Newsgroup Taunting, Node
Strategy TipsBy Frisco Del Rosario
IntroductionAt first glance, Newsgroup Taunting is only a minor irritation. The runner pays a bit at the start of his run, but expects to have no trouble trashing the pesky node, for the corporation is unlikely to well defend a node which does so little to advance his game. Newsgroup Taunting's costs are precisely balanced. The corporation takes an action to install Newsgroup Taunting, and pays one bit to rez it. The runner takes an action to run the node, and pays one bit at the start of that run. However, should the corporation rez two Newsgroup Tauntings, the runner must then pay two bits to start a run on the first one, then another bit before running the second. If the corporation continues to install and rez Tauntings, he can make it cost-prohibitive for his opponent to run. That's the basis for corporate decks constructed around Newsgroup Taunting -- if the runner can afford only to make a very few runs, the corporation can advance his agenda with impunity. Newsgroup Taunting has a "natural enemy" in the Newsgroup Filter program. Newsgroup Taunting requires a bit be paid to start a run, but Newsgroup Filter effectively "killfiles" the antagonistic node by providing more than enough bits to "filter" it.
Taunting in StagesA NetRunner game develops in three stages:
The opening. The corporation typically lacks ice or bits to protect the central data forts, and the runner has an early initiative. The middlegame. The resource-rich corporation has enough ice to protect several data forts, while the runner gathers bits and programs. The corporation has its best chance to score agenda. The endgame. The runner has installed a complete tableau of icebreakers, has probed each fort's defense, and can run any fort, given enough bits. The corporation is most vulnerable.The corporation's strengths and weaknesses from each stage are amplified when the corporate player opts to use a Newsgroup Taunting strategy. In the opening, a Taunting deck is more vulnerable than others for it tends to include less ice. If the corporate player draws poorly to begin -- e.g., handful of agenda, few Tauntings to install -- he's dead. In the middlegame, a Taunting deck is often stronger than a typical corporate deck because it needs fewer bits to operate. For instance, if the corporation managed to install and rez 12 Newsgroup Tauntings, it needed a minimum of 12 rez bits. In the ending, a Taunting deck is out of gas. If the corporation hasn't won in the middlegame, there probably aren't enough Tauntings left on the table or in RD to pose an obstacle to the runner.
Taunting and Common StrategiesNewsgroup Taunting fits well into many corporate strategies: Fast Advancement -- A string of Tauntings will keep the runner at bay while the corporation saves enough bits to play a fast advancement operation. Tag, You're Dead -- The thought of facing too many Tauntings might goad runners into running and trashing them before their tag defense is set. Shell Game -- The threat of several Tauntings being rezzed at once could cause runners to charge into an ambush. One Strong Subsidiary Fort -- Newsgroup Taunting also enhances decks which don't concentrate on Taunting. A "normal" deck which plans to secure the central forts, then build one strong subsidiary fort for agenda advancement, can Taunt annoyingly -- two or three rezzed Tauntings will siphon the runner's bits, and if the runner chases the Tauntings, he is deflected from the real goal.
Drawing cardsThe Taunting corporation has to generate a steady stream of cards and bits -- the deck type will lose if the runner gains the upper hand in controlling the number of subsidiary data forts. The runner has to ensure that he isn't steamrolled by the Taunting. The card which drives a Newsgroup Taunting deck is Edgerunner, Inc., Temps ("gain three actions which you may use only to install cards"). It's reasonable to include enough Edgerunners to install every node and ice card in the deck. Sure, it's optimal to install three Tauntings with an Edgerunner, but your hand has to be replenished. Day Shift ("gain one bit and draw two cards") is the outstanding operation, better in a Taunting deck than Annual Reviews because the bit is useful for paying for Edgerunner or rezzing a Taunting. However, I prefer nodes for their reusability. ESA Contract ("action: draw two cards") and Euromarket Consortium ("hand size +2; 1, action: draw two cards") are the choices. Euromarket costs two to rez, *and* it costs a bit whenever you want to draw two cards, but the Proteus bit-generating ice tends to make it affordable. Also, the extra hand size offered by Euromarket gives more flexibility in preparing to play Edgerunner. Finally, Euromarket has a higher trash cost. I would like to include the Employee Empowerment agenda in a Taunting deck, which allows the corporation to draw an extra card to start its turns, as well as draw two cards with an action. And since it's an agenda, the ability can't be trashed.
AgendaSelect your agenda as you would for any other deck type, except that Fetal AI has the bonus of forcing the runner to pay two in order to steal it, and Taunting might strip them from his hand. Also, agenda which don't take a lot of room (Tycho Extension, Corporate War) are well suited for this deck type since Newsgroup Taunting has to comprise such a large percentage of the deck's content. One Political Overthrow plus six Marked Accounts takes too much space, I think, in spite of its excellent intention.
Other nodes and upgradesI bet the choice of nodes and upgrades which accompany Newsgroup Taunting separates one Taunting deck from the next. Nodes which divert the runner's attention from a Taunting are always a good idea. Siren, of course, captures his attention by force, though it's expensive. I think Siren is a terrific card for a Taunting deck, but playable only after a significant number of Tauntings are rezzed. Any powerful node will serve to burn the runner's bits at the start of a run, though -- City Surveillance, Chicago Branch, Pacifica Regional AI. The trick is determining the number of those non-Taunting nodes to include. I'm not good at that, so I don't include any. There doesn't seem to be a reason to play a bit-producing node besides BBS Whispering Campaign unless you're ready to pay for a Project Consultants with an ACME Savings and Loan. In the early stages, it's difficult for the corporation to install and rez more than one or two Tauntings, and if the runner keeps knocking them down as quickly as we put them up, we'll lose. Therefore, it might be clever to install a number of nodes (or agenda) face down, and rez several Tauntings at once. I think the best ambush to lay in such a scheme is Doppelganger Antibody -- runners can't fight a Newsgroup Taunting deck without bits, and Doppelganger is a fine tax to impose. Some will disagree, and opt for TRAP! instead. Virus Test Site gives the corporation the ability to play a different mind game -- "is he advancing an ambush, or is the rat bastard advancing an *unprotected* agenda?!" The upgrade which fits most logically into a Taunting deck is Red Herrings ("runner must pay 5 in addition to other costs to steal agenda from this fort"). Ideally, the runner spent several Taunting bits to begin his run, and now he can't afford to steal an agenda (of course, Fetal AI is Red Herrings' favorite partner). An often-overlooked upgrade is New Galveston City Grid ("runner must pay 2 additional in order to trash nodes or other upgrades in this fort"), but Newsgroup Taunting's zero trash cost makes it a fine complement.
IceWell, here's the fun part. *None* is a option. When the Newsgroup Taunting deck type was new, ice destruction decks which made heavy use of Inside Job and Social Engineering were hot. The Taunting deck sometimes rendered as much as half of the cards in those runner decks useless. Today, the bit-generating ice can't be passed by. The bits granted by Misleading Access Menus (I bet Wizards forgot about Encoder, Inc. when they invented this kind of ice) are largely responsible for playing Project Consultants and Data Sifters. If you're intent on ending the run, a successful trace with Rex coerces the runner to pay two before running again. Rex plus Taunting makes for an unhappy runner. Besides Rex, there doesn't seem to be much of a point to playing "end the run" ice more costly to rez than Filter or Data Wall.
InstallationNot much thought required. Draw many, install what you can, with Edgerunner, if possible. I think it has to be judged whether to play Misleading Access Menus as a second row of ice, or to overwrite the first since it's already been rezzed for the payoff. (I think it most cases it doesn't matter, so I overwrite, and save a bit.)
OperationsAgain, depends on the deck type, but Edgerunner Inc., Temps, always, and Day Shift or Night Shift if it moves you. The fast advancement decks need nothing but fast advancement operations. The tag decks have greater flexibility. For tagging purposes, I think a ratio of three Data Sifters to one Audit of Call Records (why Audit of Call Records? I think there's a psychological inertia that goes with trashing a Newsgroup Taunting -- no one can seem to stop at one) works well. After the runner is tagged, the road forks again. I used to think that Closed Accounts was the logical operation to play, but it turns out that Taunting usually burns so many of the runner's bits that Closed Accounts has much less impact. I have considered Datapool by Zetatech in conjunction with Schlaghund. For now, I play with two Scorched Earth and one Closed Accounts, though there are usually enough bits on hand to pay for an Urban Renewal. (See Chris Wagner's "Card of the Day" feature on Closed Accounts for more related to this paragraph.)
DefenseThe runner should trash the card-drawing nodes, for they're the source of many future Tauntings. Don't be taunted. Trashing Tauntings without a Fall Guy or base link installed is a flatline waiting to happen. Do be taunted. Run those Tauntings, and trash the hell out of them, or the corporation's going to rez 20 of 'em.
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