RTFC of the Week: Subliminal Messaging (Netrunner)

In Cards, Netrunner, RTFC by Paul2 Comments

I know about this card because Scott played it in his GRNDL deck against my progrunning Kate and Noise decks. I thought he was being kind in explaining it to me, but having now thought about it I think he was just making sure that I knew enough for it to nudge my behaviour.

And that is the essence of the card: an attempt to nudge the runner’s behaviour into running to avoid the Corp getting rewarded. Let’s see how that works then.

Both sides look a little... unappealing...

Both sides look a little… unappealing…


No errata applies to this card.

Unpacking the Card

This card has two separate parts. The first part essentially reads “the Corp gains 1 credit for free”.

The second part essentially reads: “If the runner doesn’t make a run, then gain 1 credit on your next turn”. This is because if they don’t run you’ll trigger it from Archives to HQ and simply play it again for no click or credit cost.

So, free drip economy on a card with no trash cost… Watch those credits mount! It’s basically an untrashable PAD campaign that I don’t have to waste clicks installing or protecting as it gives back a click when played.

Which is nice and all, but it’s the nudging impact it has on the runner that is the important thing. That credit gain is there to incentivise the runner to go ahead and run. This is a similar concept to why kill decks want to score agendas to create pressure for the runner to make runs they ideally wouldn’t.

It creates extra decision points for the runner, disturbs their thinking and planning process and if they choose to play a game of setting up their rig, it accelerates the Corp’s own game plan through enhanced economy. It’s not so strong that the runner HAS to run, hence the ‘subliminal’ part of the name.

Perhaps that run face checks some ice the runner can’t deal with? Perhaps it’s a successful run that sets up a SEA Source tag? If part of your game plan requires the runner to run, then this is a good way to nudge them in that direction.

In this netrunnerdb review, hatman also points out the advantage of trying to flatten the explosive peaks that make some runner builds dangerous. They do a much better job of explaining that than I would, so I recommend hitting it up.

What makes this card worse?

There aren’t very many circumstances that make this card actually worse, beyond it might not be the optimal choice for a given match up. Even if the runner likes to run aggressively there is no active downside from playing this card as it is the Corp’s benefit that is being negated rather than advantage given to the runner.

No clicks or credits were wasted in playing the card.

However, in occasions where an aggressive, run often runner is expected deck slots would be better spent managing that position than on something that doesn’t actively harm your position.

What makes this card better?

Anything that benefits from the runner actually running; a kill deck with traps that wants to pressure the runner into a mistake that uncovers those traps. A SEA Source deck that wants to place that tag for the double-Scorched Earth.

Taxing ice that drains the runner’s economy is a good combination with this card; it creates a double-swing in that if the runner doesn’t run then the Corp’s position accelerates and if they do run then they get taxed.


Subliminal Messaging is a nudge to the runner to get themselves into gear and hitting some servers. So long as at least a credit’s worth of value is returned from the runner doing that, this card is beneficial. There is no cost beyond the deck slot for the Corp to pack the card in the first instance, so there’s a low bar for the ROI to pay out though the return isn’t stellar either.

Feel like we missed a combo or a facet of the card worth sharing? Hit us up in the comments below or at the usual places!


  1. We appear to be at similar points in our Netrunner journey, I’m currently using my experience deckbuilding and playing casually to get a better grip on ‘established’ decks. Subliminal Messaging works quite well as a tweak to TheBigBoy’s Sleeper Hold HB deck, triggering all sorts of shenanigans with Jeeves and teaching me a lot about timing windows.

    1. Author

      Hey Aaron, I had great fun working out the timing of Jeeves and it really helped me think about sequence of my turns. Great game teaching experience. I’ve also found that using decks that have videos with commentary has helped; e.g. Decks that get streamed at tournaments through the various matches so you can see them played and discussed in multiple matches. Build them, play them and then tweak them (I.e. Make them worse!)

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