Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Decklists // Not Just The Same Old Thing

It's been a little while since my last blog and I was hoping to be able to share with you yet more exploits from my amazing decks in winning yet another tournament, and thus show off my latest deck designs.  Unfortunately this plan, while sounding flawless, hit two sizeable snags:

1) I don't have any new decks, and instead played the Chaos Theory and NBN decks I used to win the last tournament, with very few changes from the addition of Opening Moves.

2) I lost.  Badly.

Although Chaos Theory remained true and managed to go 4-0 the change to my all-conquering NBN deck of just one card but it was clearly enough to throw off the delicate office feng shui of my corporation and I suffered from terrible draws all day and went 1-3 with it. 

How terrible were my draws?  In one game I didn't draw a single piece of Ice all game.  That was the game that I won!

The combination of the sad realisation that I was going to play the same decks again, and the punishment for doing so of ignominious defeat, has meant I've taken my decks apart and will spend some time exploring new Factions and new Identities.  With no decks of my own to showcase it's a good job that I have the opportunity to highlight some of the more interesting decks to have come out of the ongoing Plugged In Tour that has some of Fantasy Flight Games' great and good travelling the USA, trailing promos and prizes in their wake.

Here then, are some deck designs from the Plugged In Tour from players who have proven both their creativity and their capability (both traits I was sadly lacking this past weekend).

by Kyle Walker (WINNER, Jester's Playhouse, NJ)

Event (19)
2 Account Siphon ****
3 Déjà Vu
2 Dirty Laundry
2 Emergency Shutdown **
2 Infiltration
2 Quality Time *
3 Sure Gamble
3 Vamp

Hardware (2)
2 Plascrete Carapace

Resource (11)
2 Armitage Codebusting
2 Data Leak Reversal
3 Joshua B
2 John Masanori
1 Liberated Accounts
1 Same Old Thing

Icebreaker (3)
3 Crypsis

Program (11)
2 Datasucker
3 Djinn
1 Gorman Drip *
2 Medium
1 Nerve Agent
2 Parasites

The main reason I want to highlight this deck is because I think this represents a glimpse of the future for Anarch decks.  At the Plugged In Tour the Anarchs have been squeezed to just 20% of Runners with Criminals and Shapers both about 40% (and Criminals winning most events, it seems).  It seems like players have turned their backs on Anarchs recently, and I think a lot of that is down to Opening Moves adding Jackson Howard to Corp decks, which has hit Noise decks pretty hard.

Previously Noise was the Anarch of choice with decks full of Viruses flipping valuable Agendas into the Corps' Archives to be plundered at will.  Jackson Howard's ability to rescue up to three cards from the Archives has largely neutered the threat from Noise' ability and led to many people ignoring Anarchs entirely.  Fortunately for Anarchs there are two Identities and while Noise has been hurt by Jackson Howard, Whizzard gains a bit of a boost.  Whizzard gives you 3 credits for trashing cards, and Jackson Howards cost 3 credits to trash.  How convenient!  In a world dominated by clones of Jackson Howards the humble Whizzard is their nemesis.

This deck takes the Criminal philosophy of ensuring the Corp has no credits at all to speak of by combining The Best Netrunner Card Ever (aka: Account Siphon) with the Anarch version, Vamp, and the ability to replay both those Events with Deja Vu or Same Old Thing.  If you can get into HQ you can rapidly make the Corp file for bankruptcy.  The tough part of that equation is actually getting into HQ in the first place and having played this deck a few times the definite weak spot, in my view, is the dependency on 3 Crypsis as your only Icebreakers.  This is where Criminal decks pack cards like Inside Job and Forged Activation Orders to help you frustrate the Corp, while Whizzard kind of has to do it the expensive way and actually pay to break in before it can use Emergency Shutdown on the Ice it already paid to break.

With your Events targetted at disrupting the Corp, and your Programs doing their best to help you break through their Ice with Parasites and Datasuckers, it's the Anarch's Resources that are left to do something a bit... unusual.  In my review of Opening Moves I was pretty critical of John Masanori and reader Simon Wray replied by saying it would be used in conjunction with Data Leak Reversal to recreate Noise's effect.  That sounded pretty janky to me but here it is, in a winning deck!  Although it may seem like a non-combo to play Resources in a deck that tries to tag itself with John Masanori or Joshua B the Whizzard deck gets by because the Corp can't pay to trash Resources if they don't have any money.  Once Account Siphon and Vamp get the Corp on its knees DLR can kick in to speed up finding Agendas.

This is a deck that has been proven to work, and which has some fun combinations to play around with.  If I played this deck I think I would want to be more confident I could break into HQ, maybe finding room for some Kraken to recur with Deja Vu and Same Old Thing to handle big Ice on HQ like Tollbooth or Archer.  But as a signpost towards a brave new post-Opening Moves world for Anarchs it's well worth trying out! 

"The Great Wall of Weyland"
Weyland: Because We Built It

by etherial (undefeated Corp deck, Manchester, NH)

Agenda (11)
2 Government Contracts
3 Geothermal Fracking
3 Project Atlas
3 Hostile Takeover

Assets (6)
3 Thomas Haas
3 Jackson Howard

ICE (18)
3 Hadrian's Wall
3 Archer
3 Enigma
3 Shadow
3 Caduceus
3 Ice Wall

Operation (11)
2 Scorched Earth
3 Beanstalk Royalties
3 Commercialisation
3 Trick of Light
3 Hedge Fund

Weyland Consortium is probably the strongest Corporation faction at the moment but it's the Building A Better World identity that is sweeping up tournaments, leaving the unfancied Because We Built It deep in its shadow.  Boardgamegeek forum regular etherial turned the weaker Weyland cousin into a powerhouse with this intriguing take on Weyland's advanceable Ice - a mechanic that has been largely ignored.

etherial explains the deck in his own words here better than I can, but I can easily give you flavour of what it's doing.  The key to the deck is the 9 pieces of advanceable Ice - Ice Wall, Shadow, and the hulking Hadrian's Wall - with this Identity can advance with the recurring credit it gains at the start of each turn.  Advancing each of these pieces of Ice raises their strength, making both Ice Wall and Hadrian's Wall tough obstacles for a runner to break through even with the best Barrier breakers available - and don't forget you're doing that without actually spending any cash because Weyland's ability lets you do it for free!

Ok, so you've got a big Wall in play, what next?  Well now the next phase of the plan kicks in, which is to use the rarely-played Commercialisation to cash in on your high-tech Ice Wall, frequently gaining 6, 7 or 8 credits at a time!  Better yet all those advancement counters are fodder for the Jinteki card Trick of Light, which etherial has brought in to help him advance and score Agendas the turn he installs them.  Combining tough hard-to-break Ice for scoring early Agendas with the fast advance Trick of Light to score Agendas in the late game makes the Great Wall of Weyland a formidable opponent that squarely aims to win the game with 7 Agenda points.

And, like many of the best decks, the Agendas here don't just serve to score points they also support the strategy, with Hostile Takeover, Geothermal Fracking and Government Contracts giving etherial so many credits that even the enormous Hadrians Wall can be paid for out of petty cash.  Hostile Takeover serves as fodder for the deadly Archer, and Project Atlas rounds out the core Agenda suite by adding the ability to search your deck for Trick of Light late in the game, and seal the win.

My experience of playing this deck is that it requires a totally different playstyle to most Corp decks, which I wasn't really expecting.  Instead of pushing out layers of Ice your focus is on deploying a few pieces of Ice and then constantly upgrading them, and that can seem very odd - are you really supposed to be doing this?  Yep.  If the deck has a weak spot it's that I found myself frequently pulling hands of cards that didn't really help much - when you've already got 20 credits a Commercialisation or Hedge Fund can be surplus to requirements, and when you're hiding behind a 12-strength Hadrians Wall adding a Shadow to your server doesn't do much to actually slow the Runner down.  Despite that, if you're looking for a new Corp experience then I can recommend giving The Great Wall of Weyland a try!

Kate "Mac" McCaffrey
by Rob Wiley (Joint Winner, Dice Dojo, Chicago)

Event (15)

3 Diesel
3 Sure Gamble
2 Test Run
2 Surge
3 Quality Time
2 Levy AR Lab Access

Hardware (17)
3 Cyberfeeder
2 Akamatsu Mem Chip
3 The Personal Touch
1 The Toolbox
2 Plascrete Carapace
1 e3 Feedback Implants
2 Replicator
3 R&D Interface

Resource (4)
1 Ice Carver
1 Kati Jones
2 Same Old Thing

Icebreaker (2)
1 Femme Fatale
1 Darwin

Program (7)
1 Datasucker
1 Magnum Opus
2 Cloak
3 Self-Modifying Code

Q: What do you get if you cross a Bear with a Killer Whale?

A: I don't want to be there when you find out.

What you really get, of course, is the wrecking ball AI Icebreaker, Darwin.  He eats ANYTHING, and there is an admirable simplicity about this deck.  Rob Wiley has decided he only needs one Icebreaker, really, and in fact that he only needs one copy of it.  Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  No, it's Superkillerwhalebear!

Here are your four steps to Darwin heaven:

Step One: Find Darwin.  With 3 Self-Modifying Code, 2 Test Run, 3 Quality Time and 3 Diesel that shouldn't be too hard. 

Step Two: Put Darwin on steroids by using The Personal Touch and Replicator to rapidly add strength to Darwin that can't be removed by the Corp purging Virus counters.

Step Three: Feed Darwin a steady diet of credits for breaking Ice.  Cyberfeeder and Cloak are good for this, as is The Toolbox.  If the Corp is playing Bad Publicity then use that too, just for the heck of it.

Step Four: DARWIN SMASH!  Rip, tear and shred all Ice, all day.

That's about it.  The entire deck has a tremendously high Eggs to Basket ratio by playing a single copy of Darwin but with Surge to help rebuild lost Virus counters rapidly and Levy AR Lab Access to recycle the whole thing and start again should the unthinkable happen and Darwin is somehow trashed, this deck is surprisingly robust despite it's dependency on a single card.

For fun, versatility, and downright ballsiness this deck is pretty hard to beat.  The one thing Rob thinks is missing is a copy of Deus X for those pesky Jinteki matches and I think I tend to agree.  Regardless,  I love this deck and I love Rob for designing it.  

So there you have it.  No new decks from me, but some great decks from other people to get your creative juices flowing.  Hopefully I'll recover my mojo and have something new next time around, but until then... ciao!

A few readers have alerted to me to other winning decks from the Plugged In Tour that weren't the usual Andromeda/Weyland/NBN types but there's one that has been brought to my attention that I would have discussed first time around had I known there was a decklist available.  It's this staggeringly innovative Haas-Bioroid: Cerebral Imaging deck...

Cerebral Imaging: Infinite Frontiers
by Robert Henderson (unbeaten Corp deck, Cambridge, MA)

Agenda (11)

3 Accelerated Beta Test 
3 Efficiency Committee 
2 Gila Hands Arcology
3 Project Vitruvius

Asset (3)
3 Jackson Howard

ICE (12)
3 Eli 1.0
3 Viper
2 Chimera 
2 Rototurret
2 Heimdall 2.0

Operation (23)
3 Archived Memories
3 Beanstalk Royalties
3 Biotic Labor
2 Celebrity Gift
3 Green Level Clearance
3 Hedge Fund
3 Shipment from Mirrormorph
3 Shipment from Kaguya

I haven't had any personal experience with this deck but I can see exactly what it sets out to do, which is to build up towards the ultimate Fast Advance turn where you can score not just one Agenda out of hand, but MULTIPLE Agendas in one turn!!!

The key to this deck is the Identity, Cerebral Imaging, which turns your bank balance into your maximum hand size.  Throw that into a deck with explosive economy Operations like Beanstalk Royalties, Celebrity Gift, Green Level Clearance and Hedge Fund and you can rapidly build a hand of 20-odd cards or more and can happily build up a massive combination of cards in hand.  What you're ultimately building towards is a turn that looks something like this:

  • Click 1: Biotic Labour
  • Click 2: Biotic Labour
  • Click 3: Shipment From Mirrormorph - install Accelerated Beta Test and Project Vitruvius
  • Click 4: Shipment From Kaguya, Advance both Agendas
  • Click 5: Shipment From Kaguya, Advance both Agendas
  • Click 6: Advance and score Accelerated Beta TestClick 
  • 7: Advance and score Project Vitruvius

Winner, winner.  Chicken dinner.

If you scored an Agenda or two earlier in the game behind an efficient early Ice like Viper or Eli then that could well be the win on its own.  But if scoring two Agendas in one turn isn't GG then you can simply start again and build up to another big turn, using Archived Memories to return key Operations to hand.

Having such a huge hand of untrashable Operations getting in the way of the runner hitting Agendas from HQ mean HQ protection is only a moderate risk, and with such a huge amount of burst economy even Account Siphon can be shrugged off (though Vamp is a bigger problem), so long as you aren't hit by it in the first turn and find yourself forced to discard your whole hand.

One final point worth noting is that the deck takes full advantage of a loophole in the wording of Efficiency Committee.  If you were lucky enough to score Efficiency Committee early in the game then you can use the Agenda counters to gain extra clicks, just like a Biotic Labour.  Only, of course, you can't use those extra clicks to advance cards.  Which DOESN'T mean you can't put Advancement counters ONTO cards with Shipment From Kaguya.  Sneaky Corp is sneaky.  Scoring either an Efficiency Committee or Project Vitruvius early, with their hosted Agenda counters, makes the deck's final game-winning combo that much easier to score!

So there you go... one last deck to mull over, and yet another Corp that is doing something entirely different to the norm.  Two Corp decks and two Runner decks is a nice bit of symmetry so I'm going to leave it there.  Enjoy!