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Which side is harder to play?

One thing I’ve always assumed about the game is that corp is easier to play than runner, mostly because you get to manage most of the hidden information rather than having to guess what it is. As runner you have to guess what ice to expect and count the corp’s influence to figure out whether they have scorch or archer or whatever. I also thought that when people win the die roll and choose to be corp first, that was because the corp game can be a “warmup” for the harder runner game.

But as I’ve gotten better at the game I’m starting to believe that corp is harder to play at a high skill level (that is, progressing from beginner to intermediate, there are more things to learn as runner, while from intermediate to advanced, corp is harder to improve at). Runners pretty much all have the same game plan: threaten both centrals with multi-access (or siphon) while still being able to get into remotes. To play corp really well, on the other hand, you have to anticipate what the runner’s plan is and distribute your ice to best stop them, often several turns in advance.

“Advanced” tactics as corp include:

  • Bluffing 3-2 agendas as NAPDs or NAPDs as 5-3s (or similarly bluffing 3-2s as other assets)
  • Managing credit pool to stay safe from siphon (being able to dump money into sansan, eve/adonis, or HQ ice)
  • Managing number of agendas in HQ with jackson (I used to always discard and shuffle away as many agendas as possible, which is right if you think the runner has legwork, but often you want to keep one or even two.)
  • Creating scoring windows by baiting the runner into expensive runs (especially, forfeiting an NAPD so you can score something better)

Advanced tactics as runner include:

  • Counting number of agendas seen and cards in R+D to decide when HQ is most likely to be worth legworking
  • Guessing the corp’s NAPD-related bluffs / deciding whether you can afford to steal NAPD without creating a scoring window
  • I can’t really think of any more?

So, what other tactics/strategy have you learned for each side as you’ve gotten better? Also, does whichever side you think is harder to play influence which side you choose to play first in a match?


I always felt the runner game requires more skill. The simplest evidence would be to play a tournament with chess clocks and check witch side spends more time on thinking. I bet it would be the runner.

The corp can pick a bluff relatively quickly (better players will play tougher bluffs, but even though the play will be quick). The runner has to work out the bluff and play accordingly, which takes time and brain cycles :).

Although, what I said is probably biased because I mostly play shapers. Surely milling all you can with Noise or staying totally aggro from the get go with crims requires less sweating?

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Depends on the deck you are playing. There are very straight forward decks for both sides e.g. HB/NBN fast advance and Noise mill or any sort of HEAVY Account Siphon recursion I would call the simple ones as you rarely need to make tough decisions or plays on those.

One of the most important “tactics” for me is to asap understand what is the opponents deck focusing on and what to expect.

Runners tend to be significantly more sensitive to player skill than corps, at least IMO-- most corp decks are much more dependent on draws than runners are. Even the boring standard Andy deck greatly benefits from an experienced player.


This sums up my experience entirely (rather reinforced by my league record!). It took me two or two three months to feel like I knew what I was doing as a runner - even playing Reina siphon spam - whereas I felt I could handle a HB corp deck from pretty much my first game.

IIRC, Alexfrog posted some stats here a little while back that showed that Andy is actually the runner that is best able to leverage superior player skill, which I fully believe, especially now with so many hard and soft counters running around, and big annoying ICE everywhere. You have to make every single one of those Datasucker tokens and each of your credits count. Because there are so many things your deck is trying to deal with, you’re playing with the bare minimum of each tool so you can fit them all in and you constantly need to weigh the short term benefit of using that tool on a reasonable target to get an advantage right now vs saving it for a better target later (think Parasite, ES, the one of Infiltration, the SOTs, the 3 or maybe just 2 Inside Jobs etc.) The deck is mentally exhausting to play.

I find corp to be much more relaxing to play by comparison. It’s a lot easier to plan your turns out in advance for one thing. You have almost all the information available, so it’s just easier on the brain. As mentioned already, your corp’s performance is also much more draw dependent then mistake dependent. When I lose corp games, a lot of the time the reason is something like “I had a great scoring window for 7+ turns there half way through the game, it sucks that I didn’t draw any of the agendas ineeded to win”, where as with runner its a lot more likely to be “I used a parasite early on a Quandary which let me grab an NAPD/ Nisei M2/Beale/ABT/Priority Req (APP is not listed here, cause getting an APP is almost always worth it in the long run) , but not having that Parasite later screwed me after he rezzed his Tollbooth/ Komainu/ Tsurugi / Victor 2.0/ whatever” That’s not to say that good corp play can’t effect your win rate (it clearly does), I just think that it’s easier to get good at than running.

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I like your post, and I like the “Advanced” tactics posted. A couple others to consider I think:


-Understanding how runner is playing face down remotes and know when to exploit their tendencies.
-Icing archives after mills/running ABT/discarding to get runner to waste time when no agendas are present (bluff).
-Wiping Nerve agent counters with no agendas in hand (bluff).
-Scoring over-advanced beals when safe (seriously, why don’t more people do this?)
-Layering ICE properly on servers

-Dont show hardware/programs until your about to use them
-Install R&D Interface when you will Legwork/Siphon next turn
-Be able to pressure all the centrals early - causes agenda clogs if corp cant build remotes
-Fight to keep corp under 6-8 credits when SanSan/Biotics might be around. Even something like emergency shutdown on an Eli can give you the time to keep pressure on and stop an astro from being scored.
-Don’t get attached to cards you don’t have to. Taking net dmg can be a really inexpensive way of dealing with some ICE, if you can afford the card loss. Know when you can afford to lose certain cards and dont be afraid to lose them if you have to.
-Count influence - At a certain point you might be able to rule out Scorched Earth or other various cards and you can adjust accordingly.

In answering the initial question on this thread, I think running is a little more difficult at this time. Not just because corps are slightly more powerful atm imo, but because there are literally more decisions to make (4 clicks vs 3). I think mistakes are where the game is often won and lost at the highest level, and I think it’s easier to make mistakes when you have an extra click every turn to potentially mess up. Additionally, mistakes by the runner are often insurmountable (I.E. losing a breaker, loaded Kati, etc), where corps I think generally are able to recover faster than runners after devastation occurs.



I’ve played over a thousand games at this point with more than 200 different decks. I still consider that I learn things all the time. I wouldn’t rate my skill level at either runner or corp play as being better than intermediate.

To me, to excel at being a runner you
a). Have to know your deck. Have serious experience with it. Run it against all likely contenders more than a dozen times. Know how you’re going to handle scorched. Komainu. Know what the solutions are in your deck - and the best chance to obtain them.

The biggest challenge for the runner in the last release was reading the corp, I thought. Is the corp going for an agenda win or flatline or a deck exhaustion win. Is it a psychografix deck - and being able to read those from just a few plays. Know what ice to expect.

The latest pak has shifted the balance heavily to the corp side IMO. So much so that I don’t think that reading the corp is as important as shear aggression. Saying… screw you corp, I don’t care what your plan is - deal with … this.

On the corp side - in a perfectly run game (at least in the decks I like to play) its like spinning plates… the corp has to set up and spin plates - and run between the plates giving each aspect of the game enough love to avoid disaster. Income, defense vs as, agenda density, agenda density in archives, baiting the runner, rezzing ice vs not rezzing. Mitigating card draw.

I have definitely found myself taking bigger risks as runner recently. For example, yesterday the corp went broke to hit me with komainu on HQ, making me lose a hand with emergency shutdown in it. I decided to continue, risking a fetal or shock access so I could SOT shutdown the komainu. I’ve also floated loads of tags against NBN before having any idea whether they have scorch or psycho. I’m not sure if it’s because runners have to take bigger risks nowadays, or just because I’ve gotten better at deciding when a risk is worth it; perhaps a bit of both.