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I recently learned how to play Netrunner and it seems to me that the corporation has a large advantage because ice doesn't break if bypassed. As a corp I can just keep piling on ice and the runner can't really get past my defenses. It will require large amounts of coin/runs to get through something they will eventually not be able to afford.

Is there a rule or part of the game that I am not playing correctly?

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Are you remembering to pay the extra 1C per existing ice on a server when you install? If you install the 3rd ice, you have to pay 2C installation costs as well as the rez cost to then rez that ice.

There are also many cards which the runner has which can derez or trash ice once it is installed, Parasite being the most used example from the Core set.

The runner also doesn't have to get through every time; if they sit there gaining cash the corp won't be able to keep them out indefinitely. This means a rich runner puts the corp under a lot of pressure, since if the corp tries to score an Agenda, the runner can break into the remote server. If the corp doesn't try to score, they will soon have an HQ full of agendas which will be very profitable for the runner to run against.

  • Good point about parasite. I find that to be incredibly useful as the runner. Also the minor fee to pay for extra ice seems...minor. – johnsoe Jan 29 '14 at 19:07
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    The game really has 3 stages. In the first stage, the runner has a clear advantage - the corp cannot protect everything they need to within the first few turns, so the runner really needs to take advantage of early openings. Once the corp gets their ICE/servers in place, then phase 2 really begins. Here the corp has the advantage, as the runner will not know what kind of ICE is on the table, and may have to be bold to figure it out. However, if they manage to complete their Rig, the final phase really swings back to their favour, because with good icebreakers, most ICE becomes manageable. – Twitch_City Jan 29 '14 at 20:44
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    To add to Twitch, it all also depends on the type of runner you are running as well. Corp/Runner combinations are very stark when you start looking at the different decks each of them will build. I'd go into that here, but suffice it to say, it's all about knowing your opponents. Early build-up of a HB deck with some good economy is great against a criminal, even if they get their economy flowing. But you can have an Anarch pile on viruses and make your ice defense look pitiful. – CrystalBlue Feb 4 '14 at 15:55
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    @Twitch_City That could be an answer in itself - there is definitely an ebb/flow to the game. – Allen Gould Mar 10 '14 at 18:30
  • @johnsoe it adds up. The corp has to pay to install more protection, then pay to rez that protection, the ice can all add up. – Andrew Jan 12 '18 at 22:27
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By break you mean trash, since breaking in netrunner has a different meaning, breaking subroutines on ice, which gets you past but doesn't remove the ice. The answer is yes, there are ways to do this.

  • Cuttlery Suite - Forked, Knifed and Spooned - these each destroy one ice you pass on the run you make using them, each one works on a different one of the three major ice types.
  • En Passant - This event trashes an ice you passed that the corp didn't rez on the run before you play it.
  • Forged Activation Orders - Forces the corp to pay the cost to rez ice now, or trash it, particularly useful early game if the corp has low funds, the ice may be a bluff they can't yet afford.
  • Immolation Script - If you've already trashed a piece of ice, the corp discarded it, or it entered archives some other way, this card lets you trash a copy of that ice on the board.
  • Kraken - Gives the corp the choice, but you pick the server, they pick the ice and it gets trashed.
  • Parasite - Parasite weakens ice every turn and eventually that ice hits 0 strength, due to parasite's other ability once the ice has 0 strength it is trashed. Players speed this up by using Datasucker and later Şifr.
  • Prey - It's an expensive option, but if you have alot of cards on the field, you can use this to trash ice you pass by trashing your own cards, equal to the strength. Another good use for strength reducing tricks.
  • Run Amok - Trashes one piece of ice that was rezzed in the run you use this, either they dont' rez and let you in free, or they lose ice.
  • Traps - Trap ice, like It's A Trap! trash themselves once a runner lets them fire, sometimes it's worth taking the hit early to get it off the board.

In addition to trashing there are other ways to handle ice - one deck was built on the combination of these cards - False Echo and DDoS - preventing the corp from rezzing the outermost piece of ice, then returning ice that was not rezzed to the corp's hand, making the next ice the outermost, so they can't rez it either.

Derezzing ice is also an option, cards like Maxwell James, Rubicon Switch, or the bird breakers like Golden let you flip them back face down, forcing the corp to pay and flip them again.

Finally bypassing the ice is an option, Femme Fatale, Inside Job and Spear Phishing all let you skip one piece of ice.

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