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How to deal with Keyhole?

Yesterday, I played a game on OCTGN. I was playing a “Death by a Thousand CutsJinteki PE variant and my opponent Whizzard. His rig was composed of a Desperado, a Security Testing, a Datasucker, a Knight and a Keyhole.

I started installing an ICE in front of both HQ and R&D, but as soon as he installed Keyhole (turn 2) he spent his whole turns keyhole-ing R&D, trashing all my ICEs and agendas while destroying whatever ICE I could put in front of R&D with Parasite recursion. I got lucky and top-decked 2 Jacksons when there was enough agenda points in archive. But the third time was game.

So I was wondering: what are the best counters to Keyhole?

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A combination of RnD ICE taxing enough to make triple runs unfeasible (just two Pups will do, really) and Archives ICE reasonable enough to stop them from checking Archives every 2 turns or so. If those two servers cost them enough, you’ll be able to mostly predict when they’re about to make an Archives run and do something with that information (score that turn, put down a Jackson ready to use, whatever). There’s Parasite recursion, yes - but it takes time and money. ICE cheap enough to be throwaway for you and taxing enough to be parasite bait for them are your friends (think Pup, Eli, Popup, Yagura).

Also, probably trying to score more aggressively than you normally would is a good idea - Keyhole limits their rig (2 MU, omg :slight_smile: ) and you’re on a “getting decked” clock anyway. The memory aspect is particularly important - in your example, the dude only had 1 MU left. This means that if he plays another permanent program, he can’t parasite anymore. If he doesn’t, he only has Knight to handle your ICE.

Oh, and remember - if they’re Keyholing, they don’t know what you’re drawing (because of the reshuffle)… so spamming Keyhole becomes mostly an “all-in” kind of plan for them - if they can’t win off of it, they’re done.

And, as always - if you want to understand how their deck works, build it and play it yourself. You’ll find the flaws much faster that way!


Damagefocused Jinteki:PE is likely one of the best match-ups for Keyhole-centered decks.
I would probably try to setup a archive flatline since you can probably not score 7 agendapoints fast enough and he will most likely not be flatlined since he’s not accessing.

PeekaySK pretty much covered it. If you’re playing something like the Cambridge PE build then it’s a very rough match-up for you (there’s a fantastic video on the Stimhack website of a match-up like this where the Corp’s deck just goes into archives 4 cards at a time). Personally I would dig like crazy for Ronins and Overwriters, play them out as quickly as possible and hope to get lucky.

In general I wouldn’t expect to see it too much though. The 2MU is just too painful for most decks to handle, it’s not that great against decks that can put a heavy tax on getting into R&D and Medium is just better against FA because it locks R&D.


Thanks @PeekaySK, @Ilza and @bayushi_david for your replies.

I would love to see that one!

I’m not sure this really works does it? I wouldn’t be “checking” archives every couple of turns - I know what’s there so I’m only running to close out the game. The only thing that changes this is the presence of Jackson Howard. But even then I can probably snipe agendas (and Jacksons) quicker than you can Jackson them back.

Again, this doesn’t work on two counts. Once the runner realises what you’re doing he has two options: a) go for the decking (risky) or b) just refuse archives until 7 points are definitely in there. Remember you can choose to access archives in any order so Shock! and Shi Kyu do nothing if the winning agenda is in there.

This flavour of Jinteki is just a walkover matchup for Keyhole.

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It’s pretty important, actually - unless you’re also running Medium (and have, like, two Cybersolutions out or something :P), you’re probably not doing both Keyhole and regular runs. Thus, you don’t really have a good idea about when a Jackson is coming - they could have one in hand at any time. Even if you can count three trashed Jacksons, they could still be running Archived Memories and/or Interns, etc. That’s why you want to be snatching Agendas as soon as it’s convenient - it just adds to the pressure, because now I don’t have to get into Archives to win, and Jackson might not help you - I could pull a random one from HQ, I could snatch one from a remote, I could Maker’s Eye for one, etc.

Sure, there’s cases where you just straight out need to steal all the agendas in one fell swoop (Iain, The Source, NACH, that kind of thing), but that’s mostly full-on Keyhole-dedicated deck we’re talking. If Keyhole is just one of your tools and you just want to get to 7 by the most convenient means necessary, don’t marry yourself to the glory run, it’s an unnecessary weakness that can potentially be exploited.

Or, think about it this way: if you don’t ICE archives properly, I can go get the agendas from there as soon as they total 7, regardless of what the rest of the board state looks like. Think “4th click and freshly broke from the last Keyhole run”. With decent Archives ICE, that isn’t an option and the corp just bought himself a turn to try to win/recover/whatever.

It’s the top video on the front page: http://stimhack.com/netrunner-worcester-july14-round-2-game-2/.

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Oh man, that game was downright painful to watch. The first thing you do vs. Keyhole is make the RnD run cost at least 1 credit (just count the number of trashed agendas that would have saved him right there). He could have done that at the earliest convenience, yet opted to get a Shock and a Shi Kyu into archives (which is a much lower priority).


Is that even worth doing when the runner can choose the order of the cards s/he can access from the archives?

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It potentially makes sense if you can pull some crazy-ass stunt out of left field, like double-Jacksoning (which then becomes GG instead of just “haha, suckered. Bought myself an extra turn or two”). But that takes time and set-up, hence why I’d consider it way lower priority.

(Also, I’d leave the Shocks in hand, in case I get hit with a Legwork - that’s a card that makes a lot of sense with Keyhole spam)

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I disagree with this based on running Keyhole for a long time. As long as the Corp gives me easy access to R&D I will Keyhole run every click possible. It’s literally the most damaging card in the game, IMHO.

Think of Keyhole compared to Data Leak Reversal. DLR is considered one of the (if not The) most powerful cards for the Runner, although it’s takes a precarious position to take advantage of. If you have DLR ready to go you will (in almost all cases) mill a random card every click until the Corp trashes it. In the case of Keyhole you also get to mill a card, but you get your choice and you also get to scout out what else the Corp is running!

If the Corp lets you, just keep milling all their ICE and recursion (my favorite strategy for Keyhole) and then you can go steal the agendas later.

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I did that once, a while back, alongside Medium. Parasited away their R&D Ice, Keyholed away every problem Ice I saw, and then used the Medium counters to score ever so many points all at once. Not sure that’s the best way to do it, but it can be pretty damn effective, especially against glacier decks, because they don’t get to know what you saw. Maybe your luck at seeing Agendas is just terrible, after all.

I’m inclined to agree here. This debate started with a Jinteki player asking what to do about a Keyhole deck that destroys ICE and blows R&D wide open. I don’t deny @PeekaySK’s point that Keyhole, when used as a utility card steals the agendas when it can, but the deck in question here doesn’t do that and so the advice given is poor, IMHO - it applies to a different situation. The Archive “check” does not exist for the out and out Keyhole deck - that run happens once and once only, and when it does it’s game over. The Corp is not recovering from that position once R&D is open, irrespective of Jackson, pretty much.

So this is a situation in which defence against a particular card is different depending on the context. Where Keyhole is a toolbox option (probably in Shaper) and you can reasonably expect multiple runs on Archives, trapping is not unreasonable but probably not your strongest option. Trapping Archives effectively requires over-drawing, which probably means you need an early Jackson. That also has the knock-on effect of agenda flooding yourself in the process so you usually end up doing the runner’s job for him and blowing Jackson to rescue agendas you have forced yourself to discard. Better to solidfiy your ICE field first in this situation.

For OP’s original scenario you need to be a bit more selective about which ICE you play. You can’t afford to rez ICE on a whim to make a single run expensive if that ICE is just going to die straight away. That will kill your economy as it will cost you more to play and refresh ICE than it does for Mr. Anarch to kill it. You might keep pace for a little while but you’ll only be treading water and then it’s only a matter of time. Your best bet is a solid piece of ICE on R&D that the runner can’t easily kill (Lotus Field would be ideal, Tollbooth not too bad either). That on its own will keep out the runner for a while while you get set up. But as I said before, this is a really tough matchup for Jinteki - their trap options are basically impotent to Keyhole and their ICE is taxing to break but very easy to kill (except Lotus).


Not a current solution to the problem, but in the future when All That Remains drops, having a Hostile Infrastructure in a somewhat-protected remote would stop both Keyhole and DLR strategies, or at least slow them down somewhat. It may be a required include in these decks.

Multiple-scored House of Knives would also slow them down, though it may not make them stop.


My favourite thing about HI is that it isn’t unique. Two for quasi siphon-protection seems simple enough, and makes many other traps more annoying for the runner to handle/defang trick of light on.

Hostile Infrastructure doesn’t stop DLR. DLR’s text states “The Corp trashes the top card of R&D.” Hostile Infrastructure only works “[w]henever the Runner trashes a Corp cards”.


Caprice is powerful on R&D versus Keyhole (since it prevents actual accessing of cards, meaning she cannot be trashed, even if you lose) and cannot be parasited away.

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Good catch, I missed that. Well, DLR is at least easier to deal with anyway.

Great point. I forgot this in a tourney once and really made me sad.

“Yay! I won the Psi Game! Wait…what!? I can’t trash Caprice??? Shit…”