Upgrady Core Damage Sports

wiriamu 104

This is a prickly and punchy deck.

The deck could use more refinement, but it performs well by turning from an ice-based defense in favor of defensive upgrades and installable cards that punish on access (specifically through core damage). It also shakes up the usual sports play patterns in interesting ways for both the corp and the runner.

Please let me know your thoughts!

Details on deck strategy:

I've been iterating on using upgrades to defend in sports for a while, but Parhelion--and specifically Ontological Dependence, Nightmare Archive, and Mr. Hendrik--have really added to the deck's bite.

Tempus is not a great card by itself, but it becomes far more effective when paired with itself or with even a single Mr. Hendrik. Runners can only lose up to three clicks before they start taking core damage--as long as you have the credits to land the trace or to activate Mr. Hendrik. Tempus fires everywhere except archives, though, so it sometimes surprises runners at inopportune times. That's also why Nightmare Archive is so gross/awesome, since it even poisons archives like Mavirus. Just note that it is far more effective when hidden face down in archives than face up.

You want a critical mass of core-damage cards in your deck, since their effectiveness increases when triggering together or in rapid succession (like sabotage).

Soon, the runner becomes wary of unadvanced cards--even installed on their own--almost like a PE deck, and you can sneak out unadvanced agendas, since you're often fine losing a one-pointer as Sports anyway.

We also leverage the powerful synergizing interaction of Manegarm Skunkworks and Formicary, where they share the same trigger window, so you can activate Manegarm first then rez Formicary then reactivate Manegarm before the runner gets access . . . and then even potentially rez another Formicary and then RE-REactivate Manegarm. It doesn't matter how easily the corp can break Formicary: firing Manegarm three times in a single run is brutal. Plus multiple firings almost always allow you to land core damage if there's a Mr. Hendrik or a Tempus in the server too.

You're always happy to install Formicary if you have time. It's a great ice when you are ice-light because it can move wherever you need it and can threaten other ice too. One unrezzed Formicary can even support two installed Manegarms (installed simultaneously but not rezzed simultaneously, remember, since Manegarm, like Giordano Memorial Field, is unique). If you can, it can be worthwhile to use Élivágar Bifurcation to derez a popped Formicary. With three copies, don't be afraid to pop it if you suspect Apocalypse. Deep Dive isn't nearly as devastating, given the agenda suite for Sports.

Giordano Memorial Field is excellent for later-game defense, and Nightmare Archive counts toward the runner's agenda total. Runners generally always trash Giordano (a nice credit tax) and in a pinch it can be (an expensive) target for your one copy of Restore.

Generally, however, you want to use Restore on Manegarm or on a trashed Spin Doctor, which you often have sitting in archives since it's hard to keep runners from getting their accesses on R&D and HQ. But I have sometimes used Restore to pull back a Tempus or a Mr. Hendrik either to trigger a Tranquility Home Grid or to bolster the core damage threat in any remote.

Two different Tranquility Home Grid remotes is often a good play. You can be flexible about which becomes your scoring remote since you often don't ice them to start (Formicary can swoop in from anywhere).

Save your best defensive options (your limited amount of end-the-run ice or your Manegarm or Giordano) for HQ (vs criminals with Diversion of Funds or especially against Stargate on R&D, which can be devastating if the runner installs it early.

Other cards considered: I tried Gaslight--since I only have one Biotic Labor and one Audacity--but Gaslight feels too slow, especially since I'm never-advancing far more than a typical sports deck, which is why I have so many copies of Seamless Launch. If I wanted to see those operations faster, I'd rather put in another Rashida Jaheem. One Audacity is usually as much as you want because you can accumulate prickly cards in HQ over time like Nightmare Archive and Tempus, which can almost work like Snare! does for Jinteki.

Djupstad Grid is almost a trap card: it seems like it should be good but it isn't. As a remote-only region ("grid") it competes with Tranquility Home Grid, which is bad, and it's hella expensive (Biotic Labor expensive), and you want to see it early to make it really effective, but you don't want multiple copies, so it's usually just this bad detour that distracts/delays you from scoring faster and more directly.

Stock Buy-Back isn't great as a one-of (too rare and not useful early) and I'd rather spend the influence on Afshar to protect HQ (especially from Hippo) or a third Formicary.

Warroid Tracker is usually a better card than Tempus, but I like Tempus better in this deck, for the synergy reasons mentioned above and for contributing directly to your win-con (speed of scoring).

I tried Fairchild 2.0 and Wraparound as ice alternatives before moving onto the current ice suite.

If your event has a cut with open decklists, you might go to 3 copies of Ontological Dependence and 2 copies of Project Vitruvius, to keep up the core damage punishment threat for longer, but outside of that situation, I prefer more Vitruvius for never-advancing and easier fast-advancing (from the start, at least).

You really prefer to never-advance (if not fast-advancing) to keep the runner guessing (which makes playing against 419: Amoral Scammer trickier). I usually treat an Ontological Dependence which still needs four advancement counters like I'd treat a Global Food Initiative in a typical sports deck: cycle it back into R&D until a later time unless I'm pretty sure a core damage is imminent.

Thanks for reading!

3 comments
20 Jan 2023 Council

Inspiring :)

I might try this with some Warroid Trackers.

20 Jan 2023 Jtfq99999
20 Jan 2023 wiriamu

Thanks y’all! Hot take incoming: In this deck, I might want 3 copies of Tempus and just 2 copies of Mr. Hendrik. Mr.Hendrik only works when installed whereas Tempus works anywhere except archives. Plus Tempus requires no extra money to fire (but you have the option to boost).

If you’ve drawn Mr. Hendrik but it’s accessed in HQ, you’re sad. And if the runner smartly accesses a single Mr. Hendrik in your remote with one click remaining, you have to consider whether to pay 2 to make the runner lose a single click and you’re sad. In that case, with one click remaining, Tempus will land the core damage as long as you have enough money to secure the trace. Aside from the install requirement, that’s the other big difference between the two: Mr. Hendrik only cares about runner clicks and if you have 2credits to fire, but Tempus needs enough credit advantage to land the trace (starting from trace3 though).

Successfully firing two of either (or one each) SHOULD land the core damage tho: once you’re running, you usually have only three clicks max, so you can’t pay two clicks twice, and you can’t pay all your remaining clicks twice either.