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Sideboarding: Ever?

Will any manner of sideboarding ever be a part of ANR? Given the current structure of competitive play–which I don’t think we foresee changing–sideboarding would look different than in MTG. For those unfamiliar, a sideboard is a small set of cards (1/4 decksize in MTG) that a player can use to modify their deck, once they see what the opponent is packing.

  • Would it add anything to competitive play?
  • Is it even possible in ANR?
  • How would it function?

I, for one, think it would definitely add something. There is already a substantial chunk of the card pool that is not played, generally for being too conditional. Sideboarding would open up the card pool, and make for more interesting games, in my opinion. It would make the game harder for everyone, which is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Would the ANR card pool support sideboarding? Maybe I am overestimating the pool, but I think it would. I could finally play Cyberdex Trial!

As for function, the only way I can think to do it would be to have players reveal IDs, then sideboard accordingly. There would be risk, and it would be optional. Some IDs would be less risky to sideboard against. For example, if your opponent flips PE, you have a pretty good idea they are playing a flatline strategy. Sideboarding against Kate may be trickier, though. As has been said before, I think ANR is at its best when it is forcing players to make decisions - the tougher, the better. Sideboarding would add another decision to the game, another layer to deck building, and some risk/reward before the game begins.

What do others think? Would it break the game? Would it be borderline useless?

I think it fits thematically, too. Runners would definitely have different strategies and tools for the different Corporations, and Corporations would definitely take different measures versus a Criminal than an Anarch. Instead of Sideboarding, it could be called “Tweaking” for Runners and “Consulting” for Corporations. Or maybe a more catch-all term for both.

Part of what makes this game compelling to me is that there is an element of hidden information in this game. Unlike in Magic, I have to try to tune a deck to not only support the strengths of a deck, but also to cover its own weaknesses.

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I don’t think sideboarding would do away with that at all. The sideboard size would be smaller in ANR (maybe 6 or 9 cards), and just as you were patching your weaknesses, your opponent would be employing more tools to make more, or bigger, holes in them. I think sideboarding would increase variance in decklists (on the table), which I think is something to strive for in a card game.

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But how would you sideboard? As soon as you both slap down your ids you have another two or three minutes to change things out?

In an a symmetrical style game I don’t think it will work.

I’ve been wishing for this for a while. I think it would balance out the metagame a lot - runners can board hate cards like the source against NBN and scrubber against RP, and corps would board sealed vault against criminals. Runners currently have more potent hate cards, so they would benefit more from sideboarding, which is fine since corps are currently better. The only downside is it would probably shove scorched earth out of the game entirely, which is an already-weak strategy that I happen to be fond of.

I think it’s a neat idea. It somewhat promotes surprising decks, which may or may not be good. It makes tutoring (even) stronger - probably not needed. It makes widely useful IDs (Andy, Kate, EtF, NEH) better-Certainly not needed. But I think what it adds is probably worth all the down sides. I hope it happens. I might try to organise something for my local game store.

If tag me is currently playable,
side boarding really hurts it - though maybe that isn’t true unless 1 ID is inevitably going tag me.

A long time ago, a newb Captain_Frisk asked this question over on BGG. I was soundly chastised for it, and now that i have more experience under my belt, I totally agree.

Sorry everyone!


While I don’t think sideboarding as it is done in magic is really an option of ANR, (because of time constraints and surprise value being important), one thing that happened in magic with the sideboard that was really interesting a number of years ago was the wishes.

Basically, the idea was that you could use these cards to tutor cards out of your sideboard. Something similar in Netrunner would be something like:

“Crowdsourced Programming
Shaper Event - $3
Add a program card you own that is not in your deck to your grip.”

If we could find a way to make cards like this work, it could add an element of sideboarding to netrunner. The trouble would be twofold, though. First, it would be hard to regulate and make rules for in tournaments. Could you get any card, or just cards you aren’t playing 3 of in your deck? Second, in magic, to play wishes, you had to basically make your sideboard smaller by include wish targets, giving an additional cost to the inclusion of wishes in your deck in the first place. If you printed these cards in ANR, it would be hard to balance to such an extent that some people would want to play these cards and other wouldn’t. Still, they were some of my favorite magic cards ever.

As someone who is completely ignorant on how sideboarding works in Magic (obviously I understand the basic idea, but not the particulars), I’m curious why so many are saying stuff like this:

Why would sideboarding prevent surprize? I understand the time constraints, but you could make it a hard 5 minutes and shouldn’t be a big issue.

So, could someone explain mechanically how sideboarding works in Magic and why that won’t work in Netrunner?

In magic, you play best of 3 matches with the same decks. After games 1 and 2 you can choose to add cards from a predetermined 15-card sideboard to your deck and remove cards from your main deck to make your deck better against your specific opponents. In ANR, surprise is more of a factor, which is good, but sideboarding would take away from that because you would presumably get to play again against the same deck post-sideboard. Furthermore, playing more games against the same opponent with the same deck so that you could sideboard at all would take a ton of additional time and require a huge overhaul to the tournament system.

Aaand sideboarding before you see what their deck is actually doing seems only slightly different than not sideboarding. Better cards would make the need to do so moot – a Plascrete that you wouldn’t regret drawing 4/5 times, say. Not having silver bullets that do one thing and are otherwise never desirable/playable would go a long way in obviating any need for a sideboard that could possibly exist right now.

I don’t think you understood the OP. My proposed sideboarding method changes nothing about tournament structure. Players would still play only 2 games, 1 on each side:

[quote=“mediohxcore, post:8, topic:1743”]the wishes.

yep, I played the original Rock deck back in the day, with 3 copies of Living Wish and toolbox creatures in my sideboard.

I think a sideboard wouldn’t add too much time and would add more strategy during a tourney. The only downside is playing the same decks multiple times - however, you don’t know their sideboard so both players will be second guessing what their opponent will change about their deck as well.

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While I can kind of see this, I think even a small amount of time added is a pretty serious thing if tournaments continue to be one-day affairs.

Netrunner is already a very mentally taxing game (one of the things I love about it, but it’s comparable to/exceeds that of Twilight Struggle) and we’ve got tournaments that are 5 or 6 rounds of Swiss followed by a cut. Adding ten minutes to each of those rounds (five minutes per deck per match) extends things by an hour or two. That’s huuuge. There are ways to help yourself out and retain focus longer, but speaking as someone that has attention/focus issues, it’s already tricky after round three or four to keep going strong. Personally, I’d rather not increase that tax overmuch by adding another layer and more time. If tourneys become two-day, which people seem to not want, then taking the extra time makes a bit more sense.

One way I could see sideboarding being useful would be as a Top Cut only thing. A lot of them will have seen the other decks already and have some idea of what’s going on. Even then, though, it could get real messy, and seems like a lot of fuss. One of the reasons sideboarding works in magic is that there’s no influence costs or deck requirements beyond size. In ANR, swapping out splashes or agendas to change your plan up seems… I dunno. Prone to accidents?

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Sideboarding wouldn’t be fun without playing a pre-sideboard game, I don’t see a need for it at all.


No offense intended, but this sounds like it would suck a fair amount of fun out of the game.

Sideboarding wouldn’t be fun without playing a pre-sideboard game, I don’t see a need for it at all.

You don’t think just seeing your opponent’s identity would be enough to make meaningful deck adjustments?

The need is that it would help to knock down dominant deck archetypes. People would play NBN a lot less if they knew every runner will be packing perpetual source, and maybe a bigger variety of andromeda decks would start to show up if she found herself getting cyberdexed twice every game.


Just curious, why/how would it make ANR less fun?

I can understand the time argument, @GreedyGuts. It definitely couldn’t be more than 5 minutes per match, and as you demonstrated, that may add a significant amount of time to a tournament.

I think it would be a lot of fun to make last minute changes to your deck based on just the ID of the other player.

This is the best argument against a sideboard that I’ve seen. This is a huge obstacle to overcome and would only the time it would take. It would be pretty easy to check your influence and agenda totals, but all of this just takes extra time.

It’s a shame, really - I think a sideboard based on IDs would make the whole experience so much better! :smile:

ANR sideboarding seems prone to having runner decks have super good hate cards (plascrete/dues X) and corp decks that can switch gameplans on the drop of a hat. For instance imagine if you play this deck http://stimhack.com/regionals-colorado-2014/
Post board you go like this

-3 Psychographics
-3 Scorched Earth
-3 midseason Replacements
-1 closed accounts

+3 Biotic labor
+1 Sansan City grid
+3 Shipment from sansan
+2 Subliminal messaging
+1 Fast track

with only 10 cards changed we were able to go from a midseason replacements deck with a lot of different lines to take into a lean mean 1 track minded scoring machine. I would predict netrunner would actually increase in variance as a result of sideboarding, as such transformational sideboard plans would be very popular (this is assuming say roll a die whoever wins gets to decide if they want to run or corp, then play 2/3) while runner’s would be left guessing as to what gameplan the corp brings in