Noise, the hacker extraordinaire. In the world before Jackson Howard he was the king and he has been my primary runner for most of the time I have been playing Netrunner. He lost popularity for a while and then came back when cache was released due to the power combo of cache and aesop’s pawnshop. After that people refined several iterations, won some tournaments and then shelved him again.
With all the cards that came out in Order and Chaos I was expecting an explosion of interest in the original anarch but there was one new archetype that got some traction on netrunnerdb and then people moved to Reina and the new IDs. This is a shame because Noise is more versatile and powerful than he has ever been, and he finally has the tools he needs to combat his much bemoaned weakness: mill inconsistency.
I wanted to write up a brief guide for Noise because I know there is potential waiting to be uncovered and I think that he is underplayed because of his presumed inconsistency. Today I make the bold claim that noise is not inconsistent, he is harder to play than a lot of other IDs, more so than any runner you have to make the right decisions with your clicks. When those clicks are spent well you win by a large margin but when they are squandered you are punished harder than you are with Andromeda or MaXx.
Rather than focus on the piloting of a single deck, lets look at the four ways Noise is different from other runners: economy, disruption, draw and milling. I am going to give examples of two Noise decks for you to peruse but I encourage you to craft your own decks using the advice below and destroy your Netrunner opponents.
When you look at the other anarchs, they derive their economy from things like armitage codebusting, liberated accounts, lucky find and day job. These are click intensive econ
cards that can be best utilized by the impactful turn strategies of the other anarchs (ex. Anatomy of Anarchy vamp turn and MaXx keyhole turns). Noise wants his clicks for installing viruses and for running, so these cards are too slow to give a return on investment commiserate with the pressure lost by not milling or disrupting.
This created an issue for Noise compared to other runners – pawnshop was not enough. Your engine could stall out if you got flooded with things you needed or couldn’t afford to install. Then cache came out and breathed life back into Noise by giving him the best ID centered economy in Netrunner. Cache nets you two credits with no bells and whistles and mills a card (something you wanted to do anyway). If in addition to cache you are running pawnshop you now have gained five credits for one click while milling a card. The introduction of this card and its power is obvious. Less obvious is what this card can teach people about the role of viruses in Noise.
The mindset you must have to play Noise is to never be attached to any installed card, instead think of every card as three credits you will have access to later. Cache teaches a runner that sometimes you should install one of three datasuckers just to mill a card and pawn it next turn. Remember that you have two more copies and it’s easier for you to get back that datasucker than it is for the corp to get back whatever you milled. Noise’s economy is a suicide pact with the corp – everything you trash with the pawnshop costs the corp a card, but while you get three credits for the trouble they do not. What makes Noise great is that he makes money doing what he wants to do: installing viruses. In this way his econ is a lot like criminals where they get rewarded for running. Also like criminals, when you create that engine of reward you start to snowball. However, unlike other runners Noise’s econ is not straight forward, it has moving parts beyond just playing events or clicking Kati Jones.
What if you aren’t running pawnshop? Well if you aren’t, hopefully you are splashing for pressure cards like autoscripter, account siphon or chakana. If that is the case then you might make up that economy with cards like Scheherazade or cyberfeeder to decrease the cost of your viruses and your runs. For example, I have found that you can play a very strong adaptation of Anatomy of Anarchy with Noise with the mills being an added bonus of archives pressure. The question I ask myself when designing an econ engine for Noise is: “Am I going to want to and be rewarded for installing viruses?” If the answer is no then your deck may be better with another anarch ID.
Anarchs as a faction focus on disrupting the corporation’s plans by changing the rules or by destroying cards. Noise is able to sample all of the different disruption tools and use them because all flavors can come with a side dish of mill. In order to build and pilot a successful Noise deck you need to have an avenue to disrupt the corporation beyond just milling.
The reason for this is simple – mills are random and if you are building to have virus installs be your only form of disruption, you have to go all in. That makes your strategy inflexible and highly vulnerable to fast advance. You need to run, make the corp spend money to rez ice, destroy assets with imp, parasite away ice, etc… to buy you the breathing room necessary to snowball economically. A common mistake for new Noise players is to focus on milling and forget that the runner’s number one job is to pressure the corp by forcing them to spend money.
In my own experience, imp, ice destruction and gravedigger makes a strong disruption combo that synergizes well with a general mill strategy. I can install a gravedigger, mill a card, install imp, mill a card, trash an asset with imp, and then last click use the gravedigger token to mill a card, so in one turn I can mill three cards and deny economy or FA tools. Using gravedigger I can also gain additional mills for trashing ice in addition to the mill I get for installing parasite.
Other options include chakanas on progenitor with hive mind and virus breeding ground. This combo slows down the corp by forcing them to leave agendas vulnerable in remotes or by purging, buying you free turns.
Another great option is to use incubator as a passive threat. Letting it build even with no intent to use it will often provoke a purge every three turns to prevent you from installing a nerve agent or a medium and immediately threatening 4-5 cards.
In essence your deck has to have a more direct way to effect the gamestate if you plan to win. It is one thing to mill cards, it’s another to have the ability to trash HB asset economy, imp away biotic labors AND be able to mill cards every turn. This is where the skill and power of Noise is, the one two punch of denial and pressure created by using your clicks wisely to randomly mill and actively disrupt.
In the early cycles Anarchs struggled with draw and often used influence to provide more consistency. Luckily for our chaotic friends the last cycle and the big box solved most of those problems. In the olden days people defaulted to wyldside in Noise but it cost you a precious click that you needed to mill and apply pressure. People didn’t think of Noise as needing clicks since all he was doing was milling, which is a mindset that made him less competitive. The lack of pressure was increased with the advent of enhanced login protocol which finished off wyldside based decks and pushed them out of the competitive meta.
For our discussion we will focus on the three draw cards seen in many Noise decks: wyldside, earthrise hotel and inject. For the reasons mentioned above wyldside is not a strong option as it gives your decks several bad match ups. The only exception to this is autoscripter mill decks which gain back the click that they lose. Wyldside can also be good if you use it like I do and are willing to pawn it and start drawing normally if you have to. If I am running a mill focused deck, the second enhanced login protocol hits the table I will pawn wyldside immediately and run on four clicks until its gone.
Earthrise hotel is a resource that gives you the same two card draws that wyldside does but without losing a click every turn. It has a three turn lifespan but I find that it is the best draw econ for Noise because it doesn’t flood like wyldside does and gives you the flexibility to apply pressure. Earthrise also reminds you that Noise is in fact a runner, eventually it runs out and you have to click to draw like everyone else, breaking the tunnel vision where I felt I HAD to install the viruses I was drawing instead of running. Staying the night in a hotel instead of a club lets you keep your ideas and not lose track of your time.
Inject is the bees knees for every Anarch except Noise. After extensive testing I have realized that inject is for people like MaXx and Whizzard who need to get through their decks and find that tool they need right now. They run considerably less programs than Noise and can save their handful of recursion tools for the keyhole or eater that gets tossed away by inject. Noise wants to install his programs the first time and also recur them and if milling is my forte then I am running twice as many programs as other decks. If I am forced to use deja vu or clone chip for a breaker that reduces the power of my ID ability. Inject is guaranteed to make you money in noise but you are going to end up losing more and decreasing your consistency.
My experiments with inject have shown me that when you try to play Noise using the same mindset as you would other Anarchs you end up making a suboptimal Noise. You need to find viruses and have clicks to install and run. With that in mind I feel earthrise, I’ve had worse and chopbot to be the best draw cards for the hacker extraordinaire.
The ID ability of trashing the top card of RD when you install a virus was and continues to be one of the most powerful abilities in this game. However, it is random and in most games will not be enough to win. You need to know when to mill and when to build.
When I teach people to play Noise, one of the first mistakes I see is that they will mill a card or two, check archives, then check RD. I like to think of his ability more like a strange RD interface. When you use the technique above, you check archives with no knowledge and then RD with no knowledge. I would instead run RD and see the top card – if I cannot steal it or trash it then I install a virus, milling it, and then run again. In this way I am able to mill with knowledge and know where the agendas are. This is a critical skill with Noise, to mill and trash with purpose so you don’t waste your clicks running an archive with no agendas.
In addition, do not get hung up on milling as much as possible every turn. If you consider that on average one in every six cards will be an agenda so you don’t have play every virus every click, all mills are good mills, remember to spend time applying pressure.
You need to pay attention to the board state. If you are against an asset based corp and they are turn after turn installing no assets then you should pressure HQ and save your mills because they have agendas in their hand and assets waiting to be drawn. If you are seeing everything being installed besides agendas then the time to mill is now because they have their tools in HQ and the agendas are in RD. Read your opponent and as Noise you have the ability to apply pressure wherever you need to.
Milling is something to do early and often, but it is not the sole avenue to victory. Milling gives Noise the ability to pressure all centrals and take away the tools the corp needs to deal with your runs.
So now that we have gone over the basics here are two decks that I think are effective but utilize Noise in very different ways.
The first is the Can’o’Whupass deck that utilizes chakana and hivemind to lock the corp’s ability to score and then mill with impunity. It focuses on applying viruses in the right order and stalling the game until the corp cannot advance and you have an economy strong enough to pick agendas out of HQ or a stocked RD that has been enriched by all three jackson howards. Its weaknesses is drawing stuff in the wrong order can really screw you and make you vulnerable to fast advance decks.
The second is the current version of my Noise deck which will be published in tandem with my next Deckbuilding Derezzed video. I am calling it Choir of the Dead and it emphasizes getting maximum mills for my disruption using gravedigger, imp, parasite and grimoire to put as many cards into archives as possible. I strive to have the best balance of draw, econ, mills and disruption to make a flexible Noise deck. It is vulnerable to FA decks if it gets bad draws and you need to mulligan for aesops or earthrise in your opening hand.
Noise: Hacker Extraordinaire
3x Déjà Vu
3x I’ve Had Worse
3x Sure Gamble
2x Clone Chip ••••
3x Aesop’s Pawnshop ••••• •
3x Daily Casts
3x Earthrise Hotel
1x ZU.13 Key Master ••
3x Cache •••
15 influence spent (max 15)
45 cards (min 45)
Cards up to Order and Chaos
Happy milling everyone,