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Information Overload – Understanding Tells in Netrunner

Originally published at: http://stimhack.com/information-overload-understanding-tells-in-netrunner/

Discuss the latest StimHack article by @Chill84 here.


Wow! Amazing work. That was one of the best netrunner articles I have read. I believe if anyone implemented all of these ideas into their game it would significantly improve their play.


Great article. Covers a bunch of info that has kind of been percolating recently and condenses it nicely. No longer than it needs to be, gives lots of useful suggestions, and especially will help new/poor players who want to improve their game but aren’t certain how to meaningfully do it.

Nothing game-changing on its own, but lots of individual bits of small advice that, added up, I think could make a big difference. Up there with remembering the magic numbers, really.

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Hey, man, I just like to chat. Nothing nefarious, Andrew, I swear!

Great article. Varying patterns is good. Even pre-Howard, hiding things in Archives was always a fun trick. My main partner Aaron loves it, and I’ve picked up on it. Playing RP at Gencon, if I saw Security Testing, hiding things in Archives was a guaranteed safe bet. Out of the 5 Criminals I faced in 12 games, ZERO ran Archives for the access. Compare that with Eric Boivin, my first opponent on SAT playing Shaper. He KNEW there were two Shocks in there, and ran it anyway. (granted, he had recursion, but, still)

I also saw many people continually bid the same thing, time after time, at Gencon. Odd, but a trap they could fall into. I do like the idea of rolling a die, and then doing whatever. I’ve joked about rolling a variety of dice, like a D6, D8, and D10, together when doing a Psi game, just to completely throw people off.

I like f’ing with people all the time in games. Part of the fun of Netrunner. A faux heavy sigh, or taking a minute to examine a Hedge Fund or Ice Wall (or something equally mundane) when accessing from R&D. Just something to show possible incompetence or indecision on my part, esp. when playing someone I don’t know at all.


Great article, @Chill84 ! Definitely quality advice to be aware of: I’ve tried to emphasize that information is the heart of Netrunner whenever I teach or play a relatively new opponent.

Ye gods I love table banter in Netrunner. You were one of my favorite opponents at The Day Of No Biotics (aka Chicago Regionals); I also liked your CI play in the elim rounds in Louisville.

I like to use banter as a sort of jamming device when I think people are trying to read me or pull my play. Mostly it’s just commentary on humorous situations I find on the table, though. I roll a die for psi games, but half the time the die roll is meaningless :).

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Yes, this. Don’t believe a single word I say at the table once the game has started ;).


Remember if your opponent’s eye bleeds, they’re bluffing. Unless they know you know that, then they might make their eye bleed to make you think they’re bluffing.


Typically I banter my opponent a lot, so much so they don’t have the chance to do it to me. I conduct myself like this in interviews, asking so many questions, eventually I’m interviewing the interviewer. Works wonders.

I also like to help my opponent early (a habit that I developed in bettering myself, ensuring I’m always playing the best opponent I have available), so that the person is in general in a better temperament with me. Often times people will divulge lots of info when they’re in a good mood. Plus, this game is fun, you should always be happy playing!

“OK, now. Take your Desperado money. This is LAST time I’ll remind you. :smiley:

That happens a lot.


Wow really great article. The content was first rate, but the highlight for me is your your writing style. Fun read.

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Amazing article. I think sorting out your information game is the last thing good players tend to need to do before they become great players, and there are some very strong players I know who fall just a little bit short ONLY because they don’t sufficiently information game. These are the sorts of people who will always roll and obey dice for a psi game or shuffle a couple of cards before mushining.

There is something to be said for being completely unpredictable, but recognizing when you have a read on your opponent and drawing them into a particular line of play can be an overwhelming skill. At the same time, establishing and breaking patterns can be a powerful way to throw your opponents off your trail. All of this advice is gold.

The only thing I would add is deception. While it’s not really about gaining information, planting false information for your opponent can be super helpful. Asking questions that would only be relevant if you had a certain card that you don’t actually have is a great way to get your opponent to play around phantom bullshit that doesn’t exist. For example, asking about credits and cards in hand in CI or Making News when you’re NOT playing scorched can often get your opponent to drop a useless plascrete.


Oh for sure. I’ll help my opponent quite a bit unless their demeanor is dragging me down :). Happy, good opponents are so much nicer than unhappy bad ones :).

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High Praise! Thank you! Additionally, implementing all of these ideas into ones game has been scientifically proven to increase sexual attractiveness.

Still unbelievable, your anecdote from when we were talking at gencon was foremost in my mind when I was writing that part.

Of course, it would be really rude to show your opponent all of the hidden agendas in archives after you win, so it would probably take a while to learn to check archives the hard way.

You as well my good sir. The article about how to cut your opponents win conditions to the bottom of his deck is forthcoming.

Which is why I now bid 3 on psi games. New meta.

Indeed, and if it weren’t for the existence of poker, I would just assume that it’s not even a learnable skill. One of my netrunner goals is to become better at making those hard reads.


One thing that taught me a lot about this skill was playing Yomi, a card game which simulates a fighting game where the main mechanic is a form of Rock-Paper-Scissors. I find that if neither playing is picking randomly, one of them tends to be being exploited, (one player has a read on the other). Actually getting the read on your opponent mostly just comes down to intuition. How many steps ahead are they thinking, what is the highest expected value play, etc. Getting that read on your opponent usually feels like nothing more than dumb luck. Sometimes you’re thinking on the right level to beat them a huge percentage of the time, and sometimes you aren’t.

The actual hard part of this is not identifying what they’re going to do, (it’s next to impossible to always be mindfucking every opponent), but identifying quickly when you’re coming out ahead or they are, so you can react accordingly, either by randomizing if they have the leg up on you, or continuing to make reads if you’re the one taking advantage of them.


I show them every time, 'cause I’m such a nice chap.


great article chill.

i usually start off games against people i don’t know with a question like " how long have you been playing netrunner? and/or what’s your favorite faction ?

seems innocent right but how long someone has been playing is a good cue about how much they know about the entire card pool and how much experience they have overall.

favorite faction is to get someone who won’t talk talking and also lets me start to create a profile of their possible play style. netrunner players cannot resist talking about their favorite ids lol.

in the beginning of the game i’ll often talk out loud and say something when im making my exploratory runs " what’s the worst that could happen?" what the person says in response is less important than if they actually respond. my decision to run or not run has already been made but im laying the groundwork for a future turn when i am uncertain and i ask the same question.

other sick things that can carry over from poker are reinforcing behavior you want to see. if the corp player leaves RnD/HQ open and i pull agendas or siphon them i almost always attribute it to luck. " aww bad luck man, i have the siphon/indexing." i don’t want my opponent to be reminded they could have done something differently to change the result.

if you are up against a chatty player be careful not in what you say but when you say it. for players that talk a lot at the table their table talk is kind of like a sonar ping on a submarine. they are constantly pinging looking for any anomaly and often the anomaly that helps them the most is when the other player responds or doesnt.


Great article Andrew. You’re skill is definitely shown through the writing here.

Requests for information are one of my favorite ways to screw with my opponents. I sporadically ask for credit counts and cards in hand no matter what deck I’m playing.

Top deck choices are another great focus, especially now that you don’t shout “NAPD!” when you reveal one. A lot of information goes to the corp when you audibly sigh when you access R&D.

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Loved the article. A lot of good info… makes me think of a lot of articles Magic players have written on the same subject.

Some other things I think about:

If my opponent is rolling a die for psi game, and I think he’s actually following the result, as the runner I should always bid 0. If they are randomly choosing, I have the same chance to succeed no matter what I bid, so 0 is the correct bid. Of course, the problem is when they roll a die but don’t follow it. If you’re going to roll a die you’d better know what you are bidding regardless of the result, because if you pause after rolling the die you give up the game.

Similarly, thinking about every card you could draw and what you would do if you draw it before taking any actions is a big advantage. This is more true for Magic where you draw a card every turn, but in Netrunner, making fast decisions still gives away less information. Thinking about possible outcomes and then making decisions in a quick burst both gives away less information about the plays you are considering, and also gives your opponent less time to think inbetween your own plays. Plan out your turn in advance as much as possible. This will naturally get you thinking about things you need to anyways… if you access NAPD, will you pay to steal it? If you access Snare, what will your next two actions be? Sometimes this will highlight good and bad plays, but also let you carry them out quickly.

Another benefit is playing quickly will often cause your opponent to try to play quicker too–people like being in sync with others, it’s why manners were created. If they’re not prepared to play at the pace you set, they will often misplay more.

I see a lot of people playing with their emotions written plainly on their face. It seems a bit obvious, but heaving a huge sigh of relief when they miss on R&D digs or making frustrated sounds when you draw poorly gives away a ton of info. That being said, “bluffing” those tells can be dangerous too. Sometimes I can tell my opponent is obviously bluffing an emotional reaction, and then I have just as much info as if they actually showed me the emotion they feel, since I know what they want me to believe. Other times I just throw out that info as background noise that doesn’t tell me anything I can act on. I find it very useful to be able to impassively play and make decisions. When I don’t show emotions physically, I find it easier to control them as well, and this leads to fewer misplays.

Can we make #fundamentals a thing? :smiley:


Great article, Andrew. Really solid advice in a bite-sized format.

My favorite thing to do early–especially against new opponents–is to make overt guesses about their deck and play style early. I run HQ first click and ask them if they want to rez their wraparound, for example. Or I’ll point to a (face down) remote and say “I’m running that Jackson.” Sometimes it gives me information if the player is careless, but even if it doesn’t it makes for a more fun playing experience for us both.

I generally play my psi games based on what is the smartest play, but I make an effort to purposely do the “wrong” choice sometimes. I’ll sometimes flip a coin or token to help me decide whether I should do the stupid guess so that people can’t get a read on my psi game logic.

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Interesting. I won three games at Regionals by running on Archives with Andy-- I think Security Testing was quite relevant in luring people into thinking I would never “actually run” there.