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Why Skorpios is bad for Netrunner


Almost two years ago, Damon Stone made the rounds on the podcasts to talk about the first MWL. In several cases, his apparent rationale for inclusion on the list was that [card X] restricts design space for [cards of type Y], for example Yog.0 and low-strength code gates.

We now have Skorpios, a corp ID that:

  • Not only restricts the design space for every type of runner card, it restricts the playability of several runner IDs altogether;
  • Does not accompany an evidently coherent shift away from runner-side recursion (or recursion more holistically), such that egregious recursion cards continue to be released (Friends in High Places was released only three or four months before Skorpios, by my reckoning, and Skorpios was released in the same box as The Shadow Net, a runner recursion card which featured prominently at Worlds);
  • Distorts deckbuilding and play at all levels, with lots of unfounded or specious surmising as to some sort of “meta-role” for the Skorpios ID within the card pool: “Damon wants us to play with multiple breakers,” “Runners are too [insert adjective] now,” “Rigshooting is my preferred playstyle,” “Just play X”;
  • Is an ID printed in a so-called big box which raises the overall stakes for the impact of this card on the card pool and the competitive metagame over time.

You want my opinion? At my most optimistic, Skorpios is rushed, poorly conceived, poorly worded, and badly tested. At my most pessimistic, Skorpios is a deeply cynical design play by someone who’d already checked out, rubberstamped by a company whose talent is spread way too thin.

The question is ultimately not whether rigshooter should or should not be any more viable than Aesop’s Pawnshop or MaxX, the question is whether a different version of the Skorpios ID could have been released that satisfied its goals more elegantly, without adding another eyeroll card to the card pool. In this sense, I agree with the original poster’s assertion that “Skorpios is bad for Netrunner.”

Yeah, I agree with you here. I’ve played a lot as Skorpios as well and it’s actually harder to land the Batty/Cobra or Hunter Seeker play than I wanted. I don’t think that’s ultimately the question. As above, I would argue the greater issue is whether Skorpios represents a good piece of design work, a good addition to the card pool, and a good addition as an ID in a big box (which presents a larger issue of longevity and impact over time).

“Just concede” is, in my opinion, an unhelpful imperative to add to a game community which should be growing its numbers and encouraging exciting, tense gameplay at all levels. If you’re grinding 25 hours of Netrunner a week on Jnet, you might recognize this as a reasonable outcome, but I don’t think most people who pick up Netrunner and want to have “fun games” would recognize this in the wide-angle lens. They’d be more likely to evaluate their initial experience with the game subjectively and report negative impressions or unsatisfactory outcomes: “This game is boring, I can’t do anything.”

I think this hints at the idea that the ID was rushed and/or not thought through properly, but as expressed above this is 100% my opinion.

It can, but this is correlative not causative. Account Siphon recursion was a problem because of the card Account Siphon in combination with the cards that recurred it. It does not follow, based on this information, that the solution would be to print a corp ID in a big box that also has a distorting effect on the vast majority of benign instances of recursion, restricts the design space for runner-side recursion of any kind, and creates a bogeyman for deckbuilding and gameplay for the foreseeable future.


I guess I’ll chip in here and say that it’s worth noting that Skorpios decks placed low at Worlds - meaning that however powerful the identity might be, it’s not good enough against other decks played by good players.


Skorpios is bad for runners who only play single breaker,don’t know how to maximize the access efficiency,and sometimes too fearful to trade breaker for agenda points.And when they lose,they simply declare the ID is unfair.


I see a lot of Skorp and I’m mildly tech’d for it. My opponents never win by total lockout. They win by creating scoring windows. And they lose often.

I would argue that it should be thought of as a kind of kill. (Which also leaves the runner with nothing to do.) It is easy to tech for with cards that are good anyway: Saccon, AI, more than 1 fracter, multi access. Not unreasonable deck construction. As long as you have 4 total of these cards, Skorp plays more like a puzzle. It’s often easy to steal two agendas in a single turn. If you have 6 of these cards Skorp is at a huge disadvantage. Since these cards provide value against most other opponents than Skorp and can combo with other cards well, I’d argue that the deck building restrictions are not too much. Many tech cards are uses less against other strategies. Clot, Plascrete, Caldera. The biggest problem with Skorp is that it’s so easily tech’d against that it will never be top tier. So it’s tempting to ignore it completely…but that means Skorp will always get some wins. It reminds me of Weyland kill a lot. Easy to complain about when you won’t include two plascrete. There are other Corp strategies that are reliably more degenerate if you ask me.


I gotta say I’m coming round the the OP’s conclusion that Skorpios is bad design. Imagine how much more interesting it would’ve been if its ability was “Trash an installed runner card whenever an agenda is stolen” and then forced you to import Ark Lockdowns for your RFGs.
Having said that, I struggle to imagine a rigshooter deck that does what the OP describes (slow down the runner and create scoring windows, rather than complete lockout) with the existence of the anarch conspiracy breakers. Their install from heap ability is VERY strong, especially for their install cost. If it had a restriction like “use this ability only once per game”, or if using that ability increased their install cost, that would’ve been fine, but currently it’s impossible to rigshoot without RFG cause reinstalling them is hardly a tempo hit at all (except for Clippie at 4).


I think Skorpios is one of the best cards to be printed recently. Combined with Hunter Seeker, it supports a rush strategy that forces interesting decisions for both players and a high degree of interactivity. The games I’ve played both as and against Skorpios have been some of the most enjoyable, “honest” Netrunner in recent memory. I’ve never found the rush style of play or this ID/combo to be degenerate or overpowered. I also think that the attempts to make a degenerate, pure rigshooter deck - such as the Hatchet Job -> Salem’s Hospitality combo or the “all sentries” ICE suite - were obviously not tier 1 and had some glaring weaknesses, so, overall, I don’t think this ID comes anywhere close to hurting the game.

I also really disagree with the opinion that “heap attack” is a bad thing for the game. Recursion of high-impact events (Stimhack, ice destruction, multi-access, etc.) is incredibly easy through the use of Same Old Thing, and runner decks will often choose to have a few one-of powerful events that they can selectively recur with one or two Same Old Thing. Skorpios attacks this (incredibly efficient) deckbuilding style. It also turns some of the strongest draw in the game (MaxX, Street Peddler, Inject) into interesting decision points, and forces runners using the conspiracy breakers (also very, if not optimally, efficient) to be more careful in how they discard these programs.

Lastly, I think that teching against Skorpios is possible through a wider variety of more generally useful cards than a lot of other punishment strategies. You can easily defy Skorpios just by slotting a few spare breakers and an AI, or leveraging bypass or cards like Inside Job, DDoS, Emergency Shutdown, or Femme Fatale.

To contrast, I think that Hard-Hitting News combined with CtM - or any NBN deck, for that matter - is vastly more powerful and can achieve “lock out” through other, usually much more efficient and powerful, means than destroying breakers.


I disagree. Playing out games that you have almost no chance of winning is boring, and Skorpios helps by making it super obvious whether you have a chance of winning or not. An experienced player might see that a Gagarin player has them locked, or that a CI player with Elective Upgrades scored is going to win, and just concede, but a lot of people will play those games out to their long, agonizing finishes. Skorpios games are fast and fun - you either get locked out or you win.


I don’t have really lots of CI experience, but so far, several games where I scored Elective Upgrades were over by scoring out the remaining 4 points in 2-3 turns (or the runner stealing enough for them in the meantime).


I would criticise Skorpios in that it brings an unnecessary rock/paper/scissors element to the game. It’s ID ability that is such a hard counter to certain other ID abilities. When the runner feels like they will very likely lose no matter what you do before turn one begins, that’s just not fun.

An ability similar to Skorpios might be really cool to see, to challenge certain types of recursion decks in more interesting ways.


Ever since Creation and Control was released, I had found the runner build exercise to be less interesting than before, because recursion was too easy. Playing program trashing on the corp side was disheartening because firing a trash subroutine against a decent player just once was already quite the accomplishment. And then it was undone by a single card. They don’t even need to interact with you or pay anything except a monetary cost. Runner decks started playing just three breakers, if even that. Runners were having a very easy time, and their focus moved on to maintaining money now that getting your rig set-up and keeping it that way was not really as big a concern.

Skorpios, the restricted list and revised core set shifted the balance closer to where it should be. You now need to again build your deck to have some redundancy in your breakers, and you need to be able to handle having a card central to your strategy missing for the entire game. Overall, I think the mere presence of Skorpios is healthy for the game as it keeps runner decks more honest.

I feel that the skorpios rigshooter strategy is able to lock someone out, but that this also takes a lot of effort to pull off. It is also not as effective as rushing agendas or blowing the runner up. The boogeyman that is rigshooter is scarier than these common strategies, but less efficient. I think that is a good spot for this strategy. It makes me think that it is better suited as a sub-theme to your winning strategy in skorpios. A plan B, whilst your plan A is one of the more common and effective strategies. Example: You can rush in Skorpios. If the runner becomes careless to keep up with your pace: This is when the skorpios ability taxes them.


Is it though? It’s a reasonably hard counter to Maxx, but which other runner identities does Skorpios affect profoundly? Steve? Perhaps - but it only limits the card pool that can be recurred. It’s an identity which has to be played around - one could argue in the same way that PU is OP because if you have no recursion in Shaper, and your refractor is milled, you are locked out of the game.


I was thinking of the Geist ID too, but let me amend my point to have meant that it hard-countered a lot of deck-types that would otherwise feel pretty evenly balanced against the rest of the field. I agree that it’s a good thing to make runners nervous about permanent destructions and maybe a really strong high-influence costing Weyland card that does something similar.

Hard-counters have a place in the game’s meta, but I, personally, don’t like to see them in the ID abilities.


Salty post.

Skorpio catches all of-guard builders and amend the “40card / 1x IA / 6 tutors” playstyle we had before rotation.

It have this role in the meta.
By the moment you play 2x breakers, 1x IA, you have nothing to fear.

About your points:

  1. kill decks lock the game aswell.
  2. sorry to day that, really sorry, but you sounds noob. There is a glory to pilot a Aesop deck vs Skorpio, and still win. Which happenned to me twice. In a row. As Exile.
    If this was not for piloting skills, I would have lost an hundred time before the game started (luckily for me, opponent doesn’t study Exile Aesop).
    There are things that play a role against. It’s up to you for exemple not to play clic 4 events. Trash things that can be tempting before Scavenge stuff. Try to read HQ. Etc.
  3. no. Each single ID is standing there : yes, there are autoinclude cards if you play an ID. Sunny and her console. Most corps and their 3/2. Etc. What you have to judge here is the original synergy plus its “joker”.

Notice that before playing that corp, I had the same advice as you. Then I played the id to prove it was Op (and it was, before the rotation).

Learning to win with it shows you it’s not op, and seing it loose shows you piloting skills (and luck) have a role.

You won’t find many top (top top) players saying this id is op. You will find a lot saying they would never bring Skorp in a tournament (as tops shows), and the reason is its inexistent stability (especially since monosentry with 100.00% ice with subs like rototurret became now a crappy monobarrier plan due to rotation).

This id is t2 (among t1.5). Its existence prevent t1.5 runners to go t1, people to use hosting deamon hosted on hosted deamon etc. It’s 100% fine to have a predator of some Spycam decks these days.


Yeah, if CI has the agendas in hand then it will be over quite quickly. But sometimes they don’t, and there’s lots of other corps (Gagarin, IG, CtM, etc.) that can have very long, grindy wins.

“A CI player with Ashigaru rezzed on all meaningful servers” might’ve been a better example.


Most of the time, the Skorpios ability is actually pretty useless. It’s the type of ID ability that may only meaningfully fire 2 or 3 times in a game. Sure you can remove events the runner plays like Sure Gamble and Dirty Laundry, but typically those cards weren’t coming back to begin with, so it’s kind of a non-factor. The only time it actually matters is when it removes a program. Importantly, trashing programs is typically pretty difficult and most Skorpios decks that I’ve seen can only reliably do it by playing Hunter Seeker or using Marcus Batty + a Trash Program subroutine. The former has a limited number of windows in which it can fire and the latter hinges on a psi-game, so it’s not exactly full-proof.

Competitively speaking, Skorpios’ performance has been pretty lackluster, save for when the Salem’s + Hatchet Job version showed up out of nowhere during 2017 Nationals season and I think that can partially be attributed to players being unfamiliar with this archetype. If it were crushing large events left and right, I could probably agree with OP that it is a problem. As it stands though, it’s a middle of the road, meta call sort of deck that punishes runners who rely heavily on event recursion or don’t run enough breakers, and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. It’s about the only way to viably play Rig-Shooter, and even then locking the runner out before they score 7 points is kind of a tall order, not much different in my book than setting up a Punitive Counterstrike or a Boom! kill.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the current meta is rampant with Sacrificial Constructs, mostly to support Tapwrm based economy packages and Clot lock, but they’re flexible enough to fill a number of different roles in basically any faction. Because of this, Skorpios is already poorly positioned and even less likely to be a serious threat going into Store Champs season.


Skorp is sloppy design because it reduces the decision space of the game. Good designs introduce new decisions or change the weights of existing decisions. (Do I skip my draw to deny the palana credit this turn? Do I dip low in credits to play this biotic before it gets ed kim’d?). Skorp’s RFG decision is rarely meaningful because runners don’t generally trash multiple cards worth RFGing in a single turn. An RFG’d card cannot do anything or be interacted with for the remainder of the game by definition, so any decisions involving that card disappear. Even the Skorp ability itself, by virtue of it being an ID ability, can’t be disrupted unless the runner is playing Employee Strike.

I think punishing recursion is an underexplored design space in netrunner. Aside from Personality Profiles which is a neat ability stuck on a 3/1, all existing recursion tech either RFGs cards or simply traps them in the heap. Skorp could have been reworded to add a steep cost to removing a card from the heap: credits, tags, meat damage, trashing installed cards, etc. At least that leaves the runner with some way to play around it.


I wish Skorp was just Blacklist as an ID.


That’s kinda a cool thought. Just have it say “Your shit can’t leave the bin anymore,” rather than the RFG permanency it currently does. This still lets Emp Strike have some effect where you play it and can then get back a few things retroactively if you have recursion, rather than proactively playing it in order to possibly have things trashed, but also have those things be recoverable if you have recursion. Either way, Skorp only does stuff against runners that have some sort of recursive element


A convenient way is to double up the breakers, have a backup AI and forget the recursion. That takes 7 cards, and you can have 2x or 3x tutor to bring 20/22% of breaker cards in a 45, meaning 80% of games starts with a breaker, followed by 88% of chance to draw a usefull card after the first is installed.

That’s one of the Skorp effect on the meta, and imo anything that nerf recursion is not bad (because it’s been 5 years of that and things quite degenerated last couple of years).


Yes, excellent point OP. I hear that Skorpios even wins games, as a green ID no less?! The unmitigated gall. Let’s get rid of that, green has been way too dominant for way too long. Worlds was wall to wall green, too. How long must this go on, this reign of Weyland terror? Wouldn’t it be amazing to see a Jinteki ID, or even an HB or NBN ID finally do well?