Here’s a Runner deck that I’ve been tinkering with that tries to make use of Reina Roja, the latest Runner ID that comes with the Mala Tempora data pack for Android: Netrunner (duh). I’ve nicked this deck almost wholesale from the Netrunner subreddit (which is great by the way, check it out) but I’ve tweaked some stuff and have a couple of ideas for other changes.
The Red Queen V3.0 (48 cards)
Reina Roja: Freedom Fighter
2 Deja Vu
3 Dirty Laundry
3 Quality Time
2 Special Order
3 Sure Gamble
3 Deep Red
2 E3 Feedback Implants
2 Plascrete Carapace
2 R&D Interface
3 Daily Casts
1 Ice Carver
3 Kati Jones
The reason I was so attracted to this type of deck in the first place is that it makes extensive use of the Caissa type icebreakers and programs, which are all chess themed and are used in a slightly different way to most other programs and breakers that are available to the runner. When installed, Caissa programs need to be placed directly (“hosted”) on corporation ICE before any of their abilities come into play. For example, the primary icebreaker in this deck, Knight, can only break subroutines on the ICE it’s currently hosted on and cannot be used to target anything else.
In play this means that by the midpoint of the game, if you can pull it off, you’ll have your Caissa pieces physically storming the corporations defences, charging through ICE or jumping from server to server. I love the imagery of that and I also love the psychology of it – the corporation player will see his ICE literally over run with enemy programs which will amp up the pressure and hopefully force him or her into making mistakes.
So, Knight leads the charge in this deck, backed up with Rooks to increase the rez cost of ICE and Bishops to lower the strength of ICE for the follow up breakers like Corroder, Mimic and Yog.0. Anything Knight can’t crack gets passed off to these guys.
The rest of the deck is about complementing these cards. Reina’s ability increases the cost of the first piece of ICE rezzed each turn by 1, while Xanadu adds a permanent +1 cost to all ICE for the entire game. Combine these and Rook early and the corporation is paying +4 to rez the first piece of ICE on your target server and +3 for every piece of ICE after that.
Datasuckers and a lone ICE Carver are in there to work with Bishop to crack any big, high strength ICE the corporation might have deployed, which can bring nearly anything into range of the back up breakers.
Need a breaker in a hurry? Special Order it.
If any of your tools get trashed or you need to discard a few in the early game, getting Pawns into play will bring your Knights back onto the field rather quickly and Deja Vu is for everything else.
Pretty much everything else is in there for efficiency or economy (bar Plascrete Carapace as it’s still probably the best flatline defence in a tournament setup). I think Kati Jones is still the best Runner economy card in the game and nearly as fundamental as Sure Gamble, while Dirty Laundry rewards you for running and Daily Casts provides a nice drip of credits to keep things ticking over. E3 Feedback Implants are in there to make ICE cheaper to break and R&D Interface is to help you get more card accesses out of every Runner’s favourite central server.
But the centre piece, the crown jewel in this deck, is Deep Red. If you want to play Caissa programs, this console is essential. +3 Memory Units just for your chess pieces (that’s your 3 Knights to wreak havoc before you even need to eat into the standard 4 Memory Units every Runner gets) really lets you deploy the massive program army of your dreams. But it’s the ability to install and position your Caissa pieces in one click that makes Deep Red so essential.
I love the idea of the Caissa pieces, but they can be cumbersome to use and click-intensive to play. Without Deep Red, getting any new Caissa into position takes half of a Runner’s turn which is just too much time when you’re trying to build momentum in a game. The Corp player will spot that and it’ll embolden them to go for strong plays while you try and get your act together.
So Deep Red is downright essential, which makes it a potential weakness in the deck. If it doesn’t come up in your initial hand, mulligan or first couple of draws it’ll slow your game right down and deploying Caissa without it is just not economical. Other weaknesses could well be the reliance on Knight as the primary breaker and the potential problems of Caissa manoeuvring.
Knight is great and all, but as an AI breaker it can be vulnerable to certain ICE that cannot be broken by AI and certain subroutines that specifically target AI programs. I’m thinking here of the likes of Swordsman, for example. That’s why the deck includes standard breakers like Corroder and Mimic for these challenges, but at only one copy each they can be hard to find when you need them. That’s why Special Order has a role in the deck, but I’m still not sure it’s the best way of compensating for the problem.
As for moving Caissa into position, it can be easy to forget the various restrictions on specific pieces during a game. If the Corp player isn’t building massive stacks of ICE on their server it limits your options. Moving a Knight to attack a different piece of ICE in the same server will often mean having to move to another server first and then back onto the target, as Knight can’t move directly to ICE in front of or behind it. If you’ve got Caissa pieces attacking those other servers, you might not have a free piece of ICE to move Knight onto and you can wind up locking up your own rig accidentally.
The deck, and the archetype, is not without its problems, but right now it’s the style of Runner play that appeals to me most. When it works, you’ve got the Corp so broke from rez costs that they can’t push their advancements fast enough and if they can get ICE active to protect their servers you can slice through them with a well placed Knight or two.
The deck probably still needs work to improve and I’m keen to see how it performs in more games. I’ll be taking it to Cork for the Netrunner portion of Warpcon this coming Sunday and, while I don’t think it’ll be particularly strong, it should be plenty of fun to play.