[Startup] Thulesom Prison Blues (V-COM Startup - 1st place)

Oddball 1204

First off, a big thank you to Vesper for running a fun Startup Async tournament and offering amazing prizes. And all of my fantastic opponents: Vacilotto, BoxShapedHeart, Loki37 and ArminFirecracker! We had a lot of great, tense games and it was a pleasure chatting with you all.

This is the Thule deck that I've been iterating for a few months as Borealis Startup meta coalesced. I ran it along with my aggro Bankhar Loup deck. Where my runner is fast and setting the tempo... this deck is SLOW. Both decks went 4-1 (with help from a bye).

"I'm stuck in Thule prison, and time keeps draggin' on"

One of the simple ideas of the deck is to embrace the Boat meta we are in and fight back by taxing the Runner's credit pool and clicks with defensive upgrades, annoying ice, and just cheating.

Our ID, Thule Subsea: Safety Below, is the foundation of our econ war. The runner has to pay a tax, or take a core damage every time they steal. Thanks to Ontological Dependence the Runner does not want to take core damage... unless they are playing as Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist, or they are about to win. With Nightmare Archive we stretch the game out even farther, forcing the runner to play longer and pay our agenda tax more often, or enable our win condition.

When you combine our defensive agendas with must trash defensive upgrades, like Manegarm Skunkworks and Nanisivik Grid, and expensive assets, we can press our econ war against the runner. Now that money game the Runner ignores by breaking ice for free, well they have to fork out a lot of cash to keep accessing our servers.

Shout out to Mr. Hendrik too. Not only can he help punish runs but they can look a lot like our other defensive upgrades. Put him in weird places like Archives, or R&D early. There's no better feeling than baiting a Pinhole threading with your advanced agenda and having the Runner access a facedown Hendrik and either take a core damage or let you score.

"When I hear that whistle blowin', I hang my head and cry"

The secret sauce of our Thule deck is Anvil. I'll admit I kind of have an unhealthy obsession with it since I saw it previewed... But I think it does very powerful things outside of Weyland, especially in Jinteki: Personal Evolution and in Thule Subsea: Safety Below. How? Even though we are trashing our own board, we're attacking the Runner in different ways. In PE, the runner has to fork out their cards in hand AKA their health points, to protect their rig. In Thule, we force them to waste clicks to install pieces to sacrifice and eating away at their credit pool.

I should mention that firing Anvil isn't always the right answer. Sometimes you just have to let the runner pay to break it, but when the time is right and you have food to feed the Anvil just DO IT.

The earlier we see Anvil and toss it on a central server, the more work it will do for us during a match. Especially against a boat deck. Against Captain Padma Isbister: Intrepid Explorer, if you're outermost R&D ice is Anvil they are not going to be making R&D runs repeatedly (Hush is a great counter to this strategy). Combining an Anvil in front of a Manegarm Skunkworks can be extremely taxing if they have to waste time installing something before they dive into it.

Also defending a remote with Anvil can be extremely annoying for the runner. They're trying to steal an agenda and you cannot protect it? Just trash the agenda in there and stick it in archives. Now they have to take a core damage by running archives last click, or wait until next turn. If you've poisoned archives with Nightmare Archive, that run on archives is not as rewarding. Maybe you faked the runner out by baiting the run on the remote with your nightmare archive too!

Did I mention we were cheating?

Thanks to Nanisivik Grid and Anvil we don't even need to pre-feed cards to our Archives, we just have to have unrezzed ice on the board.

Consider this scenario later in a game: A runner crashes into your remote protected by Anvil, another ice and there are two face down cards inside. They hit Anvil, you trash any unrezzed ice (other than an Anvil). The Runner pays the Anvil tax. They approach the server, you rez Nani grid and blast them with whatever ice you just trashed. You can hit them with a core damage to enable Ontological Dependence, you can prevent them from stealing, trash a key piece of their rig (boat, a Matryoshka stack, or multi-access tool), or just end the run. Now they have to run through Anvil again, or let you get away with whatever you had installed in the remote.

The same thing can be applied to our central servers to stifle multi-access, trash key pieces of their rig... all the while we have Anvils threatening their board.

"Well, I know I had it coming, I know I can't be free"

Our ice suite is rounded out by bioroids, Ansel 1.0, Hákarl 1.0, Ravana 1.0, and Magnet.

Magnet is great, pulling Botulus, Hush and occasionally Flux Capacitor. Early on it can protect servers and later serve as Anvil food. In the Anarch matchup, I often try to stack them outside my other ice to absorb Tsakhia "Bankhar" Gantulga hits and siphon away Botulus from our better ice.

The Bioroids make up the other part of our click attack plan: early on the runner pays clicks to break in, or take an unexpected core to an early Hakarl rez. Sometimes we can force early core damage by having the runner click through an Ansel defending a central, or remote.

Yes...We're still cheating

Trieste Model Bioroids is another card that lets us break the rules. If we have credits to burn, we can guarantee core damage by combining this with a Hakarl (they cannot click, or break). We can punish later runs on a server by making Ansel a monster, or in rarer cases let Ravanna take a bite out of them.

Trieste is another must trash card by the runner. Something they have to go deal with and spend clicks, creds. Also, if the Runner has burned through most of their Pinhole Threading the evil move is to hide your Trieste behind an unrezzed Hakarl, since you can derez the Trieste, rerezz it AND target the newly rezzed Hakarl.

In my more recent versions of the deck I've upped the number of Trieste Model Bioroids to two by cutting Subliminal Messaging. It's helped a lot now that I'm playing faster against Sabotage Anarch and in other matchups you often don't get your Subliminal back enough.

"But those people keep a-movin', and that's what tortures me"

Well we're taxing the hell out of the runner... how do we win? By rushing out, applying core damage when we can afford it, fast advancing where we can (Ontological, Élivágar Bifurcation, and Biotic Labor). Our hardest matchup is Crim. Often they have so much money that they can overcome out tax, Inside Job or Pinhole Threading early while we are lightly defended, or poor. In these games, you need a combination of luck and forcing them to check our remotes by installing things in there to keep the pressures off our centrals while we assemble our defenses.

The magic number of core damage is two, when we can begin to fast advance our Ontologicals. Early on you can try to bait the runner into stealing agendas at the wrong time by tossing away a Bifurcation early, or stacking a Project Vitruvius, Bifurcation, or Luminal Transubstantiation with some defensive upgrades in a remote. Nani + a Hakarl reveal is another way. This is another reason why we have Mr. Hendrik too. Sometimes, we can use the runner attempting to avoid getting to two core damage that we can sneak out an agenda.

Finally, the deck has a sneaky Snare! (only having one feels about right, but you can experiment with a second one). Mainly I use the Snare to defend R&D, or HQ from multi-access. When combined with our three Nightmare archives it can weaken multi-access or random runs. If the stars align you can use a Ravanna, or Ansel reveal on a Nani-defended remote to install a Snare after the runner commits to accessing.

"And I'd let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away"

Thanks for reading my extensive Thule write-up. Remember: Don't let boat get you down! Embrace our current meta and fight them on our terms: their economy. Plus if they want to sail through ice? Well we'll just have to cheat too.

29 Aug 2023 Nxxdles

Love the write up and the deck. I've been trying to think of a corp to take for my next start up tourney and I was intrigued about you talking about Anvil doing good things in Jinteki: Personal Evolution. I'm guessing in startup, you can trash ice with anvil to Nani and fire it, or set up regenesis plays. Any suggestions on a build for Anvil PE in SU?