Monday, November 2, 2015

The Case for Net Damage Jinteki at Worlds 2015

First of what will probably be a slew of Netrunner posts. I think about the game way too much & don't have enough people to blabber to.

The Personal Evolution "death by a thousands cuts" deck was the first Netrunner archetype I ever really fell in love with. Starting with core set & the first two big boxes, I stuffed Mushin No Shin, Gila Hands Arcology, House of Knives, Archer, & a bunch of traps in a deck & was immediately happy with the results. The deck fell out of my favor after the release of Order & Chaos; Shapers were using Feedback Filter, I've Had Worse was a great counter packed 3x in every Anarch deck, & the Eater-Keyhole shenanigans of the time were also a tough matchup. But I'm always looking for an opportunity for the resurgence of Jinteki net damage decks in the meta, from new archetypes like Chronos Protocol control to pieces that bolster Personal Evolution such as Lockdown & Back Channels. Just as Minh's Personal Evolution caught the meta off-guard at last year's Worlds & placed second, I think we're primed for another left-field Jinteki deck (not glacier or rush RP!).

General Metamovements

Disclaimer: only-partially-informed opinions of a tier two player. I'm hardly the best person to be making these calls, but damn if I don't have some ideas.

The top-tier corp decks at the moment are: glacier (with Caprice Nisei) or fast advance Engineering the Future with Team Sponsorship, NEH fastrobiotics, & NBN kill decks (whether a traditional Butchershop build out of NEH or newer 24/7 kill decks out of Haarpsichord Studios & other new IDs). In response, runner decks typically need to do a few things: pack meat damage protection (typically Plascrete Carapace), prepare to be tagged possibly including a tag-me mode, & go fast. None of these tactics are effective against slow, grindy net damage decks.

First off, drop the 1 or 2x Scorched Earth in your Personal Evolution lists. It will only land if the runner has Plascrete installed now—but if you remove the meat damage, you'll still see runners waste a click & 3 credits installing Plascrete. Fast decks, whether aggressive-running Criminals or Wyld-pancake Anarchs, have to abandon their game plan against loads of damage thinning out their deck.

Finally, Faust has become an enormously popular breaker; it's in nearly every Anarch list & creeping into some Shaper & Criminal (mostly Gabe & Leela) lists. But it's terrible against net damage, only racing the corp towards their win condition.

What's bad about the meta right now for Jinteki? Film Critic & recursion. Runners are packing heaps of recursion & the stock of viruses like Parasite & Imp has never been higher. All of these can really take the teeth out of traditional Jinteki lists; Film Critic steals your 2-of Future Perfects in Cambridge Personal Evolution with ease & negates the upside of Fetal AI. Imp can take out Neural EMP or the aforementioned agendas. Knocking breakers from the runner's Grip is far less powerful if they can snatch them back from the Heap in real-time with Clone Chip.

The Order & Chaos counters mentioned in my opening are still around, in particular IHW. But Keyhole decks have fallen out of favor a bit. I'd expect some very good MaxX or Valencia Keyhole decks at Worlds, but I'm still not convinced the archetype is strong enough to worry about.


I see three dominant runners in the meta: Prepaid Kate, Noise, & circa-2013 Andromeda lists. The Andromeda choice is definitely conjecture; I expect to see far more Andromeda at Worlds than we have seen over the year, simply as a reaction to how strong NEH fast advance is. People perceive Andysucker to have a strong fast advance matchup, despite the lack of Clot, & will probably turn to her, but not in the Stealth Andy versions that were developed to beat glacier Replicating Perfection.


I've always felt that net damage decks have a good matchup against aggressive, fast-paced criminals. Criminals like to run & are geared to prevent credit taxation with tools like Desperado, Security Testing, Bank Job, & (splashed) Datasucker. But they still don't have great in-faction card draw. Fisk Investment Seminar & Drug Dealer changed this a bit, but ultimately Criminals still fall behind Shaper's draw events & Anarch's many options here. FIS & Drug Dealer are also still unproven; I think top tier players may hesitate before including cards with such obvious downsides & stick to more traditional Andromeda lists. The decks which these (decent) cards excel in are tier three decks (Laramy Fisk mill/hand bloat, Ian Stirling connections control).

To mention it again, Minh's second place at last year's Worlds largely demonstrates how great the Andromeda matchup is. I recall that one of his only Corp losses in the Swiss was to Spags' Prepaid Kate, while the lack of recursion of most Andromeda lists was simply no match for the amount of damage Personal Evolution threatens. This year, I'd expect every Andromeda list (perhaps every deck list, actually) to have at least one Clone Chip. Zero recursion simply isn't a viable choice anymore with the amount of program trashing available to Corps.

All this said, Account Siphon remains one of the best counters to Jinteki's traps. Controlling the Corp's credits is often the only way to safely check remote servers. Packing a Crisium Grid—also helpful in the Keyhole matchup—might be called for.


Kate is the toughest matchup for any Corp right now & Jinteki is no exception. The reason why is a bit different—Kate's typical win condition of multi-access R&D lock isn't viable against traps. Instead, it's the inclusion of Levy AR Lab access & heaps of recursion (not only 3x Clone Chip, but sometimes Scavenge as well) that make Kate difficult. Still, there are ways in which net damage takes Kate out of her comfort zone & negates her strongest attributes. The very strong economy of Prepaid Kate matters much less when cards are the point of taxation. Clot is a wasted card slot. Because net damage has fallen out of favor, almost every Kate list cut Deus Ex & Feedback Filter. Remember that those cards were in there originally to solve a touch matchup! Traps are problematic & Kate's propensity to play cards for economy (as opposed to persistent resource-based economy like Kati Jones & Security Testing) & lack of spare influence for I've Had Worse necessitates very careful play on the runner's side.


Noise is not necessarily an easy matchup, but one which Jinteki has the perfect tech for in Shock!, Crick, & Cerebral Static. Noise is the biggest pain against the traditional Personal Evolution shell game, since he can mill rapidly once set up & requires very few breakers to put up huge amounts of pressure. But Industrial Genomics ability (& that the lists almost always include Shock! & Crick) is an incredible hard counter while Chronos Protocol has a decent matchup as well. I think the only adjustments that need to be made for the Noise-heavy meta are packing a Cyberdex Virus Suite or 2 & maybe swapping one Snare! for a Shock!. Noise won't have Film Critic & some lists have even cut I've Had Worse in an attempt to cut down on events (to benefit Street Peddler). They tend to burn through their deck at an incredible rate, with Peddler & Wyldside leading the way, which means the long game isn't necessarily to Noise's advantage.

Exit Strategy

Looking at the Stimhack Tournmanent-winning decklists, there haven't been a lot of Jinteki lists lately. The most noticeable victory of late was Daryl Russell taking down the Australian nationals with an interesting (no House of Knives! no Hedge Fund! 1x Profiteering! 1x Chairman Hiro!) Personal Evolution list. That doesn't necessarily mean Jinteki is poorly positioned, just that they're not the focal point of the meta. I wouldn't be pretty surprised if more than half the Corp decks at Worlds are NBN. With all that fast advance and tagging, some Philotic Entanglement (with 24/7 News Cycle?!?) might make an impact.