Don’t slack off on the final cards for your deck. Those “Last In” cards open up plenty of opportunity for experimentation, and give you an unexpected edge.

More people should play Market Forces.

When spoiler season hit, it looked like NBN was getting their very own “Corp Siphon.” But since its release those hot takes cooled off. As of the writing of this article, only 17 decks on netrunnerdb have even a single copy.

What happened? Did we misjudge the spoiler that badly? User BlackCherries explains it clearly:

Current tagging win conditions include Exchange of Information which causes huge point swings, High-Profile Target which puts fear into runners’ hearts, and Psychographics (+ Beale). Other traditional tag punishment includes Closed Accounts and Self-Growth Program which see some play but don’t quite win games alone like the prior 3 cards mentioned. One possible reason they still see play is that they don’t require scaling – they work even at one tag which means it only takes one mistake from the runner to end up with a tempo loss. Market Forces, on the other hand, requires quite a few mistakes to be worth its slot.

There it is. Market Forces is destined to be binder fodder. A coaster, forever banished by the game-winning power and brute efficiency of cards like EoI and High-Profile Target.

But is that really all there is? I don’t think we giving enough credit to a card that can easily be an 18-credit swing. And it’s not just about finding narrow cases to abuse it’s power, or about intentionally playing worse cards.

It’s about understanding that Market Forces is a perfect “Last In” card – and to stop only evaluating it as a “First In” option.

Tasty, Tasty Deck Nuggets

Before we can dive into the concept of First or Last In Cards, we’ve got to spend a few minutes on how to build a deck.

Step 1: Identify a core concept and strategy to build around. This can be inspired by a card, a combo, or any variety of things. But before you go much further, you must define how you are going to win.

Step 2: Choose the cards that execute the core of your game plan. Sometimes this is just a handful of cards. Other times, this core game plan takes up the majority of your deck.

Step 3: Fill out the remaining deck slots with cards that allow you to execute your core game plan smoothly and efficiently. This is your economy, your card draw, and any redundancies you need to make sure you can carry out your strategy.

Step 4: Fill up your remaining deck slots.

Let’s look at an example:

Say I’m playing a Sync tag-and-bag deck. I want to tag the Runner, then Boom! them out of existence. At the most basic, my Step 1 looks something like this:

  • 1x Hard-Hitting News
  • 1x Economic Warfare
  • 1x Hedge Fund
  • 1x Boom!

These are our “First In” cards.

With this core, the first time a Runner does their thing, you Hedge up some money, build some yogurt stands, the bury them in tags. The next turn you blow up their city block. Clean. Efficient. Consistent. Boring.

This is your Deck Nugget. Anything beyond this is supplemental to, and in support of, your game plan.

But this isn’t a deck. Deck minimums and agenda requirements exist to make sure the game is fun. So in order to compete, you have to move onto Step 3. Here you start by ramping up the numbers of each of your Deck Nugget cards. We definitely want 3x Hedge Fund, Economic Warfare, and Hard-Hitting News.

We also want to make sure we have redundant features where possible. We add cards like NGO Front or IPO to shore up our economy. Let’s add some more tagging effects. It could be your ICE, or even something like Fly on the Wall. Maybe we add other tag punishment like Exchange of Information or The All-Seeing Eye. Add some ICE to defend your game plan, and you’ve got a functional deck.


The Laws of Diminishing Returns

At this point, you’ve filled most of your deck slots, but you still need one or two additional cards to get up to that magic 44.

Most people will fill in with extra redundancy from cards they put in during Step 3. An extra Beanstalk Royalties or a Special Report will never lose you a game. In fact, drawing them smooths out your game flow without detracting from your core strategy.

And yet, at a certain point, these “same bets” start losing you percentage points. Once your deck has the correct amount of economy, adding a weaker econ card starts watering down your effectiveness.

The same is true for adding an unnecessarily redundant copy of a power card. In our Sync deck, how many Psychographics do you really need? The first one can win you the game. The second one gives you a better chance of drawing it. Does the third help anything? Do you really want to see a second one in any given game?

Last One in is a Rotten Egg

This is where the concept of “Last In” cards comes into play. A “Last In” card is a non-redundant card that doesn’t develop your core strategy. But instead of increasing diminishing returns, a “Last-In” card helps you gain win percentage.

“Last In” cards can be unexpected. They can be swingy. They can be powerful. And they can be flexible. But above all, they are a card you are fine not seeing every game, but are often very happy when you do. They have the power to turn around matches – even if their conditions are hard to meet, or they don’t directly execute your core strategy.

Which brings us back to Market Forces.

BlackCherries’ analysis of Market Forces is completely correct – if you think about it as a “First In” card. It isn’t as good as the other cards mentioned at directly winning a game. It is narrow in its timing. You probably don’t want to use it as a “build around.”

But what about as a “Last In” card? What happens when you already have the correct number of Boom! and Psychographics? Which is going to win you more games, another generic econ card or:

  • Something you can search for with Consulting Visit on low credits to restock your econ?
  • A secondary econ punishment card to make sure the Runner never clears those additional HHN tags?
  • A way to open a scoring window behind a tough, but porous piece of ICE like Thoth?

Market Factors is a powerful card. It doesn’t see much play, but that’s only because people are wanting it to be something it’s not. Instead of trying to force it in as a “First In” card, try it out “Last.” Not only will you boost your win percentage, you’ll also get a chance to play with cards other people have dismissed as binder fodder.

Netrunner is full of cards like this – powerful cards that see too little play. What are your favorite “Last In” cards? Sound off in the comments below.