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HQ Aggression

I wanted to make a thread about HQ aggression. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In my experience, not too many Runners since I have been playing seriously (Lunar Cycle) focus on HQ. It is important versus Fast Advance, but besides that the only Runner I really see go for HQ is Gabe. RND lock seems all the rage, and for good reason.

I know the advantages of RND lock. Seeing cards before the Corp has a chance to, most importantly agendas, is huge. But what about those Agendas that could be lurking in HQ? Maybe it all comes down to Legwork. If you have Legwork, you can wait until you score enough from RND to check HQ.

That said, I think HQ aggression is undervalued. Obviously it works a little differently than RND lock. To make HQ lock effective, you have to be able to threaten a scoring remote, otherwise the Corp can just toss agendas they draw into the remote. Legwork may be a reason why HQ lock isn’t really a thing, but even Legwork can miss sometimes. Another reason is possibly that it is difficult to achieve a true HQ lock, if the Corp keeps 5 cards in hand. Not even 3 HQI guarantees you’ll see everything.

Maybe this is a stupid thread, but consider it a place to discuss the merits or lack thereof of aggressively targeting HQ as a Runner. Anarchs have all the best tools I think (Imp/Lamprey/Nerve Agent come to mind), but Criminals have HQI/Sneakdoor and Shapers can easily splash for things.

Is HQ lock never worthwhile? Has HQ ever been more of a target in the meta than RND? Being able to threaten both HQ and RND is ideal, and I think Anarch can do that, but I think the more standard move is to pressure RND before HQ. Why is this? Am I wrong to think that (outside of a surprise Legwork) HQ is becoming more and more safe for the Corp, not necessarily due to changes in the card pool but due to Runner behavior? The best course to me would seem to be heavy HQ aggression early, and then shift to RND aggression, but more often I see Runners skip HQ and go straight for RND.

I think the best HQ pressure might be Valencia with Raymond Flint, HQI, Itinerant Protesters, maybe 1 or 2 Sneakdoor and Bad Pub.

I’ve been noticing I probably do under-focus HQ in my games as a runner.

I think an RND lock is more valuable because it’s a constant source of fresh cards that your opponent has little control over. HQ tends to be tasty or completely dry at different points in the game, and the sudden burst ability of legwork is more important than being able to maintain consistent pressure on it IMO. If my opponent is seeing alot of my HQ but little else, I can usually play around it as the corp by just building my remote and making sure it’s ready to put an agenda into; I can also use Jackson to rid my hand of agendas if I draw them at a bad time. And if playing fast advance with an Astro token or biotic in hand, going after HQ can be a wasted effort if the only agendas likely to pile up are NAPDs.

A solid R&D lock is harder to play against. NEH can try and break it with fast track, but most decks don’t use it. Preventing the agendas from ever reaching HQ has to be more effective than preventing the corp from keeping them in HQ.

I think the best way is sustained pressure on R&D with the ability to threaten sudden burst on HQ if the corp overdraws looking for an agenda. Even if you don’t have the R&D lock, it’s usually not that hard to tell when the time is ripe for legwork.


The other problem is that there’s a lot of fun things that trigger on HQ runs (siphon being the biggest one). So HQ tends to be harder to get into right from turn 1.

You will see me protecting HQ and leaving R&D open way more often than the opposite. Really.


I’ll just refer you to this tweet of mine: https://twitter.com/PeekaySK/status/479527473332629504

Even more true today than it was then, I feel. With a 1-ICE opening, I’ll stick it on HQ basically every time, even against Professor. Cards in HQ are cards you’ve already drawn, where cards in RnD you’re just waiting to draw. Usually hurts much more to lose the first kind, especially to stuff like Imp.

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Events trigger off HQ, so people are more prone to protect it, as said here. Also, in the NEH match up, half the time if they have an agenda, they’re scoring it so its in a remote. Against RP that isn’t so true though.

Near future -> Wanton destruction will give you all the HQ attack you need, especially with other events already doing it. We won’t see much accessing from HQ soon I think…

It could just be that they’re missing the Biotic or SanSan for it (or don’t want to score it because Beale/NAPD). NEH has a pretty high agenda density and draws a LOT - often they keep a lot in their hand if they’re not scoring. In fact, I’d say Legwork does better than average against NEH.

In both NEH and RP though, if DBS is not killed they will not have any agendas in their hand unless they’re going to score it/advance it respectively. This does increase R&D density over time though.


Only in discrete jumps as jackson shuffles them away from the bottom. Not that you should be letting DBS live long enough for it to be worth counting. That thing is basically biotic labor on a stick. Versus RP, I basically account for it the same as extra copies of jackson, just another tool for durdling that won’t last indefinitely.

I don’t really have any insights on HQ locking as a tactic, except that it’s fundamentally weaker tnan R&D lock as the corp can decide whether or not it’s worth it to fight the HQ lock or accept it. There may still be a time/place for it, but as runner, I’d rather just pack legworks.

Yeah, completely agreed.

DBS is a kill-on-sight.

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I agree, and like you and Calimsha, I almost always prioritize ICE over HQ turn 1, unless I am playing Shaper. Not nearly as many shapers are playing TME nowadays, and opting for RDI instead, so it may be that HQ is a greater liability turn 1 versus Shapers, as many are splashing Legwork, and losing agendas out of HQ turn 1 to Shaper really hurts when they tend to be very strong vs RND later on.

No HQ/archives pressure is probably the #1 reason why shaper sucks right now.


Fisk will probably be the very good at HQ agression, since you can force the corp to draw an agenda and steal it right before their turn!
[Yeah, I know Fisk will probably be one of the worst criminal, but I can’t help but like the guy].

Shaper absolutely doesn’t suck right now if you build them right. Lady coming out was a big boost to that. They have pretty much their entire influence on luxuries now (bar one on a Mimic and/or Femme) - something other factions don’t really get.

They don’t have Archives pressure, sure, but they have HQ pressure with Legwork. They splash for it, but doesn’t Andromeda also splash for RDI?


Well, from this point of view, Crim don’t have any kind of R&D pressure, then. And we know what happens to those gabe deck without any R&D Multi-access. They just lose flat against any kind of semi-rush deck.

but they could steal anything they want when they hit R&D…

At least on HQ I know what I’m worrying about. That single ice is going on R&D more often than not. I shall not be locked.

HQ is almost always the first server to get one and two pieces of ICE. It’s an expensive endeavor to run HQ aggressively. Against NEH, you have to leverage your credits into a timely Legwork for maximum value, otherwise you’re going broke quick. Against RP, and glacier in general, random accesses on HQ are less of a priority because you know an agenda will sit installed for turn before being scored. Aggressively running HQ against glacier can actually open up the scoring window they need.

It’s tough to be a runner right now.

edit: With that said I do actively hit HQ in the first few turns pretty heavily as a runner, as you can get a lot of free accesses with Corps being afraid of siphons. And a first turn HQ rez means odds are really good they are flooded.

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I don’t understand this sentiment. Spags did phenomenally at Worlds with his Shaper, and Calimsha has torn up the Stimhack league with his update to PrePaid Kate. Why do people think Shaper sucks right now? It is still an incredibly powerful faction, much more so than Anarch IMO.

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I understand the OP’s feeling here. I think there’s a bit of vicious cycle going on; as many have responded, Corps often ice HQ fast and hard to avoid losing their knowledge advantage, as well as avoiding many of the most powerful run events. In turn runners are, in some cases, starting to give up on HQ in many games.

People are talking a lot about wanton destruction, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it will be The Big Show for anarch HQ pressure, but I also feel many of the virus manipulation cards like hivemind, incubator, and breeding ground will make HQ lock with Nerve Agent, aided by imps or demo runs or edward kim, a reality.

HQ lock is definitely worthwhile! It’s not as easy to do as R&D lock, but attacking HQ short of truly “locking HQ” has tremendous value w/r/t disrupting the Corporation’s gameplan and pulling the player off their gameplan. I don’t play as much as I used to, but I have not noticed a decrease in HQ vulnerability. Legwork has been enormous for HQ pressure, and it seems like all the good decks bring an Imp to the party: Imp (and soon Wanton Destruction and Edward Kim as well) have c-c-c-combo breaking power that is often the difference between life and death. Legwork is the “sweep the leg” of Netrunner, crushing corporate dreams when played at an opportune time. Account Siphon / Vamp is showing it’s age (thankfully!) but (thankfully!) remains relevant at strategic points as well.

The Big Thing with HQ is that your ability to apply pressure (and potential lock) to it is proportional to your ability to threaten remote scoring servers. Some corporations practically hand you the keys to that section of their kingdom for free (traditional fastrobiotics / CI, for notable instances); if you’re able to control remotes, attempting to control HQ makes perfect sense. If you cannot control or at least threaten remotes, attacking R&D makes more sense.