example), but that doesn’t mean you can’t play your good in-faction ice, like elis, fairchilds, dna trackers and the like.

This is a HB deck I’ve been playing over the past little bit, I’d class it as somewhat rushy: https://netrunnerdb.com/en/deck/view/940926

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I used to play a Biotech rush deck that chains Nisei and occasionally Genetic Resequencing scores as fast as possible while keeping Caprice in a remote. Most of the ice is gearcheck, but a couple of Tollbooths make running the server multiple times painful (could be updated to DNA Tracker to free up influence - Caprice is your etr). Also if the opponent doesn’t have an answer to Excalibur they are in for a rough time. Triple fast track, triple anon tip, triple cyberdex (for medium digs).

Ideally scores two Niseis and then fast tracks for Improved Protein Source and jams it. Biotech ability takes the tempo loss out of the first Nisei score, allowing you to jam it behind a gear check turn 1 and still do something.

It’s not a top tier deck, but any durdle runners are gonna eat some genetically engineered dust. Play psi games to win if runners get their rig together.

I’m going to assume you’ve read these old articles https://stimhack.com/fine-tuning-the-machine-relearning-supermodernism/ and http://thesatelliteuplink.blogspot.com/2014/02/raging-bull-weyland-supermodernism-deck.html?m=1

Both talk about essential parts of a Rush deck. Also the TheBigBoy talked about Rush with his duo articles on Argus Terror and GRNDL.

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OH COOL. Rush is the best. I wrote too much and deleted most of it, but I think about it like this (and I usually think about it in Weyland):

  • You need to move quickly. The whole point of rush is to disrupt the other player’s setup. You need to present a credible scoring threat as soon as possible, and you need to win or stabilize before they get properly set up.
    • Install-advance a lot. You need to play really aggressively. You also need your ICE and your upgrades.
    • DRAW EXTRA CARDS/TUTOR FOR THEM/KEEP PLAYING THEM. Rush depends on a good opening draw, seeing a bunch of ICE early and drawing agendas to score; you want to score on turn 1 or 2 as often as possible.
    • You need a lot of cash, pretty quickly. Operations are great. Agenda econ is great. Econ assets often need defending or take too long to pay out, so you don’t want many/any of them; you can make an exception for stuff like Capital Investors or Melange. Your ICE is cheap, so avoid going broke.
    • Low asset builds are better. Your clicks are for playing ICE, making money and scoring out. Assets are for distracting the runner from hammering your centrals; you can run some, but not too many.
    • Upgrades are GREAT as long as they synergize with the ID. Extra pain on servers you’re already protecting is great for making the runner feel worse about running it. PriSec in a scoring server in Argus is a good example.
    • Plan for the late game. “I win before then or I lose” doesn’t count. I like to include 3-4 pieces of reasonably taxing ICE, some kind of recursion (Jackson counts) and the backup plan to mitigate this. This is where my most of decks start to fail.
  • Rush needs a backup plan. FA, damage, tag disruption, doesn’t matter. You need something to get past the last-two-points problem; if you’ve sped your way up to game point, they’ll always run. If you don’t have an out in your deck at that point, the runner can eat through your lead and score out. The key is just to destabilize them when they get into position to beat you.
    • That plan should be high-impact, not attrition. It should either win you the game or make the runner hate their options, and it shouldn’t take a lot of time to work. Obokata over Bio-ethics, for instance.
    • If the runner is wasting time, great! You want to move with maximum speed while making the runner scared/unsure about their level of aggression. The slower they go, the higher your chance of winning; if they go too fast, the higher your chance of punishing them, which then (hopefully) makes them slow down again.
    • You usually need to present your threat directly. Rushing depends to some extent on making the runner too nervous to run. If they find an answer after you get into a winning position, it doesn’t count as an answer. Letting them in to see the Midseasons is a great example.
  • The ICE doesn’t all need to be cheap ETR, but a BUNCH should be. If your econ stays online or they’re locked out of a server because of a cheapish piece of ICE that doesn’t ETR but isn’t fun to run, it counts. But mostly, your ICE should tell the runner to go find a breaker now because you’re winning too quickly.
    • Low ICE builds will not work. You need to protect centrals and a remote on like turn 2, so you can start scoring. 16-18 is good, 15 is ok, and you can keep going down the more score/access-punishment you include.
    • Nasty facechecks are amazing. Reset their board, make them hate running, score. I love running a Checkpoint in Argus (even though it’s not great in like every other deck) because I don’t care about BP there and it goes over Melange, and that server is very tempting to ignore.
    • AI sucks. Run something to counter it. It wrecks your core strategy.
    • Bypass is manageable but you need extra ICE to beat it. This is where a low-ice/not-enough-ETR deck falls apart.

Rush is always about pushing through variance in your decks to grab the stuff you need to win, playing those things QUICKLY, evaluating risk correctly because your plan is inherently unsafe, and planning for things to go wrong. I’m not super-qualified to evaluate rush as a meta call right now, although the relative absence of Faust has made it a lot easier. Hunter Seeker’s an ideal rush card, Skorpios is an ideal rush ID, Jemison seems like it’d run into deckslot/click issues if it tried to rush instead of going pure-FA, AgInfusion probably wants to be a little too deliberate with ICE placement for it to rush, Spark-headlock is fun but a little too slow, and ETF is ETF.

Rush is great!


Here’s a rush deck I used to play a bit, mainly with the intention of figuring out what the hell you were supposed to do with Builder of Nations. This is a more updated version (Midseason’s rather than SEA, because Aaron kills both dreams and puppies), but it’s shape is basically the same.

Builder of Tempo

Weyland Consortium: Builder of Nations (Blood Money)

Agenda (10)

Asset (4)

Operation (16)

Barrier (4)

Code Gate (5)

Sentry (5)

12 influence spent (max 12, available 0)
18 agenda points (between 18 and 19)
44 cards (min 40)

8 of the ICE are advanceable, which should be enough to get one advanced on all the relevant servers, which is really all I care about. I don’t want to hard advance anything, because that’s slow, and thus the 3x Kaguya. 3x Snare! and 2x Sapper is so I can feel somewhat comfortable not ICEing centrals (matchup depending) early in the game. Snare! and an advanced ICE is 4 potential damage that the runner needs to deal with (5 if it’s a Maus and they don’t have a breaker), which can slow the runner down. Shadow is kinda a POS, and it might be better to run Colossus instead, but holy shit 6 to rez is a lot of money. Plus, it needs to be in front of actual ETR ICE to do any good, whereas Shadow is at least taxing them a bit to go through.

As for the rest of the deck, it’s basically what we’re talking about. Good, cheap ETRs with a couple larger ICE for mid-game. Changeling gives us an ETR Sentry if we need it beyond just Archer, and the agendas are priced to sell, giving us tempo rather than taking it away (except Food, but that’s usually scored last anyhow, if at all).

For punishment, we have the aforementioned Snare!s and Sappers, as well as the MIdseason’s -> BOOM! combo, with a Consulting to help find things. I also threw in a single Scorch, because people these days just don’t respect it, dropping to 1 tag and thinking they’re safe. It allows wins from people keeping Snare! and Maus tags as well. Finally, Hunter Seeker punishes successful runs by taking away breakers. Sadly, Film Critic stymies both Midseasons as well as HuntSeek, but thems the breaks. Besides, someone taking an additional 2 clicks per agenda stolen is still pretty nice if you’re trying to rush.

I think a better rush deck, though, is Skorpios. It’s still got that sleek 44 card size, but with the added punishment of just RFGing all the good stuff. I think my favorite version I’ve seen used Grail ICE. That way almost all the ICE could be ETR and/or have trash subs, so you really needed to set up almost entirely before you could be safe running, but then there were Hunter Seekers and Aggressive Secretaries. It was a pretty cool build.

Removing tutors is a valid strategy if you play in 40 (not 44).
This worked great with TWIY back in the pre-MWL days, even with Noise in the field.

With “too easy” Skorpio, I play monotype. And this is “too easy”.

@Saan midori grail is hilarious, if you have the inf.

I’ve played about 20 games with some version of Supermodernism and almost never get good use out of Snare. It is such a high variance thing that a Runner will hit it at a time when the cost to you is significantly less than the cost for them. Or so it seems to me.

One thing that is weird about playing on jnet is, that people are less hesitant to “run for fear of taking damage and dying”. If I die from meat or net damage who cares, I’ll just play another game right after. You may find a damage card/strategy works somewhat better during an in-person game or tournament setting.

deck is not rushy enough if there is no fast track inside.


As everyone mentioned, an alternative wincon is a must. One deck a friend and I made a few months ago, based on an older build from netrunnerdb, includes Elective Upgrades in NEXT. Basically it makes for free biotics if you can score it as the first agenda, which can lead to an unstoppable chain if they don’t have clot.

That, and NEXT likes having 20 or so ice anyways, so you can probably double ice your remote by the first turn or 2 depending on your opponent’s deck.

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I think FA is a much better secondary wincon these days than kill. Runners are just too rich for tag-n-bag and things like Film Critic are everywhere.

I put together a GRNDL Rush deck with a secondary FA (using Biotic Labor and Audacity) as well as a grab bag of tech cards to try to mess with the Runner’s set up (MCA, Snatch and Grab, Hunter Seeker, Best Defense). I was able to squeeze out wins vs. Siphon Whizzard and DLR Andy on Jnet, so there might be something there. I don’t know if it can outrun lock-down Shapers.

Here’s the current list. Not saying it is great, but I do like the “active” feel of trying to play a rush style.


GRNDL: Power Unleashed (Fear and Loathing)

Agenda (11)
1x Geothermal Fracking (Opening Moves)
1x High-Risk Investment (Order and Chaos)
3x Hostile Takeover (Core Set)
3x Oaktown Renovation (Chrome City)
3x Project Atlas (What Lies Ahead)

Operation (20)
1x Audacity (Earth’s Scion)
1x Best Defense i[/i]
2x Biotic Labor (Core Set) ●●●●● ●●●
3x Fast Track (Honor and Profit)
3x Hedge Fund (Core Set)
2x Hunter Seeker (Terminal Directive)
3x IPO (Terminal Directive)
1x MCA Informant (Station One) ●●
3x Restructure (Second Thoughts)
1x Snatch and Grab (All That Remains)

Barrier (6)
3x Ice Wall (Core Set)
3x Self-Adapting Code Wall (Station One)

Code Gate (5)
2x Enigma (Core Set)
2x Hortum (Terminal Directive)
1x Quandary (Double Time)

Sentry (6)
3x Archer (Core Set)
3x Guard (Honor and Profit)

Other (1)
1x Chimera (Cyber Exodus)

10 influence spent (max 10, available 0)
20 agenda points (between 20 and 21)
49 cards (min 45)
Cards up to Terminal Directive

Deck built on NetrunnerDB.

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How do you feel about Hortum in the deck? To me it seems overpriced until you can advance it for anti-AI, but as Rush I feel like many games you wouldn’t want to waste a turn on that.

I’ve not faced enough Eater-Keyhole to have a strong opinion. Your concerns are valid, but I’m not sure how to avoid just losing if a Keyhole deck gets online early.

Maybe Swordsman is an option but 10 influence makes that tough.

After playing several games, it seems as if one of the key problems with Rush as an archetype is that is cannot recover from a bad start or if the Runner gets a monster start of their own. Since there is no late game in the plan of the Rush deck, it has very little ability to stabilize if the first few turns go very badly.

Maybe this is not correct, but it is how things look to me at the moment.

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id say that means deck is not good in it’s current form.

it would help to define what a ‘bad start’ is and how other decks fight ‘monster start’ by runner.

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