Xand's Guide: Startup with Criminal

Xandorius 1474


Hello! My name is Xandorius. I've published a series of decklists for newer players using Nisei's Startup Format. There is one decklist per faction, using the startup IDs. Each decklist will discuss some ideas about playing as and against the faction, an overview of a gameplan from early to late game, and a breakdown of why I chose each card in the list. These lists are meant to give players a place to get started and some things to think about as they continue on their Netrunner journey. Discussion and tweaking to your own playstyle/ideas is highly encouraged!

You can find my other startup guides here!


The criminal faction has a lot of tools for making money, getting accesses, and evading the Corp's defenses. As an overarching concept, criminal players run with precision. Many of their tools are single use which means that they reward players who pick their moments well and plan ahead to maximize the value out of a single run or turn. When you're playing as a criminal, you want to evaluate the board to look for where the Corp is weak and exploit it. Once they shore up defenses, you pivot to another area. If you like the idea of making surgical strikes against a Corp, then Criminal is the faction for you.


If you're a Corp and you're up against a criminal, you need to decide what's worth defending, what isn't, and how you'll punish their criminal arrogance. Keep in mind that a lot of their tools are single use or once per turn. Take advantage of that by baiting out inefficient runs, or doubling up your defenses to make that precision run not worth their time. Utilizing traps, layering your servers with different ICE types, and playing run punishment cards, are all effective ways to counter the Criminal's plan. If you want to beat a criminal, make their juiciest target the bait you set on your own terms.


Zahya's ability is quintessential Criminal style: get paid once per turn for doing something you want to do and get paid more if you can do that thing better. Having her ability affect HQ and R&D means that you already have two places that you can pressure the Corp. Forcing them to split their attention to both of these servers means that they will have to decide which is easier for you to access. If they defend both, then their scoring remote will be weak, which disrupts their plan on its own.

With the mulligan and early game, you want to see some money and setup potential. Economy and card-draw are good priorities. Career Fair helps get your expensive draw resources such as The Class Act and Earthrise Hotel down easily. Both of those will help accelerate your setup plans. An early Jailbreak and Boomerang can help you poke those centrals and continue your setup. Don't be afraid to face-check ICE early. Pressure the corp to spend their early credits or let you make money from your ID ability.


During the midgame, you begin pressuring the corp through your multi access with Docklands Pass or Conduit. Install one and pressure that central server. The Corp will likely try to shore up their defenses and can potentially overextend when they try to keep you out. That's when you pivot and install the other option and pressure that different server. As the Corp tries to juggle defending both centrals from this pressure, they won't have the clicks and credits to strengthen their remote and score. Bravado makes dealing with that defense cheaper, while Fencer Fueno helps you trash assets you find, giving you more access potential.


Once the corp gets their feet back under them and strengthens HQ and R&D against your multi-access, you pivot yet again and drop Sneakdoor Beta. It's entirely possible that the corp hasn't even bothered with archives during the game as you have been creating so much pressure elsewhere. Now they have a 3rd central to worry about, along with trying to score out. You only have the to handle having Conduit or Sneakdoor, not both, so you'll have to decide which one you want to use first and then switch gears with the other one once the Corp has exhausted enough resources keeping you out of a server you're no longer interested in.


Events - Bravado, Dirty Laundry, Jailbreak are all run events that combo well with Zahya's ID to get more money during a run on a central server. All three pair nicely with your multi access options. Bravado and Dirty Laundry can also help against remotes and this flexibility is valuable. Sure Gamble is important basic economy that has no requirements, Career Fair helps reduce the cost of your expensive resources and with the exception of Fueno, will always give you the 3 value. Mutual Favor is a flexible slot that can get you the pesky icebreaker that decided to be at the bottom of your deck.

Hardware - Boomerang is a nice early pressure option and a great late game way to deal with expensive ICE. Docklands Pass is a key feature to your multi-access gameplan and strengthens Zahya's ability. Pennyshaver makes you money off all those runs, and provides you with your extra .

Resources - The Class Act and Earthrise Hotel are your central draw options, and work particularly well if you can get the Class Act out first. Daily Casts is similar to Sure Gample in providing a risk free money choice. Red Team can help with early-mid game central pressure, but keep in mind that it doesn't pair well with Conduit or Sneakdoor Beta so you may wish to go with something else. Fencer Fueno helps with assets and corps that like to go wide.

Icebreakers - you have the efficiency suite here, to try and make the best out of your high impact single runs. Precision breakers for precision runs.


Thank you for taking a look at the list! There are lots of tweaks and options you can swap in to fit your style and meta. Inside Job can help a lot against rushing corp's scoring behind gear check ICE. Emergency Shutdown and Tread Lightly can tackle high rez cost ICE effectively. Contemplate swapping in Flip Switch or Networking if tags are abundant.

Take care and see you on the Net!

Xandorius -Xandorius

29 Mar 2021 Mella

"I keep warning you. Doors and corners, kid. That's where they get you. Humans are too fucking stupid to listen."

Me to myself, every time a runner gets me with sneakdoor beta after all these years

29 Mar 2021 Xandorius

@mella hah! I am so stoked that you caught the reference! That series is one of my favourites! I tried to throw in a bunch of flavour into all the write-ups so that they aren't too mechanical.

1 Apr 2021 PointMeAtTheDawn

These guides look great! A lovely place to jump back into netrunner in an approachable way, thanks so much for writing them! <3

10 Apr 2021 Leviathan

LOVE the Miller reference. LOVE the style you throw into your guides. LOVE your guides! As a player who played for years, wandered off after attending the last official Worlds competition, and is now returning to the game - these guides are solid gold. THANKS!

11 Apr 2021 Xandorius

@Leviathan and @PointMeAtTheDawn Thanks for stopping by and the positive comments. It's really encouraging to see people enjoying the lists and writeups and helps motivate me to make more!

26 Apr 2021 Cyber4n6

If I could upvote comments I would. These guides are excellent. As a returning player I have learned a lot and I am recommending them to my friends who are new.

26 Apr 2021 Xandorius

@Cyber4n6 Thank you for the comment and recommending the guides/lists to your friends! I appreciate it. I have received a fair bit of positive feedback on lists I've made so I think I'll continue with the guide-style going forward :-)