Progrunning: Shaper up to Cyber Exodus

In Cards, Netrunner by PaulLeave a Comment

When I introduced Progrunning, I promised I’d follow up with a sequence of articles describing how the process is going, what I’m playing and what I’m learning. The first of these focuses on Shaper using cards just from the Core and through to Cyber Exodus, the third AP released.

This article is a mix between a ‘beginners guide to playing shaper’ and actual play reports based upon the games that I played. By and large these have been against other players involved in a ‘progrunning project’ and therefore this deck is untested against any modern decks. This meta should be borne in mind when reading through.

If you’re a veteran player who recalls the meta from these early days, feel free to post your comments and observations in the comments section. However, I hope that even newer players will get something out of the article, as I walk through my own learning curve with the soft-green faction of Netrunner.

The Deck

The Strategy

Medium: Basically a squid in a jar

Medium: Basically a squid in a jar

This is a fairly straightforward Kate deck (and therefore core Shaper), with an emphasis on hitting R&D for multi-accesses through Medium and The Maker’s Eye. The basic strategy is to find a Sentry breaker (mainly because of my fear of program trashing Sentries) and Medium; then run R&D to build tokens on Medium for maximum efficiency from the run clicks.

In parallel to that clicks are spent to build economy through Magnum Opus and using Kate’s ability to install hardware for free or cheap and then sell it off through Aesop’s Pawnshop. This keeps Kate ahead of the economy curve. Use any Diesel cards within a turn of finding them and put out a Barrier breaker to get through End the Run ice as early as possible.

By focusing on R&D, the Corp is faced with a decision whether to protect that central, take the temp hit purging viruses to remove tokens from Medium (there are no other viruses in the deck), or not advance their own game. If they choose to protect R&D the deck does suffer, but so does the Corp’s own plan.

I find that, for me, it requires a bit of patience in pilot. In particular being able to to judge the moment when the number of accesses is going to be below the Corp player’s threshold for allowing multi-R&D acceses. You want to time the R&D run for just before they’re triggered to purge viruses; perhaps they look distracted and might not have tracked the Medium tokens and haven’t felt the heat from a Maker’s Eye as well.

Test Run is there to tutor for Femme Fatale, when and if the Corp puts a particularly horrendous piece of ice in front of R&D; Femme isn’t really expected to be played normally (i.e. paying the cost).

The Breaker Suite
The breakers are fairly standard with the exception of Pipeline over Mimic. I wanted to avoid the influence cost of Mimic and also see why Pipeline doesn’t see much play. Well, I learned about the latter as it just costs so much to get through any bloody ice!

Given that a Killer (i.e. Sentry breaker) is called out specifically as the breaker I want to find before I make a single run, the efficiency of the breaker needs to be pretty hot. I often found myself having cash-flow challenges in the early game and the early runs on R&D to build Medium counters become credit-inefficient.

Pipeline, eh? Eh? Really?

Pipeline, eh? Eh? Really?

And cash-flow problems in the early game either led to a shortage of clicks and /or credits on my turn causing me to fall behind the Corp in the race to the mid-game.

In the next iteration of the deck’s life, I think I will drop the Special Order for the influence for Mimic and see how that lands in terms of solution:new problem ratio. I suspect that the addition of Datasucker (and therefore an increased reason to purge viruses) may create its own challenges.

Card Combos / Synergies
I’ve covered the Test-Run-to-find-and-install-zero-cost-one-time-Femme combo (or TRtfai0c1xF as I snappily call it [actually that feels like a pretty secure password!]). Keeping Test Run in hand can feel like a bit of a waste, but the impact of not having it is a worse situation.

Aesop’s and Akamatsu Mem Chips work well; install the Chip for free and trash for 3c next turn; you can be 5c up on your starting position in the first click with this and Magnum Opus.

Modded is primarily there for the The Toolbox cost, but I also included Personal Workshop for that as well.

What Have I Learned
I’ve covered quite a bit throughout the article already:

  • Pipeline as a breaker is not efficient
  • The confidence Test Run into Femme can provide to keep R&D open as a win-condition
  • Balancing the number of Medium tokens vs the Corp’s threshold for multi-access

In addition, I learned that the drip economy of Personal Workshop doesn’t really work out for this deck; I want to start using the credits from the console pretty quickly and therefore the Modded play is always the preference. The card can be dropped, and I’ll hunt through the packs for something to replace it.

I also learned that Shaper is not suited to the aggressive running that I so like with Gabe (the first runner I ever really played with), and that a more patient, planned style is needed. The economy allows the rig to be built more quickly creating options for me and dilemmas for the Corp player.

Keeping Maker’s Eye back to burst across the multi-access threshold can win games and being able to judge when that run can be made is very important. A multi-access dig through R&D can lead to recovering from a losing position because the deck is weak at pressuring other parts of the board. An aware Corp player will recognise that, and either strongly protect R&D or draw quickly to spread their risk into other areas. Fast Advance decks can be troublesome because they move out of the target area (R&D) to scoring much more quickly than the deck can accommodate.

What the Future May Hold…

Probably this...

Probably this…

In A Study in Static, I see a couple of cards that interest this deck:

I’ve not seen many AP ice in play, but if the meta develops as this artificial card pool expands for the Corp, then this may become a breaker of choice.

As ever feedback (in any media is welcome!)

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