What makes a good Corp deck?
In this installment of Corp Deck-building I’m going to spew a lot of dogma about what makes some Corp decks work and not others. Strangely, I’m going to start with a runner deck-list:
CT Litmus Test (40 cards)
Chaos Theory: Wunderkind
3 Legwork ·· ·· ··
2 Quality Time
1 Stimhack ·
3 Test Run
2 Vamp ·· ··
3 Clone Chip
3 R&D Interface
2 Cerberus “Lady” H1
1 Femme Fatale ·
1 Mimic ·
1 ZU.13 Key Master
1 Clot ··
3 Magnum Opus
3 Self-modifying Code
CT Litmus Test Game-Plan: Get an Opus turn 1 no matter what. Mash the opus until you are rich (with a mulligan you can do this ~95% of the time). Build a super-efficient rig with multiple RDIs. Vamp them down with your huge bank if needed (mainly to deal with Caprice). Close the game with Legwork followed by R&D lock, assisted by Clot if necessary.
This runner deck is nothing spectacular. It functions and has a clear game-plan, but against a good Corp deck with a good pilot it should find itself just a little behind the curve all game. However, a Corp deck that is anything less than very good will get smothered. I called this deck CT Litmus Test because if your Corp deck loses to this it is bad!
When building a Corp deck, imagine an opponent who plays a turn 1 Opus + SMC and then clicks the Opus until they have 40 credits. If you don’t have a robust plan to win that game, your deck is bad.
Of course this is not meant to be taken literally. Opus is not super popular right now, but every good runner deck has a way to go “BRB getting rich”. Whether that’s Prepaid Voice-Pad, Aesop’s Pawnshop, Kati Jones, or tons of resources is irrelevant.
Let’s apply this rule to the 2 decks from the previous articles. If you can’t tell from the deck lists how each deck is supposed to play, go check those articles out. I’ve re-linked the lists here:
It turns out the GRNDL deck is the stronger deck, and it’s not close. Against our Opus-ing adversary, GRNDL is in its comfort zone, rushing agendas while the runner fails to set up their rig in a timely manner. Argus’s plan for this type of game is to mash its own economy asset until it can set up its dream server. This results in a game state like this:
Congratulations! That remote is on lock, nice job! Argus will get to 3 points here and then a Legwork followed by relentless R&D lock will close the game for CT. It turns out this Argus deck relies on its opponent doing one of 3 things.
- Taxing themselves out on centrals too early rather than building economy.
- Running through the Raven remote to trash econ assets.
- Messing up and floating a tag.
Remember from the first article in this series that if a Corp deck relies on your opponent doing something specific, or playing in a specific way, it is not good.
The GRNDL deck, on the other hand, although it has weaknesses, will win unless its opponent plays in a specific way. If the runner does not march towards one of their win-conditions (either 7 fast points on centrals, or locking your remote with a full, robust rig) without delay, GRNDL will leave them complaining about Hostile Takeover as if it was Astroscript Pilot Program.
Popular Archetypes and the CT Litmus Test
Let’s see how several popular archetypes deal with the endlessly Opus-ing Runner.
Replicating Perfection: Caprice Nisei invalidates the runner’s credit pool, while a Nisei Mk 2 counter (or another Caprice on HQ) takes away the Vamp answer to Caprice. This matchup is even better for RP decks that play Ichi 1.0 or Enchanced Login Protocol.
NEH Astrobiotics: Clot is not enough here. The Opus economy gets off the ground too slowly and the Astro-train leaves it in the dust. It is worth stating that the non-asset based NEH with 3 Shipment from SanSan is probably even stronger against this deck than the versions with Marked Accounts and Pad Campaigns, but both should smash it.
HB Fast Advance: I admittedly have not tested this match-up very much. I know that Ichi 1.0 is very annoying for the CT deck, as is an early SanSan behind ice. A rushy HB deck applies enough pressure that the CT deck should not be able to mash its Opus as much as it would like. However, if the HB FA deck has a draw on the slower side without an early-ish SanSan, I can see the CT deck stomping it. In general the HB deck should still be favored.
HB Glacier (with Caprice): Caprice in the remote and Cricium grid on HQ locks down the remote, meaning that CT’s best way to win is through multiple RDI’s. Since this deck plays terrible 5/3s, CT should be able to steal some wins here. This means that I think HB Glacier is significantly weaker than the above decks, but still a reasonable deck.
Blue Sun Glacier: This deck is hard to judge, since so few people can pilot it at even a passable level, but I am still skeptical of its ability to consistently beat the CT deck. RDI is strong against this deck, and it needs a big economy advantage since it does not have Caprice. Tons of Lady recursion to shut down Oversight AI-Curtain Walls means that advantage will have to come from Adonis Campaign, which is not bursty enough to keep up with CT, and also must be protected. I think this deck is not just difficult to pilot, but is actually bad. Sorry!
Blue Sun Murder: Punitive or Scorch versions of Blue sun have the same problems as the Glacier deck, but they also have several wasted deck slots, as their kill cards are worthless against Opus-mashing CT. Notice these decks also break our rule of not relying on the runner to do a thing. These decks are bad, and I think a rush deck such as my GRNDL deck is the best Weyland meat damage deck right now.
NEH Butchershop: Get your pitchforks ready. I don’t think this deck is good. My local meta makes fun of me when I say this but it’s really how I feel. This deck’s plan against CT Litmus test is not robust. You are not going to Midseason CT, and even if you do, you need to have your kill cards immediately as she will remove 2 tags every turn. She will trash all your PADs with Opus money and then climb out of reach. The best thing you can do is rush an Astro out, but without the dedication of an Astrobiotics deck, this is both harder to accomplish and less punishing once you do. This deck can never establish anything resembling a stable remote and by the time Butcher is on their 2nd Astro counter, CT will leverage Clot, Legwork, and RDI to close out the game. I think this deck is very popular and wins as much as it does because of it’s ability to routinely stomp players who do not understand what it is trying to do and what their win condition is. I will say that the proactive plan of killing the runner with Breaking News is very strong and is this deck’s one redeeming quality, and it can get unbeatable dream-draws (tons of money, Midseasons, Breaking News and 2 kill cards very early) because of it. I don’t think that saves this archetype though. (Before raging at me, read the “About this Place” section of this blog 😀 )
Obviously there is more to Netrunner than beating a passive builder opponent, but the need for Corp decks to have a robust, proactive plan cannot be overstated. As long as your Corp deck has that, you can adjust its specific build to deal with the “unless” scenarios that you are losing to.
THE PROFESSOR IS TIER 1!
Now that I’ve got your attention…the Professor is not actually tier 1, but he is pretty good! Certainly better than people think.
Deck-list and explanation next time!