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What does it mean to say a Runner is "interactive"?


#1

I was watching @CodeMarvelous stream a game using a Val Clanarch deck – the new archetype in Red Sands that self-tags and then uses those tags to get money and fuel deep server digs to win. It was mentioned that the deck was not very interactive and Dan defended the deck because he said that the goal of the deck was to run early using Siphon spam to deny the Corp money and self-tag more quickly.

Dan seemed to be equating “making runs” with being interactive.

From the Corp perspective, I’m not sure being Siphon-locked to death before a 15-card R&D dig feels very interactive.

This morning, I noticed someone on the Louisville Facebook page posting about playing Netrunner for the first time in a very long time at local meet up and running smack into someone playing Clanarch. His comment was that the game was not very much fun and his perception was that Clanarch was not very interactive.

So, it got me wondering. What does it mean to say a Runner deck is “interactive”? Is Clanarch fairly called a non-interactive deck?


#2

It’s a difficult question, as it can be based on perception. In my mind though, “interactive” means that both decks are reactive of one another. “Combo” decks and “Clanarch” decks are not interactive because they develop independently of the other side. BoN Couriers doesn’t have to worry about what the runner is doing because all it does is advance ICE on centrals. Likewise, Clanarch is not interactive because it devolves into installing the combo and self tagging. Siphon Lock isn’t very interactive because if you do it enough times the only thing the corp does is click for credits.

Just my 2 cents.


#3

Clanarch is such a weird deck. I sometimes feel like it’s the runner version of asset spam, where you could run the tools necessary to deal with it but it’s going to weaken your game (possibly fatallly) against anything else. Where Clanarch doesn’t feel like it needs to adjust as much deck-building wise to what the Corp is doing, blowing apart R&D is always going to be good.

Unless you get to bathe them in nuclear fire before the Mercs show up. Or get to actually abuse them self-tagging as NBN to further your win-con. Do we really want to promote more yellow in the environment though?


#4

I think defining interactive is fairly straightforward: it’s the degree to what you’re doing effects the decisions your opponent makes and vice versa.

Siphon for example is fairly interactive because your opponent can put ice and other defenses on HQ, and most importantly you can choose the relative level of defense of different servers (how many ice / defensive upgrades should I put on hq vs scoring remote). The counter surveillance combo itself Mars for martians Dean Lister God of war is hard to interact with because it tried to work independent of what or how many ice you put on RnD.

There are lots of ways to interact with it of course, cvs, defensive upgrades, aginfusion, etc, but these are less common than ice itself which is a generic tool for defending against things, and when you don’t have these tools what you can do is limited to dodge siphon and go fast.

Dlr tended to be more interactive because it gave everyone access to a second vector of interaction because every deck runs money the same way every deck runs ice, and trashing dlr was an option decks could reasonably threaten without tech, though in the non unique wnp days this wasn’t true.


#5

Maybe a worthwhile thought experiment here is to ask what good counters exist to clanarch, which ones are broadly useful. To get back to the thread topic, we should look not just at what improves your win rate, but what forces the game to be interactive.

In terms of direct tag punishment, I’ve been slotting a couple of best defense in pretty much every corp deck I play right now, which has 65(!) targets for un-tagged runners. Several of these (SMC, Tapwrm, Sec Testing, Aeneas Informant, Street Peddler, Same Old Thing) see a lot of play and are generally worth killing on sight if you get a chance. Killing Obelus and forcing the runner to dig for another one or make runs where dean lister will not be able to render ICE strength irrelevant forces the clanarch player to adapt or make risky runs.

In terms of ICE that is relevant against the game plan (generally speaking, Dean + God of War), Komainu is a good choice, as are a number of explicitly anti-AI ICE (Chiyashi, Turing, Hortum, Swordsman). NBN doesn’t have a lot of good options (Data Ward?), but they have tag punishment galore so maybe not a huge deal. These ICE force the runner to react by installing real breakers (or trashing the ICE).

Clanarch, generally speaking, has a narrow set of cards that it uses to win. This makes it susceptible to Targeted Marketing (which tends to create interesting situations in itself, as well as addressing siphon recovery). Likewise, Salem’s Hospitality and Ark Lockdown generally have good targets. These cards are not as high-impact against the overall runner field, but they reward meta knowledge and force your opponent to alter their game plan if it’s focused around a combo or specific interaction.

I agree that, like asset spam, you might need to add a lot of cards to have a 90% win rate against clanarch. But I think that there are a lot of defensible choices that will improve your odds against it. More importantly, with a few slots you can force them to interact with you, and those slots are not just liabilities in other match-ups. Best Defense, anti-AI ICE, and cards that allow you to directly disrupt a runner plan focused on a core set of cards both improve the clanarch matchup and force interaction on the runner.


#6

This struck me as an important point. You can slot cards to force interaction on the deck, but the deck itself tries not to be interactive.

I appreciate the discussion here. Thanks to those who have commented.


#7

I think it is a spectrum with CI and Dyper at one end of it.

I’ve never had much sympathy for the term, to be honest, because it’s often used by people who don’t know how to interact with certain strategies or know the lines against certain deck types (DLR mostly).

I’m even less sympathetic of its use in Netrunner after having the least fun card game tournament of my life yesterday at a Thrones event playing against a deck which I had almost no means to interact with, so it could be much worse.


#8

It seems like in every card game people put a lot of energy into creating decks that don’t play the game.


#9

People fear unknown variables. No game? No variables!


#10

I normally wouldn’t complain - that’s a perfectly valid strategy when playing competitively! My griping in this instant was that the deck was such that all normal means to interact with it were removed, such that the only meaningful decision I made all game was whether or not to mulligan. That was Not Fun.

To wrestle this moan back to the topic… I don’t think there’s any deck in Netrunner that operates like that, as long as you’re playing a sensible/competitive deck.


#11

There are multiple ways a runner deck can bring the game to a point where all corp decisions feel meaningless:

  1. Resource denial: the corp has no money, cards, and as such does not have the means to claw themselves back into the game and interact meaningfully.
  2. Lock: the corp has a set of win conditions and the runner has effectively countered all of them.
  3. Super efficient rig: The runner is running efficiently enough that it is not practical to tax them out.
  4. Building up to a combo that you can’t stop: The corp’s cards don’t really matter, they are just hoping they can win before the runner goes off.
  5. The runner deck and/or pilot is just way better than the corp deck/pilot

If you are the corp, if you are in any of these situations, it can feel pretty miserable, and you are liable to blame the runner’s deck for putting you in this situation. You might not actually have a very good game of Netrunner.

But before labeling a deck as uninteractive, you need to consider two things:

1) No deck is uninteractive in a vacuum: what about the corp build meant that they had no meaningful ways of interacting?

Netrunner is a really beautiful game for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that most corp decks have counterplay to anything most runner decks are doing, even if they didn’t specifically prepare for the matchup. Considering the example of Clanarch, the fact that more or less every corp deck has ICE to protect HQ means you have some counterplay. Considering the example of DDoS + False Echo combo (Dyper), the fact that you have ICE means you can at least throw minor speed bumps in the way of the runner going off.

And that’s really great and all. But if you go up against another deck and you are still thinking “goodness, I wish I had more ways to interact”, the next time you are in deck construction you can think about other cards you can play to make the matchup better.

If after all that you still don’t feel like you have any meaningful decisions, yeah, the deck is uninteractive.

2) Does the runner deck fundamentally rely on cutting off all options to the corp, or did the game feel uninteractive just because the runner was winning?

Runners have inevitability in Netrunner. If the game goes on forever with nobody doing anything, runners will eventually win when the corp runs out of cards or likely, way before that, they draw too many agendas to reasonably manage. Also, runners have inevitability in the sense that eventually, they will amass so much money and install enough cards that they will be able to run everywhere, steal everything, trash everything.

People also build runner decks with the hope of shutting down corp win cons, and with the hope of overcoming corp roadblocks and preventing the corp from preventing the runner from winning the game. There are a lot of ways to do this: resource denial, tech cards against strategies you expect to see, a nice efficient deck.

But if the runner is able to accomplish these goals too well, you might be in for an uninteractive game. I’ve account siphoned you to zero and can keep on recurring account siphon long enough that you’ll never be able to realize your win condition before I’ve realized mine? While I may have built my deck with the hope of achieving such a game state, there are things you could have done to stop me, but now that we are here, yes, the game is uninteractive.

To expand on this point, people often build runner decks with the hope that they will reach these uninteractive game states and there is nothing wrong with that. When you build your runner deck, you aspire to have answers to everything, whenever you need them. But if the runner can answer everything you the corp can do, that means things may not be very interactive. It’s the corp’s responsibility to keep this from happening.
__

All that being said, there are different runner plans, and some offer a corp more glimmers of hope than others when they are winning. Sometimes that is even false hope… the corp thinks they are still in the game when they really aren’t, but that false hope can be enough to keep a game exciting. Current Clanarch is not a deck that offers you a lot of hope if you are getting absolutely crushed.

It is 100% true that being siphon-locked to death before a 15 card R&D dig feels very uninteractive. Personally, if I were thinking about bringing a deck to a casual event, I wouldn’t bring it just because I know that if things are going well, my opponent might not have a lot of fun.

But I would also say that asking if an individual deck is interactive is the wrong question, because no deck is interactive or noninteractive without considering the deck it is going against and the two pilots.


#12

Z has been playing a tagme deck that uses mars4marts and counter surveillance. I haven’t beat it yet, but I actually have a ton of fun trying. I’ve been trying to make a corporate strategy that can beat it and still beat runners that don’t (intend to) go tag me. He’s actually the one who has gotten bored with the deck, while I kind’a feel like I’m playing with all my wits about me and keep wanting another match after I lose.

I think for the Corp to succeed against this deck, it really must know a) that this kind of runner exists, b) how this runner strategy works, and c) that they’re not going to be able to go about their business with the same old efficiency hits and expect to win. I think this actually defines a kind of interaction in the meta, but also in the game. It’s just not the normal kind of in-game ANR interaction because the impetus is on the corp to ruin the runners plans rather than vice versa. Good corporate strategy requires making deck choices that hinder the runner’s plan. It can be done, but it’s just different when the runner just wants to sit back and play like a corp. Crisium is good still. Also here’s a low incfluence card that is really valuable in the game right now with Moose, Paperclip, Deja Vu+Mars4Marts and SoT+Siphon:

Bottom line for me…I enjoy playing against the tagme deck. I actually think its boring for the runner, not the corp. The interaction requires a lot of knowledge and the right kind of deck though…otherwise the corp and the runner both just go about their business and the corp loses.


#13

Dan is twice the world champion and therefore is very good, but might not be the most objective when it comes to winning decks


#14

Other Dan.

I mean, I think CodeMarvelous Dan is a decent player too, but he’s won about two less world championships by my accounting.


#15

It doesn’t matter witch Dan is right. The fact is for the average player losing to an “uninteractive” deck sux. It makes you feel powerless in a way that most other netrunner games don’t. For spikey pros that doesn’t sting as much. But we have too acknowledge that when lock/prision/denial decks become tier 1 you’re going to push new and casual players out of the game


#16

I agree.

I think there’s a difference though between what you hope is being done by designers of the game and what you personally can do for yourself to enjoy the game more.

Figuring out how to have less uninteractive games by playing smart decks and learning the best ways to play around key strategies is very good personally.

Hoping that people who don’t put in as much work can still have fun is also good.


#17

Well now I’m curious as to what our greatest champion has to say about things now


#18

I lost in my second-ever GNK last week to a click-denial asset deck. I had 0 clicks per turn, every turn. That was not fun. I think FFG should think carefully before printing a card that denies the runner clicks; it’s like land destruction in MTG, they basically got rid of it because it was such a negative play experience for the opponent.


#19

I threw together a click denial deck on Jinteki.net one night thinking it was probably just some homebrew jank. Played one game before I realized that not only is it tremendous NPE for both players, but it’s actually way stronger than it should be. If you manage to get the lock on the runner there is absolutely nothing they can do to break it. Then you have to chug along at 1 or maybe 2 clicks per turn til you inevitably get a free win.

I agree with you that click denial is a design space that should be avoided. With a critical mass of these cards (Load Testing, MCA Austerity, Victoria Jenkins) and means of recurring them (Clone Suffrage, FiHP), I think it’s even less fun to play against than your average asset spam prison deck from IG or Gagarin. At least in those games, you get to make decisions as the runner. The Load Testing nonsense removes any sense of player agency unless you manage to trash the combo pieces somehow before they lock you.

The worst thing is that I’m not even sure the MWL can actually address it. Sure you can bust up some of the combo pieces and make it less reliable, but if you can build a deck that can legally assemble a -4 click combo then someone will do it and it will be NPE any time it goes off.


#20

If things got that bad I could see Load Testing getting errata to being a Priority so at least you can only do one per turn.