Thunderdome [6th Bochum Regionals]

Cluster Fox 511


If you're like me and you miss the rush of playing aggressive run-based criminal then let me tell you, this deck is for you. I took this to the Bochum Germany Regionals this past weekend netting me 6th place in a field of 30 very competent Netrunners (my highest result ever). It went 4-1 in swiss (but could have easily been 5-0 as you can read in the tournament report below), but lost both cut matches due to unfortunate pairings. There were only two kill decks in the top cut and I played them both, otherwise I probably would have placed quite a bit higher.
First thing's first though, and some shoutouts are due. The original seed for this deck was planted by my local testing buddy and sounding board @Slowriffs, and after seeing him try something similar at our weekly pubrunner I went to work building my version of it, playing it on jnet for a week or two. A few days before the Regional I shared my idea with all-around nice guy and UK legend @tolaasin who discovered it's raw power after some initial jnet testing. Together with him and @Maxey, we took to extensive testing, tweaking and altering. I also consulted with Slowriffs the evening before the regional and what you see before you is the combined result of a four-headed thinktank. And let me tell you, it's awesome.
So how does the deck play? Very much in the same way you used to play aggressive run-based criminals like Andromeda and Ken back in the day (oh how Account Siphon would have broken this deck). Right out of the gate you want to be slamming into centrals to force them to rez their ice and keeping their credit balances low. An early Turtle and/or Bankroll are always nice. The first sucessful run grants you two cards at the cost of a tag. This draw power in criminal is insane. And you may think, "ok but now I also have to clear the tag". Oh no, fair traveller, that is the trap! Stack those tags! You want to be doing this every single turn to get draw and tags. If you know you can get in, hit them with economy events.

Dirty Laundry, Diversion of Funds and Hot Pursuit (additional tag!) set up amazingly fast economy while triggering Liza's ability, stacking Turtle counters and loading up your Bankrolls. Extra points when you combine it with Paragon. The extra credit and MU is nice, but the real power is the draw filtering. Bottoming a card you don't need right now is really strong and you can always shuffle them back in with a Special Order.

I want to put in a special section for this card: the true hero of this deck, and this is important, is Embezzle. Many people look at this card and wave it away because they don't like the RNG aspect of it, it's not guaranteed economy. But that's not how you use it. Sure, you can play it blindly and hope, but the deck runs plenty of money and the powerful thing about this card is the information it gives you. See two agendas? Now you know you can hammer HQ a bunch of times. See an important card you don't want to deal with on a Dirty Laundry or Hot Persuit run? Embezzle it! See a card on top of R&D (which you want to be running every turn anyway so you know what they're drawing), Embezzle for it next turn if they don't play it!

As far as breakers go, the Turtle is the star. If you hit IP Block then that's great, farm it for tags. The same goes for any tagging ice like News Hound, Gutenberg, Surveyor,.. For Code Gates, Passport is for easy central access and Amina is there to deal with the big boys. Breaking an FC3 or DNA Tracker for 4 and making them lose one is great. Also abusing an Enigma on a poor runner is ridiculous. For Barriers, let's face it, it's Turtle. The Tycoon is mainly there to help deal with Wraparounds or to pass an Ice Wall after they purge. You almost never use it, it's just a backup. For Sentries, you may be scratching your head at the choice of Lustig. We went back and fourth on this and considered all the options (Mongoose and Faerie can lock you out, Femme will let you bypass one but you don't want to be breaking other sentries with it, Golden is far too inefficient and wonky,..) and the compromise we came up with is Lustig. The math on it isn't terrible and if it's a glory run for the winning agenda (Falsified Credentials can help you here), you can just trash it to bypass.

So what do you do with all the tags you've garnered while pressuring and setting up? Well, you cash in on them and then blow through their deck to find the remaining points you need. Case closed!
This deck absolutely steamrolls and wipes the floor with vegan decks. It even feels sort of unfair. You will outmoney them, you will outpace them and they can't really leverage tags because you're not leaving resources on the table (incidentally why Scarcity of Resources is useless against this deck aside from clearing Employee Strike). Psychographics might be an issue but they need both that and a Beale and you can generally Embezzle it out of their hand before they find the combo.

So what do you do against meat damage decks, I hear you ask? Well, the short answer is nothing. You die. Initially we ran a protection package of Fall Guy, Wireless Net Pavilion and Paparazzi, but in testing we discovered that it's just far too slow to look for and set up the pieces. And by the time you have got the whole kit 'n caboodle set up, the corp will be so far ahead of you that they can just go through and trash the whole thing anyway. We tried just playing carefully and clearing the tag every time, but you lose so much tempo you really can't contest with it. So it's basically fingers crossed and hope for good pairings, and if you do hit a damage deck, hope that you can be faster and more aggressive and win before they have a damage combo in hand. This is defiantely something that we need to address and will be working on in the future.
So that's it. It's really good, and more importantly, it's really fun. And perhaps most importantly, it doesn't play Clan Vengeance because barf. In summary, it's almost a default win against vegan decks but it folds to damage decks. Changes I would make is that I'm not sure that three Counter Surveillances are necessary, I think two would suffice and spend the influence elsewhere, I'm just not sure on what. Mars for Martians is an absolute must though, as I often played it just for tempo without having a CS so I could contest remotes. I don't think the Emergency Shutdowns are necessary either, as I only ended up using them when I had 6 cards in hand on click 4 and nothing really else to do so just derez some expensive ice. They're nice to have, but not mandatory. And again, the glaring problem of not being able to deal with damage decks is an issue that needs to be addressed, I just don't know how. I'm not sure if there's a future for this deck because now the cat's kind of out of the bag but it was definately a powerful meta call for the past weekend. We'll keep working on it and see how it holds up.

Again shout-outs to the people who helped make this deck what it is: @tolaasin who took the deck to Derby Regionals and also did very well ( @Slowriffs who took a similar deck to Bochum but got the shorter end of the stick in pairings ( And @Maxey for intensive testing. Also to @dalhill for TO'ing the event in Bochum and all the lovely people I met and played against, it was a fantastic day of Netrunner that I shall not soon forget. For those interested in reading how I piloted the deck and how it performed in specific matchups, you can consult my tournament report below.
ROUND 1 - vs Making News (Matthias) - LOSS
This was my only loss in swiss and could have gone either way. I suspected the obnoxious Door-To-Door deck so I kept hold of my Strikes to counter-current. I also suspected a kill package which ended up being Consulting Visit in to Boom! so I was pretty scared. The first ice he rezzed was a Gutenberg so I farmed some tags on that while drawing. I hit him with an early Diversion to keep him poor and I trashed a Boom! off R&D and then saw a Closed Accounts. Not a huge issue, as I knew he'd thrown down a Reality Threedee in a remote and I was hanging on to a Falsified, plus I had some cash on a Bankroll. He didn't play his Closed Accounts, instead just opting for credits. Next turn I see why. I Embezzle and hit the Closed Accounts and a Consulting Visit. Whew. Shortly after, I make a grave mistake. I'd already installed Turtle and trashed the other two and face plant straight in to a Macrophage. It's a Making News deck, of course it's running Macrophage. I'm an idiot. So as I don't have a decoder on the table I just eat it and then keep running through it, losing all my Turtles because I have no recursion anyway. At one point I steal a Food from hand and very soon I'm ready to pull the trigger. 16 card Counters Surveillance dig should win me the game right? RIGHT? Turns out, nope. Found another Food and a Net Quarantine. 6 points. Damn it. A few turns later he Preemptives for a Boom. I make a run and Liza draws me in to the combo piece I need to put the nail in the coffin next turn, but also the last Embezzle. If I play it and miss, I go down too low to combo next turn. I make the mistake of hoping he hadn't found the second Consulting Visit and money up. I was wrong. I definately should have Embezzled regardless.

ROUND 2 - vs Asa Group (Alex @PuMeGo) - WIN
This was an interesting game because it wasn't the Asa I was expecting, it was running a lot of beefy ice on centrals. I make a blind Embezzle on the face-down ice on HQ and hit an FC3, clicking through it reveals a Vitruvius and Elective Upgrades in hand. Whaaaat? It goes back and fourth, she ends up scoring the Vitruvius and I steal the Elective. Then something heartbreaking happens.. @putzlappen, who she played in round 1 comes over and apologetically hands here two agendas from their previous game. Count your cards, friends. It's too late to reset the game but we agree to shuffle the agendas back in and continue playing. A bit later I have the econ and tags to combo off next turn but find the remaining points I needed on single accesses and contesting the remote. This deck can do that too, and it wasn't the last time I won without playing a Counter Surveillance.

ROUND 3 - vs Skorpios Defense Systems (Benjamin @Antisthenes) - WIN
He starts with Ice Walls everywhere so I'm forced to run Archives for my first Turtle counter and Liza trigger. Not terrible, but not the tempo you want. I start rolling, getting up tags and cash, and suddenly he IAA's an Oaktown in the remote with two cards left in HQ. Curious. I Hot Persuit HQ and see a Hunter-Seeker. Ahhh, that makes sense. Click 2 run the remote and steal the Oaktown, Click 3 Embezzle HQ to trash the 'Seeker and see that the other card is a Stand-off, so Click 4 I steal that too. The game progresses and he literally gets no outs, I'm sitting comfortably on 5 points and he's at 0 points with only a scored Stand-off. At one point he installs an ice on R&D which I'm pretty certain is an Archer as I'd already seen one. I'm holding an Emergency Shutdown and I'm considering running it with Lustig and then derezzing it. I run HQ first so I can then double-run R&D and low and behold, the winning Atlas. Another game won without needing Counter Surveillance.

ROUND 4 - vs Mti Mwekundu (Carl) - WIN
I don't remember a whole lot of this game because it was getting very warm in the room and I was getting a bit tired, and it didn't help that he was a fairly new player so we constantly had to pauze the game for him to read cards. I played an early Strike to prevent him from stopping my attacks and kept him low by force-rezzing and Diversions. I won off an 18-card Counter Surveillance.

ROUND 5 - vs Mti Mwekundu (Alex @ff0x) - WIN
This match excited and terrified me at the same time. I've known ff0x for quite a while now and and he's such a great guy, I love playing against him. On the other hand, I've never actually beaten him before and I needed to win both games to be on the bubble and he only needed a split. I do what I do and start farming counters and money, stealing an agenda here and there, trashing his Code Replicators from hand in the process. At one point I make the mistake of wasting an Inside Job on a Cortex Lock, forgetting that he'd Scarcitied my Strike away the previous turn. He installs what I'm assuming is a Chiyashi as I'd seen it before and that's bad news for my Turtle. So I jack out and he starts ramping up. The critical mistake he makes is putting more ice on his scoring remote, dropping down to 11. Seeing this, I initiate a 15-card Counter Surveillance, it was indeed the Chiyashi, third card down was the winning SSL Endorsement. To be fair, I think he was just really tired and the heat had gotten to him too. I also got extremely lucky with my corp game and either of us deserved these wins.

CUT ROUND 1 - vs Gagarin Bullshit (Brian @Ryanbantwins) - LOSS
I get to see his list and this is the most obnoxiously annoying degenerate deck I've seen in quite some time. Basically it plays big ass agendas like Governent Takeover and Vanity Projects, but protects them with Drudge Works getting him piles of cash in the process. It protects it's centrals with Tour Guides and things. It then tries to kill you with the combination of Hard-Hitting News, SIU, Zealous Judge and High-Profile Target. It runs Boom! too I believe. So this is not going to go well. I attempt to play slowly and clear my tag(s). I steal an Atlas from hand. I play Strike and hit some remotes to check them and build up Turtle counters. I make the mistake of trashing a key asset bringing me into HHN range. I try some glory runs on R&D but alas, I get blown up next turn. This deck ended up winning the whole shebang so I shouldn't feel too bad, although after playing against I felt like I needed a shower.

CUT ROUND 3 - vs The Outfit (Gereon @SpaceHonk) - LOSS
Well you know how this goes. We see eachothers lists and I see a whoooooole lotta damage. This time I try to go as aggressively as possible and see if I can't outrush him. Little do I know that his opening hand is already holding two Consulting Visits, neither of which I see on pokes. This game lasted exactly 3 turns. Lol.

All in all the deck performed very well on the day, but I concede I got really good matchups in swiss. We'll see if we can figure out a way to mitigate damage threat in the future. Thanks for reading!
23 Jul 2018 Radiea

Interesting deck!

Are the estrikes non-negotiable you think?

23 Jul 2018 Cluster Fox

I'm not sure in all honesty. They really knee-cap Mti though, which is a very popular deck. It's also protection against Hunter Seeker in Skorp and it slows down Azmari which are both also quite represented in the current meta. I think you can try without it but it is quite effective in most matchups.

23 Jul 2018 Tolaasin

Doesn’t help with Hunter Seeker.

23 Jul 2018 Cluster Fox

True, Strike indeed doesn't do anything in the Skorp matchup as you have no recursion. My mistake :)