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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Android Netrunner: Economy Study --- Basics

The New NooB Revue is back...and this time its not about a new Datapack for Android Netrunner by Fantasy Flight Games. This time we are going to take a closer look at some of the concepts and cards that make these concepts/themes "click" in Android Netrunner. We will look at all the cards that have been released up through "The Source" and see how some of the older cards, that might have been overlooked for the shiny of the new cards, hold up.  So join me as I share the musings of an "experienced" noob...hopefully these things I have learned can help you avoid some of the errors I made early on. 

Credits controls EVERYTHING you do in Netrunner. Without it, you can't advance agendas, let alone rez ICE to protect them. You can't even score the dreaded triple Scorched Earth to flatline the Runner because you couldn't pay the cost to use those operations. Now, what are the different ways that you can make money for the Corp. I have broken this down into 6 main concepts:

- Taxing. This isn't really about your economy, but concerns the Runner's economy more. Greg Nordreng aka Nordrunner (@Nords3x4) made this concept of Netrunner famous with his Redcoats deck. Taxing, from the Corp point of view, refers to making the Runner spend more than they planned to do for an action. The only real way for the Runner to beat this method is to have more money and to Trash those cards providing any "Tax" ability. Recurring credits allow both the Corp and the Runner to have free credits to use to offset the tax. These are especially useful for rezzing cards, beating Traces, and for Trashing Assets/Upgrades.

    - High Trash Cost. The goal is to force the to runner to spend extra credits to perform a Trash action. SanSan City Grid has a Trash of 5 and really makes it hard to get rid of or continue to give the Corp a serious benefit. A subset of this is those Agendas, like NAPD Contract, that adds a tax to the Runner just to steal the agenda.

     - Traces. The idea here is to threaten the runner with an adverse action unless they spend credits to beat the Trace...and hopefully those credits are more than what you spent to land the Trace. Trace cards with high Trace numbers are best as they save you credits. Cards that drain resources and cause damage to the Runner or their rig beyond the base action available to the Corp of spending a Click and 2 credits to trash a Runner's Resource make the threat very real as you can make failing the trace hurt. 

 - Runner loses Credits. This covers cards that take credits directly from the Runner during the run. (Pop-up Window or Tollbooth anyone?)

- Runner loses Clicks. This is similar to making the Runner lose credits, but here they lose Clicks as a result of their action. This comes back to economy as Clicks can be used to get money either through the 1 Click for 1 credit or through a card effect like Magnum Opus (1 click for 2 credits) besides keeping them from making more runs.


   - ICE with Sub-routines. Here we are looking for ICE with lots of sub-routines regardless of their Strength. Typically, the Runner has to pay to break sub-routines on a piece of ICE after they have paid credits to match the ICE's strength. So, lets say you have a piece of ICE that the Runner matches in Strength, the Runner still has to pay to break each Sub-Routine. Even if you have a low strength piece of ICE like Errand Boy (Strength 1, with 3 sub-routines) and the Runner has Mimic (Strength 2 and pay 1 credit to break Sentry sub-routine)...the Runner's Strength exceeds the ICE's Strength, so they can break it...but they still have to pay to break each this case 3 credits. The Runner has other tools to break more than 1 Sub-routine at a time...but even putting those in play costs them credits. Even the threat of having to break Sub-routines drains credits. 

- "Psi Game" mechanic. A Jinteki special. Here the Runner and the Corp player secretly spend 0, 1, or 2 credits and then reveal them. If they spend the same amount then the Runner wins and gets a favorable beating Caprice Nisei's "End The Run". If the Corp spends less than the Runner you can further drain another 1 or 2 credits per event.

As the Corp, you need to make sure you have the credits available to rez those Assets and ICE to make sure you can take advantage of their taxing abilities. Some high Trash cost Assets can impose their tax on the Runner just from the threat the present. SanSan City Grid for example...even if unrezzed, the Runner will want to kill it before it rezzes to prevent the Corp from getting any benefit of it. Just leaving these type Assets unrezzed can save you money by not having to rez them and then cost the runner credits to kill them.

- Surge. These are cards that give you a one time boost...or surge...of credits. The poster child for the Corp Surge cards is Hedge Fund (Pay 5 credits to gain 9 credits). These can be just a simple gain credits like Hedge Fund, or they can be a little more complicated like the Weyland Agenda "Superior Cyberwalls" where, when scored, the Corp gains 1cr for each rezzed Barrier (as well as all Barrier ICE gaining +1 Strength). Cards like this need a little set-up to make the most of them. For instance, to maximize "Superior Cyberwalls," you want to make sure that you have a lot of Barrier ICE....and score the agenda of course.

- Click Based. These are those cards, typically Assets, where you spend Clicks and receive credits in return. Melange Mining Corporation is a perfect example. With this card the Corp spends 3 Clicks (and typically that is all he gets per turn) and in return he receives 7 credits. You find these as Assets (Melange Mining), Agendas (Weyland's Government Contracts spend 2 CLICK and get 4 Credit) and even Upgrades (Shell Corporation, Spend Click add 3 credits; Spend Click remove all credits). This is a sub variant of a surge economy, but since it requires an Asset or Upgrade it is distinct enough from Surge, IMHO, to stand on its own.

- Drip. This type of economy provides a steady stream of credits every turn, typically when your turn starts. The more Drip economy cards you have in play, the bigger the flood of credits. These break down into 2 sub-categories. The first is Steady Drip. Here you get the flow of credits every turn. PAD Campaign (Gain 1 credit when your turn begins) is a great example. The second type of Drip cards are those that have tokens and you get cash as long as there are tokens on the Asset. Cards like HB's Eve Campaign (Place 16 credits on Eve when Rezzed and remove 2 at the start of your turn), HB's Adonis Campaign (Place 12 credits on Eve when Rezzed and remove 3 at the start of your turn). Once you get several of these in play at the same time it creates a money making the Runner can't allow to continue most times.

- Recurring Credits. These don't really make you money, but rather they help you save money by not spending credits for certain actions. Weyland's "The Root" with its 3 recurring credits that can be used to advance, install and rez cards is a perfect example.

- Install for Free or Reduce Cost. Anything that you can install for free or at a reduced cost saves you a lot of credits, such as Weyland's Oversight AI (rez a piece of ICE ignoring all cost). These strong cards have risks. Many are Agendas and you have to score them and others like can cause the item rezzed to discarded.

For efficiency, you want to make sure a single card can do multiple things. For economy cards, these are typically cards that give money but can also tax the runner. PAD Campaign is a great Drip Economy card that Taxes as well with its good benefit for the Corp (1 credit every turn) and has a high Trash cost at 4 credits.

From the Runner's Point of view, many of the above concepts hold true.

- Taxing. The Runner can tax the corp by making more costly for them to rez their Assets/Upgrades/ICE.

    - Increase Rez Cost. Idea here is simply to make it more expensive for the Corp to rez cards and to put them into action. The Resource Xanadu (Corp pays +1 credit to rez ICE) and the Program Rook (ICE on this server costs +2 to rez) really start to make things expensive for the Corp to get anything done.

    - Derez cards. Cards that force the Corp to derez cards and then pay again to rez them. Cards like Emergency Shutdown (Play only if you make a successful run on HQ this turn; Derez a piece of ice) can make defending servers quite costly.

- Link. You can make running Traces expensive for the Corp with out spending credits. All you have to do is build up your base Link. Hardware like Rabbit Hole (+1 Link) and The Toolbox (+2 Link) and the Resource Borrowed Satellites (+1 Link) all work together and count as free credits to beat Traces.  


   - Corp Loses Credits. Account Siphon anyone? Anything that forces the Corp to lose credits as a direct result.

    - Cards that increase Icebreaker Strength/Break Multiple Sub-Routines. Again, any credit you don't have to spend breaking ICE saves you credits and makes the tax the Corp is trying to place on you. Personal Touch (Install on an ICEBreaker, ICEBreaker gets +1 Strength). The Anarch Program D4V1D can use one of its Power Counters to break ALL the Sub-Routines on a piece of ICE with Strength 5 or greater. The "maths" on these can get a little confusing, especially if you only look at it as a single run.

- Surge. Just like the Corp, these are cards that give you a one time surge of credits. Sure Gamble is the Runner version of Hedge Fund (Pay 5 credits to gain 9 credits).  

- Click Based. Same deal as the Corp. Magnum Opus (2 credits/Click) is the perfect example of a true click-based Runner econ card. Liberated Accounts (Place 16 credits and remove 4 credits/click) and Kati Jones (Spend Click add 3 credits; Spend Click remove all credits) are perfect examples of the click-based econ cards that use tokens.  

- Drip. This is mostly the same for the Runner. Daily Casts (place 12 credits and remove 2 at the start of the turn) is the King here. A different version of the Drip Econ for Runners is the card that gives a credit or 2 whenever the Runner does something. Cards like the Console, Desparado (get 1cr whenever you make a successful Run), or the Program, Au Revoir (Gain 1 credit whenever you jack out), pays you to do what you want to do anyways.

Recurring Credits. For the Runner these work just the same. Every credit saved on install and using abilities is a credit saved to help you later for beating traces or trashing assets/upgrades. You can even find recurring credits to be used to trash cards (Scrubber: 2 credits recurring to trash cards)!

- Install For Free or Reduced Cost. These cards can save you a bunch of money of the long run. Cards such as the Shaper combo of Test Run (Search your stack or heap for a program. Install that program, ignoring all costs. When this turn ends, add the program to the top of your stack if still installed) and Scavenge (As an additional cost to play this program, trash an installed program. Install a program from your grip or heap, lowering the cost of that program by the cost of the program that was trashed). The end result is that you found a specific card you were looking for and installed it for free. Personal Workshop (host a card and place Power Counters on the card equal to its cost. At the start of each turn, remove 1 counter. You can also spend 1 credit to remove a counter and once all counters are removed you can install the card for free) is a classic example. The opposite of this is to trash one of your cards and get credits. Aesop's Pawnshop allows you to trash a card (any card you have, even those that can't normally be trashed like Wyldsyde) at the turn's start and get 3 credits.

- Bad Pub. As the Runner, these are Free credits to be used during EACH run, not just each turn. They can be used for anything you need to do during that Run...break ICE, beat Traces, Trash cards, pull things off of Personal Workshop, etc...) Yes, the Corp might get a scary piece of ICE, but those free credits never go away. Besides the free credits, there are cards coming out that allow you to take advantage of that Bad Pub. Blackmail allows you to run a server and the Corp cant rez any ICE That turn. You can access additional cards (Raymond Flint) or draw cards (Tallie Perrault)...and more to come!!!!

Now with the framework of what economy cards are we can next start looking at them by card type. Stay tuned for the next article where we will look at the Corp Identities and Agendas that can be used as economy cards.

All images (unless otherwise noted) are from NetrunnerDB

SonBae (AKA Jeff Flint) is a long time wargamer and painter and lover of Flames of War, Android Netrunner/40k Conquest/LOTR LCGs and Advanced Squad Leader. From cardboard to lead to cards, he has lost at them all. Follow him @wwpdSonBae on Twitter.

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