Sparrow Brawler (6th, 7th, 35th @ APAC 2023)

crowphie 555

Thank you Starlit Knight

This is the R+ tempo deck that several members of QTM brought to APAC continentals this year, and it helped take two of us into top cut. The list is incredibly clean and gives you clear direction on how to play, a useful benefit when the tournament starts at 3 or 4 AM.

I was the biggest proponent of this deck idea throughout scoops season, built the initial versions, and sold other members of the group on it. It's basically the next evolution of the Pigeon Azmari decks from the last meta, generally being meaner and less all-out rushy than Pigeon Fighter but scrappier than Laurazmari and with vegan tag punishment. I have a lot of experience with these decks, so this archetype was a natural choice for a brand new meta that I thought we'd be able to really effectiely optimize.

The Antihero Pigeon

There's been some other experimentation with these ideas, but most people we've seen playing in this space are missing several key factors that we found necessary to make it work.

  • They want to kill people off their tags, either with End of the Line or Mindscaping. This is unnecessary and takes up too much influence. Market Forces, Retribution, and Starlit Knight are all stellar punishment options that come at little-to-no influence cost. Starlit Knight is a particular standout I've seen too many people underestimate: it's a devastating facecheck, often acts as a gearcheck since running through it multiple times is disastrous, and can lock people out late game if they go tagme.

  • Their agenda suites are too condensed/easy to steal. Freedom of Information is a huge trap that lots of people have fallen into. This list only has 2 agendas you actually want to steal early, the pair of Artificial Cryptocrash. Every other agenda is dangerous to steal when backed up by Oppo Research and can cause you to lose huge amounts of tempo. Oracle Thinktank is an absolute all-star, and while it makes you more vulnerable to Hermes the upsides vastly outright the downsides. Bumping one early costs you so much tempo that poking centrals is frequently really unappealing.

  • Their ice suites are poor. We play 7 actual gearchecks, and effectively 10 with Starlit Knight. More expensive ice is unnecessary and a cheap suite like this allows us to rush fast. Wraparound is tech for Aumakua and another gearcheck in general is useful.

Retribution rarely fully locks people out, but it forces them to sacrifice tempo to get their rig back together. That's the entire name of the game here, we want the runner to sacrifice as much tempo as possible to play the game. We make you find multiple breakers to get through our ice safely, punish your runs anyway with Ping and Oppo Research, make our agendas awful to steal, and all the while put you on a fast clock with our strong Seamless Launch scoring plan. Actual scoring patterns can be somewhat awkward, since there's only 3 2-pointers in the deck, but when you're constantly putting the runner in the dirt for playing the game you're fine to score 8 or 9 points to win.

Thinktanks + Economic Warfare + Oppo Research are amazing at convincing runners to go tagme, and once they do those Thinktanks can be shuffled back to really close the door on the game. We typically lose games where the runner can set up a strong rig like Aumakua + Leech or multiple real breakers, a strong source of economy like Fermenter or Liberated Account, and ideally some way to actually close the game like WAKE Implant v2A-JRJ or Deep Dive. That's a lot of pieces and typically runners can't find it all quickly enough. The deck is extremely strong at playing low-resource scrappy games, and when you can't win quickly enough you'll want to play towards a very low credit gamestate. You are almost always favoured in these positions.

That's a lovely, shiny new Engolo you've got there....

The biggest thing this deck has is a threatening aura. When interacting is so rarely perfectly safe for you, and until you've put us to 0 credits there's always a fork around the next corner, it's difficult to make informed decisions about how to play. Even the best players in the world get caught slipping. That does mean that I think this deck does worse in cut with open lists - it's still good and can absolutely win games against informed opponents, but they can evaluate threats more reliably.

Shipment from Vladisibirsk was tried but worse than Market Forces, Gaslight is potentially useful but we have a ton of draw with our ID giving us more Rashidas and Spins, and NGO Front is nice bait + econ but ultimately got cut for slots. Your Digital Life is better than Hedge Fund.

Optimising this deck over the last week with my friends in QTM was an absolute blast and I'm so happy to have made top cut at the event. We put 3 people in top 8 this weekend, which is an incredible achievement.

6 Aug 2023 jan tuno

fucking incredible deck great job

7 Aug 2023 ThePatrician

Nicely done ๐Ÿ˜Š. Congrats on an excellent tournament placing. Thoroughly enjoyed our round 2 game.

7 Aug 2023 Ams


7 Aug 2023 crowphie

@ThePatrician I ended up 9-1 in Swiss, with your Round 1 Freedom win vs this the only loss until cut. Really impressive performance! Hope you enjoyed the tournament as much as I did.

7 Aug 2023 cableCarnage

This deck is excellent and congratulations on the results! My one question is: did you test Self-Growth Program instead of Retribution?

7 Aug 2023 jan tuno

Self-Growth Program wasn't tested though it certainly could have been now that you mention it. Back to the drawing board we go..

7 Aug 2023 crowphie

It's a reasonable shout. If you go to SGP over Retribution you free up 2 influence that can potentially go to Magnets or Economic Warfares or maybe even a Pivot if you feel spicy. There's lots of options. I think it's likely a meaningful downgrade for most runners, making them waste the tempo to even find the next copy of what they need is likely better than bouncing 2 cards, but it's also worth noting that it's way better against Shaper (since you force them to actually spend tempo getting a breaker back rather than Simulchip). Worth testing! Thank you.

7 Aug 2023 crowphie

Oh Christ now you've got me thinking. Jaguarundi is only 2 inf......

7 Aug 2023 izzy

This deck should play pivot for the same reason every deck should play pivot - so I can yell PIVOT as I turn the corner!

7 Aug 2023 riverluna

Great job!

14 Aug 2023 snedd

just played with this deck and it was a blast thanks mate.

15 Aug 2023 FigJig

Did ya try Predictive Planogram over Your Digital Life? With a fair bit of card draw I assume you can get some big payouts, but on average would the consistent 3 creds (with the possibility of 3 cards) not do just as well?

15 Aug 2023 crowphie

Nope! There's three layers to this - we didn't try it, it does theoretically help solve some issues, and there's still better ways to handle that that mean we won't play it in the future either. Let me give you the rundown:

  • YDL pays out big. It's occasionally +3 creds, often +4, and you can set up big turns with Spin and Rashida to get way more. Planogram is only ever +3 credits, and that's a bad rate.

  • As tag punishment, Planogram isn't where we want to be. It's an efficient card but it's so soft and doesn't hurt the runner at all - our punishment should either be very detrimental like Retribution or Market Forces, or super powerful for us like Shipment From Vladisibirsk. Planogram is neither. Therefore, we didn't try it. YDL has never been played for 2 credits and is very typically more money than Planogram. If you're not convinced, try it. You can play Hedge Funds over YDL, but not Planogram. It's not enough money and the deck is already very much on the poor side.

  • So if we're playing Planogram, we're playing it exclusively because it's a draw card that can also double as economy. Don't get it confused, the draw is the appealing part here. And it is genuinely appealing! This deck often loses games because it can't find enough agendas to score in time. A way to quickly and easily draw more cards could be good to help solve that issue.

  • But the thing is, we can solve that issue in other ways, like redistributing our influence, or swapping 2 Thinktanks (which we don't want to score) for a 3rd Cryptocrash (which we do). Planogram can help with this issue but we can do it ourselves without needing to put the operation in our deck.

16 Aug 2023 FigJig

Ah awesome that makes sense, thanks for the explanation!