Shaping Reality: My First Run

A few weeks back, we had our First Hack (Netrunner tournament) at the Covenant Store, Tulsa. I was rocking my Shaper and Weyland decks. For whatever reason, I had a lot more experience with my corporation going into the event than I had with my runner. The first month or two of playing a game […]

Profile photo of Zach Bunn By Zach Bunn On September 25, 2012 Posted In Android Netrunner LCG

A few weeks back, we had our First Hack (Netrunner tournament) at the Covenant Store, Tulsa. I was rocking my Shaper and Weyland decks. For whatever reason, I had a lot more experience with my corporation going into the event than I had with my runner. The first month or two of playing a game you are new to, especially when the game itself is new, is amazingly educating.

Often times there are lots of cards you aren’t super impressed by, yet by the end of it all it turns out those cards weren’t so bad after all. There are also some cards that catch your eye and turn out to be better in theory than in reality. While I’m not here to provide a full tournament report, I am here to discuss some of the Shaper cards (and Neutral’s) I initially disregarded or highly regarded and have now come to realize just how awesome or awesomely bad they are.

Akamatsu Mem Chip

Initial Impression: Meh

Sure, +1 memory is pretty great. However, surely once the Shaper console hits the board this card is useless… right?

Wrong!

There are a few reasons why this card, in reality, is fantastic.

1. With Kate, this card only costs 1 click (no credits) to put in play
2. Shaper has some very powerful programs that are not ice breakers, so having the additional memory for these programs is really nice. The prime examples are Magnum Opus (2 memory!) and Net Shield (1 memory).
3. Aesop’s Pawn Shop. When this card hits the table, trash-able cards that cost nothing are super valuable.

After several games, I find myself happy to see this card more often than not, allowing me to create some pretty mean engines to destroy the corporation with.

Current Impression: Fits very well into the overall shaper strategy.

Tinkering

Initial Impression: Amazing

The first time I used Tinkering, I was immediately sold. How nice is it to make a piece of ice whatever kind you can break for a turn to really put some pressure on the corporation. Due to this card, I actually built my shaper deck for the tournament a bit less balanced and leaning towards a rush set-up hoping to run heavier on ice breakers for cheap ice.

After playing in the tournament and quite a few gamers thereafter, I realized that even with this card balancing the type of breakers is important. Realizing what types of ice a player can have out early is definitely worth knowing, but to have an imbalanced deck because of Tinkering isn’t justifiable at this point in the game.

The problem with Tinkering is that it only lasts for one round. At the end of the day you get 2 or 3 turns where one piece of ice that was otherwise un-passable is suddenly passable.

Current Impression: Good… not great.

Infiltration

Initial Impression: OMG… must use.

Upon the first perusal through the core set, Infiltration seemed like one of those cards you needed to include in your deck. A card that can translate to money or reveal new information has to be great, right?

The problem comes in when you realize the macro level shaper strategy. Because Maker’s Eye is such a powerful card, you often score agenda’s by running on the opponent’s R&D. I usually get to see most of what they have coming through the R&D pipeline, so I’m not nearly as concerned with face down, installed cards as I am what’s in their deck.

More often than not, when I would draw this card I would end up using it for the two credits. That is an issue. You have to use one click to draw and one click to play a card. So Infiltration essentially costs two clicks and gains you two credits. But can’t you spend two clicks to just gain two credits? Why yes… yes you can.

So, unless you are using Infiltration to reveal cards, it’s really rather pointless. If I need money, I would much rather have a card that nets me way more credits than breaking even (Sure Gamble, Armitage Codebusting, etc.). If a Shaper is doing their job right, they should have a pretty solid idea on what most cards on the table are. Ultimately, this card became very meh to me.

Current Impression: Very Poor

Final Thoughts

Every game I still seem to be learning an enormous amount of new lessons when it comes to the Netrunner LCG and every game I still catch myself smiling ear to ear at some point. I have no doubts that in a month I’ll have different opinions even about the cards about, but for now you won’t find a single Infiltration (or Crypsis) in my deck!

Zach

  1. I haven’t had much experience with the Shapers, but I will say I do run Infiltration- though almost never for the money effect. I like being able to see what that face-down card is just in case it could be a Junebug or Snare.

    Glad you’re pointing out Akamatsu Mem Chip is more useful that it appears. :)

    1. That is useful, but most of the time is rather use the same click to make the run and find out. Spending a card and a click (two clicks in reality) to reveal a single card can really be not worth it. Why not just have cards that prevent what you are scared of and make the run regardless?

      1. Infiltration is useful mostly to try and find extra-nasty cards; particularly NBN’s Breaking News (when supported with Scorched Earth and Project Junebug) give Iniltration a reason to be in the runner deck. As you say, you don’t lose out if all you do is get a credit refund with it.

        The alternative to Akamatsu Memory Chip is Djinn. You can host Magnum Opus, Net Shield, Sneakdoor Beta, and even other Djinn on it.

        I highly suggest finding room for anarch’s Ice Carver if you can spare the influence. It’s a superb credit-saving card.

      2. 3 counters on something, you make a run on it and find out what it is by losing the game because it’s a Project Junebug.

        Yeah, it can be prevented, but I’ve found that I need to reveal 4-5 cards a game to be safe as a runner OR be able to counter… well, a lot more. Granted, I’m playing in a more static environment, but I think an ounce of caution really is worth a pound of prevention. But then, this comes down to playstyle and it really is why I play Criminal. For Lemuria.

      3. @Theorist – I’m saying you DO lose out if you get a credit refund. The most important resource in this game has been wasted… time. You’ve spent two clicks to gain two credits, when there are options in the card pool to spend less credits and get more in return.

        @Brady – I totally get the situations it’s useful in, I just don’t think those situations happen as often as our brains like to think they do. If you’ve been June-buged once, you might be scared enough of it to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But most of the time… it’s not a June bug.

      4. These situations do happen pretty often (ask Tim). I dodged something nasty each game that first night with Lemuria/Infiltration. Also, combo’d with Forged Activation Orders, exposure can be cruel.

        I also like that- in the event I don’t need the reveals- I can discard it to get what amounts to an extra credit. But you’re right in saying that if someone is using it for the credits, they’re using it in a move of desperation.

        As a Criminal player, money and exposure are the two things I want (well, and to bypass and make runs on HQ). So Infiltration fits. I’m sure once Data Packs start to hit, I’ll be replacing Infiltration, but for me this card went from “awful” to “great” over time.

      5. (I think it’s fun that the game seems to have captured different mindsets as each Runner team. Zach, you’re Shaper minded and I’m just Criminal minded.)

      6. If the goal is to never spend any clicks just drawing a card or gaining a credit, it can’t be done (yet). The only draw-engine card is Diesel. I’ll grant that once you play Magnum Opus, you don’t need Infiltration for credits+cycling anymore — at that point, it’s strictly for its peek ability.

        Shaper is ubersauce if it can set up fast enough and get lots of credits. Being able to reliably draw into to Magnum Opus and efficient beefy shaper icebreakers (although Ninja is better anti-sentry) gives them a late-game like no other… it’s just a matter of getting to that late game ASAP or adding in an alternate early game strategy.

        I think of Infiltration like a credit spike. Full hand, 1 click for credits, play hand out. Later it catches up with me because I have to eventually redraw, but it’s handy early to save the click for at least couple turns before “paying it back”. Interest free credits loan.

      7. You also have Wildsyde as a card drawing engine if you slot it in. It’s a card that I go back and forth from liking to hating to liking to hating…

      8. I think I’ve decided I’m not a big fan of wildsyde… Committing your first click each turn for an extra card is quite a cost. This is really good early game, but bring stuck with it is an issue. If you run a few Aesops, I could potentially make a case for it. Seems risky to me though.

      9. Wildsyde… it’s the costing. You use a click, drop a card from hand, and pay 3 credits “at the door” for an extra card every turn over the next however many turns. That’s a cost (in clicks/credits… interchangeable in terms of valuing a card) of 5, so you have to leave it there and operate with 3 clicks a turn over the next 5 turns just to break even. It isn’t until 6 turns after you play Wildsyde that you actually get to the positive benefit side of that card.

        The reason I HATE Wildsyde and declare loudly that it sucks is NBN’s SEA Source operation, which costs only 2 influence for other corporations to use (enough for them to run 3 copies if they wanted, easily) — they trace/tag you, and byebye Wildsyde well before you get to the positive side of the card. It’s just too big a risk, given the fact that SEA Source to trash resources has a lot of uses and I’d expect to see that card in at least half if not all corporate decks.

      10. I will say that it replaces itself on your next turn, and from there it’s something of a +cards -credits situation. If you already have credits, getting cards instead at an accelerated rate isn’t useless. So it’s not like the card is literally doing nothing. There is a positive side early, before you equalize and it becomes a pure positive play.

    2. The first couple of times I played, I used Infiltration for credits once or twice, but no more. It’s an okay backstop if I really, really need credits right now (say, to push for a win) but the real value of the card is the expose option.

      Junebug is only 1 influence; as a Runner you have to assume the Corp is running it. Any time you can *know* what a card is before you run on it is a huge boon. If the Corp has multiple hidden cards in multiple servers, it’s also useful to know what one of them is before deciding which server to run. At the very least, it narrows your choices. Heck, even just knowing on my first click what a piece of ICE is when I have Special Order in hand can be a big boost if the Corp doesn’t have any servers to snoop.

      In short, I find myself using it almost every time it’s in my hand. I expect the card will depreciate in value as Data Packs are released but for the Core set it’s a key tool. It’s certainly better than “Very Poor.”

  2. Infiltration is one of my favorites. Netrunner, more than any game, is a game of information – and it’s a defining card in that battle.

    You make good points about the Shapers potentially not needing it, but I’ve loved it in every Runner deck I’ve played! I think I’m a little less risky than you though.