ZATOsune Týrku @ EMEA [65th, 2-3, best thunderbolt there!]

AceEmpress 381

Here it is! The fabled, the foretold, the best performing Thunderbolt at EMEA! This writeup is mostly going to be me dissecting card choices rather than play lines, but I'll still try to give an overview of how the deck works. This is less because it's complicated and more because I don't trust my play or memory of examples enough to give a single distilled explanation - a lot of my decision making is in the moment and sometimes I regret it. With that disclaimer said, a note that this is definitely not the perfect form of this deck, and 49 (well, technically 50!) slots to get through, let's get this show on the road.

How do you play this deck?

You generally want to open fast, jamming stuff in the remote early, digging to find things if necessary. While we do have tools for opening up the midgame, scoring or moneying up early puts pressure on the runner either by giving us a lead on points or opening up access to our ice suite. Once the midgame hits, it depends a bit on the list. Rigs without tricks can be taxed out "fairly", rigs with tricks or efficient breaking might need some! gentle persuasion. At least in this current iteration of the deck, we don't quite have the money and speed of PD, so don't quite try and match them at speed of jamming, but rely on the tricks you have to blow out unsuspecting runners while going fast enough to punish the wary ones. This isn't a perfect summary, and I'm sure I'll look back on this in a few days or weeks and go "why didn't I talk about XYZ", but it's the basic primer.

Why Thunderbolt?

  • Because it's my pet deck, on-rez triggers activate my neurons, and watching the runner's face as I rez Cloud Eater is some of the most fun I've had playing Corp.
  • Because adding an extra 2-4c tax to every AP or Destroyer ice rez or 1 card to most Bankhar runs adds up faster than you might think, and stacks nicely with any other strength boosts (hence why this isn't in PD).
  • Because a lot of runner lists right now fall into one of three categories, all of which we have tools to answer:

    • They have a few breakers that boost very efficiently, but little redundancy and are often awkward about repeat sentries. (Lobisomem and Kit or Begemot and Laamb, for example). For these, we have ZATO City Grid, but also the fact that a single destroyer sub firing can set them back a long way so we can punish miscalculations via unexpected Ganked! or strength boosts.
    • They have limited tricks that help fixed strength breakers match efficiently into most of the field. (K2CP Turbine or Takobi with Cleaver, Echelon, and Buzzsaw as the main example.) These decks are weak to strength boosting even the late game once your tricks are ready (I made an Echelon pay 18c for Cloud Eater!) but also high strength ice early in the game, where a lone Cleaver into Hagen is 7c(!!!) on the first run or 5c if they can wait to run it back.
    • They have a generic rig that is reasonably efficient (Unity, Pressure Spike, Revolver) or Carmen and recursion, such as Boring Lat.) Unlike Turbine rigs, these aren't as taxed by our tricks specifically, but getting through our ice also costs them more than a Turbine rig would. Against these, you just have to play standard System Gateway cards in the remote and dance the slow classical waltz of the Netrunner Richard Garfield intended. Just like when dancing any other waltz, you should always be aiming to get the other dancer into a position where you can reveal the trick floor, drop them into the shadow realm, and capitalise on the more secure scoring window you've now opened. Alternatively drive over their wallet with a tank.

Agenda Suite

The lack of three pointers is a deliberate choice and the result of several games of testing - while a mix of ones and twos takes more slots it also means the maximum value of an access is less, and all your agendas can be actively beneficial to score. Since remote accesses are high value and a good way to surprise a runner with Ganked!, making sure the runner has to steal four agendas gives you more opportunities to throw them into ice they weren't prepared for. Now, to take it card by card:

  • Architect Deployment Test. This card fucks. Not only does it dig for something useful and let us cheat out Bloop or Cloud Eater, but it has the incredibly powerful and subtle detail of not shuffling. - if you score an ADT you know a lot about R&D, which is especially powerful when Wave can shuffle. I have had games where I will only get a Wave or a Vovô Ozetti, my opponent will look at me with that kind of commisorative "sorry you whiffed", and I still feel I got what I paid for because I know what's coming up on R&D. Only a 2x, because it's less consistently tempo-positive than OffOff and we need enough 3/Xs to give us the Biotic Labor emergency lever.
  • Offworld Office. You know it, you love it, you gain seven credits off it. We're trying to score out fairly-ish, and this card makes sure we don't fall behind while we do. Absolutely a 3x.
  • Luminal Transubstantiation. We're HB and we don't need a weird agenda suite shape, so we play Luminal. 3 clicks is such a wild amount of value, it lets us jam again, money up, react to runner actions while still scoring.
  • Project Vitruvius. It's a 3x mostly for Biotic Labor but also because there aren't better options for the slots. One play note - if you get the chance, score this as a 4/2, it lets you FA a future 4/2 from hand with biotic and that's a surprisingly useful threat.
  • Stegodon MK IV. This card is incredible even when used fairly. Note that the strength reduction is activated off any derez - Brasilia and Bloop will both cause it to happen, so even one scored can impact multiple runs in a turn. It's a 2x because slots and because if they steal one stealing the other is meaningless - maybe it should be a 3x because it's so strong to score but that needs slot rejigging.

Assets

  • NGO Front. Money dense and bait, exact balance of this/Regolith/Rashida Jaheem is something I'm unsure of. Current spread is 2/2/0 to prioritise money density and advanceable bait, but that might not be correct.
  • Regolith Mining License. A bit of a hold over from a more expensive ice suite, but emptying one of these means your money is close to set for the game, and it lets you threaten Cloud Eater, Tyr or Corporate Troubleshooter.
  • Spin Doctor. Draw, shuffle, bait, what can't this man do? 10/10 no notes easy 3x I'm sure no similar-ish decks from EMEA would disagree. Jokes aside I think 3x is correct, we have enough tech pieces or even just econ we'd like to recur and the draw is useful, as is the ability to break ADT locks - I can't remember the rationale for playing 2 in PD but I don't know that it holds here.

Upgrades

  • Brasília Government Grid. It's a clunky card, but a very strong one. Derezzing an ice is a finite resource, but a lot of your stuff is either cheap or derezzable, and +3 strength is a real benefit. Plus, it stacks with Stegodon! 5 strength for one derez!
  • Corporate Troubleshooter. Unlike Brasilia, Troubleshooter lasts for the turn, can be fired whenever and is a complete one-off. You'll almost never want to use this for value, instead making a destroyer fire or making a remote suddenly unassailable. Very funny into Echelon et al.
  • Ganked! Your main use cases for this are installing on the remote or R&D to back up your big destroyers, but occassionally you'll get a surprise from R&D and be very happy about it. Note that most of your benefits last for at least the run (Thunderbolt and Brasilia, for example), while most runner painting (Pelangi, Laamb) last for the encounter. Kit is an exception and lasts for the run, but can be eaten with small ice.
  • Vovô Ozetti. Vovo is a weird card to judge - he is really good for low money surprises or consistency, and looking scary, but he's only really best as a money option when you're already doing your thing and have derez tricks ready. That said, rezzing regoliths for free at threat is nice, and if you get more than two discounted rezzes he's worth it. I've been uhhming and ahhing about the correct number, especially as the deck has drifted a bit more towards rigshooting over pure derez value, but for now I still like one.
  • ZATO City Grid. This is a 4 inf tech card against Lobisomem Kit or Begemot Laamb that also doubles as a rigshooter/remote tool in other matchups. It's really good, but I don't think the inf works for more than 1 copy. I definitely also need to get better at saving it in for when I have a destroyer in the matchups where it's a tech card, because I definitely lost a game to jamming it too early.

Operations

  • Biotic Labor. I sometimes found I'd end up in games where I was on 5 points but the runner was in a position where they could sit back and build up to contest or poke R&D safely. This solves that problem by giving you an inevitable out if the runner has the tools and caution to beat your tricks.
  • Greasing the Palm. Cloud Eater means this does sometimes gain relevant text for FA, and if you don't need the money and have a Cloud Eater on board it might be worth holding one back for that. Unless both of these things are true, though, it's just a regular economy operation.
  • Hansei Review. I used to be on 3x because it's very good slot-dense and fast economy, but we do need the influence elsewhere. It's a shame, because it always feels good to play, but here we are. A key tension in all my deckbuilding is trying to balance econ, tricks, and slots. (Shout out to harmonbee for originally suggesting this, btw!)
  • Hedge Fund. Deeply underperformed cut all three copies for Anonymous Tip.
  • Seamless Launch. Helps your scoring patterns a lot. Only 2x partly because slots and partly because we don't care too much if the runner knows there's an agenda if we have other upgrades to scare them. Still a great card though, especially with early jamming or giving a click left on score turns.

Ice

Here's where we get to the fun stuff. Of our ice suite, all but 5 trigger the ID, and those five all have an on-rez effect.

Barriers

  • 3x Hagen. It's a destroyer! Preys on actually a lot of utility programs - Leech, Botulus, Takobi, K2CP Turbine, World Tree. Also taxes most rigs a surprising amount in the early game, especially with the Thunderbolt sub - on the rez run it's 4 for Lobisomem, 7 for Cleaver, 6 for Pressure Spike, makes the Botulus one use and eats another card. It's a nice balance of taxing, not clickable, and having a bit of a facecheck.

Code Gates

  • 1x Gatekeeper. Incredibly good derez fodder and rush ice. Only a 1 of because of slots, Unity, and the fact we don't need too much derez fodder.
  • 1x Magnet. Snacks on trojans, has a hard ETR. Again, it's slots, but also the fact it offers almost no actual tax once a decoder comes down - this is a utility or rush ice here.
  • 3x Wave. I'll talk about Bloop next, in part because they're kind of a package deal. While mostly not being a "real" piece of ice, there are a lot of weird nuances with Wave - it's actually a little awkward for non-Buzzsaw icebreakers to deal with, the money adds up faster than you might expect, and the shuffle part of tutoring is surprisingly good to break Burner, Architect Deployment Test, grab the ice you need right now, or just pad HQ. Most of the time, the ice you need right now is...

Sentries

  • 3x Bloop. Possibly the greatest ice in the deck. Possibly one of the greatest ice full stop. We're on 3x Wave mostly because we want to get the threat of Bloop online ASAP and all the other Harmonics feel a little too support-hungry right now. With Thunderbolt, 6 strength is awful for almost any killer, 4 subs is surprisingly awkward to Physarum, and further support makes it incredibly obnoxious for every breaker. It even turns on Stegodon when rezzed! Incredibly sad to see two of in your opener, but otherwise this card is stellar and single-handedly makes Thunderbolt real. It has two trash subs. 2!!!!
  • 1x Cloud Eater. This snake wins you games you have no right to win. Nobody expects it. Turbine rigs collapse in fear at this. Before any boosting from your side, a fully assembled Echelon+Turbine pays 7 credits and 2 tags on the rez turn. Throw any extra support in, or if they're missing any pieces, and it only gets worse. Plus, if you Ganked someone into it right afterwards, the "you encountered it on the rez turn" trigger still fires. Throw on, say, a Brasilia? 6 extra credits because it's now strength 10 and they have to boost 3 times. Oh a Stegodon as well? 3 extra credits. They just let it fire? Kill a breaker, half your hand, and you're tagged now so we can and will basic action you if necessary. This card can even tax Orcas!
  • 1x Tithe. On the other end of the ice spectrum, my sweet obnoxious high five child. You have not felt evil until you've watched an Ari player be forced to spend 5c to break this with a freshly installed Echelon. It's just annoying enough to break, but letting it fire is also a win, especially with the Thunderbolt sub. It will tax the runner, they'll feel sad, and it's so free to derez it will make you smug. Also, it eats Bankhar, bullets and Bcool people for breakfast
  • 1x Týr. Oh my sweet beautiful bioroid baby. Oh my poor pantheonic protege. I have searched my soul, scoured every stone, sadness stifling my spirit, to find the words to break this truth to you without breaking my own heart. You are beyond us. We cannot afford the price you deserve, not when you can be clicked through, not while plagues still ravage this land, not when the ocean's depths rise up to drown you, not with the strange amalgam of cards we wield. Maybe with tweaks, maybe with shifting money and meta and tech cards and a better mastery of the deck artisan's craft, I could build this list into something worthy of you. Until that time, and though this burden will ever weigh heavy on my soul, I must think of what you said to me, long ago. The valiant do not hesitate.

  • may we meet again, on the wildering and boundless paths of metas distant.

  • goodbye, and farewell.

  • (I didn't play Týr all tournament, and I think as it stands the deck might be better served by a smaller ice we can afford consistently, though I don't know quite what at the moment.)

Other (1)

  • 1x Lycian Multi-Munition. A lot of people need to read this card when I rez it against them. It has honestly surprised me how well it performs. It can duck Physarum, always be at least somewhat taxing, punish the absence of a killer, hits Bhankar players for 4, is always newly rezzed so can always get a Brasilia trigger, the list goes on. Obviously, it's best with Vovo, and ideally on a remote - I would not put this on centrals unless you have no other choice, and would ideally not have it alone on a server because then you can sometimes be taxed out - but it's just so versatile that I've grown to love it. Also N.B. it does not work with ZATO - once it's in the bin and resolving it does not have the relevant subtype so the subroutine does nothing.

Future changes, tweaks, and noteable absences

  • I've tried Lightning Laboratory in the Vitruvius slot - it's really fun, lets you play very low money, threaten Bloops without a Harmonic rez and actually has a really sneaky Hafrún interaction left as an exercise to the reader. I do think Vitruvius + Biotic is the better choice, but if we were in a Clot-heavy meta or you just want to try the card out please do! I promise you'll have a blast!
  • The Hansei might become a Mavirus, suggestion courtesy of the EMEA champion. This beats a lot of tricks that ignore strength - Leech, Botulus and Physarum Entangler, and even letting us force a biotic through Clot. The money is sketchy, but if it can be made to work then ooooh.
  • Boto is an include I was trying that makes more sense the less efficient breakers you expect - it's a strength 6 barrier that can't be clicked through at threat, has a surprisingly nasty facecheck, and triggers Thunderbolt. I cut it for influence and Kit reasons, but it's a really good card here and I could definitely see myself readding it depending on the meta.
  • Helheim Servers. Pros - it doesn't cost credits. Cons - it only says run, and it requires emptying your hand. Maybe still one to consider, depends on the balance with other tricks.
  • Ansel 1.0. Not in the list because it feels weird with Thunderbolt - the Thunderbolt strength doesn't gain you anything versus most rigs and the fact it can be clicked through means it works less well with strength support. It might still just be efficient enough as a generically good card, but we'll see.
  • Rototurret is weirdly tempting. Somebody talk me out of this before I make a decision I can't take back.
  • Ablative Barrier. Extranaeous yet derezzable. If I was leaning harder into derez tricks I would absolutely include one, but as it stands I find if we're doing those tricks we're already winning and I would rather have a smoother deck than cooler skateboard tricks. [This user has been banned. Reason - The blatant hypocrisy of playing the most tricksy Shaper and HB lists yet still making this comment.]
  • Tranquility Home Grid. Some people might say "oh Fern you already have two different regions in your deck surely you shouldn't play more the region rule might trip you up and you'll accidentally game loss yourself." While this is true and would be very funny, rumour has it that Tranq grid is kind of an ok card, Brasilia can go on centrals and ZATO held back as a tech option. So far I've tested it exactly once and I now understand PD players it gained me maybe 10 credits.

TL;DR this will win every regional it attends guaranteed you're all doomed perfect deck 11/10 no further changes your honour.

But seriously, if you have any questions about the deck at all please ask me! I'd love to talk about this deck - it's been my pet deck for so long and as well as being incredibly fun to play it constantly feels right on the verge of being genuinely good.

1 comments
11 Jul 2024 halvorson

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