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Random accesses from HQ and cheating


#1

TL:DR: Never just pull a card at random from HQ when you access

So, recently, I’ve been experimenting in my local meta when playing as Corp. If a Runner is running on HQ, and I have an Agenda in there, I shuffle that Agenda to the bottom of my hand as I present. So far, after over 25 games, it has been stolen a single time.

In addition to this, I’ve looked to study my opponent’s access patterns. Do they usually go for the middle card, or the top card? When they play Legwork, how do they access cards then? Based on this, I change how I shuffle my HQ to keep it safe. We humans are creatures of patterns, and if you know to look for them, you can exploit them.

Basically, I’ve been assuming the style of a cheater. Manipulating Agendas, feeding runners Snares, and never getting my Caprices trashed from hand. This to see just how far a skilled cheat can exploit this hole in the rules.

(Context and disclaimer: I have a background in card magic. I know how to manipulate and track cards through shuffles, while making it look entirely normal. I never use these skills in any games. Cheating is deplorable and is what ruins everything I love about games. I attempt to teach people common ways they can be cheated so that we, as a community can get rid of it.)

So I entreat the community, PLEASE use an independent randomizing system such as dice or an RNG on your phone when picking accesses from HQ. I have tested this, and just pulling cards from HQ, even after a shuffle, is dangerously exploitable. Random accesses are supposed to be RANDOM, but if I can feed you my Snares 3 times in a row (this has also happened), it’s no longer random.

Also, an entreaty to FFG: please change the rules regarding random HQ accesses. Because as it stands now, I haven’t cheated. And that is wrong.


#2

I think that technically, you have cheated. The tournament rules say “A shuffle from the Corporation and a subsequent choice by the Runner is enough to fulfill the requirements of randomness when accessing HQ.” I think it’s clear that by “a shuffle” they mean the Corp should randomize the cards, not just pretend to randomize them.

I do think it’s unwise to make the Corp responsible for the randomization, for exactly the reasons you give. I’m mostly too lazy to actually use a die or RNG, especially if I see my opponent shuffle HQ, but I agree that it’s the smart choice.


#3

The only rules regarding shuffling that have been explicitly stated are the ones regarding deck shuffling, and those are that the opponent is to be presented with an opportunity to cut or shuffle, should they wish to.

According to the spirit of the rules, yes, it’s cheating, but not according to the letter. That’s terrifying.


#4

Yeah. People are really bad at being random, it turns out.

This is also seen in Psi games, and why if you actually want to choose a random number for it you should roll a die.

Because of this reason I tend to choose the top or bottom card if they’re presented in a fan. I also just use a die in a tournament setting.

My background is as a Judge for That Other Game, and we had some judge-community classes on how to cheat and thus how to spot cheaters. I’ve also done a few card tricks in my early days, so I’m familiar with the concept of forcing a card. It’s super super easy to do in a hand of five cards.

I suppose the ‘best’ way to do it without a die is to shuffle HQ and present it, and Runner shuffles it and then Corp picks one of the cards. Most cheats vanish immediately upon a second party with a vested interest in making sure the result isn’t skewed has a chance to randomize the set of cards. (This is why you present the deck to shuffle every single time you shuffle your deck.)


#5

I’ve held a seminar on cheating on Judge seminar for the game that shall not be named, and a lot of the concepts can be applied to Netrunner.

The biggest hurdle for the “Runner shuffles HQ”-method would be the sentence in the Tournament Rules stating “Players cannot force other players to use external aids when randomizing.” This means the Runner (let’s say they don’t have access to dice), they cannot ask the Corp player for assistance when determining accesses.


#6

It can be as simple as when the Corp presents the ‘shuffled’ HQ cards, Runner picks them all and shuffles then flips the top card.

That sentence is to prevent the Corp from requiring the Runner to roll a die. Runner cannot require that the Corp uses a die… ‘External method of randomization’ is anything that isn’t a Netrunner card or token.


#7

I also have a background in sleight-of-hand, and I can’t help but notice in streams when someone’s casual mash shuffles NEVER change the position of, say, the bottom card. Even if the opponent performs a cut, the simple knowledge of the approximate position of a specific card can be quite powerful (as any magician will [or won’t!] tell you).

Reversing things a bit: let’s say your opponent is a careless shuffler and flashes the bottom card, a Desperado, at you before offering the cut. Is it cheating to make a shallow cut, or to even decline the cut? Seems sleazy, but is there anything in the rules that prohibits such behavior?


#8

Quote from the floor rules: “Any time a player is able to see a card within the deck—including during shuffling—the deck is no longer randomized.”


#9

It looks to me like they need to have a section on ‘Shuffling’ somewhere, clearly outlining it’s purpose. ( I think a guide to good, bad, insufficient and not shuffling, along with what is and isn’t meant by ‘randomisation’ would also be useful, but i digress slightly. ) With the exception of the quote from p.4 of the Tournament Regulations ( not ‘Tournament Rules’ anymore i note ) that “A shuffle from the Corporation and a subsequent choice by the Runner is enough to fulfill the requirements of randomness when accessing HQ” - which i think is a mistake and perhaps the cause of the issue, the Rulebook and Floor Rules indicate that the purpose of shuffling is to randomise and that shuffling is a means to that end. The Rulebook doesn’t even necessarily mention shuffling, but simply states that something needs to be random ( such as “The Runner accesses one random card in HQ” Rulebook p.18 ). Most of the ‘Resolutions’ in the Floor Rules indicate or state that shuffling is done in order to randomise, and there are two particularly pertininent sections, one on ‘Insufficient Shuffling’ and another on ‘Cheating - Disqualification’, quoted below:

“Insufficient Shuffling - Warning.
Definition. A player presents his or her deck to an opponent without having sufficiently randomized the deck. [ … ]
Philosophy. A player should shuffle his or her deck [ … ] to help distribute the cards randomly.”
( p16 Floor Rules 2.1.1 )

&

“Cheating—Disqualification.
Definition. A player intentionally breaks the game’s rules, tournament rules, or a rule in this document in order to gain an advantage.
Examples.1. A player shuffles her deck so that she knows the order of cards and can predict her
starting hand.”
( p21 Floor Rules 2.1.1 )

It’s also worth noting that different ( online ) dictionaries differ in their definition of ‘shuffling’ in relation to cards. Some define it as simply mixing the cards in some way, whereas others include randomisation or ‘not knowing the order’ as part of the definition.