There’s something that must be said about building an Anarch deck. It’s difficult.
We struggle with basic economy, having only Liberated Accounts to tide us over. We have card draw that generally requires an Aesop’s splash to use. We can’t search for programs like the Shapers, or pull out an infinite number of tricks (usually with cash to go with it) like the Criminals. This is why, before the Independence Regional, I rebuilt my deck on the ride up. I was stuck.
For so long I’ve been working with chess and trying to get it to the competitive slot that I thought it could occupy. The pieces all do universally useful things, and Deep Red makes them quite efficient. But as Tim and I discussed my Reina Chess deck, one that he’d played against millions of times, I began to lose heart.
He called it right. The deck just wasn’t at the level it needed to be if I wanted to compete at a major event. It was running the full Anarch breaker suite, plus chess, plus Deep Red, and with all of that MU eaten up (especially if you don’t pull Deep Red), I had virtually no room for the other Anarch cards – Datasuckers, Parasites, Imps, Mediums etc. and for a while I was willing to make that sacrifice. But as Tim and I discussed, that is a huge mistake. Criminals have their Inside Job, Emergency Shutdown, Sneakdoor Beta, and Desperado, Shapers have their Self-Modifying Code, Clone Chip, Magnum Opus, Indexing, and Maker’s Eye, and Anarchs have Parasite, Medium, Imp, Keyhole, and Datasucker. Not playing our viruses because there’s “no room” just isn’t acceptable. It’s like Criminals or Shapers foregoing all of the aforementioned cards. You’re always left with a watered down deck that doesn’t have the punch it needs.
This dialogue led to a question that every player should ask at some point, objectively and openly: what does my faction do best? And that led to a hard look at the anatomy of an Anarch deck.
When I get in these situations, whether it’s Netrunner, Thrones, Infinity, or any other game, the best thing I’ve found is to reset and go back to basics. Tim and I built a Whizzard B2B deck for Worlds last year that managed to get me to the Top 16. It didn’t do anything fancy. It ran bendable breakers, a lot of money, threats to R&D and HQ, and that’s pretty much it. The only real Anarch pieces that it ran were Imp, Datasucker, and Medium. The rest could have been out of any deck, really, and had that Whizzard deck just been a Shaper deck with a similar idea, it would have been just as good if not better. But the point is that sometimes you simply get too fancy, and need to restart with the basic premise of Netrunner – give yourself the ability to get into the servers that you need to get into, and find agendas to win. Stimhack with pumpable breakers does that very well, so it was one of the main points of the deck.
So this time, on the way to Independence, we didn’t go back to the basics of Netrunner. Instead, we went back to the basics of Anarch. And that always begins with the question “what can we do that no other faction can do”?
Something becomes quite clear when you begin to look heavily into the Anarch card pool. Some of our strongest cards give us tags. Criminals have Networking, Lawyer Up, Crash Space, and similar cards to remain undercover. The Shapers have literally nothing that deals with tags at all – it’s not their style to get caught. We Anarchs, however, have the most self-tagging cards, hands down, and we also have no way to properly remove them. It might be tempting to splash for cards like Lawyer Up or Crash Space, or to fill our decks with New Angeles City Hall, and these are fine answers. However, after all the hints in the card pool, in the meta, and more importantly, in the name and theme of our faction, it feels like we’re not supposed to care about being tagged – we want the Corp to see us every moment that we’re burning their servers down, giving them bad press, and breaking them in the most destructive way that we can. Maybe we want the audience.
Watch It Burn
“Tag Me” is a deck archetype that doesn’t care about being tagged. You deal with any tagging threats the Corp might have by nullifying the effects instead of nullifying the tags. To do this, you have to be on point, as there are three very potent cards that you must be ready for.
Scorched Earth – This card is the easiest way to lose a game, especially if you’re doing the hard work for the Corp. Without needing to Sea Source or Midseason, there is no escape from 6 credits being the end of your game. In order to protect yourself, 3x Plascrete Carapace is a must for any Tag Me player. In addition, Imp is extremely effective at trashing Scorched from hand, and even Tallie Perrault can save your bacon, even if only to force the Corp to trash her before dropping Scorched (looking at you, GRNDL).
Closed Accounts – A loaded NBN deck might have three of these, and can take you to zero at any point in the game once you’ve begun your tagging assault. This can be very, very bad. It’s the single best card against Tag Me, and a smart Corp will abuse it. Imp off of R&D helps to mitigate this threat, as does managing your economy correctly. There’s no reason to have more credits than you need to play a turn out, as you don’t need to worry about beating a Sea Source/Midseason trace. Stay light on credits and hold money cards. Or, even better, offshore money for later. Gorman Drip is your friend here.
Psychographics – It’s an amazing tool for NBN, and you can lose outright to Psycho/Beale, or even Psycho/Astro starting the train. There’s one answer to this problem. Keep the Corp as poor as possible, and steal the Agendas out of hand before they can launch their assault. And, of course, Imp.
You’ve probably noticed by now that dealing with these cards isn’t terribly difficult, and that tagging, ultimately, isn’t awful if you know how to run with your pants on fire. If you switch to a non-resource economy and run Plascretes, you don’t have to worry too much about what the Corp can do to you.
What, then, fits perfectly into this archetype? It’s not a hard question, and it is the answer that many people do not want to hear. But it simply solves all of our problems, and so must be included. It’s Account Siphon, an Anarch card in disguise.
This card does everything that we want. It fuels our economy (one of Anarch’s greatest problems), it keeps the Corp poor (a solution to two of the three problematic cards above), and it gives us a disadvantage that we’re particularly suited to play with. This card single-handedly makes Anarch top tier. We’re the best at being tagged and we’re the worst at economy. When you realize that we have the best event recursion in Deja Vu, and the availability of Same Old Thing, on top of the Anarch credit denial strategy (Vamp, Xanadu, Reina, Parasite), it becomes pretty obvious what we need to be doing.
There’s A Leak
So we want to be tagged so we can play cards like Account Siphon, Vamp, and Joshua B without the downside. But Anarch also happens to have the one card that also provides a huge upside when tagged. Data Leak Reversal. This is the card that takes a Tag Me playstyle from “eliminating downsides” to “providing upsides”, and is the final push needed to see that a tier one deck is taking shape.
With this card, you have an amazing trick – mill four cards from the Corp every turn until they trash it, or mill five cards a turn until they trash it and Josh B. This is an immense amount of digging, and four cards off of R&D should get you an Agenda, so you can put some points in Archives and then either wait until you need them in the late game, or mill three and run to lock them in. This is the card that makes the Anarch playstyle so clear. We’re rewarded for being tagged, and it’s a massive reward.
We have the basic idea here, then. Run cards like Account Siphon, Vamp, Joshua B, Data Leak Reversal, Activist Support, Tallie, and Plascrete. Keep the Corp poor. Eat tags. Data Leak when possible. But for those Siphons to land, we need to get into servers. And this is where the most interesting facet of Anarch play unveils itself. Even as every other faction is scrambling to install our efficient, fixed breakers, we should be turning away from them.
Here’s the thing about the Anarch breakers – they grant efficient access, but not guaranteed access. If I’m going to land a Siphon or a Vamp, I need guaranteed access, especially if the ICE is unrezzed. Mimic and Yog do not guarantee that I get in. Yog gets stuffed by Tollbooth. Mimic slams into Archer. And once Central access is shut down, my ability to pump Datasuckers to get in is severely limited. Even our hallmark card, Stimhack, works better out of any other faction, whether it’s with SMC/Personal Workshop installs, or bendable breakers. In-faction, our own Stimhack can’t get us in when we need it. At least if we’re running our own suite.
Let’s make it even worse. We love having our keychain of utility cards and viruses. We have a massively powerful 2MU card in Keyhole. We have Medium, Imp, Nerve Agent, Datasucker, Djinn, Parasite…all great tools for punishing the Corp. But where does it all go? Djinn is problematic in that it is slow, and a bit expensive, but once it’s out it certainly helps. If you have a hand full of viruses, do you wait to install them until you see Djinn? Do you install them and then trash them to make room later? What happens when you’re holding two Djinn in the late game?
We make up for this by having the best MU consoles in the game. Grimoire provides 2 MU, putting us up to 6. Deep Red provides 3 MU, but only for chess. What, then, are we to do, if we want to run our Breaker suite, Keyhole, Viruses, and maybe even Chess? Just choose one and drop the rest?
All is not lost. We love viruses, right? And we certainly love a 1MU card that can act as our 3MU of breakers. Well, there happens to be a Virus that can break anything. Coincidence? The almighty Crypsis strikes again.
This is an Anarch card. It’s a Virus. It guarantees access. And it takes up very little space in our rig, leaving room for all of the cheap, powerful programs that are our specialty. On top of that, we have the best answer for Swordsman in Parasite/Sucker, Parasite/Ice Carver, or Parasite/Bishop.
But it gets even better. We also have the new kid in town, and my personal favorite.
Crypsis, eat your heart out.
It has every benefit that Crypsis does – it guarantees access, it saves MU, and as a boon, it’s way cheaper to install and use. It pairs exceptionally well with our cheap, high MU consoles (Grimoire and Deep Red), and doesn’t have to deal with repeated breaking due to ice destruction and rez denial. Perhaps best of all, it has a huge surprise factor, and works very well with Stimhack. In order to hit a two-rung server with Crypsis, I usually want to Install Crypsis, Click Crypsis, Click Crypsis, Run/Stimhack. A three-rung is even worse. If I’m on 20 credits, I can install Overmind for 4 and run on anything up to 3-4 pieces of ICE. This gets into Remotes that I previously had no showing capability to access, and also guarantees Central access for Datasucker/Siphon/Vamp. Deep Red just happens to make it unreal. 6 counters on install for 6 credits (4 Overmind, 2 Deep Red). That’s a lot of breaking.
Either way, we save a ton of MU, we guarantee access, and we play into our faction’s greatest strengths. It might hurt to drop those Yogs and Mimics, as they’ve served us well, but sometimes it’s best to just embrace the anarchy.
Putting It Together
The template is here now, ready for the blanks to be filled. I believe that this Tag Me archetype with Siphon recursion is the strongest Anarch deck available. It can be built a number of different ways. The first version I played was based on Sam Suied’s Noise deck, which used Hemorrhage to create awful situations for the Corp. I didn’t think Hem was strong enough, so I took a tweaked version of that (added Nerve Agent/Datasucker/Corroder/1 Crypsis and removed Hemorrhage/1 Armitage/John Masanori) to the Independence Regional. This is a deck that exploits the Tag Me archetype, installs cheap viruses for the Archives threat, and just makes strong runs. Crypsis and Knight guarantee access/Siphon and once you get on top, it’s exceptionally hard for a Corp to dig out. It was 7/8 at Independence, and was a huge factor in my win there. I hadn’t played the deck before the Regional, so if you’re an Anarch player, don’t be intimidated. Just go in with the attitude that you’re going to literally burn the Corp to the ground. Give them nothing. Take everything from them.
The second version was the one that went 8/8 at the Colorado Springs Regional this past weekend. As I said in the beginning, I’ve been trying to make Chess and Reina work since they first came out, and this is finally it. For where the meta is now, and where Anarch is now, I’m certain this is one of the strongest decks out there, at least for the aggressive style that I embrace.
CO Springs Regional (45 cards)
Built with http://netrunner.meteor.com
I went with Indexing as the last-minute switch, and that paid dividends with Same Old Thing/Deja Vu. You’ll often find the Corp on 0 credits with unrezzed ICE on R&D. That’s a great Indexing run, usually worth 2-4 points. Medium fills a similar role. The point is that as long as you can get into HQ, you can then move over to R&D and punish it with Indexing or Medium. Reina’s ability means that a Corp clicking for 3 credits from 0 doesn’t rez an Eli, Wall of Static, Bastion, Enigma, Caduceus, etc. Vamp can help keep them there, or can be a soft “Forged” to scope out HQ ICE. Rook here is incredible. Siphon on HQ, install Rook in Remote, run Remote scores almost every time. Surprise Overmind does the same. Deep Red here is immense. Parasite hits the things you don’t want to waste Overmind counters on, though there were many games I never installed it because I just kept the Corp zero’d out. Knight, of course, fills in the gaps and gives you a nice T2 Siphon play.
This is where I went with it, but I’d suggest filling in the template with your own preferences and changes based on the understanding that hopefully we all now have. It wasn’t until I really looked at it, out of desperation, that I began to understand. There are so many different ways to go, and any Anarch Runner can use this effectively (very good out of Whizzard as well). You can do Chess or not. You can run the Anarch suite or not. But please, run Datasuckers, run Parasites, and run something like Keyhole/Medium/Nerve Agent. These cards are incredible.
Those 27 cards provide the skeleton. Choose your console (Spinal Modem should be considered!), choose your breaker suite (Crypsis/Overmind/Fixed), and then fill in the gaps. The Reina version keeps the Corp super poor and tries to never allow R&D Ice to rez. The Noise version blitzes viruses and puts pressure everywhere. The Whizzard version digs R&D hard and trashes asset economy. It’s all destined for greatness. Can you work Keyhole in? That’d be a great version too. There’s potential everywhere.
In order to win a major event, you simply have to have a Runner deck that can get it done every single time. This Anarch template is one path to doing it. It’s the single greatest reason that I was able to take first at both Independence and Colorado Springs, so if you’re an Anarch player who has been looking for the answer, this may well be it.
At the same time, though, this shouldn’t stifle innovation. There could be even better decks out there that haven’t been discovered or tested properly. The Anarch suite with Bishops/Ice Carver/Data Sucker has huge potential. Keyhole is still massive. Blackmail recursion is here. Just remember, no matter what you choose to play, never give the Corp a chance to win. Destroy them at all turns. Take every access you want. Make them sweat. And let them feel the frustration of knowing exactly where you are as their plans crumble before them.
Huge thanks to this amazing Netrunner community. Going to a Regional and meeting such excellent people and players in Independence and Colorado Springs is without a doubt the best part of this life. Let’s keep pushing forward with the positivity, support, and kindness that makes this community worth joining.
Added this for posterity.
Independence Regional (45 cards)
Noise: Hacker Extraordinaire
3 Account Siphon
3 Deja Vu
3 Sure Gamble
3 Plascrete Carapace
2 Armitage Codebusting
3 Data Leak Reversal
2 Joshua B.
3 Same Old Thing
3 Gorman Drip v1
1 Nerve Agent