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Study Guide

Study Guide

Study Guide

Type: Program: Icebreaker - Decoder
Cost: 3 Memory Units: 1
Faction: Runner Shaper
Faction Cost: 4
Study Guide has +1 strength for each power counter on it.
1 [Credit] : Break
code gate subroutine.
2 [Credit] : Place 1 power counter on Study Guide.

Once you download the lecture source files, this program does a statistical analysis and distills the most important concepts. -Hayley Kaplan
Strength: 0
Set: Breaker Bay Number: 28 Quantity:
Illustrator: Adam S. Doyle
Recent Decks Using This Card:
Nasir Abdul-Mughnī
Want to build a deck using this card? Check out the Android: Netrunner deckbuilder!


Apr 23 2015 11:45 PM

I want to like this card. I like the idea of a breaker that can be dialed in based on a match-up as needed.


Of course, it costs you 3 more than Gordian Blade to get it to the same level. If you go beyond that, you've paid as much as a Torch costs for 1 less strength. On the other hand, you can get this out earlier and make your runs sooner (than with Torch).


You would have to make repeated runs against high strength code gates to make this more affordable than Gordian. If you hit Chum, for instance, you would need 8 credits to get to 4 strength, versus 2 per run with Gordian. If you run through that Chum more than 4 times, you come out ahead with Study Guide.


I'm not sure it makes sense to use this over other options, but I do like that it can deal with Yagura and Quandry, while also being capable of getting up to Torch strength for a premium of 2 credits.

    • Meadbeard and KillerShrike like this

Customized-strength (which apparently sticks around forever) Decoder in-house for Shaper? I've been waiting for you and I didn't even know it.


Ultimately a little expensive on the front end, but you only have to bump it as-needed. Needs some analysis vs. Yog.0, especially in terms of a "one-card-does-it" vs. "Yog.0-plus-Datasuckers-plus-Djinni."


Clearly Shaper-only at 4 splash.


Edit (contemporaneous posting with above): I'm happy to see that this card is intriguing but a little mystifying to both of us. That's an interesting card design.

    • MagisterWrigley and KillerShrike like this

Update: Cyberfeeder, Toolbox, and Cloak are great for pumping Study Guide with recurring credits, since the strength sticks around and the credits just keep recurring. 2 Cloaks, at 1 credit each, will add 1 (permanently) to Study Guide's strength every turn.


Bad Publicity credits are another great way to give it more strength, especially if you're running a lot. It's not as reliable, but if there's at least 2, you're in business, and you can actually add 4 strength to Study Guide in a single turn (!)

    • MagisterWrigley, KillerShrike and TimTim like this
Apr 26 2015 10:37 AM

I have not played with this card (yet), so pure theorycrafting follows.


Just looking at the numbers, this breaker is actually pretty strong if you get it out early and encounter multiple codegates in an advantageous order. The persistent strength rewards multiple runs and allows efficient later runs at the cost of higher up front pump cost. Best case scenario: played in the first few turns, used at least once per turn thereafter, low strength ice encountered early followed by mid strength ice and finally high strength ice such that in any given run only one or two +strength is necessary.


Worst case scenario(s): played late; getting hit by program destruction after being pumped up; ice is encountered in a non-advantageous order such that high strength ice is encountered earlier thus requireing a big upfront investment in +strength vs a more efficient as-needed investment.



Obviously a shaper card, thanks to the high influence. Kit can certainly do some good work with this card, and a Kit deck might be the best place to try this card out initially, at least or me.

    • Meadbeard likes this

On it's own, it doesn't look that good compared to Torch. You'd have to spend eleven to get the equivalent of a Torch. (Of course, that's a sign of good design, it wouldn't be good if they would obsolete Torch so quickly.)


I can see two scenarios where it's better:

A: If you can take advantage of the fact that the install cost and the boost cost is separate (which is valuable for cards like Toolbox, Lockpick, Spinal Modem, Cyberfeeder etc), you can slowly tick it up using those credits.


B: If you are repeatedly (i.e. more than two times per game) facing bigger ice than what Torch can comfortably break.


It looks and plays pretty cool, like an Inti or Pipeline that kept its strength permanently. But so far other decoders seem more suitable for me.

(The one I use the most right now is Cyber-Cypher, with a Zu13 on the side.)


I mean, comparing it to a hypothetical three cost, 0 strength normal decoder that worked like Zu13, this would be kinda good, costing double to pump but the third ice of that strength you encountered, you'd be profiting already. But... being kinda good in comparison to a 3/0 decoder isn't that amazing given there are so much stronger decoders out there, like Zu13 and Gordian Blade.

I place this in the category of "Cards I think look so bad that I've got to be missing something and I should keep thinking about it, testing it". It's four dots of influence also. Wow.

I guess part of the problem is that I have a strong early-game bias; I usually dream more about the "and then I stole seven AP in just two turns" games than the "Then I had Atman out, and Desperado, and a loaded Datasucker, and a pumped up Study Guide, and was in control for days". That has caused me to undervalue good cards in the past, cards that take a while to pay off.



BTW, also in the "comparison to Torch" category: the fact that you can pay for it in "installments", even if you're using normal credits, can also be an advantage I guess.

It could be brilliant tutored first for Nasir, especially as the target of his Run-Step 2.1/2.3 credit dump, and it's a target for his Bad-Publicity credits . . . and Nasir needs a target.


For Nasir, Study Guide is an improved version of the "until the end of the run" strength-boost ICE. It retains those rez-credits for him over a much longer term than Gordian Blade can, and he's already building around recurring credits.


A couple of Lockpicks out for one credit each and a place to dump Nasir's pre-rez credits? Not bad. Normally, Nasir starts to lose steam, economy-wise, once the ICE is rezzed. Study Guide puts all those early rezzes in the bank, and can use them in the middle and late game when the "until the end of the run" strength-boost ICE is starting to wane for him.


Study Guide also doesn't rely on the Corp stacking ICE a certain way. It needs a context to find its best use. Yes, Kit, although she can cheat out a Torch or Yog.0.Saurus it up probably to better effect. This is right in Nasir's wheelhouse.

    • MagisterWrigley and KillerShrike like this

Oh, yeah, Nasir! Great catch

Apr 27 2015 12:30 AM

Ok...here we go....


Torch vs Study Guide:


This comes down to cost effectiveness, tempo, and scaling.



Cost Effectiveness:


Torch is slightly better costed, with $9 getting you 4 permanent strength, while $9 gets you 3 permanent strength on Study Guide.


Said another way, to equal Torch, Study Guide costs $11.


So, for cost effectiveness to install, Torch has a slight ($2) edge over Study Guide.


Expanding the consideration of cost effectiveness beyond install to usage, Torch starts off more cost effective to use, but frequency of run and number of high strength code gates encountered tilts the balance towards Study Guide. In basic terms, Torch is better for occasional power runs, Study Guide's efficiency rises sharply with a high volume of runs against strength 5 or higher code gates. If your deck is built to make calculated / strategic runs then Torch is generally better*; if your deck is built to run a lot and apply constant pressure then Study Guide will become more efficient after it's strength is set in to the needed level.


* this is not true if a given opponent has only strength 3 and lower code gates; but as you can't assume that at deck construction time, it's not very relevant for purposes of deck construction.


However, recurring credits must be considered. If your deck includes recurring credits that can be used to pump ice breakers, then Study Guide's cost to use improves significantly. If you are including those recurring credits only to use on Study Guide, this is a con as you are trading valuable card slots to make an only moderately powerful breaker better, but if it is part of a larger strategy or general synergy it is a pro as it allows you to find more value in the investment you've made in support cards.


There's also the special case of program recursion to consider. Study Guide has direct anti-synergy for most forms of recursion while Torch is a bit of a toss up as it is considerably more friendly to use with Test Run and Scavenge, but not friendly to Clone Chip (and tangentially, SMC) thanks to its high install cost. Study Guide is somewhat friendly to Clone Chip (and SMC) due to its low install cost, but there are other breakers beyond these two which this is more true of, and also you would never want to deliberately trash a pumped Study Guide to replay it. So overall, Study Guide has obvious issues with recursion, where as Torch is basically a wash depending on which cards are used, and thus gets the edge here by default. As a general rule, if your deck is going for recursion, stay away from Study Guide.


Conclusion: Torch has slightly better cost effectiveness to install, but cost effectiveness to use depends on many factors and can go either way depending on context.




Torch costs $9 to install, Study Guide costs $3. It is relatively easy to get $3 and common to have at least $3 available, and of course you start with $5 available. Coming up with a spare $9 on the other hand is a bit tougher.


The cost for permanent strength is baked into Torch, whereas Study Guide defers the cost for permanent strength until it is needed, but pays a premium for that deferment of 100% cost per +1. It is, essentially, a pay as you go model.


Study Guide has a clear edge in tempo over Torch, unless you need to break a Strength 3 or higher piece of ice as the first ice it encounters.


Additionally, it is more likely to encounter lower strength vs higher strength ice earlier in the game. Though, obviously, this is not always true it is generally true due to the high correlation between cost to rez and strength found on most ice.


The combination of these considerations leads to the conclusion that Study Guide is a viable phase 1 breaker that thanks to it's permanent empowerment also remains viable into later phases, whereas playing Torch early in the game can be problematic, and playing Torch without using some kind of discounting trick will always be a tempo hit.


Having said that, discount tricks are available in faction (this ties back to cost effectiveness), and with support from such cards the tempo hit of installing Torch can sometimes be mitigated to close the gap between Study Guide and Torch. But of course, the need to draw other cards first to play some other card is its own form of tempo hit, and the lack of need for supporting cards to lower it's initial install cost (which take up card slots and also must first be drawn) is a strong mark in Study Guide's favor in terms of tempo.


Conclusion: Study Guide has much better tempo than Torch.




Netrunner is not a game of static values. There is a range of possible values for most things, particularly ice and ice breakers. It is also not a game of power cards (not yet anyway); while some cards are better costed than others, there are few cards where there is absolutely no correlation between relative cost vs effect. Said more directly, generally speaking the effectiveness of a card influences its cost.


Generally, higher strength ice will become more likely to encounter as the game progresses. In the early game, lower strengths are more likely, giving the edge to the runner and allowing them to pursue their win strategy. At some point, the corporation should stabilize and have sufficient economy to start rezzing more powerful deterrents to slow or stop the runner and also have sufficient discretionary $ to pursue their win strategy. And at some point the runner should stabilize their rig and have sufficient resources to overcome the corporations deterrents and renew their pursuit of their win strategy. This is the typical "three phases" of Netrunner.


While some corporation and runner cards are theoretically good in any phase, many cards are better in specific phases and have diminished (or even no) playability in one or two phases. From a practical consideration, big expensive things tend to not be great in phase 1 and cheap things don't always have enough power to have a significant impact in phase 2 or 3.


Study Guide has the thus far unique ability for a breaker to be effective in phase 1 and scale upwards in utility over the course of the game to remain effective in phase 2 and phase 3.


Also, we've been seeing a trend of higher strength code gates being printed. Study Guide has the interesting feature of being able to ratchet its strength up as high as is necessary to match the need. If the opponent is using strength 5 or higher code gates, Study Guide will quickly outpace Torch with successive runs.


Conclusion: Study Guide is more scalable than Torch.




So, anyway, to sum up I think that Study Guide compares very favorably to Torch.


In slower big rig decks using cost discounting or other specific cards such as Test Run / Scavenge to overcome Torch's install cost it continues to have the edge over Study Guide. But in other decks, I think Study Guide is potentially better. The degree to which you increase the chance of installing it within the first three or perhaps five turns of the game increases it's viability over Torch.


Beyond Torch, if one of the low-budget code breakers is already getting it done for you, Study Guide might be worth trying just to see if it provides more value, but there is no immediately compelling reason to do so either.


All of this is "in my humble opinion", and "other's mileage may vary", and finally "this is pure theorycraft, disregard if actual play proves otherwise"

    • Meadbeard, TwoShedsJackson, TheNameWasTaken and 1 other like this

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