I can hear some of you scoffing already. "Brain damage decks never work," you chuckle to yourself, "This is crazy." Well, strap in, pifflepuff, because I've got a surprise for you. This deck went undefeated in the Mountain View Regional. By undefeated, I actually mean it won 1 of 4 games. But in the deck's defense, it had control of the board in all of the games and a clear path to victory, and the three losses were due to really stupid pilot errors (e.g. forgetting that Divide and Conquer plus The Turning Wheel is a dangerous combo and failing to ice Archives).
What I'm saying is, don't condemn the deck for the sins of its pilot.
This brain damage deck was born out of reckless disregard for the opinions of more experienced people. I was listening to commentary about Riot Suppression, and no one thought a runner would take the three-click hit because taking a brain damage isn't all that concerning for the skilled player. So I thought, "What if both options were equally concerning?" I quickly discovered that I'm a genius because there are several other cards that offer a similar derned-if-you-do-derned-if-you-don't conundrum in brain damage scenarios.
Thus, a deck was born.
Look, I get it. I'm a little too enamored with myself. I mean, I know it's not a Tier 1 deck. But just give me this moment, okay?
I like a double-threat, and that's the intent of this deck. Will you choose the creamy peanut butter of flatlining the runner, or the luxurious chocolate of scoring 7 points? Two great tastes that deck well together. When you're threatening the flatline, that makes the runner hesitant to run, which opens up scoring opportunities.
The idea is to whittle their hand down like a bad carving accident (I usually got opponents down to 1 card or less). This obviously makes it harder for them to build a rig or fire combos, but it also prevents some strategies from being very effective (Stimhack suddenly feels like a much bigger gamble). Naturally, it also makes them easier to flatline with a Punitive Counterstrike.
With the ID, the runner is already down to 4 cards. Try to score a Self-Destruct Chips to get it down to 3. When there's not a clear scoring opportunity for the Runner, slap down an Enforced Curfew to bring it to 2. In midst of all this, bait them into a Cerebral Overwriter with a classic install-advance-advance. If they're worried about you scoring a 5/3, they feel compelled to bite. Two considerations here: You've gotta ice the remote to make it look like you're trying, and you can't have made them gun-shy with an NGO Front. So you want to see it early, and you want to do it when your scoring server is still porous.
If the bait doesn't work, don't fret Will Arnett. You're opening up scoring opportunities because the runner is instantly skeptical of an install-advance-advance turn. That means they start second-guessing every run and you could score an SSL Endorsement uncontested.
At this point, if you haven't killed them, they're down to just 1 card or less. It's pretty hard to play around, and it's pretty delightful to watch the Runner click to draw to see their most important card and then discard supporting cards at the end of the turn. Just enjoy the cardboard carnage you card-killin' Corpist.
I tend to leave centrals fairly open until the runner threatens multi-access because you actually want the runner to trash a few cards and steal an agenda or two (more on that below). Spend your ice on a good scoring server, building up a decently intimidating defense.
Here's a rundown of the card choices:
SSL Endorsement is great because you're getting money even if the Runner steals it. Remote Enforcement is a fantastic way to get a Fairchild out on the board and rezzed for free, especially if money is tight. Self-Destruct Chips should be obvious because it's basically a brain damage. Also, the card art is off-putting, so maybe that gains you a slight advantage?
Don't make me corp-splain Rashida Jaheem. NGO Front is great for making the Runner even more hesitant about each run, and it gives you money. It's more netrunnery than a fisherman marathon. Cerebral Overwriter is another great component to the shell game, and it's a fantastic tool for multi-braining in one turn.
Black Level Clearance is a real star in this deck. It's such a lose-lose choice for the Runner that I actually toss it down with agendas in a naked server and feel happy no matter which choice the runner makes. BLC is the Matthew McConaughey of cards. No one took it seriously for years until it showed up in the right movie ... er, deck, and suddenly blew everyone away.
Green Level Clearance is basically a Process Automation, which is great for a little boost. It's Endovert's Little Helper, but without the addictive side effects. Hedge and Eepoh because we're all greedy capitalists. Enforced Curfew is perfect for situational pressure, and it synergizes well with the deck. Tell the runner they have to be in bed by 10pm.
We should also talk about the Retribution Duo: Riot Suppression and Punitive Counterstrike. They do a good job of countering the two main threats from the Runner. If the Runner trashes a card, you suppress their riotous tendencies. If they steal an agenda, you strike with punitive intent. Either way, runs become pretty perilous, and I found myself actually leaving servers lightly defended, hoping the runner would access. Naturally, the Retribution Duo aren't completely comparable. Riot Suppression isn't a kill card, but cutting the Runner's turn down to 1 click is a big tempo swing. And Punitive Counterstrike is a kill card, but it doesn't help with your hand-size tactic. Different cards for different situations.
Here's where I'm the least confident. I think this is a pretty good suite, and it's obviously supporting the brain damage threat. I picked some scary ice because I want the runner to be a little concerned about doing their math right. Also, this isn't necessarily meant to be a glacier deck, but I'm usually trying to use Remote Enforcement to build a pretty impenetrable scoring server for the late game. Basically, I'm leaving my options open.
I know many players don't like Bioroids because of the clickthrough option, but I haven't found that to be a major problem, especially with ice that has multiple subs. Most runners haven't bothered to click through because they're (incorrectly) concerned about saving a click for an Ikawah Project. Basically the clickthrough rate on this deck is below 1%, which is terrible for an online advertising campaign, but great for a bioroid defense.
Also, a quick plug for Ravana 1.0: It's great! You get to rez a 5-strength piece of ice with 2 potentially painful subs for only 3 credits, and the subs allow some wonderful flexibility. Ravana can deal out brain damage as easily as it can an ETR, depending on your needs. I know it's sorta too conditional for many decks, but it's an awesome pick when you're playing so many other bioroids.
I've considered a few changes, and am open to suggestions. I know HB has got plenty of other brain damage options (Kuwinda K4H1U3, Kill Switch, Tempus, etc.) but they all seemed to be less effective than what I've got here. Ryon Knight is a common suggestion, but his last-click condition is relatively easy to play around, and most runners are saving a click if they're expecting an Ikawah Project.
I've thought about putting in something else spiky (asset like Snare, or instant damage like Neural EMP) just to get the kill faster. But I'm not sure what would be the most efficient thing to do. Getting the Runner down to 1 card is pretty easy, so a 2-damage threat is worth considering.
I've had a ton of fun playing this deck, and while it seems a little oppressive on the surface, most of the Runners I've played against have enjoyed it, too. Mostly they seemed to like the unexpected challenge. There was still interaction because while I was putting pressure on them, they were still making their own decisions about when and where to run.
Kinda like my last date.