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Runner Econ 101

Originally published at: http://stimhack.com/runner-econ-101/

Discuss the latest StimHack article by the new StimHack author @BenConn here.


Good post, uses different terms than I would use, or same terms in different ways, but this is a deckbuilding concept that you can quickly put into practice.

Rewarding successful runs keeps you aggressive and keeps the pressure up, even without breakers. To stop your econ engine the corp has to make your runs unprofitable. This is why Andy and criminal decks seem so much more aggressive than every other faction.

There is another type of econ assesment I’d like to publish, and that is to put a finer point on econ in regards to rig building. When I design my decks, a shaper deck that builds a rig and only prods and throws haymakers is going to tend to run Daily casts + professional contacts, and then a burst before the run. You’re drawing the parts, getting the dollars and efficiency on your draw, then your rig is prepared, you surge up with sure gamble etc, and make that 2RDI+Maker’s Eye dig.

A criminal style would play more of an armitage click econ, which is why you’ll see gabe, who is a rig-as-you-go type, will run armitage, easy mark, etc for it’s bursty econ. I’ll play an armitage to get my gordian on the table, then use my ability plus desperado to keep me running.

This boils down to “efficient” vs “burst” which are the terms I use to describe my econ. Efficient econ is important for haymaker style because you’re spending clicks not attacking and pressuring. Burst is important for throwing off the corps’ assements of what you’re capable of, so it is important in both types, but in a gabe deck it gets you over the sudden cost of needing to install a breaker, where running was enough econ to keep you running.

Efficiency is procontacts, daily casts, kati jones, PPVP, ST, Grifter and to some extend Opus
Burst is Easy Mark, Sure Gamble, stimhack, bank job, liberated to some extent.

I find most good decks include 70/30 of each type depending on it’s ‘haymaker’ or ‘flurry’ style.

Excellent write up, I’m glad we didn’t boil down into awful click for credit analysis anywhere in there :smile:

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Interesting read, but I think he’s really off on the breakers part. Parasite and atman are both best in repeat access decks, whereas central breakers are most useful for when you need to brute force yourself into a specific server regardless of cost.

Also, his definition of haymaker is probably best split into two different types: power turn decks like the various vamp/keyhole or noise decks that try to functionally end the game in one turn, and the weird hybrid decks like prepaid kate and stimhack ct that have 4-5 very productive turns with downtime in between, and occasionally do a bad andy impression and run every turn.


Intresting article!
Something about the framework and what cards fit where is kinda off from how I envision things but overall a good read. For example I don’t think I would place Kati in burst but Armitage should probably be there. Breakers could probably have it’s own article.

I agree; I think that “haymaker” is here running together two very different strategies (although, to be fair, they use the same econ and so it is appropriate to group them together for that purpose). As you say, some decks try to make a few very high power runs- indexing a few times over the course of the game, or a couple of RDI hits. I don’t think this is a weird hybrid deck, though, I think its the more common late game pressure build.

The power turn decks play out very differently. The paradigm cases of this are keyhole decks and siphon recursion decks (or you can combine some of each into one deck). The idea here is that all you need is a window of vulnerability, maybe as short as a single turn of unimpeded keyhole runs, to win the game very fast. This is different from the haymaker style because it doesn’t necessarily take a lot of set up- you don’t need to spend time installing multiple RDI’s, if the corp doesn’t ice R&D you can drop keyhole and go to town turn one.

This makes power turn decks more flexible. They can exploit a bad corp draw, or they can fall back on various tools to reopen windows of vulnerability in the mid game (especially ice destruction). Unlike the flurry decks, that focus on early pressure and prolonging the early game via shut-down etc., and haymaker decks, that play for the late game with a high powered pressure strategy, power turn decks can exploit vulnerabilities at any stage of the game. If the corp goes broke scoring agendas, you can dive in and win in short order. However, these strategies tend to be swingy- if they can’t get set up, and if the corp gets their economy going and ice rezzed, they can stall out hard.

Good first article and an interesting viewpoint on the types of economy cards.

Great theory article!

My one beef with the theory is that Kati Jones much closer resembles Magnum Opus than she does Sure Gamble. The fact that you actually get the Kati money all at once does not make her burst economy, in the same way that Daily Casts is more like burst economy than it is like steady economy, because you pay the costs all up front, (but just have to wait to get it).

The way I see it, burst economy is economy that you spend 1-2 clicks playing, then are used up, and steady economy uses many clicks over the course of the game.


I was going to make exactly this point. Kati Jones is only burst at point of service, once you factor in all the clicks to charge her up she’s basically Magnum Opus at the $6-$9 sweet spot.

I think the suggestion that economy is dichotomous is misleading - at the end of the day an economy card gives you some amount of value (usually $) for some kind of cost (often clicks) - anything superior to a 1 for 1 rate of exchange qualifies. I don’t think specifically categorising the cards helps much, but what is useful is the point about synergising your economy options with your rig - thinking about its start-up costs and operation costs.

If you’re running Torch and need to run NOW then you need some burst economy to get that onto the table - you can’t afford five clicks on MO. But if you’re running Passport on the other hand it’s a different story.

The other side to economy that’s definitely worth discussing is run efficiency. For instance, which decks run RDI as opposed to Maker’s Eye, and why? Unquestionably RDI is more efficient and reliable in the long run, but a lot of decks can’t afford the tempo hit (and cost) of playing it. Discuss :smile:


I believe the intent is to go into more details from here – use this as a jumping off point, as it were. It’s definitely not a strict dichotomy – many cards are valuable on both sides, and a number of decks trend more toward the middle than some of his examples.

That said, I think steady and burst econ might be the wrong words. Flurry-friendly and haymaker-friendly are just too cumbersome, and many cards (Sure Gamble, Magnum Opus, Armitage, etc) are both. It’s true that the constant build of Kati moves it toward consistency, but the build to a (threat, even) of a massive payout turn can be pretty effective for slamming in with an indexing or series of Keyhole hits.

You can use her to go to $9 repeatedly for Opus-equivalence, or you can sit with her at $21 and dare them to install an Agenda in a server. It all depends on the kind of deck you have and what you’re up against.

But, no, the big point of the article I think is less that there’s two kinds of econ and two ways in which Runners tend to want their econ, and if you work too much with the wrong one you’re going to end up hampering yourself, even with cards that are good in other decks/for other purposes. Knowing how all your cards relate and which ones are synergizing well (across, as Arkhon mentioned as well, breakers working with the right kind of econ in both the playing-down and the run-efficiency stage) is really important. Even among good econ cards, they’re not all equal.

This is one of the issues I was having for some time in Anarch – I was making use of lots of cards that would benefit haymaker style play (siphon, demo run, liberated accounts (which is just a mistake right there), kati jones (with how I was using her), big-turn focus in general), with the fixed-strength breakers that want me to run every chance I get. I switched things out to synergize with the breakers better, and I’m finding myself doing much better because of the change.

I feel like the Runner has definitely has two stages of economy (that they remain in perpetually, so stages might be the wrong term) – installation and run. Morning Star, against a meta as saturated with Eli, is the right choice from a pure monetary value standpoint, given how quickly you build it up. But with the limits of a 2 MU breaker and the install cost, not every deck can afford it, even if it means more money in the long run. Designing a deck to capitalize on your decisions seems obvious, but I’m all for more talk of how to do it.

(Also, this is my roommate’s article, and I know he’s working on another to follow it up. The “lay out the basic principles with clear examples that don’t cover everything and then go on to do more detail work” is very… him. I know he really wants to talk more about how different decks use Kati Jones, for instance.)

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like the article, but why change the already prevalent term “drip economy” to “steady economy” ?
“drip economy” is just so much more punk

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I always took “Drip Economy” to specifically mean things like Underworld Contacts, Daily Casts and Gorman Drip, along with possibly things like Oracle May and Tri-Maf Contract. Clickless or limited to once per turn.

Magnum Opus isn’t drip economy because you can gain 0 credits with it in a turn, or 8.


Agreed. I feel that ‘drip’ is an uncontrolled stream of Econ. Aesop’s can even fit that description. Gorman is more like a bad Kati. It bursts in all at once, but its level of usefulness is controlled by the Corp. Not really a drip.

I do like the discussion of nomenclature and the sort occurring. It’s amusing.


You’re right, Gorman Drip is not really drip economy like the other things i mentioned.

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Yeah. Drip and steady econ are definitely different things. Opus is steady econ – you can get 2cr from it for one click every turn for the rest of the game (or much, much more, if/when you need to), but you have to expend effort to make it happen. Underworld Contacts is drip, it happens no matter what.

Likewise, I think that in addition to burst econ, there’s also… I don’t know, dump econ? Things that pay off big but aren’t really a burst? Gorman Drip, for instance, isn’t really burst econ but if built up can be not-insubstantial. Kati Jones is a steady/dump econ card, she keeps giving you.

Now I’m seeing more of an X/Y axis thing: one of them being steady-burst and the other being drip-dump. Not quite opposites, and drip and steady might be more similar than burst and dump (though Daily Casts, going on what was mentioned by @mediohxcore would perhaps be burst/drip? “burst” feels like the wrong word).

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Gorman Drip is not really econ, it is behavior modification. Playing 2-3 against a scorched deck pretty much forces jackson draws when you’re deep diving for money/ice/scorch combo pieces. The money is the result of the corp not obeying what you want them to do, then it becomes econ in a way.

The article was interesting and I like the idea of continuing to build a strong lexicon and taxonomy of the difference aspects of Netrunner.

That said, the OP’s verbiage and naming of things seems sporadic, unclear, and generally not very helpful. After reading a few times I get the idea of a Haymaker and a Flurry deck - both names which kinda suck. :wink: And then there is Burst econ, which he doesn’t define very well (Kati is not burst econ, which was already stated above) and Steady econ - which strikes me as a false dichotomy.

To me, Netrunner is all about click advantage, which can be juxtaposed with M:TG’s card advantage. We often call this “click compression”. So, the runner has three ways to get a solid economy:

  1. Clickless Econ - also known as Drip econ, these are the cards that give you clickless econ in the future for an upfront investment. So, the Click Advantage comes after several turns. Desperado would be considered in this group, as would Gorman Drip, Scheherazade, and the other obvious choices
  2. Click Intensive Econ - Armitage, Kati Jones, and Magnum Opus are the obvious ones here. There is a clear Click Advantage with each card, as in you make more than one credit for each click.
  3. Burst Econ - these are general Event-based economies, which take advantage of Pre-Paids at times. Stimhack, Sure Game, and Lucky Find are the obvious ones here. Liberated might go into this place, as the payoff is so fast it’s almost like a burst econ even though 5 clicks is fairly Click Intensive.

Anyway, just some ramblings from me. The article left some to be desired in my mind.


Yeah, agreed. It’s a spectrum not polarised. I think you’re also right that it’s more useful to look at what the runner needs to do in order to get the pay-off, rather than just arbitrarily putting a card into one camp or another.

The nomenclature isn’t great and probably won’t stick; the boxing metaphor is ok but I think probably carries some implications that aren’t true and therefore don’t fit so well. What is good, and helpful to novice players who are just picking up the game, is the advice on how your choice of economic options are linked to your rig and other events. What is not mentioned is that your hand may be forced by whatever other strategies you might be playing. For instance, you can’t really play Kati Jones in tag-me Account Siphon Criminal.

I keep on seeing this sort of post - why does everyone post and then immediately retract their post?

I guess maybe this is the left-handed-style part of my brain that’s speaking here (because I feel like I look at things differently or kind of oddly or funny), but I want to classify credit economy with Runners as either short-term economy and long-term economy because in the end, this is what mostly matters when I make decisions around credits etc.

Should I go with something light and cheap that might pay out quicker but burn out sooner or something that costs more up front, but pays out better over the long run. I guess we can think of it in terms of investment and return (or time of getting a return). It’s a difference between Kati Jones or Armitage Codebusting or more directly even Magnum Opus vs Armitage Codebusting etc. Daily Costs vs Personal Workshop.

Two things: How much do I have to pay and when do I start seeing a return on my investment? So I like short-term vs long-term economy better, I think it provides more of a scale on where all economy cards might possibly fall rather than the more black-white seeming term of burst or steady because I feel like some of the lines are a bit blurred i.e. how do we classify Kati Jones etc.

OK so what is Liberated Accounts and Armitage Codebusting? They’re certainly not short-term but they aren’t an indefinite supply. I think you’ll run into problems trying to categorise economy cards with any kind of dichotomy because the variety is such that you’d need more than two categories to adequately label every card and there will always be exceptions and weird cases.

For me, I don’t find it helpful to put cards into categories at all. At the end of the day it’s more useful to know what you can get out of a card and what you have to put into it to get the benefit, so I prefer to think about the cost/reward ratio and the barrier to entry (i.e. initial outlay cost).