Red Lotus Startup (2-1 at the Early Bird Startup Tournament)

dnddmdb 222

TL;DR: This deck is tricky to play and a lot of fun! Flower Sermon MVP. Jinteki has ice problems in Startup but I think there is viability here! Thank you to @ysengrinsc for running the tournament and for help with the list.

I have been very excited to play Startup games, mostly because it is a limited format which can lead to some interesting deckbuilding options, and a lot of the common staples you see in Standard can't be relied upon. Going into the tournament, I figured two things: 1) Runners have so much economy that you need them to tax them in other ways, and 2) Anoetic Void is really strong, and was a good way of doing this.

So with that in mind I decided to try out Jinteki, which is a faction I rarely if ever play, and wound up being one of only two Jinteki players at the tournament, as well as the only Restoring Humanity player. I started with Ysengrin's RH Startup list:

Then, changes went as follows:

1) I changed around the ice suite a bit (tried Bran 1.0) and changed out Celebrity Gift for Regolith Mining License. No regrets on Regolith. That card has been great.

2) I changed out Cyberdex Sandbox for Flower Sermon. I'll go more into how good I think Flower Sermon is here, but also worth noting I never missed Sandbox.

3) I played some games against Ysengrin, and he suggested some tweaks to the ice suite, specifically finding room for Gold Farmer, and including Enigma. He also suggested La Costa Grid, which was a HUGE benefit to the deck. He also suggested Subliminal Messaging.

4) I replaced Send a Message with Vulnerability Audit, and made a few more tweaks to the ice suite and the copies of assets/upgrades, resulting in what you see here.

In the Early Bird Startup tournament, this deck went 2-1, with the loss also being a close game (if they hadn't stolen the winning agenda from hand, I could have jammed a Vulnerability Audit into the fully prepped remote and had a chance to win. Of course they may have just stolen another agenda on the next turn instead).

Some notes on the Identity, the cards, and the format:

1) Restoring Humanity is a lot less trivial to both use and play against than I anticipated. It's actually difficult to get your ability online, since even "draw, Hedge Fund, install" leaves you at 5 cards in hand. Hansei Review is an absolute powerhouse in this ID. When you do get your ability up, even if the Runner turns it off immediately you have still earned a credit, which is nice. And if the runner doesn't have the time or resources to run Archives, you can fairly easily earn 3 or more credits while you do things you would want to do anyway. It's just getting over that first hump that is tricky, when you usually want to be installing/playing cards. Mid game, I felt totally comfortable throwing ice or duplicates of La Costa Grid away.

2) Jinteki's biggest issue in Startup is Ice. There are no hard ETR ice in faction in Startup. As such, centrals feel very fragile until you can score a Flower Sermon or a Nisei MK II. Snare! does a lot here to keep runners from just flattening you; try to stay at 5 or more credits if you can. Since runner economy is so strong, this ice suite is rather gearcheck-focused, which I think works well, as Anoetic Void is doing most of the heavy lifting in the remote. Gold Farmer is a beast and punches way above its weight to deter Runners.

3) Flower Sermon is really awesome in Restoring Humanity, alongside Anoetic Void. In this deck it serves several purposes: 1) "Fixing" centrals to keep from just losing to snipes, while putting Snares in the Runner's way 2) Much needed clickless draw to get your ID ability online, 3) draw on the Runner's turn to allow you to have 6 cards in hand for a third Anoetic Void trigger, and 4) Draw to dig through your deck to score out the last agenda when you need it. In my last game I had 2 Flower Sermons scored and needed both of them to find the Vulnerability Audit I needed to win. Scoring one of these feels just as good as scoring a Nisei, in this deck.

Changes to make: I think reworking the ice suite is possible, although I liked all of these cards at one point or another (except for Karuna). Maybe you could cut the Subliminal Messaging for another Snare! or Regolith.

Pivoting to Standard: This is tricky. Part of me is tempted to keep everything but the ice suite (Anansi is a must, of course). Other considerations would be to drop Vulnerability Audit for Obokata (adding in Border Control, maybe?) and also finding room for Bio Vaults. Maybe with a spikier ice suite you have less need for Snare!, and make cuts there. Although maybe any form of this deck just won't have the staying power to make it in Standard. But I do think Restoring Humanity can be a strong ID!

Thanks again to Ysengrin for running the Early Bird tournament and for help with this list. And thank you to all of my opponents, who were friendly and gracious. I'm very much looking forward to more tournaments in the Startup format.