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Yomi's place in Netrunner


In @Elusive’s excellent articles about playing Netrunner on this site, he speaks about the important role of Yomi in the game. I find, however, that lots of elite competitive players do not like Yomi or cards and decks that trade heavily on Yomi.

With our new lead designer being a professed fan of Jinteki, I wonder how the community feels about the place of Yomi in Netrunner in general and in competitive play.


Captain Zane is defo tier 1.


I think there are lots of people that love it, but it isn’t considered a top tier strategy because it relies heavily on luck and your opponent making the wrong decisions. Competitive players tend to value consistency over all else, and it just isn’t possible to be 100% consistent if you’re relying on M I N D G A M E S.


If you bluff sometimes in Netrunner, you will win more games than if you never bluff or always bluff.

Figuring out how much to bluff - and personally I’d like to see a little more ‘low stakes’ bluffs available - that’s an important part of the game.


I’ve found that Mumbad Virtual Tour is an extremely effective card for low stakes Yomi. Put it in the remote, masquerading as 3/2 or a valuable asset. If they run it, it’s a big waste of time and resources, if they don’t, just install something on top of it and enforce the same decision again.


I’d consider threatening 3/2s fairly high stakes (from the runner’s perspective).


Packing a single high impact “universal” trap, like Cerebral/Junebug in a kill deck, or Aggressive Secretary in a score-centric Corp, adds a lot of play when it comes to assumptions and competitive/consistent play.

Imagine it this way: What if the DotW was a “standard” consistent FoodCoats Upgrade-based HB… with one copy of Secretary? How frustrating would that be on Jinteki.net?

This line of thought only works in a Runner-favored meta. If the Corp has a dominating strategy that the Runner has to react to, the Corp is better off relying on those strategies or exploiting the restricted runner deckbuilding in other ways… usually not traps.


I think Yomi decks/strategies lend themselves towards huge confirmation bias on the part of the pilot.

But then I would say that - I’m rubbish at psi games. :slight_smile:


Not entirely sure what you are saying here, but consider that the pilot is the best source for whether the deck works or not.

I definitely think yomi has a place in the game but keep in mind how much fatigue plays a role in competitive Netrunner. Yomi is mentally taxing.


I’m saying that Yomi decks strongly lend themselves towards having the pilot think that their wins are due to getting into their opponents’ heads and that their losses were due to bad luck.

We would rarely have a sufficient sample size (or rigourous data collection) that would allow us to be certain that wins are due to Yomi.


I guess that would mean that you would like proof on consistent high-placing wins with a Yomi-deck to change your mind?


I don’t think that would prove it, because you can’t pull out the “Yomi factor” as a factor that’s independent of player skill (including that of the opponent) matchup, etc.

To be honest I don’t think the data exists that would irrefutably disprove my hunch - but that obviously cuts both ways and the burden of proof is very much with me here, and I don’t have any :slight_smile:

I suppose my baseless assertion is this:

i) we are all subject to a degree confirmation bias, as players/humans;
ii) that effect is magnified when risks/rewards are involved;
iii) there is no iii and I’m probably talking rubbish.


If your argument is randomness, then data would refute that to a stronger degree (confidence) the more data there is (with a Yomi-deck). That is scientific fact, you won’t get away from that… =)

… otherwise you need another argument than randomness. That said i do understand where your hunch comes from, there is a lot of variance in Yomi play, more than what is common in other games of strategy.

A thing to consider here is that ‘skill’ and ‘results’ are not correlated the same way in different games. Compare:

  1. A game of chess
  2. A game of chess where, at the end of a round, both players roll a die. If either player gets a ‘6’ they win, regardless of outcome.

Game 2 definitely has more variance, but it has the same amount of skill (as in depth) as game 1. Games have different properties, but the correct way to measure skill is players consistently departing from the average.


Oh, i did also misread your argument partly there. The problem of separating player ‘Yomi’ skill from player ‘Other’ skills can be investigated by players of equal ranking with normal decks both practicing and playing Yomi decks.

Or in an easier way looking at a single player playing both Yomi and normal decks and achieving consistently high results with both. If your argument is that Yomi is much less skill-intensive the player would then be crippling themselves playing that deck in a tournament, and would win/lose much more close to 50/50 of those games than with a ‘normal’ deck.


I think this could be done using some of the old OCTGN data. If we assumed that everyone playing PE was a Yomi deck (I think this is relatively reasonable), and not Jinteki was not a Yomi deck (more of a stretch) then you could use a mixed model to test Yomi effect accounting for player skill. I wouldn’t envy someone doing the legwork on that, but it should be possible.


That wasn’t what was said, what was said was “people like to think their wins are because they did cool mindgames and not something else”.

There also is no good data you can really around this sort of thing. Let’s pretend for a second that PE dominated the tournament scene for a while. Sure, it’s a deck with random elements (like Mushin), but that’s not the only thing that it can do, it’s a real deck too, and even if Mushin just rolled a die and sometimes you won, better players would still win more.

This does not refute Epimer’s comments because you’re still not proving that PE wins by ‘mind games’. “PE wins more in good players’ hands” is demonstrably true, but that’s not because they have super secret mind reading powers. In more places than players would like, the gameplay lends itself to coin flips, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no skill at all, because at the end of the day it’s still playing Netrunner.

The secret (and Mushin aside) is that “I out mind gamesed my opponent!” is basically never right, as ‘mind games’ isn’t a separate part of Netrunner skill, and it’s just weighing EV (as in any random access). There’s no way to evaluate “mind game powers” because EV evaluation is just part of Netrunner and good players do it better than bad players.

The hypothesis @Epimer makes is, I think, that people think this is a big part of the game because they like to feel cool when they win (even if the runner made a correct choice).

It does to some extent (though many people, including myself, consider “a game has more skill” to mean “my skill is more important in the outcome”), but we can both agree that game 2 would be significantly less fun to play for both parties. Sometimes, variance is good because bad players can beat good players ‘fairly’ (an example would be getting a ‘bomb’ card in a Magic draft), but it leaves both players grumpy of the win is decided with a die roll or an overtly random element.

Anyway, my comments on this matter tend to come down to the fact that hidden information is good for the game in general (and in general an ideal world would not have expose, either), but hidden information that winds up being coin flips like Overwriter just aren’t fun to me at all (notably, there’s a difference between that and a coinflip through 3/2 agenda), because there’s a big disconnect between Mushin targets and stuff-that-has-happened-before-in-the-game.


Which, if you see my post below, i acknowledge and then give a specific reply to.

The argument that a good player wins equally much with any deck is not valid, since decks aren’t equally good. A deck needs to be good (powerful) and allow for player skill to be converted to results on top of that.

Assuming that two decks exist of equal ‘potential power’ where one of the decks relies heavily on Yomi-type strategies to win, and the other doesn’t, then that would mean that to win with the Yomi deck you would have to use some of that type of skill to do that. Simply because it is not as strong in the other skills.

If this power of this deck instead came from a random occurrecne, such as both you and Epimer makes an argument for, then results with this deck would show that variance. This would mean that it would not be able to consistenly win, simply because of its inherent randomness. This is a statement that can be proven/disproven with data.

EV-valuation in this case is a ‘base-strategy’ but good players know when to not apply that strategy.

I’d suggest you both to check out the following material:

This is completely fair as a statement, it is a matter of definition. I would not consider ‘skill’ to be defined in this way, as you would then consider poker much less skill-intensive than chess. This is a claim i find difficult to strongly support with evidence.
You would also count some of the most important and complex ‘games’ in the world such as matters of war and financial markets to be less skill-intensive than chess.


edit: woops this was longer than expected, but whatever. Probably just going to leave my response on this subject at this.

I didn’t specify as far as you’re inferring at all. A good player wins more than a bad player, not with any deck, but in general. A good player with deck X wins more than a bad player with deck X.

Evaluating expected value is just a part of Netrunner as anything else. You’re trying to create a completely separate school of skills for ‘yomi’ when in reality it’s still possible to play intelligently in uncertain situations based on the information that you have.

I didn’t say that at all. What I (and I think we) did say was that ‘mind games’ is a significantly more played-up than it should be because people like to think they’re smart when they win.

This is factually incorrect. Decks that have randomness can still consistently win. Netrunner is an inherently random game but good players win regardless. As you pointed out with your chess example, a game having a random element doesn’t mean that you can’t be better than other people at the game. You can have randomness in a game and still have skill be a factor in winning.

To restate myself, nobody said that the entire game was a coin flip and that you’d get just-as-accurate results flipping a coin rather than playing Netrunner. Instead, I said quite the opposite, that skilled players win more than unskilled players, even if half of the cards in Netrunner had you explicitly roll a die or flip a coin.

Why do you keep saying I’ve said things I haven’t? If you present my argument as something completely absurd and something you know I disagree with, of course it’s easy to refute. I did not say that that was the only thing that matters when it comes to skill, nor did I say that uncertainty made for bad or unskilled gameplay, and I definitely didn’t say poker was easier than chess.

Poker requires a lot of skill, and it has uncertain information similar to Netrunner. The results of the uncertainty feed into the rest of the game and feed from the game that has happened so far. Uncertainty is part of the game, and in many cases, the best player won’t win (though more realistically, poker bets are often compared to scoring out a 3/2 agenda rather than ‘flip a coin to win/lose’), but the best player will take the best EV trades throughout the game. No strong poker player will claim they won due to ‘yomi’ or ‘mind games’ or whatever.

In fact, potent chess players also play/switch to poker, Ylon Schwartz is one example, but there are many more. There are also countless examples of poker/Magic players, too, off the top of my head, EFro, David Williams, and Finkel.

There are games that use randomness and variance well, especially those that benefit from the variety it brings (like drawing an opening hand in Magic and Netrunner). Netrunner is inherently a game with uncertainty and therefore randomness. Poker is similar, and it’s very rare for two situations to be the same.

We’d both agree that Poker would be less fun and enjoyable if you rolled a die at the end, similar to your chess example earlier. The fact that variance can be used well is proof in and of itself that variance can be used badly, and I believe that having variance that’s as polarising as Mushin + Overwriter and similar is not fun or good for the game (just as poker would be worse if you couldn’t call and could only go all in).

I never said that decks that contain these “only win because of randomness” as you somehow got from my post, and instead argued the opposite, that good players will win more than bad players despite their randomness. My argument was entirely that ‘yomi’ is just EV evaluation (which it is, like in poker) and not super secret mind game powers.


First, I’m genuinely sorry if you feel i misrepresented your argument. My intention was to reply to the argument i thought you are making, and from reading your text i still feel that i understood it correctly.

I might have gone off on a bit of a tangent with regard to what constitutes ‘skill’ in a game however, since i find that interesting, which was not the core argument here.

Yes. Let us deal with this then.

This is my most concise counterargument:

If there is a skill called ‘Yomi’ separate from other types of skill it is easy to observe using data. If there is not, and it is entirely EV (expected value) valuation, or randomness, this experiment will show it.

Find a deck that both sides consider a heavily ‘Yomi’ deck (if mindpowers exist).
Putting words in your mouth here i assume you would agree with me that a deck that relies on Mushin as a core strategy to be able to win is an example of such a deck.

Now, simply playing on ‘expected value’ of high-variance events, or indeed it being more random, then this deck would be shown to be inferior to a good deck that has less of this property (the variance). This is because the more control a player has (‘possibility to exercise skill’) the more that player can use it to win.

I assume you know why this is, but for people who might not i’ll spell it out: playing in a large tournament greatly counteracts the swingyness of single games, leading to players who can scrape up consistently more wins crowding towards the top. Randomness in a deck goes against this, since if you are above average it will drag you down. If you are below average it will pull you up.

Thus my argument is this: if I can show that a Yomi-strategy can give consistently high results in a tournament-environment of other decks with less ‘inherent variance’ then player skill has to account for some of that disparity. Thus either that player is extremely skilled to compensate, or the properties of the deck can be used by that player to win, somehow, regardless of the variance.

This is my definition of Yomi:

While expected-value play (playing 33% of each in rock-paper-scissors, or betting proporionally to hand value in poker) is a base-strategy that is very important to follow in games of counterbalancing choices there is an oppurtunity to exploit people as soon as they are not using this base-strategy.

The argument that this is possible is that people are emotional, prone to falling into routines, gives of clear signals of intent or otherwise have a very hard time actually properly playing the NV base strategy. This is because finding and playing a base-strategy is very very difficult in a complex game. People fall back on patterns and emotional/experience-based strategies.

Then what Yomi is, really, is to yourself abandon the base strategy to play what counters their habit or pattern. The very simple example is this:
If you know that they play rock 50% of the time, it makes sense for you to start playing paper more. This will cause you to win more games.
Or to frame this in Netrunner:
If i know you will never run my traps, i will simply start Mushin’ing Ronins or agendas and win.

This means that a possibility for ‘Yomi-ing’ exist as soon as someone is not playing perfectly, which few people are. If you then are able to both pickup on, and to counterplay their choices then you are using the skill of Yomi.

I would like to restate the two links i found for you, i try to avoid having discussions by linking people stuff usually, but this directly adresses your point so well that if you are willing to engage in this discussion you really should read them to see whether they make you think differently:



I got a 404 on those links