How To Build A Runner Deck - Akiko Nisei

DoomRat 2371

Hi all! I've been thinking for awhile about doing an article about how I build decks. Much has been written about how to play netrunner, but I very rarely see anything about how to construct a playable list. I see way more often "Just netdeck until you've been playing for a long time, then try and build," which while good for some players, others will find deeply unsatisfying. So I've detailed the methodology I use here, the goal of which is not to produce the best deck in standard, but to produce the best version of the idea I started with.

Step 1: Come up with an Idea

So obviously, if I'm going to build a deck, I need to start somewhere. For this example, there was a discussion on the local discord about how to build a functional deck for Akiko Nisei: Head Case, which most players agreed they had never seen used in a game. After a bit of discussion, we concluded the deck should:

  • Have a way to pressure centrals other than R&D (otherwise they'll just stack R&D).
  • Have some way to slow the corps economy (so spending on Akiko's psi games hurts them).
  • Have someway to deal with problematic ice on centrals so I don't get shutout by Kakugo or similar.

Step 2: Define Essential Cards

At this point I want to define what cards are essential to making the idea into a deck. If I end up cutting these cards, I usually scrap the idea, as I'm now probably iterating towards an existing standard deck list. In most cases this shouldn't contain more than about 10 cards. For this list, the essential cards are:

So I end up with:

Step 3: Add cards required for a functional deck

Here I'll add the cards necessary to make our deck function, such as tutors, recursion and essential tech cards. The goal here should again be to add no more than 10 cards or so, for ~20 total cards in deck. In this case, I'm pretty program reliant, so I'll add SMC, and Simulchip plays nicely with the Pelangi I'm already using. I'll also add Misdirection and Clot, because every shaper deck should probably be bringing those without a compelling reason not to. I'll also add Ika, as the deck should have some kind of killer.

Step 4: Contemplation

This is the place many deck lists come to die. If the card count is much above 20, I can be pretty sure that I won't have enough econ for the deck to work, and I scrap the idea. There's no shame in letting go of an idea that just doesn't work. Even if I do, as I did here, make the target number, I still try to really look and see if I can plausibly cut anything I've put in. In this case, I think 3 Pelangi + 3 Simulchip is probably overkill, so I cut a Pelangi for five total. Additionally, depending on how the draw situation turns out I could plausibly get by with only two SMCs, so I cut one of them for now, and end up with this:

Step 5: Add All Reasonable Econ Cards

At this point, my goal is stuff as many econ cards as possible in the remaining ~25 slots. Keep adding econ until you run out of slots or run out of playable econ cards. So I'll add the staple neutral and faction econ first: Sure Gamble, Daily Casts, Creative Commission, Dirty Laundry, Overclock, Diesel, Beth Kilrain-Chang. With Maw I should have the MU for the full three Rezeki, so I can add that as well. I need some draw beyond Diesel, so even though its a pretty mediocre card, I'll add two copies of VRcation.

Step 6: Fill remaining slots if necessary

If at this point, your deck list is full, congratulations, you can skip ahead. If you somehow still have a few slots left, fill them with one of these these things:

  • Bad Econ Cards: Options here include Telework Contract and Smartware Distributor.
  • Non Required Tech Cards: Cards like Citadel Sanctuary and Paricia can be nice to have, but hardly required. If you have space left and feel like my matchup with a deck where they come into play might be poor, I'll add them at this point.
  • Cards I cut in step 4: Sometimes at this point I'll add back in some of those cards I decided weren't strictly required at this point, if there's space.
  • Pet Cards: I think we all know Psych Mike is a bad card at this point, but it's kind of neat and its supposedly a support card for Akiko, so I could add that here if I really want.

In this case, I'm going to add two bad econ cards (2x Telework) and a Non-Required Tech (Citadel), but any of the above options are defensible. So now I have a first draft list:

Step 7: Playtest!

Go play some games with your deck. At this point, while it would be nice to see the deck win some games, what I really want to do is evaluate whether the list is doing the thing I set out to do in Step 1. A lot of times this methodology will lead to a list that's technically functional because its got 35 cards of a functionally sound netrunner deck and the ten cards from step 2 that don't do anything. If that's the case, generally I'll scrap the list. Similarly, but more rarely, I'll end up with a deck that just doesn't function, and scrap those too (the construction method is designed to preclude this possibility, but sometimes it happens, especially if I let myself cheat the limits in Steps 2 and 3 too much). But if it does the thing, then I can move on to Step 8.

Step 8: Contemplation Again

At this point I consider whether the deck needs any changes or improvements. Did I find a bad matchup that required additional tech cards or maybe some of the cards I cut as non essential turned out to be. In this case I ended up really wanting that third SMC in a lot of games, so I put it back in. Additionally, I found that I'd really like to have 2x Political Operative to help deal with upgrades, so I made the tough decision to cut Clot in its favor, though I think both options are defensible given Akiko's limited influence. I cut the two telework contracts to make room for these changes, arriving at the final list shown. From this point, I return to step 7 and continue to iterate until I decide to scrap the list or I'm happy with it.


Well there it is. I hope some of you found that helpful, and also enjoy this Akiko deck, which I've had a pretty good time with. Until next time.

25 Jun 2022 MagentaBlue

Great breakdown. Only just getting back into Netrunner but even 'back in the day!' I always struggled with deck building 👍

26 Jun 2022 Satoshi

This is a nice walkthrough. Here are the parts I found confusing:

In step 1 one of the ideas is:

Have some way to slow the corps economy (so spending on Akiko's psi games hurts them).

But the card we picked to do this (Pad Tap) doesn't necessarily do this -- it generally gives us money rather than taking the corps money. Maybe the corp will trash it but often times they don't. This might merit some discussion. There are other cards that more directly slow down the corp like Diversion of Funds or Emergency Shutdown. It might be worth expanding on these choices in Step 2.

Also, I feel like step 5 glosses over an a lot of decision making:

  1. What counts as a "reasonable" econ card in your mind? Why? Many shapers use Professional Contacts, is that not a reasonable card? If not, why not?
  2. There are numerous ways you could "add draw", for instance, did you consider Earthrise Hotel? Or Dreamnet if you intend to be very active? (Maw suggests maybe you will be?) It might be helpful to describe why you picked what you did.
  3. You also added a lot of econ before this step in Rezeki and Pad Tap. Do you have any mental model for thinking about how much econ is too much / not enough?

I feel like if you are trying to introduce someone to deckbuilding, the details of what econ cards to pick make a big difference on whether the deck works in practice, so it might be worth expanding on. This is also part of getting past the "just netdecking" phase.


26 Jun 2022 DoomRat

@render787 Thanks for your input!

Addressing step 5 first, I feel like which econ cards are reasonable is going to be dependent on the exact build. Picking the correct ones is beyond the scope of what I'm trying to do here, and will come with practice I think. But generally my algorithm is to look at all possible draw and econ, then add the best one until I think the best remaining econ is not good (like, in the example here, I think Telework is going to end up being a dead card in a lot of situations because its not a ton of credits and it takes a lot of clicks and time to pay out.) But what I really wanted to to emphasize is that I really try as much as possible to fill that remaining ~25 cards of space with as much econ and draw as possible, whatever that ends up being. I do think, upon consideration, having the sentence about Rezeki should have been before the others, its the best econ card in the deck.

Regarding Pad Tap as Econ Pressure, I think we'll just have to disagree here. For most corps I think not trashing pad taps is a great way to lose, so I consider it econ pressure instead of econ.

2 Jul 2022 Sanjay

@DoomRat This is such a good idea and such a good execution of the idea!

Great trick to get Akiko to be deck of the week :)

2 Jul 2022 branimated

Fabulous writeup, and a real gift to our growing community.

5 Jul 2022 Satoshi

Regarding Pad Tap as Econ Pressure, I think we'll just have to disagree here. For most corps I think not trashing pad taps is a great way to lose, so I consider it econ pressure instead of econ.

No doubt you are right about this in general. Most corps should probably trash pad tap as a rule of thumb.

All I'm saying is, I've watched some high-level games by players much better than me who choose not to trash pad tap. Particularly if they are playing PD, they are rushing to get their things out, and they know that if they get set up but the runner has a lot of money that's a winning position for the corp. For a lot of jinteki decks it's also about taxing clicks rather than credits, so they may ignore pad tap also. So you may not successfully slow down all corps in the meta by playing a pad tap, that's all I'm saying.

6 Jul 2022 DDarkray

Amazing write-up! Very easy to follow along with all your screenshots. Thanks for sharing these tips with us!

12 Jul 2022 kaiten619

i also have a question does the steps also apply to building a corp deck or is that a different plan?