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A Jinteki Doctrine

Android: Netrunner Lysander

With the conclusion of the first cycle, one should deduce how Netrunner has evolved, diversified, and strengthened every faction. I think we can all agree that each faction is no longer as linear as at inception, and all are roughly on the same playing field at a competitive level.

Yet Jinteki continues to inspire skepticism; its true potential muddled with grandiose schemes of building abstract combos, overzealous killing mechanisms, and implausible digital fortresses. A cursory glance reflects this lamentation: many a thread out there call for some love for Jinteki (including a couple of my own!). However, is this truly necessary for Jinteki to become a major contender? I had sincerely thought so, despite my personal successes with it. However, I have found that Jinteki's key weakness lies not in its available card pool, but rather a lack of understanding and practicality. Let this testament illuminate Jinteki's true potential, and show runners why Jinteki demands proper respect.

First and foremost, Jinteki differs from the other corporations in a very large regard: it's skill-based. General consensus is that victories are achieved for most corps via 70% deckbuilding, 30% skill. Jinteki flips these stats. Whenever someone tells you what you should and should not do with your deck, take it with a grain of salt. An excellent Jinteki player can win with a mediocre deck far more often than a mediocre player with a perfectly-built deck. This is the reason Jinteki is plagued with issues - strategy and bluffing reign supreme. Runners are clever. Once they see you pursuing a linear strategy, they'll exploit its weaknesses and adeptly maneuver around it. Drop your one trick pony. Take it out to pasture and shoot it, please.

The next step is to determine where you want your deck's strengths and weaknesses. What do you want to focus on for your win conditions? What are you willing to divert attention from in order to strengthen your deck as a whole? The single biggest issue I've seen is that people feel obligated to focus on flatlining if not primarily, then at least as a secondary condition. Jinteki's strength is not in doing large sums of damage, but rather as a means of sabotaging runners. You're not doing 3 net damage - you're depriving the runner of key cards and tricks, and forcing them to waste valuable clicks in order to maintain their grip. This is something no other corporation can do consistently - use it!

Through experience or hearsay, you probably think Jinteki's primary weaknesses lie in the porosity of its ice, and a lack of an economic engine capable of supporting ice, advancing cards, and paying for traps. While yes, these are setbacks, they are not insurmountable. The latter weakness is simply overcome by increased focus on economy cards. The former is more troubling - how are you supposed to use Melange/PC for much-needed econ when the runner can cheaply break through your ice and trash it? There are three options: 1) import 4+ out of faction ice with decent stopping power, 2) focus on shell game antics and use this opportunity to waste the runner's resources, and 3) make your ice less porous. The first option is by far the most commonly utilized, and the least effective. In doing so, you use up to 2/3rds of your influence, you are completely reliant upon drawing said cards, they cost extra which marginalizes your extra econ and takes away from your traps, and they are instant derez/parasite bait. The second option is far more practical - you even have an identity that supports it! However, it does have its drawbacks. Ignoring remotes in favor of R&D locking is extremely prevalent in the current meta, and runners focused on econ denial will still be able to shut down your economy. This leaves option three - a seldom used strategy, and one that I am admittedly biased towards. Program trashing fits in perfectly with Jinteki's goal of sabotaging the runner, and bestows much-needed stopping power in Jinteki's ice.

General Jinteki Gameplay Advice:
  • Just because you can rez ice, doesn't mean you should! Rezzing ice telegraphs the importance of what lies behind, and whether the runner should proceed or jack out. Use this to your advantage and misdirect the runner. Additionally, it may mean you won't be able to pay for a Snare or other trap.
  • Don't be afraid to score Fetal AI. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario for the runner. Keep them in your hand only if the runner consistently runs HQ.
  • Be patient. Most runners seek to dictate pacing, and as such, they all make mistakes. Focus on capitalizing on several small mistakes rather than being obvious and attempting a large mistake.
  • Think out of the box. Predictability is your Achilles Heel - don't be afraid to randomize your decisions and incorporate strategies that go against the current meta.
I'd like to share a simple experience to illustrate a point. A couple weeks ago, I was playing a Gabe on OCTGN. On his first turn, he ran HQ. I elected not to rez Snowflake and let him collect 2c and access a card. Click two he used Account Siphon. I then rezzed Snowflake and bid 0c. He assumed I'd want to go all out to stop the run and paid 2c. By allowing him to access HQ the first click, I forced him to waste an Account Siphon, which would have been severely detrimental to me if played at the appropriate moment. As Jinteki, you have to continuously misdirect the runner, or you'll find your weaknesses severely exploited. By the way, he rage quit mid-game after hitting an Aggressive Secretary and Archer back to back.

Without further ado, here is my personal Jinteki deck. I'm sure there are better out there, but my thought process is to what I want attention drawn, as it's not the typical "ima firin mah lazor" strategy many Jinteki decks have.

Jinteki: Personal Evolution (Core)

Total Cards: 49

Agenda (11)
Braintrust (What Lies Ahead) x2
False Lead (A Study in Static) x2
Fetal AI (Trace Amount) x3
Nisei MK II (Core) x2
Corporate War (Future Proof) x2

Asset (11)
Snare! (Core) x3
Aggressive Secretary (Core) x2 ■■
Ronin (Future Proof) x2
Zaibatsu Loyalty (Core) x2
Melange Mining Corp (Core) x2

ICE (19)
Chum (Core) x3
Chimera (Cyber Exodus) x2
Neural Katana (Core) x3
Whirlpool (Humanity's Shadow) x2
Archer (Core) x2 ■■
Eli 1.0 (Future Proof) x2 ■
Snowflake (What Lies Ahead) x3
Wall of Static (Core) x2

Operation (8)
Trick of Light (Trace Amount) x2
Hedge Fund (Core) x3
Aggressive Negotiation (Core) x1 ■
Archived Memories (Core) x2 ■■

This deck was designed with the intention of targeting and eliminating Jinteki's weaknesses with precision. Unreliability of net damage-inflicting traps has been removed, cards are universally multipurpose, and special attention has been paid to Jinteki's late-game dysfunctions.

[float='right'][lightbox='an/med_archer-core.png']an/ffg_archer-core.png[/lightbox][/float]Archer, Aggressive Secretary - The workhorses of this deck. They singlehandedly allow Jinteki to be viable even in late-game, and slow down the runner considerably more than raw damage. Most runners will face check a single-advanced asset, since a Junebug that does only 2 net damage is well worth the risk. They'll think twice if they knew what it actually was. There's an added bonus - What does a runner do when a program is trashed? They mill through their stack until they bring it back. That milling is far more efficient at decking a runner than net damage any day. Trash four programs, and the runner will probably be out of a certain icebreaker! GG sir, GG.

Archived Memories - One of the most underrated card in the game. Wonderful at recycling economy cards, Snares, and for playing mind games. Watch that runner sweat bullets as you recycle a Ronin then play and advance a Secretary. AM also pulls double duty and directly counters Noise.

Chum - Amazingly versatile. Place above Chimera early game, or above a Whirlpool to add insult to injury when forcing runners into a trap.

Eli 1.0, Snowflake - The yin and yang ice in the deck. Snowflake works wonders early game while saving money to pay for traps or an early agenda. Eli on the other hand, scales extremely well into late-game without being prohibitively expensive if you draw it early. If you are concerned about the runner getting lucky with your Snowflake...Chum it!

Ronin - Simply the threat of Ronin is enough to make runners think twice about that advanced asset. Won't run my Secretary? That's okay, I'll advance it twice more and leave it there. Plus a twice-advanced Ronin on the table means that any turn the runner ends with fewer than three cards is game over.

False Lead - Amazing as Archer bait or if you have an advanced Ronin on the table and the runner hits a Fetal AI or Snare.

Trick of Light - Allows a score out of hand when the corp desperately needs a last minute win condition, and offers a use for traps that don't get run.

I'd love to hear Jinteki advice, criticisms, and stories. It does have its weaknesses, but if played properly, I sincerely belive Jinteki (and NBN) are the most fearsome corps currently.
  • Jhaelen, SneakyBookshelf, Wimpgod and 9 others like this


Thanks for sharing. This looks like a fun build, and I like the logic behind it.
Solid build!
It's light on econ like other Jinteki decks and how does that Corp war work out for you?
Actually the economy is much more solid than many others I've played, but it's harder to spot at a glance.

Firstly, the most expensive ice in the deck is 4 to rez, and the average of all 19 is 2. Secondly, I use Archived Memories and Aggressive Negotiation for very quick economic spurts. One turn of Sure Gamble, AM, Sure Gamble nets me 8 credits. Additionally, they function as utility in case I need anything else, such as a quick agenda or trap.

I haven't had any issues at all with Corporate War. I always have at least 4 credits in case of a Snare, and hoping for 9 in a turn isn't that much of a leap. In most games I have much more economy than I need, as this deck doesn't necessitate much in the first place.
Hmm makes sense. I was also worried about chimera and snowflakes. But like you said, your ices are very cheap and you do not rezz it all the time

How much protection do you usually put on Melange?
What a great read! For some reason it doesn't show in Netrunner Articles as it should.
Jun 13 2013 10:37 AM
Thanks for sharing, should try it some time
Great article! But I have one objection: I have never seen this 70%deck-30% skill thing before, and I really really disagree with it.
    • wolfone88 likes this
I was mirroring statements that I've seen both here and on BGG, though I'm sure there are those that disagree.

Look at many HB and Weyland decks. It does not take much skill to use Atlas, Sea Source, and multi-SE to flatline a runner. Similarly, HB no remote builds depend largely on the deck rather than the player. With both builds, the number of decisions the player has to make is marginal.

Jinteki and many NBN builds, on the other hand, require a lot of decisions, bluffing, and risk. One bad move can leave Jinteki poor, or NBN behind the runner.

As for Melange, I typically put in a two ice remote, preferably with a Chimera in it. I only use the Melange once or twice before trashing, as that's typically more than enough for my needs.
Jun 13 2013 01:04 PM
Sweet deck JINTEKI REPRESENT lots of questions and comments if you don't mind super intriguing deck.

How's whirlpool and agressive negotiations been treating you? AN seems pretty sweet because it can be a good idea to install then advance, advance agendas which lets you AN after all of your ice.

I like the lack of Neural Emp in the list as though its won me many a game it feels like a cheap win, do you wish you had it when you play this deck or do you not even notice its absence?

I usually run beanstalk royalties instead of hedge fund as its great recovery funds after a snare or katana rez but it does cost influence so I might go back now.

Definitely going to give archer a shot though im always loath to forfeit agendas, Clone Retirement is going to make running archer even easier so that should be sweet.

Any particular reason behind the lack of code gates enigma instead of wall of static? Might balance your ice types a bit more.
No Midori? Midori combos so well with Whirlpool, Archer, and Chimaera!

I was mirroring statements that I've seen both here and on BGG, though I'm sure there are those that disagree.

I just dislike unsubstantiated numbers being thrown around like that. I mean, sure, HB no remote FA does probably approach that ratio (note the keyword 'probably' and the fact that skill is a very loose term) and that's why most people die a little bit on the inside when they're playing it, but I assure you there are HB decks that are nowhere near close to that. :)
Midori does combo well, and I put serious consideration into it, but the three reasons I elected not to was that it's too situational, it will cost me more to re-rez cards, and I don't have a good slot for it in my deck. I'm a firm believer that if you don't like where a piece of ice was installed, you should have installed it elsewhere.

My favorite combo, when pulled off, is Chum->Whirlpool->Chimaera. It acts as a poor-man's Tsurugi that allows me to do 3 net damage and either end the run, or force them into an Aggressive Secretary, adding insult to injury.

Neural EMP is useful when going for a pure flatlining build, but otherwise isn't worth the click and two credits for simply one net damage. I thought it'd hurt more to take it out, but I barely recognize its absence.

As for Enigma, it's too easily countered by Yog, which is fairly prevalent in the current meta. Plus, when I trash programs, I always focus on the same type, so that it depletes the runner's supply of that particular type of breaker. If I can, I always trash the killer and fracter.

Although Beanstalk is good, I'd much rather have Eli 1.0's or Archived Memories. I can't wait for Clone Retirement, though it'll be difficult to replace my False Leads, as they're very useful. Once a runner hits a Snare, forfeit FL, and double advance and activate a Ronin for an easy win in most situations, provided those prerequisites are met. Not completely reliable, but adds another win condition to the several I have already.

I just dislike unsubstantiated numbers ... nowhere near close to that. :)

I'm sure there are builds with more moving parts. I would have cited sources if it were easier to find. Regardless, HB as a faction is more well-rounded than Jinteki, doesn't require as much of a bluffing component, and isn't easy to defang (Snitch, Crypsis, Deus X/Net Shield, expose cards, and econ denial are relatively hard for Jinteki to overcome, though it is possible).
Why would econ denial be hard for Jinteki to overcome? As you said, your ICE is all cheap.
I don't play Jinteki, but I like to splash their ICE for the flexibility. I never leave home without a chum.

Two questions:

1) Why not include precognition? Given that it would come in for 0 influence and I find it to be an essential splash, it seems like the versatility it adds would really strengthen this deck.

2) Ever try chumming a whirlpool?
I thoroughly enjoy Jinteki. I run Junebugs, Ronins, and Secretaries as my main traps. Last night I trick of lighted off of a Fetal AI to hit my opponent with a Ronin. Then I put a Fetal AI in the server and flatlined the runner with chum-neural katana that he wasn't completely prepared for. It was a close game, but I just love the bluffing tactics of Jinteki. I will be honest, I hadn't considered archer, but this article makes me think about splashing it in.

Why would econ denial be hard for Jinteki to overcome? As you said, your ICE is all cheap.

This deck isn't countered as easily by econ denial, but all Jinteki decks (including this) are affected, as Junebugs, Secretaries, and Snares do absolutely nothing with no money. Cheaper ice definitely helps though, and even against econ denial as long as I play it close to the vest, it shouldn't shut me down.

Precognition is a nice card, but I simply don't have room and rarely if ever do I find myself wishing that I had seen the next five cards. My deck doesn't rely on any particular card or type of card, so I don't need to really hope for much of anything and I'm happy with whatever I get (except of course for the occasional bad draw, but I have actually won more games than lost in which I had 4+ agendas in the first ten cards). Your second question I had answered in my reply above yours. Seldom do I play a non-chummed Whirlpool.

I will be honest, I hadn't considered archer, but this article makes me think about splashing it in.

I would recommend Archer if and only if your build seriously focuses on trashing programs (as in, roughly 2x Secretaries & 2x Archers). If you're simply looking for solid ice that might trash programs as well, I'd actually recommend Ichi instead. Ichi is less reliable (a bit less to break and only effective on the runner's click 3 or preferably 4) but its overall effect and cost to break is similar to Archer without sacrificing agenda points. I prefer the ever-reliable Archer hands down, but I can see the benefit to Ichi. Test both and see which is for you!
    • LeoLancer likes this
Jun 14 2013 01:48 PM
By the way you are a boss for answering all these comments so much food for thought.
    • Lysander likes this
You're very welcome, I thoroughly enjoy testing and perfecting Jinteki. For further reading, I'd highly recommend you read http://www.boardgame...ersonal-evoluti, though take it with a grain of salt. I'd recommend you hybridize his findings with my own. I've found his strategies to work, but his deck is too reliant on net damage, and in the comments he actually recommends Aggressive Secretary over Junebug. Additionally, I find his deck has a couple weaknesses to Gabe and Noise, and doesn't function well once the runner's rig is out, or if the runner builds around not needing a full rig (though again, he does address this well in the comments).

Additionally, I'm in the process of making a beginner to expert primer on Jinteki (which will be significantly longer than this article), which will be more objective and will include all Jinteki builds, tips on how to play, and more.
A primer sounds like a great idea. Good for introducing people to the game, especially as the rules have Jinteki as the starting corp to try out.
If any more of you disagree with my statement in regards to Jinteki requiring more skill, I made a poll on BGG, which has had over 100 votes.


Of course, it's purely based off of opinion, but with that many votes, I'd say it's a large enough pool to draw a conclusion.
Jun 19 2013 11:50 AM
After several successful playthroughs I've come to love my Jinteki/NBN deck. More often than not, I get about five remote servers in play with more than a few nasty traps waiting for the runner.
Here's a cool win with my Jinteki deck:

I was playing against a Kate deck. A weird Kate deck. It used Faerie and Sacrificial Construct. My Archers were next to useless and my Aggressive Secretaries were lackluster. I installed a secretary behind an Eli 1.0 and advanced it twice, just to get rid of Kate's constructs. The runner didn't run it, so I advanced to four, which could actually do some damage if it hit, and now it looks like a Ronin. Still no run. I drew for my turn, and saw my second copy of Trick of Light, while I also had a Ronin in hand. Two Trick of Light, one Ronin, and a four-advanced Aggressive Secretary. Hmm... I installed my Ronin behind an archer I couldn't rez, and thought, "if he runs it, I don't lose much, since the Ronin is unadvanced, but if he doesn't run it... [mental evil smirk]. It took a while, but eventually he hit a Fetal AI and I was able to use both Tricks of Light to advance my Ronin and activate it for a flatline in one turn. Woot! Fun game. I look forward to continuing with Jinteki.
    • Lysander likes this
If the overall popularity of a deck is dependent upon tournament results, then that probably is the #1 reason why Jinteki isn't more popular. 60 minutes for two games? Most of the great Jinteki drawn-out torture chamber games take longer than that to play out.

The NBN speed-kill decks fit the tournament limitations better, and are easier to operate, and so they are more popular.

Need some better tournament formats so as to include all the types of players that are out there.