Your Screaming Aphrodite (Rotation, Banlist Remote Lock)

Gargulec 386

Reina Roja: Freedom Fighter's flavour text is just great. Short, evocative, thematic:

Analyzing the board won't help. Your mistake was thinking we're playing the same game.

It would be cool if you could build a competetive deck around that bit of flavour, no? The Red Queen's deck which does not play by the rules set by the Corporate side of the board? A deck that is both interactive and yet really oppressive? A deck that does not strip the choice away from the Corp, but one that makes all of the choices they make unpleasant? One that feels like a puzzle when played, and gives you immense satisfaction when you "solve" the Corp's board with it? And beside that, a deck that makes use of little-played cards, obscure synergies and which does not run anything from the Restricted list?

Wouldn't that be really cool? Well, if you think so - I certainly do - you're in luck, because this is the deck.

Here is the theme song, by twopointeight

The Basics

This is a remote-lock type of a deck which utilizes the strange interactions between a variety of run events, resources and hardware such as Run Amok or Maxwell James to prevent the Coropration from being able to score agendas through a remote server, while at the same time using The Source to force them to actually attempt that if they hope to win. It is made unique by its very low reliance on icebreakers (the deck runs only a trio of Eaters in an auxiliary role) and rather unorthodox approach to dealing with ICE and remote servers. It combines elements of derez, ICE destruction, bypass and brute force breaking, while not being purely focused on any of those elements. The result is a complex-to-play, mechanics heavy deck which is both rewarding to pilot and very fun to watch in action.

How Does This Work?

The core card engine of this deck is compromised of the following four cards, all being run as a 3-off: Run Amok, Maxwell James, En Passant and EMP Device, all supported by an Eater.

There is a number of interactions between them that allow them to burst through about any remote for a surprisingly low cost. Key card is Run Amok which forces the first of many unpleasant choices on the Corp - rez a piece of ICE and lose or don't, and allow the Runner in. The choice is made even more difficult by the fact that along with EMP Device, the Corp player will not able to rez any more pieces of ICE than the one they are losing. Furthermore, individual ICE is often economic to break with Eater, which makes the run successful and allows to remove the remaining piece of ICE using En Passant. This means that two-ICE-deep servers simply cease to exist when exposed to this combination of cards - unless the Corporate player simply refused to rez anything to prevent themselves from losing both money and ICE.

Fatter servers that cannot be cracked open like that are instead accessed by using the interaction between Maxwell James and EMP Device. The two cards together translate a successful HQ run into a free entrance into any remote server, no matter how many pieces of ICE protect it (since an ICE derezzed by Maxwell cannot be rezzed again because of EMP, even if the derez was on approach, not on encounter).

This combined means that Corp player is forced to simultaneously defend both the scoring remote and HQ in equal manner, and the defence goes beyond installing and rezzing ICE, because Run Amok/En Passent gradually wear those servers down, making them easy pray for Maxwell and other tools available to the Runner.

Furthermore, The Source shuts down all but the most dedicated FA and the deck's console - Turntable - allows to equalize points between the Corp and the Runner and stretch the game to the point where the remote pressure becomes too difficult for the Corp to handle.

The final nail in the Corp's coffin is usually a late-game one-two punch of Wanton Destruction and Utopia Shard which together are supposed to clear an HQ from agendas which have been slowly sedimenting there over the course of the game.

Individual Card Choices

Run Amok, EMP Device, En Passant, Maxwell James: the beating heart of the deck, described in more detail above.

Eater: the sole breaker. Don't lose it: it is what you use you prevent the DNA Tracker you are exploding with Run Amok from killing you first and gives you the ability to make economical runs for En Passant.

Leave No Trace: basically Run Amok number 4 and 5. Situationally useful for scouting runs, particularly in situations where you expect AI hate and do not want it to stay rezzed after the end of the run even if you fail to break through it with Eater (or your face). This is very important because while playing this deck you absolutely do not want to leave any ICE on remotes or HQ rezzed after the runs end, unless you are about to win the game anyway.

DDoS: additional support piece for the above cards. Its mere presence on the board forces the Corp to devote more resources to defending their servers. It has an amusing interaction with Run Amok where it basically makes it impossible for the Corp to defend a 2-ICE deep servers at all. Often used as a way to enable Maxwell.

Turntable: as this deck can take a while to set up (and you do not always have the best opportunity to actually run), this card is supposed to facilitate winning by swapping 2-pointers for 3-pointers. It is a situational card, but when it works, it works wonders, and its capacity to disrupt the Corp's planning is simply immense.

Singularity: at the same time a panic button and a Film Critic substitute. This card is severely under-appreciated. It not only shuts down shell-games, traps and similar, but can clear out heavily defended servers and prevent on-steal Corporate toys, which is pretty important in Punitive Counterstrike heavy environments, such as the ones I tend to play in. Furthermore, in this particular deck it can be used as an emergency way of stealing agendas, by just brute-forcing ICE on a remote, blowing the agenda out and scooping it out of the Archives. It is not a very tidy solution, but can be game-winning.

Wanton Destruction, Utopia Shard, Hades Shard: the other win-condition of this deck, translating your remote-lock into a single, heavy HQ hit which should be able to provide you with the final points you need. As you make a lot of runs on HQ that do not end in access anyway due to your use of Eater, installing the Shard for free should never really be a concern.

Same Old Thing: your only source of recursion. Use it sparingly and wisely. There are no universal rules for what you want to SoT out; the cards you recur are very much matchup dependant.

The Source: your first and only life of defence against FA. As Fall Guy support could not make it in due to influence constraints, this has to be timed correctly to have noticeable effects. Most of the time, I found myself using it to contest the last few points in preparation for the final HQ push.

Liberated Account, Sure Gamble, Data Folding: the economy of this deck is rather light. The reasons behind it are twofold: first, it does not actually need that much credits to operate effectively, given how most of your "breaking" is done through unusual methods that cost as much as the run or resource does. Therefore, you don't actually need as many credits as decks that would have to break through ICE in traditional fashion. The downside is that it makes you vulnerable to traces, particularly to the dreaded Hard-Hitting News. Second reason is more prosaic: this deck is highly reactive, and the limited resources at your disposal mean that often, instead of wasting them on throw-away runs you just spend your turns clicking for credits and waiting for the Corp to make the move they really don't want to make.

I've Had Worse, Sports Hopper: your card draw. Pretty self-explanatory. Hopper is particularly good because it does not take a click if you install it in advance, and this deck is often very, very click-heavy on its big turns. The weird absence of Inject will be explained promptly.

Notable Absences

There are a few cards which seem such a natural fit in this deck that their absence should, I feel, be explained.

The Cutlery (Forked, Spooned, Knifed): earlier versions of this deck ran them as singletons, but it gradually became obvious that as this deck is not actually a purpose-built ICE destruction rig, and a lot of its capabilities rely on forcing the Corp to have no rezzed ICE on relevant servers, their actual usability was so low that the slots could be better used by other cards (such as DDoS).

Inject: loss of Déjà Vu means that there is no easy way of digging out Eater out of the Runner's bin, which makes Inject just too dangerous to use here, as a loss of the sole breaker can put you massively behind and just lose you the game. Therefore, it was another card, like the cutlery, which ended up on the cutting floor after the play-testing.

Levy AR Lab Access: this deck is low on recursion, but in my experience it actually does not need it nearly badly enough as to warrant an inclusion of a Levy, which, furthermore, just could not be made to fit within the influence constraints.

The Conspiracy Breaker Suite (Black Orchestra, MKUltra, Paperclip): what r u, casull? In all seriousness, I dislike those cards and made it a point of honour for myself to construct a working Runner deck that does not use them. They could probably be fit into it, and would end up diluting its purpose, and I am way too sentimental to allow that.

So, There's That

So yeah, this is it. A many-moving-parts Reina deck that closes down the remotes, does weird street magic with obscure cards, pulls out inane wins out of inane situations and utterly folds to this weird post-rotation CI-7 kind of stuff unless you can fish out your Source in time. But in other matchups? It is just fun and puzzle-games, unlike most of my previous Netrunning experiences. I highly suggest you try it out and see how it works for you. Because at the end of the day, being able to shoot your opponents a smug grin and quote Reina's flavour at them is what matters in life?

(don't do that it is actually really corny)

(also don't be fooled by NDRB, this is both post-rotation and post-ban list, really legal)

4 Oct 2017 DonLoverGate

What about Apocalypse?

Seems like an ideal fit for this deck.

4 Oct 2017 Gargulec

Was ran in previous versions, ultimately discarded. Apocalypse likes to be included in decks that also run Levy AR Lab Access and ones that do not actually set up that many tools on the table, and this deck actually spews out a lot of resources and hardware. As a result, Apocalypse rarely felt as the right thing to do, and combined with the rather limited economy available, it was often just impossible to punch in.

4 Oct 2017 Saan

It seems like the deck dies to any kind of AI hate card. Hortum is widely played in Weyland (and Tennin), and I've seen plenty of both IP Block and Wraparound, as well as the occasional Chiyashi, and with the amount of Aumakua out in the wild, I wouldn't be surprised to see more Swordsman show up in decks before long. You really don't want to run into most of those with just an Eater on deck.

4 Oct 2017 Gargulec

Actually, this deck can handle pretty much all AI hate with a bit of clever play. It only really starts to struggle if a triple-advanced Hortum remains rezzed at the end of the run on HQ. Remember, Eater here is auxiliary.

The way you deal with AI hate is by playing around it: as this deck is built around making sure that the ICE that was rezzed during the run does not survive past its end, you basically have to specifically target triple-advanced Hortums with Run Amok/En Passent. Losing such an investment is often a major blow to the corporation.

IP Block is just additional tax, and so is Wraparound, and both (on a remote) are just the same for Maxwell. Same for Turing and so on. Pretty much the only thing that this deck struggles with when it comes to AI hate is a Swordsman on HQ, but even then you can just break with your face, lose Eater to it and kill it with Run Amok/En Passant.

4 Oct 2017 Acatalepsy

Playing against it my observation is that it can feel as oppressive as the old-style blackmail decks, but the combo it needs to get access to the remote is actually pretty involved and you can generate scoring windows by forcing it to expend EMP Devices and Maxwells.

Rushing doesn't work very well because this deck just murders 1/2 ice rush servers. You want to be able to never advance or have really annoying assets like MCAA that they want to contest but can't.

Alternatively, play Chronos Protocol and snipe stuff from their hand which is definitely the best counter and works really well against everything in the meta now.

4 Oct 2017 r2devo

have you considered day job for the slower turns?

4 Oct 2017 Gargulec

Was in previous versions as an additional econ, ended up being basically cut for slots. It wouldn't be that unreasonable to replace Data Foldings with it, though. Ultimately comes to preference.

4 Oct 2017 DonLoverGate

Day Job probably slots better into an Apoc build.

With all the resources, how do you feel about Career Fair?

4 Oct 2017 Gargulec

I have not considered it much, but I don't think it is worth either the influence or the slots, and both are very tight in this deck.

5 Oct 2017 hi_impact

Can't have everything - the cuts are understandable. Against asset spam, do you often ignore them (DBS, PAD, minor etc) or trash?

5 Oct 2017 Gargulec

As this deck can chew through pretty much all the ICE in the world, money is no object, so PADs and such are usually ignoreable. Stuff that is actually dangerous - Bio-Ethics and so on should be hit, but at the end of the day, this deck is not really optmized against such approaches.

6 Oct 2017 Popeye09

Can't entirely envisage how the deck works without playing it, but if you're running HQ reasonably regularly, is there an argument for Bhagat?

6 Oct 2017 Gargulec

It is an interesting concept, one that I did not consider. My first thought would be that it'd be difficult making room for 2-3 Bhagats, but it is worth testing.

12 Oct 2017 knaveofdiamonds

FYI the reason NRDB doesn't consider this legal is because you have cards like Sure Gamble from 'Core' rather than 'Revised Core'

12 Oct 2017 Shishu

Also, Singularity rotates.

12 Oct 2017 red5

@Shishu Singularity made its way into the Revised Core.

13 Oct 2017 PureFlight

Would love to see a video of this in action. Hit me up on Slack/Stimhack and I'll stream a couple of games of you playing it on Jnet.

14 Oct 2017 RvdH83

I saw @Gargulec play it yesterday on Jnet. Looked pretty spicy!

14 Oct 2017 buzard

Interesting deck. I'm a rookie player and need to check the Maxwell James function. Click 1 play Max, click 2 run HQ successfully to activate Max, click 3 play EMP Device, click 4 trash EMP and run a remote with 4 ice, no rez first ice, second ice is rezzed it is a Rototurret, I now trash Max to derez the Rototurret and no more ice can be rezed. Do the effects of Rototurret fire? Or does Max take care of that before they take effect? Or do I use Eater to pass then use Max before encountering the next ice? Not sure of the timing used for the EMP-Max combo.

14 Oct 2017 Gargulec

Okay, here is how it goes:

When you use Maxwell on a piece of ICE during a run, there are two relevant windows:

On approach (2.3): if used during this window, the ICE is derezzed without ever interacting with the subroutines and on-encounter effects. However, the Corp player has an opportunity to rez the ICE again (or would have it if it was not shut down by EMP Device in the above example). When using Maxwell with EMP, you want to use him during this step.

Otherwise, the other window is on encounter (3.1). If Maxwell is used during this window, the Corp cannot rez the piece of ICE again, even if no EMP was used. However, on-encouter effects (not subroutines - I am talking about things such as Tollbooth tax or Data Raven tag) trigger. This is normally when you use Maxwell to bypass an ICE, but you can still get burned here if you get hit by, say, IP Block or Data Loop.

15 Oct 2017 buzard

"On approach (2.3): if used during this window, the ICE is derezzed without ever interacting with the subroutines and on-encounter effects. " That is what I was asking about. Was not sure from your text. Thanks.

15 Oct 2017 Guest

@Gargulec This is an amazing decklist! let's say I'm casull...what kinda restricted mods could be added? I guess it doesn't work that well with conspiracy breakers either.

15 Oct 2017 buzard

What about a Trope for a little recursion?

15 Oct 2017 Gargulec

I am not sure if any restricted cards fit in: you could cut Leave No Traces and put in Film Critics as a defense against Obokatas and similar problems, or maybe LARLA, but I never felt like I missed it.

As for Trope: there are no slots for it, it is too slow and again, I rarely feel like running out of cards is an issue here.