Backroom Shenanigans [Startup]

okonomichiyaki 11

This is a slightly janky deck that I've enjoyed playing and had some moderate success with on Jnet. At the time of writing there's only one other published deck with its specific combination of 3 cards, so I thought I would share this version. I'm an inexperienced player who is dipping their toes into deck building from scratch with the release of Midnight Sun, so I'm publishing this hoping for feedback as much as anything else!

That being said, I think the basic game plan has some potential: score a couple of 3-point agendas and play Backroom Machinations for the seventh point.

Backroom Machinations is one of my favourite cards in the new set, but when I was trying to play it out of Pravdivost for an opportunistic last point, I didn't have much success with it. I think I only managed to play it once with Prav, whereas when I built a deck around this idea, it's been a very reliable seventh point. I think the deck scored 3 agendas once or twice, and flatlined the runner once; every other win has been with Backroom.

You should be opportunistic with when you play Backroom: I've won games by playing it as the final winning point, but also as the first point and midgame. There's a few different ways to surprise the runner with a tag (mostly Funhouse, Ping, and Snare) but in my experience, even thought the format doesn't have much punishment, Startup runners clear their tags, so be prepared to have to force a tag with Drago Ivanov. At the risk of stating the obvious, never bother trying to play a second Backroom, because after the first there's no reason to.

There's a fun interaction between Reality Plus, Drago Ivanov, and Backroom Machinations. After you score two agendas, you only need to start the last turn with 2 credits, Drago on the board, and Backroom in hand to win:

  1. advance advance Drago
  2. rez Drago and tag the runner
  3. take 2 credits with R+
  4. play Backroom

If you have a Seamless Launch in hand you can do this from 1 credit. I closed out a couple games this way, and was able to run my economy into the ground to keep the runner out of the remote for a turn. The main reason I went with Reality Plus was the smaller deck size than Prav, but this combo helps too.

The economy has felt pretty strong with a little luck and playing the first few turns carefully. I usually try to build the remote while taking credits off Regolith, and fueling the early game with Planogram for credits or rezzing Ping for free to keep them out of centrals. By the mid game and late game, I sometimes would take cards instead of credits from R+ or Planogram, digging for Drago or Backroom, because I had plenty of money.

I tried a few variations and I think there's different ways to go with this idea:

An early version did not run Snare, but I think the extra element of surprise to land the tag you need helps, and of course the net damage might momentarily disrupt the runner.

I tried including Retribution, which is another personal favourite card, but it's also one more card on top of Backroom which if the runner happens to see it early, they're going to be even more inclined to clear their tags. On the other hand it's really hard to keep a big boat out of your servers, so it might have a place, because the deck struggles against fully rigged up Captain Padma.

I also experimented with San San City Grid and Send a Message, but I don't really think you need the value that Send a Message delivers, and it's a lot easier and cheaper to score Vulnerability Audit with Seamless. Freeing up some influence for some big ICE like Colossus might be worth it though.

I haven't been able to find room for Chekist Scion but it seems like it could have potential, maybe as an alternative to Snares?

The deck struggled the most against:

  • boat and a full rig of breakers, because it's very hard to tax them enough to score the second agenda
  • chisel charm with or without sabotage, because again it's hard to score a second 3-point agenda if your ICE is getting blown up
  • deep dive Ken and Sable, especially multiple deep dives in quick succession, since the runner only needs to steal 3

Some other problems I ran into:

  • No Free Lunch could be a serious problem for the deck, but I only saw it once and the runner didn't need it to win.
  • Networking can make it a lot harder to get a tag to stick, but also doesn't seem that popular.
  • Pinhole Threading can be annoying to snipe Drago at a key moment.
  • The deck relies on keeping a few key cards in play, so be careful with your Spin Doctors if a Backroom or Drago gets Sabotaged, Imp-ed, or Stargated. It is possible to win via 3 scores but it's going to be harder.

The ICE suite could probably be improved, Vasilisa rarely lands you the tag you need, and is mostly there because it's new and to power up Baby Tollbooth.

I've had a lot of fun playing this and hope others enjoy it, but I'm sure it can be improved so feel free to provide any helpful comments! As I said, I'm a new player and not a seasoned deck builder, so I have no delusions that it's seriously competitive, but my win rate with the deck is ~60% which is a lot better than usual for me.

2 comments
1 Aug 2022 cyan_ogen

Is Seamless Launch useful here other than pushing through Backroom with only 1c? I was wondering if they could be replaced with Punitives for an alternate wincon.

1 Aug 2022 cyan_ogen

Actually I didn't realize you were on Vulnerability Audit, ignore my previous comment lol.