Demon Kate 2.0 - 1st Place MTG Deals SC (San Gabriel, CA)

pillowdemon 647

Background

So I'm a diehard Kate fan - like, she just resonates with me, you know? She's not immediately striking compared to flashy G-Mods like Noise or MaxX, nor does she have a special "knack" for niche cases of pure focus as is the case with Gabe, our favorite Consummate Professional. She is, simply, a talented runner - one of the game's few Naturals embedded in Netrunner's dystopian cyberpunk universe.

And that's where the flavor takes off (much like Kate does over the course of a game) - she doesn't have the luxury of immediate payoffs a la Rielle. She works for it, programming just a little better than your average runner, assembling rigs a tad more efficiently than the average tinkerer. She saves some time here, some money there, and with sound play she'll properly snowball until she can't be stopped.

Kate doesn't have the angry focus of an Anarch like MaxX, obsessing over all the ways to mercilessly eat into a corp's R&D or HQ and lay waste to their servers, nor does she require a primary locus inspired by, say, siphoning HQ - she's just a little better and possesses just a tiny bit more of a particular clarity than most hackers when it comes to the basic fundamentals of running - programming and hardware mods. It is because of this that the possibilities with her are endless.

And that's what this deck's all about.

Performance

I built the alpha version of Demon Kate after getting trounced at last year's NorCal 2014 Regionals in San Rafael, CA, placing 34/80 with an anti-glacier Underworld Contacts + Crescentus Kate deck that was a little out of tune with the meta.

Demon Kate netted me 1st place in two store championships in 2014 post-regionals, and went on to hit Top 8 once and Top 4 another four times before I had to take a break from the scene in October for family reasons. This past weekend's 30-large Store Championship at MTG Deals was my debut back into the scene, where this latest version of Demon Kate won 6 out of 7 runner matches the entire tournament, taking zero losses as the only Shaper left after the Top 8 cut.

(That single loss was due to getting Midseasoned, Traffic Accident'd, and Scorched in a single Corp turn after stealing NAPD off the top of R&D at the end of my 4th click of the match, against one of the fine dudes over at Corp Draw. First time for everything.)

Overall Strategy

This isn't Big Rig Kate. This isn't "run headfirst into RD over and over" Kate. This is Demon Kate. She specializes in making the corp increasingly uncomfortable as a game wears on.

R&D will get defended early. That much is obvious. Prepare your SMCs and Test Runs for an early Imp, harrassing that lightly defended HQ, or if they naively decide to leave out undefended remotes. Fake a frown as they rez Marked Accounts and load it and smirk, probably thinking they've locked you down with lose-lose economic situations. PrePaids into Test Runs for tutoring Imp at an absurd discount makes trashing corp cards a simple task of just accessing them. Feel like sniping down that adjacent Pad Campaign that they've just broken even with? Do it - scavenge Imp and access that other asset. Or maybe sneak a peak at HQ and hit SanSan or Biotic Labor, or Hedge Fund. It doesn't matter.

Use Imp without reservation. You're Kate. You can get back Imp for one credit with a single Clone Chip, which you'd have installed for free earlier (if you're any good at base Kate). Undefended assets are now a liability to rez without protection, no card in HQ is safe, and Imp still has a token left for next turn - two with Grimoire out. No big deal. This is the crux of early game Demon Kate. If you have the option to freely harass remotes and HQ at negligible cost to your own bank account, do it.

Facecheck ice early on against Weyland and HB, and if you're pretty sure you're up against FA NBN. Figure out the board. Set the groundwork for Kate's innate knack for basic problem solving. They might not care about protecting HQ, letting you run in to glimpse ICE and Operations, maybe hoping to intimidate you. That's cool, too. Kate relishes in a challenge. You know what's coming out; now you just have to get prepared to deal with it. And Kate prepares just a little better than any other runner in the game.

Keep any opening hand that gives you Professional Contacts. No need to install it immediately if you can snipe an early remote or get an early access into RD against NEH (in fact, against NEH, I'd be looking for a completely different opening hand altogether), but mind that it is the foundation for your econ in longer games. Demon Kate doesn't seek fast wins by relentlessly hammering R&D or anything similarly single-minded, she puzzles out the boardstate and makes smart runs, harassing where she can with Imp, locking down servers with Femme, switching to centrals with Scavenge, slowly modifying the ICE layout to her liking with cloned Parasites - seriously, Kate can do it all.

That's another thing: ice sniping, one of the subtler secondary functions of this deck. Clone chip pairs with Parasite against the rare 0 or 1 str ICE. Grimoire is never a bad thing to get out early if you come across it (though mind that you are not dependent on memory if the playstyle's right), allowing you to snipe up to 2str ice with a single clone chip before your turn begins for a single credit, or making that Data Raven immediately more economical to run against with Femme when you're reasonably sure it's helping protect an NAPD in a kill deck. If you really need that 3str barrier out of the way without Grimoire to help you, and the cards are right? Surge it.

That's right. Surge it (please, please mind the flavor text). There's only one in the whole deck and that's deliberate. It is the coup d'etat of Demon Kate, and the possibilities are similarly endless. They think they've got you, with a Tollbooth hosting three Parasite counters protecting a Caprice or Ashe or something along with an advanced agenda, figuring they can get two more turns out of the server? Wrong. Surge it. Imp the supporting upgrade just because you can.

Or maybe they rez a single ice wall on HQ, knowing you only have 3 counters left on your Cerberus "Lady" H1 with an Eli 1.0 protect R&D. That's fine. Test run Nerve Agent (for very cheap, if you're any good at PPVP Kate), run once, seeing a measly single card (perhaps Imping it for posterity, if you're a true Demon Kate player), adding a virus counter to Nerve Agent, you know, per the rules. Then Surge it. And run back in for your last click, seeing 4 cards and saving a crucial power counter on Lady.

And always remember: Grimoire makes everything better for Demon Kate.

Some Niche Card Explanations

I used to have Gordian Blade. I never used it. Instead I'd opt to kill most Code Gates with parasite (Quandary's easy, Enigma's equally easy with Grimoire out or one turn less easy without it, a Modded Atman can handle the rest).

So I threw in Torch. If you play this deck more than once, or if you ever experience this deck getting Pro Contacts that first click, you'll realize how trivial it is to get out Torch. It can be Test Run + Scavenged or just straight scavenged off, say, an exhausted Lady.

There used to be 3x Daily Casts in previous versions of the deck. Great for that snowball econ thing but hardly necessary, so they were exchanged for 1x Maker's Eye and 2x Same Old Thing. Surging gets addicting. Trust me. (But honestly, as you harass remotes and HQ, since this deck is not primarily an R&D bust deck, they'll catch on and leave R&D wide open for consecutive Index runs. Heh heh).

In Sum

So the deck's just a ton of fun to play. There's enough room to allow the Corp to get up their engine, whatever it is, and is equipped with all the tools - whether econ or virus harass or just straight ice-smashing - to dismantle it even after it gets going. In a straight power clash, Demon Kate will always edge out on top, and with more ferocity the longer a game goes on. Kate's ability to make virus harass absurdly cheap combined with Shaper recursion and snowballing econ - coupled with a fantastic endgame Icebreaker suite - pretty much can't be stopped with the right person piloting the deck.

24 comments
17 Mar 2015 cockator

Hey man i'm very new to Netrunner (played magic a bunch). Love the idea Around this deck. Kate caught My eye as well as HB when i starter with the coreset. Just wondering what the winning condition is? I see alot of harrasment but would you Care to explain :).

17 Mar 2015 Mykoo44

This deck looks like all kinds of fun! I've been playing a very standard Prepaid Kate deck recently and found the inclusion of an Imp did fantastic work for me, this just looks like it works better!

Out of curiosity, how do you judge setting the strength of Atman? is it for specific troublesome ice or do you dealt to a particular strength.

Also any tips for all the scorching that's about these days? Blue Sun: Powering the Future blowing up the house for example.

17 Mar 2015 lolpaca

Since you're Test Running heavily, have you considered maybe a single Eureka!? Gets awesome value out of Femme and Torch, and seems to fit the motley, toolbox nature of that events list too :)

Anyway, have my like!

17 Mar 2015 Oisin

This does look cool. But I share @Mykoo44 questions about meat damage. How many of your seven games were against kill decks?

17 Mar 2015 pillowdemon

Cockator - good question, I didn't really explain :) this deck mostly specializes in gImping (see what I did there) the Corp's attempts at early setup, and seeks to ideally score from early pressure against scoring remotes and HQ accesses. By drawing their attention from RD, you can set up for and make surprise Indexing runs nearing late game for the win. If that doesn't pan out, and if you haven't already, hit their hand with Nerve Agent, tempting a purge while you continue working toward that endgame rig, at which point you'll have uncontested access to any server.

Mykoo - Atman doesn't see much use in my play style, but if there's an opportunity to Mod it out early, it's usually in the range of 2/3/4 strength, usually 4, not that often 2. Early parasites (SMC) with liberal cone chip use take care of 1-3str ice relatively quickly while pressuring the server hosting the parasite. With regards to handling kill decks, most rely either on reckless running (Jinteki) or assembling pieces in HQ (midseasoned, scorch, punitive, etc). Don't be afraid to sit back and set up your defenses in the former case, and leverage early Indexings to figure out what you're up against. Against Weyland/NBN combo type kill decks, focus on building up your snowball Econ while gImping theirs, or equally valid hitting HQ to gImp pending kill combos. While it's hard to midseason you if you're auead financially, it's equally hard to do so without the actual card B-)

17 Mar 2015 pillowdemon

lolpaca - that is actually an excellent suggestion and I'm totally going to do it. Maker's Eye was a last minute change before the tournament that definitely scored agendas but wasn't exactly crucial to my success. Given the deck's reliance on Test Run with Femme and spreading Same Old Thing use between recursion/run events and possibly having to save one for Levy AR, Eureka synergizes with Femme and Torch use very nicely. Thanks for the suggestion!

Oisin - definitely one deck (the single loss cited above), and I believe Timmy Wong (3rd place worlds player) had kill options in the Titan Transnational deck he brought to the tournament. Definitely saw a Punitive during an Indexing run, but I scored too quickly before he could get the kill threat going.

Jon Delasandry's Foundry deck - which I faced during Top 8 - also had unique kill options (Twins and Janice, lol). in addition to Snare. Again, Indexing is both a way to anticipate corp kill strays without actually hitting traps, plus it lets you figure out how soon you need to get the gImps going.

Besides that, my younger brothers who are atound my skill level plain Weyland, Tagstorm NBN, and Shell Game Jinteki. I'm quite practiced against kill decks B;-)

17 Mar 2015 Mykoo44

@pillowdemon Awesome! Thanks for sharing, I love the look of what you've built here and I can't wait to give it a try.

17 Mar 2015 Vanadium

Any thoughts on cards up to O&C to include? Or is there really nothing since All That Remains that you thought belonged?

17 Mar 2015 pillowdemon

Myth - to be fair, I built the deck considering how to counter the pending O&C meta without actually considering what to include from it (the same is moreso true for my Corp deck which will be posted at a later time). Battling the new school with the oldschool.

17 Mar 2015 slevin38

I've been playing PPVP Kate for awhile and am intrigued by this version. I may give it a whirl soon. Awesome idea. No fear for Plascrete because you figure you can always beat the trace?

17 Mar 2015 pillowdemon

@slevin38 - yep. Make early high threat runs (Nerve Agent, even Indexing if you can stomach it) to force high-cost ETR ice rezzes, if they let you through, don't be afraid to click up 3 credits just to negate a potential SEA+Scorch combo. Otherwise, there aren't many ways to retaliate against an unsuccessful runner. I'm also very happy to sit back and ProCo up, installing Clone Chips for free and leaving out an SMC while snowballing econ if it becomes clear that they're just waiting for you to make a financially demanding run (perhaps leaving an unrezzed SanSan out in the open).

The game changes significantly, of course, against a kill-based NBN that manages to score out the first Astro. From there it's finding the rest of the Astros while managing your own credits in relation to theirs, which necessitates compressed running - having out that Nerve Agent with counters, Indexing after trashing or forcing the use of Jackson Howard, etc.

18 Mar 2015 Dydra

" This isn't Big Rig Kate. This isn't "run headfirst into RD over and over" Kate. This is Demon Kate. "

Incorrect, this is Prepaid Kate ... end of story

18 Mar 2015 pillowdemon

@Dydra - really diggin' the intro to your recent Great Demon soul sucking Spear of the Haven, deck. Very classy :P

How about for next time, try commenting on the deck strategy before getting pointlessly agitated about what people choose to name their own decks on Internet.

19 Mar 2015 pillowdemon

@Dydra- to respond in a less snippy way, Prepaid Kate is a well-known deck archetype that is not an end unto itself. Rather, PPvP enables Kate to leverage her own ability to further supplement her innate program/hardware discounts with Event discounts right on top, rounding out her click compression across all game cards.

Basically PPvP accounts for barely 3 (zero-influence) card slots in your weirdly antagonistic "this is Prepaid Kate" declaration in your post. What players choose to do with the remaining 15 influence and 42 cards determines that deck's archetype, not the PPvPs themselves. For example, I could have built the deck to involve free-to-use (via PPvP) Inside Jobs to supplement gradually building up a stealth suite using one or two Silencers, and I might have named deck that "Agent Kate."

So I still don't get why you got so agitated about me choosing to name my deck "Demon Kate" (which is a good fit, if you ask me), but hopefully maybe you now understand the rationale behind it.

19 Mar 2015 Calimsha

This deck feels like a blast from the past, from a time when NEH wasn't everywhere and nobody played Architect.

I've been playing something similar last year and felt forced to switch to a faster econ engine, more install/break efficient breaker (Mimic instead of Femme, double CyCy instead of Torch), faster MultiAccess (Legwork instead of Nerve Agent) and resilience to tag (no ProCon). Issue is, it's 2-3 (if not 4) turns too slow to reliably win against faster rush / FA deck in my opinion.

Guess there weren't a lot of NEH / Rush HB in your meta =)

19 Mar 2015 Saan

@Dydra I've never seen someone so worked up by confusing "archetype" and "deck name" before. You need to drink less coffee or something.

19 Mar 2015 pillowdemon

@Calimsha - there actually weren't! I think only ~7 players out of 30 brought NBN decks, while the other 3 corp factions were nicely distributed among the rest of the players with some bias toward Weyland.

It might be worth mentioning that 4 NBN players made it into Top 8, and I was the only Shaper left after the cut. The 2nd placer was last year's SoCal regional champ who brought Foundry and Whizzard to this recent Store Championship.

I think these are very good signs for the game state, with underdog IDs seeing a rise in both popularity and performance with creative deck builders doing well in tournaments.

20 Mar 2015 jakodrako

BGG has Kroen, r/Netrunner has ScreamBear. NRDB has @Dydra apparently.

I am a huge proponent of fun deck names, and I approve of this one! I also like the deck and shall try playing it! Thanks @pillowdemon :)

21 Mar 2015 peacelord2002

Ugh....how did you win with no Mimic, Torch instead of something much easier to get hold of like Gordian (I know, Test Run and Scavenge but...meh) and doing the whole Nerve Agent/Surge thing (very fun, but susceptible to purging) when you could just include Legworks and SOT them?

21 Mar 2015 pillowdemon

@peacelord2002 - I guess I'm a good pilot? Mind also that I went up against several corps using cosmic ICE, and Torch is probably the best matchup vs Wormhole (as well as other situational cards like Lotus Field and RSVP). Nerve Agent with Grimoire out becomes a sustained mega-Legwork that tempts the Corp to waste turns purging, which a single Legwork doesn't accomplish, and also pressure the corp into protecting HQ, making RD that much easier to wombo combo as the game goes on. Gotta see the big picture yo.

And mimic's slightly overrated if you ask me. Femme's just fine if you know how to use the other silver bullets in the deck.

23 Apr 2015 Laxen

@pillowdemon so I've finally decided to try Kate out and I'm planning to use this deck as a base (awesome deck btw). Have you given the cards from the last two packs any thought? Primarily Clot and possibly the new decoder. Thanks :)

23 Apr 2015 Laxen

Eh, and maybe Comet : P

29 Apr 2015 pillowdemon

@Laxen - glad you're giving Kate a try! She's great, btw :P

I played around with Traffic Jam and found it marginally more useful for my playstyle. Besides the influence savings, it doubles as an answer against Current Operations, further synergizing with PPvP economy and Same Old Thing.

The recent Breaker Bay release also gave Shapers access to London Library. Besides safeguarding those awkward moments you have Test Run and Femme in your grip, it serves as a way to preserve Lady counters. Can also be scavenged off (resetting Femme counters or cementing Torch) in a pinch.

I should continue stressing that this isn't a particularly "fast" or "explosive" PPvP Kate archetype - if players trying out this deck find themselves hungry for early burst econ or early agenda accesses out of RD, two strats that are very important against FA-focused corps, Calimsha's builds are definitely more suitable. Demon Kate's better at slowly dismantling the corp while keeping them in the early game as long as possible, so this build's favored matchups come against glaciery archetypes that fall back on damage combos as a secondary win condition. While I've had success against FA (particularly asset-focused econ FA), it takes a lot of experience with this deck and a pretty robust playstyle switch-up to feel comfortable against it.

19 Sep 2015 ctxjckl

I LOVE DEMON KATE!!! It's so fun. IMP EVERYTHING!