Before revealing which of our decks from last time has been more successful, we’re going to break down what’s going on with each list, starting with Argus Terror. I will try to sell you on each deck before revealing which is stronger and why.
Here is the list again:
Argus Terror (49 cards)
Argus Security: Protection Guaranteed
2 False Lead
3 NAPD Contract
3 Oaktown Renovation
3 Project Atlas
3 Capital Investors
1 Ghost Branch •
3 Jackson Howard • • •
1 Melange Mining Corp
3 Beanstalk Royalties
3 Hedge Fund
1 Midseason Replacements ••••
3 Scorched Earth
3 Traffic Accident
2 Meru Mati
Code Gate (3)
1 Lotus Field •
3 Data Raven •• •• ••
The Game-plan: Use very taxing early ice to secure a powerful economy asset. Dump clicks into that asset and use early game operation economy to quickly build a remote with multiple pieces of tagging ice (hopefully ravens). Use the click-compression created by that ice, possibly a scored False Lead, and the Argus ability to create situations in which it is impossible for the runner to steal agendas that we try to score without ending their turn tagged. If they runner does manage to break this stranglehold and score, they have hopefully spent enough money to get hit with a Midseason Replacements (possibly searched for by a Project Atlas counter). With 3 Scorched Earth and 3 Traffic Accident, killing a tagged runner should be trivial, often even with a Plascrete Carapace installed.
Ice Placement: Hunter on HQ or R&D early is brutal. 1 cost for a tax of at least 2 credits and usually 3 credits is great. Shadow has a similar effect, and is stronger against a runner who goes tag-me from turn 1 (perhaps a player who lands an Account Siphon and then plays a Plascrete Carapace), but loses effectiveness against Mimic and Parasite. Meru Mati goes on HQ obviously. It can be tempting to try to secure an early Capital Investors with it, but if the runner has an early fracter this can be a game-losing error. Spiderweb is better for this, since trashing a Capital Investors behind a Spiderweb is a 5-credit hit (or 2 lady counters, which is also significant). That should be enough to buy time for a 2nd ice on that server for the next Asset. Additionally, you will be happy that Spiderweb is on your remote when you go to score. Data Raven is amazing on R&D, but we really need it for the remote, or our deck will struggle in the late game, so avoid using it there. The code gates can go wherever they are needed, and are your flex-ice and Account Siphon defense. Your endgame setup hopefully looks something like this, with Enigmas and the Lotus field replacing whatever of the non-Raven ice is necessary based on your draw:
If the runner cannot break a 4-strength sentry, this remote server is a 9 credit tax that leaves the runner with 2 tags. If they can (with say, Atman-4), it is still a 5 credit tax that gives 2 tags. R&D is a sufficient 5-6 credit tax, as is HQ (with the Argus ability also somewhat helping to defend against central multi-access). The runner actually needs a substantial back-up fund as well if they cannot break the ravens. If you can boost the trace to get a power counter for anything less than all your money, you can usually ride that to victory. Even if you do not have the kill cards in hand, and would not boost the trace, the runner does not know that.
Additionally, all of this ice is relatively inexpensive. We achieve this significant tax without having to rez an 8-cost tollbooth or advance clunky space ice.
Agenda Spread: When most people build an Argus deck, they either include a huge amount of 1-point agendas to get the maximum number of triggers out of their ID, or go for a big-moment deck with a Government Takeover and 3-pointer build. For this deck, we are just running the agendas that are actually good.
2 False lead: This enables our kill and forces the runner to run on click 1, letting us keep easy tabs on their credit total and rig progress as we look for scoring windows.
3 NAPD Contract: We are playing no bad publicity because it is awful with trace ice and taxing servers. This opens up NAPD contract as an option. Have you ever stolen an NAPD against Argus? It isn’t fun.
3 Project Atlas: These let us search for our 1 Midseason Replacements if the runner gets frisky on our remote or lucky on a central at the right (wrong?) time. We can also search for more agendas when we have scoring windows, kill cards, or even my personal favorite: the 3rd data raven to make the most irritating server ever.
3 Oaktown Renovation: Although it is the least flashy, this may be the most important agenda in the deck. In fact, this deck would probably be unplayable without it! Oaktown lets you seize scoring windows to get points without giving up the tempo that gave you the window in the first place. It also works exceptionally well with Midseason Replacements for obvious reasons.
NO 3-POINTERS: If you are new to deck building or not an advanced player, there is one critical rule you must follow. If you learn anything from me, learn this:
Never ever ever ever put 5/3s in your deck.*
*Except for The Future Perfect**
**Actually not even that one. More on this another time
Not even considering their anti-synergy with the Argus ability, 5/3s are a HUGE liability in centrals and are very hard to score. The deck space they give you does not make up for all the ways in which they suck. I would rather put a 5/2 NAPD Contract in my deck than a 5/3. Go ahead. Go on Stimhack.com and look at the tournament winning decklists. Count the non-TFP 3-pointers. You’re welcome.
Other Important Details: This deck also benefits from runner fear (hence its name). Many of your early score attempts could be stopped by the runner but, due to their great expense, would leave the runner dead to Sea-Source or Midseasons + single Scorched Earth (the runner is almost always is forced to take the meat damage from Argus after remote runs against this deck). Even though we only have 1 tagging operation, the runner does not know that, and this fear can help get that all-important first False Lead and/or Project Atlas scored. If the runner calls the bluff, at least they probably spent a lot of money, giving us a window to hopefully try again the next turn (or actually land the Midseasons if we drew it).
If we are on game point, but the runner has a full rig and roaring economy, our singleton Ghost Branch can be a life-saver. A 2-advanced Ghost Branch behind 2 Ravens guarantees a tagged runner, leading to some hilarious “uh-oh” moments. Try to Install-Advance-Advance your NAPD contracts early on so that this IAA play does not stand out as strange. Runners will assume you are “donating” an NAPD and will begrudgingly run it every time.
In many decks where it is important to get your ice on very specific servers, the early game can be a challenge. However, between our ID ability, early trace ice, NAPD contracts, lack of 3-pointers, and runner fear, we should be able to meander through the early game with at most 2 points given up. On the other hand, I have had 0-link runners face-check 2 Hunters/Shadows on turn 1, leaving them totally broke. Games that start this way are often trivial to win.
Final Strategic Note: When playing a Meat Damage deck, keep this important fact in mind:
Your primary objective is to score 7 points. The purpose of your kill cards is to protect your agendas indirectly.
Don’t get obsessed with looking for kills. It is hard to get runners to run through Data Ravens when you have 0 points.
I encourage you to give this deck a try and see what you learn from playing it. In the next post I will do a similar breakdown for the GRNDL list. We will then compare the experiences and decide which one is the stronger option.
When I post lists, I’ll try to add the music I usually play them to. This is very important ;). Here is the track for both of these decks: