ANR Bad Publicity did a “Top 10 Runner Economy Cards” episode recently, which was great (go watch it). I like top ten lists & have opinions, so I made my own. This post focuses on cards that save or gain the runner credits & I also didn’t include any identities (spoiler: Hollis included Whizzard on his list, which was an interesting choice).
Temüjin Contract — what, are you not surprised?!? This card is too good & will go on the next MWL iteration. It is known.
Desperado — numerous strong successful run synergies turn Desperado from a card that “discounts” runs into an economic force of its own. It’s notable that five out of my top six cards involve successful runs; since it’s hardware, Desperado is the most persistent one of those cards & it’s possible for a Desperado to yield more money than any single card in the game, if seen early.
Career Fair — it has that Sure Gamble/Dirty Laundry level of efficiency: you’re getting an install & three credits, as opposed to a run & three credits or a credit & three credits. What makes it better from a purely economic standpoint is how it lets you rebound from low credits & turns slow (Daily Casts) or mediocre (Liberated Account) economy cards into great ones.
Account Siphon I hesitated with this choice since treating Siphon as a economy card is a deckbuilding mistake, but it does turn a profit in a lot of situations & it single-handedly makes tag-me a compelling option on the runner side. Not clearing the tags turns it into one of the single most profitable clicks in Netrunner.
Yes, my top four cards are all in the Criminal faction. They know how to make money.
Dirty Laundry — I severely underestimated this card for a long time, believing that it was only playable alongside Desperado or Prepaid Voicepad. It’s a great card on its own because runs are good, you need accesses to win, & its low play cost makes it the best neutral rebound economy in the game. Dirty Laundry helps you sustain repeated Medium runs, farm Datasucker tokens, or poke at an undefended HQ or remote you might otherwise not bother to check.
Security Testing — a zero cost resource, Testing is so good you can throw it in tag-me decks & feel OK about the corp trashing it. It works so powerfully to punish open remotes & its access replacement can even be an upside (e.g. when avoiding traps in Archives), plus you can install multiple of them unlike Temujin Contract. As with the first two cards on this list, the fact that Testing synergizes strongly with other powerful econ cards increases its already-high value.
Daily Casts — pays out more than Sure Gamble with a nice trickle over four turns, combos nicely with Aesop’s Pawnshop to pay out more even quicker. Casts’ three play cost makes it perfect with Career Fair & less of a tempo hit than other resource economy options. It’s slow, so seeing it when there are only a few turns left in the game can be bad, but wonderful in the mid-game.
Sure Gamble — little to say here, it’s a 3-of in most runner decks for a reason. That said, click-efficient economy cards like Career Fair & Dirty Laundry have a slight edge at the moment due to their lower play costs & flexibility. When you have to click for a credit before being able to pay for a card, it severely impinges the efficiency of that card; pay attention to how many times you need to click up to 5 credits to play Sure Gamble.
Tech Trader — I probably would have left Tech Trader off the list if not for Spy Camera Hayley, which proved that the card can do work outside of Geist. Tech Trader is cheap to install, stacks, & pays you for playing cards you want to use anyways: efficient but one-use icebreakers, tech cards like Political Operative, other economy cards like Technical Writer. It’s definitely a build-around card, & it’s poorly situated in a meta with a lot of All-Seeing I, but it’s hard to leave off the list since it powers the richest runner decks the game has ever seen, decks that can make 18 credits without even spending a click, decks that become so flush with cash that they struggle to find a way to spend it all.
Aesop’s Pawnshop — with Noise on the decline we don’t see Aesop as much, but this is one of those unique cards that can serve as the backbone of a powerful economy engine, used in combination with Cache, Daily Casts, or facedown cards from an Apocalypse. Aesop’s is great for a few reasons: it’s clickless once operating, has a low install cost, & lets you trash used up programs (Imp, D4V1D, Lady) you wanted in your heap anyways. In its best case, it can compete with Desperado for the biggest payout of any single card when seen early.
Queen’s Gambit — I’m quite biased here, I love Anarch & the flavor/design of this card. It reminds me of Celebrity Gift in the way that a powerful economic benefit is coupled with a significant, risky drawback—brilliant design that not only balances but makes gameplay fun. Considering it’s a Lucky Find for zero play cost, Gambit has tremendous value & is the best rebound economy card in the entire game. With naked assets, expensive trash costs, & Closed Accounts littering the meta, Gambit deserves more attention from deckbuilders than it receives.
Stimhack — it provides nine credits & a run in a single click, a whole lot of economy crammed into one card. But it can be a dead card against kill decks that want you to take brain damage, & it can be hard to utilize all the credits in other situations. In general, the more paid abilities you can utilize during a run the better Stimhack gets. That makes Shaper its counterintuitive home, because Anarch doesn’t splash Clone Chip often anymore. However, Street Peddler & the new “install from heap” icebreakers headlined by Paperclip mean that Stimhack might make a serious comeback. It’s always a card one should consider & it’s one of the most impactful one-influence events to splash, up there alongside Rebirth & Employee Strike.
Those left behind…
Beth Kilrain-Chang is undeniably a great card, probably an auto-include in every Shaper deck. I just don’t play Shaper enough to have a good handle on her value & about two-thirds of the time she’s not going to earn you credits directly, but cards or clicks. That’s a silly reason to exclude her & she probably has a place somewhere on the lower half of the list.
Liberated Account provides piles of credits at a great tempo expense. As with Sure Gamble, its high play cost makes it inefficient in many scenarios such as the common Anarch opening turn of “click for a credit, install Liberated, click Liberated twice” which results in a net gain of just three credits on one’s first turn (compare with a turn one Day Job, for instance). Liberated is vulnerable to All-Seeing I but actually has a significant role in the tag punishment meta: Liberated is the best tool available for balancing one’s credits across installed resources & the credit pool, meaning the runner can make neither ASI nor Closed Accounts devastating. It’s tricky to pull off but a quirky benefit of the card in the present meta.
Magnum Opus has many upsides, it’s such a stable force once installed & offers the best protection from Closed Accounts available, which has never been more relevant. It also lets you devote incredibly few deck slots to economy, freeing up space for tech cards (see the Silver Bullet Kate which won UK Nationals). But it’s very slow for modern Netrunner, where efficient runner decks make far more than two credits per click. Not only that, the installation tempo hit & it’s double MU usage turn it into perhaps the biggest early tempo loss in the game.
Kati Jones used to be a staple in the majority of runner decks, but the corp’s counter play to her is too strong—not only NBN’s resource trashing but Jinteki’s Voter Intimidation as well. She’s very slow, making her good in glacier matchups where you’re given setup time but atrocious against faster decks. Still, she’s persistent economy & an improvement over clicking for credits. The problem is you’re almost always going to be better off with Temujin, Liberated, or another limited but more efficient resource.
Lucky Find plummeted from the best economy card in the best runner economy in the game—Prepaid Kate—to virtually unplayable after MWL1. I found a spot for it in a greedy Keyhole MaxX list that spent all its influence on economy & Levy AR Lab Access, but generally runners will never choose to spend two influence on Lucky Find over Temujin Contract. With a strictly superior option in the card pool, it isn’t good anymore.