Sunday, 30 June 2013

Android: Netrunner - My Journey in a Dystopian Future - Part 6: All Hands on Deck

Deckbuilding is the heart and soul of FFG’s Living Card Game model and nowhere is it more evident than in Android: Netrunner. By deckbuilding you can customise the game to how you want to play it. Do you want to be a Criminal runner specialising in controlling the Corps’ cash flow? Build it. You want to be a Corporation that aims to trace, tag and flatline your opponents? You can build it. 

Now, as you already know, this blog series is a beginner’s eye view of this card game, so again, I’ll reiterate that I’m no expert, but I can show you the basic mechanics of deckbuilding and what I’ve learned so far.
First off, take a look at the card below.

The 45 in the bottom left corner means you can build a deck for this identity with a minimum size of 45 cards. While there isn’t a maximum deck size as such, for tournament play you need to be able to shuffle your deck without assistance and if you have a lot of cards, then the likelihood of drawing the cards you want to see during a game are reduced. This is why it is recommended you build decks with 45 – 49 cards (this doesn’t include your identity card). 
The 15 in the bottom corner refers to the number of influence points you are allowed in this faction’s deck. The majority of cards in Android: Netrunner have an influence cost. The card pictured below has an influence cost of 3 – represented by the 3 orbs in the bottom left. So you could include this Jinteki card in the Weyland deck, leaving you with 12 more influence to spend as you see fit. You don’t have to use all your influence, but players generally do from what I’ve seen.

In the core set of the game, all Runners and Corporations have this 45 / 15 setup, but there are other identities available or coming soon with different combinations, such as the following examples.

Other limitations 
You are only allowed 3 copies of a card in a deck.

For a Corporation deck, you need to include a certain number of Agenda points. For a 45 – 49 card deck, 20 or 21 points worth is required.

There are some cards that you are only allowed one of in a deck. This will be mentioned on the card itself.

A Corporation deck cannot include out-of-faction Agendas.

Other than these restrictions, you are free to customise your deck how you like it, employing devious tricks and surprises that will make the game a lot of fun to play.

Different people will go about deckbuilding in different ways, but here is how I’ve been doing it: 
Firstly, I think of a theme. What do I want my deck to do? I’ve already mentioned a couple of examples at the start of this article, but others could include an aggressive Runner deck that aims to trash as many of the Corps’ cards as it can; or a Corporation deck that looks to install, advance and score agendas as quickly as possible.

Of course, you need to ensure your deck has the ability to adapt and win by other means if you’re having some bad luck drawing the cards you need.

I then choose the identity I want and separate all that identity’s cards into separate piles – Operations, Agendas, Assets, Ice etc.
I look through all the cards and pick out all the ones that fit with the theme I’m looking to build this deck around.
I will then gather all the neutral cards from the core set and see if any of those could be useful and if so, put them in the pile.
I then go through the cards in each of the game’s Data Packs and again, add any I think would work towards my theme, (we’ll discuss Data Packs in a future blog post, but these are card supplements released on a monthly basis). 

Chances are, I will now have a BIG deck of cards, so I start to break it down and remove cards that I think aren’t the strongest for me. If I’m making a Corporation deck, I’ll start with the Agendas and make sure I have the 20 – 21 points worth.

An important thing to consider if you have enough cards that are going to help with your economy as credits are crucial for both sides. Neutral cards like Hedge Fund, PAD Campaign, Sure Gamble and Armitage Codebusting will help with this while not taking up any of your valuable influence points. 
Once I’ve got the deck narrowed down to between 45 and 49 cards, I’ll count up how much influence I’m using. Usually, I’ll find I’m using too much and have to take something out, perhaps add something else in to compensate and generally just adapt the deck until I have 15 points of influence or less. So far, I’ve not built a deck that hasn’t used the full allowance.

Then it’s down to the testing. Players who are entering tournaments will want to test and practice with their deck as much as possible, with different opponents – refining it as they learn what works and what doesn’t.
For a more casual gamer such as myself, I’ll practice with the deck on my own and with a friend of mine when the opportunity arises.

Whatever your methods, I can’t recommend deckbuilding enough. It will transform the game for you and become an obsession in itself – you’ll find yourself sat thinking about card combos and little tricks you could pull to make a deck more interesting and fun to play – and of course, more devastating for your opponent! 

CardgameDB is a great site for deckbuilding. The site has a database of all the cards and you can easily add them to a deck and save them online. It'll even give you a sample hand of cards so you can see what you're likely to draw from the deck you've built.

One thing to be aware of when using sites like this to hep you with deckbuilding. Generally speaking, it is assumed by the users of the sites that you have 2 core sets.
The game allows you up to 3 copies of a card in your deck, but in the core set there are some cards that you only get 1 or 2 copies of. So, if you want to be really competetive, the general consensus is to buy 2 sets.
Now, I'm from Yorkshire and hence a bit tight with my money, so I still only have one set and so far, I'm fine with that. Buying the data packs is enough for my enjoyment of the game.
Maybe in the long term if I decide to start entering tournaments, then I might change my mind.

Speaking of which, last month, I entered my first Netrunner tournament and in the next part of this blog series, I'll be telling you all about it.

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