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How do you think about "win conditions" in ANR?

My relationship with Magic and Netrunner runs backwards compared to most people I’ve met who play both games. I have played Netrunner for a couple of years now, and only picked up Magic for the first time in March of this year.

Playing Magic and reading advice about playing Magic has me wondering about how we conceptualize win conditions in Netrunner.

In Magic, a deck’s win condition is often about getting certain cards to stick when played. So you might say a deck that was recently strong in the Standard meta game has as its win condition getting to untap with Scarab God on the table. Victory is won by getting the opponent down to zero life, but the win condition has to do with getting certain cards into play or establishing a certain board status.

In Netrunner, I find my thinking about winning is more on the goal than the win condition. How do I win Netrunner, you might ask me? And I’ll mostly likely talk about getting to 7 points by scoring or stealing agendas. I can talk about some tools that I have to try to help me get there, but I don’t often think in terms of “if I get to this board position” that is my win condition.

Does the idea of “win condition” make sense in Netrunner? Are there ways it is helpful to think about this? Are there ways it is not helpful? Can you give some examples of how you think about that?

I think of win conditions in netrunner as the general strategy that your deck enables you to employ to get to your victory. Some quick examples:

FTT Val pressure every central server with Mining Accident + RNG key + Omar such that the corp needs to invest a significant amount of resources stopping them from getting tempo positive accesses. It uses stimhack to attack the remote, which is hopefully weaker because of all the attention being applied to centrals.

Pirate Hayley establishes a tempo positive breaker suite and aims for reasonably fast setup time. It can do remote camping but also makes significant value out of DDM runs to force the corporation to not devote too much time to its remote, or to win despite it.

Palana Glacier uses spiky ice, rush, and marcus batty to try and quickly establish a remote to jam a nisei Mk2 into and get scored as soon as possible. With Marcus Batty and Nisei Mk2 it has plans to force you through a remote multiple times to steal an agenda, and aims to tax you out of being able to repeatedly do this.

Argus uses gear check ice to force the runner to find their breakers at an unreasonably fast rate, and follows up with Econ warfare into HHN to make the runner vulnerable if they sacrifice their economy for finding the breakers.


I agree with @miek about the general strategies. That is how I typically approach win conditions in Netrunner as well. I think one difficulty with the concept of single-card win conditions in Netrunner is that Netrunner is designed such that scoring points costs you money, so every step closer to victory is also a step back, it is always a trade-off.

On the other hand, there are definitely certain cards that could qualify as win conditions. Nisei Mk2, Exchange of Information, Hard-Hitting News or Boom come to mind. I would put them into the same category as the MtG win-conditions - single cards that, if you get to play/stick them, win you the game (or at least put you into a really good position). Interestingly, I can’t really come up with a runner card that fits this description. Multiacces like Deep Data Mining don’t quite cut it, I think. Here it may be more about (econ-)engines.

Maybe it makes more sense to talk about “scoring conditions” in Netrunner instead of outright “win-conditions”?

Generally I’d agree, but I think there are definitely decks in Netrunner than can win by assembling a specific set of cards. Basically that would include “lock” decks on either side. Pre-MWL Bio-Ethics IG is probably the best example, but there have been many decks that would qualify (D2D MN, Lock Hayley, Congress Kate, Nexus Power Tap Crim/Sunny).

Runner side can be pretty ridiculous lately, if you manage to assemble a combination of infinite money (via Underworld Contacts, Data Folding, Bad Pub, etc.) and ways to deny the opponent their outs (Clot, The Source, The Black File, Security Nexus, etc.). There are definitely games that feel over before they’re over.

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i think ‘win condition’ is a thing that is often thrown around as a reductionist way of reviewing a deck
"what is your wincon?" as if getting money and making runs as the runner isn’t a viable strategy

in this way, wincon makes me think of combo decks (dyper, incubator/hivemind/medium dig, etc. on the runner side; CI7 or 24/7 BN Boom!, etc. on the corpside) that build to specific board state and just win unless the opponent has a specific answer

i agree that it should be used to talk about a general strategy because combos are possible but not the norm in netrunner. will you try to establish an R&D lock or remote camp? will you rush out agendas or build a taxing remote and try to bluff things in it like Reversed Accounts / NGO Front? or something else, like trying to flood HQ, deck the corp, flatline the runner or mill them out of HP.
in this way, wincon is the primary strategy for trying to win the game. Titan rush’s primary strategy is winning on points and very quickly. CI7 tries to assemble particular cards in HQ and a certain number of credits to outright win the game (and has various contingencies for runner counters that will disrupt your combo turn)
decks of course can have a secondary wincon as well. if Titan rush has some hard-hitting news and Boom!, the threat is possible, but as a titan rush deck, it’s not the primary goal (or it really shouldn’t be). if you want the primary goal of flatlining the runner, you have to go all-in on that goal the detriment of not planning to win on points except as a way to put a clock on the runner and pressure them to run so you can tag and bag em