Brain Cells Are A Crutch: Vengeance MaxX (4th Durham Region)

neuropantser 401


The Sales Pitch

Like many of you in the audience, my ears immediately perked up when I saw Zer0 in the Kampala Ascendant spoilers. I think the card's results speak for themselves so far, so I won't try to sell you on the positive aspects of the card. Rather, I'll try to explain to you why I think the card is absolutely bonkers in MaxX.

1) Zer0 technically has a downside: you can lose important cards when you use it. Wouldn't it be nice to play it in a deck is used to maybe losing important pieces and that wants to recycle all its pieces anyway? In many decks, you can get to a state where it is 100% incorrect to Zer0 because you might nuke your win conditions with no way to get them back. MaxX alleviates this concern, and the free clicks for draw mitigate the problem in turns where it truly is incorrect to Zer0 even as MaxX (e.g. you need both Indexing and Mad Dash and both are in hand).

2) Zer0 is a tempo card; MaxX is a tempo ID. The great thing about tempo is, it's additive. The only thing that's better than more cards is even more cards. You almost never click to draw with this deck, and you find your action incredibly fast even though the deck is 47.

3) MaxX suffers from down turns in the mid-late game when you have to Levy. This can be a problem if you also want to challenge remotes or fire off central pressure in those turns. You know what makes it easy to do both of those but still buy yourself time to Levy? Wiping the corp's entire hand.

I think this deck is very well situated in a meta where you expect a lot of tempo decks (CtM, Gagarin, and their ilk), Wishbone-style Azmari, and to a certain extent Mti. This deck has a lot of strength early, where your career fairs and DDoS shine and you have essentially 3 free clicks every turn to find breakers. It also has a very strong late game, when you have ticking time bombs to wipe HQ that force the corp into very predictable play patterns out of a remote that you can make money and do drugs to break. This deck struggles against decks that can punish the ID ability, like Skorp; that can invalidate remote camping with bonkers scaling ice, like Surveyor Azmari; that are naturally resistant to your only R&D multi with Miraju or the like; and that can win without an HQ, like Titan. If you expect those decks in large numbers, add tech cards accordingly. This list in particular is teched for Titan with an extra Mad Dash over a Stimhack, but could probably use cheap ways to break nightmare ice, based on the matchups it saw in swiss and the cut.


1) You're already MaxX. Isn't Zer0 overkill?

Who or what is restraint?

Ball Don't Lie

I finished 4th at Durham regionals at Atomic Empire with this deck and a very netdecked Skorp list with few enough changes (-1 enigma +1 hortum) that I didn't feel good publishing it.

Tournament report:

Round 1 - Matt Werner (Philotic PE) Matt is a local player, and we've met in our fair share of high-stakes matches. Sometimes he murders me; sometimes I murder him. This time he was on PE that I highly suspected of being 24/7 Philotic. I had an opener with 2x Clan Vengeance and a Career Fair, which is about as good an opener as I could dream up. I MaxX drew into another Career Fair. Thanks to the lucky draw, the game was fairly in control for me--I could check his remotes with no fear, finding agendas and Breached Domes for the first few counters on CV, then found a Zer0 to accelerate the gameplan. The nail in the coffin was me mad dashing one of three installed cards, purely for the purposes of getting CV counters, and finding the sole Philotic; at that point, I just sat back, Levied, and wiped HQ twice before running archives for the Obo and the win.

Corp side, I withstood the Leela snowball turn thanks to two ice on the remote and Oaktown Renovation not being an unrezzed card, then skorped his only barrier breaker and installed enough ice for the full lockout.

Round 2 - Dane Meyer (Skorp) Durham got 26 this year, so I knew 4-0 was likely a good enough record to ID into the top cut. My corp pulled out the victory thanks to some insanely good luck, with Dane missing the winning Audacity twice with Embezzle in a 5- and then 4-card HQ, so I knew a victory here would all but guarantee day 2... but Dane was on Skorpios.

I'll be up front: MaxX was kind to me this game. Cards Dane Skorped off MaxX mills: both Stimhack, 1x Blorch, 1x DDoS, 1x Indexing, 1x Levy, 1x Mad Dash. Cards he Skorped in the normal course of the game: 1x Liberated, 2x Career Fair, 2x Sure Gamble, 1x Paperclip. Cards he didn't get a chance to Skorp: any full set of my breaker suite, 1x Levy, 1x Indexing, 1x DDoS.

Dane put up a punishing remote early--Tithonium + Batty-- and pushed Oaktown and several NGO through it, Batty Skorping a clippy for his troubles. He had bad agenda luck--thanks to challenging the remote with no drugs, I was super low on money through the entire midgame, giving him a huge window. Near the end of my deck, facing down an intimidating remote and 2 points vs my 0 points, I fired off DDoS Indexing on a turn he Skorped my MaxX'd Levy, finding an SSL and Atlas in R&D. I only had enough money to run back once, and I knew the game was getting out of control for me if he found either agenda, so I took a huge risk and stole the SSL while burying the Atlas. When he didn't Hunter-Seeker me, I knew I was gold to steal the Atlas 2 turns later, putting me at 5 before I hit the Levy. Post-Levy was also kind to me--I found Career Fair, two Casts, and Liberated very fast, then devoted all my other clicks to drawing for my last Indexing before MaxX found it. Thankfully, I won, and Indexing sealed the deal.

Round 3 - @hoffcorp on Argus We ID'd this round but played the match. His corp seemed to be Lobstermodernism with a few spicy choices (at least 1x Shattered Remains over NGO). I was aggressive early, and I got HHN'd early with the HPT in hand to kill me, but it turns out Clan Vengeance can farm counters very quickly between Mad Dash and Zer0. I wiped the kill threat from his hand, leaving myself open to a 2/35ish chance he'd draw a kill card, which he didn't. From there, I cleared tags, made money, dropped Vengeance, and locked the remote with Stimhack. He didn't stand a chance at that point. Argus' ID ability is really bad when all it does is charge up your Clan Vengeance.

Round 4 - @merkator on CtM Again, we ID'd because we were safe, but we played the match. CtM is exactly the deck you want to see on this MaxX. This game was exactly as it's drawn up--I trashed key assets early, locked them down in the midgame with Stimhack + Hacktivist, and closed the game out with Indexing + Mad Dash.

Cut, Round 1 - @merkator on CtM This time I managed to lose what I think is a 90% matchup. I hit 3 naked-installed MVTs in the first 5 turns, negating the tempo my start gave me. He was able to keep DBS up for far too long as a result. The key turn was me trashing a Bankers with an ARES up that I completely blanked on, falling too low, and getting Hard-Hitting'd and forced to go tagme. Merrick played it well from that point, throwing Resistors on the important servers and digging for Psycho-Beale. My last-chance digs into all 3 of his central came up short. I helped him out, but he definitely earned this W.

Round 2-4 of the cut I played my corp thanks to an increasingly nerve-wracking set of coin flips. Round 2 against @cruelangel, another solid local player, is one of my favorite games of Netrunner I've played--I played to my outs, he played to his snowball Leela style, and it all came down to me barely surviving his turn and then IAing the SSL and installing ice over HQ, which meant he drew for answers and I AA Audacity'd to win. Round 3 against @hoffcorp was a ludicrously perfect rush draw on my part, for which I can do nothing but thank the jnet shuffler gods. Round 4 against Beckett, the eventual 2nd-place finisher, I made one of the biggest misplays of my entire Netrunner career and he capitalized to go 0 points to 7 in four clicks.

Overall, I think this deck performed well. More importantly holy shit is it fun. If you've never played MaxX, do yourself a favor and start. If you've never played MaxX with the added tempo of Zer0, do yourself a favor and hit yourself in the face. And if you've done both, why are you still reading? Get out there and crush some corps.


Shane and the rest of the crew at Atomic Empire: I am disappointed we couldn't convince you to do this event in 1 day instead of 2 (and we tried), but otherwise this was an impeccably run event with no big issues of any sort. Major props.

@robotmascot, @jdc_wolfpack, @josephlaziure, @ion_fox, @runthenets, @orbital_tangent: My closest testing partners, thanks for putting up with my crazy ideas and my mood swings about winning with corp in 2018. I 100% owe this finish to y'all.

@sirris, @hoffcorp, @bigfleet: Always great to see the Charlotte crew! Congrats Jon on the win, congrats David on the finish and on some of the most thrilling games I played all weekend, and congrats Jim on a hard-fought tournament and thank you immensely for putting the last Durham regional of all time into video archive footage (despite all the misplays I made under the merciless lens of your camera). Also thanks for the HQ Trivia referral code, Jon.

@ctz: The list this is very heavily based on is yours from Worlds 2017. I just took out the tech cards from that tournament and added in the Zer0/Vengeance package. Thanks for the list, and LET DRANGUS DECIDE.

@thebigunit3000: You told me Circus Hayley was the right call and you're almost certainly right. I'm sorry for not listening to you. Why didn't you tell me about Surveyor Azmari?

@the entire netrunner community: This obviously comes at an incredibly emotional time. This community has meant an amount to me that it's hard to express in words. I owe so much to this game, and I have learned so much from this game, and I feel inestimably enriched by this game. Please keep doing what you have done in the past--being supportive, genuinely amazing people.

11 Jun 2018 robotmascot

We are all clan vengaboys on this blessed day

11 Jun 2018 neuropantser

@robotmascot praise gord

11 Jun 2018 scd

I almost went with nearly this list but did Val instead. Nice seeing you and grats on the strong finish!

11 Jun 2018 skydivingninja

That Mad Dash on my Philotic still haunts me. XD congrats on the 4th place finish!

11 Jun 2018 JDC_Wolfpack

@neuropantser Congrats on the finish! After all of our testing (and the countless matches you jammed) you definitely earned it. It was nice not getting paired for once.

I'll admit I was sitting on Surveyor Azmari since the Thursday night before the event, but didn't spoil it. I don't think many people were on it apart from Jon and I. It seemed most of the Azmari's were EULA rush. It's a really good deck, you'll have to jam it at some upcoming GNKs.

11 Jun 2018 neuropantser

@scdNice seeing you too, and congrats on your finish as well! That Mti looked spicy.

@skydivingninjaThanks! Those were both super fun games, that Leela is nasty. And yeah, the Philotic was blind dumb luck for me. Mad dash giveth and mad dash taketh away.

@JDC_WolfpackThanks! Wish we'd been able to play in the cut--9th is a heartbreak. I think the key was we didn't drive to the event together--if we had, 100% round 2 is us. And man, sitting on Surveyor Azmari since Thursday? Top 10 anime betrayals :doge:

12 Jun 2018 BECKETT28

Seems like a very good list. I’m glad that I didn’t have to face this deck cause it would totally destroy my azmari.

15 Jun 2018 BizTheDad

Only two Same Old Thing's is brave.

19 Jun 2018 neuropantser

@BECKETT28 Congrats on the finish! Yeah, you see why I was sad to play corp 3 times in a row haha.

@BizTheDad What can I say. You gotta break a few eggs to sometimes not be able to use zer0 for like 5 straight turns at the risk of losing your last piece of recursion. I'd like to have 3, but things were usually fine in testing without it.

19 Jun 2018 Aerosaucer

Can you help me get how to use D4vid in a deck like this? I want an answer to big ICE, but it feels bad to use it without direct recursion, especially when it's usually getting injected into the heap or something. Do you just consider it an econ card that you install for 4 then it saves you 9 on breaking a big ICE with MKUltra or whatever?

25 Jun 2018 neuropantser

@AerosaucerOne piece of good news: this list isn't on Inject, because the IHW synergy with Zer0 seemed better to me. Yes, that's basically the mindset I'd take: it's econ, and sometimes MaxX mills your econ but that's ok. You can theoretically break Surveyor with Mk, it just sucks to. If your meta is full of 6-agenda Azmari, you can probably cut a few money cards and/or DDoS for D4, since you want all your Mad Dash. If you're more worried about HB lists like the one from US Nats, Mad Dash doesn't help much since you still probably need to steal an Ikky, so I would consider cutting a Mad Dash and a bit of money for D4. In no situation would I recommend cutting Stimhack, it's among your best cards in those matchups.

12 Jul 2018 tvaduva

Any chance VOD for this Regional are available somewhere?

I think @bigfleet was mentioned as the person that recorded it.