NEXT to Nothing: Beta Testing Defence

GreatGreedyGuts 434

This deck isn't quite perfect, yet, but it's been a lot of fun for me to play. I've been winning between 2/3 and 3/4 of the games I've played it in, including against decks being taken to store championships by friends who do well there... but not yet AT any. Yet.

AGENDAS

The idea behind this deck is just to get both NEXT Design and Accelerated Beta Test to go off reliably. I've seen people say that 24 Ice is enough to get you a 80% chance of 3 Ice in hand with a mulligan for NEXT Design -- but that ignores a number of things. ABT is one -- you want that to be as safe as possible to score, so that you can layer up more and more Ice on servers and save money in a manner an ETF deck probably can't manage. There's no safety net beyond Vitruvius, so if you fall, you can fall pretty hard... but I've yet to score an ABT without getting ANY Ice, and have been treated fairly well by it on several occasions.

Mandatory Upgrades is present for obvious reasons: if you score it, you've all but won. Non-MU Agendas all score from hand, so you then have to Ice up fewer servers, and you can use Melange AND install a piece of Ice every turn. It's not easy to score, but the benefit is well worth it -- and actually is about the same as scoring a 5/2 or 5/3 except for cost (and without the risk of the runner obtaining more points). After all, once you score MU, you get the click that same turn! I've had a game go from obvious, slow, painful loss to stomp in my favour largely because of scoring one MU.

ICE

The deck is effectively a Glacier deck with Rush components. You want enough cheap things that you can rez most or all of them at the beginning, with enough big things to scare the runner off, slow them down, and also luck out with ABT and save big. The average cost is reasonably low, at around 3.4 (approximately).

The Sentries are the lifeblood of the deck in many respects, as they tend to do a lot of econ lifting. Caduceus (and the one Shadow) provide a lot of advantage if rezzed early, and the Rototurrets and Ichis sap away at their rig, denying them the ability to run elsewhere safely. It's usually good to get Sentries in at the roots, and to leave something like Ichi unrezzed until you need to hurt them, hopefully when they've already clicked through Eli and can't avoid the trashing so well. (I have been surprised at how well Rototurret has done for me, in all honesty.)

Barriers are what HB does best, and I pack a bunch of 'em. Paper Wall is the obvious early gear-check, with Eli and WoS to actually tax them (the latter being less taxing and more solid). Heimdall and Wotan are mostly here to scare the runner off, and eat up their resources. Unless you can rez one in front of another, they're not actually going to keep a runner out much -- play them over a central server, though, and suddenly the tax of running starts being painful. (Also, a Wotan with unrezzed Ice behind it, especially if it also has something IN FRONT of it, is pretty solid -- make them unable to click through Viktor or Ichi and lose things they didn't expect to.) It's worth remembering that both Heimdall and Wotan are INTENSELY permeable for such big Ice, though -- so I can't emphasize enough how much they need to be either supported or over centrals. Runners are afraid of Wotan, but it doesn't keep them away from an Agenda until they've run through it a few times already and gotten brain damage and program trashes to add up.

Code Gates kind of fill the other roles, myriad as they are. Quandry is there to make them fetch Yog or Gordian Blade, and basically nothing else. Pop-Up Window helps with the economy ever so slightly -- if you can land one in front of an Ice with Trace subroutines it's especially useful -- but it's never going to keep a runner out on its own. Tollbooth taxes them hard on encounter and also is hard to break easily because of it. Viktor ends the run if they don't click through -- but they CAN click through everything. However, it's not Yog-able, and the Brain Damage trace can hurt 'em a little if it goes off when they don't expect it to. Combined with other Bioroids, it can be rather effective -- in so far as Bioroids can be.

ECONOMY

It might seem like this deck has no hope in hell of rezzing all this Ice, but that's not my usual experience at all. The Operations-heavy economy keeps things flowing on turns when you want to be installing Ice and Agendas, and Melange covers most other turns. A turn spent drawing an Ice from R&D and using Melange is actually a turn well spent, often enough -- especially if done in succession. Clicking for cash three times isn't ideal, but if your Melanges aren't showing up and you don't have Gila, it can be worth doing. If you can score a Gila, it will almost always help -- winning without ever getting a Gila or a Melange isn't impossible, but I've found games tend to start turning around as soon as either shows up. (Using Gila and installing a fourth piece of Ice on a server is a neutral cost, and also just a fun way to irritate the runner.)

It's also easier to defend this deck, because you want, at MOST, five servers -- your Centrals, a Melange server, and a Scoring server. I often turn one of the latter into the other to save on costs, placing Melange where I've scored Agendas until I've Iced things up more, then trashing it and scoring out more heavily.

Without Imp, Demo Run, or similar, only 28.5% of the deck is composed of cards the Runner can interact with in HQ and R&D -- even discarding cheap Ice you don't need and letting your hand of five Ice sit unplayed, as necessary. (Alternating a turn or two of Melange with a turn of installing Ice in front of all your important Servers is fun, too!) Melange is the same value, each use, as playing a Hedge Fund AND using Gila Hands -- do not underestimate how quickly it can boost your ability to rez boatloads of Ice with impunity. (Knowing when to STOP using it is important, though, and knowing when to install over it, likewise.)

Drawing is much riskier here than in other decks, I find -- unless you know what you need and the runner is outpacing your economy, I generally find relying on the Mandatory Draw and XYZ Level Clearances does more than enough.

WHAT IS NOT HERE

"Action Jackson," I hear you say, "Is an OBVIOUS INCLUSION. He'll smooth out your draws, help you get what you need faster, and make your ABTs safer. Where is he?"

Well, my friends... I've had good luck with this. ABT rarely backfires, I can often afford to take things slow (Shapers with Opus have been my most consistent source of defeat admittedly), and I don't usually want to be drawing more cards than I have, I want to have more money to play those cards. I might try out a Jackson at some point in the future, but... the 28 Ice is essential for the NEXT/ABT to function consistently, and the Econ Ice (which eats up the influence I AM using) helps patch up where I might otherwise be weak.

If you need him, I'd try swapping one Melange and one Pop-Up Window for Jackson and... well, whatever Ice you'd like, I guess.

The other thing not here that most NEXT Design decks seem to run is NEXT Bronze. This is silly -- it's a Yog-able Code Gate that can never NOT be such and costs more than Quandry. It's harder to parasite and costs more for non-Yog breakers than Quandry, but... the money you save there is often worth it early on when it matters, and doesn't help much later, I've found. When NEXT Silver is out I'll almost certainly revise this opinion.

WHERE THIS IS GOING

I'm still tinkering with this pretty heavily. There're lots of things I want to try doing differently to see if they help out, hence why this deck is a Prototype.

NEXT Bronze -- for all that I JUST said it's not worth it, I'm wondering if the potential added cost for Gordian Blades might be worth it. Signs point to no, and even in my Parasite-heavy meta Quandry does just fine, but... I might give that another shot.

Caduceus and Shadow -- both help the economy a fair bit, with other benefits and drawbacks. Shadow is advance-able (to out of Mimic ranges), doesn't have a trace they can use to deny you the encounter money, and costs one influence less. Caduceus taxes them more heavily, gives more money when it pays off, and can actually END THE RUN. I can't see myself swapping more than one Caduceus for another Shadow, and that seems like a poor choice, but that'd be a way to free up an influence for something else.

Another Tollbooth -- what I'd most like to do with that free influence -- maybe replacing a Pop-Up window? It's not unbreakable, but it sure seems to hurt.

Flare -- I'll never have enough influence for this, and that makes me a little sad, because it's beautiful.

Archer -- I don't have enough cheap, sacrificial Agendas. I want to have that Gila Hands! Having something to be there just for ABT rezzing seems obviously dumb -- but Archer's also super good. I just need to sort out if the costs (Influence and Agenda) are actually worthwhile. Signs point to no, as they do with most of these changes (for me, so far).

Viper -- might be worth it as a taxing Code Gate that's cheap without being Yog-able and has potential to cost clicks, but I don't know that I like it more than other things, and Traces to end the run seem risky, especially when not paired with something inherently frightening (after all, if they let the Caduceus trace go through, the second is all the harder to overcome). Of course, it has a higher ETR trace than Cad...

Rototurret -- It's been pulling a surprising amount of weight for me, but as an easy Sentry to have dealt with (and one of the key reasons for sentry breakers for safety in face-checking) I don't know that having three is better than, say, another of the Ichis -- except that it ALSO ends the run. I don't regret swapping one for a third Melange, but I might be tempted to shift things around to pick up another.

Janus 1.0 -- I feel like it's this OR Wotan, and I THINK Wotan's the right choice, being non-AP, bigger, and not PURELY click-through-able. At the same time, catching a Janus when low on clicks, combined with the other (miniscule) sources of Brain Damage might add another supplemental win condition... but that honestly feels TOO out there, for me.

There might be things I've missed, but a lot of other things always seem kind of limited -- Sherlock's useful but not useful ENOUGH, Wraparound's too much influence for too little benefit here, I don't have enough Bioroids to make Hourglass even PRETEND worth-it (as it can never actually hurt the runner in ANY capacity by itself, except making them run last click on a deck that doesn't run Snare anyway), and so on.

IN CONCLUSION

This deck is kind of ridiculous (as is my long-winded explanation). It's basically a concerted attempt to go and visit Magical Christmas Land via Mandatory Upgrades and reliable NEXT/ABT pulls. It doesn't always go there -- but I've found myself in Paranatural Easter Town often enough to think the attempts are worthwhile.

11 comments
14 Apr 2014 bionicsheep

This looks incredibly fun to play with. Gonna give it a trial on OCTGN and see what happens.

14 Apr 2014 x3r0h0ur

To compare some notes on my experience as next....

I ran a next design deck for a good long time and the econ was hedge fund and 3 melange, and 3 oversight AI. I used OAI to rez my heimdall 2.0s and mostly tollbooths, and it is surprising how effective this is. I used archived memories and efficiency committee to pull back melange and run it all in 1 turn several times. Really helps the flexibility of the deck. My point is, I agree, it looks econ light, but it is most definitely not, melange is a heavy lifter in NeXT design decks.

I'd prefer to use biotic labor and just run efficiency committee to use as above, using biotic to squeeze out agendas. 5/2 is a nightmare when drawn when the runner has his rig up, I find scorable agendas to be better. I ran MU as a 1 of beside 3 vit, 3 abt until I found how good EffComm was, now, in order to score out ASAP, the layout is:

3x Accelerated Beta Test

3x Efficiency Committee

2x Priority Requisition

1x Project Vitruvius

14 Apr 2014 GreatGreedyGuts

@bionicsheep

I'm glad you think so! It's certainly strange to play, it feels very different to me than most Corp decks -- but unrefined as it still is, I've been having a blast with it.

@x3r0h0ur

Much appreciated! I was considering Oversight for quite a while, but I've been finding the _____ Level Clearances more worth it -- they don't save me the money, but they're always useful, and they help smooth draws for a Jacksonless deck. (There's also the bit where 3x OAI would be half my influence, which I'd have to pull either from Ice that helps econ or is Tollbooth, and I'm perhaps too attached to thosse at the moment.) But, yeah, I'm kind of amazed at how much I can rez in a deck that has so little traditional econ.

Archived Memories and Biotic Labour are both tempting (they're just flat-out amazing cards), but I have to admit that I'm not quite sure what I'd ditch for them. Losing one of the Clearances for AM might be worthwhile, it's something I'll test out.

I've hesitated to use BL here because of the added cost, especially the opportunity cost of losing either an econ operation (which doesn't help with scoring from hand, but is always useful) or some Ice (which I'm loathe to do now that I've gotten used to being able to score ABT routinely, even twice in a game).

Efficiency Committee might be worth it, though, from what you've shown. I might still want to hang on to one Mandatory -- they're hard to score, but the benefit is astounding. Priority Requisition, though, I feel is riskier than not -- it takes two full turns to play and score without biotics/MU/efficiency shenanigans, and is worth more to the runner than the value it provides -- I find the prospect of pre-rezzing Ice generally isn't worth the, certainly not just one piece. That's also, partly, because I want to hang on to the Gila Hands -- they do a good job of backing up Melange when it gets trashed, or even when it doesn't. Installing an Agenda behind unrezzed Ice and using Gila usually helps me protect and score the Agenda -- which is why using more time is generally something I'm hesitant to do, hence the lack of PriReq and EffCom in the initial list.

Still, I appreciate the suggestions, and I'll try some of them out and see what happens. Thank you very much!

15 Apr 2014 Sojourne

I really like the all-in (no Jacksons! 28 ice!) nature of this deck that is meant to exploit the identity's ability as much as possible. I agree with the comment to switch out for a couple of efficiency committees. Really go very well with the melanges. I might tweak for restructures though.

15 Apr 2014 Alsciende

Have you tried Minelayer?

16 Apr 2014 GreatGreedyGuts

I made a few changes before play today, and I have to say, they worked pretty well, by and large.

-1 Pop-Up Window, -1 Shadow, -2 Mandatory Requisitions, +1 Tollbooth, +1 Minelayer, +2 Efficiency Committee

I'm not certain I couldn't have scored Mandatory in the spaces I scored Efficiency, but not having the worry wasn't bad at all, and they did prove reasonably helpful -- I like the one MU in because scoring it DOES provide such an incredible boost, and I do think this deck is capable of rushing it out sometimes, especially following a good ABT.

Had my first no-Ice ABT with the deck, but the second popped out quite a bit, so I feel like the general "always use ABT's ability" rule still applies, unless you KNOW it's going to go badly.

Losing the slight Econ Ice edge hasn't seemed to hurt me too much, and Tollbooth is probably the most reliable ETR Ice in the deck. I was tempted by Flare (maybe swapping one of the Caduceuses back to a Shadow to get the Influence), but it seems not quite reliable enough for the cost. The trace is huge, though, and my econ is usually pretty good... and hardware trashing is pretty uncommon and much harder to deal with than program loss. At the same time, Caduceus is GENERALLY preferable to Shadow (though obviously not always). Any thoughts?

Minelayer definitely seemed handy over R&D -- even as the third Ice in, it added enough to make running there effectively impossible for the runner, and I could focus on Icing up elsewhere. I wouldn't like to run more than one, but it's nice to have back -- the first version of this deck (with what I'd now call far too few Ice that was also terrible) had several, and I think the overabundance in comparison led me to assume it was worse than it is. It takes Ice Carver or a Datasucker to make Yog go through, so it's certainly not bad for the price.

16 Apr 2014 Nitneuq

What about precognition ? It´ll probably be hard to find slots to put it in, but it´ll help you choose what you want to be ABTed.

17 Apr 2014 GreatGreedyGuts

I feel like the opportunity cost of including Precognition outweighs the benefits. Using it would hint at my having played ABT -- unless I use it the same turn, in which case I have to Install and Advance once in the same turn. Doable, but limiting to my other options. All that assumes I actually draw them both at the same time.

Even then, to find a card slot for it I'd have to cut down on either econ or ice, both of which seem detrimental -- AND I'd have to cut a quarter of my influence from the Ice I've got already, and that's the biggest potential drawback of them all, I feel like.

Precognition would help ABT, but if I want to make ABT even more reliable (and it's already fairly solid), I think I'd do a better job either fitting another piece of Ice or two into the deck or increasing my ability to pull from Archives (which I've not found super necessary beyond Vitruvius, even in games where I lose an Agenda there it doesn't tend to stop me winning).

19 Apr 2014 GreatGreedyGuts

I took another couple stabs at editing the deck.

5/3s have, at least in every test case I've played, not been worth it. The extra risk doesn't come with a strong enough reward, and seems to be more beneficial to the runner than not.

Minelayer is nice enough, but in pretty much every instance where I'm happy to see it I'd be happier to see other things. It's nicest over an already-taxing R&D Ice (an Eli, say) to build more tax as long as you've got the Ice, but I'd rather go for another Viktor.

From the original decklist above, I've now made the following changes: -3 Mandatory Upgrades (super useful, but others have pointed out most of the flaws, and even the one-of didn't come in handy often ENOUGH, for all that it has the potential to immediately decide games.) -1 Shadow (not as useful as Caduceus, 3/4 times) -1 Pop-Up Window (not powerful enough on its own) -1 Wotan (too leaky to be alone, too big to rez with support easily) +1 Tollbooth (generally the best piece of ETR Ice in this deck) +1 Ichi 2.0 (worth the cost over multiple runs, good at trashing/brain-damaging) +1 Viktor 2.0 (mediocre ETR on its own, but eats up 2 clicks for most runners each run -- and the power counter can be saved to make them keep their handsize up) +3 Efficiency Committees (because I have seen the light)

I'm waffling on Ichi 2.0 over Ichi 1.0, which is cheaper but much less taxing to plow through (trace3 really adds up quickly, and the effect is powerful enough).

I'm looking forward to revising this deck HEAVILY whenever NEXT Silver drops -- unless it's a complete PoS there'll be something that wants swapping for it (and even if it is, it might be enough to make NEXT Bronze worth it even so).

Current swaps you might want to make: -One of the Heimdalls for a Janus or Woran, if you really need a bigger scary Ice. -Blue Level Clearance for an Archived Memories if you want another non-Jackson Archive-saver.

22 Apr 2014 Hoywolf

You need some anti R&D lock tech. Jackson is probably the best option, Fast Track in the next big box might be a better option (easier on influence points).

Precog is not a bad idea too for ABT triggers.

23 Apr 2014 GreatGreedyGuts

I've actually found that the present Ice suite is more than capable of keeping folks out of R&D -- if anything, Econ is the bigger concern. A Heimdall over R&D keeps it relatively safe, with the present Agenda density, especially in conjunction with any other expensive-to-go-through Ice. Ichi or Eli for preference. Once that's set up... not many runners keep trying, to be honest. They make a run every so often, when they've built up enough credits, and sometimes they get lucky, but the full-on lock tends to fall apart.

That's pretty much why Heimdall is here -- its primary job is R&D/HQ coverage. It can be clicked through, sure, but only five times without some handsize increasing. Add in Ichis and Viktors... well, most people tend to leave well enough alone and stop bothering.