[eternal] Hacker Hall of Fame - undefeated @ Worlds 2023

wowarlok 1019

"Installing 1001 programs puts you in the hacker hall of fame..."
- Scheherazade's flavor text
Turns out that's not that hard to achieve 😎

@cobrabubbles and I decided to play this deck as our eternal runner in our respective teams for the CoS on friday: it went undefeated for the both of us, winning a total of 10 games, before winning 3 more on Sunday in a side event!

Strategy

The main objective of the deck is to assemble the combination of In the Groove, Technical Writer, Scheherazade and Sadyojata, having a second deva in hand and ideally some clicks left.
Thanks to the recent change in the ruleset, swapping an installed card with an uninstalled one trigger any relevant "when you install" triggers, meaning that swapping a Sadyojata now triggers all the other cards in the combo, gaining 2 and putting one more on Technical Writer.
Since the action of swapping is now credit neutral it can be repeated untill there are enough credits on Tech Writer to power the deck for the rest of the game.
Infinite credits
A handy prop I made to remind my opponents I was done paying for anything that game

Setup

Thanks to Kabonesa Wu we can find some of the combo cards with just a few clicks. For the rest of them however, we need to draw them, and given how fast eternal can be, we have to do that fast and somewhat credit efficiently.
Luckily for us Shaper is filled with amazing burst draw cards, including Diesel, VRcation, Deuces Wild and Dr. Nuka Vrolyck. Quality Time didn't make the cut because of how expensive it is, since the deck is quite poor and needs 3to go off.

The last part of the setup is to install an Hyperdriver, which can be accomplished with Wu and Self-modifying Code or by just finding one in the massive amout of cards the deck draw in the first few turns.

Payout

After the tech writer is broken and we have access to an infinite amount of credits the first step is to swap more devas and use In the Groove to draw instead of making credits, this will give us access to whatever part of our deck is still left and use however many clicks we have left to set up a lock, using the multitude of tech cards we're playing, depending on the match up.
The following cards are key in one or more match ups:

  • Wyrm is the only AI in the game that only cares about credits. It's as expensive as breakers get, but it can pass through 99% of the ice in the game.
  • Vamp is the main way to limit the corps agency in the game. Getting a tag is rarely important in this stage of the game and paying up to the corp's credit total isn't a real issue either.
  • Harmony AR Therapy and Same Old Thing their main function is to repeat vamp over and over in case we can't win fast enough, or offer recursion / redundancy if we happen to lose any important event in the setup.
  • New Angeles City Hall makes us immune to tags as long as we don't steal agendas.
  • Film Critic makes it so we don't have to steal agendas if we don't want to, as well as protect us from nasty on steal effects or cards like Hunter Seeker.
  • Guru Davinder makes us immune to net and meat damage.
  • Clot and Clone Chip make it close to impossible to fast advance.
  • Rumor Mill shuts down a lot of key assets that the corp could use to duck before vamp, as well as stop Malia Z0L0K4 from blanking our Technical Writer in the combo turn.
  • Marathon takes care of all of the remote servers in less than 1
  • Conduit closes the game out fast once it gets going, trashing all trashable cards in the process.
  • Levy AR Lab Access is here for safety.
  • Engolo deals with the few pieces of ice Wyrm can't deal with.
  • Creative Commission provides a large enough influx of credits to deal with 1 or 2 assets in the early game against IG or Ob.

Other options

While refining the list cobrabubbles and I spent quite some time looking for ways to win fast, if not even right after the combo.
Unfortunately we couldn't find anything that worked as well as the prisony list we ended on, but here are a few things we tested:

  • Severnius Stim Implant: we tried so hard to make this work, with multiple Levys in the list and Nanuq as our breaker instead of wyrm to free some influence. Unfortunately even with 15+accesses on R&D, multiple times per game, we could't make this reliable enough.
  • Theophilius Bagbiter: we made an attempt at keeping all of the cards drawn with the combo before breaking a second fully loaded tech writer. In the end it turns out that's not necessary and Theophilius costs just too much influence.
  • Bookmark this almsot made the list, it can be used to hide important pieces against IG and put a deva and in the groove in to then draw the deck back after a levy. Just like the previous card, it wasn't necessary to win.

Thoughts about the deck

While this deck is a blast to play, it's also waaaay too powerful for the format as is. The list currently goes infinite on turn 4 on average, but with a good enough draw that can happen on turn 2 or 3.
There are some corps in the format that can outrun it, be it Ob, Cerebral Imaging or Industrial Genomics, however any other Ids, especially those who try and play a somewhat fair gameplan, have close to 0% chance of winning.
The worst part about the deck is that it can't win fast, but it puts the opponent in a situation where they can either concede or aimlessly take actions trying to solve what feels like an impossible puzzle. I watched the will to play get drained from my opponents' faces, going from the sillyness of the combo, to the dreadful realisation that the game was over, without being technically over, sometimes as soon as turn 2.
New Ban
To all the opponents we may have scarred this past week end, I have good news: the deck isn't staying for long.

I would personally love for a similar combo runner deck to exist in the meta, however I don't know if putting high costs on the key combo cards would impact how the deck plays: it might start losing against the best corps, but it will still be unbeatable by many of the fairer decks.

Shoutouts

An obbligatory shoutout goes to @koga, for figuring out the combo in less than 1 hour from the announcement of the new rule change. I'm genuinely surprised that noone else found it and posted it before I did, despite us keeping it secret for months.
I have to shoutout CobraBubbles, to whom I showed the deck on a random game of eternal league. He was so hyped about it it ended up ruining his sleep the following days trying to improve the list in his dreams. We ended up talking about the list a lot and all of his inputs shaped the deck to what it is today. It was a pleasure having someone to shre thoughts about the deck with and to go to at the event to compare the amazing results!
Lastly I want to shoutout NSG and the spanish comunity for pushing eternal as a format. I've heard so many people express how much they were enjoying a format that they might have been too scared or shy to try out on their own.

Thank you to everyone who made the event possible; to everyone I played with, talked to or generally interacted with for making the event such a magical experience! ❤️

12 comments
16 Oct 2023 jan tuno

this is such a sicko deck. thank you so much

16 Oct 2023 AugustusCaesar

Absolute genius! Getting cards banned in eternal is one hell of a feat.

16 Oct 2023 CobraBubbles

Huge huge thanks buddy, was so psyched to get to help debut this nonsense on the world stage with you! Look forward to collabing on some more eternal silliness in the future.

For posterity, I should note that my deck was 2 cards different: -1 VRcation -1Nuka +1 Creative (to allow for more flexibility in the setup turns) and +1 Interdiction (because I was scared of Ob breaking the combo with Malia and we didn't have inf for the third Mill).

As far as I could tell the changes didn't really affect the consistency at all - in one game I didn't hit the combo until turn 5, but every other game it was t3 or 4. Hell of a drug.

16 Oct 2023 Two_EG

Wyrm is the best AI breaker in this game confirmed.

16 Oct 2023 Diogene

This is HILARIOUS! Infinite economy = watch the hope from the corp eyes. This breaks Eternal! Kudos on your wins!

16 Oct 2023 koga

My only regret is that we couldn't get this on stream.

Aside from that, I am so, so happy to see the rough core idea turn into a real deck and SMASH SO HARD it smashed the banlist for the entire format. Lots of love to you both ❤️❤️❤️

17 Oct 2023 manveruppd

'@CobraBubbles played this against me round 3, and when I came back in after lunch I heard someone I didn't know breathlessly explaining the combo to their friends, which made me smile. It was just the two of you playing it on the day, right?

Also, picking Wyrm as your post-combo breaker is such a flex! You have launched a thousand memes with that choice! :D

I don't care that we have a new Startup champion and a repeat Standard champion, if this writeup doesn't get deck of the week I'm burning this website to the ground! :D

18 Oct 2023 percomis

I just wanted to say that this is a work of art and all 3 of you should be extremely proud. I wish I could have seen it in action, was it on stream by any chance?

18 Oct 2023 wowarlok

@manveruppd as far as I know we were the only two playing the deck, but I know for a fact that word of it travelled fast on Friday.
@percomis as koga said, unfortunately we couldn't make it to the top table to show this gem off to the public, which is a shame. I would have loved to go back and watch the reactions of the casters and the chat!

2 Nov 2023 Ebrey

This is super cool!

30 Nov 2023 Jai

Surely getting a card (or 3) banned from the Eternal format qualifies one for the Hacker Hall of Fame now, right?!

30 Nov 2023 Council

It's not Unband if you can't get some cards banned