I'm not scared of PE: StarGnat (fifth rotation)

PiCat314 42

"Come on out."

A weathered hand rapped on the interior wall of Endurance's bridge. Captain Padma Isbiter had tracked the source of the abnormal power sink to this point. A stowaway of some kind; she hoped it was human. It would take hours to find a physical bug in the walls.

She sighed and leaned her head against the cold metal. Last chance. "You're better off out here than in there. The ship doesn't care if you slip and fall into its wiring."

A young, muffled voice answered after a moment. "How'd you know I was here?"

Padma's shoulders relaxed. "I know everything that happens on this ship," she said, "but the amount of power you were drawing didn't help your case. Now get out of there before I have to go in myself."

There was a pause before a disheveled, round face popped out from an opening in the paneling. Probably around 12 years old, darker skin, curly hair sticking out at odd angles thanks to the cramped space. He clutched a backpack to his chest, making sure not to bang it against the metal edges on the way out.

They stared at each other for a moment.

"Well?" Padma said. "You got a name?"

"Gnat," he said. "Wanna see what the power draw was for?"


It took Gnat an hour to remove his rig from the walls, half an hour to patch it back together outside, five minutes to re-calibrate a handful of brightly-coded programs, and about 10 seconds for the entire crew of Padma's ship to be completely invested in the little stowaway's progress. With nothing but a handful of sharpie-marked chips and haphazardly-wired processors, he jacked into netspace.

Colors bloomed across Gnat's vision as he traced connections with his fingertips, each one buzzing under his touch through haptics and neuron-stimulating implants. The best way to run was on the edge, in the moment. It made him more alert. He followed lines of server activity to one of Jinteki's R&D nodes, its contents guarded by an unknown ICE.

"You run dangerously," Padma warned, her disembodied voice projecting into the endless neon. "There's nothing between you and an overload. One false step-"

"If I'm good, I don't have to worry," Gnat said.

He flicked his wrist, the gesture bringing up a mass of freshly copied depth data from the ship's navigation. Nothing important, but certainly enough to clog up a security response. Anemone reared up before him, coated in sticky threads that would imprint the very idea of pain into his nervous system. With a shudder, its ethereal tendrils latched onto the decoy. He danced past it, inches away from certain death. He felt the heat of his buffer drive next to him in meatspace, recycling his defenses.

He grinned, entering the node. The tips of his fingers smoked as he approached, opening up a blazing window into the corp's future resources.

"And damn! I'm good."


An Explanation

So a TON of Gnat's safety tools have been rotated out of standard with the incoming Midnight Sun, and Jinteki smells Blood in the Water. Safety tools like Guru Davinder, Sports Hopper, The Noble Path, I've Had Worse, and Sacrificial Clone were all hit. What we were given in return was Steelskin Scarring and Stoneship Chart Room.

Listen, all things considered, Gnat is probably going to lose against Jinteki. He plays with no cards in hand because of Cradle and his own ability, and one trap could end it all. But if you're smart about it - if you pop a Stoneship right before you access and run unrezzed ice with at least two cards in your backpack, he can be the most fun exhilarating runner there is.

So here's how it works:

Econ! So much econ in Patchwork! Save two credits, eat a card you don't need, lower hand size to get Gnat drip, and you don't even lose the card because of Buffer Drive! Feed it a Steelskin and get free draw too! Play Guinea Pig for a juicy 8 credit boost! You only need one of each copy of every program, so go nuts!

note: Do not use Patchwork to feed Guinea Pig a Steelskin, it will draw 2 cards and then trash them immediately.

Win condition is Stargate, but it also doubles as defense against Snare! or any other R&D poison (I'm seeing a weird amount (>0) of Sapper nowadays).

Play fast, play smart. Use Flip Switch to burn the corp's money rezzing ice. Face-check, but use your brain. Don't die to Anemone or Anansi, check the corp's credit pool, force hard decisions. Good netrunner shit. Watch out for Hagen, it will kill your rig if you can't break it.

One note against Jinteki: Safety First is an amazing card, but I found the most success against Jinteki when I had the option to have a bigger hand size. Most Jinteki isn't fast advance, so you are able to tank a good amount of damage if you get Buffer Drive early.

When this deck goes, it goes hard. GLHF!

4 comments
15 Sep 2022 internet_potato

beautiful write-up!

16 Sep 2022 Diogene

Fantastic!

Question : why 3x Buffer Drive?

Thanks for sharing!

16 Sep 2022 PiCat314

@internet_potato Thank you <3 :D

@Diogene Buffer Drive is important to the longevity of this deck - in combination with Patchwork it allows you to cycle cards ad infinitum. Since the deck is about drawing and trashing as many of your cards as possible (Guinea Pig) some insurance against trashing both copies of a particular breaker if you need to is good. It's also important if you want to bring back a card in the heap, but I never really do that unless there's a danger of Ark Lockdown.

18 Sep 2022 valerian32

Thank you for the write-up!

I'd definetely give it a try!