Console Cowboy: Guide to Deckers and Cyberdeck Optimization

In Guides, Resources by Nash

In the previous guide we talk about general player expectation when playing a hacker archetype particularly in living communities like Neon Anarchy. Today we are going to discuss deckers and they are different to technomancers, what is their general mechanics and how to improve their capability after you gain your first run reward.

How A Decker Compare To A Technomancer?

There is one word for decker to compare with technomancers, they are versatile. If you are playing a decker it is advisable that you not limit yourself to a typical van decker build and try to dip into other roles like combat or social. While a technomancer has a lot to invest karma-wise since they are more specialized, deckers on the other hand can spend that karma into other skills or convert it to have more nuyen, more augmentation or better ware.

Deckers in our opinion is much harder to play compare to technomancer, their versatility is a double edged sword given that they have their own deck array and program optimization minigame that they have to micromanage where as their technomancer counterpart have static deck attribute and easy to autopilot for new player that want to play the hacker archetype. Even without complex form you can still beat a technomancer if you know how to optimize your cyberdeck.

What Starting Cyberdeck That Should A Decker Start At Chargen?

This is a question that we always found repeating on the chargen channel: I am interested in playing a decker but there are so many choices in the CRB, Data Trails and Kill Code. Which cyberdeck should I buy so that my decker remains competitive with the rest of runners out there?

To answer that question it depends on your priority, are you going for a budget cyberdeck so that you can buy more augmentations or are you going for more expensive yet powerful enough for host or foundation run? We will give you a list of cyberdecks that we found okay for any type of build.

  • Renraku Tsurugi. Before Kill Code, the Tsurugi is the king choice for any van decker build since it has decent stats for host dive and foundation run. Now, the Tsurugi is a beast deck that can handle any situation. It is quite an overkill cyberdeck but if you want the best out of chargen, the Tsurugi is your choice as it is much easier to micromanage their cyberdeck stats array compared to other cyberdecks. You can handle rating 6 and 7 hosts easily and you can confidently go into the foundation with this deck.
  • Novatech Navigator. Novatech Navigator is still a great deck even with missing 1 point from its stats array. If you have Overcloaker positive quality, This cyberdeck performs the same as Tsurugi.
  • Hermes Chariot. Before Kill Code, the Chariot is usually ignore by players given that the Navigator and the Tsurugi outperform device rating 2 cyberdecks in a longshot, but now the meta is quite different as augment and new ware like Datajack Plus and Multiprogram Operating System from Kill Code gives the Chariot and the Azteca 200 a chance to be competitive with their more expensive device rating 3 cyberdeck.
  • Microtronica Azteca 200. Same argument with the Navigator, if you have Overcloaker positive quality this cyberdeck performs the same as the Chariot.
  • Microtronica Azteca 300. This cyberdeck is a beast if you know what you are doing and can carry you till the endgame. The problem with this deck is that you need 2 positive qualities to make it work, along with augmentation and ware compared to device rating 2 cyberdeck such as the Chariot and the Azteca 200. The Azteca 300 needs Perfect Time and Quick Config positive quality to work as it is considered a flicker deck due to the low stats array that the cyberdeck provided. This cyberdeck is powerful to deckers that know how to optimize their stats array and could cause runner death for the inexperienced one, treat this cyberdeck with respect.
  • Little Hornet. The Toyota Hilux of cyberdeck, the reason why people choose this deck is because of budget and not because of the firepower. This cyberdeck is still workable to raid hosts but do know that you will sweat a lot with this deck. Since this cyberdeck is a flicker cyberdeck it is required for you to have Perfect Time and Quick Config just for a chance to survive with this cyberdeck. We would seriously recommend you that kind of decker that is always on the field and hack devices and find other ways to get into the host from exploiting master and slave systems.

What Is Cyberdeck Array And How To Optimize Them?

Cyberdeck array is basically your cyberdeck stats and is a limit on how many success hits that you can keep. Moreover deck arrays basically help in some defense dicepool more specifically against matrix perception while inside the host. There are 4 stats on a cyberdeck and each one of them are important depending on the situation.

  • Attack: You want this stats to be max if you are engaging in cybercombat or doing Matrix Action that is limited by Attack rating. If you can get attack stats to 10, you can basically kill someone with biofeedback.
  • Sleaze: Particularly the most important stats if you want to hack stealthily, not to be detected by Matrix Perception or engaging Matrix Action that is limited by Sleaze rating. It is best to stack sleaze to the maximum while inside the host to avoid being detected by a security spider or IC.
  • Data Processing: Data Processing is not quite important unless you are doing Matrix Action that is limited by data processing like Edit File, Matrix Perception or Matrix Search. There is only one situation that you want your Data Processing to maximum is near the end of combat turn. This is because Data Processing affects your VR initiative.
  • Firewall: Firewall is important in defending your cyberdeck against most Matrix Action against you. You want your Firewall to be maximum when disarming data bombs and when anticipating offensive Matrix Action against you.

In this guide we will use an example to make it clear and simple to explain. We will use Slicer, a season decker and our prime runner in Neon Arcana and how she optimizes her Microtronica Azteca 300 with her cyberdeck array and hacking program that she uses in some situations. She has Datajack Plus that is installed with Stealth, Sneak and Smoke and Mirrors hacking programs along with Baby Monitor in her Program Carrier cyberdeck module. She also has Quick Config and Perfect Time as positive quality. Note that she is always running silent on her cyberdeck.

This is just a guideline, you can ignore this if you have other ways to optimize your cyberdeck. Remember being a decker means that you are versatile and flexible with your cyberdeck and programs.

Default State

In default state Slicer arrange her cyberdeck array to:

  • Attack: 1
  • Sleaze: 7 (13)
  • Data Processing: 3
  • Firewall: 5 (6)

She also install her cyberdeck with program such as:

  • Encryption
  • Armor
  • Shell

Note that her Sleaze is at maximum 7 and augmented to 13 because she runs Stealth in her Datajack Plus that gives Sleaze a +1 and Smoke and Mirror at maximum 5. This is to prevent her cyberdeck from being discovered by pesky hackers on the grid and she goes on the defensive with Encryption to increase her Firewall from 5 to 6. She also installs Armor and Shell just in case she is being hacked.

Matrix Search / Matrix Perception

When doing Matrix Search or Matrix Perception, Slicer arrange her cyberdeck to:

  • Attack: 1
  • Sleaze: 3 (8)
  • Data Processing: 7 (8)
  • Firewall: 5 (6)

She also install her cyberdeck with program such as:

  • Browse
  • Toolbox
  • Encryption/Search

Note that her Data Processing is at maximum 7 and augmented to 8 due to the toolbox program running in her cyberdeck. She also cranked her Slezae to 8 from Smokes and Mirror sets at 4 and Stealth providing +1 to Sleaze. Note that she has Browse installed for Matrix Search time reduction and depending on the situation she might have Encryption for extra protection or Search for that +2 to Matrix Search.

Hacking Host/Device

When hacking a host or a device, Slicer arrange her cyberdeck to:

  • Attack: 1
  • Sleaze: 7 (12)
  • Data Processing: 5 (6)
  • Firewall: 3 (4)

She also install her cyberdeck with program such as:

  • Exploit
  • Encryption
  • Toolbox

Note that her Sleaze is at maximum 7 and augmented to 12 because she has Stealth in her Data Jack Plus that gives +1 to Sleaze and Smoke and Mirrors at 4. This to ensure that she has a high limit when placing marks with Hack on the Fly. Exploit program gives Sleaze another +2 to Sleaze when conducting a Sleaze Matrix Action.

In-Host Search (Active Turn)

While inside the host searching for files, Slicer arrange her cyberdeck to:

  • Attack: 1
  • Sleaze: 5 (10)
  • Data Processing: 7 (8)
  • Firewall: 3

She also install her cyberdeck with program such as:

  • Browse
  • Search
  • Toolbox

Note that her Data Processing is at maximum 7 and augmented to 8 due to the toolbox program running in her cyberdeck. She also cranked her Slezae to 10 from Smokes and Mirror sets at 4 and Stealth providing +1 to Sleaze. She sets her Sleaze high to avoid security spiders and IC while inside the host. Note that she has Browse installed for Matrix Search time reduction and depending on the situation she might have Encryption for extra protection or Search for that +2 to Matrix Search.

In-Host Search (Defensive Turn)

While inside the host searching for files, Slicer arrange her cyberdeck to:

  • Attack: 1
  • Sleaze: 7 (12)
  • Data Processing: 3 (4)
  • Firewall: 5 (6)

She also install her cyberdeck with program such as:

  • Encryption
  • Armor
  • Toolbox

After finishing her Matrix Search in the host Slicer swap her cyberdeck configuration with the help of Perfect Time and Quick Config and go for the defensive. She sets her Sleaze at maximum 7 and augmented to 12 because she runs Stealth in her Datajack Plus that gives Sleaze a +1 and Smoke and Mirror at maximum 4. This is to avoid security spiders and IC patrolling inside the host.

Disarm Databomb

While inside the host searching for files, Slicer arrange her cyberdeck to:

  • Attack: 1
  • Sleaze: 5 (10)
  • Data Processing: 3
  • Firewall: 7 (8)

She also install her cyberdeck with program such as:

  • Encryption
  • Defuse
  • Armor

After managing to dodge the security spider and IC inside the host, Slicer managed to find the file that she is looking for. However the file is armed with a databomb and Slicer quickly changes her cyberdeck array to maximum Firewall of 7 and augmented to 8 due to Encryption giving +1 to Firewall. Note that she has Defuse installed inside her cyberdeck for that +4 damage resistance if the databomb triggers. She kept her Sleaze at 10 to remain hidden inside the host.

Crack File

While inside the host searching for files, Slicer arrange her cyberdeck to:

  • Attack: 7 (8)
  • Sleaze: 5 (10)
  • Data Processing: 1
  • Firewall: 3 (4)

She also install her cyberdeck with program such as:

  • Decryption
  • Encryption
  • Toolbox

After disarming all of the databomb that Slicer could find, she begins to crack the file. She set her Attack to the maximum 7 and augment to 8 with the help from Decryption giving +1 to Attack. Note that she maintains her Sleaze at 10 to remain hidden from the security spider and IC even the host is alerted with the illegal matrix action.

Edit File

While inside the host searching for files, Slicer arrange her cyberdeck to:

  • Attack: 1
  • Sleaze: 5 (10)
  • Data Processing: 7 (8)
  • Firewall: 3 (4)

She also install her cyberdeck with program such as:

  • Edit
  • Encryption
  • Toolbox

Finally after cracking the file Slicer swap her cyberdeck array to have her Data Processing at maximum 7 and augmented with the help of Toolbox giving +1 to Data Processing. Note that she also has Edit so that she can increase her Data Processing limit by +2 when copying or editing a file. She also maintain her Sleaze to 10 to avoid detection while inside the host. 

Cybercombat – Attack

While inside the host searching for files, Slicer arrange her cyberdeck to:

  • Attack: 7 (8)
  • Sleaze: 1 (6)
  • Data Processing: 3
  • Firewall: 5

She also install her cyberdeck with program such as:

  • Decryption
  • Hammer
  • Biofeedback / Blackout

Near The End Of Combat Turn 

While inside the host searching for files, Slicer arrange her cyberdeck to:

  • Attack: 1 (2)
  • Sleaze: 5 (10)
  • Data Processing: 7 (8)
  • Firewall: 3

She also install her cyberdeck with program such as:

  • Decryption
  • Hammer
  • Toolbox

Cybercombat – Defense

While inside the host searching for files, Slicer arrange her cyberdeck to:

  • Attack: 1
  • Sleaze: 3 (8)
  • Data Processing: 5 
  • Firewall: 7 (8)

She also install her cyberdeck with program such as:

  • Encryption
  • Armor
  • Toolbox

Either way, there is a reason why we do not include hacking programs such as Fork, Virtual Machine or Agent. This is because those kinds of hacking programs are situational at best. The cyberdeck array that we show to you is a guideline for you to create your own array with your own taste and optimization. If you feel that you want to run Fork most of the time go ahead. The reason why people play deckers is because the amount of cyberdeck array and program customization that allows player to be versatile and different.

Moreover, with rating 4 Multiprogram Operating System (MOS) you can run 4 more programs into your cyberdeck, but the problem with MOS is that they render you immobile and make you stuck in a van unless you want to carry a hot toaster with you in a gunfight. Remember style and practicality is a reputation that all runners have to consider.

Finally, having Configurator for every cyberdeck array as it is faster than swapping two deck arrays and a nice trick that every decker should know.

What Augmentation That Is Good For Decking?

There are few augmentation that might decker get better at decking those are:

  • Cerebral Booster
  • Cerebellum Booster
  • Soft Nanohive
  • Neo-Cortical
  • Pushed (Genemod)

We can argue other augmentation such as EARSS, Math SPU or Mnemonic Enhancer might help. While this is true, those 5 recommendations are your top priority if you want to get better at decking.

Conclusion

Deckers like we said, a versatile hacker archetype. While not as powerful as their technomancer counterpart, they are still fun. It’s a class for advanced matrix players as there is a lot of theorycrafting due to their cyberdeck array mechanics and could be overwhelming for a new player. Either way, deckers is an archetype that can be rewarding if done right.

We also like to show our thanks to Aztechnology for allowing us to use Slicer as part of an example for deck optimization, without him this guide is hard to create. 

Next entry, we will discuss how hackers can be useful outside of the matrix, particularly in a gunfight.