Smoke Rings 1.0

Xandorius 789

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SMOKING IS BAD FOR YOU; IF YOU'RE THE CORP!

This is my take on a Ele "Smoke" Scovak: Cynosure of the Net utilizing the efficiency of Prognostic Q-Loop. Shout out to @Baa Ram Wu who published the first take here.

WHAT'S THE SCOOP ON THE LOOP? DECK PLAN

This deck uses Prognostic Q-Loop to filter and quickly install pieces either midrun or potentially on the corp's turn. The slick trick is to never manually draw and install hardware or programs. This engine is achieved through the combination of the Q-Loop alongside Mantle and Net Mercur.

A typical move is to make a run, triggering Prognostic Q-Loop to show you the top two cards. If your top card is a program or hardware, then use Mantle to pay the Q-Loop cost to reveal and install the card. Using Mantle triggers Net Mercur prior to the install step. This can give you 1 towards the install cost. If the top card is not a target but the second card is, then you can instead use Mercur to draw the top card, enabling you to install the second card instead.

If both top cards are targets, then consider installing one on your turn and the other on the corp's turn. Effective use of of Q-Loop can save a dozen clicks or more over the course of a match (each use saving you the click of drawing and the click of installing).

INHALE DEEP - EARLY TURNS

Early game you primarily want to see Prognostic Q-Loop or Net Mercur along with your econ. With the quantity of stealth credits in the deck, you don't need to hoard them on Mercur, so be confident in using it to draw instead. Remember that you can use Ele "Smoke" Scovak: Cynosure of the Net's ability to boost a breaker during a run (even on an unprotected server) to trigger a Mercur draw. Don't be afraid to use Peace in Our Time early too, because once your set up most ICE is easy to deal with.

BLOWING SMOKE - PLAN ONCE SET UP

Once you have a bit of a rig going the plan is to use Indexing to pressure R&D alongside Mu Safecracker to pressure both R&D and HQ. Being a stealth deck you should be confident in contesting the remote early too. Penrose helps break both barriers and codegates so with that and one other source of stealth credits you can deal with many two ICE servers. Afterimage can waltz through sentries with ease.

SMOKE RINGS - TRICKS, SYNERGIES, AND CARD CHOICES

Events - Nothing particularly noteworthy here. Peace in Our Time helps with early setup where stealth decks are usually weak. Giving the corp money isn't an issue if they're using it for ICE. Be a little careful if they can create a big gap for SEA Source. Indexing is very powerful at all stages of the game. Early it gives you knowledge and the ability to muck with the corp's setup. Late it will often hit an agenda.

Hardware - Mirror is a natural fit in stealth decks. It's particularly noteworthy that it can trigger before Mu Safecracker which means it is another source of a stealth credit for paying the safecracker's cost. Between Net Mercur and Mirror you can earn the two credits needed during the run to crack that R&D safe. Mercur alone can pay the cost needed to crack HQ. The Prognostic Q-Loop is central to the engine described above. Simulchip helps refresh breakers and resists rigshooters.

Resources - Beth Kilrain-Chang helps offset the Peace in Our Time and is generally just good. Daily Casts is efficient money and was picked over Rezeki. Even though the green orbs can be installed through the Loop, they're best in the long game and Casts helps with early money needs.

Programs - Mantle is great and worth having 3. They can be used to pay the cost on Q-Loop, Self-modifying Code, Safecracker, and Misdirection. Penrose over Houdini to get that barrier breaker effect. Afterimage is great for the bypass and you will easily have 2 stealth credits once set up. Cerberus "Lady" H1 is very econ efficient so it's worth including over Blackstone which is very expensive by comparison. Keep in mind that you can use Simulchip to refresh Lady or the Penrose to break barriers.

FILTERED OR NOT - CONCLUSION AND CONSIDERATIONS

This deck has played about 15 games now. All losses were to flatlines except for one Weyland Consortium: Builder of Nations match that managed to quickly dedicate city works twice. I think the deck is strong against glacier and combo decks and will struggle a little more against grinder and CtM asset spam. The deck doesn't have a ton of 'real' money for trashing assets and clearing CtM tags. I think Mu Safecracker is preferable to The Turning Wheel or Medium based on it pressuring both R&D and HQ, is faster, and the stealth credit costs are offset through Mercur and Mirror. Given the 40 card deck you could consider dropping to 2x Self-modifying Code and you probably won't fire all three Simulchip so 2x might work as well. Consider including a Harmony AR Therapy which I might even consider as a 41st card. Every other slot is pretty locked in, so I don't know what other changes you'd want to make for this deck plan specifically.

I hope you like the deck! It's a lot of fun when set up and you can do some really slick tricks. A favourite so far is installing Mantle or SMC midrun from the Loop to get extra stealth credits or breakers from out of thin air. Feel free to provide your thoughts or comments, any suggestions would be appreciated! Also, don't actually smoke, it's really bad for you in real life!

12 comments
4 Jan 2021 Shorty

Haha that deck looks so weird, nicely done! I would consider cutting both Peace for more Stimhacks? With Q-Loop, SMC and Simulchip there seems to be so much value in Stimhack runs. =)

4 Jan 2021 Xandorius

@Shorty That's definitely a good suggestion! Just depends on whether or not you prefer taking multiple brain damage hits or not. I find peace to be a little more flexible too since you don't have to spend all the money in on run/click. This matters early when you might not have loop or other pieces set up yet.

4 Jan 2021 Diogene

This deck goes very fast and is very potent. Once some counter to grinder and damaging corp will be found, this will be like Titan : goes so fast you never had a chance to put your game plan in place. Good work @Xandorius! Also, nice write-up, this is fun to read.

4 Jan 2021 Xandorius

Thanks for the kind words @Diogene! I try to make my write ups informative and interesting. Hopefully they provide something more than merely a list of cards to play.

I think if your meta encounters a lot of grinder or kill decks your best picks will be Buffer Drive and/or Citadel Sanctuary. Buffer often negates the plan of 'chip damage until they can't steal Obokata' and Sanctuary makes Sea-Scorch-Scorch much more difficult. Misdirection is already in the deck and is the best answer to HHN. If your meta is really full of long game grinder corps, then including a Harmony AR Therapy for more econ and another indexing could be the way to go. I'd consider it as a 41st card anyway since the Loop/Mercur combo does pull things out of your deck pretty quickly and 41 cards shouldn't ruin your consistency that much.

5 Jan 2021 Baa Ram Wu

Nice deck here Xandorius! And thanks for the shout out to Avenue Q (a deck I will certainly go back to after salvaged memories)

I like the use of mirror in a deck that runs indexing!!

the safecracker is defo an interesting include - I do like the fact you can install it off the q-loop (which is a benefit over TTW) I probably haven’t given that card enough of a chance yet to work out if it’s better than TTW - but certainly the immediacy feels like a benefit in a deck with indexing.

6 Jan 2021 Xandorius

@Baa Ram Wu Thanks for stopping by! Your deck really sold me on the fun that can be had with Prognostic Q-Loop. Once that three card combo is up your first run generates 3 clicks of value (one from Mercur, 2 from Loop, fueled by Mantle) with another two clicks of value you can have on the corps turn. That saves a ton over a match!

Safecracker has been interesting. 1x means it's a little harder to find, but it goes faster than TTW and hardware is harder to trash. I think the deck could probably do well with a variety of multi access options. Even Stargate could be a consideration since your runs become so cheap.

Can't wait to see what Avenue Q becomes with the next set!

7 Jan 2021 Davidmc7

I was looking for a nice stealth runner deck to play and I think this will be it! Thanks for this deck.

11 Jan 2021 bbbbbbbbba

From the Comprehensive Rules:

3.9.5.d. If an icebreaker’s paid ability modifies its strength outside of an encounter and does not specify another applicable duration, the modification expires during the next checkpoint.

Example: If the Runner uses Corroder’s ability to increase its strength outside of an encounter, it applies only until the next checkpoint.

So the "Ele boosts breaker" trick should work even without running at all. Probably a corner case, but may come in handy.

11 Jan 2021 Xandorius

@bbbbbbbbbaThat's a good thing to point out! That basically means if you have a breaker and Net Mercur installed then your ID can turn into a free credit or draw each turn, which can definitely add up!

14 Jan 2021 nimzowitsch

@bbbbbbbbba @Xandorius The problem is that Net Mercur says "each run". So even you could spend that stealth credit outside a run, it will not let you fire its ability.

It doesn't really matter in this deck IMO, as you want to run each turn anyway. Can't wait to try it out!

14 Jan 2021 bbbbbbbbba

@nimzowitsch Oh you're right. I thought it was each turn... The card is more powerful than I thought.

14 Jan 2021 Xandorius

Hope everyone is enjoying the deck! After a handful of matches I think the setup and efficiency is good, however one Cerberus "Lady" H1 is a little vulnerable to getting locked out of a barrier heavy matchup. You may not see Simulchip fast enough to refresh, or may not be able to install and use all of them. I'd consider adding a second Lady, or maybe consider using Blackstone as an alternative, although it's not great on it's own either.