It was a warm Saturday evening on the streets of London. Having first stopped by to wish
@realitycheque a happy birthday, we were finally making our way home.
@ExtraC was powering ahead with
@3N1GM4 squelching soggily beside him (we were still laughing over his little dip in the canal), and following behind was
@rotage and I, discussing the meta ahead with Gagarin's comfortable victory mere hours ago dominating our conversation.
"Aesop's maybe? Perhaps there's a hybrid list out there."
And on it went. We never reached a conclusive "this is the deck to play", but the seed of an idea had planted in my brain, waiting to grow.
It was a hot Sunday afternoon at home. I had realised in the shower that morning that Smoke had a natural counter to Gagarin's ID in Net Mercur, but couldn't find a satisfying way to take that idea further; I've played Smoke a lot in my Netrunner career, and always struggled with her economy.
But then it happened. While watching some enjoyably trashy anime, a flash of inspiration struck - my eyes were wide, my breath was ragged, the weeb nonsense was only so much background noise, because I had found the answer!
What if I just slammed in three Liberated Accounts and called it a day?
This deck was built in large part to crush Gagarin. Gagarin was clearly becoming the deck to beat and if you weren't slotting some level of asset hate you were going to have a bad time - but out of Anarch or Criminal, you were still heavily on the backfoot with little to truly swing the game in your favour. Shaper though, and Smoke in particular, can truly mess with all their lines.
Calling Misdirection "Gagarin hate" is a bit silly, considering there is not a single correct Shaper list under the sun that hasn't included it since its release, but it is important to highlight how greatly it diminishes the HHN/Zealous Judge threat. Against Crims and Anarchs, HHN forces them to waste an entire turn and 8 credits and leave Zealous Judge rezzed; Misdirection leaves you the clicks to take that silly haired boi out.
The third Astrolabe is definitely a consideration for the asset matchup. The sooner you get that out the sooner you get everything else out, although it does increase the already fairly high number of dead cards in your deck. Still, it definitely didn't feel wrong.
But that's all general Shaper stuff. Where Smoke comes into play is via Net Mercur and Switchblade. The former is effectively bad publicity - spend a Net Mercur credit and gain it right back, cancelling out Gagarin's tax - and the latter renders Tour Guide meaningless.
Now, that spicy, questionable 1-of Hacktivist Meeting was me probably leaning a bit too hard on the asset hate. There were originally 2, but I begrudgingly accepted that I should probably have some answer to fast advance and swapped 1 for a Clot and that Interdiction, cutting a Dirty Laundry. The influence could have been better spent, as Hacktivist didn't accomplish much of anything, and frankly it was overkill when all the other asset hate did completely neutralise Gagarin.
With that core in place, I had to ensure I had decent and robust game against other decks I might face. Central to that was my inspired inclusion of Liberated Account as the centerpiece of my economy. Hey, if it's good enough for Anarchs with their terrible breakers it's good enough for Smoke and her ruthlessly efficient ones. But seriously, it did great work - it's extremely simple and straightforward, neither requiring complicated setup or giving anything to the corp à la Peace in Our Time. Also great in tandem with Misdirection; keep 4 on the Liberated and never worry about Economic Warfare again!
I opted for R&D Interface as my mutli-access and wincon, but this was perhaps too influenced by the Gagarin matchup, where you can check R&D cheaply every turn. When you're facing down Blue Sun with three (!) Chiyashis on R&D, it became a bit more questionable. At 4 credits apiece too, it can be a big, unversatile tempo hit. In hindsight, I would have preferred swapping out the Hacktivist for an Interdiction (or even running System Seizures) and replacing the two RDIs with The Turning Wheels, even if you do start to be a bit overexposed to Scarcity of Resources.
Paperclip as my restricted was mostly "well, I don't exactly have slots for anything else and I have a 3 influence hole so why not". Film Critic would probably be better, but god knows where you fit it in here or what you do with the spare influence from taking Corroder. And hey, it helped me steal SDSs and saved a few credits breaking Chiyashi, so who can say whether it was truly wrong.
I went back and forth a lot on my choice of decoder, before settling on Houdini. Yes, Refractor is the more typical choice, and yes in most cases it is better, but typically stealth decks use Dagger, not Switchblade. Switchblade is much hungrier for stealth credits, and with Surveyor unrestricted you've got to consider the possibility of spending a lot of stealth credits on a single run. And what decks are likely to run Surveyor? Jinteki glacier ones, which probably also has DNA Tracker, which is 2 stealth credits with Refractor but only 1 with Houdini. Similarly, consider stacked code gates - another way your stealth credits get eaten up by Refractor but not by Houdini and a very real counter-stealth line. Fortunately, our economy is strong enough that the few extra real credits spent on Houdini is something we can weather. Even if Refractor would have been better on the day, I don't regret my decision and feel the reasoning is sound.
Everything else in the list is pretty bog standard, so let's talk about the performance! It went 2-1 in swiss, beating Chronos Protocol and Blue Sun, but losing to IG. CP was played carefully - my opponent has killed me with it before, so I knew how to play around it, keeping my hand full by using Net Mercur to draw cards and ensuring they're all different - but it still came down to a 50/50 after Salems -> Salems -> Complete Imaging that I mercifully won. Blue Sun, look, I had to break three Chiyashis in a row, I earned that winning SSL on R&D. And IG, well, they got the kill combo pretty quickly, there wasn't much I could do about that even if I knew how to play the matchup.
With my corp going 3-0, I was able to ID into the cut and finally take advantage of my asset hate as I played against NEH and Gagarin.
I wish I had more to say about those games, but they were basically textbook - I got my Paricias and went to town, comfortably removing every potential threat from the board and stealing agendas as they emerged. NEH I was able to go super aggressive as it was pure fast advance with no followup threat, and Gagarin got hilariously rich because I had absolutely no reason to challenge its economy. Got some sick value out of Beth that game!
Unfortunately, my corp deck lost twice in the cut and knocked me out, but I still finished 4th and feel fantastic about it. This deck did good work.
Thanks, Liberated. Thiberated.
28 Jul 2019 Cliquil
29 Jul 2019 manveruppd