Stealth Leela (5th place at BLM)

tanderson 228

This is the deck I took to NISEI's Black Lives Matter tournament. I am so happy with my results at my first tournament--especially one dedicated to such a great and personally important cause. I want to share both my unique decklist and my experiences running.

First off, recommended changes in case that's why you're here:

Two Ideas

NISEI's new banlist meant I expected the field to be wide open. Historically, I've been a bad runner player and a worse deckbuilder, but I did have two ideas that helped me arrive at a novel decklist:

  1. Runner could win every game if they just had the clicks.
  2. Always play Leela Patel when the meta is open.

There's no shortage of great things for the runner to install and plenty of burst economy as accompaniment. That's why all my corp decks either spammed assets, rushed agendas as fast as possible, or had a Punitive Counterstrike plan. If the runner just had time to install everything, they would never lose, but as you'll see when I write up my Sportsmetal, even 1 click spent installing something useless like a Kati Jones could mean an instant defeat against fast decks. So I wanted a runner that could compress clicks. The obvious candidates were Hayley and Hoshiko, who both got new toys and have an ID ability that inherently grants click compression.

But it's been my long maintained belief that when you have to face a variety of unknown decks, you should just take Leela. Some decks will mulligan into hands with 0 ice and completely fold to doof; combo decks can turn into jank when they have to contend with her ID; and any good deck can lose to a bad bounce. Plus, with Engolo coming off the MWL, it seemed that there was a green light to experiment with good-stuff crim that didn't have the dreaded turtle.

Was there a way I could combine these two ideas? Well, Leela doesn't give click compression, but she taxes Corp clicks, which can be just as good. She can contest early and keep up pressure, but I wanted to smoothly ramp into the late game losing as few clicks as possible even against glacier style The Outfit: Family Owned and Operated decks. Yes, I thought the early fight, late game power, and steady click compression was possible with an easy to underrate and misunderstand card: Net Mercur. I've all lost plenty of games in jnet casual to a Smoke who puts together a huge rig and gets 1000 stealth credits on Net Mercur. But by far the most valuable part of Net Mercur is drawing a card every single run. Not a measly two cards per turn like Hoshiko Hoshiko with DreamNet, but up to four cards per turn doing the thing you always wish you were doing anyway. And yes, Net Mercur can always be a bad publicity, something I thought could help against the expected barrage of asset decks.

I jammed Engolo, Net Mercur, and the necessary stealth support. With Corroder, that was 14 influence down. I spent my last point on Hunting Grounds so I could win the Argus matchup or against any cheesy GameNET. (Spoiler alert: I installed the Hunting Grounds once and it definitely should have been a Turning Wheel.) Everything was turning up aces in testing: Afterimage shuts down Tour Guide and Surveyor and Security Testing stayed on theme with run-based economy.

Most importantly, with 4 cards drawn mid-run, how could I possibly lose to Punitive Counterstrike?

The Games

oh no

Let's start with the first game in the top cut. I was second seed, so I happily picked my Leela into an Outfit that I expected to be on Punitive. I mulligan'd and got the worst possible hand: all 3 breakers and a Special Order. I managed to stabilize after the first City Works Project went past, hit a huge Embezzle, and get most of my rig installed. Sadly, not Net Mercur.

Then I got blown up. Do yourself a favor and go to 9:55:00 in the VOD and see if you can't count the approximately 20 ways I punted: missing credits on my Taka, not letting a Bulwark sub fire, not paying into the first trace to force the corp to have triple Punitive. Punitive math can be a lot harder than it seems, and I will be taking remedial classes.

But let me draw your attention to the most heartbreaking punt of all: had the legwork

Hostile Takeover was in hand so I could have played Legwork and had a 75% chance of winning and never have to worry about Punitive. Never forget that Legwork has a habit of closing games!

I lost my other game with Leela in the cut to the winning CTM deck. Fair enough, I took some bad lines and never quite got off the ground. I knew it was a hard matchup.

Otherwise it was smooth sailing. I beat a super flooded RP (that matchup is gas for this deck, so I was never worried), kept my wits about me against a traps-based Harmony Medtech, and dismantled a Blue Sun in a really tense game that was definitely the highlight of the tournament for me. There were some others, and overall it was a great day before the cut, and a well deserved beating in the cut to some great players with excellent decks. Shout out to all the BOSWASH players in the cut and the tournament!

Tech and Card Choices

I've run through my overall deckbuilding philosophy and many card choices. Here are a few I didn't get too.

  • Political Operative. I was on HB fast advance, but I suspected Asa Group with Lakshmi Smartfabrics would be a dominant deck (it didn't turn out to be). I got crushed by it 30 minutes before registration, so I slotted a Pol Op. Threatening to kill the Lakshmi on the corp's turn eliminates the biggest problem of getting timewalked.
  • Mu Safecracker. In testing this card pulled its weight. I wouldn't cut it, but I would supplement with a Turning Wheel. Paying 1 stealth credit to access an additional from HQ is amazing. (Especially on top of a Legwork).
  • Miss Bones. I knew asset matchups were a little soft. This is one of the better tech cards. I never installed it, but wish I would have drawn it against CTM.
  • Inside Job. It's fallen out of favor, but never count it out, especially in Leela. I expected gearcheck to play a big role.

Mulligans

You have one very clear priority when taking the mulligan: find cards to play that give you credits. Like all crims, this deck tends to fall apart when you have a full hand of breakers and events and no money. Mulligan for Sure Gamble, Daily Casts, Career Fair, PAD Tap, Blueberry!™ Diesel, and that's about it.

A huge thank you to all my opponents, the commentators, the donators, and the tireless organizers for a wonderful tournament.

8 comments
28 Jun 2020 disperse

Great writeup, if it makes you feel better, we had three Punitives in hand!

28 Jun 2020 koga

Congrats on the placement, I love Leela and would 100% play her over 419!

29 Jun 2020 tanderson

Thank you both! And yes disperse, that does make me feel a bit better :)

29 Jun 2020 boreira

Was expecting some Leela in the top and this one has some interesting card choices (like engolo) Do feel one Net Mercur is fine? Would you consider any changes afer tournament?

30 Jun 2020 tanderson

@boreira While it would be nice to fit another Net Mercur, it's impossible due to influence. Engolo is key to the deck: it allows Afterimage to be good because we don't need stealth enablers to break Archers, Trebuchets, Anansis, etc in the early game.

I would sub Hunting Grounds for Turning Wheel and try to fit 2 more Dirty Laundry. Probably cutting Political Operative and 1 other card.

1 Jul 2020 adquen

Is Penumbral Toolkit not worth a slot? Getting four stealth for zero seems nice, and right now you do only have two (non-tutorable) stealth enablers. I mean the results speak for themselves, and you have Engolo to carry you through the early game ... but is it #slotsmate or is the card just not good enough/not necessary here?

1 Jul 2020 tanderson

@adquen it's definitely a good question, and I actually had Toolkit all through testing until I pulled it for a Political Operative because I was worried about Asa. In testing it was just fine: as you note, Engolo can get us through troublesome ice in the early game. Penumbral is only worth it if we can successfully run HQ, at which point we don't really need it. Definitely not a bad card, but I don't think it does enough to justify the slot.

5 Jul 2020 vesper

Congrats on a great performance and thank you for the sweet writeup!