By Frank Brooks– February 8, 2013
So I talked with some of you after class and it looks like many of you have played some games, are familiar enough with the cards to be able to do some constructed decks. They grow up so fast [wipes an invisible tear from the side of his eye]. I know I said that today we will talk about the Three Phases of the game, but while preparing for that lecture I felt it was more important to first talk about the distinction between Strategy and Tactics first. We will talk through some strategic decision-making and then hopefully by the end of class you will know the destinction between Strategy and Tactics.
Before we begin, who thinks they already know the difference between Strategy and Tactics is in the context of a game?
Ok from a show of hands, who thinks they understand what “strategy” means? [approximately 80% of the class raises their hands] Ok, how about how many people understand what “tactics” means? [around 30% of the classes raises their hands, mostly the people who didn't raise their hands last time. some people didn't ever raise their hands] Ok, well from the look of things some people think they know what they both mean, but for some reason don’t think they know what the difference is…That’s double ungood. [pauses for effect; a few students chuckle]
I’ll admit it is hard to separate the two and if you look them up in a dictionary the definitions may sound almost the same. Some people will use them interchangeably, others will just use one and when I tell you my distinction, I’m certain some people will still think the opposite is really the correct way. Much like last time’s discussion of tempo, since it isn’t a clear cut idea, other people you talk to may have different opinions on this. This in the context of this class, this is how I think it should be:
Strategy is the “game plan”. This is the thing you are trying to accomplish. Here’s an in game example. When you are going to play corp, you know that you could run across Noise. He will trash cards off of your R&D right into Archives. Obviously he could trash some agendas amongst other things. You don’t want this to happen so you have to come up with a strategy to prevent him from doing this. One theoretical strategy would be to prevent him from doing it in the first place. This is currently impossible, or at the very least ineffective, since there is no way to prevent him from installing viruses. Instead you could attempt to discard cards from his hand so that he couldn’t ever have one to install. Again the amount of ways to do damage to the runner is rather limited, so although this could be a strategy, it wouldn’t work all that well.
Let’s move on to less trivial strategies. We’ll talk about three. 1. Prevent him from successfully completing a run on Archives. 2. Make his access of archives ineffective. And 3. Ccause so much pressure by advancing agendas that it will force the runner’s attention away from Archives by making your agendas in play more tempting.
These are all strategies since they are merely the goals you intend to put forward. Inclusion of certain cards in your deck to be used for such reasons is encompassed by strategy as well. Now of course you could attempt all three strategies simultaneously without stepping on the toes of the others. It’s best to be prepared. If you can’t draw one answer, hopefully you can draw another.
Let’s keep going and say you are playing NBN. Can somebody give me some strategically chosen deck building decisions to try to meet the first strategy?
…Wall of Static?
Good one Travis. Wall of Static is a pretty solid choice. It is cheap enough for a corp like NBN to be able to afford yet high enough strength to cost the runner at least a little bit when he or she has a fracter our.
Not so much, Rachael. Don’t get me wrong, Data Raven is an awesome card and should definitely be included 3 times in every NBN deck but it doesn’t actually help with this strategy can anybody explain to Rachael why?
It only gives tags.
That’s most of it. I think you know what I am getting at, but be a little more specific please.
It doesn’t end the run.
Exactly right James. What was the strategy? To stop him from completing the run. Data Raven cannot end the run on it’s own unless the runner chooses to stop. Data Raven’s ability to give tags now (and the trace to give him tags later), is only relevant if the game keeps going. If the runner only needs the one run in order to win the game, then it doesn’t matter whether he has tags now, later, or ever. To stop him from running, you need to stop him. Any others?
Yes! What makes Tollbooth great is when you rez Tollbooth to stop the runner, it will be an extra 3 credits on top of everything else. To an early run this will be a setback and even later on, (unless he is able to trash it with Parasite), it will always be a tax to make every run cost at least 3. We can go on and on listing ETR ice that is in NBN or else affordable for them to stop the run. Either way, the decision to include ETR ice for your deck is important to counter a single Noise Archive based “win the game” run, but obviously can be used elsewhere for the strategies of “Block R&D to prevent access” and “Score Agendas to win the game” etc. This isn’t a specific counter but when the time comes, your decision to put the Tollbooth in front of Archives at some point is an important tactical decision. Tactics are more like the decisions you actually make “on the field”. Your strategy is the plan, a tactic is a decision during the game that follows that plan.
Ok, on to number 2: Make the successful run on Archives “unsuccessful”. Does anybody have any ideas for how to do this?
Perhaps an in-faction card…an upgra–
Actually its Red Herrings with an “s”. Many people get that wrong so don’t feel bad. Yes, Red Herrings is a way to make that successful run “unsuccessful”. Obviously just using this upgrade won’t be enough to save you, you need to make that run cost more by putting some ice there as well. 1 click 1 credit isn’t much of a deterrent. You need to make them have to perform multiple runs in order to make this prevention prevent. Anybody think of a very similar card? It is somewhat related to this? Has to do with traces?
[the sound of some papers shuffling] Ash…uh 2x3zb9cy.
Very good Rustle, that’s exactly right.
You know my name is Ben.
Yes I do. It was a pun…MOVING ON! Ash does the same sort of thing, making the successful run perhaps take a second run, especially if the runner wasn’t able to afford to trash him the first time and of course wasn’t able to beat the trace. There is one more card I was thinking about that would help this strategy. It isn’t an upgrade, isn’t in faction and doesn’t work on this principle…anybody ok well think about that and if you know, you can tell me after class. [Question: What is another card that works on the idea of making that archives run unsuccessful?]
Ok, number 3: To cause enough pressure to distract the runner from bother running Archives blah blah blah. I should have just called this one “Cause a distraction”. This one is a little trickier since it is more about the tactical application of certain cards rather than any specific cards you can strategically prepare to use this strategy with. I’ll try get the ball rolling.
Now let’s say you’re worst dreams have come try and sure enough, you are playing against Noise. The game has begun and it’s been rough; you are afraid that he isn’t that focused on attacking you, just installing viruses to trash cards and trying to get enough credits that just a single Stimhack will be the end for you. You had some ice, but just a little ETR ice you used to guard your hand which has a few agendas. You managed to install and score an AstroScript Pilot Program behind an Ice Wall before the runner had installed any breakers, unfortunately just drawing more agendas instead of ice or an upgrade that would help a little bit. After you scored it, he installed a Wyrm so even for such an inefficient breaker, he can still get by if you try scoring more agendas in there. You have some tagging ice in front of R&D which he has been able to steal a Private Security Force from and always gets rid of the tag afterwards. At one point you’ve installed a Hunter in front of Archives and kept yourself rather wealthy,, staying above 8 credits at all times. This has deterred him so far since he thinks it may be a Tollbooth or maybe an Archer and hasn’t wanted to risk it yet. He has been installing and selling viruses to Aesop’s for cash. Little does he know that he has also managed to installed enough viruses that you unluckily already trashed enough agendas that a single run will win him the game? What do you do?!?
Admit defeat and start crying? [class laughs]
Tears do not dissuade his cruel Anarch heart. What do you do? Well, it’s all or nothing at this point since a single run against your ineffective Hunter will spell doom for you. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Since he hasn’t run on anything except your R&D and the Astroscript when it had two counters on it. One way you could try to use this third strategy is the tactical use of Ghost Branch. Since you aren’t afraid of losing it, you can test what he is willing to run on. You could install it as a remote server with no ice in front of it and advance it once. Let’s say he doesn’t run on it. If it had been an agenda, you may have advanced it three times and scored it. From this you learned that he was willing to let it slide. Your next turn you advance it one more time. This time he is getting worried about it being a 3 point agenda or Restructed Datapool perhaps and runs on it. Surprise, surprise, he gets two tags and spends the rest of his turn getting rid of those. Well, he didn’t run right away so you could try it again, but this time with an agenda. It’s only 1 agenda so he won’t win the game if he takes it. This time you put out an agenda and advance it twice.
Concerned that he has spent too much time not installing viruses and getting money to get passed that Tollbooth/Archer/other nasty ice, he doesn’t run it. You advance and score another AstroScript. Your opponent is taken aback by such a rash move and is getting concerned. You follow that up by installing another agenda and this time with some ice. Thinking it another agenda he runs it. You rez an Enigma this time. He pays for it with his Wyrm, but doesn’t bother breaking the “lose a click” one and gets through.
Before he chooses to access, you advance it once using a counters from an Astroscript. You managed to keep your cool and ask, “How many cards do you have, it doesn’t look like much?” He folds out the cards to reveal 3 and says so. “Oh, ok” you say and advance it a second time. If doing it once wasn’t disconcerting that second one really put him in. After teetering back and forth on it for a while.; fearing a Junebug, he jacks out before accessing. Since he has another click and enough credits to run it again you try to sell it by acting a little disappointed.
Next turn, you advance it three times and score your Priority Requistion. Just to add insult to injury, you choose to rez the Hunter guarding archives. 7 points for you.
Not to rub it in more than you need to, you probably shouldn’t reveal that there were 5 points of agendas in your Archives unless he asks to look.
Now here, you were able to use your “backup third strategy” to prevent him from winning the game. The cards you used to pull it off (Astroscript and Ghost Branch) were not strategically added to your deck for this purpose, you just managed to use them tactically to support that strategy. I hope this was a thorough enough explanation to distinguish the two. If you are still confused, don’t worry, the final isn’t for a ways off and I always hold office hours if you have any questions. Next time, we will be able to get into the topic I was going to talk about, the three phases of the game, which for those of you that had read the assigned section in the textbook, I promise I will get to next time. Have a good weekend, goodbye everybody.