I've been playing a variety of rush decks recently (that is, decks for which at least part of their strategy is scoring out behind a small piece of ICE, before the Runner finds an appropriate icebreaker for it). When you're playing a rush deck, you want:
- primarily 4/2 agendas (so that you can play ICE click 1, agenda click 2, and advance it click 3, ready to AAA it next turn; 5/x is too slow to advance, more than one 3/1 means you fall short of 7 points, and not enough 3/2s exist to build a deck out of them)
- cheap ICE that ends (or effectively ends) the run
- some way to afford to rez the ICE and place the advancement counters (ideally clicklessly so that you don't have to take turns off)
The ideal game plan for a rush deck looks something like this: turn 1 install ICE and agenda, turn 2 score it, turn 3 install agenda, turn 4 score it, turn 5 install agenda, turn 6 score it, turn 7 install agenda, turn 8 win. If you're using 4/2 agendas, that costs a total of 21 and 16. You get a total of 24 clicks in your first 8 turns (and remember, if you take even one additional turn, your opponent has more time to find their icebreakers and force you to switch to a backup strategy). That means that you have only three spare clicks, and will probably need to use some of those on cards like Fast Track to actually find the agendas. A rush deck thus faces the imposing problem of making 11 with only three spare clicks (possibly fewer).
Given what card this review is being written on, you can probably guess at the solution to the problem: hey, wouldn't it be great if there were a 4/2 agenda that clicklessly generated 10 credits? Corporate Sales Team has been simply amazing in my rush decks; it's a 1-card economic engine that gives you almost all the economy you're going to need in a short game, and it does so with no relevant costs at all. You are going to put 4/2 agendas in your deck, because you kind-of need them to win the game. You are going to advance them and score them (or the deck loses regardless). And that is the only cost that needs to be paid to use Corporate Sales Team; there isn't even an influence cost, so you can do this in any faction and with no deckbuilding restrictions (it even helps fulfil the agenda point requirement!).
Just to give some idea of the power of this card: recently I was speculating about "how much influence would a neutral 45/x ID with no ability need to be balanced in Standard", and decided as a joke to build a 45/0 deck to see what happened (with no actual blank 45/0 identities in standard, I simulated it by using New Angeles Sol: Your News together with only neutral cards with no influence cost). My turn 1 was Vanilla, install Corporate Sales Team, advance it. On turn 4, I scored a second Corporate Sales Team. On turn 8, with the help of a Fast Track to sneak an agenda past the opposing Stargate (and a bit of luck when a click 3 Stargate revealed two agendas as the second and third cards, allowing me to basic-action-draw one because the Runner couldn't trash them both nor trash the card on top and steal them both), I had scored out. This was, of course, a completely fluke win that's unlikely to be replicated in a tournament, but it was only remotely possible because the Corporate Sales Teams provided enough economy for the entire game between them.
The main competitor to Corporate Sales Team (update: prior to the printing of System Gateway; see the discussion of Offworld Office below) is Oaktown Renovation. There are two primary differences between the cards. Oaktown Renovation has the slight downside of producing only 8 rather than 10 if you advance it normally (i.e. clicking for AAAA); however, it also has the relevant upside of producing those credits while being advanced (rather than spread out over the next 5 turns after it is scored). Oaktown Renovation also has the downside of your opponents knowing for sure that it's an agenda, but in a rush deck, that typically doesn't matter much. That said, trying to decide which is better is pretty much pointless. If you are building a rush deck outside Weyland, you can't legally run Oaktown Renovation anyway, so the decision has been made for you. If you are building a rush deck in Weyland, you can and probably should simply just run both cards; you're probably going to need 10 agendas, after all.
Although this review primarily focuses on rush decks, Corporate Sales Team is also playable even in other deck styles (it's also worth noting that the cards needed by a rush deck don't come to 45 slots, so most rush decks will use their remaining slots to implement a backup plan, perhaps transforming into fast advance or glacier to get the final few points through if their early run falls short, so it's nice if your rush agendas can help you with your backup plan too). A clickless 10 might not be sufficient for your deck's entire economy if the game lasts beyond the first 8 turns, but it definitely doesn't hurt; many Netrunner games end up being decided by only a few credits, so a 10 swing is easily enough to have a decent chance of swinging the result of the game in your favour. Generally speaking, it works best in decks for which credits are the main limiting factor (as opposed to, e.g., being short of clicks, or where the deck aims to attack some resource of the Runner rather than gather resources of its own); although it's good anywhere, the opportunity cost starts to add up if there's some agenda that might fix your deck style better.
If you're considering putting Corporate Sales Team in your deck, here are some similar agendas you might want to consider using alongside it or instead of it:
- Oaktown Renovation: very similar to Corporate Sales Team, and discussed in more detail above. Weyland-specific, and produces 8, but while you're scoring it rather than afterwards.
- Update: Offworld Office (printed since I first wrote this review), which is also very similar to Corporate Sales Team. It's almost entirely worse than Oaktown Renovation (the only advantages are being able to install it face-down and (most importantly) being able to legally play it outside Weyland), producing 7, and produces the credits on scoring (faster than Corporate Sales Team but slower than Oaktown Renovation). Sometimes getting the credits immediately ends up mattering, so this is being played more commonly than Corporate Sales Team at the moment, but that might just be because it's new. It wouldn't surprise me if the choice of this versus Corporate Sales Team ended up being deck-dependent (running both may be correct in some decks, but seems to be an unpopular choice at the moment).
- Cyberdex Sandbox: produces 4 for the first one you score, and 8 for the second (12 for the third but this never happens in practice). Also lets you pay to gain 4 if you have one scored, or 8 if you have two scored. This is basically an economic agenda tuned for longer games, because once it's scored, you'll rarely have problems gaining credits in an emergency. It also plays very well with other Cyberdex cards, and the "Cyberdex economy" is seen in a wide range of Corp decks nowadays (most notably Jinteki glacier, which loves both the credits and the anti-viral side effects).
- SSL Endorsement: basically the glacier version of Corporate Sales Team. It produces 9 over 3 turns rather than 10 over 5 turns, but with two notable differences: it's a 5/3, and it triggers even if stolen (thus passively defends itself in the centrals early-game). In practice, this turned out to be pretty much an autoinclude in any deck that wanted 5/3s (forming a notable part of their economies), became a Corp staple, and eventually ended up getting banned to weaken Corp as a whole because Corp win rates were too high and almost everyone was running it.
- Bellona: another 5/3, basically the NBN-specific version of SSL Endorsement (and not banned). The swing is only 5, but instant, and triggers both on score and steal. In NBN decks, this tends to double as both economy and a win condition
- Advanced Concept Hopper: another 4/2 that gives credits (or optionally cards) over time, this time HB-specific. This one is focused more on the long games than the short ones. Is the runner going to make at least 10 runs after you score it? In many of the faster decks that want 4/2s, the answer is no, so Corporate Sales Team works better. If your deck is a little slower, and runs out of HB, you might want an Advanced Concept Hopper instead (or as well).
- Timely Public Release: clicklessly installs ICE (and lets you see what the breakers the Runner has available for the run before choosing which ICE to install). Just as Corporate Sales Team fixes the problem of a rush deck being short on credits, Timely Public Release helps to fix the problem of a rush deck being short on clicks, by doing something you want/need to do anyway (installing appropriate ICE to keep the runner out) without needing to spend a click to do it. Probably not strong enough to make most rush decks, although it's an obvious choice if you're stuck in a neutral identity with no influence :-P
- Remastered Edition: an NBN-specific 4/2 that can fast-advance a 3/2 on a subsequent turn. When used as an economic agenda, this only saves you a click and a credit (so you might as well be using a 3/2 instead, although you're probably going to be running 3/2s alongside it). Sometimes that's enough to win a game, but more relevantly, it provides an excellent fast-advance backup plan for if your initial rush plan ends up failing; if you can't rush out four agendas, you can use the Remastered Edition to automatically win as long as you have a 3/2 in HQ at the start of the turn and the Runner has no fast-advance hate. So this can be seen as providing reach / the ability to close out a game to rush decks that might otherwise fall short a little too often.
- Vulnerability Audit: a neutral 4/3 that can't be fast advanced. This is a high-risk high-reward play for rush decks; if it gets stolen the Runner can win off just three agendas, but if it gets scored, you can win off just three agendas as the Corp, potentially leading to a win on turn 6. Good in small quantities in rush decks, especially rush-glacier hybrids.
Also worth noting is that the various faction-specific 3/2 agendas are, in effect, 4/2s that costs , 1 less to advance (and Project Atlas and Project Vitruvius can alternatively be scored as a 4/2 with a bonus ability, with Atlas's being particularly helpful for rush decks). So although the 3/2 stat-line is more associated with fast advance decks than with rush decks, 3/2s often make for a worthwhile substitute for economic 4/2s when you're planning to rush, as they save you just that little bit extra.
In summary: if your deck is planning to win fast, Corporate Sales Team is pretty much the perfect agenda to score on turn 2, and will probably fix your economy for the entire game; you are likely to want three of them in your deck to increase the odds of seeing them early. If you're planning on letting the game go a little longer than that, it's still good, but will have more competition, and might end up not meriting the deck slot (and/or messing up your agenda point distribution, which in some decks is very constrained).
Amazing review. Very thorough. I agree with everything. Of note, this agenda is now viable because PAD Tap is banned (this is more a historical note, for newer readers).— Diogene