First, a brief history of Weyland fast advance combo in 2021.
Late 2020: Titan shows up as a major force in tournaments. (Here's an example list.) The deck relies on a mix of three fast-advance techniques (Biotic Labor, Audacity, and Reconstruction Contract+Dedication Ceremony), using Titan's ability to make sure that once it scores one Project Atlas, it never runs out of them.
The deck has a reputation for being unbeatable if it gets lucky. Optimising the deck, and becoming more skilful at playing it, becomes primarily about how much bad luck you can handle: a deck that always wins if it gets lucky doesn't necessarily have to lose if it gets unlucky.
May 2021: A new style of Weyland fast advance starts doing unexpectedly well, based around the use of Red Planet Couriers to score a Government Takeover either directly, or indirectly via a huge pile of Project Atlas counters. Previously considered jank, the combo becomes tournament-viable, if a little luck-based due to the possibility of the Government Takeover being stolen.
Both the original creator of the deck, and me when I begin working on my own version, strongly feel that the deck needs to be banned, given how noninteractive of a combo deck it is.
Mid-June 2021: NISEI ban Government Takeover, calling the deck that uses it "unduly slow and frustrating to play against".
I had, at the time, been working on trying to improve the consistency of the deck by removing the Government Takeover. My list at the time was highly untuned, and ridiculously strong despite that; after playing a few games it was clear that this variant of the deck also needed a ban, so I didn't feel much motivation to try to tune the deck as it was clear to me that it was about to be banned anyway.
I don't think NISEI were looking at what I was doing specifically, but they came to similar conclusions themselves; the same ban list update banned Mass Commercialization on the basis that they thought it was highly likely that some sort of similar Built to Last deck would pop up in the future. This wasn't the ban I was expecting, but it ruined the economy of my undertuned list, so I was at the time satisfied that the Red Planet Couriers fast-advance decks were probably now dead.
Late June 2021: A hybrid of two banned fast advance combo decks starts placing well in tournaments. The new combo deck basically ports the Weyland fast advance combo cards from the banned Titan Transnational deck into a Sportsmetal: Go Big or Go Home near-iceless combo deck (the "spombo" archetype that won Worlds in 2020), in order to compensate it for the loss of Game Changer,
It's worth noting that the deck relied heavily on HB cards anyway, such as Red Level Clearance and Biotic Labor, so the key cards can be moved back and forth between Weyland and HB without much effort; you're saving half of the influence either way.
October 2021: NISEI make two relevant banlist changes.
One is the banning of Project Vacheron – the card that made Weyland fast advance viable out of HB. There are attempts (by me and others) to move the near-iceless version of the deck back into Weyland, but without real success (so far, at least). (Apparently I inspired @Klokotze to start working on the HB version again. If it is somehow still viable despite all the bannings, we'll probably see it put in a surprise win at a tournament in a month or two.)
The other is the banning of 419: Amoral Scammer. This severely weakens the credit-denial Runner archetype, meaning that Corp decks can now afford to run a bit lighter on credits if they want to or have to. This is notable because a) one of the things the old Titan deck was famous for is that it can run on very low credit totals, and b) the way that the Red Planet Couriers deck was nerfed was by ruining its economy, and so that nerf was, indirectly, being partially undone.
December 2021: Trying to find a Corp deck to play, I remember that my variant of the Red Planet Couriers deck a) was doing unexpectedly well even when undertuned, and b) was never hard-banned (just nerfed). Maybe, if I actually sat down and tried to tune it properly, I could fight through the economic nerfs and bring it back to, if not a tournament-winning standard, one that gave me a win rate I was happy with online in the 21.10 metagame.
I never did finish tuning the list: this variant almost certainly isn't perfect yet. I do think I'm now within a few cards of the correct list, though (as opposed to the horribly undertuned version I had back in early June). Still, when I started testing this variant of the deck, it won its first 11 games on jinteki.net's casual lobby (many 7-0), which is typically enough for me to sit down and give the deck a proper write up, so here we go.
The deck has three primary strategies to it, and a number of secondary strategies, and as usual for my decks these all interlock and aid each other.
With this variant of the deck, pulling off "the combo" is my most common route to a win. The basic combo is to get a lot of advancement counters down on the table (by any method, but most commonly by advancing ICE), then use Biotic Labor + Red Planet Couriers to move them all onto a Project Atlas.
If you can move enough counters, the game becomes effectively unwinnable for the Runner; you will probably be helpless for a turn or two, but can frequently pull the combo off early enough that the runner is on 0 at the time, and it's hard for them to score 7 points with their randomized deck before you can score 7 points with the help of being able to summon every card you need to HQ at the moment you need it. Generally speaking, after a "big" combo, you start by summoning and scoring a Hostile Takeover in order to fix your economy. You then start summoning fast advance combos from your deck (see below) and scoring 1/2/3 points per turn until you're at 7, with whatever combos are left in your deck.
If you can't move enough counters, the combo can still be worth it. As an approximate rule of thumb (although it will depend a lot on which cards and agendas you still have available), you'll want approximately 1 Atlas counter per agenda point you need to score, in order for the combo to win on its own. However, if you have fewer counters, you can often win via using the combo as a supplement to the other primary strategies: sit back and play glacier, and if you should happen to topdeck half of a fast advance combo, use an Atlas counter to grab the other half and score out. This saves greatly on Atlas counters, meaning that the glacier portion of the deck can save you if you have to pull the trigger early.
The combo benefits the fast-advance style of play by giving you the cards you need for it, and the glacier style of play benefits the combo by giving you time to draw your combo pieces, and to build up advancement counters to move. Rushing out agendas early also benefits the combo, by reducing the number of points you need to score post-combo, and (if you can rush out an Atlas with a counter) allowing you to grab the combo pieces from deep in R&D.
The second primary strategy for this deck is to play glacier. It's playing 13 ICE in a 44-card deck – a higher proportion than is common for fast-advance or combo decks – and most of it is much more taxing than you'd see in a typical fast advance deck.
Generally speaking, you use the ICE primarily to reinforce HQ and R&D, and to a lesser extent Archives. The ideal setup is Fire Wall on the inside of your two primary central servers, being powered up by some combination of triple-advanced Akhet and Oduduwa, with various Mausoluses (Mausoli?) along the way to provide a large tax. This will create servers that become more and more expensive to get into every time the Runner tries, and this deck can set them up surprisingly quickly thanks to cards like Sprint that are played for the combo but can also dig for ICE in a pinch, and Dedication Ceremony which is primarily played to indirectly fast-advance agendas, but can fast-advance rezzed ICE instead in order to set up your glacier faster. The basic hope is that you can recover from the cost of rezzing and advancing ICE faster than the Runner can recover from the cost of breaking it.
You usually want to build a remote server – this deck can function without one, but it functions better with. It is sometimes possible to build a remote that can keep the Runner out, but this deck doesn't rely on it, and (except in weird situations that force a strategy pivot, such as running out of fast-advance operations) doesn't attempt it. Rather, if you can make a remote that's expensive to get into, it will be a reasonable place to park a Wall to Wall or Reconstruction Contract; Runners are reluctant to break into scoring servers when they don't have an agenda in them, as forcing the Runner to do this too often is normally a primary win condition in glacier decks.
The standard Runner counter-strategy to glacier at the moment is to mostly just ignore it earlier on and build up economy, planning to win with huge R&D or HQ digs later in the game. This is great for you, as it buys you time to set up the combo, or to fast-advance out agendas in 1- or 2-point chunks, and that Runner counter-strategy doesn't work nearly as well against those.
In addition to the Red Planet Couriers into Project Atlas combo, the deck has lots of miniature combos that let you score 1, 2, or 3 points in a turn (with the only reliable counterplay being Clot, which nobody plays; some of the combos are also stopped by Political Operative but most aren't). And I mean lots; I keep discovering new ones. Here's a list of all the ones I can remember at present (and I've used all of these in actual games), ordered roughly in order of usefulness, from staple to niche:
You can win the game primarily with the fast-advance strategies, if necessary, without ever relying on the combo and even if your glacier fails apart; after all, you only need 7 points to win and there are more than 7 points worth of fast advancement in your deck. More commonly, this will be used in concert with the other strategies; a glacier buys you time to assemble the fast-advance combos, the main combo lets you grab the pieces from R&D and lets you score out mostly instantly (and if you can fast-advance yourself an Atlas counter you can use it to find combo pieces), rushing reduces the number of points you need to advance out, and a shell game can help get your Reconstruction Contract to stick.
This is a Built to Last deck with seven run-ending barriers and three code gates that end the run even unadvanced. That in its own right is sufficient to do a passable imitation of a rush deck over the first few turns; the economy doesn't really work out and you don't have as many cards dedicated to the strategy as a rush deck would typically use, but many Runner decks won't try to or aren't able to contest an early rush. This means that it's often possible to jam a couple of ICE (preferably one barrier plus Hortum, or two barriers versus an Engolo deck) onto a scoring remote in the first few turns, and simply jam out an Atlas with a counter before the Runner is ready to stop you. Rushing to 7 agenda points is effectively impossible in this deck, but rushing to 2 agenda points (especially if you get a counter as well) is often quite easy (depending on the deck matchup) and will be very beneficial to every other strategy (the combo doesn't need as many counters to guarantee a win, the glacier can use your former scoring remote to store economic assets, the fast advance strategy has an easier target score to hit).
This deck is also decent at playing shell game: it doesn't have any ambushes, but it does have NGO Fronts which has almost as much impact on the Runner when they've paid their way through your econ remote to get there. Especially when you've fast-advanced out quite a few points, the Runner may feel compelled to check the remote in case it actually is an agenda this time. (I believe the correct strategy is to install agendas in the remote only on very rare occasions; even a slight possibility of an agenda there will normally compel the Runner to check.) If you can waste the Runner's time and money on an econ remote run even once, then this will help keep your Wall to Wall or Reconstruction Contract safe. There are a lot of tricks you can do to bait runners into your econ remote (e.g. using Akhet to advance the card there; I triple-advanced an NGO Front like that once and it was totally worth it).
Finally, this deck has a couple of control elements. It would be playing Above the Law regardless because it's a 3/2 without downside, but Above the Law has mindboggling upside in this deck; when you have fast-advance capability, you can use it to snipe resources, and a lot of Runner decks are resource-dependent nowadays. I also included Wake Up Call primarily as tech against Big MaxX (which is played all over the place on jinteki.net at the moment due to winning Worlds recently); the trigger condition is often a little hard to set off, but not impossible, and being able to blow up both DJ Fenris or Maw can really slow the MaxX deck down (Big MaxX absolutely hates taking damage because it needs to hold recursion cards in hand, so is pretty much forced to take the resource trash). Wake Up Call is probably the wrong card for the slot (other reasonable options include Preemptive Action and additional fast-advance cards), but it's the card I've been testing the deck with so I listed it here.
I'm sorry, I made a 19-agenda-point deck again. This time, it isn't done to increase the agenda density, but rather because I couldn't find a good agenda mix that came to 18 points.
First, the obvious. Project Atlas is a 100% trivial auto-include in this deck – it's a 3/2 so it can be fast-advanced, if you can score counters on it you can use it to find combo pieces, and of course it's a critical part of the deck's main combo in its own right. Above the Law would be included regardless simply for being a 3/2 without downside, but the upside also randomly wins you the game sometimes. (It also makes for one of the best cards to fast-advance out after a successful combo – the Runner will be trying to race at this point, and sniping a resource can give you a huge advantage in the race, especially if it's something like The Turning Wheel.)
One of the big improvements in this deck, compared to previous (and worse) iterations, was to go up to 2× Hostile Takeover. I previously tried an "all agendas steal as 2 points except for one Hostile Takeover" agenda mix, and discovered that it was very vulnerable to the Hostile Takeover being stolen – this deck really benefits from scoring one in the later stages of the game because a) it's a point and b) it can be fast-advanced without support and c) the deck often runs very low on credits and the 7 can be vital to keep going. If there isn't one in R&D to fetch out with the Atlas, then the deck is probably 3-4 turns slower, which is a huge difference for a combo deck. Having two Hostiles available greatly mitigates this issue, and it also allows the deck to play fewer fast-advance cards and still function (because we have an agenda that can fast-advance itself, saving on operations and assets to do the same job).
That leaves 8-9 agenda points left, and Global Food Initiative was the natural choice. It's been an agenda of choice for combo decks for ages, because it counts as 3 points during deck construction, but steals as 2 points, thus making it harder for the runner to outrace you. Critical to this deck, though, it steals as 2 points but scores as 3 points, and this deck is looking to score 7, and it is capable of fast-advancing a 5/3. So the big agendas aren't just taking up meaningless agenda space, like they would be in many combo or kill decks – they're actually part of the win condition in their own right.
It would be possible to run two Global Food Initiatives plus a 4/2, but I couldn't find any 4/2s that would be worth it. Maybe something like Offworld Office or New Construction could be viable in that slot to save an influence dot, but due to scoring as only 2 points, they wouldn't be much use to the deck; most of the time they'd just get stuck in hand, and when the correct tools to advance them did show up, they wouldn't get the deck as far to the victory condition as a Global Food Initiative would. So the deck ended up playing 19 points: the 10 non-GFI points seem to be mandatory, and playing 18 points wouldn't reduce the number of stealable points because it would mean reducing the number of GFIs, so there isn't much downside to going to 19.
There isn't much to say about the specific cards chosen here that hasn't already been said above. Dedication Ceremony + Reconstruction Contract, Audacity and Biotic Labor are the standard Weyland fast advance cards, not some sort of strategy I invented; and Red Planet Couriers is part of the key combo.
There is, however, something to say about the numbers of these cards, which are much lower than might be expected for this style of deck. Basically, I'm running the minimum count of each of the cards that I can get away with, instead relying on Sprint and Project Atlas to try to get the right card into HQ at the right time. Anyone who's seriously played Hard-Hitting News will know what a tendency it has to get stuck in hand for most of the game, while waiting for the right moment to play it. People who play complex combo decks will, likewise, know how hard it is to get all the relevant cards in hand at once, and typically play hand size increasers to try to make the combo work. This deck has lots of little combos, and all too often, you end up with mismatching combo halves clogging your hand. At some point, you'll end up having to get rid of them somehow (discard, reshuffle, install in econ remote, etc.) in order to fit them within your maximum hand size; and the more combo and fast advance cards you play, the more likely that is to happen. So it makes more sense to fill slots with reshuffle cards than it does to fill the slots with duplicate combo cards: discarding a combo piece slows you down (because you spent time to draw it), but if you reshuffle it with Sprint, that speeds you up instead.
The main consequence of this is that cutting combo cards tends to make the deck better, up to the point that you run out of them and can't win via the deck's normal method. With the numbers seen here (2× Dediconstruction, 1× Audacity, 1× Biotic, 1× RPC), I'm very close to the safety line, but testing has shown that I'm still just about on the correct side of it (several games have required creativity to win with the remaining pieces, and a couple have required extra relevant topdecks / more Atlas counters than normal due to the more appropriate fast advance pieces having been lost already, but as the 11-0 record suggests, none have yet been lost for this reason or for any other). Additionally, fewer slots for fast advance means more slots for economy and for ICE; requiring too many operations and assets to make the ICE suite function is a recurring hazard for fast advance and combo decks, and doing things this way helps to avoid that issue.
Hedge Fund is a staple, good for all the usual reasons. The numbers also match up well with this deck, because 9 is the exact amount needed to pull off the primary combo, so the drawback (small though it is) is even smaller than usual. It's always nice when a staple card turns out to be a little better than usual in your deck, because you would be playing it anyway.
It took me an embarrassingly long time to realise how good NGO Front is as economy in Built to Last. For most Corp decks, the numbers on NGO Front make it so that it's inefficient when used as pure economy; the reason it's a good card is the potential to bait runners into useless runs without losing too much economy in the process, rather than directly because of the credits it gives you. However, run out of Built to Last, the card gives you 2 more; the card can be played like an operation that gives you 5 as a double or 8 as a triple, both of which are decent rates of return just on their own (e.g. the latter is basically a Corp-side Day Job; the former isn't as good but is still entirely reasonable). That would be playable in its own right, but the card still gives you all the usual NGO Front benefits on top of that. Incidentally, against Criminal decks, you may want to rez it immediately to prevent Falsified Credentials ever having a target.
Talking about Built to Last, our identity is also critical to the deck, primarily for economic reasons. In order for the combo to work, there need to be a lot of advancement counters sitting out there on the Net, and the ID lets us do that without losing tempo – in effect, we spend a lot of time "advancing for credits" in situations where most decks would click for credits. As such, the identity (in addition to giving us 2 extra on NGO Front, and on some agenda scores such as Hostile Takeover's) means that you don't have to choose between the combo, the economy, and the ICE suite – the same basic action (placing the first counter on a piece of ICE) moves you towards all three goals at the same time.
Wall to Wall is another card that helps the economy work, and has been a huge powerhouse in this deck ever since I added it. It does need to go in a fairly well-protected remote (you don't need to keep the Runner out entirely, but do need to make them pay for running over to trash it) – however, it will generally provide three kinds of drip in this deck as you rarely have another asset rezzed at the start of your turn. The credit drip is obviously helpful to keep the economy going; the card drip is very helpful with your setup speed and can contribute to escaping an R&D lock by clicklessly drawing a card that the Runner couldn't see without aid; and the counter drip is helpful for both the glacier and combo sides of the deck. (The counters from Wall to Wall should normally be used to advance either Oduduwa, which can't be advanced normally, or on topping up a piece of ICE that already has advancement counters. Against most decks, the priority targets to drip counters onto are Akhet if it has less than three, followed by Fire Wall or Oduduwa, although all the ICE can benefit from Wall to Wall counters in some matchups.)
Sprint is a critical card to the deck, providing draw and reshuffle at the same time. The priority targets to reshuffle are as usual agendas, especially Global Food Initiative, although it often makes sense to keep one Project Atlas in HQ if you think the Runner is unlikely to run it. Audacity is another good card to reshuffle; you normally only need it on the last turn of the game, and it just clogs up your hand until then. It's reasonable to Sprint purely for the draw rather than for the reshuffle (e.g. because you need ICE early, or because you'd otherwise end up spending a turn not accomplishing much or because the Sprint is clogging your hand); in this situation, you can shuffle back any card you don't need immediately or that is in duplicates (with Hortum being a particularly common choice to shuffle back, especially once the opponent has a decoder).
Red Level Clearance, on the other hand, is helpful to the deck in two unrelated ways, both of which are very powerful (and has been a staple in Weyland fast advance ever since it was printed). There are two primary modes for using it:
Red Level Clearance can be used to draw cards faster, if you're in a situation where you want particular cards as soon as possible (e.g. you have most but not all of a combo in hand, or need ICE in a hurry, or have a scoring window but no agenda to score with it, etc.). The basic idea is to play it click 1, starting with the "draw 2 cards" option, and look at the cards before deciding what to do next. If you happen to draw into a combo, and need all your clicks to play it, you can do that; just use the "gain " option to refund the click, then pretend the cards were in your hand all along and do your combo. If you missed the card you wanted, or if you found it but don't need a whole turn's worth of clicks, you can use the "gain 2" option to retroactively turn the card into a Corp-side Build Script, which is a perfectly fine economy card in this sort of situation.
This mode also serves as a partial counter to attempts by the Runner to R&D lock you; if you topdeck it, it can clicklessly draw you the two cards underneath, which is excellent at dodging a "basic" R&D lock, and has a small chance of even beating Stargate. The glacier elements to this deck means that it typically doesn't get R&D locked anyway, but a little extra protection never hurts.
The card can be used to clicklessly install an asset at the cost of 1. This saves a click on any fast-advance combo that involves the use of Reconstruction Contract, which allows a whole new level of fast-advance tricks, as listed in the "Fast advance" section above.
Spin Doctor is basically a combination of Sprint #4 and Preemptive Action #1. It's bad at both tasks in this deck, but the deck sometimes needs more reshuffle and sometimes needs a way to reuse fast-advance cards, so Spin Doctor it is.
Most of the ICE in here is just the usual Weyland advanceable ICE suite. Akhet in particular is very good in glacier, being immune to Hippo and giving counters with every run (it's often worth spending clicks to triple-advance it). Mausolus is as usual just there as a tax on centrals, but a strong one, and Ice Wall is cheap-to-rez filler (which can be placed on HQ to counter derez decks).
Oduduwa is more rarely used, and is good here because it strongly discourages repeated runs on centrals. The best card to combo it with is Fire Wall, which has a good rez-to-break ratio against popular breakers at the moment even with only one counter, and scales forever off Oduduwa or Akhet counters; normally you want Fire Wall on the centrals (with some ICE outside it due to The Turning Wheel). There are cards that are good against Fire Wall, like Boomerang and Botulus, but those are unpopular at the moment.
Finally, Hortum is primarily there just to add more code gates and advanceable ICE, but has a wildly varying value. Against most decks, it isn't very good except as an early (and expensive) gear check. However, it sometimes randomly wins you the game, either by entirely locking out an AI-dependent deck, or by firing the second sub while triple-advanced, (the equivalent of two Atlas counters), and so has been pulling its weight on average (and there's nothing obvious to replace it with).
This deck is totally beatable, but the tech cards you need, and the best breakers against it, aren't popular right now (and may weaken the Runner's matchup against more popular Corp decks), so I think it's well-placed (and may become even stronger when someone finishes tuning it).
Also, apparently netrunnerdb.com has a character limit for deck descriptions. I hit it, and had to edit this down to fit, so I'd better stop talking now.
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