The Black Knight - BABW York winner

Vapo 1228

"None shall pass"

Think Blacklist is just a tool for keeping Clot in the bin? Reckon Shaper Bullshit means you can never build a safe remote without Ash and/or Caprice? Don't think you can possibly win a game with 5+ BP? Think again.

I've always enjoyed decks that include program trashing as a big part of their gameplan, I love tearing down the rig a runner has carefully constructed and making previously porous servers strong again. While I've worked on Weyland trashing decks on and off ever since the release of Power Shutdown, it was only the addition of Grail ice that has brought them up to genuine competitive consideration (outside of a meta composed of nothing but recursion free criminals)

The SanSan cycle added some key cards in the form of Blacklist and Oaktown Renovation, and as it stands the deck has serious game against any faction. Even recursion heavy shapers can find themselves locked out of your servers these days.

Card breakdown:

ID

It has to be Blue Sun. You don't have any fancy OAI/Curtain Wall tricks, but you still have virtual immunity to parasites. Don't underestimate this, anyone playing heavy parasite recursion would flatten this deck out of any other ID and it's just not worth it. Being able to move your dangerous ice around, pull back grails to support ones in more relevant places and more easily hit Restructure money are also nice bonuses, but it's Parasites that keep you here.

AGENDAS

This agenda suite is ideal for this style of play. Every single one either funds you to score the next one, or searches it up for you. Oaktown was a massive boost, it's amazing being able to score an agenda on turn 2 or 3 without completely destroying your tempo, Fracking provides a massive burst of econ, HTs are trivial to score, give you a bit of a cash boost and obviously provide the ideal Archer food and Atlas fetches up the next agenda.

The ideal scoring pattern is Oaktown, Fracking, Atlas, with a counter to fetch the winning Hostile, but you can and should try to score everything you draw pretty much straight away.

ASSETS

Blacklist is the key to beating Shapers, they have far too much recursion for a deck like this to function while they have free access to it. I'll discuss the matchups in more detail below.

Jackson Howard is Jackson Howard, but deserves specific mention for the awesome synergy with Power Shutdown. There's no better feeling than safely shutting down a Grimoire.

The bootcamp is generally used for one or the other of these and is largely included to free up the influence that would otherwise be a 3rd Blacklist, and there's a 1-of Private Contracts for the times you can't find any op econ or push an agenda out quickly enough to stabilise your economy.

UPGRADES

Just the Crisiums, for Siphon/Keyhole hate. You hate econ denial and these are the best counter in the game.

OPERATIONS

Hedge and Restructure are your bread and butter economy, you will definitely need one of these if you can't score an Oaktown or Hostile first up.

Power Shutdown is obviously pretty central to the deck, and you should try to use it at every opportunity. Even if it's not a key component you're hitting, if there's something 0-1 cost out just go for it, you have more and they are the first thing you shuffle back in with Jackson every time.

Subliminal Messaging is a fantastic backup econ option, people often have to dig pretty hard to find all the answers to your ice which can give you a lot of turns where you can pull it back, and there's always the cute play of fetching it with Atlas to score an agenda they thought you were too poor for.

Patch is possibly the weakest card in the current list and may get replaced, but it's pretty great for stealth matchups where putting it on any of your codegates adds an extra stealth credit tax and should definitely stay if you're expecting to see a lot of these.

ICE

Grails/Grim/Archer - These are how you win. Kill stuff. Kill it again. Pull the ice back and move it around so they never know what server might be about to make them lose yet another thing. Don't be afraid to pick up Grim sometimes, bad pub doesn't matter if they can't get in and not knowing where it is can be very powerful.

Enigma is vanilla but clearly better than the pisspoor in-faction options for a Code Gate. Gets the nod over Ice Wall as it can't be insta-parasited with Grimoire out.

Changeling is wonderful for it's non-destroyer strength 4 sentry option forcing an extra gear check against anyone relying on Mimic. With Datasuckers being prime Shutdown targets, it's often the ice that you lean on most heavily if the runner has managed to get an otherwise full rig out.

Swordsman was a recent addition but has proved invaluable, if Noise gets rich and drops a Crypsis it's your one way out and it's worth it's weight in gold in any Eater matchup.

MATCHUPS

Pre-Paid Kate

It's all about the Blacklist timing. The three key cards you want to cut off their access to are Datasucker, Sharpshooter and Atman. You're unlikely to catch them with all 3 in the bin, but if you can pick up 1 or 2 you can often trash the others later as they have a hard time dealing with all your ice without this trio. You can generally leave HQ open all game unless you're particularly flooded, and just focus on R&D and a remote. Don't be afraid of dropping blacklist in what was previously your main remote and building a second one, you can always move some of the ice around if need be. Forget about competing economically, don't bother rezzing ice just to make her spend money, only do it if it'll hit something or keep her out, and never, EVER rez if she has an SMC out and you have a Power Shutdown in hand. You won't win every Kate game, sometimes they do just shit out an entire rig including a sucker with 'Labe and Clone Chips for Datasucker Shutdown protection too quickly for you, but with careful play it's much more winnable than you might think.

Noise

Rush. Rush like you've never rushed before. Drop agendas behind single ice. Anything with an ETR sub. Rez anything that trashes a program even if it's an empty Cache, you want to keep them off the board so your Shutdowns will hit Suckers or Clone Chips. Always pull back your low strength ice at every opportunity so he has no chance to parasucker them to death. It's an extremely favourable matchup and you should win most games where he doesn't get too lucky with mills. Weird thing about the Noise matchup: You actually want them to find Aesop! He helpfully clears out the Caches that are getting in the way of your Power Shutdowns.

Reg-ass MaxX

LOL Blacklist. Both Zu and NRE versions are extremely vulnerable to Power Shutdown, and they lean heavily on Parasite which is fine by you. Don't let a Sucker live for long and you'll be fine.

Siphon/Keyhole MaxX

Blacklist is still great but you need both it and a Crisium ASAP, plus the money to defend HQ, R&D and at least 1 remote, which is tough unless you can score a very fast Fracking. Given how hard it is to defend everywhere in time it may well be less than 50/50 for you but luckily this archetype seems to be largely dying out. If it's big where you are, squeeze some cheaper ice in so that you can defend more servers for less cash. Ice Wall would be incredible here.

Other Anarchs

Even with their improved draw, they still have #Anarchproblems and without being able to lean on Parasite will struggle to find all the answers to your ice quickly enough, so score quickly and Shutdown those suckers! (have I mentioned enough times how you REALLY HATE DATASUCKER yet?)

Leela/Classic Andy

You got this one. They're just too fragile to trashing and don't have enough Faerie uses to get them through the game, especially when it's such an easy Shutdown target. Barring a bad start giving Leela a chance to do her stupid 'score off R&D, bounce HQ ice, siphon' turn one nonsense they're in a rough spot. The only variant that might give you bother is an Andy running Clone Chips and surprising you with them, but they aren't common and still pretty vulnerable to Shutdowns.

Stealth, either Andy or the new Hayley breeds

Shutdown the cloaks and stealth chips, and tax out the Ghost Runners. You have a lot of ice that eats stealth credits, you can usually tax them enough that they run out or can't find the last Ghost Runner in time. Interestingly, Dagger is far more effective against you than Switchblade due to needing less stealth so hope it's a blade version! Archer makes a nice surprise at the bottom of a server vs Dagger though, and combined with Blacklist can often hand you the full lock.

Edit - Forgot Headlock matchup: Score Fracking. Win. Don't fail to find a single ETR ice all game like I did last time I played one and lose to random pokes at R&D with no programs left. That sucked.

26 comments
12 Jul 2015 DarlingSensei

Outstanding! I've been playing something similar for a while, but I was stuck on the OAI Curtain Wall combo. Slimming down the ice mix really speeds it up in a great way. I also had three pointers that ended up being a huge liability.

One card I've had success with in this type of deck is Housekeeping. It really keeps all those annoying little cards that block your shutdowns to a minimum and makes it terrifying for runners to check potential grails early. I also enjoy Cyberdex Virus Suite to help those archers hit hard when they need to and blow out any parasite datasucker shenanigans.

I wanted to ask about a few of your choices if possible as well. Why private contracts over capital investors, melange or adonis? I've tried them all in various Blue Sun builds and would like to see which fits best here. How has patch been for you? Has the swordsman pulled his weight? Finally, how has subliminal messaging helped bait the runner into bad grail hits?

Great list!

12 Jul 2015 Vapo

@DarlingSensei I hadn't thought about Housekeeping keeping things clear for Power Shutdown but I really like the idea! Will test. Cyberdex is also worth thinking about as one more way to screw datasuckers if you can't get through to shut them down.

PC over Investors/Melange was due to safety in R&D (and on the board, for that matter) and not usually needing to use it for long enough that the everlasting nature becomes a benefit. You don't tend to hang around, one burst of using PC down to 4-6 creds and pulling it back is generally enough, it often gets discarded from hand later on.

Patch should probably be replaced, the original theory was Atman protection but Kate always seems to discard the Atman early and get it stuck in archives, and the only other matchup where it has any value is Stealth.

Swordsman has been great, I only put it in this week after deciding the Lotus Field I had in that slot before was unnecessary and it singehandedly won me a game in York where Noise managed to get about a million credits and Crypsis out depressingly quickly, and it should have won me another when I got it on HQ Vs Headlock, but that was the game I couldn't find a single ETR :(

I don't think Subliminal has forced any bad runs, most players are sensible enough not to be forced into runs just to stop me making a single credit, but most games where I've drawn it early it's netted me a bunch of credits. With so much Kate around, who has a tendency to spend a lot of turns digging and setting up and run in bursts, I think it should be seeing a lot more play than it is generally.

13 Jul 2015 kollapse

Seeing how Marcus Batty is the thing to worry about now, would that be a reasonable include with all the program trashing (or net damage for that matter) subs? Not sure what to swap out for influence though, barring the Grail suite.

13 Jul 2015 Talism

nice, will have to try your build, ive been tooling around with a housekeeping/shutdown/blacklist deck out of gagarin, blue sun might be the better id but was trying to avoid it :P

13 Jul 2015 Vapo

@kollapse I can't see a way to fit Marcus in along with grails unfortunately, or I'd definitely be trying him out! Blacklist and Jackson are just too important. I think those 'NEXT gold + Marcus' decks that everyone is trying out right now could certainly take a lesson or two from this list though, Blacklist seems an obvious include for them, and extra destroyers to compound the misery can't hurt.

@Talism I know the feeling! I tried Titan and BABW for this deck but eventually had to accept that Parasite immunity is simply better value than bonus money or Atlas tokens.

14 Jul 2015 Drchatter

How do you deal with blackmail / Valencia? I tried this deck out and had a really hard time getting around it (albeit it was very nice in other runs :) ). Oaktown starts being a dead card and there's no ash/caprice to end the run.

14 Jul 2015 Vapo

@Drchatter This is all going to be theoretical as I haven't faced Valencia in a long time, nobody playing her locally and not getting enough time on OCTGN at the moment to see everything. Luckily I played with her a lot when first released so I know what she's about.

Here's what I think should work:

Basic advice vs Blackmail - They only have 3. Go fast and you can probably score quicker than they draw them. Build a 2nd remote and get a Blacklist in it, this will suck out one of the Blackmails for sure or leave them only having access to 3 all game no matter how much recursion they have, which is just not enough to win. If you can manage to score atlas with token (go for an Oaktown first to see if they're holding Blackmail, if possible) fetch the EBC. Not only do they have to blackmail EBC that turn or you can start forcing out breakers, you can still fire it to fetch a Blacklist, which will require another Blackmail!

If they're doing more than just Blackmail recursion there's some other options:

Vs the common full rig types - take advantage of the fact that most of them aren't running the full Blackmail recursion package and just rush. They suffer even worse than most from #Anarchproblems due to the increased deck size.

Vs Grim Feast - Crisium (or Swordsman + ETR) on HQ so they can't Vamp, shut down those Suckers and keep pulling ice back so they can't Parasite, and try to avoid taking extra BP early on so you can tax them out on Keyhole runs until you can find another Crisium/Swordsman to go there.

14 Jul 2015 Drchatter

@Vapo Hey thanks I tried that out and it worked a lot better. I didn't win every game (sometimes they just had the blackmails / same old in hand) but I was definitely punishing hard if they didn't have multiple copies.

Another question what do you think about Taurus over Grim or 1/1. While both can be a dead card, Taurus can get 2 hardwares out esp if they have a console + recursion -> can reach power shutdown targets or they have to break the trace so you gain a credit swing and still trash one hardware. You also don't have to deal with the BP as a small but sometimes annoyingly significant bonus early on.

14 Jul 2015 Vapo

@Drchatter Glad it helped! :)

I hadn't considered Taurus, it's a nice idea but I think it might struggle because of the economics of it. Repeatedly pumping traces will bankrupt you very quickly, and given that it's mostly PPVP Kate that runs cheap hardware you can't hope to get more than 1 even if you pump the trace, they're just so much richer than you they'll be able to afford to match it most of the time. If more Stealth Hayley decks turn up it could have a place though, they seem to run quite poor and clearing away the chaff to enable a Refractor Shutdown seems strong.

If you were going to try one I'd lose a Patch or Subliminal rather than one of the existing ice, Grim is crucial for locking out Shapers and Crims who rely on non-reusable methods to break it.

18 Jul 2015 rubyvr00m

Excellent write up, I'm glad to see someone being creative with blue sun after getting wrecked by multiple punitive/scorch kill versions. Program trashing and "heap lock" is a fresh approach and a smart tech call against PPVP. Thanks for all the tips, looking forward to testing this deck a bit in my local meta (and likely to their sheer disapproval :D).

18 Jul 2015 hieronymus_mosh

This is it. Damn. Absolutely love this.

I've been playing Argus Grail for a while, and even though it's been fun for me and annoyingly difficult for runners, it's never quite been good.

But this? @Vapo this is gorgeous.

The Blue Sun ID ability as anti-Parasite and to play Grail mind games: Perfect.

Two questions:

Have you not found Patch useful? I love it. Just because it's way easier to shutdown a Datasucker than an Atman-4.

Did you ever try The Twins in this deck? The times I've spent an Atlas counter to get the third Merlin... Beautiful.

21 Jul 2015 Nathan 0

So I tried it. Fucking Snitch goes down turn one. What do you do then, resign?

21 Jul 2015 Nathan 0

Ended up stacked five deep on R&D and HQ, plus a six-deep protecting Blacklist and no other ice on the board. He was still hitting HQ and R&D at will using his five bad pub and a standard (high cost) breaker suite/drip econ. If every piece of ice gets exposed on the run I don't see how you can ever wear down the runner's econ. I was way ahead of him with nothing to spend it on, and Clone Chips crushed my Power Shutdowns and my Blacklist, which sat on the board the entire game, did virtually nothing except make him play even more cautiously. Decoyed Howard Jacksons and Executive Retreat and just couldn't open a window. Final score was 0-9 after 27 turns (I had sacked two agendas for Archers). Game never felt winnable.

21 Jul 2015 Vapo

@belbo Thanks man :) Patch isn't horrible but I find it's relatively rare that I really need it. Following a suggestion on Stimhack that slot is likely to become an Interns, I always forget how nicely that plays with Power Shutdown. I haven't tried The Twins but it's something I have considered, deck space is just so tight... Could be justifiable in place of Patch or Subliminal, and will probably cause the odd fun blow-out but I'm not sold on it being reliable enough.

@bondmonger Rush! While he's dicking around digging through half his deck to find his stupid 4 MU econ engine you score 7 points behind an enigma :P Why are you trying to wear down a runner's econ? That's not what this deck does. It doesn't matter if the runner has 50 credits if they can't get in, and if he's sitting back you keep scoring til he has to run. Also how do Clone Chips crush Power Shutdowns if you had a Blacklist on the board?

24 Jul 2015 Narbalicious

So I know its a lot of influence but why no Sagittarius for the basically guaranteed program trashing? Obviously NRE mimic is a thing so its not promised, but you could grab some serious trashing with it.

24 Jul 2015 Vapo

@Narbalicious Absolutely no way to fit it in alongside grails, and grails do a far better job of trashing stuff. It could work in the similar Marcus Batty/more destroyers version that other people are testing out but has the same problem as Taurus which someone suggested over on Stimhack - you just don't have the econ to be pumping traces repeatedly. You also do need a certain amount of ice that actually ends the run and Changeling fills the strength 4 sentry niche there nicely.

24 Jul 2015 Isvan

Have you considered putting in a singleton IT Department? It's only 1 influence and you can search it up with Executive Boot Camp. It's pretty much a must-trash a lot of the time and can force runners into some really awful situations if you follow it up with Blacklist.

24 Jul 2015 Vapo

@Isvan IT dept. could probably do good work but i'm no expert on it and with influence being so tight after grails, you'd have to lose Swordsman which I'm not gonna do cuz I just got the alt-arts for winning York :P

I just tried a 1 Blacklist 2 EBC version to save an extra pip but I didn't like it, EBC is sometimes too clumsy for Blacklist but seems fine for IT dept, so worth testing for sure. Might want Datapike over Enigma for that version? And probably a 2nd Subliminal over Private Contracts.

24 Jul 2015 chiefyk

Woah! I've been playing this style of deck since Grail&Blue Sun came out. It's incredibly strong, but the inclusion of Blacklist is absolutely brilliant.

GJ on the win!

28 Jul 2015 Danny

Played this deck at a local GNK, changed -1 Patch +1 Interns. Went 4-0 with the deck and love it. I have been working on Weyland program destruction since I started playing (8 weeks ago) and have had mixed success. I really dislike playing Blue Sun Oversight combo but this deck is really fun.

28 Jul 2015 Danny

I won one game with it because someone face checked an ICE with only a D4v1d in play and it was Merlin w/ Merlin in hand. Turn 4 flatline. I also won a game against Maxx that I was super agenda flooded because I top decked a blacklist the turn he intended on playing Levy.

30 Jul 2015 (A)Joke

I'm going to try this in some version, how do you think I must play against Faust? A simple 2-3 deep server and blacklist in it?

2 Aug 2015 crack

Looks really cool. Have you ever considered to include 1-2 mother goddess?

11 Aug 2015 blackb1rd

@Vapo Been playing this deck for weeks. I love grail and this just feels so good. The only change I made was adding a Cyberdex and I replaced Grim with 2x Wormhole. Its helped cut back on Bad Pub, just takes some set up. I usually only advance it once, 6 credits ain't much for a 7 strength code gate and I can use it for ETR or Trashing if need be.

27 Aug 2015 matthopkins

@Vapo this could well be my favourite ever corp deck, so thanks! A couple of questions, why no Will o the Wisp? I've found it useful in a variety of situations, and putting it in the server with blacklist to punish them for daring to trash it is funny.

I'm also wondering how best to deal with Faust... It can sometimes take a while to get a couple of grail ice deep on the scoring server, with some in hand, to make all of them have 3 subroutines. I think I'm going to change enigma to spiderweb mainly because of this.

Lastly, a friend suggested putting in two chronos projects and taking out 1 fracking and another card. What are your thoughts on this? I could see it working, especially as they probably won't run your scoring server if it has an unadvanced card in it, and with this deck it could straight up win you the game.

Anyway, thanks again for the great deck, it's amazing as you built it, I'm just trying to give it my own twist!

29 Aug 2015 Vapo

@chiefyk cheers man!

@DannyGlad you've been doing well with it :) Merlin flatlines are awesome, my favourite was when I managed to sneak out a Blacklist pretending to be a Jackson (EBC'd the jackson first) and caught a Kate player relying on Clone chip to find a gate breaker for a full triple merlin kill

@crackIt's not something I'd thought about, but it's not a bad idea. I'm just not sure if it's useful life is long enough, tho it would definitely be great the first few turns

@blackb1rdCyberdex is definitely a good include with all the Noise around now. Wormhole seems like it has some potential too, but replacing the grims seems like it'd leave you a bit light on other trashing subs to fire off it?

@matthopkins Thanks, it's great to hear that people like the deck a lot! Will O is something I've tried to get to work in a lot of different decks but always found in the end the cost and the fact they still get the successful run make me take it out again, but I like the idea of putting it in the same server as blacklist so when they finally do force their way in you can lock 'em back out again!

Faust is definitely a problem. Enigma to Spiderweb seems like a reasonable start for tackling it, along with the usual anti-noise advice of just go faster than him. I was running 2x Swordsman with just 1 Blacklist (and an extra EBC to find it) for a little bit, that setup is definitely better against Noise but loses something vs Kate where you absolutely need Blacklist, EBC is an awkward tutor.

There's one big problem with Chronos Project - it doesn't work if you have a Blacklist out! (Removing cards from the game involves them leaving the heap so CP just fails to fire if blacklist is out) If it wasn't for that they would absolutely deserve a couple of slots