[Startup] It's Retribution, Baby!

bember 19


This is a straightforward Startup deck, with most of cards being 3x for a consistent gameplay.

The main idea is to tagstorm the runner and trash icebreakers/viruses via Retribution.

Once the runner's breaching powers are weakened, you have the path cleared to advance your agendas - if your opponent doesn't concede first!

The plot

You might need a bit of patience to get your ducks in a row and seize the right opportunity to strike. First of all, there are 2 things that need to happen:

  • The runner has brought out their main icebreakers/viruses
  • You have at least 1 Retribution on HQ

Usually this state is reached naturally in the course of the game, but sometimes it needs a little push, e.g. install an asset behind a Gold Farmer to provoke the runner to install a Corroder, or use Spin Doctor to draw more cards if Retribution didn't make an appearance yet, etc.

Once this is accomplished, it's time to tag & punish. However, the runner usually saves their last clicks for clearing tags - so how to workaround this and have more agency in the tagging business?

That's the fun part. Here are a few plans to keep in mind during the game.

Tagging plan 1: Public Trail

The simplest line of action is to tag the runner via Public Trail. To keep the runner below 8 credits, try provoking them to run against taxing ice such as Tollbooth and Gold Farmer.

Tagging plan 2: AMAZE Amusements

If however the runner has a strong economy (e.g. Shapers), Public Trail won't be any good. In that case, you can instead install an agenda alongside AMAZE Amusements as a bait.

The combo Ping + Funhouse + Tomorrow's Headline + AMAZE Amusements is the dream ambush, but AMAZE Amusements alone is usually sufficient.

Of course, it's not ideal to give one of your agendas away. But when your turn begins and you play Retribution to trash that Corroder, believe me, it totally pays off.

If the runner doesn't take the bait, that's even better - just advance the agendas. This deck has a majority of 3/2's (and a 3/1) to make this process easier. Once an agenda is scored, the puzzle can be renewed by installing a new bait.

Tagging plan 3: Tagger agendas

This is a bit more difficult than the other two. If you believe that an Orbital Superiority or a Tomorrow's Headline can survive 2 turns on a remote server, you can use these agendas as a tagging mechanism, as long as you saved at least 1 click for unleashing the Retribution party.

Obs.: even if the agenda ends up stolen, AMAZE Amusements can be a safeguard so this falls back into a successful plan 2.


Playing a patient cat and mouse game is a luxury that can only be afforded by well protected centrals. Ping can be used early-game, while Tollbooth, Gold Farmer, and Funhouse are great in the long run, especially when combined. A strong defense however requires a strong economy.

I personally like the plain and simple "give me money" operations. There is a total of 12 (yes, TWELVE) cards like this available in this deck (3x of Hedge Fund, Hansei Review, Government Subsidy, and Predictive Planogram).

A couple of thoughts on Hansei Review:

Given this is a tagstorm deck, it goes without saying that NBN: Reality Plus is also a great source of credits.

A particularly fun reason to have a strong economy though is making sure your Snares are always actionable.

What's with the Snares?

Remember tagging plan 2? Well, the puzzle you lay down for the runner can be even spicier with Snare! - especially when you know your opponent is building momentum to make a big run.

The main reason for including the Snares though is punishing random accesses - one of the biggest losing conditions for the corp. The Snares are there to meet runners that flew too close to the sun. You never know, sometimes the destiny places 2 Snares on your HQ, right when your opponent decides it's a good time to play Legwork...

And, of course! Snare is 100% compatible with this deck's theme of tagging and punishing the runner.

That all sounds good, but what about recursion?

Recursion (e.g Simulchip, Harmony AR Therapy, etc) is definitely the Achilles' heel of the proposed tagging & punishing strategy, but not necessarily of this deck as a whole. Of course, you can engage in a "recursion battle" against the runner by recycling Public Trails and Retributions via Spin Doctor, but that doesn't always pay off.

In this case, this deck is flexible enough to shift to a glacier strategy (e.g. Tollbooth - Tollbooth - Gold Farmer - Bellona), following the principle of "don't play your deck, play the matchup" (quote from Metropole Grid).

Alternative winning conditions

If the runner has declared tag bankruptcy, shifting the strategy into scoring Orbital Superiority is a great option.

Final thoughts

I find this deck very fun because tagging & punishing is a very interactive way of playing this game. The runner's actions are integral part of your strategy. It's like a dance. Other strategies might feel like you're playing by yourself, just trying to be faster/stronger than the other side.

Besides, in games between human beings the "optimal" move is not always the best. Sometimes the right move is the one that makes your opponent the most uncomfortable. This deck has been built around this idea.

Constantly poking the runner with tags and trashing their cards (even if it's a simple resource) is very very annoying. Creating problems for your opponent all the time improves their chance to make mistakes. And, hey, even if you lose, it's still a lot of fun!

As of this writing, this deck has a 70% winning rate (26 W / 11 L) on casual Startup games on jinteki.net, which is not bad. But I'm new on Netrunner so I'm sure there's lots of room for improvement. So any feedback/suggestions would be very appreciated!