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Playing the Opening

Yeh, if the stars align and you have a money asset + burst econ it’s pretty sweet. But as you said, EtF is far more consistent. Within 3-4 turns EtF closes the gap, unfortunately, and you’re left with a blank identity + less influence.

I’ve been playing Next Design a little bit to figure out what’s wrong with it, and even running multiple burst econ + econ assets I feel incredibly poor. I’m trying payer ice like Shadow to mitigate some of the expense, and it helps, but still. Maybe when a few more Next ice come out it’ll be a little more stable.

About early accesses: definitely those early free accesses are insane, and since between a lot of evenly matched players games will come down to 1-2 points just nabbing 1 agenda early in the game will swing the odds heavily in your favor. I’ve been playing around with Spinal Modem and has found it really slows the corp down and keeps them in the early game.

From a game theory perspective, you dont want to always do the same thing and thus become predictable. (Though this would only matter in repeat play, or against someone who knew you/scouted you). If they know you are going to run HQ first, then they put the Shadow there, gain money, and can afford the R&D ice as well, for example.

Re: Next Design.

It seems like it has potential, but the reality of the octgn data is a big red flag against it. Win rates at or below 40% are quite bad.

As to why it ends up underperforming our expectations, I have several ideas. First, it loses influence, and that means you have to cut either SanSan, Jacksons, or good Ice. Those are all bad options, because you really need them all.

You tend to end up with a deck with either no SanSans, or you end up with a deck that is full of a ton of HB ice and almost no out of faction ice. Thats just a really bad thing, because HB ice actually sucks. Bioroids are quite bad at handling early aggression, money denial, or ice destruction strategies. They are weak until you get two per important server. Its hard to pay for and keep in play two ice per server, in this environment, with recurring parasites, siphon, shutdown, etc. As a result Next Design just ends up with a lot of bad ice.

If, in the future, we get a bunch of NEXT ice and its GOOD (Next Bronze is a good card if you have a number of Next ice), then things could change. Also, it is indeed great to draw burst economy in this deck. The neutral super-hedge fund might help it as well in the future.

I don’t think you can ignore the fact that there are a lot of terrible deck builders and players on OCTGN. I doubt many of them are playing anything close to an optimal build given the current cards.

I don’t think EtF closes the gap that quickly. As I showed above, by turn 3 NEXT is, at the very worst, ahead of EtF by three cards in hand.

Agreed re: ICE though. Let’s see what Spin Cycle delivers…

The distribution probably isnt very different from real life.
Its true that win rates as a whole can differ from win rates for only high-elo play. In my relatively small amount of samples of playing against Next Design played by a couple strong players, it felt pretty easy to defeat (I played Andromeda). I dont think I actually lost any games against it. The games seemed even easier than normal. Of course, that is a very small sample.

At the very least, it needs the NEXT ice. Once it doesnt have to play a bunch of bad ice in order to use its power, it might have a chance.

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The other problem with that ID is that you need to construct your deck so that you reliably get 3+ ice in your opening hand. That means you need to be running an absolute ton of it. But as mentioned, HB’s strength isn’t ice - it’s economy assets, Biotic Labor and the EtF ID. You already left out the good ID, so now we’re left with the other 2 strengths. But by the time you have enough ice for your ID to be ok, you have to skimp on them. Overall result is that you have a bad deck.

I think that saying that HB ice sucks as a blanket generalisation is a bit strong, because they have a few decent pieces (Eli, Rototurret and Ichi). But most of it is not good.

This isn’t so tough to be honest. My deck went down from 49 to 45, and the agendas dropped from 10 to 9 (or even 8). I basically started by scrapping Red Herrings and Ash in favour of two extra ICE (to take it to 23).

Why 49 to 45?

Deck building 101 for CCGs is that you play the minimum you are allowed to unless there’s a very good reason not to. In most other games that would usually be reserved for a very specific purpose or some kind of trick deck, but Netrunner has more deck interaction due to accessing so it evolved a mentality for 49 cards in order to dilute the agenda concentration. This reduces the runner’s chances of top-decking a score from an early R&D access, but besides that it goes against almost every rule of CCG deck-building.

We are all implicitly aware of this, whether we realise it or not. No one ever builds a 50 card runner deck, and no one ever goes into the next tier by building a 50+ card corp deck - despite the fact that you can actually dilute your agendas even further by doing so. Smaller decks are simply more efficient.

As Alex identifies in his article the opening is very important. There was also a post on BGG recently identifying three phases in the game:

  1. The runner can run aggressively naked before the corp is setup properly - Advantage Runner.
  2. The corp get set up; the runner is shut out for a while and must tool up - Advantage Corp.
    3, The runner gets his rig and is nigh unstoppable - Advantage Runner.

NEXT is a rush deck, it wants to get what it needs as soon as possible because it can get into phase 2 prematurely. If you increase the agenda concentration then you increase the runner’s chances of finding one, but you also increase your own chances of getting one when you need it. NEXT has more protection in the early game than most other decks, so it can afford to offer the runner a better rate of pay-off because the chance of access is reduced.

My philosophy is to build a tighter deck, 45 cards containing 23 ICE. That way your “value per card” is higher - so your influence goes comparatively further, and $ ops are a greater percentage of the deck. NEXT has seen 9 cards (usually) by the time it takes its first go, that’s 20% of the deck, if you’re running 9+ economy ops then there’s a very strong chance of seeing one in the opening hand. Moreover, it means you can just about get away with 2 San San and J-How, which means you can still afford to splash the useful ICE Alex is talking about.

Haven’t had a serious chance to try it yet as I’ve been finishing my MSc dissertation, but looking to play some now that’s done. It might not be the best available, but I would wager it’s a significantly stronger build (of NEXT) than anything going around OCTGN at the moment.


Interesting and thoughtful response, thanks. I’ll have to think on this a bit.

Some thoughts, playing with 45 cards and 8 agendas means you have to run a minimum of four 3 point agendas (half of your agendas), this means that the “value per card” is higher for the runner as well.

You are more likely to draw useful cards, the runner is more likely to win in 3 accesses, sounds like a recipe for inconsistency.

Yes, I’ve had my reservations about running only 8. Currently I’m probably looking at 3 x 5/3 (probably Priority Req, but maybe Executive Retreat), 3 x ABT, 2 x “other” 2-pointer and either Pet Project or Gila Hands.

Yes, the runner can win in 3 accesses, but part of the design of NEXT is to restrict those free accesses at the start that Alex mentions in the article. By the time the runner is in a position to break into any server at will for a multi-access it’s only a matter of time before you lose unless you can draw through an R&D lock. Crucially, you’re not letting the criminals get a 15 credit swing with early Siphons.

You can’t keep the runner out forever, but no deck can. What you can do is make him go and get his breakers and find some money by forcing him into phase 2 before he’s ready. Against decks whose bread and butter is Account Siphon, Desperado and Dirty Laundry you slow their start down considerably. I wouldn’t expect to be particularly successful against decks who don’t actually interact much - Noise Virus Spew and Shaper Big-Rig who just play a buch of cards and run once for a massive access. But, I think in the current meta there are way better shaper builds and Noise has taken quite a hit from J-How so I would predict we’ll see less of him. Criminal is still the deck to beat.

I have a hard time agreeing with the statement that NEXT Design is a rush deck. Generally speaking, you can’t really afford to rez several pieces of ICE and score stuff early. Essentially, if you want to rush objectives out, you usually need to sacrifice defense on a central to do it because you can’t afford everything. In that case, having a few extra pieces of ICE on the board isn’t really that significant - you can’t afford to both rush something out and rez them.

While the videos have been taken down, Genestealers played a ton of Next Design when doing lots of CnC. And practically every game, he would say that he hated Fast Advanced, and wanted to play Rush. But most games, he couldn’t rush because there was no money for it after he rezzed his central ICE.

And if you can’t afford to rez your bonus ICE early on, then there’s not much point to having bonus ICE - you might as well just take extra money and influence and play the ICE when you can actually afford it.

Nicely done Alex. Runners can never be told to run too much. Not running enough (especially early game) is still the biggest mistake even the best runners make. There is nothing more important than scoring agendas, there is only 1 way to score agendas as the runner, the logic is simple, yet it’s still so tempting to play with shiny programs, resources, and hardware. Usually the first question I ask myself as a runner is, “How could I score an agenda this turn?” If not possible, or its horribly (emphasize this word) inefficient, then divert to investing for the long game.

No doubt NEXT design has it’s strengths. It can do things other identities cannot do. The problem with it is that it is a gambly benefit. First you need to draw the ice in the opening hand, second you need the right ice. 5 or more cost ice in the opening hand isn’t that beneficial.

EtF will have the benefit all game, every game, every turn. In short, no variance. When playing against top competition, variance is usually a key component to winning or losing, and it’s a risk that usually cannot be afforded, or should at least be mitigated as much as possible. The corp is vulnerable enough to runners as it is, limiting variance is very important to win over the long haul of a tourney or league competition.

While you COULD have a stronger start than EtF in the early game, it also means you are that much more in trouble if you didn’t use the benefit effectively.

Well, I definitely felt that NEXT had promise initially. But the data is very strongly against it. If it was just somewhat worse, I could justify thinking ‘oh, its just that people havent figured out how to build it well yet’. But a 15% difference in win rate (52% for ETF to 37% for NEXT) is just too major to disregard.

Blockquote[quote=“Warmagon, post:33, topic:260”]
But most games, he couldn’t rush because there was no money for it after he rezzed his central ICE.

What do you think about using your influence on Pop-up Window, Shadow and Caduceus, 3 of each, and putting mostly them on centrals before the game, while putting some real ETR cheap ice on remote? This way rezzing centrals doesn’t cost that much, sometimes even gains you money.

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That seems like the best way to play it, to me.
But I think, people have tried that, and the win rate is still horrible.

From most of the decks I’ve seen, people are still clinging to the 49 cards mantra and often playing an ICE distribution more appropriate to a “normal” deck. They’re not really building for the ID, but I agree it’s a higher variance strategy than EtF. Some of the support isn’t quite there for it yet, so let’s see what the rest of Spin Cycle delivers. FFG obviously think it’s powerful to have dropped its influence to 12 from the standard 15.

Necro Post

A great article about early aggression and analyzing the boardstate. However, I think it needs to be revisited now that we’ve finished Spin Cycle. I still think early aggression is key, but the corp has several new methods of getting out of that opening phase relatively quickly.

For one, corps have a better economy and superior in-faction ice for staving off early aggression (Paper Wall, Quandry, Himitsu-Bako/Wraparound). 3 of the 4 corp factions now heavily run Caduceus, and the fourth faction runs Neural Katana/Tsurugi. Those that go large/taxing ice have a more resilient economy and low agenda densities, so repeated single access really impedes momentum. Finally, NAPD is really freaking annoying. Say the corp installs SanSan, installs NAPD, advances one. Assume you have to spend a whole turn on one or the other, what do you do?

I still think runners should be aggressive early. Gabe can often beat the corp to the punch with a decent opening hand. However I’m finding it increasingly difficult to play the opening against corps now that weaknesses are shored up and there are so many successful archetypes out there.