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Long interview with David Stone, ANR designer

Actually NEXT Design is a decent counter to Criminal / Account Siphon. People continually judge it as “at best a 6 click headstart” and fall back to EtF for long-term economy, but actually the tempo it gives you against certain decks is huge. You won’t notice a huge advantage vs. Noise who does his own thing, but against Criminal and Kit who can do some serious damage early on with a limited rig it’s quite strong. You can force your opponent to need two breakers (or other tech) to get into HQ for a Siphon, and the fact that they aren’t siphoning you means their economy is stretched and yours goes further than it otherwise might.

I like what Hollis had to say here about the interview:

"He seemed to be putting an amazing amount of effort into sounding mysterious and enlightened, without actually putting the rest of us on to the path of enlightenment as well. The whole dancing around “hey, there’s a card I think is incredibly undervalued but I’m not going to tell you what it is!” (~20:28) was really weird. My experience is that when people do that sort of stuff, they are usually posturing to look more important than they are. However, Damon has a very extravagant persona in this interview – could just be that shaping his words.

I was really hoping to hear discussion of specifics. Instead, we mostly got high-level hand-wavy suggestions and implications that were incredibly difficult to evaluate or go out and test. His whole spiel about “How NBN aught to be played” was very motivating, but it also came across as naive. Specifically:

Damon said around 59:08 "So, NBN’s idea was always about taxing the runner. You want in? Come in. I don’t mind! I’ll even let you in. These four pieces of ice? Ohh Don’t worry about that! None of them are end the run. Ohh, and here’s a tag. Here’s two tags. What? You’re now six credits low? Excellent. Ohh this? Ohh sorry, Ghost Branch. Four tags. Now my turn. And i’ll lay this out, score it from hand because of all those tags you have and lay this out and score it from hand. You know, and that’s how that is intended to play…. "

I hope it is self-evident this is a best-case scenario. Stuff like this happens maybe one in fifty games. It is not actually a realistic expectation – more of a windfall. And even when situations like this have occurred, you have usually over-committed to a remote server and the runner is destroying you on a central somewhere. I sincerely hope that Damon isn’t advocating that NBN be played by waiting to get struck by lightning

The next thing Damon said was:

“You’re not supposed to put out agendas until you get your runner tagged. I get some tags, suddenly you’re super scared…”

This might be good advice against a mediocre, first-time opponent but against people you have past history with, or against opponents that can make assumptions based on meta-knowledge, this is such terrible advice that it makes me a little apprehensive about where A:NR is going.

On his discussion about Scorched Earth, maybe I misinterpreted what was being said, but it sounded to me like he was implying that Muresh Bodysuit was good protection against Scorched Earth. This was really weird, since it’s (obviously?) not. It has value against PSF lock that does a little meat damage over lots of turns, but it really doesn’t do anything against lots of meat damage all on one turn. I guess you could pair it with Public Sympathy, but Damon specifically said “Muresh Bodysuit” not “Muresh plus Public Sympathy”.

Lack of specific, realistic examples really detracts from Damon’s credibility in this interview. If he were a corp, he’d definitely be earning some bad publicity right about now.

In short, he came off as a snake-oil salesman to me.

As a final remark, since I just cannot resist it, I really enjoyed the comment at 1:01:40 of “I did in two or three turns of one click, one click, or you know one credit, one credit, do some other stuff, one credit. Ohh, you’re going to run [ohh, take three net damage]! So what I did in two or three turns, you now have to compensate for in one entire turn. So I can expand the work that I do and spread it out, but you have to do it all in one go because if you don’t – hey look, scorched earth… who knew! Or, you know, Neural EMP, Neural EMP, and you’re dead.”

I like this comment because it sets up a contingency: either this was an intentional design decision of A:NR and I have a good understanding of how to play the game (in fact Damon implies this is an underappreciated concept, so I can probably place myself well above average), or Damon presented this game concept in a slightly unethical way, (probably unintentionally) misappropriating it as his own.

Either way, the outcome lends weight to all my above comments (one by way of expertise, the other by way of questionable motives of the speaker compromising the integrity of his words). For the record, my best guess is that I have a fairly good understanding of how to play A:NR well; I doubt Damon was forgetting to cite his sources."

Edit From Sneaky: I added the quote in full. :wink:


Just to make sure I’m not losing my mind, but Hollis isn’t suggesting that Damon “stole” the idea of how Jinteki works from him, is he? Like… that’s completely bonkers if he is.

I think it’s important to put Damon’s comments in context – he’s not necessarily just talking about high-level tournament play, he’s also talking to the entire field of ANR players, including new ones or people who haven’t explored new concepts in deck design and strategy. Things that are like “duh” to us may not be so obvious to some players.

@szymkodf Now that I reread that part carefully, I did notice that it pretty clearly can be read as you are reading it: as implying that the designers may have only accidentally developed Jinteki to hinge on “work compression” (and that work compression was an implicit mechanic that had yet to be discovered by even the developers).

Hollis could then be seen as indirectly implying that only until his BGG article on work compression was this mechanic made explicit (or at least not until then did we have a term to assign to the mechanic).

But yeah, I agree with you that I think the mechanic is already pretty explicit (even before Hollis’s article) that Jinteki’s net damaging burdens the runner’s clicks (as well as his card draw), and so it isn’t a mere credit advantage competition as it might be against other corps.

Like Kopinsky says in the short clip where he discusses his GenCon win. Runners easily get a lot of money, so he decided to play Jinteki since it taxes runners in a different way (instead of trying to compete against runners through econ which is what runners are already better at getting).

I can’t remember if Damon uses the term compression in the interview, and if he did, then I don’t doubt he very likely got it from reading the BGG forums (and using the term for that mechanic seems to originate from Hollis’s article). However, regardless, as you say, I think the mechanic was already explicit (and I think it was explicit to the developers) before they had that term to use for it.

My guess is: if Damon is doing anything, it is just borrowing a term to use for something he was already aware of (which isn’t unethical at all and wouldn’t require citation/as if such a context would require citation anyway).

Szymkodf wrote:

Just to make sure I’m not losing my mind, but Hollis isn’t suggesting that Damon “stole” the idea of how Jinteki works from him, is he? Like… that’s completely bonkers if he is.

No, I am most certainly not suggesting that. Here’s the logic behind what probably came across as a fairly indignant comment:

(option 1) If something similar to “work compression” was a deliberate design decision for Jinteki, then:

Hey, cool, I seem to have stumbled onto an idea that FFG thinks is really important for Jinteki but that Damon seems to suggest many players are having a hard time grasping. Kudos to me. This probably means I understand other parts of the game fairly well too, which adds a little weight to my critique of Damon’s suggestions. It doesn’t prove I am right and he’s wrong, but hopefully gets people thinking a little more critically about the advice Damon is giving.

(option 2) However, if something similar to “work compression” was NOT a deliberate design decision then:

He’s borrowing this idea from community knowledge. As far as I know, I was the first person to try explicitly laying out anything like “work compression”. I doubt I was the first person to ever think about it (I’ve spoken with numerous people who have said things to the effect of “hey, I really liked your article! I have been thinking of something very similar to this, but just haven’t been able to put it into words yet. Your article really helped crystalize my ideas!”).

Anyways, Damon’s specific wordage of the Jinteki example bore a more-than-superficial similarity to what I said in my Jinteki article, which makes me suspect he’s read it and borrowing terminology from it.

So, the question is: is Damon effectively giving a nod and saying “hey dude, you figured the puzzle out! Grats!” (option 1), or is he borrowing this idea from the community knowledge as an example of how to play Jinteki (option 2)?

I have very strong feelings about a) giving credit where credit’s due for any sort of substantial progress on refining ideas and b) preserving knowledge of how ideas change over time. If (option 2) is correct, then I personally find his presentation a little distasteful, even if it was well-intentioned, since it did neither of these things. Taken in the context of everything else he said, I would feel a little uneasy about his moral standards and the motivations behind everything else he said in the interview. This doesn’t make my argument more persuasive, but it makes his less.

I think the overwhelmingly likely possibility is something similar to (option 1). The existence of (option 2) is only relevant insofar as it lets me say “no matter how you look at the situation, I think we should really be skeptical about what Damon’s saying here”. That is the main point.

Yes, my post had a very indignant tone, and maybe that gave off the impression that I am somehow resentful or insane in thinking Damon “stole something that belonged to me”. Not at all the case. I just thought the content of the interview was surprisingly low-quality, to the point where I was honestly surprised it came from a developer’s mouth. That’s all.


Fair enough. Putting his Jinteki comments into context, he followed it up by talking about how NBN is designed to tax runners, and should be built around that. So I think he was just saying each faction has certain strengths and weaknesses, and trying to fit a square peg into a circular hole would not work.

I always enjoy reading your analysis, and I doubt you have to spell out your credentials to most people.

Damon’s comments may have been relevant 8 months ago, but he seems a bit behind the times.

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Had Damon actually given a good interview I think I’d suspect option 1

But considering how clueless he sounds, at least regarding him (I don’t know about the rest of the design team), I think he’s at least giving the impression of falling under option 2

Nevertheless, I don’t doubt he’s aware that Jinteki taxes runners in a unique way from other corps (just maybe that wasn’t previously as terminologically salient to him in particular)

In sum, had he given a better interview, I really wouldn’t expect of him to cite anyone for borrowing their lucid terminology to describe what he would have given the impression of already having been aware of (and he would have given that impression because he would have come off like a more competent developer)

But my hope is, yeah, that this was just a really long and intense couple days, Damon was exhausted, and he didn’t intend to give some high level interview. So also as suggested, maybe this is being taken out of context (at least this is the charitable hope).

I do give him some credit though: he does seem to be behind the awesome development of Reina Roja and her chess programs, which of course introduce a cool new (albeit explicit) mechanic: http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_news.asp?eidn=4220

When I was creating Reina Roja, the Red Queen, I wanted to illustrate
her mastery of strategy and her command of tactics. She is a former
member of an elite special forces unit, and making her a chess master
made a lot of sense. Meanwhile, I’ve long been fascinated by chess,
back since my father first taught me so many years ago. In a lot of
ways, my love of games, and particularly of strategy games, can be
traced back to those early sessions with my dad. I wanted to come up
with a unique method for Reina to approach her runs, and working from
the idea that she was a chess master led to some really interesting
card ideas and interactions. The final cards, I think, hit just the
right tone, being mechanically interesting, thematically compelling,
and powerful in game play.

Caïssa is the name of a Thracian dryad seen as the goddess of chess,
and was my first choice as the name of the subtype that would tie the
chess pieces together both mechanically and thematically. The ability
to move the Caïssa programs from ice to ice and server to server
couples with the Reina Roja identity and her Console Deep Red (Mala
Tempora, 42) to create the sense of a game within a game. The better
the Runner can maneuver his Caïssa programs, the more pressure he puts
on the Corp, and the easier he can make his way through servers.

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pls just note that the interview isnt addressed to top competitive players out there. plenty of guys found this interview perfectly fine and insightful. u want competitive game, give chess/go a try. netrunner is just card game. it may be broken (your whining suggest that), but in reality its not and many people just enjoy it. you’re not the only target for the game. more empathy please.

well, then id say there are different levels of competitiveness.

i consider myself competitive, but i believe game will evolve in a way, that will be fun for all of us. example: if there was no account siphon problem, people would find other thing instead of it and whine. this game is alive and there will be always something to blame.

just be glad u are such top level u can figure that out, use it to your advantage or have counters ready. thats what ultimately counts and can make u won a tourney or two.

also, thinking out of the box helps and im glad skill is so big part in netrunner (no matter what deck u have) as opposite to mtg for example.

The problem is that developers and playtesters have such an extremely limited meta when testing, and that he has to tread carefully to avoid violating his NDA. When I played Account Siphon CT against one of the playtesters, he had said he had never seen that before.

I’ll credit Alexfrog with a hell of a lot, but I don’t think this should be one of them. I had seen others as well as myself abusing Clone Chip with Faerie, Imp, and others before he had revealed his Shaper tinkering.


I think they printed an entire identity designed to abuse it :smile:

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Yeah, I had a Kate / Clone Chip deck about 15 minutes after playing the first league night with an Exile deck ;). With Grimoire and Imps, even :).

I am sure that many people all came up with the idea “Clone Chip is great, especially with Kate discount and Parasite”. :slight_smile:

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