The Crusade v2 (1st place in 3 Store Championships)

Cerberus 4654

I've been testing RP Grail since the set was about to be completed, back before Excalibur came out. I quickly made up my mind that Grail ice is really strong, but especially in RP, where it is weak early game but dominant late game. The Grail ice give you a huge amount of early game defence as the runner is unwilling to run without a full rig.

While a few cards have changed throughout the tournaments the deck has successfully helped me win 3 different store championships in the UK (Evesham, 18 players, Exeter, 14 players, and Cheltenham, 22 players)

This deck plays differently to standard RP, it is less taxing in the late game as it is missing the taxing Komainu, Tollbooth and ELP. However while it gives this up, it is possible to score its first agenda extremely early as it has a number of low cost Ice and a decent amount of burst economy. This combined with the threat of Grail ice will often allow you to score an agenda early, and if that agenda is a Nisei MK II, then it can often be game winning.

Agendas - Standard RP agenda suite, you want the agendas to be difficult to steal. Nisei MK II is a devastating card that can win you games if it is scored. I believe that 3 Future Perfects is correct for this deck as you only want to score 3 agendas to win.

Economy - Standard drip economy of Mental Health Clinics and Sundews, getting these online and protected is key to success. I am running Medical Research Fundraiser instead of Celebrity Gift (I know heresay right?) because I do not want to reveal if I do, or do not have Grail Ice in hand, however I need early game burst economy to threat the expensive ice. In a lot of games if you can get your drip economy going there won't be a need to play this card, but it is definitely needed for early game. I've tested both MRF and Celebrity Gift in this deck, and I remain convinced that MRF is better in this deck, because it does not want to give away the information that comes with Celebrity Gift. Since the deck does want to tax as well, it is not the perfect option, but at present it is the best influence free choice for this deck. In most other decks Celebrity Gift is better.

Ice - The Grail suite has really been extremely good, the key is to keep Lancelot in hand unless you need Ice on the board, this is because Runners will not run without a sentry breaker against RP, however they will run without a Barrier and Code Gate breaker, which will allow you to hit them with program destruction using Merlin and Galahad. It is also worth noting that Net Damage done by Merlin will often have a significant game impact, killing key cards and in some rare cases flat-lining the runner.

Excalibur - This gets a special mention, as you can have some amazing plays with this card. There is the obvious one of putting it on archives, so there isn't a cheap server to use to bounce across to the remote. However I have found that runners expect that and so it is often a sub optimal play, you can generally fake any ice as an Excalibur. Put it on another central, this often catches people out if they have easy access to HQ or R&D, they will run there as their server of choice before hitting the remote, and this is where the surprise Excalibur scores you an agenda. My favourite trick though is to put it on the scoring remote, this is probably the most underused play with Excalibur, and it has won me a large number of games. A failed Psi game, lost Ash trace or if you have a Nisei MK II scored means that you are definitely safe if they cannot break or bypass it. You can often Nisei MK II chain until they find a way of breaking it.

Many runners will take time to set up because they do not want to run without a full breaker suite. This will mean they play breakers and draw a lot, I have found that this creates scoring opportunities that are not normally there and getting out the first Nisei MK II can win you the game, remember to rush, this deck is definitely capable if the runner gives you a window.

Lets talk match ups...

Criminal - This deck is extremely strong against Criminal because it often takes them a while to get all 3 breakers on the table, because they are running some as 1 ofs. Crisium Grid also takes away the threat of Siphon to a large degree and it is often from credit denial that RP can fall down as many of its key cards such as The Future Perfect and Caprice Nisei are very reliant on them.

Anarch - There are so many variations of Anarch it is hard to summarise effectively. Noise is generally a tough match up because of the random mills and the Parasite recursion. I added the second Lotus Field for the Anarch match up, and it has helped, but the key is often to rush out early before Noise sets up, which this deck is capable of. Reg-Ass MaxX is an average match up, and will likely come down to player skill, its not a great game for you, but neither is it the worst. Eater - Keyhole however dies horribly to this deck, in every game I have played against it, it has had extremely dominant victories. The Caprice Nisei's and Crisium Grids as well as the taxing Ice really do great work against this archetype.

Shaper - This is varied depending on the build, but if it is a deck that uses run events for its multi-access, this deck has a number of good tools. Parasite recursion is always a pain, but definitely manageable.

Over 5 tournaments this deck has lost 3 times. Until some hate cards such as Drive By come out, I think this will be a very strong archetype. If you've not tried this deck or something similar I highly recommend it.

9 Mar 2015 saltytacopanda

Is it worth removing Ash for 2x Crisium Grid? Cause Caprice in centrals kinda "solves" most of the problem Crisium Grid solves.

9 Mar 2015 D4KEN

I would prefer grid on centrals against run events, caprice on remotes until i have a nisei out

9 Mar 2015 Cerberus

@saltytacopanda It was a response to Eater Keyhole shenanigans, but it has been pulling its weight against Criminal and Shaper decks as well. The problem I found was that I was always wanting Caprice on the scoring remote and having to wait for a second is a pain, as you want to score before the runner has a full suite out. Crisium Grid stops you being exposed to Siphon, Legwork, Keyhole, etc and allows you to use Caprice on the scoring server.

Both versions are viable, but the deck has been more consistent with the GC, dropping a single game to agenda flood across 2 store champs.

9 Mar 2015 podoboyz99

Congradulations on your champs! One question I have is why wraparound? You could includes more taxing ice like Eli or Markus 1.0, which is much more taxing and is also one influence. You have keyhole covered with CG, so why wraparound?

10 Mar 2015 Cerberus

It was Eli originally, but wraparound because there was so much Eater around, but it and Lotus Field do good work against most Anarch match ups. Either is a fine choice, I may well change back. Gotta try and predict the meta.

10 Mar 2015 v01d

@Cerberus First of all, my congratulations. I have just one question: what;s your opinion about Susanoo-No-Mikoto in this kind of deck? Excalibur seems the ideal Archives ICE and having a Susanoo-No-Mikoto on HQ or R&D would effectively double the number of rezzed Excaliburs.

11 Mar 2015 D4KEN

@W/MUTE i think Susanoo-No-Mikoto is to expensive unless you get a good start with econ. particulary vs. Anarch (Noise) i got a lot of Sundew and Interns trashed

15 Mar 2015 bluebird503

The largest issue with Susanoo is that D4v1d makes it look very silly. If D4v1d wasn't so popular i would consider it more.