Hack the Planet: Economy: Trickle vs. Burst

Hello, and welcome to another installment of Hack The Planet. Today we’ll be looking at Netrunner’s economy. I’ve said before that Netrunner is a game of economy: the economy of both action and credits is one of the pillars that holds up this game and makes it so complicated to learn and fun to play.

As far as the credit economy goes, there are basically two types of cards to boost your economy: Burst cards and Trickle cards. Each serves a very different purpose and therefore goes into different deck styles.

First, definitions. Burst economy is a card that gives you a stack of credits in one burst, or at least gives you all of the credits in a burst rather than a slow payoff. Hedge Fund is a prime example, but even a card like Magnum Opus is burst economy: it gives you more credits whenever you need them, on demand. Trickle on the other hand comes slowly but surely. Pad Campaign, Adonis Campaign, anything that will slowly give you more credits but cannot be sped up. Often Trickle will give you a better return on investment than Burst since the payoff is longer and – for the Corp especially – there’s the possibility for the Runner to destroy the resource before you get back your RoI.

So, how do we use these different economies in-game? Basically it depends on your deck’s needs. If you regularly need a cash infusion, Burst is better. There’s a reason most Corp decks pack Melange Mining Corp, and it’s not just for the spice. The other advantage of Burst is that, since it’s done in a burst and then gone, there’s less need to protect it. Hedge Fund requires no ICE to safeguard – short of Imp there’s nothing the Runner can do about it. Weyland’s Operation economy is a classic example of a pure burst economy in a deck and the advantages to be found therein.

Cause people are stupid and keep buying new iPads.

Trickle, on the other hand, requires some protection. Adonis is often trashed when seen, and even Eve should be trashed once it first shows up. In exchange for this investment of time and defenses you receive a much higher return on your investment, not to mention the lack of clicks spent. Melange is great in a burst, but you’ve just spent your whole turn. Adonis nets you more credits over time without costing you any clicks past the initial install.

So which is better? Honestly, it depends on your deck. Most decks likely need a mixture of both, the long-term credits for the late game mixed with the sudden cash infusion to get you there. Nothing’s worse than being short stacked and having to spend your turn getting 3 or 4 bits while the other side just rolls over your defenses/ ignores your feeble hacking attempts and wins the game.

Probably the best way to figure out what your deck needs is to look at its costs. If there are a lot of high costs in the deck you’ll likely want the burst economy to be able to quickly play those cards. On the other hand, if you have a large selection of small costs a Trickle economy will likely help more as you will be able to spend less time working on your economy while still generating the funds you need to pay for your actions.

Sometimes trickle can eat your clicks. Usually, though, it’s set and forget.

In sum: Trickle will give you more money over time but will require some defenses to keep it, while Burst will give you the money Now but will take more attention over the course of the game to pay off.

Whatever your deck needs, keep in mind what types of economy cards you are running: maybe you’ll realize that your deck needs more of one type or the other to perform optimally as you play it out.

Happy Hacking!

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