Thursday, 28 November 2013

Rielle "Kit" Peddler - Cracking the Code

It’s been quite a while since my last update while I was waiting for the nice man to come and reconnect my broadband at my new house, but I’m finally back online.  I’ve got a list of things to talk about (Second Thoughts is here, Netrunner will be drafting, Worlds decks, the resurgence of interest in Jinteki) and I’m sure I’ll get to them at some point, but what I want to do first is pick up where I left off in my last blog.

If you remember where I left you it was with the sad realisation that I was just playing the same old decks – another local tournament had passed by with me playing Chaos Theory and NBN Tagn Bag.  Not only did I not do particularly well (which was mostly crummy luck) but I was actually pretty bored of myself for being so uncreative.  Since then I’ve gone out of my way to try a bunch of different decks and factions and today I want to talk about the ID that has got under my skin recently: Rielle “Kit” Peddler.



Rielle, or “Kit” to her friends, has a very interesting and unique ability that requires a dedicated deck to fully take advantage of what she can do.  This isn’t like a Kate McCaffrey, Whizzard or Andromeda – an ability that’s just plain good no matter what you do – Kit needs your love and attention from the first card you put into your deck right up to the last.  Played to full effect Kit’s ability is very powerful, allowing you to break through Sentry or Barrier ice without needing to install an appropriate breaker.  That means you can focus on building an efficient Code Gate breaking rig and then leverage that against your opponent’s big Ice.  

Broadly speaking there are two main routes you can take with Kit which are defined by the Decoder suite they choose to deploy.  I’m going to take a look at both versions (then a hybrid third) but first I want to talk briefly about how playing against Kit makes life difficult for the Corporation.

Playing The Quizmaster

Sitting down to play against Kit signals to the Corp that you are going to be punishing Code Gates and it forces the Corp into changing their play style, which something not every deck or every player can do. 

The first thing the Corp has to cope with is that they must build EVERY server at least two Ice deep – the first Ice you meet each turn is going to be a Code Gate and the Corp has to assume you thought far enough ahead to bring a Decoder or two so the first Ice on a server can pretty much be written off.  The Corp has to have an End The Run piece of Ice at the base of a server with something else in front of it to absorb Kit’s ability and this puts an added tax onto the Corporation , particularly in the early game when they can usually rely on a cheap End The Run piece of Ice keeping the runner out. 

The Corp now has to spend extra clicks and credits installing and rezzing Ice when they’d rather find something else to do with their time, like scoring Agendas.   This is fine so long as they have lots of Ice to install, but Ice-light decks may simply never be able to find enough Ice to build deep servers and that makes them easy prey for Kit.

The second problem for the Corp is that suddenly the order in which the Ice is positioned in their servers matters A LOT, and it’s not always something the Corp has control over.  If the Corp has installed Enigma and Wall of Static on a server then it could either be an effective barrier or a total waste of time, depending on which was installed first.  If Enigma is the base of the server with the Wall outside it then Kit can run the server, turn the Wall into a Code Gate and break it then break the Enigma because it’s already a Code Gate.  If the Ice were the other way around then Kit changes Enigma into a Code Gate (big woop!), but then hits an ETR Barrier she might not have a Fracter for.

Remembering to install Code Gates outside of other Ice isn’t exactly rocket science but the Corp doesn’t always have a choice.  If the Corp draws Enigma and NEXT Bronze in their opening hand then the Corp has nothing but Code Gates to play and is in real trouble from the first turn!  This is one of the hidden strengths of Kit – some perfectly good Corp hands are auto-mulligans against her.


Enough about the problems Kit causes the Corp, let’s look at the two main way of building a Kit deck…


Yog.0saurus

Rielle "Kit" Peddler: Transhuman
By Mikhail Honoridez  (WINNER Plugged-In Tour Toronto)

Event (23)
3x Diesel
3x Dirty Laundry
2x Escher
2x Infiltration
3x Modded
2x Scavenge
3x Sure Gamble
2x Test Run
3x Tinkering

Hardware (7)
2x Dinosaurus
2x Plascrete Carapace
3x R&D Interface

Resource (3)
3x Professional Contacts

Icebreaker (8)
3x Atman
1x Deus X
1x Femme Fatale *
3x Yog.0 ***

Program (4)
3x Datasucker ***
1x Imp ***

The Yog.0saurus archetypeg is based around the dreaded Yog.0 Icebreaker, which walks past any number Code Gate subroutines FOR FREE assuming it has the strength to do so.  The synergy with Kit’s ability is obvious and persuasive – make something else a Code Gate and you’ll be able to break that for free too!  Neural Katana?  0 to break.  Rototurret?  0 to break.  Ice Wall?  0 to break.

From the decision to run Yog.0 as your main go-to Icebreaker you can follow a train of logical progression that fills out half the deck before you really have to start thinking too hard.

“If only Yog.0 had more strength”   +3 Dinosaurus

“Or I could lower the Ice’s strength”   +3 Datasucker

“If I’m already playing Datasucker I could use Atman to break the other ice”   +3 Atman

“I need to make sure I can find my Yog.0”   +3 Diesel, +3 Professional Contacts, +2 Test Run

“I don’t need much money to run but installing Yog.0 and Dinosaurus sure is expensive”   +3 Modded


Once you’ve made those decisions and included the obvious economy cards like Sure Gamble and Dirty Laundry, and the Shaper all-star R&D Interface you’re only looking at a few slots left.  Mikhail opted to maximise his ability to disrupt the best laid plans of the Corp by running Escher and Tinkering, both of which are Events that really shine in Kit decks.  Escher is a great card anyway, but when the order and type of Ice matters so much to the Corp it becomes even more devastating in Kit decks, where you can shuffle Ice around to create a server purely of Code Gates over R&D, or simply move the Code Gates back to the base of a server to ensure you can break through.  Tinkering is the final nail in the coffin of the Corp’s attempts to keep you out, flipping a Sentry into a Code Gate just at the vital moment for you to run in through a seemingly-impenetrable server to steal the Agenda inside.

One card worth highlighting for its tricksy nature in Yog.0saurus is Scavenge.  Scavenge benefits from the fact that you have to trash a program as part of its cost BEFORE you choose what program you want to install from the trash. That loophole allows you to choose to return the same program, effectively for free because you just discounted the install cost of the program by, uh, the cost of the program!  Why does that matter?  Well it matters for being able to install Yog.0 early then ‘moving’ it onto the Dinosaurus later in the game to benefit from the additional strength.  It also lets you play tricks with Femme Fatale by re-targetting her bypass ability onto new Ice.

The strength of Yog.0saurus is that it creates an extremely efficient and powerful rig that can crack through most Ice FOR FREE then has the dreaded Atman as backup for everything else.  The weakness of this version of Kit is that the whole thing costs a ton of time and money to set up – 5 for Yog.0, 5 for Dinosaurus, god knows how much more for your Atman and Datasuckers combo.  Kit’s natural strength is in the early game, when the Corp hasn’t got deep Ice forts, and although Yog.0saurus can get running early with a naked Yog.0 this deck is really about settling in for the long haul.  The other main Kit option is the exact opposite…


Cyber Kit

Rielle "Kit" Peddler: Transhuman
By David Sutcliffe (I made this!)

Event (23)
3x Dirty Laundry
2x Escher
2x Indexing
3x Sure Gamble
3x Test Run

Hardware (10)
2x Clone Chip
2x Akamatsu Mem Chip
3x Lockpick
3x R&D Interface

Resource (10)
2x Kati Jones
3x Daily Casts
2x Personal Workshop
3x Professional Contacts

Icebreaker (7)
3x Cyber Cypher
2x Zu.13
1x Corroder **
1x Ninja **

Program (5)
1x Self-Modifying Code
2x Datasucker **
2x Parasite ****

Where the Yog.0saurus deck is all about Yog.0 this deck is based around the unusual Cyber Cypher decoder, which comes complete with its own strengths and restrictions.  Firstly the strengths – for just 2 credits you get a RIDICULOUSLY powerful decoder and that means you can break through some of the biggest Ice in the game very efficiently, so long as they’re a Code Gate.  Because Cyber Cypher only costs 2 to install you can start doing this very early, drilling through the Corp’s defences with minimal effort.  BUT (and it’s a pretty big but) you have to nominate a server for Cyber Cypher.  NO takebacks, no switches.  Tell the Corp where you’re going to go, then go.  In my version of the deck it’s almost always R&D in the first instance, which I focus on with R&D Interface and Indexing to race to Agendas while paying relatively little attention to remotes.  Later I can add new Cyber Cyphers and target other servers, but my primary target is R&D.


 Where Yog.0 is ably supporting by Dinosaurus the Cyber Cypher was made even more efficient by the release of Lockpick in Opening Moves and I turn to the unsung Zu.13 instead of Gordian Blade as my backup Decoder that can break any server, keeping all my install costs as cheap as possible to ensure I make a swift start to the game.  Instead of investing in the Atman option I use Kit’s precious 10 points of Influence to splash in a Corroder and Ninja that I can Test Run for if need be.

While Yog.0 decks focus on building their huge rig of Atman breakers and Datasuckers the Cyber Cypher archetype remains aggressive and goes on the offensive, trying to prevent the Corp from building deep Ice towers by removing Ice.  I’ve seen pretty much every variation on this theme, from players bringing in Forged Activation Orders or Emergency Shutdowns from Criminal, to Crescentus and Krakens, to my version of Parasites.  I feel Parasite combines well with Cyber Cypher – the Cypher can break big Ice so long as it’s a Code Gate, and Parasite clears out the small Ice that might try to get in the way.  I bring Clone Chips and Test Runs to recur Parasite and keep on top of the Corp’s Ice towers, ensuring Kit can keep getting in.

You may have noticed that the Modded got lost in the shuffle, and replaced with Personal Workshops.  That is simply a function of how cheap this deck is, meaning there were hardly any cards that benefited from the full Modded discount!  I don’t think I’ve ever played a deck where the install costs were so uniformly low  and the additional of Personal Workshop has been a good addition, not just giving me Clone Chips and Lockpicks for free but allowing me to control when my cards are paid for and keeping options open until the last minute.  A Cyber Cypher on Personal Workshop can still be targeted on any server, and I don’t have to decide to pay for R&D Interface until I’ve seen just how much I’ll need to spend to break the Ice in front of R&D.

Compared to Yog.0saurus this deck is hugely aggressive, hunting out Agendas in R&D and breaking through servers in the early game.  The eventual rig you build is less daunting than a full Yog.0/Atman rig so late game is more challenging but in Parasite and Escher you have tools to keep the Corp vulnerable and ensure you can keep hitting R&D as hard as possible.  I’ve had a blast playing this deck and won FAR more games than I’ve lost, partly because Corps are so unfamiliar with how to play against it, but I will give one note of caution: damn, this deck is tough to play.  The deck gives you power in very focussed ways and it’s a real mental workout to keep tabs on how you can keep applying that power to the game.  A lot of fun, but there’s rarely a point where you sit back and school the Corp with an indomitable rig – you run along the knife edge the whole way.


I mentioned earlier that there was a third hybrid version of Kit and what I was referring to was this deck, which appeared in the Top32 of the World Championships earlier this month...

Rielle "Kit" Peddler
By Kevin Delger (Top 32, 2013 World Championships)

Icebreakers (7)
1 Corroder **
2 Cyber-Cypher
1 Mimic *
1 Gordian Blade
1 Yog.0 *
1 Femme Fatale *

Programs (5)
3 Self-Modifying Code
1 Parasite **
1 Datasucker *


Resources
3 Kati Jones
3 Daily Casts

Hardware
2 Clone Chip
3 R&D Interface
1 Dinosaurus

Events
2 Diesel
3 Modded
3 Scavenge
2 Stimhack **
2 Tinkering
2 Dirty Laundry
3 Test Run
1 Escher
3 Sure Gamble

Kevin Delger’s deck uses Self-Modifying Code as the basis of a deck that can search for the best breakers for the current problems.  Because he’s playing Kit that solution will often be Cyber Cypher, but he also has a Yog.0 and a single Dinosaurus in his deck.   This deck brings elements from mine (Cyber Cypher, natural breakers & Parasite recursion) and elements from the Yog.0saurus deck from Toronto (Yog.0, many of the Events) although it abandons the Professional Contacts that we both played in favour of the Self-Modifying Code/Stimhack combination to find his killer cards.  Scavenge returns here but pulls double duty as it also allows Kevin to return his Parasites, and also to return Self-Modifying Codes and search for more key cards.


 The success of this deck at the World Championships highlights the creativity that is possible within the Kit archetypes (which, to be honest, I didn’t think existed before I tried making a Kit deck myself) and also that they can be a competitive dark horse in tournaments.  Kit is certainly not as strong as either Account Siphon Andromeda, or Atman Kate McCaffrey but she has a lot more to offer than most players would think, and asks awkward questions of even the best Corp decks and players.


If you’re looking for a bit of a break from the norm then I’m confident you’ll enjoy solving a puzzle or two with Rielle Peddler – I’ve certainly had a blast playing with her!