Lose-Lose Situation: 2nd place SC Gamer's World, Dublin

NicoleyMoley 1031

Hey all, thought I'd share the Blue Sun Punitive/Scorch deck that I've been working on for the last two months and which took me to second place in the store championship in Dublin, Ireland. It went 6-3 on the day with 25 players, 5 rounds of swiss and a top 8. It had a loss and a timed loss in the swiss and lost the second game of the final; the two losses were both to my boyfriend who came first in the tournament and who helped build and play test the deck with me, so he knew every card in the deck and how to play around it.

The opponents were (in order): Leela, Reina, Andromeda (timed loss), PPVP Kate, Stealth Andromeda (loss), Andromeda, Leela, Stealth Andromeda (loss). It's also beaten Maxx and Noise in other tournaments.

So, the deck: this was obviously inspired by The Government Takeover deck published a while ago, which does a great job explaining how it works so if you haven't seen it before go read about it here: http://netrunnerdb.com/en/decklist/15621/the-government-takeover-leisure-games-london-2nd-place

I built The Government Takeover deck and play tested it with my boyfriend for a week before he brought it to the store championship in Galway, Ireland and came third place, with only two losses to Maxx. From our testing we noticed a few places where the deck was a bit weak and did our best to improve on it.

We originally removed the Snare!s for a second Cerebral Overwriter and an Archived Memories: the traps are key for situations where you need to bait a run to drain the runner of money and make it easier to punitive/scorch them. Also games have been won by runners running into 6 advanced Overwriters thinking they're the Government Takeover. The Archived Memories is amazing in this deck; it acts as a 4th punitive allowing you to punitive-archived memories-punitive after a score, and its versatility in allowing you to bring back any card you need is indispensable. We also dropped the Research Stations along the way because although they're nice to have they're not essential and we found the deck slots were better used elsewhere.

I've since dropped an Overwriter and a Shattered Remains to make room for 2x Housekeeping and a Crisium Grid. The Housekeepings worked like a charm; an early Housekeeping is extremely disruptive to runners trying to set up, and helps to keep their cards in hand low making it easier to kill them, and with only 6 agendas in the deck once it goes down it's usually there to stay for the rest of the game. However my boyfriend still plays it with 2x Overwiters and 1x Shattered Remains because he is good at landing traps so that's a personal preference. Crisium Grid is an obvious meta call against Maxx but is generally good against most criminals too to protect against Siphons etc.

Other stand outs in this deck:

2x High-Risk Investment instead of Priority Requisition. This is one of the best changes we made as we found most losses the deck had were to runners who would sit back and make piles of money before running making it impossible to land a trace on them. An early High-Risk score means that you can always match the runner's cash to land a trace at the crucial moment.

3x Hive: Hive is MVP in this deck; it can't be easily broken with a D4v1D counter like Fire Wall, eats through Lady counters, and because this deck rarely scores it is hugely taxing to the runner.

2x Checkpoint: Checkpoint is a 4 cost strength 7 code gate that deals 3 meat damage when a run is successful. Most runners encountering this freak out and jack out immediately, so most of the time it's an end the run, but daring runners who want to get past it have to pay lots to break it or the trace, or take 3 meat damage. All of these scenarios are good and help you win, and the bad publicity is negligible because all the ice in the deck is so taxing.

So that's basically all there is to it, it's a really fun deck to play and can get very quick wins against runners who aren't aware of what it does, and always puts the runner under immense pressure. My favourite thing about it is how often you end up in scenarios where you can't possibly lose; an agenda in the scoring remote means the runner either lets you score it, helping you to win, or runs and steals it, allowing you to punitive or scorch them next turn. Hope you have fun with it and I'd be happy to answer any questions!

30 Mar 2015 RedNomad

Congratulations on your succes in the tournament!

I've been playing around with something similar for quite some time. Some questions:

  • How do you deal with Plascrete's or I've had worse?

  • I do not see many interesting subroutines for Wormhole. Do you often use it as a third checkpoint? Or is it mostly another ETR codegate?

30 Mar 2015 NicoleyMoley

Thank you! In our meta a lot of people have dropped plascrete for Utopia Shard for its versatility, which has been beneficial for this deck as after bouncing an ice into HQ and mandatory drawing you're usually sitting on 6 cards after playing a SEA Source or Punitive, making trashing the right cards more challenging. I often bait Utopia Shard trashes by playing a SEA source after a run when I don't have scorches in hand, and then using the tag to trash resources instead. Then later you can draw the other SEA or Archived Memories it back.

When there are plascretes in play there are a number of ways to deal with it; usually some combination of traps and housekeeping to reduce hand size/trash plascretes and scoring a Cleaners to allow scorching/punitives through a plascrete is enough. If plascretes are very prominent in your meta I'd suggest a second Shattered Remains, Overwriter or a Taurus; I used to run a Taurus but found I couldn't get it to fire often and usually regretted seeing it when I drew it.

I've Had Worse is annoying but I found the best way of dealing with it is to fire off the scorches/punitives anyway. You're not guaranteed to hit them even if they are in hand (especially if dealing 3 meat damage vs 4), and if they do fire they're out of the way then and you should be able to Archived Memories or Jackson the pieces back. Again, traps and Cleaners help hugely with this; I've Had Worse becomes mostly irrelevant if your Scorches deal 5 damage or their hand size is 3. I've also had runners run through Checkpoints with them in hand as back up so that also gets them out of the way for the finishing blow. And I've gotten lots of wins by handing them the Government Takeover and punitive-ing for 6,12,18 damage or more! ;)

Wormhole functions as an ETR or a third checkpoint without the bad pub. I like it a lot and I think the barrier:code gate ratio in this deck is a strong point as most runners expect mainly taxing barriers and not taxing code gates from Weyland. The deck would function fine if you wanted to change it to something else like a Hadrians or Nebula.

31 Mar 2015 MikeJS

Congrats on 2nd place Nicole. This deck is fantastic (and utterly demoralising to play against). The changes are well thought out, and it's clear that proper testing went into it. Hive is indeed a great choice. I also think the Crisium is a great include in a meta where Account Siphon and MaxX can be really prevalent.

31 Mar 2015 futureguy

Hi Nicole, Congrats on a fantastic result!

I went 3-2 with a similar deck at the same Regionals (Tony) but my Andy let me down with a 2-3. Even though I'm a pretty new player, it's great to see that you went through many of the same card deliberations as I did, namely the inclusion of Snares (I kept both), the quantity of Cerebral Overwriters (kept one), the use of High-Risk Investments over Priority Requisitions (I ran the same 6 agendas you did) and whether to remove the research Stations (I kept both).

I found the Research Stations to be very useful around mid game to build a kill hand and am actually glad I kept them in. All my Corp wins came from flatlines.

I love your influence spend. I forgot to bring an Archived Memories to Dublin and in a number of games, I would have loved to have an extra Toolbooth on a remote.

A quick question...did you think about running this without GT and using 7 agendas instead?

Great report...learned alot just reading it!

31 Mar 2015 frost-duty

As the designer of the original deck I have a few observations! Firstly, I say congratulations the doing well with the deck, and I hope you enjoy playing it :)

I completely agree with your inclusion of high risk investment over a priority requisition. This is something I have done in my own latest version of the deck, and is a 100% improvement.

Hive - I have to be honest, I don't get this one. I think that your assertion that the deck never scores out is essentially incorrect. I normally have to score out on a moderately frequent basis. When you start to play players who know how to counter this deck one of their key strategies is to essentially sit back and gain money, never run, and then wait for you to attempt a score. They may even let you score an agenda in the meantime whilst they get set up. Beating this kind of play is hard, as you do not really get any opportunities to attempt a flat line before the one has decent protection on the board. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that sometimes you have to score out, and as soon as you score a single agenda hive becomes essentially a great liability - I certainly wouldn't even consider having all three in the deck, if you have to score 2 agendas that is three entirely dead draws.

Housekeeping - I am also not a fan of this card, late game it is completely useless and early it simply provides a slight extra tax on the runner. It's a bad include, but I think there are better things you could do with the deck slots.

Checkpoint - I am so on the fence about this one. On the one hand, big codegates that do meat damage are awesome! On the other hand, bad pub sucks. The deck is trying to be taxing and I really would plead to give the runner two bad pub to play with. What has been your experience with this actually in play?

Overall I think you would eventually run into the same problems that I have, sensible runners will simply wait for you to score, and only having to advance traps can leave you in quite severe difficulties - especially if you lose them both with no recursion. At that point you have nothing to bait the runner with other than an agenda which they will score.

31 Mar 2015 frost-duty

(also, how useful was the crisium grid? Personally I haven't really had enough problems with HQ run nonsense to make it worth the include!)

31 Mar 2015 NicoleyMoley

Frost Duty: I see your point about the Hives but I honestly haven't had much problems with them. As BS you have the benefit of getting a refund on them once you've scored and the subs get dropped, and I found them essential for taxing the runner early game to set up for SEA/Scorches/Punitives after they've drained themselves of cash. Usually if I have had to score 3 or 6 points to put pressure on the runner to make runs I've already had time to replace the Hives with Hadrians/Curtains/Tollbooths/Checkpoint which are all heavily taxing. Fire Wall isn't bad but I see a lot of D4v1D and Lady in my meta and the Hives have helped greatly in those match ups.

Housekeeping- I only added this in the night before the tournament and I played it 2 or 3 times early game with great success. I found in some match ups it's also worth playing mid or late game, against runners with lots of recursion such as Kate or Noise. The deck came 4th in a SC the day before without the Housekeepings so it works either way!

Checkpoint- I was scared about giving the bad publicity too and I originally included a copy of Elizabeth Mills too but I found I never needed her and the bad pub rarely made much of a difference. The only match up I had where the bad pub was a nuisance was against the Stealth Andy that beat me in the final as with the stealth credits she broke all my code gates for nothing, but in every other game I rezzed them I achieved my flatlines no problem. I'd suggest trying them out and see for yourself whether they work for you!

Yes the most difficult match ups are against runners who wait and sit on cash, but the High Risk Investments have largely solved that problem for me. 3 Jacksons and Archived Memories should be plenty recursion to bring back traps if needed. If you get to 6 points the runner essentially has to run anything you put down and double advance!

Crisium was a meta call because we had lots of Maxx Keyhole around for a while but as that trend has largely died down here I'd consider taking it out. It's not a bad card and nearly every time I installed it vs criminals they would run to trash it so they could play their Siphons/Legworks which is a handy 5 credit tax!

31 Mar 2015 NicoleyMoley

Tony: Hey, glad to see you also enjoyed playing this deck type :) I think the Snares are OK but advanceable traps are better; I found I needed to be able to bait runners into running remotes and that the Snares were comparably less reliable to set up flatlines. But if they worked for you that's great!

I really liked the research stations but dropped them for crisium when Maxx was a big thing here. I know what you mean about the difficulty of holding all the kill cards in hand and it is a little tougher but totally not unmanageable. Most of the cards you draw aside from the kill cards can be played immediately or trashed so I didn't have too tough a time choosing between cards to keep.

I personally love the GT; in total it has only cost me 2 games, both times where the runner made a multi access run and was able to steal 9 points in one go. Between myself and Mike we took it to 4 SCs and those are the only 2 games it's cost us, whereas I believe the low agenda density and the ability to bait punitive kills with it is too good. Hell, we've even scored the damn thing before and then keeping up with the runner's economy is a breeze ;)

31 Mar 2015 futureguy

@NicoleyMoley After the event, I was on the fence about the snares but two players stated that the snare really hurt them (one was out of hand, the other was an install) so I am happy about that. If someone gest hit with a snare, it significantly increases the chance of a flatline next turn as the are usually stuck on click 2 with a tag and 1-2 cards in hand. They either have to remove the tag or draw an extra card. I also found it fantastic to have in hand later in the game as the runner became frustrated by the lack of agendas in R&D...they begin to think I must have them in hand and go for the multi-access from hand. Ouch :D

I kept two Crisiums in there but never needed them once. I'm probably going to take them out. I was only really concerned by early Siphons but my ice selection meant I could rez something for 5 and deny them the cash in that way. Even when I was sitting on 15-20 creds, I could rez a Curtain Wall on HQ to do the same.

@frost-duty This is a really fun deck to play with and is also very competative. It's funny we all came to the same decision to add High Risk Investment. I am curious as to the other chances you have made to your initial deck?

31 Mar 2015 NicoleyMoley

@futureguy I'm glad the Snares did good work for you, I might try put them in again and see what happens but I'm pretty happy with my ice & trap spread at the moment! I'll probably end up taking the Crisium Grid out too, probably for a second Shattered Remains or a Taurus or maybe Research Station; there was thankfully little Maxx Eater Keyhole in Dublin but even without Crisium I think the deck can stand up to Maxx fairly well if you know how to play around her so it'll probably be cut eventually. Similarly vs criminals if you can make running HQ taxing enough then playing Account Siphon eventually hurts them more than it does you.