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Subject: Turn 1: Learning about your Opponent rss

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Geoff Hollis
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One of the really interesting things about playing A:NR is there numerous opportunities you have to gather information about your opponent, and how best to calibrate your play against him.

The first couple turns are a wealthy source of knowledge, if you know where to look for it. For instance, consider the following scenario and the runner's response to it:

On your first turn, you create a remote server, cover it with ice, and then also play an ice in front of your HQ.

On the runner’s turn he hits your R&D, draws a card, plays a code breaker, and then gains a credit.

Seems like a pretty reasonable opponent. He’s identified an opening, exploited it, went fishing for new cards (remember, he was already at maximum handsize on the first turn), played an ice breaker (perhaps it’s for the ice you may or may not be drawing next turn?), and then he’s picked up some credits. All in all, you haven’t learned too much*.

Now, consider the second opponent: He draws a card, plays a code breaker, gains a credit, and then runs on R&D.

Like the previous runner, he’s identified an opening and exploited it, but not as much as he could have. By playing the sentry before he’s run on R&D, he’s limited the possibility of preparing himself for what you have to play against him; if it’s not going to cost or risk you anything, it is far better to wait for more information to play cards than not. The runner has also made himself very vulnerable to surprises like Snare!, followed by a frozen accounts or scorched earth.

You can utilize this information in a few ways. If you have HB ice (ideally, out of faction) you can probably exploit him with it in the early game and lay it down as if it were a non-HB ice. You might even have an easier time exploiting him with traps; he is not as cognizant of preparation as he could be. If you have cards that function off tags in your deck, you might want to prioritize laying down sentries over code gates and barriers for early crippling plays.

How about opponent three: He draws a card, plays a code breaker, and gains two credits.

Hmmm... no run on R&D despite it being a fresh card and there being no defenses present. This is a person that is more focused on their own position than yours. It could be that this person is completely oblivious, just a very passive player, or they have a deck that has more value in getting infrastructure in place for inevitable agendas that will be on the table, rather than fishing for information in R&D. Regardless, this is a person you will probably never want to play traps against. You’re likely going to win against the first possibility anyways, it is unlikely the second possibility will run on a remote server without a way of exposing a card (unless they are forced to when you are at 5-6 points), and the third opponent will probably have such a strong engine by the time they start running that traps simply won’t faze them. On the plus side, this is also probably an opponent you can aggressively score some early agenda points against. You might even consider laying agendas down behind unrezzed ice you cannot afford, unrezzed ice your opponent already has an icebreaker for, or unrezzed ice that doesn’t even end run! Note, you would probably only want to try these sorts of plays in early game, and not with a 3-point agenda unless you are VERY CONFIDENT (from prior games) about your opponent’s dispositions.

Let’s consider opponent four: Click 1, He runs at HQ

Wait.. what? There’s ice on HQ, ice on your remote server, but no ice on R&D... so what is this person doing? This is a really interesting play. Also note that it’s pretty safe; there’s not a whole lot of ice under cost 5 that can do serious damage to a player with no programs and 3 actions left (neural katana, data mine, shadow, viktor, and enigma are your worst case scenarios, none of which are really too bad first turn given their rez costs and the fact that the corp only has 5 credits).

There could be a few things going on, and possibly all:

He could be indirectly testing if there is an agenda in your remote server, and if you would be able to rez its protecting ice if you rezzed your ice on HQ.

He could be trying to deny you of income for later-game exploits. You will probably not want to lay down any agendas in remote servers unless you are certain you’ll have the money to fully advance them by next turn. Build larger-than-normal remote servers and limit yourself to a single fortress for scoring agendas; it may be costly to add extra layers to a remote server, but your opponent will pay more in the long run for having to repeatedly break all the ice, whereas you will only have to pay the initial rez and placement costs.

He could be trying to fish for information specifically about your defenses. In which case, expect numerous 1-of ice breakers and x3 special order. You can expect your ice to become outdated pretty quickly. Like the prior case, you will have to work around this by building up larger-than-normal remote servers.

Or it could simply be this person is balls-out crazy. Don’t bother trying ice bluffs, but you may want to be a little more aggressive with traps in light-to-moderately protected servers.


Consider the next opponent: Click 1 he draws, Click 2 he runs on HQ.

You can be a little more certain that his actions are being dictated by the cards in his hand rather than an overall guiding strategy (e.g., “my ultimate goal is to deprive you of income”). Expect perhaps two account siphons in his deck, but not three.

Maybe this is a feint with sneakdoor beta. He is trying to get you to spend resources on a location he never intends to run against. The dilemma, though, is if you don’t rez the ice, he probably won’t spend resources on sneakdoor beta.

Consider opponent six: Click 1, he runs on your remote server rather than HQ.

Again, this opponent could be attempting to deny you of resources. His thoughts could be “if my opponent doesn’t rez the ice, maybe I will trash an adonis or a PAD”. Note though, that both are pretty poor unrezzed trash options. If you are trashing an unrezzed PAD, you are more-or-less subjecting yourself to a 4-credit closed accounts that also costs you a click. Not a great play. Better to wait until next turn and see if he rezzes it. Double note, this is a less-awful option if the PAD is in-hand, corp only has 2-3 cards, AND the runner can successfully make another run on HQ.

Perhaps the runner is aggressively looking for your agendas and trying to put you on the defensive. There are possible merits to doing this over attacking the HQ first -- mainly if you as the corp are playing Weyland and have a higher-than-otherwise chance of running < 3 cost ice that can end run (i.e., ice wall), or you are HB and now have 6 credits to rez two 3-cost end run ice. But if you’re playing jinteki or nbn, you might want to consider the possibility that this is the type of person you could safely discard agendas against if they have you on the ropes and it would give you some breathing room; that is to say, they might not be fully aware of the subtler game state.

Conclusion

Android: Netrunner is a game where the order of taking actions is perhaps more informative than the actions themselves. If you keep a close eye on what your opponent is doing and try to puzzle through his action sequence you can pick up a ton of information, even in the first turn. As corporation, sometimes you might even want to leave holes in your defense on the first turn or two just so you can gather this sort of information. Food for thought.
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Patrick Jamet
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Great article that will help new players understand why this game is great.

It's also very fun to start by playing a card face down and to put two advancement counters on it. Now the Runner knows that everything will be possible in this match.
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Geoff Hollis
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Pyjam wrote:
Great article that will help new players understand why this game is great.

It's also very fun to start by playing a card face down and to put two advancement counters on it. Now the Runner knows that everything will be possible in this match.


I actually had planned on writing another article about this in the future, when there's a wider variety of traps and agenda choices, and after I've had opportunity to mull the concept over a little more (I am not entirely convinced it is a strong turn one play... yet).

This is the type of Netrunner I want to be playing, though
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Patrick Jamet
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hollis wrote:
(I am not entirely convinced it is a strong turn one play... yet).

Yes. It's more for the destabilizing effect.
 
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Bier Fuizl
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Shipment from Mirrormorph (one ice, two cards in remote server)
Advance once

That would make me worried as runner ;-).
 
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Geoff Hollis
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We know there's an upgrade and either an agenda or a trap. He has zero cards in hand. The trap can't hurt you if it's aggressive secretary. If it is project junebug or ghost office, the damage is marginal. Your worst-case scenarios for an 8-cost ice are wall of thorns, heimdall, and tollbooth.

I personally would run on the server. If your opponent rezzes an 8-cost ice with 8 credits and no cards in hand, he is putting himself in a very awkward position. If that ice ends up being tollbooth, you're paying 3 for him to lose 8. Perhaps not the best deal on turn 1 since he also gets an ice out of it, but it drains all of your opponent's resources and exposes a critical piece of defense. I think it could be worthwhile.

Neural katana / project junebug might be the overall worst case, in which case you're still alive, have managed to reveal a ton of information, and can easily draw back up to safety -- note he has no cards in hand, so there's really no chance of a dangerous follow through.

If it is a wall of thorns, you are effectively "paying three clicks (run + draw back up) to make your opponent spend 8 credits" which, on turn one, I think is a strong play.

Alternatively, you can just hit R&D and then build up infrastructure. I think I would hit the remote server on turn 1, though, to put my opponent on the defensive, and then aggressively attack R&D and HQ on later turns until defenses are put up.
 
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Allen Doum
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Opponent AD:
Run on R&D.
If you scored an Agenda, run on R&D.
Wash, rinse, repeat.

You have learned that your opponent is not averse to getting a lucky win.
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Huafen P
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hollis wrote:
One of the really interesting things about playing A:NR is there numerous opportunities you have to gather information about your opponent, and how best to calibrate your play against him.

The first couple turns are a wealthy source of knowledge, if you know where to look for it. For instance, consider the following scenario and the runner's response to it:

On your first turn, you create a remote server, cover it with ice, and then also play an ice in front of your HQ.

On the runner’s turn he hits your R&D, draws a card, plays a code breaker, and then gains a credit.

Seems like a pretty reasonable opponent. He’s identified an opening, exploited it, went fishing for new cards (remember, he was already at maximum handsize on the first turn), played an ice breaker (perhaps it’s for the ice you may or may not be drawing next turn?), and then he’s picked up some credits. All in all, you haven’t learned too much*.

Now, consider the second opponent: He draws a card, plays a code breaker, gains a credit, and then runs on R&D.

Like the previous runner, he’s identified an opening and exploited it, but not as much as he could have. By playing the sentry before he’s run on R&D, he’s limited the possibility of preparing himself for what you have to play against him; if it’s not going to cost or risk you anything, it is far better to wait for more information to play cards than not. The runner has also made himself very vulnerable to surprises like Snare!, followed by a frozen accounts or scorched earth.

You can utilize this information in a few ways. If you have HB ice (ideally, out of faction) you can probably exploit him with it in the early game and lay it down as if it were a non-HB ice. You might even have an easier time exploiting him with traps; he is not as cognizant of preparation as he could be. If you have cards that function off tags in your deck, you might want to prioritize laying down sentries over code gates and barriers for early crippling plays.

How about opponent three: He draws a card, plays a code breaker, and gains two credits.

Hmmm... no run on R&D despite it being a fresh card and there being no defenses present. This is a person that is more focused on their own position than yours. It could be that this person is completely oblivious, just a very passive player, or they have a deck that has more value in getting infrastructure in place for inevitable agendas that will be on the table, rather than fishing for information in R&D. Regardless, this is a person you will probably never want to play traps against. You’re likely going to win against the first possibility anyways, it is unlikely the second possibility will run on a remote server without a way of exposing a card (unless they are forced to when you are at 5-6 points), and the third opponent will probably have such a strong engine by the time they start running that traps simply won’t faze them. On the plus side, this is also probably an opponent you can aggressively score some early agenda points against. You might even consider laying agendas down behind unrezzed ice you cannot afford, unrezzed ice your opponent already has an icebreaker for, or unrezzed ice that doesn’t even end run! Note, you would probably only want to try these sorts of plays in early game, and not with a 3-point agenda unless you are VERY CONFIDENT (from prior games) about your opponent’s dispositions.

Let’s consider opponent four: Click 1, He runs at HQ

Wait.. what? There’s ice on HQ, ice on your remote server, but no ice on R&D... so what is this person doing? This is a really interesting play. Also note that it’s pretty safe; there’s not a whole lot of ice under cost 5 that can do serious damage to a player with no programs and 3 actions left (neural katana, data mine, shadow, viktor, and enigma are your worst case scenarios, none of which are really too bad first turn given their rez costs and the fact that the corp only has 5 credits).

There could be a few things going on, and possibly all:

He could be indirectly testing if there is an agenda in your remote server, and if you would be able to rez its protecting ice if you rezzed your ice on HQ.

He could be trying to deny you of income for later-game exploits. You will probably not want to lay down any agendas in remote servers unless you are certain you’ll have the money to fully advance them by next turn. Build larger-than-normal remote servers and limit yourself to a single fortress for scoring agendas; it may be costly to add extra layers to a remote server, but your opponent will pay more in the long run for having to repeatedly break all the ice, whereas you will only have to pay the initial rez and placement costs.

He could be trying to fish for information specifically about your defenses. In which case, expect numerous 1-of ice breakers and x3 special order. You can expect your ice to become outdated pretty quickly. Like the prior case, you will have to work around this by building up larger-than-normal remote servers.

Or it could simply be this person is balls-out crazy. Don’t bother trying ice bluffs, but you may want to be a little more aggressive with traps in light-to-moderately protected servers.


Consider the next opponent: Click 1 he draws, Click 2 he runs on HQ.

You can be a little more certain that his actions are being dictated by the cards in his hand rather than an overall guiding strategy (e.g., “my ultimate goal is to deprive you of income”). Expect perhaps two account siphons in his deck, but not three.

Maybe this is a feint with sneakdoor beta. He is trying to get you to spend resources on a location he never intends to run against. The dilemma, though, is if you don’t rez the ice, he probably won’t spend resources on sneakdoor beta.

Consider opponent six: Click 1, he runs on your remote server rather than HQ.

Again, this opponent could be attempting to deny you of resources. His thoughts could be “if my opponent doesn’t rez the ice, maybe I will trash an adonis or a PAD”. Note though, that both are pretty poor unrezzed trash options. If you are trashing an unrezzed PAD, you are more-or-less subjecting yourself to a 4-credit closed accounts that also costs you a click. Not a great play. Better to wait until next turn and see if he rezzes it. Double note, this is a less-awful option if the PAD is in-hand, corp only has 2-3 cards, AND the runner can successfully make another run on HQ.

Perhaps the runner is aggressively looking for your agendas and trying to put you on the defensive. There are possible merits to doing this over attacking the HQ first -- mainly if you as the corp are playing Weyland and have a higher-than-otherwise chance of running < 3 cost ice that can end run (i.e., ice wall), or you are HB and now have 6 credits to rez two 3-cost end run ice. But if you’re playing jinteki or nbn, you might want to consider the possibility that this is the type of person you could safely discard agendas against if they have you on the ropes and it would give you some breathing room; that is to say, they might not be fully aware of the subtler game state.

Conclusion

Android: Netrunner is a game where the order of taking actions is perhaps more informative than the actions themselves. If you keep a close eye on what your opponent is doing and try to puzzle through his action sequence you can pick up a ton of information, even in the first turn. As corporation, sometimes you might even want to leave holes in your defense on the first turn or two just so you can gather this sort of information. Food for thought.


Thank you for the tips. I guess never catched on the fact that the runner is making initial run on Central server to just see if I will rezz ice and spend my resources so he can attack other remote servers.
Is there a way that all these good initial articles on strategy be ranked and searched easily on BGG ? I see lot of 2 yr old articles which can help a newcomer !
 
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Captain Frisk
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I too am shocked to see that this gem was 2 years old!

It's rare, but thanks for the thread necro!

It's also interesting to see the meta change - as Special Order Criminal might not be willing to face check and risk losing a copy of their singleton breakers. (I would drop my mimic before running a wide open jinteki R&D for example)
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