Strike or Spike

JacquesZhang 29

I'll first preface by saying that this deck is a homebrew so it's rather janky and likely unoptimized, but I think it's absolutely bonkers. Currently 9-1 with it on, and this is considering that I am a rather new and inexperienced player and average something like a 40-45% winrate.

The 40 card deck size of Jinteki: Restoring Humanity allows us to play only 18 agenda points, or in other words, exactly 2 completed sets of 5/3 agendas. And what goes well with 5/3's?

Killing. Runners.

The problem with decks built around two cards (and requiring them in pairs, no less) is that they are awfully inconsistent. The smaller deck size helps here, but it isn't enough. That's where Localized Product Line comes in. Whether we are scoring agendas or losing them, LPL lets us find the right cards to win the game.

Both of our agendas are perfect for this deck, with Bacterial Programming digging 7 cards deep into R&D for Punitives or LPL and Obokata keeping the runner low on cards.

LPL is expensive, and landing Punitives needs a trace (or two). We also want really expensive ice to comfortably advance an agenda to 5 tokens and set up for a double/triple Neurospike the next turn. So we add in lots and lots and lots of econ to pay for our stuff.

Now onto the numbers:

With 11 econ cards in a deck of 44, that's exactly 1 in 4, but slightly skewed higher due to mulligans. In the first two turns you'll see 7 cards, so on average roughly two econ cards. On average, an econ card nets (very) roughly (regardless of click efficiency) (7+5+4+8)/4=6 so playing both econ cards at the start of the game will set you up at roughly 17 credits. This doesn't seem to be enough at first glance to rez expensive ice and still pull off the LPL combos. However, the idea here is that you won't need to do both. Pulling off the combo will most often mean winning the game, and a runner facechecking Chiyashi is also likely to secure a server for a long time while majorly setting them back. We just need enough credits to pursue either option.

An example scenario (with some math, so tl;dr below):

To give an idea of the power of the deck, imagine you start the game with Celebrity Gift to reveal Bacterial Programming, Hansei Review, Punitive Counterstrike, and two ice. You follow up by Reviewing BP into archives and end the turn. You're at 18 credits. On the runner's turn, they run archives to start denying credits from your ID and find, to their delight, an agenda! (Or they could fish HQ a bunch of times looking for the agenda and then realize it's in archives. This would be a strictly better and likely more common scenario for you) However, this is in reality probably a trap. The runner now must steal the agenda, but in the remaining 38 cards of your deck, there are 2 copies of LPL and 2 copies of Punitive. The chance of not hitting any is 343332*31/(38^4) * 100% = 53%. So the chance of hitting at least one is 47%. If you hit a Punitive in the top 7, then as long as the runner ends their turn with 10 or less credits, they will die. If you play another econ card like Hedge Fund or Hansei Review (which is extremely likely since you saw 7 cards from BP) then this goes up to 12 credits. Of course, if you get LPL then that number goes down to 8. If the runner is installing Earthrise Hotels or Rezekis, even with Sure Gamble they will likely die.

tl;dr If the runner accesses something like Bacterial Programming on turn 1, there's roughly a 47% chance of them straight up losing the game if they cannot get to roughly 9-13 credits by the end of the turn given the above scenario.

While the plan can seem rather obvious, and the runner still has 3 clicks and 5 cards to accumulate credits, this scenario is not always the case. When an agenda is revealed from HQ and there's no ice, some runners might spend a click or two poking HQ. They might do something like Hedge Fund -> Docklands Pass -> run HQ -> run archives and end the turn at 7-9 credits.

Lots of the time, the runner won't have information on your gameplan if you don't reveal your hand to make money, and you can get even more burst econ by installing Mwanza City Grid in R&D and tempt a run there. If you start the game with a copy of Localized Product Line in hand, then none of these odds matter, and the moment the runner steals an agenda while you have 2 more than double the runner's credits, you win. (A tough ask for sure, but surprisingly easier than one might expect since the runner must spend credits to install cards whereas the corp installs everything facedown and for free. Also, Mwanza City Grid is a silly card when it comes to gettings credits fast if you don't care about losing agendas)

Throughout the midgame (roughly turns 3-6) you can accumulate as many as 30 credits since you won't be rezzing ice extremely often (since they are so punishing to facecheck, runners may be waiting for breakers or building up the board). Using those credits, I often find myself making scoring servers and getting an agenda to 5 advancement counters while holding the threat of double/triple punitive in hand. And then on the turn after, Localized Product Line for two Neurospikes will end the game.

Various Card Choices:

I wish there was the influence to run the full set of LPL, but Jackson 2.0 is too strong, especially for this deck. The worst thing that can happen is for two copies of either Neurospike or Punitive Counterstrike to get trashed by an Imp or Wanton Destruction, leaving us without a good win condition. Spin Boi lets us spin them back into R&D so our combo is still viable. The one game I lost was because of two Wanton Destructions hitting exactly when I had all my win conditions in hand.

I'm not sure if Gene Splicer is a worthy include here, given that I almost never find myself winning by accumulating 7 agendas points. If I can score 2 5/3 agendas, given the ice and economy of the deck, it's likely because the runner cannot get in for several turns as opposed to me sneaking/bluffing them out. I always ended up tutoring/drawing into neurospikes and winning off of a single agenda score. Perhaps the best glaciar card in the format would be more appropiate here as it even has synergy with the ID. Rashida Jaheem should also be an include here, just because I find myself clicking to draw cards far too often due to Reviewing cards into archives quite often. I suppose Gene Splicer could have incidental value in terms of bluffing 5-advanced cards in remotes, it just hasn't come up yet.

I also don't know about Tithe. It was originally included as a way to make running archives slightly more annoying (for ID) without having to commit a 8-12 cost ice that's never actually worth rezzing. It can also serve as a good bluff if the runner assumes all my ice are giant behemoths. I think I'll leave it in.

Konjin has been a hit or miss card. With all the expensive ice I'm running, it feels like an auto-include but with how little I'm actually rezzing 12-cost ice (and how little a runner would be running after a Chiyashi encounter) it can be a bit of a dead card with no other rezzed ice. Sadaka on the other hand feels like the perfect trap for this deck. The first sub means I can dig 3 cards deep for Punitives and I can also set up BP's to force steals. The second sub is also great given my identity, and also because so many high-value resources are meta.

I'll get back to this sometime after more playtesting. My mind is still a bit blown about my last 10 matches, and just how unstoppable the deck felt. It's entirely possible I've just been getting lucky, and my winrate will fall back to 50% quite soon.

7 Sep 2021 Diogene

I like the idea here. How did Sadaka perform?

I had a similar idea, which I'm trying to improve :

Thanks for sharing, your ideas with Localized Product Line is inspiring.

8 Sep 2021 JacquesZhang

@Diogene Sadaka is a pretty interesting card. You sort of play this, not as ice, but as a weird kind of operation that fires when the runner makes the run. Put this on R&D and you can generally keep R&D safe for a little while. More importantly though, it lets you know if you are going to draw into Punitive Counterstrike, and whether or not the runner can afford to steal agendas without dying. If you find a punitive or already have a kill in hand, then this card can dig 3 cards deep (4 with a shuffle) to find a bacterial programming to give to the runner. The second sub just has good synergy with the ID in the early-game, and there are some good resources to trash right now.

The only real problem is consistency. Since it's usefulness is more like an operation than a piece of ice (gets used once then dissapears and isn't taxing to the runner) sometimes I'll install it and have the runner never actually run on the server, in which case it sort of does nothing. I guess the same argument applies to any ice you play and don't rez, but the difference here is that those unrezzed pieces of ice are still in theory protecting the server, and hence worth installing. This though can just feel like a dead card if the runner isn't running that often.

If you start to analyze the efficiency, you'll it's actually not bad. This costs 2 credits, a card, and a click. First sub gives you back a card, while the second sub has you discard a card to trash a card from the runner. So overall, Sadaka is card-neutral. So where did our click and two credits go? Well, it went into trashing the runner's resource that probably took them a click and 2+ credits to install. Like suppose you trash a daily casts with 6 credits on it using Sadaka. Then you've essentially net 4 credits, at essentially no cost. Even hedge fund would've cost you a card AND a click! (Of course, this is assuming a few things like runner credits/clicks/cards are of equal value to your own, which probably isn't entirely true).

The efficiency of this card is nuts, it just needs you to be able to get the runner to actually run the ice decently soon. In a sense, it's like you are investing a card and a click to give you higher returns, but significantly later. It's like if hedge fund read "Net 6 credits after 2 turns." I'm not sure if that's better than the current hedge fund, since it means you recover slower and there is a window of weakness where you've invested without return.

This kind of "click+card investment for later returns" is exactly why I think it fits quite well into this deck. The runner will want to be checking archives decently often to deny you Jinteki: Restoring Humanity credits, meaning that if you put this on archives you can get the returns significantly sooner.

9 Sep 2021 JacquesZhang

Actually as an edit, I miscalculated the efficiency on trashing a Daily Casts. It would be the same efficiency as hedge fund (click and a card for 4 credits), but if you trash anything larger like a Professional Contacts then this becomes ridiculously efficient