Net Combat
crashedprogram.jpg This page covers the way hacking worked from August 2009 to Early 2013. The hacking mechanics described here have been completely replaced by Novos. The Hacking page provides an overview of the current mechanics.

Net combat occurs when you encounter one or more hacking opponents by attempting to elevate your privileges on a given system.

In order to engage in Net combat (or, indeed, hacking generally) you must have something capable of running programs equipped and have at least 1 processor free.

Running programs gives you tools you may use to attack, defend, or perform special actions in Net combat. Programs may also provide bonuses like hardening or incognito.

Net combat takes place in rounds. If at least one participant deploys more than one tool in a given round of Net combat, the round will be further divided into "passes". Each pass is the amount of time sufficient to use one tool.

At the start of each round, a set of tools will be randomly selected from among those granted by the programs you are running. No tool will show up more than once in your draw for a given round, even if you have multiple programs running that grant it. If you do not have the efficient hacking skill, you will receive one tool for each free processor. With the skill, you will draw a number of tools equal to your 150% of your free processor, rounding up. In other words:

Free Processor Tools (Without Efficient Hacking) Tools (With Efficient Hacking)
1 1 2
2 2 3
3 3 5
4 4 6
5 5 8

Each tool has a memory size. No matter how many tools are in your draw at the start of a round, you may only use as many as your system's memory allows. Memory is normally replenished at the start of each combat round, but memory damaged by enemy attacks will not be regenerated.

The number in the image of each tool denotes its memory size, not its chain value. In Net combat you may use tools in any order you like. However, the order in which you deploy your tools is still important. Many tools can do bonus damage in combos with other tools, but you will generally receive this bonus damage only if one tool is use in the pass immediately following the other, with no intervening tools used. Also, defenses may block tools used in the following pass or even (in the case of Gatekeeper) for the remainder of the round once they are deployed. Finally, some offensive tools disrupt defenses played in the following round. Since all of these effects kick in on the pass following the one the tool that causes them is used, a tool used in the very first pass of a round cannot be blocked or disrupted.

Sometimes, you will encounter multiple opponents working together. You may only target one opponent in a given round, no matter how many tools you have available. By left-clicking on an opponent's portrait, you can choose which one to target each round (if you don't choose, the living opponent furthest to the left will be targeted). Your current target is indicated by a little black arrow below the targeted opponent. Almost all attacks target one opponent only, and similarly most defensive techniques will protect you only against the opponent you are targeting.

The first line of defense in Net combat is hardening. Even tools that target memory or processor must first eliminate hardening. (Exception: piercing attacks can bypass some hardening.) The Security Update tool is the only known way to regenerate hardening lost during a given Net combat. Having either memory or processor reduced to zero causes a combatant to crash and be eliminated from Net combat.

The damage tools do is determined by the following formula:

minimum damage = intensity
maximum damage = intensity + MIN(MAX(1, code finesse), intensity)

Or, to phrase it more clearly:

minimum damage = intensity
if (intensity = 1)
    maximum damage = 2
    maximum damage = intensity + MIN(code finesse, intensity)

That is to say 1 intensity attacks always do 1-2 damage, while higher intensity attacks do between intensity and double the intensity or code finesse whichever is lower.

Damage to hardening, memory, and processor only remains for the duration of a given fight. If you unplug and begin a new Net combat, you will begin with full hardening, memory, and processor; there is no need for resting to restore them between fights.

If you hacking a site that is part of the Viral network, the following message appears at the end of every round:

If you have full hardening or Antiviral Patching active:

Something hidden within the system scrabbles at your defenses, but can't find purchase.

If your hardening has been damaged:

Something hidden within the system scrabbles at your weakened defenses, dealing another 1 Hardening Damage.

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