The Palantir - 1st/Undefeated @ Silver Goblin Store Champs

amavric 1953

"He bent low over it, looking like a greedy child stooping over a bowl of food, in a corner away from others." - The Two Towers, J. R. R. Tolkien

I've always been a huge fan of the Armand "Geist" Walker: Tech Lord decks of yore - the Shaper-esque multi-faceted breaker suite, the imposing late-game economy engine, while having access to a toolbox of instant-speed tricks. With Geist having left the Standard card-pool some years ago, the McCaffrey kin was left with a quite a large mantle to take on.


This is the deck I've been testing and tuning for the last couple weeks in preparation for Montreal's 2022 Store Championship at the Silver Goblin. This was the first in-person competitive event my local meta has had in years, and I was determined to show up with something interesting and home-brewed.


It started with my admiration for a very greedy Az list @sebastiank piloted at Worlds last year. It definitely nailed the late-game feel of imposing Geist lists, but struggled to keep up to a greatly accelerating meta. I wanted to take that basic shell, and replace a fair bit of the 'greed' with better on tempo plays and more pressure. Looking at older Geist World's lists gives a lot of inspiration - at the time, the inclusion of Event staples like Sure Gamble and Bravado were refreshing updates to the archetype, serving to 'smooth out' Geist's early game.

So with some tinkering and testing, I attempted to merge the two ideas. And this is what I got:


Firstly,

I can not overstate how much I like Prognostic Q-Loop


Constantly looking into the future - seeing the top two cards of your deck - is intoxicating. It allows you to plan out your current turn, and a fair bit of your next. Whether it be when and how to draw with Masterwork, allowing aggressive plays off the top of the stack, or making it clear when you should peel out or shuffle up to pursue a new future, the portentous power of Prognostic Q-Loop is like nothing else.


The Engine

Masterwork (v37)

Masterwork does two things - it gives us a card-draw engine, and it gives us immense click-compression.

  • Card Draw - This deck does not struggle to install a single piece of hardware each turn (and Az's ability helps keep those install costs down), so we're drawing a free card every turn. Remember, 'the first time each turn' includes the Corporation's turn - you will want to try to install Hardware off the top of your stack on the Corp's turn, firing both Az's ability as well as getting a free card draw.

  • Clickless Installs - Whenever you run, you can pay an extra credit to install a piece of Hardware from your Grip (perfect synergy with Az's cost reduction). This means that you never have to spend a click to install a Boomerang - just slap it down when the run begins. Want to check R&D? Why not install a Sports Hopper at the same time? This click compression allows Az to be aggressive while also building up his board state.

In summation, the first time a turn that you run and install a piece of Hardware with Masterwork, you are 'gaining' an extra click , and drawing a card. That's immense.

(If the Corporation takes on any bad publicity, we're really flying now.)

Prognostic Q-Loop

Our Seeing Stone. Similarly to our robotic hand, the Q-Loop gives two gifts:

  • Seeing the Future - As mentioned above, seeing the future is incredibly powerful. The Q-Loop allows you to fully plan your current and future turns, and allows you to confidentally use the Loop's paid ability to install cards on both your own turn and the Corporation's. Do be mindful of the order in which you trigger Masterwork and Q-Loop during a run - if you install a Hardware with Masterwork, you often want to do that before you peer into your future, as the Masterwork will trigger a card draw.

  • More Clickless Installs - With more than half the deck comprising Programs and Hardware, it's easy to accrue immense amounts of value. By paying 1 and revealing an appropriate card, you not only get a clickless install, but a clickless card draw. As long as you're running at least once a turn, you should be able to use your future-sight to great effect. This also allows you to install card on the Corporation's turn, allowing you to dip into the 'first time each turn' value of both Az and Masterwork. If you are comfortable on credits, it's often worth firing this ability even blindly on the Corp's turn.

Unfortunately, with the inclusion of additional Events and Resources, throughout testing I determined that cutting the 3rd Q-Loop was correct. I'd be happy to be wrong about this.

Tech Trader

The core econ engine of old Geist lists. While overall we have less raw symbols than Geist, these Connections come down for 0 with Az's ability, and then continue to pay dividends throughout the whole game. Boomerang is the biggest contributor, as the same pieces of Hardware are played over and over again throughout the mid to late game. With the inclusion of Sure Gamble and other Event econ, they are not as mandatory in any opening hand, compared to some older Geist lists.

Other Notable Cards

Influence

I really struggled to lock down my final influence spend before the event. Through my testing, 10 influence remained consistently spent across various versions of this deck, but the last 5 were much harder to nail down.

Let's start with the 'core' 10:

  • Stargate - I refuse to play without this thing. The ability it offers to disrupt corp game plans while allowing you to quickly close a game is paramount.
  • Clot - I expected a fair bit of fast-advance in the field (especially with the recent release of both Azef Protocol and Vladisibirsk City Grid), and was proven correct. Get this on the table, and once it's purged away, threaten it back with Simulchip. In the final game of the day, I even pulled it off the top of the stack with Prognostic Q-Loop to stop the winning agenda and steal the win.
  • Simulchip - A very flexible card. As mentioned above, use it to threaten Clot against any fast-advance. Alternately, reload your Revolvers for more ammo, refresh your Fermenter for more cash, cheaply bring back your Abagnale after a quick bypass, or even recycle your Stargate for more destruction. You will have to keep in mind that the Simulchip requires a sacrifice, so try and keep an empty Revolver around (a Paperclip will do in a pinch too). The chip's alongside Tech Trader offers immense returns.
  • Paperclip - I don't want to play Makler.

The 'flex' 5 influence:

  • Fermenter - This virus offers some nice 'slow burst' economy, with synergy to boot. This card feels great to install with Prognostic Q-Loop at the end of the corporation's turn, so that it immediately reaches 2 virus counters.
  • Deuces Wild - I had one influence left over, and this was the most reasonable way I could think to spend it. The list originally had 3 Blueberry!™ Diesel, so I cut one for Deuces. A very flexible card.

Other influence options that are worth considering:

  • Reaver - This is the one card that can really restore the glory of former Geist lists. While it only triggers the first time a turn you trash a card, with cards like Sports Hopper and Spy Camera, this deck does not struggle to consistently fire a on the corp's turn. 4 influence is a heavy spend, and in my testing I was frustrated by the number of games in which I drew the Reaver too late for it to make an appreciable difference.
  • Self-modifying Code - A flexible card with synergy. A great tool to threaten Clot more aggressively, or pull whatever program you need (particularly cute with the wily singleton Reaver). A click-less stack shuffling ability is also quite valuable if the Prognostic Q-Loop is not showing you what you need.
  • Light the Fire! - I mostly wanted to try this new card out. It's definitely a powerful ability, and has a to boot. Unfortunately, the brain damage is suffered as a cost to initiate the run, which gets awkward when you lose the Boomerang you were planning to install with Masterwork. We also already have upgrade hate with Political Operative, so this seems less that necessary. There are certain metas where this could be quite powerful.
  • Diesel - This deck is reliant on quickly finding your engine of Masterwork (v37) and Prognostic Q-Loop. Extra draw is nice insurance.

The Future

While I'm quite happy with how this deck is playing now, I know there's still a lot more testing to do. There are quite a few Az staples that I haven't been able to get working properly yet, like Bankroll or The Class Act. Futhermore, I believe that this deck can be tuned pretty aggressively towards any individual meta, with influence being used mostly for tech cards.

Conclusion

I want to give a huge shoutout to Jon, Pat, and the Silver Goblin for organizing and hosting such a wonderful event. After many years, finally playing an in-person event - both with new players and the friends we've been jamming nets with for nearly a decade now - was absolutely fantastic. A huge shoutout as well to my lovely partner Mattie, who ground games with me these last couple weeks.

Thanks so much for giving this a read! May you peer into the future, and may that future be kind!

9 comments
5 May 2022 Diogene

Then you peered into the future, saw the Clot and stole my win against this deck. That was an epic way to lose for me, no regrets. It was a fun match! Congrats on winning the championship!

Cheers!

5 May 2022 m.p

Cool! What about swapping one revolver for a bukghalter? Of course, given the lack of glaciers in the meta you probably won´t run out of ammo, but still, the possibility of it happening would scare me (* coughbye bye stimhack, I could have won the game with you but then I would take brain damage which is scary so no cough*)

5 May 2022 Crowphie

Bravado is a really fucked up card and when you're in-faction, "I wanted more Q-Loop hits" just can't justify not running it. Great deck, great thorough write-up: thank you for sharing!

6 May 2022 amavric

@m.p I think you nailed it - the lack of late-game glacier decks makes the Bukghalter unnecessary. With two guns, a Simulchip, and The Back, that's potentially six Revolvers, and you still have Boomerangs for days.

@CrowphieIt's kinda perfect for a deck that wants to run at least once a turn. I'd even consider Dirty Laundry or Overclock, the latter of which works amazingly with Masterwork (v37) and Prognostic Q-Loop. Cheers!

@Diogene That was the most exciting game of the day, no doubt. GGs man. Cheers!

9 May 2022 tberton

Really fun deck. I tried swapping the Fermenters for Bankrolls and the Blueberry for original flavour Diesel, but the fact that Bankroll requires runs can really lock you out of money if the Corp plays carefully. Fermenter is much more reliable.

10 May 2022 Havvy

A real great write up and congratulations on the result!

I've always been interested in post-rotation 'Geist' type decks, and this gives a great foundation for doing so! Lots of interesting tips too :)

10 May 2022 vesper

This list looks so fresh, even though all the cards in it have been around for a while. Congrats on the result!

Time to ponder some Q-rbs.

24 May 2022 PreNic

Great list, bonus point for the Hotline Miami reference <3

31 May 2022 tzeentchling

Just noticed you're at only 3 Spy Camera. Surely that can't be correct?!