Hello, and welcome to another Hack the Planet. Today I’ll be covering the idea of tweaking your deck. As you may have noticed in last week’s Deck Diving (or more specifically the comments) I made a glaring omission in the deck list. That’s the problem sometimes with these articles: I don’t always take the time I need to tweak the deck. Of course, the first time I played the deck I realized the error, but by then the article was already up. But let’s take this as a teachable moment.
As with any game of this nature where the players constructs their decks there’s room for tweaking: the process of slightly changing your deck to make it better. Maybe you take a card that has been a 2 of to a 3 of. Maybe you remove it altogether because it’s not been performing. Maybe a new data pack comes out and you need to slot in a new card. There are plenty of reasons to tweak a deck you already have together to make it better.
Tweaking a deck is also one of the best ways to improve at a card game. Playing the same deck constantly so you are familiar with it, while at the same time making minor performance improvements to make the deck better will lead to much better results than just net decking the current hot deck and trying to play it blind.
So, how do we tweak our decks? Generally you play the deck a bunch and figure out what cards aren’t working and replace them. If you find yourself with a number of borderline cards for your deck that you can’t decide between (I know I often do) put them all in at 2 ofs, play the deck a bunch, and cut the ones that didn’t work in favor of the ones that did. Also helpful if you have two cards you’re choosing between that fulfill the same role is to play with one of them, and then in the course of play as you see it, decide if for the given game state you’d rather see the other. If that proves true more often than not you’d likely be better switching out.
As to the more specific, Netrunner has a number of unique tweaks that other card games do not. For instance:
Ok, other games have ratio tweaks (Magic’s land ratio for instance) but Netrunner has its own ratios to play with. Mostly for the Corp, altering the ratios of card types can have major impacts on the deck performance – most notably Agenda density and ICE density. Altering ratios will affect how often you (and the Runner when they run R&D) see the cards in the deck, so if you find yourself ICE starved or ICE flooded you may want to tune the deck to have more or less ICE. Similarly with Agendas, changing the quantity will alter how aggressively you’ll need to defend R&D. Of course, part of modifying the Agenda ratio is to modify the Agenda points into a different advancement pattern – 7 three-point Agendas is a very different deck from 21 one pointers.
On both sides, the ratio for economy cards is going to be important as it’s the economy that drives the game. Similar to Magic’s land screw/flood you want to find that sweet spot of economy cards so your engine’s running smoothly.
When tweaking ICE there are a few considerations you should keep in mind. Mainly, the ratio of cheap (early game) ICE vs expensive (mid/late game) ICE and the ratio of ICE types. Unless you’re doing something weird (like trying to trash a given ICE breaker type) you want a good spread of ICE types so the Runner will need a full breaker suite to get into your servers.
As the core of the Corp deck, changing your Agenda will have a large impact on how your deck functions. Not just changing the ratios, but also which Agenda you use at a given point will alter the flow of a deck: for instance, at 3 point Agendas Priority Requisition is going to be better served in an expensive ICE deck, whereas Executive Retreat would be better in a combo deck since it gives you a chance to replenish your hand.
On the Runner side, your rig is one of the more important deck tweaks to make. When constructing the deck you should have had an idea what the end game rig was going to look like, but it takes playing the deck to determine how best to establish that rig quickly enough to play your game. Maybe you need an extra copy of your Sentry breaker, maybe you want an extra AI breaker for backup, or maybe Battering Ram isn’t as efficient as you’d like for your local environment and you want Corroder instead.
As you tweak your deck you might find yourself freeing up influence as out of faction cards stop performing, letting you bring in new cards. Or maybe like I did you find yourself needing an out of faction card in without enough influence points left, so you need to cut cards to make room. Influence is one of the key things to keep in mind during deck building.
In addition to those major categories of tweaks, generally you want to change your deck to remove dead weight and add in cards to help your victory condition. The best way to know what will accomplish that is to play the deck and find the weak links that way. If you find yourself often drawing a card and being annoyed it might be time to cut that card. That’s the fun of deckbuilding, though: figuring out what works and what doesn’t for your deck. Good luck!
By the way, in case you’re curious, I’ve swapped out the ICE Analyzers for card space and one Parasite to free up influence points in favor of 3 Datasuckers, which should help the deck perform stronger.