I built the first version of this deck a few weeks ago after I saw that Nexus 419 won Euros. Deck building is a big part of why I enjoy Netrunner, so I didn't want to take the Euros list (which honestly wouldn't have fit my play style anyway), nor did I want to bring any flavor of Anarch. Criminal was my first love in Netrunner, so it felt good to be bringing the faction to my last major official tournament. Diversion of Funds also just came out, so I suspected that 419 was probably even better than he had been at Euros.
Before I started to build my own list, I looked at the highest placing 419 lists I could find. Most of them were a bit too slow and control oriented for my tastes, and Classic Man, while great, didn't have the late game inevitably I wanted. I settled on trying to build a midrange 419 with broadly as many good match ups as possible since the Corp meta is extremely diverse right now.
Skip the next two sections for the Tournament Report.
One of my first major breaks with the control oriented 419 lists was to play Employee Strike instead of Film Critic, in large part because of Mti Mwekendu but also because it is a powerful current that helps you in basically every matchup (except CTM, after you get set up). It's particularly useful in slowing down Titan, which is a matchup that usually comes down to the wire. Security Nexus and The Turning Wheel are both pretty standard, key parts of this sort of deck. Deuces Wild helps to compensate for the abysmal card draw of Criminals (no, I'm not going to play Fisk Investment Seminar).
Stimhack was a late included after testing a bunch of different cards in that slot: Inti (for Wraparound hate), Na'Not'K (for Anansi), and even Build Script (for a little more card draw). LSK told me the night before that I would be better off with basically anything other than Build Script, so I slotted the Stimhack and proceeded to not see it at all over the course of the day.
Uncertain Card Choices:
Part of the reason I didn't net deck is that I'm absolutely certain that no-one has built a fully optimal 419 list yet. While there were some broad similarities among the lists I looked at (3x Citadel Sanctuary is an absolute must, Power Tap is much stronger than Underworld Contact, etc), there was also a remarkable amount of variety.
For example: I'm not entirely sure what the ideal breaker suite looks like. Paperclip is great in some match ups, particularly against Seidr Adaptive Barrier (a common card in 419 worst matchup), but there aren't any reasonable influence cuts I could make and it is usually a dead card. I originally built this deck with Inti for Wraparound and to make recovering from a purge easier, but I very rarely used it, and Inti is terrible against Seidr. Next I tried Saker as a compromise piece of Wraparound/Seidr hate, but I never actually installed it. I slotted Na'Not'K to deal with Anansi, which this deck otherwise struggles against. But again, I didn't find myself actually using it. Eventually I replaced it with Mongoose, which is more efficient in that role and saves me an influence.
Amina, Femme, and 2x-3x Aumakua are all very good. This deck is best when played so as to maximize the pressure you put on the Corp, and Amina does that wonderfully while dealing with a bunch of nasty ice very efficiently. However, both Amina and Femme are best when played with Credit Kiting, which I cut to make room for Career Fair to ease my setup. I think I'm going to try slotting a second Femme, possibly cutting the Mongoose, and then run 2x Credit Kiting.
Finally, I think Pad Tap is a good card and could easily find a home in a midrange 419 list like this. I just don't know what to cut. The Falsified Credentials are one of the weaker cards in the list, just because they actually require an unrezzed card in a remote to be used. One issue I've run into with this deck, which runs a combo economy, is that I often need to dig early for Citadel Sanctuary and the first Rogue Trading. Falsified Credentials and Credit Kiting both saw cuts because they were clogging my hand during setup. You could try cutting the Falsified Credentials and a Career Fair for 3x Pad Taps. On the other hand, I often find myself wishing in the mid to late game that I was running a 3rd Falsified Credentials.
Round 1 (0 points): Win vs Stacy on SSO Industries
Turn 1 I stole a Hollywood Renovation from behind an Asteroid Belt with a little help from Maxwell James. A few turns later, Stacy rushed out a City Works Project behind two pieces of ice. I proceeded to get setup quickly, get a ton of accesses without stealing anything, and keep the Corp poor through a combination of Diversion of Funds, my ID ability, and Amina. The lack of agendas made me expect Government Takeover, as did the Biotic Labor and Red Planet Couriers (although I have seen SSO lists which run both but no Takeover), so when Stacy scored a Hostile that she had drawn through R&D lock and then play two Mass Commercializations next turn, I realized that I was at risk of immediately losing to fast advance. I hail married R&D, unloaded 10 Turning Wheel Counters, and stole a Hostile and City Works Project for the win. Stacy then revealed a hand of 2x Biotic Labor, Fast Track, and City Works Project, with a Red Planet Couriers on top of R&D. Our other game went to time.
Round 2 (5 points): Win vs Matt on CTM
My only game against Matt before yesterday's regional had been in the cut of a Store Championship a few months ago where he killed my Adam with Boom! turn 3 while playing CI. As a result, I both knew that Matt was a formidable player and I was determined to not get hit by HHN turn 2 again. He had a somewhat slow start, while I was able to get 2 Power Taps and Citadel Sanctuary up very quickly. I was also able to prevent an early ARES score. In my experience, 419 loses to CTM if they can score 2 ARES, and wins so long as they don't. Matt managed to score one, but only fairly late, and by that point the game was already basically over as my link/Power Tap package made it so that the traces he was trying to tax me with were actually making me money. Matt conceded after we both concluded he had no outs. Our other game was a similarly brutal (albeit faster) stomp of my Titan by Matt's Clanarch MaxX.
Round 3 (8 points): Win vs Dan on Azmari
Dan is a fellow Wyoming Netrunner and had driven the four of us down to Denver for the day, so I was a bit disappointed to be playing against him. We have both played one another quite a lot, and knew exactly what to expect. I knew he was on 6 agenda Punitive Azmari, which can rush pretty well or murder you if you're not fast and careful. I was able to keep Employee Strike up for most of the game, and between Diversion of Funds and derezzing a Tollbooth with Maxwell James, keep him quite poor. I ended up stealing the winning agenda after a run on his remote that ended with both of us at zero credits. While I won 9-3, this was one of the best games of the day within both of us constantly on the edge of poverty. Dan then beat my Titan with his 419.
Round 4 (11 points): Win vs Marty on Titan
At this point in the tournament, I knew I wasn't going to make the cut unless I swept someone, and even then my round 1 timed win was going to make things tricky. Marty scored an Atlas with Audacity turn 1, so the race was immediately on. I played The Turning Wheel within the first few turns and started building counters on unprotected servers. Turn 3 I landed a Diversion of Funds, which slowed him down enough for me to score out two turns before he could. In our other game, Titan was able to rush out against Los.
Round 5 (17 points): Loss vs Ryan on Azmari
Eventual 2nd place finished Ryan was playing Jinja Surveyor Azmari, one of 419s worst match ups. A Jua was all that was defending R&D all game, and rather than spend the tempo to get a breaker and The Turning Wheel installed so that I could dig, I decided to run into the Jua repeatedly with only Citadel Sanctuary installed. This was a mistake. While I found 5 points of agendas before he scored out, the end came when he played two copies of Special Report to find the agenda he needed to win. Frankly, while this was a bad matchup and I didn't see much money, I could have played this a lot better and had a better shot at winning. Luckily, we Corp split and I made the cut as 8th seed.
Game 1 of the Cut: Win vs Jason on Skorpios
I had faced Jason twice in swiss and once in the cut of store championship that Matt had knocked me out of, so I was eager to play him again. All of our games during that tournament were phenomenally close and hard fought. Unfortunately, he got horribly agenda flooded, seeing at least 10 agendas in 15 cards.
Due to bad luck, I was then forced to play my significantly weaker Corp 3 times in a row, losing to Elliot (the eventual winner of the tournament), winning against Owen (who had very kindly paid my entry fee after he overheard me worrying about being able to afford lunch), and finally losing to Ryan.
419 is immensely powerful and flexible. The link makes the very strong Security Nexus + Power Tap + Rogue Trading + Citadel Sanctuary package possible while his ability either guarantees a slow Corp or one with far fewer secrets. Testing this deck and playing it in a major tournament, I believe that it should be played aggressively. While you do have late game inevitability, guaranteeing that you make it to the late game is vital. It's likely that the ideal version of Midrange 419 is a bit more aggressive than this list.
While I think Classic Man is an excellent list, as evidenced by the Regional win, I'm a believer in the absurd power of Rogue Trading when combined with Citadel Sanctuary and Power Tap. The only match ups I found unfavorable are Jinja decks that can build an absurdly large remote with stacked Surveyors and/or Seidr Adaptive Barriers and then purge virus counters. Running Paperclip (or even Saker) would help, but I think the real solution is to run early and trash the Jinja.
I'm very excited to keep building new 419 lists and tweaking this one. The ID should be equally strong for more aggressive builds. 419 and modern (non-Geist) Criminals in general feel far from solved, which is a fun place to be!
20 Jun 2018 Owen
22 Jun 2018 RepoRogue