Too Much High-Impact Hidden Info? (Mushin Debate)

A beer with friends while watching a sporting event is a pleasant thing. Slamming 10 shots of Tequila in two hours is a near-death experience.

[Insert joke about your favorite drunken Netrunner player here.]

Something taken to excess changes the nature of the thing.

Recently, Abram Jopp has stirred up and become mired in a contentious discussion about whether Mushin No Shin takes the idea of hidden information so far that it breaks the core game. (This is far from the only point in the article, so please read the whole thing. It is really interesting and makes a great contribution to community conversation about the meta game right now.)

Everyone agrees that hidden information is part of the game. When I put a card in my scoring server, the Runner does not know if it is an agenda or some other card that I’m hoping will bait a credit-draining run. If I am on 5 points, solving that puzzle could well decide the game.

Jopp writes this about the role of high-impact hidden information:

Players should be able to use hidden information to create advantages, but a single piece of hidden information should be limited in its impact, especially if high impact instances can be created frequently. (emphasis added)

In my example above, putting a card in a server while sitting on five points is a case where hidden information can have a high impact. But, to Jopp’s point, I can’t create this kind of high-impact situation very frequently and it takes lots of set up to get to this point.

His problem with Mushin, as I understand it, is that it creates very high-impact situations around hidden information early and often with little cost to the Corp, which in his view leads to decks that can be unhealthy for the meta and the game overall.

I’ve seen lots of commentary on his article and on this issue in particular that does not appear to really engage with what he is writing. I was hoping to generate some discussion on this one point of his article here. (Please read the whole post. It is really good and thoughtful.)

For my two cents, I will just say that having played against and with Mushin, I see Jopp’s point about such decks making the game not fun. In a meet up not long ago, I ran a Mushin-spam Cybernetics Division deck that was fun for me to play, but very frustrating for my opponent. I don’t think it felt very much like Netrunner for my opponent who was faced with a series of life-or-death choices over the game that required very little set-up on my part.

At the same time, I don’t think Mushin-centric decks are terribly competitive, so they do not run the risk of dominating the meta the way some other “spicy” decks do. In a sense, I think Mushin decks do what Jopp says such decks should do. It is a fringe deck that adds spice to the game but does not overwhelm it.


I think your last paragraph sums it up perfectly. Evaluated the way that you have done, Mushin appears to be an extremely powerful card. Yet, we don’t see it everywhere. We’ve got a local guy that is extremely good at coming up with off-meta decks that almost always use Mushin and are pretty competitive. Playing him always gives me anxiety, yet they are some of the most fun and pants on fire games I have ever played in Netrunner. This last weekend alone I was flirting with death several times (50/50 chance to live from IHW, me needing to score an agenda that turn to turn off Enforced Curfew) and it was great fun.

What makes these decks okay in my experience is that even though Snare and Shock exist, R&D is usually where you can win. It’s not until late game that those Mushins become dangerous but then that’s the high impact hidden information instance that makes this game great.


I remember an early analysis of Honor and Profit from a high profile poster didn’t even include Mushin on his list. Several of us who saw the potential had to protest for its inclusion of notable cards. Now we are discussing about it potentially breaking a core aspect of the game. How times have changed.

I think Mushin is a card necessary and vital to the game. Before its inclusion, advanceable traps were mostly a joke. Install-advance-advance didn’t create any serious threat except for Cerebral Overwriter and that was minimal risk. Playing confidently against traps was easy.

Mushin changed the equation back to traps being a risk that has to be taken seriously. This card single handedly brought relevance to a whole swath of the cardpool. Some people may recall the time Jinteki was considered the worst corp faction. Honor and Profit put them on the map to stay and Mushin was a significant piece of that.

Playing against Mushin is indeed rough, but like many other strategies in this game it forces you to adapt. Old school Fastro had just as much variance. Whoever did better at pulling Astro off R&D usually won. Adapting to circumstances is part of Netrunner and I claim the Mushin trap play is an important style that adds depth and character to the game.

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A lot of people are claiming Mushin a great example of bluffing in the game, but to me it just… isn’t.

I really enjoy the hidden information aspect of the game and to me it really shines in situations where you have the ability to play a remote game and neveradvance agendas. Take for example that I’m playing Spark. The Runner has just run through a Pop-Up Window to trash a Daily Business Show and has gone very low on credits. No Daily Casts or something running to get him back up. Next turn I put something behind the Pop-Up again.

Is it a PAD Campaign? Is it a Beale? Do you as a Runner want to come check at the cost of a credit with the risk of just spending a click and money for nothing? Or do you build up resources again and hand me the possibility of scoring 2 easy points?

That’s bluffing in Netrunner to me. That’s a wonderful feeling both as the Corp or Runner where you think you have a read on someone or can predict behavior based on the board state and call them on it.

Mushin does not have any board state reliance and such cannot provide the same thrills of the sort of ‘real’ bluffing games above.


Mushin gives a potential bite to the bluff beyond your usual credit cost. Like I said above, a significant number of possible bluff cards need Mushin to really be playable.

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Well, as I said I don’t think you can call something a bluff if it doesn’t involve the board state in any way.

I’m not sure I follow. Board state is still important. If I play a trap, regardless of Mushin, my credit count on the runner turn is relevant to what I can threaten.

Your comment is just odd. Mushin doesn’t ignore board state, it just compresses clicks. And it’s still a bluff.


Against a tedious PE deck that Mushins out traps and 1-pointers constantly it simply doesn’t seem worth checking Mushined cards. The fact that 50% of the time it might be something desirable to run like the one Philotic but 50% of the time it is a trap does not actually seem like good odds to me.

The choice doesn’t boil down to either I check it or I don’t it boils down to either I check it or I try to take other actions which may have a more durable effect on my chances of winning. For me, this means building up my board state and ability to withstand net damage while applying more pressure on centrals to disrupt other aspects of the corp’s game plan (if you could say there is one for these decks).

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A typical PE deck probably has about 20% advanceable traps compared to other targets, maybe a little higher if its tuned well. You can usually get pretty good odds by running traps all the time and running HQ while they wait for their other traps to show up. I wouldn’t put it at 50/50 for sure.

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As a person who does play a lot of “Mushin” style decks it’s somewhat my belief that you can’t talk about the power of Mushin and traps without talking about Ronin. For me Ronin is the single card that allows Mushin to be powerful. This is not to say you need Ronin in a Mushin deck for it to work, just that the cards existence makes the choice or running a Mushind card even less binary. If you’re really worried about a Mushind card being a trap you can just make a conscious choice to never run those cards. The mere existence of Ronin however makes the total cost v benefit calculation more lopsided as now if you’re choosing not to check 4 advanced cards there’s a possibility the Corp can flatline you out of the blue or especially if you hit a Snare or another trap.

Again, I’m biased and personally find these types of decks to be fun and healthy (mostly because strong hate cards do exist and the archtype never appears overrepresented) I just wanted to add my 2cents that Ronin enables Mushin to be as strong as it is and it will be weird when that card rotates out.

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Mushin makes expose relevant, that’s all I’m going to say right now.


Mushin itself is fine. The only risk with Mushin are the really big payoffs, i.e. Vanity Project or GFI + “Clones are not People”, and those are usually associated with big risks for the Mushiner, too. That’s why it’s rare to see, say, those Cybernetics-Mushin decks outside the casual room on Jnet, much less at the top tables in tournaments - volatility, even if stacked in your favor (as Mushin is, by giving you the first “bet”), is a net negative in tournaments where consistent good performance is more important than really dominating occasional performance.

Whereas I personally really enjoy playing games against PE where they start to get three or more “Ronins” on the board and you have to abandon the usual rule of running all and only unadvanced cards. See, e.g., Dan’s story about the three maybe-Ronins from his worlds report.

I love mushin as a card, and I agree that it hits just the right level of unfairness without being too strong. I also like how it can be used outside of a pure bluff deck if you out the work in (see Off The Grid Blue Sun, Man Up CI, Kitsunichord etc.) I also think that PE generally is a really fun and interesting deck to play against.

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As a PE player my deck definitely has a plan. I move progressively towards an ever more certain kill. If you ignore my face down advanced cards, I will kill you. If you dig too aggressively in R&D, it will kill you outright or set you up for a kill. If you slow down and are careful, I will have the time to get my kill. If you run every face down card, I will likely kill you.

It’s not a forgone conclusion and I have to play around your approach, but be certain I am moving ever closer to your death until I get you or you win.

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So many Mushin apologists…

FightingWalloon nailed it. That’s it.I don’t think Mushin shouldn’t exist. I just designated decks using it as not counting toward the fair-deck-quota that a healthy meta needs.


Personally, it’s a card that has only been used in high-level play a couple times and all of them were very long ago. While the card is good, I don’t think the strategy it supports (heavy bluffing) is very powerful as vast majority of higher level players simply won’t faceplants your Overwriters.

Yes, you clear all of the mushin targets out of HQ before they get to the board, you check R&D so they can’t just draw a mushin target and mushin + advance. There are strong counter-plays to Mushin.

One reason why @TheBigBoy doesn’t like it is because sometimes, even when you play ‘correctly’ against mushin, you can still lose. It is a play style that is resilient against a lot of skill checks, so even if you are good enough to win 80% of your games, you may still average 60% against Mushin.


Agree with the consensus. Mushin is not dominant, will never be.

Mushin deck wins 33%, but it does so vs anyone.

Useful to have in meta in case FFG goes insane on giving runner amazing ice destruction or what have you.

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Sometimes I wish Mushin was 1 influence instead of 2, since having to pay for it plus the influence for good traps is often a bit too rich for my blood.

I do like the idea of eventually using it’s counters on a failed trap to set up Red Sands Couriers to push through a big agenda through.

[quote=“TheBigBoy, post:15, topic:8572, full:true”]
So many Mushin apologists…[/quote]

Since when is liking something and explaining why you like it being an apologist? And why is that a bad thing? Your post comes off extremely dismissive, arrogant and rude. People need to stop using “apologist” as an insult when in fact the others are just passionate.