The Ark Lockout: Second Place at Realms of Gaming SC

Netrunnerunner 35

This is the corp deck that I took to the Realms of Gaming Store Championship, where I finished second. The deck went 4-2 on the day, with wins against Bird Breaker Andromeda with Sifr and standard Leela in Swiss and Reavershop Kate and Smoke in the top cut, and losses against standard Andromeda and En Passant + Sifr Valencia in Swiss. The loss against Andy was super close; the runner won off of an agenda steal from Archives with one card left in hand, no deck, and no way of breaking into HQ and R&D again. Sometimes, Jackson just abandons you. En Passant Val with Siphon is basically an unwinnable match-up.

I don't pretend those are the best results in the world, but I've been really enjoying this archetype and I haven't seen anyone play it out of PU, so I thought I'd publish it.

There are two routes to victory: mill them out with repeated Shocks/Snares/Fetals, or trashing their breakers, removing them from the game, and scoring out once they can't get into any relevant servers. People are often prepared for the first one against PU; they're usually not prepared for the second one. The time they take to set up Slums/Strike/Feedback Filter is time I have to set up Batty+Cobra.

Card choices: It seems like most people are playing GFI out of PU; I'm pretty confident that The Future Perfect is better for this deck. You want the runner to have to access a lot of cards out of centrals, and if you can win some psi games, TFP can force those really well. I also hate playing Celebrity Gift, and I'd much rather play it with TFP than with GFI. The rest of the agendas are pretty standard.

I chose not to run Bioethics. I didn't want to devote deckslots to cards that only do net damage if I expend clicks (i.e. Bioethics and Neural EMP); hoping that your random damage will snipe a breaker or something just isn't likely to work out for you too often in a longer tournament. I maxed out Shocks and Snares, which is pretty typical; R&D is where you lose games, so you want to make R&D scary.

For the operations, I've fluctuated between two and three Ark Lockdowns, and I ultimately decided this deck can't function without three. There are times when you absolutely need a Lockdown right now, usually because you need to remove Levy or Paperclip before they can find a way to get it back. I also find that three copies makes me feel a lot better about removing, say, two Blackmails from the heap, knowing that I can eventually remove the third one with another Lockdown.

This deck is VERY econ-light. You click for credits a lot. I really dislike Celebrity Gift, particularly because I don't want to reveal what my ICE is or that I have a Batty before I have something to install it with. Subliminal Messaging can do a ton of work, forcing them to run through your spiky ICE or just giving you a free credit. The two Scarcities trash opposing currents (Rumor Mill and Employee Strike, primarily) while slowing down stuff like Sunny. Voter Intimidation trashes Film Critic, while Preemptive Action recurs your currents and other good stuff even while Rumor Mill is active. Friends in High Places is mostly for recurring Batties, but it can get back trashed ICE and Jackson Howards too. I hear it's a pretty good card.

The ICE suite is a bit atypical for PU. Aiki is amazing; I chose two instead of three because deckslots are tight and it's Yogable.

Cobra is the core of the deck; if they can break it, I usually don't rez it until I can back it up with Batty to trash a program. Cortex Lock is crazy good for the price, and with Sifr and program trashes, people are more likely to have unused MU.

I needed a fourth destroyer to work with Batty. I originally used Ichi 1.0, but it was really low impact because the runner could usually click through it even if I trashed their programs. I realized I was scoring at least one agenda most games, so I switched to Archer, and I've been really happy with it. It's usually completely unexpected and, if it fires with Batty, their rig is probably gone. It also costs 12 to break with MKUltra, so that's cool.

I wanted ETR ICE that would have the highest impact if I managed to blow up the corresponding breaker. Himitsu-Bako is absolutely perfect for this. The main way a runner deals with barriers without a fracter is through Parasite, Femme Fatale, and Knifed. With the exception of instant speed Parasite with Datasucker or Sifr support, Bako is essentially immune to all of these. I wouldn't even consider going below three; a lot of my victories with this deck come from removing their fracter and getting Bakos on at least two servers. I chose Lotus Field because Yog can't break it without Net-Ready Eyes (which is usually a one-of, and we want the runner to dig through their deck for cards) and it's immune to Parasite. So far, it's done a lot of work. The rez cost is tough, though, so you need to be selective about when you rez it.

Matchups: This deck can lose to basically anything, but it also has outs against almost anything. It's worth noting that I don't even try to win the econ war; I just try to hold onto enough money to rez the stuff I need, fire Snares, and score House of Knives. The runner having a ton of money doesn't help them if they can't break ICE.

I see Temujin Anarch and non-DLR Criminal as pretty good match-ups. Siphon hurts a lot, but Criminals are generally really bad against program trashes, so I aim to get a Batty and Cobra on HQ ASAP against Criminal. Temujin Anarch is tough if they run Rumor Mill (and draw it), but it's not super common and is usually a one-of, so I can typically manage to lock them out for a while with Lotus Field and Ark Lockdown their relevant cards.

Smoke might be this deck's best match-up; smaller deck size and one-of breakers really helps me stay in control. Even though she runs Clone Chip to help deal with program trashes, random net damage will usually hit enough breakers and/or Clone Chips to keep her from being able to run safely against Batty+Cobra. In general, matches against Shaper typically go pretty well unless they land an early Indexing. I can have a bad time if I fail to hit their Levy, though, particularly because it's hard to know exactly what breakers Shapers are going to run. When in doubt, Ark Lockdown anything that breaks sentries.

Now for the bad news: Siphon Anarch isn't a good match-up at all if they draw their Siphons. They're more likely to run Rumor Mill, they can Rebirth into Omar to trash the Batty on HQ with no risk, and this deck doesn't have enough ICE to deal with DDoS particularly well. You can do fine if you manage to hit the right cards with random net damage, but the reason I'm running this instead of another PU deck is to reduce my reliance on random net damage.

Nexus decks, particularly Nexus Kate, are also a really bad match-up if they get their Nexus on the board. With it, even if I manage to trash a program with Batty, they probably won't lose a second program because they can just Nexus the Cobra/Archer. Clone Chip out of Nexus Kate just makes the problem even worse.

As I mentioned, En Passant Valencia is basically unwinnable, especially if they have Siphon. This deck doesn't have the ICE or the econ to contest repeated ICE trashes, and if they Siphon you out of Snare range, R&D runs become really safe.

If I were trying to win a regionals, I wouldn't play this deck. But I definitely think it can make top 8 at a medium-sized regionals with good piloting, and I think it can make for engaging and interesting match-ups. That said, I recognize that some people don't like PU or Marcus Batty as cards. I just thought I'd publish this in case anyone else wanted to try out this kind of deck. Feel free to ask any questions you have about it.