So, I’ve covered this before, but it’s so important that I want to go over again in more detail. The first rule of Android: Netrunner for the Runner is to run early and often. The Runner wins the game by stealing agendas. The only way to do so is to run. If you never run you will lose. So, let’s go through the reasons to run, and not to run. Keep in mind this article is written for the Runner, though the Corp can learn much from it too:
Reasons to Run:
One of the core themes of Netrunner is bluffing. To learn how the Corp will bluff you need to probe for information. Nothing is more informative on how the Corp is going to play than what ICE they flip when you run against their forts. Further, it’s difficult to know what ice breakers you should be getting until you know what ICE there is. Sure, you want to hit phase three with all of your breakers out, but in phase 1 you really just need the 1 breaker that’ll get you into R&D (or HQ if criminal. Or their advance fort if the Corp for some reason decides to start advancing agendas in phase 1. Or their resource fort cause you hate naked men.) So knowing which one you actually need to bother paying for (or hunting out with a special order) will give you great tactical advantage in phase 1 and 2.
Gotta Bankrupt the Corp
A broke Corp is a losing Corp. They can’t really advance agendas without money. Nor can they rez the nastiest ICE without some spare cash. And how do you drain their funds? Yes, Account Siphon and Vamp. But also by making them spend it, on ICE. You do this by running against unrezzed ICE: they either have to spend their money keeping you out or risk letting you steal some agendas. Either way, worth it.
Maybe they’re Bluffing.
C’mon, how many times as the Corp have you slapped some completely useless piece of ICE down in the hopes of it scaring off the Runner. Does it ever work? Not for you! He’ll run and find out it was only chum protecting R&D and steal 5 agendas turn 1. Don’t you want to show that you’re capable of the same thing! As long as you paid attention to the ICE shelf and the Corp’s current bitstack you shouldn’t be that badly surprised by what stalls you.
Reasons not to Run:
You don’t want to win
For some reason you want to lose at this game. If you are playing against me I am all for this strategy. Good call. Please continue. Otherwise, what are you thinking? We’ve been over this, you’ve got to run to steal agendas. I know, I know, the ICE is scary. It might do brain damage, it might do net damage. It might tag you so later you’ll take a whole lot of meat damage. It might, *gasp* end your run short. But you win the game by stealing agendas, not by not taking damage. You can win with 0 cards in hand. You can even win with some brain damage.
So, what, you afraid of a little damage?
You’re a coward.
You know you’ll faceplant
They have rezzed ICE on every fort worth getting in to. You have no consummate breaker (or at least insufficient funds to power it). Therefore you know your run will fail, so there’s no point in running. Pretty much the only legitimate reason not to run. Instead you should be topdecking until you get into phase 3, or accruing creds if you’re broke.
So, now that I’ve covered the reasons to run (and not run) in general, let’s look briefly at the reasons to run early in the turn, instead of waiting for that last, precious, click.
Because you can’t click to break the subroutines if you’ve got no clicks left.
Losing your tail
Especially against tag n’ bag you’re apt to get tags when you run. You do not want tags on the Corp’s turn. Thus, you want to run at the start of your turn so you have clicks left to de-tag. Even against non-baggers you’ll still see some amount of tagging which they can use to disrupt your resources.
Who knows, maybe the top three cards of R&D are Agendas. If you wait till your last click to run you’ll only snag the one, whereas if you run first, hit one, and do it again and again you could just win the game like that. Even if they’re not agendas, if they are trashable you can see more cards than you otherwise would. Plus, certain upgrades like Red Herrings or Ash sdnbjkfbha (Gesundheit) might mean you need a second run just to score that tasty agenda. And if you waited too long they might just score what would otherwise have been an easy steal.
No loss of time
Unless you take damage or come up a few creds short of getting in there’s no real difference between running first and then dropping cards or running last after playing them. Yes, some cards you’ll want to play before you run: the icebreaker to actually make it in, the creds to afford the full run, a few more cards in hand vs. Jinteki. But generally speaking early is better than late. If nothing else you may not need to play those cards after the run.
And that’s the ABC’s of Netrunner: (A)lways (B)e (c)Running. (The c is silent, like in Pterodactyl or Darryl.)