Spark Despotism - King Beale

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Ehill 1728

Spark Despotism - The Tools of Oppression

Despotism is a true NBN Glacier.

It has no fast advance.

It has no interest in killing the runner.

But it is by no means a "fair" deck.

And it is MWL Legal

Unlike other Glacier styles, Despotism is actively disruptive and oppressive.

It hates runner economies with the fury of a Soviet Regime, bankrupting cred-pools with chipping ads, assets, and tags, and with mighty burst assaults like Midseasons and Closed Accounts.

If FoodCoats is a slowly creeping mountain, Despotism is a masked polar bear looking for a wrestling match.

This is a decklist I've been tinkering with since Worlds and after many weeks of sucking it has finally cracked into a monster of a deck. This list is surprisingly hard to pilot correctly (somewhere near Reg Ass Max) but I've been able to pushing close to an 85% win rate on with it and was able to take 6th at a recent SC with Timmy Wong, Noah Mckee, John Dee and several other top 32 Worlds and top 8 King of Servers players, Loosing only to a soon to rotate out Pre-Paid Kate, and an odd deck that used both Stealth Hardware and Magnum Opus.

Strategies and Card Choices

Scoring Big Agendas - This deck wins by putting lots of counters on cards until you flip them over and say "POINTS!". But as this is the last thing the runner wants you to do you have to do some very mean things to make them sit quietly in their seat while you score your super point Beales.

Oppress the Runner - Spark kills the runner's early tempo, the deck is built to consistently get rez-able ads in the opening hand, and depending on the matchup, they are worth mulligan for. Every time the runner is forced to click for credits is another click you can spend building your board state and money.

But the real strength of the deck is in its midgame threat diversity. The early pinging is rarely enough to keep runners down for long, and once they try to set up a longer term solution. You need to land a blow that will send the runner tumbling back into the early game.

Breaking News is your most consistent delivery method for pain; it lets you tag for Closed Accounts and Asset Trashing. But other strike options include:


-Midseason Replacements,

-Data Raven,

-Toll Booth,

-Ichi 1.0

and most deafening of all


The art of planning for and landing these attacks correctly is the hardest part of piloting Despotism, but once you master the angles of the deck, you will be hard pressed to find a runner capable of defending against all of them.

Scoring - In case you haven't noticed, this deck has no Astro Script.

yes you read that right, THIS DECK HAS NO ASTRO SCRIPT

This was a decision I came to before the announcement of the MWL. Because Astro Script made the deck worse.

Again you didn't miss read that, Astro Script made Despotism WORSE. this is because it requires quick chaining, early scoring, unadvanced Beales, and most key of all requires large amounts of card draw in order to score out consistently. All of these things run counter to Despotism's deliberate grinding game plan.

With the current agenda composition, The runner must score between 4-6/11 agendas to win the game, not counting 15 minutes disrupting effects. You only have to score 1-3 with one most flexible scoring patterns in all of Netrunner.

To facilitate your hard advance plan you get to build an equally hard-core server usually composed of some combination of Archer, Tollbooth, Ash, Red Herrings, Enigma, and Wraparound.

Do not be surprised to see 4, 5, 6, and even 7 point Beales roll out of your scoring servers. Just be sure to remind the runner that you did it,


11 Jan 2016 RubbishyUsername

Nice to see an NBN deck without the ol' Astro. Question: Why Archived Memories over Interns? Couldn't that influence be better spent on another Adonis or Ash?

11 Jan 2016 CodeMarvelous

this looks really strong. however, isn't there room for one psychographics to help close the game?

11 Jan 2016 tradet

I wanted to make an NBN glacier when spark came out but it just sucked... But this looks awesome, going to try it out.

11 Jan 2016 Ehill

@RubbishyUsername The Archived Memories is a newer experiment, but the main logic is to have maximum flexibility, there are tons of time where i found myself wanting to be able to recur a closed account, or midseason.

11 Jan 2016 donttalknojive

I love it, but I tend to agree with @CodeMarvelous on the point of including a Psychographics. It seems like your idea here was to deliberately avoid FA strategies, but Psycho puts so much pressure on the runner to avoid that Midseason or to not go tag-me. That pressure would reinforce the asymmetry of your mid- to late game, and give you another angle of attack.

I also think Interns isn't a bad idea for another Ash. But I agree it's probably frustrating to have a double in this deck because that's a click you're not installing or advancing.

Your ICE suite is interesting, and seems to be missing some common tropes of the post-MWL meta. You don't have any serious AI-hate like Swordsman, Turing, or Little Engine. Has that hurt you so far?

11 Jan 2016 Ehill

@CodeMarvelous It is actualy very rare to land more than 1 tag on the runner with this deck, and with only 1 midseason, a single Psychographics would be extremely draw dependant and situational.

11 Jan 2016 tradet

Do you think Keegan Lane could be a possible include with the supposed diminishing use of Clone Chip or is the deck lacking enough tagging ice for him to be useful?

11 Jan 2016 shimya

Wow. That was my first reaction when I saw the decklist. I was just wondering, do you miss Eli's? I find them really important in taxing the runner.

Also, what are your experiences with Maxx siphoon decks?

11 Jan 2016 FlyingZergling

You have no idea how happy it makes me to already see an NBN hitting the big time that isn't some butchershop fastadvance venn diagram yin-yang of stupid.

That being said, any consideration for 24/7 and/or All-Seeing I?

11 Jan 2016 Ehill

@FlyingZergling The deck has a lot of fluid slots and All-Seeing I was in the mix and early builds and should be swaped back in for anarch heavy metas, often by - red herring +1 ash , - 1 archived memories and +1 All Seeing

the real slot i'm currently puzzling over is how to get victory jenkins into the deck.

11 Jan 2016 mrable

I've played against this deck twice, losing to it both times. It has reduced me to a gibbering rage and forced me to consider abandoning my current runner for something to specifically combat this.

12 Jan 2016 justinliew

So funnily enough, I played against Ehill on Jinteki tonight. I was trying this deck out, and didn't know it was him. He commented "I think I know this deck!" and I thought, "yeah, yeah, you look at Netrunnerdb." It was only after when he gave me tips, after thoroughly wrecking me, that I realized I was playing against the deck's creator. So don't I feel silly. But he was a super stand-up guy so I appreciate that!

12 Jan 2016 Calimsha

If scoring an early or two unadvanced beale is important, then scoring one or two astroscript early on is strictly better.

12 Jan 2016 LeaPlath

I'm running a similar deck at the moment with -1 special offer, -1 closed, -1 wall of static for 2 Keegan and 1 All Seeing I. With clone chip being weaker and less run I've found it much more useful to snipe programs after data raven/midseasons and help keep the runner on the back foot.


12 Jan 2016 Alsciende

@Calimsha you misunderstood his statement.

12 Jan 2016 Ehill

@Calimsha you are correct, but this decks scoring tempo lends itself to spiking early 3 pointers instead of unadvanced Beales. the core idea is to play like you have 6 Global Foods, even if the runner can contest an early rush or midgame score they will be so pressed by the Spark pressure it will immediately open up a hard scoring window. And for their trouble they only gain 2 points.

The only time you want to chase unadvanced beales is when you are slightly agenda flooded or trying to close out against a runner by pivoting to a never advance shell game.

12 Jan 2016 Calimsha

I'm pretty much certain that this deck would works better with -1 GFI / -1 Archived - 1 TGTBT and just play 2 Astroscript/1x interns instead. Heck, you can even play 3 Astroscript by removing the third beale and still do better. Having access to 1-2 Astroscript counter means you can play a defensive upgrade, install an agenda and advance it once and still be able to score a 5/3. Heck, with 2 Astro Token, every un-advanced agenda in a remote could be game winning.

I'm pretty positive that having Astroscript instead of bad agendas like TGTBT would improve the flexibility of your gameplan and make your deck stronger. By saying that having Astroscript make your deck worse, i'm pretty certain that you are just deluding yourself. There is no way that having 11 agendas and 5x 1pters is better than having 2-3 astroscript instead.

12 Jan 2016 Ehill

@Calimsha the core problem i ran into with astro script in testing is simple.

It has a lower card draw to power ratio than it seems. In order to win with astroscripts in your score pattern you have to draw much more frequently than normal to get the same point to tempo spread that you get with the current agendal build. In an ID like NEH that is an absolute non issue but because Spark doesnt have an inate card advantage, I kept finding myself overdrawing to close out the game, which weakened both my centrals and my board state and was actually leading to many counterintuitives losses.

One of the most subtle and raw strenghts of this deck is how little card draw it requires to funciton correctly, and as a result creates much denser and hard to score off of central servers than other point rush builds.

13 Jan 2016 CapAp

Well @Ehill, I don't know. @Calimsha is pretty much certain, pretty positive, and pretty certain, all in one paragraph. I'm pretty sure your weeks of testing can't stand up to hard facts like that.

13 Jan 2016 Ehill

@CapAp well he is the French national champ. I took the time to retest the agenda distribution again but still came to the same conclusion. There were way too many cases where I would sit with a scoring window where I could slam out a food or even a 4 point beale only to stare at a single astroscript in hand.

And even when I got to the angle of 2 Astro tokens, I was often so far ahead I could simply IAA a 3 pointer safely and wound up making the tokens irrelevant.

And astro stacking isn't the only way to threaten a NA strategy, in most cases where I scored Astros, I could have instead fired 3 pointers, and had an endgame state of 5 points, where a single NA Beale would win.

The main issue with the deck as is that I am finding is its flexibility. It can be built to counter a large set of strategies, but selecting the right cards for the meta is going to be key.

For example cards like Aggressive Secretary will be needed in a shaper magnum focused meta,

All Seeing I for Anachs like wizard

and Red Herring over Ash if Security Nexus + Link Stacking become a serious thing.

13 Jan 2016 CapAp

I understand, and I'm not discounting his right to an opinion, it just irks me when someone provides experimental evidence and opponents who are pre-commited to an opposing point of view resort to hand-waving. Dismissing solid arguments without actually providing any counter-evidence shows someone not commited to discovering the truth, but someone commited to proving their opinion is correct. You laid out good reasons why you chose your Agenda spread, and now Most Wanted exists. I'm impressed.

13 Jan 2016 Heartthrob

I'm with CapAp ^

13 Jan 2016 rnishimura

Glad you posted the deck (and that I could somehow make a contribution by alerting you for the rise of Sec Nexus and with high link runners)! Will be testing this deck as well. Trying now a +1 Tollbooth +1 Archangel -1 Special Offer -1 Enigma.

14 Jan 2016 LeaPlath

I did some further testing with a version that swapped 1 Closed for All Seeing Eye, dropped Enigma and dropped a product placement for 2 Keegan Lane. I was very impressed by the rig snipping ability of Lane combined with the Taxing elements. Wraparound becomes a gear check and then when you snipe the gear it becomes a hard barrier to get through.

I also quite want to run the Star Sign ice that if you trash X or higher lets you trash a piece of hardware. The main issue Ive been finding with the deck is people able to Nexus past ICE when you are 1 ice deep on a server, desperado criminals able to click for a credit and make a useful run, and link boosting hardware

14 Jan 2016 Bigguyforyou518

This deck looks like it would quite well against your run-of-the-mill shaper durdle (which admittedly is more common than it should be), but with only 14 ice (12 if you don't count Special Offer, which I don't) and no Crisiums, it feels like you'd crumple against anyone who can hit your centrals hard and fast before you stabilize.

I'm talking very fast, aggressive Anarchs like RegAss and Faust Noise, or anyone who can stick the landing on a Siphon spam. What's been your experience playing against runners who can threaten HQ, R&D, and Archives before you've set up your scoring remote?

I also tend to agree with @Calimsha about AstroScript Pilot Program. If "flexibility" is your real concern, Astro delivers that in spades while putting an intense amount of pressure on a runner who is already being taxed heavily (even if the other Astros are nowhere in sight). While the crisis of needing a 3 pointer to end the game and only drawing an Astro shouldn't be dismissed, I suspect it ultimately will win you a lot more games than it loses you.

14 Jan 2016 Ehill

@Bigguyforyou518 the 16 (14 without special offer) ice in the deck are ussually enough to secure centrals for one key reason. You are playing Spark, the remote pressure your assets present in addition to their ping effect is often enough to destablize many runner rush plans. This is because they end up sacrificing much more of their early tempo to manifest threats like Keyhole or Makers than an other matchups.

It comes down to mastering your ice placement in reaction to your opponents expected strategy.

Siphon in particular can be played around with more ease than it seems because of access gains like special offer and product placement, and the ever present threat of closed accounts forces many aggro criminals out of their tag me rush in the early stages.

And to be clear the problem I've found with astro isn't in having them in the late game but having them in the midgame when this deck creates mile wide scoring windows where you can consitently score foods and beales. In that case if you have an astro you have to over draw and rely on the varience of your deck to convert a 0 credit runner into a 4 point score. And even if you do draw another 2/3 the window can be wide enough to hard avance it, which if it is an astro is fine, but if it is a beale you then will most likely only convert it in for 2 points and a hard advance.

So you can either rely on the foods and beales to turn every scoring window into at least 3 points, or hard score and astro, draw a bunch, hope to draw another agenda while you still have lock, and either FA it out for 4 points you could have had if it was a beale or find you have enough time and hard advance that one as well. In the end you risk having to spend your clicks drawing in addition to the same number of advancments as an over advanced beale to score the same midgame points.

15 Jan 2016 Prox

Playing with a tweaked version of this in our local league, and it's surprisingly strong. Running your 2-Ash with All Seeing Eye tweaks, which I don't think I could do without.

Every game involved at least one over scored Beale (one game was a 6-pointer). Never wished I had an Astro. I'll take testing over theory any day. (Plus this is way more fun to play)

Thanks for the deck!

17 Jan 2016 thebigunit3000

Having an Astro scored means you put pressure on your opponent in different ways. Find Clot, Turntable, etc. Check remotes more because you can use a token on Breaking News to hit Closed Accounts. As @Calimsha mentioned before, you can use this token to close out games that you wouldn't otherwise be able to, requiring much smaller scoring windows.

As far as ICE goes, it seems to be pretty weak against Siphon -- more hard ETR ICE might help.

17 Jan 2016 thebigunit3000

Also, a way of thinking about 2-turn scoring windows: you can score a 3-pointer over two turns, or you can score two 2-pointers over two turns with an Astro counter. (Along with the other advantages afforded by an Astro counter)

17 Jan 2016 Ehill

@thebigunit3000 To reiterate, the reason for astro's being less optimal is 2 fold

1) Astro Pressure requires deliberate card draw, this decks tempo pattern and game plan is built around the strength gained from drawing infrequently. Specifically strong central servers against access, and the ability to dedicate all clicks to bard state and money.

2)This deck is about creating scoring windows that can be as large as 4-5 whole turns. and hard advancing 2 beales for 6 points is worth more than hard advancing 2 astros for 4 points and 2 counters because even with those 2 counters you cannot close out games with a fast advance play, you have to install then pass turn to get the 5 advancments in one turn. In 90% of the cases where i could place that agenda safely i could also double advance it.

And while the ice is a little weak against siphon, the deck itself is able to weather and punish the play, If you don't purge the tags this deck will close your accounts, and the credit volume is strong enough to stay functional through 2-3 siphons even if hard scoring gets delayad.

18 Jan 2016 tzeentchling

I mean, if you can create a scoring window that's 4-5 turns large, you're going to win no matter what agendas you're playing.

I think this also speaks more to people's unfamiliarity with Spark and the type of economic warfare it plays than the deck being particularly strong as-is, though clearly you're leveraging it well to be doing good. If people take money, play cautiously, and remote-camp, I think it will be hard to score out and create these windows, even with Ash.

18 Jan 2016 crack

Calimsha is totally right with the astros!

19 Jan 2016 wompa164

This deck is a lot of fun but I have to say, the tag support (Data Raven, Midseasons) seems weak without anything besides Closed Accounts to back it

19 Jan 2016 esutter479

I like the look of this, but how do you deal with Whizzard, short of icing every econ asset?

25 Jan 2016 ClubbingSealCub

Took this to a local tournament with 2x Chimera instead of 2x Wraparound and 1+ Red Herrings instead of Ash 2X3ZB9CY (because I'm poor and don't have those cards yet). Won every match but one as corp scoring 7-point Project Beales. One of those beales was protected by a single Pop-up Window.

10/10 deck, would use forever.

13 Feb 2016 KryptikRVR

I've just picked up this deck, any advice for a new Spark player?

25 Feb 2016 Dagguh

Just lost 3 games in a row against Account Siphon spam.

It didn't matter that I had Tollbooth on HQ. I can never recover from 5-6 siphons. They just clear the tags, man.