Kelf’s Neural Secrets
Article transferred from Nedrunner.nl
It’s been about two years now that I’ve been playing this game and more or less everyone knows that my favourite corporation identity to play is Personal Evolution. Yes, that is Jinteki, if you didn’t know that, then shame on you. The thing is though, I’ve been talking about this crap for so long that I don’t even know when I’m really going to stop. The truth is never, I’ve developed a love for this shitty faction that the ties of our bond cannot just be unbroken that easily through new gimmicky cards that just come out for other factions.
So today, as you probably realized, I’m going to talk about some of the secrets behind my thinking when I deckbuild Jinteki and when I generally get down to making a corp deck. We will focus on the aspects I pay most attention to and explore some of the options the PE identity opens up for the player.
So let’s start talking about some Neural experimenting and stuff.
To start with, let’s talk about the Jinteki identity itself. Personal Evolution has been in the game since the launch of it and even though at first didn’t provide enough options to be in the competitive scene, it later acquired the cards and gimmicks it needed to rise in fame in order to start seeing more tournament play. The identity provides what no other identity provided until Argus Security came out, the constant fear of taking net damage and losing cards from your hand. If you want to win the game by points (which is what 98% of the runner decks do, with 2% being all about milling the opponent), then you will eventually have to take some net damage sooner or later in order to score those points. Even Argus Security can’t match that, because the runner has the choice of taking a tag instead of meat damage which you don’t really need any special cards to get rid off, you just spend 2 credits and you are done with it. Argus Security is a totally different topic though.
On with the focus of the “fear” aspect then. Why is that “fear” aspect so important you may ask that I wouldn’t choose to go with the Replicating Perfection ID since it has such a strong effect and it is still in faction with all the hurtful stuff. Well, the thing is that, having all your agendas be hurtful cards as well can make a huge difference in a game. Even if you run 3 pointers, the net damage will still be there, and can be quite crucial for the outcome of the game.
A good example would be a classic Jinteki deck that runs 3 pointers like “The Future Perfect” and/or another 3 pointer along with it, and along with those agendas, also run some ambush assets like junebug or something, to trick the runner into thinking you installed an agenda. As soon as the Runner realizes you are running 3 pointers, he will have to check there, or he will have to continue digging R&D, which gives you a better chance of flatlining him since there is just as big a chance of him seeing all your Shock!s and Snare!s in your deck as well. But I’ll expand on that logic through some more specific points.
Overall, an amazing ID that allows you to create some work compression on the runner by having him spend most of his time drawing cards or preparing to not die. If you thought that the ID is going to help you kill then you were wrong. Unless you stand really lucky and the runner finds a Fetal AI at a really bad time, then the 1 net damage from the agenda scoring isn’t really going to do much. There are of course combo decks that make that work, like for example a PE deck that runs lots of 1 pointers and “The Board” in order to have the runner die in 1 run on archives.
But let’s move on the important points of Jinteki deckbuilding playing.
1) Always have more than one plan of winning. Jinteki is a faction that has lots of net damage, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing it can do. If anything, the fact that most people know the faction for that kind of thing gives the Jinteki player the chance of including things the runner will definitely not expect and actually win through other means.
- One of these ways is scoring for example, the good old fashioned corp win. There are agendas like Medical Breakthrough and Braintrust in the deck that allow for some easy “install, next turn triple advance score” bluffs when you see the runner not have enough cards in hand (because with PE it happens from time to time since they will eventually hit a snare or a Fetal AI on click 2/3). Strategically placing agendas on the board to score later is also good but not always the best option since the runner can surprise you back with a well placed account siphon that will allow him/her to run on anything he/she desires that turn. That is the reason why Fetal AIs and Shock!s should be installed and just kept there without being messed with for the whole game, because you never know when the runner will decide to run them with the thought of him being completely safe.
- Another one of these ways is an alternative type of flatline. By that, I mean either meat damage or brain damage. As I said before, everything fits in Personal Evolution, from trace mechanics to weird psi games, so go ahead and fill that deck with a bunch of weird things that the runner will spend at least 10 seconds reading everytime he sees it. A lot of people expect a scorched earth and the statistics of runner decks say that lots of people actually pack a plascrete, so as soon as they see the Snare!, they will protect themselves immediately after.
- Last but not least, the standard net damage flatline. Work your way towards the finish line by hurting the runner through standard Jinteki tricks. Let me tell you the following secret……the more the better. The more Jinteki tricks the runner sees in your deck through celebrity gift or various accesses on servers, the more scared he is going to be, so the more easier it becomes for you to set up a trap. If he sees a Medical Breakthrough, a Ronin, a Snare!, a Junebug, a Shock! and a Fetal AI, he won’t know what to guess what your just double advanced card down there on your remote is. On that matter, do not include too many of the same things because it just hurts the deck. Having lots of options is better than having one option that the runner will eventually sniff out sooner or later.
2) Don’t rely on luck. You are playing Jinteki because you love the mind games. Those are games that can be played to your advantage if you know the meta and the cards of the game well enough. Make sure you always stay on 4+ credits and make sure that an account siphon will not lock you out of doing anything for the rest of the game. Some people cringe and go full butthurt about Jinteki not being a “real corporation” since it cancels out lots of runner decks (making most of the cards in there obsolete because of the whole different corp playstyle thing going on) but here’s the thing; we were not playing the same game in the first place if you really feel that way.
Generally, there are games that you can install-advance-advance stuff without overthinking it, but the more you play Jinteki PE, the more you realize what are the best times to do that. There are times of course that you really need to take a risk if you want to win a game.
Installing an agenda with 2 advancements for example a couple turns after you saw the runner drawing a lot of cards is also a good option since sometimes they will just waste that turn to install all the important things they were looking for or they will not want to risk losing the cards they have in their hand since it might damage their long-game capabilities.
3) Bluffing is one of the strongest weapons in your arsenal. Things like leaving an HQ open, making them think you aren’t that smart and didn’t expect the siphon while you have a scorch in hand are things nobody expects with Jinteki PE. Unfortunately, I’m personally quite known already in the meta for my tricks, but I’ll tell you that I still get to throw some people off from time to time with intended mistakes.
One of the things I would advice doing is trying to talk with the runner. Now, the thing is, I’m a really talkative person and the reason I talk during games is because I really enjoy the game more if I do that, but through discussion you can actually entice the runner to do all the wrong things. For example, if the runner says “maybe I should run that remote with the 2 advancements”, you can respond with “maybe you should, because it might be a Medical Breakthrough, and that way I will start the Med-train faster” while the card down there is INDEED a Medical Breakthrough, then that will throw them off a lot since they were already confused and unsure if they should run it or not.
4) Always include Neural EMP and Philotic Entanglement. Neural EMP is a card that is just a blessing and you always want to have one in your hand. Philotic on the other hand is an easy to score agenda that can turn the tide for a couple turns, depending on when you score it. There’s not much really to explain about the agenda since it’s quite self explanatory why it’s so good.
Neural EMP though. Oh man, that card combos with everything, whenever, wherever. It’s a card that if you celebrity gift-show to the runner, he will start being more careful thus making him waste more time to draw cards and install the cards he doesn’t want to lose. It says “Play only if the runner made a run during his/her last turn” thus making the runner think twice before making a run every turn. Most people think that Neural EMP is a combo piece that you won’t use until you have a kill ready, but honestly, Neural EMP can create even scoring windows. Imagine having a mushin no shin and a Neural EMP in hand. Now how good is that for a turn?
Generally a must-include for any Jinteki in my opinion, even if you are not planning to flatline the opponent.
5) Create work compression. Work compression is one of the most interesting theories in Netrunner. There was someone on boardgame geek that made an extensive thread regarding that matter, explaining why having the runner spend clicks for all kinds of things is really important for the corp player. In the case of Jinteki PE, work compression is one of the things the ID relies mostly on. You don’t have the cool economic abilities of the top-tier IDs so you must rely on something different in order to be able to score points or even get enough money to work out that flatline combo.
Including things like Eli 1.0 or even Hourglass in your deck can help with that since the runner will eventually be forced to spend clicks to get into servers to start seeing things. I’ve heard from many people that Hourglass is bad, but in my opinion, it all depends on how soon you get it, and even if you don’t, then you should just work with the more “normal” Jinteki ice in your deck.
6) Do NOT go ICEless. Include at least 10+ ICE cards. There are way too many cards that don’t allow this kind of play anymore. It can sometimes be tricky to win such a game as a runner, but if the runner knows what he/she is doing then they won’t have any issues with beating you quite fast. There are so many interesting choices for ICE in the Jinteki faction that everyone can find something of their liking. From the really simplistic and cheap Pup to the really expensive Susanoo No Mikoto, there are lots of options to both end the run and deal some considerable amounts of damage.
When you are choosing your ICE for your Jinteki deck, don’t think about how you are going to make it fire, think more about the costs and when you should be rezzing it as well as how much it will cost the runner to keep breaking it. For example, Komainu is really taxing for the runner, but parasites will make it drop flat on its double dogheaded face in no time. Or Tsurugi might seem like a great idea, but it ain’t that great for a 6 credit cost if you haven’t drawn enough economy yet.
7) Economy, more economy, much more economy. Nobody likes a rich corp and guess what…everyone hates rich Jinteki. Knowing they can pull off any dirty trick at any given time (both on the corp’s or runner’s turn) is just as scary as it can get in A:NR and for that reason you need to always have that advantage. Don’t hesitate clicking for credits if you like the cards you have in your hand. Even if you have 2 agendas and just a couple traps, then just spend your turn by installing an ICE and then clicking for credits. The setup phase of the Jinteki faction is the important phase since if the runner finds his stuff then Snare!s won’t protect you from utter devastation.
8) Play around with different agendas to feel how they play and then decide what kind of PE you wanna stick with. Is it a PE with a Thousand cuts logic behind it, or is it a PE with lots of 2 pointers and the bluffing of installed cards on remotes? It can be anything, make sure you take advantage of that ascertainty in the runner’s mind as well at the start of each game.
9) Laugh, laugh a lot. As much interesting as poker faces might be, laughing is the best way to get through things. I don’t mean “laugh with an evil laugh”, or giggle when you get your scorched earth in hand and you know the runner is running on a Snare!, but laugh in the way you do when enjoying the game and in a way that you seem like you are really going to “fuck things up”. People hate cocky Jinteki players and there’s a reason why, it’s because they feel comfortable with their playing and just know that by laughing all the bluffs and stuff happening, they won’t even be noticed by the runner. As I mentioned earlier, entice them to run on things, and make a joke about how they would die if they did.
10) Gimmicks, more gimmicks, wayyyyyyy more gimmicks. Jinteki PE should be filled with cheap tricks and shenanigans that would otherwise seem crazy. But that’s your advantage with that ID. It’s the best place to hide them and use them at the same time. A surprise Snoop to get rid of that “I’ve had worse” or “Account Siphon” or maybe an “Indexing”. Regarding Snoop, I covered the power of card knowledge in a past article of mine.
Anyway, those are my most important points for deckbuilding and playing Jinteki, so let’s focus on my most recent Jinteki creation that has proved to be timeless for me since it keeps winning me games with a steady win ratio. It actually went undefeated for 3 tournaments in a row until I convinced Robert that he needs a Net Shield in order to beat me. But even against Net Shield, nobody expects the Scoring Inquisition from Jinteki!
So here it is, my secret weapon and love:
“My Pretty Jinteki Tree”
Jinteki: Personal Evolution (49 cards, 20 agenda pts)
15 / 15 influence: •••••••••••••••
- 1 Eli 1.0 •
- 2 Yagura
- 3 Komainu (occasionally one of these is a Lotus Field)
- 3 Matrix Analyzer ••••• •
- 3 Pup
- 1 Swordsman
- 1 Whirlpool
(Previous, more tryhard, edition of the deck.)
So the plan for this deck is to basically be able to scare the runner with all the classic tricks but with the added benefit of being able to advance things during the runner’s turn through the matrix analyzers. The funny thing is, the Matrix Analyzers are so darn cheap, and if you never boost the trace of the subroutine the runner might start thinking you don’t care about tagging him (unless he/she has already seen the Scorched Earth). I usually install the Matrix Analyzers in a remote, but occasionally, just one is enough if you install-advance-advance something behind it, so if I get a second one, I usually put it in front of R&D. That is also the reason why there is only one Mushin No Shin, since I can’t really drop a card with 3 advancements behind my a Matrix Analyzer, and I feel like Matrix Analyzer has a much better effect than Mushin does despite the extra cost of having to properly advance things everytime. From my experience thus far, runners run on protected servers a lot more than naked ones against PE.
I’ve experimented with Ice Walls and Matrix Analyzers to make fast advance tricks, but it’s not worth it to be honest. Needs a lot of influence to be used since you can’t rely on finding the Ice Walls fast enough to make it work. Might work in an NBN setting, but even there, I ain’t really sure since there are much better choices for NBN FA.
There are only x3 ambush assets in there, but x2 Tricks of Light to help you score the 2nd Medical Breakthrough or a Braintrust when you are close to match point. As much as I would like to include a second “Cerebral Overwriter”, there is just not enough space for it, plus Junebugs can kill if advanced x3 so they are a much better choice for a one-shot trick. There is only one Ronin because after having played with x2 Ronins, I realized that it’s a bit overkill. Ronin is a one-trick pony that might not even work, ever, after it reaches 4 advancement counters. The reason why there is a Ronin in there is just to make the runner think there is a second one thus making them feel the need to run my 3-4 advanced things sooner.
The Philotic Entanglement should only be installed if there is no way to Trick of Light it out for the win. By installing it, you give yourself the option of having an extra click to throw a Neural EMP or a even a Ronin you might have ready. Don’t rely on it, but use it wisely if you do get it in your hand. Never throw it in the Archives either, even if you have a Jackson Howard.
Sometimes, you might even want the runner to score one of the medical breakthroughs to make your life easier with bluffing out agendas. But you should generally only install agendas if you know the runner will start his turn with 2 or 3 cards in his hand, because if he has more, there is a big chance he will just run it since there is not much he has to be scared off. In the case it was a Snare! he would have just removed the tag and then drawn back up, so you are basically just wasting money while he is progressing (despite losing a few cards, he still made you pay 4 for that Snare!). The deck generally tries to score and not just hunt for a flatline. Despite the capability of flatlining with all these cards, they should be used really lightly, in most cases just to make the runner feel like it’s your main focus so that you can bluff out agendas. Clone Retirement is also in there for that fast 1 point Agenda you need to close up the game.
Swordsman is in there for Eater, and Whirlpool for that one fun time the runner will run on your remote with Matrix Analyzer on it and a double advanced Junebug behind it. You will be surprised how scared people get when they see Whirlpool and then see you install an ICE in a remote. They usually never ever run on that remote afterwards. It opens up lots of possibilities.
It has to be noted that I also managed to come in 2nd place with the same same prestige but only 1 less Strength of Schedule (Damm it Leon!) than the first guy in the first Blitz Netrunner tournament ever to be organised (30 minutes for both games each round), so I would say that despite the lots of thinking this deck requires before you make moves on your turn, it is doable to be done in a small amount of time and it just needs practice before you can throw out moves without carefully planning things. Just like with any other deck archetype though, practice is key.
It’s my personal best, and favourite at the same time, deck that I’ve build for Android: Netrunner thus far and it has proven to be really fun as well as successful once you learn how to play it really well. I always mess around with it and replace things for other wacky things just to keep everyone surprised in my meta and I believe that is one of the most important aspects of Jinteki, being able to surprise.
Take as an example the “Pink Elephant” Jinteki PE deck of the German champion Axul. Any experienced runner can more or less expect what is going to be in there, and any experienced PE player, especially the ones who played the ID even before Celebrity Gift, more or less know how to deal with it. Axul’s execution is on point, but even that way, it’s just too predictable for me to go in that direction of Jinteki deckbuilding. I’ve proven that point to Stiv, one of our best players here in the Dutch meta, time and again by beating his PE senseless.
(Snares, more snares, oh how well this meta knows me, damm it Stiv and Istvan)
So, I’d recommend you give Jinteki a try, and even if you don’t like it, at least you’ll understand the mentality behind Jinteki decks well enough to help you in your runner games against it. For now, I’m personally waiting eagerly for the Jinteki Chronos Protocol ID to be released as well as the new Jinteki Biotech ID which I will write a whole article about as soon as I get to try out my “brilliant” idea in a tournament setting.
So until next time we play each other and you hate me for playing “cheesy shit”….
-Constantine “Kelfecil” Christakis
Funny comments on Jinteki I’ve heard thus far:
- Install, advance, advance, run, dead. -Addy in every game against me
- “JUST PUT ALL TRAPS IN AND FLIP OFF YOUR OPPONENT WHILE WEARING SUNGLASSES” -Robert W.
- “That’s just another Ronin. Everything is a Ronin with you.” -Rik
- “I get bored of playing against you man, Jinteki is not even a real corp.” -Butthurt Richard
- “What cheesy tricks did that mofo bring again?” -Alexander Van L.
- “What sinister asshole does the Komainu, Cell Portal and Labyrinthine Server thing?” -Karrym
- “I am not running that, I’m going to die from 4 brain damage Cerebral Overwriter again if I do.” -Marc