Today’s article comes from Adam Kirkland, who just won both the Melbourne Netrunner League and the Games Lab Store Championship.
I’m going to go through a couple of my decks today, which have just won me a few tournaments and which usually get a bit of attention for being slightly out-of-the-ordinary. The first is my corp deck, which is easily the strongest deck I’ve ever built, and one which I’ll definitely be playing for a while to come (unless Order and Chaos blows it out of the water). It’s somewhat like a “N.E.A.R.P.A.D” build, but with a few key differences and updated for the current meta. I actually built it before learning of N.E.A.R.P.A.D, so the design goals are slightly different, but it plays fairly similarly.
Near-Earth Hub: Broadcast Center (49 cards)
3x AstroScript Pilot Program
2x License Acquisition
3x NAPD Contract
3x Project Beale
2x Daily Business Show
3x Dedicated Response Team (9 inf.)
1x Hostile Infrastructure (2 inf.)
3x Jackson Howard
2x Marked Accounts
3x PAD Campaign
2x Primary Transmission Dish
3x Snare! (6 inf.)
2x SanSan City Grid
3x Diversified Portfolio
Code Gate (5)
3x Pop-up Window
2x Information Overload
This deck has a pretty long history of evolution, the original idea being simply to see if Dedicated Response Team could work as tag punishment in NBN. I originally used Data Raven and Midseasons Replacements to tag, but found that runners only ever got burned by the meat damage once before they just started trashing the DRTs and resumed their original game plan, so I started to hide them in a sea of Snare!s and drip economy, with Encryption Protocol making it harder to trash everything. Once I added Diversified Portfolio the idea really crystalised and the deck started to take its current form, and I’m pretty sure it’s currently sitting in a local maximum, with no single change I’ve tried able to improve it further until the meta changes.
So the main idea is to build up a huge board of assets, using just enough ice on central servers to discourage the runner from running too often. It often spreads into surrounding tables, so make sure you have enough table space before you start playing! Once there are a lot of assets set up, Diversified Portfolio gives a huge burst of economy (often 10+ credits) that lets you rez your SanSan City Grids and start scoring assets fast-advance style.
There are a number of other paths to victory, too. A lot of runners get tired of checking face-down servers, and if I sense that happening I’ll happily start playing undefended agendas and scoring them out the next turn. If the runner is dutifully checking your face-down remotes, then that’s great – they’re wasting their clicks just making sure you aren’t trying to be too sneaky. You can also punish that behaviour by playing a Snare! or two, and then resume playing agendas once they learn their lesson.
Could I be an Astroscript? You’d better check, or I’ll always be an Astroscript. Unless I’m a Snare.
The combination of Snare! and Dedicated Response Team will get you the occasional flatline victory, but the real purpose of it is to drain the runner’s resources and keep them on their toes. Manhunt pays huge dividends in this regard, and is often enough to completely negate the run economy of a lot of Criminal builds. You fund the traces with Primary Transmission Dish, which very few runners learn they should trash at first sight until it’s too late.
Murder time, fun time
Information Overload is simultaneously a way to give tags for DRT, and the main punishment for tag-me strategies. It’s expensive enough to rez that you won’t find yourself using it most games, but when you do need to it can save the game. The Dracos and Pop-ups are non-negotiable, but the last 3 ice slots can be changed around as you like, and this is just the combination I’ve found most effective. It really just needs to be cheap ice that can end the run.
Another change I sometimes find myself considering is TGTBT as a replacement for License Acquisition, but ultimately the ability to recur previously-trashed SanSan City Grids is too powerful to overlook. People are often surprised at the Primary Transmission Dishes, and I imagine the first change a lot of people will make is to scrap them, but they really do work here. Draco, Manhunt and Information Overload all have fairly low trace strength, and you won’t have the credits just lying around to boost them yourself. If the runner trashes them – great, you’re taxing their resources. If not, you have powerful traces for the rest of the game. One other change that some people suggest is to replace Manhunt with Midseasons Replacements, which I’m not entirely opposed to, as it could help push the runner into tag-me mode, where Information Overload will destory their rig. After trying both builds, though, I come down on the side of Manhunt.
NBN: we’ll find you eventually
Really, though, the main reason I love this deck so much is that it’s just a joy to play. It has just the right amount of jank while also being remarkably consistent, so give it a try and let me know how it goes!
The other deck I’m going to walk through is a Chaos Theory dog-deck, which uses the Cerebus set of breakers on top of a Magnum Opus/Stimshop economy and plenty of recursion to get lots of re-use out of the dogs.
Chaos Theory: Wunderkind (40 cards)
3x Legwork (6 inf.)
3x Stimhack (3 inf.)
2x Sure Gamble
3x Test Run
3x Clone Chip
2x Plascrete Carapace
3x R&D Interface
3x Personal Workshop
1x Cerberus “Cuj.0” H3 (3 inf.)
3x Cerberus “Lady” H1
1x Cerberus “Rex” H2 (3 inf.)
1x Deus X
3x Magnum Opus
3x Self-modifying Code
This one is a little more straight-forward, and will probably appear familiar to anyone who’s tried similar Shaper shenanigans. Kate is a much more popular choice these days, but there are several reasons why I much prefer Chaos Theory here; firstly, if you’re using Personal Workshop to install your rig you don’t get much use out of Kate’s ability, and secondly I like the consistency of being able to set up the full rig without cards devoted to memory. Magnum Opus really is my favourite economic engine in the entire game, as it lets you spend freely on trashing your opponent’s assets wherever you can without worrying about leaving a scoring window for your opponent. If such a window does happen to appear, Stimhack is usually enough to get you into threat range again.
Stay in school. Or, take tons of drugs and hang out with puppies.
R&D Interface provides long-term threat on R&D, with Legwork for surprise HQ attacks. Quite a few Shaper decks end up watering down their HQ threat to save on influence, which I really can’t stand – I try to make sure that every single runner deck I build has a solid plan for attacking both R&D and HQ, and even Archives if possible.
The real question most people have with this deck is whether or not the dog breakers are worth it, or are just a gimmick, and the answer is… sort of both, really. The deck has definitely performed well for me, but I do think it could be improved with a few tweaks. Sentries like Komainu and Tsurugi can really tear through the tokens on Cuj.0, and with the prominance of Replicating Perfection glacier decks in the meta at the moment that’s quite a problem without a backup breaker. Rex usually ends up as expensive as, or a single credit cheaper than, Gordian Blade, which probably isn’t enough to justify the influence splash. Lady, on the other hand, is pure gold, and a much better choice than Corroder if you have recursion tools available to you. One other change I’ll likely make to this list is to swap out Deus X for Feedback Filter, which will not only be able to sit alongside the full rig without extra memory but will also make me much more confident when running Mushin No Shin’d remotes.
One other change I want to try out is a bit more unusual – replace the Legworks with HQ Interface, and find room for a couple of Raymond Flints. Now, before you close the tab, hear me out: HQ Interface works with Stimshop, and Raymond Flint will let you see what the card just installed in the scoring remote is without wasting all your breaker tokens. In addition, pretty much every Blue Sun deck I’ve played against will take bad publicity at some point from Hostile Takeover, and getting a free access (or more, with HQ Interface installed) every time that happens is a pretty sweet deal to me. With the rise of Weyland post-Order and Chaos, that situation will only become more common. Something I’m definitely going to try.
The core of Magnum Opus, Personal Workshop and Stimhack in Chaos Theory is one I’m very fond of, and will probably be the core of my Shaper decks for a while to come. Whether you see the dogs as a cute gimmick or a legitimate breaker suite, there’s no denying that it works, so have a play around with it and see what you come up with.