The Professor Won a Store Champ!!!

HopelessHeretic 766

This deck won the Fair Game (Chicagoland area 20 people) Store Champs and their February Game Night Kit. It went 4-2 at the SC and 2-1 at the GNK. I've been working on Professor since he came out and this Professor deck for the better part of three months, but I wanted to wait until I won something relevant before publishing it. I was (and still kind of am) worried that the deck will get dismissed as just another casual Professor deck.

Philosophy:

TLDR: Gamble for days. Attack a server, sell your rig, attack another server.

The decks econ engine is the gamble for days package (which I did not invent.) It has been seen in a lot of places including some very competitive Haley builds. If you are unfamiliar the idea is that every card you play is a net of 4 creds or better. This is achieved by some combination of Sahasrara, Scheherazade, Aesop's Pawnshop, and Technical Writer. So the perfect storm is something like install Net Shield for free with Sahasrara credits, gain a credit on each Technical Writer, gain a credit for installing on Scheherazade, sell next turn with Aesop's Pawnshop for 3 creds. Obviously you won’t be able to pull off the perfect situation but some combo of these is what you are looking for. And the reason this economy package works so well in the deck is because there are only 3 cards that cost more than 3 credits in the entire deck.

The other thing you need to understand about playing this professor deck is that your rig is disposable. There is a maximum of 6 memory in the deck and the Akamatsu Mem Chipis a one of, so it is less likely to show up (but actually does show up a lot more than you would think.) So if you are hammering their scoring server that they are putting economy assets and agendas in then they install that 3rd or 4th piece of ice and put a caprice or an ash in the bottom of it the correct play is to start selling the rig to Aesop’s so that you can efficiently attack another server.

Card choices:

TLDR: Silver Bullets. Scavenge is better than Sure Gamble. Deck needs draw. Gamble for days.

Icebreakers:

We do not spend influence on programs so we can play pretty much anything we want. We are playing the most efficient Icebreakers that cost 3 or less. We can break this rule but the card has to be insanely good in its ideal situation.

Cerberus "Lady" H1: The most efficient Fracter by a very wide margin. It is on the most wanted list for a reason, and since we ignore the MWL might as well (plus its only one credit over the rule).

Corroder: The best barrier breaker that costs less than 3 lots of runners pay influence for this card it is an easy include.

Femme Fatale: This breaks our rule by a factor of 3, but its ability is very good and it can pull us out of a disaster scenario if one of our breaker types is removed from the game.

Faerie: This is fantastic for what we are doing. Having an emergency "get me out of this run before I die" button is very important to have since our other pump-able sentry breaker costs 9. We are playing it over Sharpshooter because it hits a wider number of things and costs a credit less making it

Mimic: The most efficient Sentry breaker for ICE under STR 3.

Cyber-Cypher: Cost 2 STR 4 what’s not to love.

ZU.13 Key Master: This is played over Gordian Blade because one more STR isn't worth it when the card will likely not stick around very long.

Deus X: This is largely for death prevention against those Mushin decks but also works well as a backup oh shit button.

Programs:

All of the programs in this section follow the 3 credits or less rule we established earlier. Generally they are either silver bullets or they are part of the economy engine. To shorten this section I just want to call out a few inclusions and exclusions.

Paricia: This seems like an odd choice. The card was lampooned by everyone when it came out but I think it works here. The obvious choice to replace Paricia is Imp, but we have excluded it for 2 reasons. First it makes the deck more susceptible to purges. Having your imp purged during a run can be back breaking. Second the cost of zero is very helpful for the econ engine.

Net Shield: Another core card that seems terrible. But this card hoses PE really badly and because of the econ engine it is never a dead card because we can just sell it to Aesop.

A Second Cache: There are only a handful of viable ways to spend The Professor’s one influence. The most common 2 are Stimhack and a second Datasucker, but I have also seen the shards played. I don’t think the shards synergize well enough with the prof’s playstyle. Datasucker can be very good in fixed breaker builds, but we are not creating a permeant rig so having 2 datasuckers becomes much less appealing. Stimhack is 9 creds for a click and a brain damage. By comparison a Cache can be anywhere from 2 to 10 creds with no other down side.

Harbinger: This card does nothing other than get sold to Aesop. All of our cards do that (cache does it better) and something else. I played it for a long while but recently cut it.

Events:

TLDR: Scavenge is better than Sure Gamble. Tutors, Recursion, and Draw.

Diesel: Arguably the best draw event in the game.

Test Run: This tutors for 22 cards in the deck and can also recur them. There are also a lot of money plays that can be made with this card that on the surface look very dumb but are actually quite good. For example test run a Cache on to a Scheherazade to net one credit (and maybe Technical Writer credits) but the Cache then goes on top of your deck and you have a guaranteed 4 credit card on top of your deck (likely more than 4 credits though).

Scavenge: Hands down better than Sure Gamble in any deck that is playing Cache and Scheherazade. You can target Cache with Scavenge to gain 4 credits. But Scavenge also synergizes with our deck to ridiculous level. Femme Fatale, Cerberus "Lady" H1, Cyber-Cypher, D4v1d, and Cache all have insane synergy with the card and it can be used to simple bring back a program you sold earlier.

Levy AR Lab Access: Sometimes in long matches against heavy glacier you need to reload all you recursion. The main issue with this is that I am not playing any same old things and if it gets hit by net damage its gone forever.

Hardware:

TLDR: Draw, Mem, And Plascrete Carapace

Clone Chip: This is the biggest reason to play prof since he can take these without the influence penalty that other runners have to. They are great and enable a lot of his mid run shenanigans.

Astrolabe: We desperately need draw and a fifth memory.

Akamatsu Mem Chip: The memory situation runs fine with just 5 memory, but if you have 6 you can make some greedy plays that keep pressure on the corp like keep a large nerve agent when you would normally sell.

Plascrete Carapace: The premier flatline prevention. It is annoying that it is arguably the only dead card in the deck (when playing against non-flat line decks.) I was playing bookmark for a while since it was a good Aesop target against the non-flat line decks and protected you from power shutdown, but then Artist Colony came out and it changed everything.

Resources:

TLDR: The deck leans very hard on Aesop's Pawnshop and Technical Writer. Artist Colony is amazing even without Fan Site. Film Critic is a meta game card.

Aesop's Pawnshop: This card makes the entire decks econ engine work. If you can reliably keep the deck off of Aesop’s you have a very good shot of beating it. It is the strongest card in the deck and its biggest weakness at the same time. Your opening hand almost doesn’t matter if you have Aesop’s in hand mulligan aggressively for it.

Technical Writer: This card functions similarly to a Kati Jones in an Iain Stirling: Retired Spook deck. It is a nest egg that sits there and gets bigger every turn and can be leveraged to win a money fight. Be careful of High-Risk Investment.

Film Critic: This card is very important vs Jinteki and any midseason or punitive deck. This deck needs Aesop’s. Being covered in tags can make the game very hard to win.

Artist Colony: We are playing this card mostly so that we can go get Plascrete Carapace in an emergency and to get Film Critic or Aesop's Pawnshop in desperation. Mostly it lets us get away with the few one ofs we are running that are not programs.

Bad Matchups:

TLDR: Weyland

Weyland has all the tools to hate this kind of deck out of a game. The big ones are Elizabeth Mills and Housekeeping. This deck falls apart to either of these 2 cards and I’m not sure if there is a way to deal with them reliably. Power Shutdown can also be rough but it’s never game endingly bad. But thankfully Weyland is very underplayed in the current meta game.

At the SC I played against PE, SYNC, Spark, ETF, and SOL. The deck lost to ETF in the last round of Swiss then was immediately paired up against it again for the first game after cut and managed to take it down. The second game it lost was in the first game of finals (I went undefeated in bracket and had to lose two) on a very large misplay by me. Clot lock was holding the game off for me and I didn't reinstall a Self-modifying Code to keep it going despite having one in hand.

Conclusion:

Before I sign out here I would like to address a misconception that the netrunner community seems to have about the Professor. “Professor will only get better as new programs come out.” While this is technically true the issue is that every deck gets better as new cards come out. And the decks at the very top will become better at a much faster rate. I have been trying to make prof work since creation and control and 6 months ago I had finally given up. If not for the MWL he would not be as powerful. There are a handful of things that could come out that would make prof better. A program that mirrors Archives interface. Being able to remove cards from the game would heavily improve a lot of the asset spam match ups. An expose program would help the Mushin match ups instead of just having to face plant into brain damage. And of course rebirth (more on rebirth later cause I’m not going where you think I am.)

This deck is not easy to play and requires you to know where cards are at any given moment. If anyone has any questions or comments about the deck I will field them to the best of my ability. I would love to find a way to cut 2 cards without hurting any of my match ups.

22 comments
28 Mar 2016 MightyToenail

Why only one lady?

28 Mar 2016 pbrand

Congrats Vince!

28 Mar 2016 HopelessHeretic

@MightyToenail Space reasons mostly. We have a ton of ways to recur it as well.

28 Mar 2016 WhitePawn

Congrats man! Glad to hear you pulled the win. This deck is rad and looks really tough to pilot. Way to earn that SC.

28 Mar 2016 WayneMcPain

Why not Mongoose over Faerie? It's 3 creds, can be used more than once, is pumpable and reusable. You aren't trashing Faerie to get Aesop money anyway.

Good Prof. deck! Congrats on the win!

28 Mar 2016 HopelessHeretic

@WayneMcPain I feel like Faerie does a very different thing in the deck from Mongoose. Its more of a safety net that knowing with an SMC installed and 5 creds there is almost nothing that can hurt me. There is no ice in the game that mimic can break that Mongoose breaks more efficiently. Really where Mongoose would be most useful is for ice that is STR 4 like an [Ichi 1.0] and Femme Fatale only costs one more to break(/en/card/01062) (at STR 5 we could go get D4v1d for the same price). And Femme Fatale is too good to give up. I think the STR 1 is what kills it for me. If it was say STR 2 and just didn't care about Tsurugi I would be all in on it.

29 Mar 2016 mharris717

@HopelessHeretic did we play in first round of Dice Dojo SC? I was the tall guy from out of town. If so this makes me feel better about losing to the Professor! :)

29 Mar 2016 HopelessHeretic

I think so. I can't imagine there was another prof there. Were you playing a Jinteki: Replicating Perfection that struggled to find Caprice Nisei?

29 Mar 2016 mharris717

I sure was, along with a Whizzard that struggled to find Faust. Congrats man!

30 Mar 2016 PureFlight

Vince, this deck was incredible to see in action. I still can't get over the amount of instant speed actions you were taking. Given how many 1-ofs the Prof requires, it baffled me to see you keep track of which programs were where and how you would manage your rig just perfectly to counter threats.

Take this guy to regionals, baby! Prof 2016!

1 Apr 2016 BobAloVskI

I agree Scavenge can be much better than Sure Gamble in this deck. The benefit the latter has is that you can play it first turn for an inject of money. Scavenge requires you to have had a Cache first. But, as you said, Scavenge is better in this deck with all the Technical Writer synergies.

2 Apr 2016 zagzagal

While it does break your 3 rule, what about finding room for a Keyhole? It does lots of work against a number of combo, and horizontal decks. Also a Medium, keyhole, medium turn can be back breaking.

2 Apr 2016 Crowe

I didn't think Medium worked with Keyhole, since Keyhole means you do not access?

2 Apr 2016 BobAloVskI

@ryangibson86 It can work if you are playing Hyperdriver and build up to a big turn. You Keyhole a few clicks to get rid of non-agendas (which still builds up Medium tokens) then you alternate normal R&D runs for Medium accesses and Keyhole runs to shuffle R&D so you are always seeing 5, 7, 9... fresh cards on your Medium runs. This is assuming they cannot rez or you have destroyed all their R&D ICE.

It probably would not work in this deck as you do not build up to that big turn. Plus memory would be an issue.

2 Apr 2016 ouroborosglyx

A minor correction: Stimhack doesn't really cost a click to play in the same way that Cache does, since you also compress a run into that click.

Nice writeup, neat deck :)

2 Apr 2016 ixwt

Really interested to hear your ideas on how Rebirth is going to affect the Professor. I've been trying recently to get him to work, but I think I was focusing too hard on Big Rig and Utility. This might make him more feasible in more match ups.

2 Apr 2016 HopelessHeretic

@zagzagal Kethole is an interesting idea that I considered but ultimately it is essentially a redundancy option for medium (R&D attack.) This is compounded by the fact that I don't really have the memory to have both out at once.

@ouroborosglyx You're right the click compression makes it not the fairest of comparisons, but I think my general point still stands.

@ixwt I think big rig with professor is a bit of a trap since you are likely to include too many expensive cards and not enough money to play them. Rebirth is very interesting in prof. I'm still testing (and who knows what the meta is going to look like by then,) but I think that Exile's added draw is far in a way the best ID for the current build.

2 Apr 2016 Mechanoise

Fucking medal! :D

3 Apr 2016 MightyToenail

I played this list five times on Jinteki. I went 1-4, though I feel like one of those was just really bad luck, while another was me being new to the deck. However, I think this deck needs two artist colonies.

5 Apr 2016 Tozar

This deck has no answer to Ichi 1.0 which is a very popular card, why not include Atman?

5 Apr 2016 Drazjk

Having played The Professor (even though it was some time ago) I look at this list and see something that's really solid, with a constantly morphing rig that can handle most any situation. Built in a fashion I probably would have taken it myself. Can't really say anything other than big thumbs up to you. The only real problem I see with this is the general problem that swiss army shaper decks like this have and that is how tiring they are to pilot in a tournament due to the constant need to know where all and every piece is for possible responses.

6 Apr 2016 Madarnann

Hey, great deck! I just wanted to say that you could easily replace 1 copy of cache with a harbinger to save 1 influence point that you could spend in something more interesting (rebirth/stimhack (?)). What do you think?