A stalemate is possible in Netrunner if all of the following are true:

  1. Sufficient agenda points have been taken out of play that neither player can get to 7 points, such as through forfeiting agendas or Glenn Station
  2. The corp has sufficient recursion that they won't lose from drawing from an empty R&D, such as a scored Hades Fragment, or Reclamation Order and Archived Memories
  3. The corp has no way to flatline the runner

I assume in a tournament, the game would be a draw due to the time constraint of tournament play. Is there a formal rule for how to handle this situation in general?


I think the closest rule that could arguably be applied is the one regarding infinite loops. From the NISEI Comprehensive Rules Document:

10.10. Infinite Loops

10.10.1. If a mandatory infinite loop is created (a player cannot choose to stop resolving the loop) then the player who is resolving the loop chooses a number. The loop instantaneously resolves that many times, and then ends. Example: The Runner runs into a rezzed Wormhole. The only other piece of ice that is rezzed is a Wormhole, and so a mandatory infinite loop is created where each the Wormholes’ subroutines resolves the other. The Corp chooses how many times this loop occurs, say 2,157 times, and then the Runner continues the run.

10.10.2. If an optional infinite loop is created (a player can choose to stop resolving the loop) during a run, then the Runner must jack out unless another card ability prevents them from doing so. If the Runner cannot jack out, then it is the Corp’s responsibility to end the loop by letting the Runner continue the run.

The same text can be found in the last published FFG Rule Reference (v1.1).

I suppose an argument could be made that if such a stalemate situation occurs and it can be known to both players that there is no way to end the game, it could be treated as an optional infinite loop, which would mean the Corp would be compelled to break it (by choosing not to Hades Shard a card back into R&D and therefore losing by being decked/milled).

However, the rule above specifically talks about infinite loops which can occur in the context of a single run, rather than game states which cannot produce a result in either players' favour. Additionally, applying this rule as described above clearly gives an advantage to the Runner (although I would personally argue this is fine against any Corp trying to force a draw through infinite recursion).

So I think the short answer is that no, there isn't a specific ruling which deals with this (extremely unlikely) situation. But I'd be interested to hear from anyone else who knows otherwise.

Edit: jakodrako (co-creator of ANCUR and current NISEI Rules Manager) has stated here that the infinite loop rules are one of the areas on their list of things to investigate, so he's definitely aware of this.

  • What's interesting is that in all situations I have found, the corp is prolonging the game indefinitely through choosing to use optional abilities (such as Hades Fragment). This is actually decent precedent saying that the corp must at some point chose something different. – Zags Nov 5 '18 at 17:36
  • I haven't played in a while... Is it possible for both players to know (1) and (3)? Or would there be a reliance on one player claiming that both (1) and (3)are true? – The Chaz 2.0 Nov 5 '18 at 22:28
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    It would be possible for both players to know (1), as the number of agenda points in a deck is defined based on the deck size, so once enough points have been seen and somehow removed, both players could know they cannot win on points. As for (3), this would be possible for both players to know once the Corp had played through their entire deck so it was visible to both players and each had subsequent turn just consisted of the Corp shuffling a card from Archives into R&D, taking a mandatory draw of that card and then doing whatever with the rest of their turn. – 3N1GM4 Nov 5 '18 at 22:44
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    However, there is another consideration - whether the Runner has any cards or actions which could force the Corp to draw in addition to their mandatory draw. – 3N1GM4 Nov 5 '18 at 22:45

Looking at the tournament rules here it talks about when a game is not won before 'going to time' :-

If victory has still not been achieved after the final turn, then the player with the highest number of agenda points is the winner of the game. If players have the same number of agenda points, then the higher seed wins the game.

Seeding is defined earlier in tournament rules as:-

Each player’s order of finish in the preliminary rounds determines his or her seeding in championship play: the player who qualifies with the most prestige in the preliminary rounds will play against the player who qualified with the least prestige in the preliminary rounds, the player with the secondmost prestige will play against the player with the second-least prestige, and so on. Ties are broken by strength of schedule, and then by random chance

  • I don't think this answers the question, as the OP acknowledges that in a tournament they would expect such a game to go to time, but rather is asking what rule (if any) could actually be used to deal with this situation in general, outside of a game going to time in a tournament situation. – 3N1GM4 Nov 5 '18 at 16:30
  • This is a good case that a game that ends in a stalemate goes to whoever has more agenda points. However, in the event that is still tied, I don't think there is a good analogue to "higher seed" outside of a tournament context. – Zags Nov 5 '18 at 17:38

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