I saw Dien Tran working on a Gagarin deck on Jinteki the other night. Watching him throw card after card on the virtual table, I found myself pondering my current running decks and realizing I had not idea how I would play against that deck. I usually have the same experience when playing Estelle Moon ETF.
This morning, I think I at least have a way to articulate the nature of my confusion.
I read this article at The Winning Agenda that uses the “Who is the Beatdown?” concept to talk about game play and strategy in Netrunner. It is a really helpful article if you have never read it.
One concept it presents is the idea that each deck in a game poses a question to the other player. The question takes the form of stating how the deck will win and asking whether the opponent has a way to stop that. Here, for instance, is the way the author frames the question the RP deck of that day asks.
I am going to set up an unassailable credit lead with Sundews and Mental Health Clinic, and then win by setting up a remote server that you need to get into multiple times. In the meantime, my agendas protect themselves by 1) being expensive to steal (NAPD), 2) by being ridiculously hard to steal (The Future Perfect), and 3) by being scarce (only 8 or 9 agendas in the deck). Furthermore, I have very taxing ICE that you need to pay through your nose to get past. Can you deal with this?
Reading the specific examples helped me realize part of the problem with playing against asset spam. Very often, I do not understand the question that an asset spam deck is posing. I just see card after card going down on the table and don’t have a good sense of what the deck’s question is or what my range of possible answers might be. I think part of the question might be: I’m going to throw down so many cards that you are going to have a hard time figuring out which ones to deal with and which ones to leave on the table.
It may also be that most Runner decks are not built to answer the kinds of questions that asset spam decks pose. Few Runner cards provide direct tools for dealing with assets (as opposed to ice), so it is hard to think in terms of answers to asset spam.
So, I’m wondering what kinds of questions do you think asset spam decks pose – in the model of the RP question above? Maybe if the questions are more clear, the path to answering them might be as well.