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We find out who is right and who is dead

In one of Elusive’s recent excellent articles about the game of Netrunner, he wrote the following about Yomi as a deck type:

The weaknesses of Yomi decks are that they are very interactive. To win you have to take large risks, which lead to inherently inconsistent games. You need to be able to find consistency in opponent’s play-patterns to win. If your opponent is unpredictable, you will have a hard time.

I think of Mushin No Shin as the ultimate Yomi card. (Maybe you have another idea.) You Mushin out a card and put 3 or 4 tokens on it. And now you say to your opponent, “The battle of wits has begun.” In a world of pure chance, the Runner has a 50-50 chance to guess correctly whether he or she should run or not, and this is the reason – I believe – that many skilled players do not like Yomi decks. They think it takes the skill out of the game.

But does it?

Is Yomi a skill that players can develop and exploit for wins?

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It is a skill that can indeed be developed and used to win.

I don’t think competitive players dislike “Yomi decks”, they simply don’t think they are as great as they seem at first glance. They are very, very risky and relying completely on mindgames to win is simply not sustainable, even with ludicrous skills you lose too many games.

I honestly love playing against Yomi. It’s a puzzle. Also; Peekaboo Geist.

I think one of the issues is that in many cases, a player being ‘out yomi’d’, or merely worried about it, can always simply play randomly (weighting according to expected trap vs agenda occurence in the deck). Additionally, you still need a way to prevent the runner executing an alternative (more consistent) strategy like credit denial or RnD lock.

actually playing mushin is not 50-50. thing is as a yomi player u play to exploit opponent tendencies, so if u know he runs a lot, there is way bigger chance than 50% it will be a trap. always one step ahead. always :wink:

Yes, a lot of top players look down on Mushin decks. I’ve often heard it called “guess right Jinteki”. Top players are looking for consistency, and it’s unlikely you’ll be such a grand Yomi master that you’ll consistently win like 80% of your matches against unknown players in a Regional tournament.

However, there’s more to it than that.

First of all, you call it “50-50 chance to guess correctly whether he or she should run or not”, and that’s not quite right even if the Mushin plays were purely random. Most Mushin decks are rarely built with exactly as many “should run” cards (Agenda, Ronin) as “shouldn’t run”. I think I used to run 7 agenda, 2 Ronin, 6 traps. So that would actually be 9 “should run” with only 6 “shouldn’t run” cards. I suppose you could count the Snares as 3 more “shouldn’t run”, but I would almost never Mushin the Snares. That’s a waste of a good Snare and Mushin. But the deck makeup will determine those odds. Some players will throw in just one or two Junebugs just to scare the runner but mostly Mushin the agendas.

Next, there’s information visible to both players, and I’m not just talking about Yomi-style body language and behavior patterns, I’m talking about card info. If 2 agendas have been stolen, 2 agendas scored, 2 Ronin have been trashed and none of the traps have yet been trashed or seen, then the odds the newly Mushin’ed card is a trap go way up.

But of course, the Corp KNOWS that you know that, so that’s where the second guessing begins.

Lastly, as whirrun points out, most of the time the response to your guessing game is just to play a different game. Siphon or Vamp you to zero, then run the traps you can’t afford to fire. Expose effects to see what it is. Let you Mushin out a couple but lock your R&D. Or these days just Obelus. “Sure I’ll run your 4-advanced Cerebral Overwriter, that’s fine, you pay for it and reduce my hand size back down to 7 cards, after the three Siphons I did.”

Also, R&D lock.

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All the criticisms of Mushin-heavy strategies seem valid from my limited experience.

I suppose the “lessons” for someone who wanted to lean more on the Yomi approach are that you need to account for the ways people tend to remove the battle of wits from the game. (Yes, I know. The lesson is not to play it at all if you want to win.) You would need to avoid R&D lock and Vamp/Siphon. You probably also need to move pretty fast as Mushin decks do not have any late game. On the Lam and Expose effects kill Mushin games as well.

I know in my head these Yomi approaches are not a strong way to win a lot of games, but I have this Cybernetics Division Enforced Curfew Mushin deck that I just can’t delete from my NRDB account. Gear check ice HQ, Sure Gamble, and play an Enforced Curfew turn 1. Now the runner has a hand size of 3 and is having to discard cards he’d rather hold on to. Turn 2 Mushin out a card. R&D is wide open. If that Mushin’d card is an Overwriter is is game over if you run it. But the Corp knows that, so it is probably an agenda. But the Runner has obviously studied and in study learned that human beings are mortal, so clearly I cannot take the cup in front of me …

The biggest weakness I see in the Battle of Wits in Netrunner is that unlike the Man in Black, you cannot set up a situation where it does not matter which option the opponent picks because they lose either way. You actually always have to play the game fairly.


My best ordinary decks win ~50% of the time, less vs good players, more vs bad ones.

My MINDGAMEZ decks win ~33% of the time, but it doesn’t matter what quality opponent I have.

It is rough for a skilled player to run into a Mushin deck because their netrunner skill is mostly useless, they just need to be good at winning the 50/50. Is that Mushin a Junebug (don’t run), or a Cerebral (don’t run), or a Vanity (run), or a Ronin (run) ? If you don’t have an expose mechanic then this is down to your ability to guess.

After the first few rounds of swiss the MINDGAMEZ decks should be sorted into the low tier and be less dangerous, but it is a real kick in the pants to run into one early one.

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I see a lot of people in here saying it’s a 50/50, when discussing mindgames, and that you basically rely on luck no matter what side you play.

I take a bit of offense to that. My main deck right now is a shell game-style Personal Evolution deck. It relies heavily on Yomi, naked agendas, Psi games and nailing runners with Psychic Fields.

And I win very consistently with it, perhaps having as high as a 66% winrate across months of play. I regularly and consistently hit runners with installed Snares, win Psi games, and install naked Agendas without fear, to score them the next turn.

Why? Because people almost never do the risk-reward analysis. People almost never count percentages. Practically nobody plays the “I know that you know that I know”-game. We always go with how we feel. If you can empathize with your opponents and understand how they feel, you can use that to become consistently good at Yomi.

This is something that can only be learned with experience. Play a bunch of Yomi, play against a bunch of Yomi. Play online, to ensure you play against different people, as your local play group has their habits. Play with your opponent’s mindset in mind.


I doubt that is due to any superior ‘yomi’ skill on your part. The payoff matrix is simply in your flavor.

Mushin a junebug, advance.

If they run: They lose the game.
If they don’t: You spent 3 clicks and a cred.

I’ll play that coinflip all day long. You only have to win once.

It’ll always feel like you are the double genius chessmaster when you play with odds like that.


Rusemaster General Walter mushin’s an overwriter.
They run: Muahaha, I spent 4 creds to do 4 brain damage. Game is over as soon as the roflcopter delivers me a contract killer and a dedication ceremony.
They don’t run: Muahaha, as soon as a dedication ceremony and back channels shows up I’m getting 21 creds for 2 creds and 4 clicks of work. Further, they may well run it eventually anyway, just to make sure it isn’t a ronin or whatever.

It’s easy to feel smart when you are winning with a garden of mushin style deck, but that’s just an artifact of the information imbalance.

The games you lose are the ones where they decline to play your reindeer games and just run a medium train on you, but even then you can convince yourself that you outsmarted them when they hit some toxic red cards and die.

Poison decks always feel like you are tricking the runner, since their deaths come about at their hands and/or your score outs happen in uncontested servers…and in a way you are, but it is a way aided and abetted by the rules of the game. Netrunner lets the corp install stuff, and it has given us toxic cards. PU increases the penalty for being wrong, so shell game are attractive.

It isn’t mind reading to shit out 3 remotes, 2 of which are bad and one of which are good, and crow when they hit a psi field or let a HoN score. It would TAKE mind reading on their part to take the path to victory.

Don’t fool yourself. You can’t read people’s minds. People have trends, “Everyone bites at 6 advancement counters vs a green deck cuz they don’t want to be the clown who lost to a slow rolled gov takeover”, “People’d rather lose to a trap than watch you score out because they enjoy feeling active, so they’ll check much more often when you are on match point”, etc, but there isn’t a way to know which of these trends are true about which stranger.


While winning two thirds of your games is great, the problem I’ve found is that it’s not enough to win a tournament. To make it to the top tables you need to win something closer to 80% of your games and people there just don’t hit enough Cerebral Overwriters.

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Just draw before you run the junebug and its worth it IMO. Really the only card that’s actually a real trap to run is Cerebral Overwriter and that’s like 2/13 in most PE style decks. This is also why battle of wits and industrial graveyard are the best mushin decks IMO.

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Well,coming from the Yomi end of this arument i think good points are raised on both ends here. I think @Waltzard for example gives a good argument for the game of running a single remote (statistically) being in the corp’s favor. But really, to win consistently in a tournament you need to go outside and above those odds as a corp-player.

A thing i see players do that are new to Yomi-like decks (and in general) is installing everything they draw without consideration. This is equal to the base-probabilities of the deck composition and is a base-strategy, but if winning by this method they certainly have not outsmarted anyone by the specific installs, (although you can still successfully manipulate opponents beliefs about specific remotes). However, if using the ‘install everything+poker glasses’ method as many classic ‘thousand cuts’ PE decks do you are using the base strength of your deck to achieve a decent win percentage. This is a fine base-strategy, and a good fall-back if you do not have a read. This is similar to how many other decks are played as well, especially strategic decks.

However, to win at a high percentage i believe you have to go outside the ‘install everything’ approach, and selectively install and coax (or deter) at just the right (believable) level to change the odds upward. It is not as easy as drawing and playing cards, which means it does not appeal some players who can get consistently high win-rates with mono-strategic decks, but for those of us who like the challenge and psychology it is possible to reach higher than the base-probability.

Now given that outliers in statistics exist i have a win rate considerably higher than 50/50 in tournaments (not as high i casual games mind-you) and against very good players.

The odds are only ever a factor to your opponent, to yourself there are no odds, you know what you install. If you only install agendas, for example, and they run to catch one of those it is often easy to manipulate the opponent into thinking they hit the ‘good’ one and they will not run the other two after that. You then ‘know’ (based on level of read) that these are safe, and can play round that. You reinforce their beliefs by leaving them unscored and later use what they think are traps to kill them.

The same is true in reverse for only ever installing traps. These are the extremes.

The skill comes in what you believe about your opponent. Playing to the odds, or playing unpredictably according to the reverse odds of the trap/agenda density as suggested by @whirrun s way harder than people commonly believe, and it is really difficult to not be influenced by psychological facots, especially factors that the runner wants to believe (usually that they outsmarted you).

If you can sell the runner a story, and you feel confident in that, you can exploit that to win. If you can’t, or if they actually do not care much about the outcome of the game, you have to fall back on base-probabilities.

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Are you trolling me?

Corp: Mushin, advance.

Runner, starting turns with 5 cards.

You are saying that your turn is “draw, draw, draw, run mushin?”

Case Junebug:

Your plan: You take 8 damage, PU does its thing. 9 out of your 45 cards are now in the trash.

So, first off, if they have a way to deal net damage on a runner who ran last round, it is game over. Neural emp, gg. Rez a bioethics, gg. Heck, they might have an installed Ronin to dedicate, advance, fire.

Next up, a lot of PU decks carry arc lockdown, and they have 9 cards to pick from. Hopefully this isn’t a breaker you need, but it’s an ominous development anyway.

Even better. Say they don’t arc lockdown you or just win. Say they just continue to derp along and install stuff (or god help you, Mushin again). What does your next turn look like?

You are starting at 0 cards vs PU. Presumably you are drawing up. But that means that you spent the last 8 clicks of the game drawing 7 cards and running once, to trash an asset. You are time walking yourself really hard, to say nothing of the econ that is presumably in the trash now.

I have trouble seeing this tradeoff as worth it, but I guess it must work for you.

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Its worked pretty much every time I’ve tried it, or maybe they leave themselves open to siphon and I do that instead and then run. I think its only a junebug about 1/5 times anyway as majority of decks run less traps than agendas, and if they’re worried that you’re always worrying you can eventually start sniping the agendas from HQ too.

I’ve been finding that with Project Kusanagi, Trick of Light, and Philtoic Entanglement, it’s very very easy to be the Man in Black with PE decks now.

The only card I actually care about in my entire deck is Philotic Entanglement. If the runner finds that card, my win drops to the 50-50 MINDGAMEZ level. (Note: not 50%. It fluctuates depending on the Runner, which is a bad place to be in.)

If the Runner doesn’t find that card and I get it scored (which tends to happen pretty often; Runners will leave double-advanced cards alone often enough that I can ToL reliably to get it.) then it no longer matters what I put out or what they choose to run on. If they take the Agenda or if they don’t, they lose either way. Best is that I don’t have to score those mushin’d agendas immediately, either, opening a third path to victory where they just happen to end a turn at less than critical level of cards and I just score all the agendas to kill them.

I suppose I should mention that the deck runs 24/7 News Cycle, too… (There’s a Lot of good targets for 24/7 in a PE deck. 3x HoK, 3x Profiteering, Clone Retirements if you run those, Philotic obviously… And a whole bunch of good fodder, too, especially with Kusanagi’s addition to the lineup.)

The only things I’ve really lost to regularly are things like dedicated econ denial decks, like Obelus Siphon spam, and that’s more because of Obelus than Siphon, because the cards in the deck all cost 1-4 credits anyway, the most expensive being actually using a Ronin or triple-advancing to score a Profiteering or HoK.

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Two questions:

  1. Do you score Philotic ASAP?
  2. Do you fear that Drone will make your double advanced cards cry?
  1. Yes, but only extremely rarely do I score it unsafely (via Never Advance, for instance.) Usually it’s as soon as I can ToL, unless they’re actually being diligent about preventing those batteries… (Very rare; Runners usually hit an Overwriter or a Kusanagi and knock it off.)

  2. Nope; they gotta trash Drone when they prevent damage. It’s annoying, but it gives something for Preemptive Action to recur. Also the meta has to get to a point where people actually slot Drone, and I don’t think that’ll happen.

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