We all did a double-take when we first read The Professor. We looked through our binders and saw that there just weren’t enough programs to splash to make him worth it. We all thought that EVENTUALLY the day would come when enough are out to make his ability worth it…
Now is the time.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a Tier 1 deck, but it is a good deck. You should have no trouble winning in your local scene with it if you are a strong player. Additionally, it has quite the learning curve, so give it some time if it’s not working for you. I’m 7-2 with it in my local league (Mead Hall, Minneapolis), and both losses were to NEH decks sneaking out the game winning agenda in a naked remote in a 6-6 game (my personal weakness; those losses were not the deck’s fault, but mine as an imperfect pilot.) (EDIT:I have mis-remembered. One loss was in this manner, the other was to a Midseason after greedily choosing not to Imp an accessed agenda when I knew Midseasons was in his deck. Obviously a misplay) This deck has done quite well for me on OCTGN as well, but that often doesn’t mean much.
Here is my current list for The Professor:
Professor: the 32-influence Special (45 cards)
The Professor: Keeper of Knowledge
1 Stimhack ·
3 Sure Gamble
3 Clone Chip
2 CyberSolutions Mem Chip
1 Plascrete Carapace
1 R&D Interface
1 Aesop’s Pawnshop
2 Kati Jones
3 Personal Workshop
3 Professional Contacts
1 Cerberus “Lady” H1
1 Corroder – –
1 Faerie – – –
1 Femme Fatale –
1 Gordian Blade
1 Mimic –
1 Cache –
1 Clot – –
1 D4v1d – – – –
1 Datasucker –
1 Djinn – –
1 Imp – – –
1 Medium – – –
1 Parasite – –
1 Pheromones – –
1 Scheherazade –
3 Self-modifying Code
1 Sneakdoor Beta – – –
General Game-plan: Spend the early game building money and setting up long-term economy. Try to stay at a level where you can threaten single-rung remotes with SMC, but it can often be wrong to pull the trigger on actually going for the steal (except for an Astro, obviously). Use good early-game runner techniques to keep the Corp somewhat poor and slow them down. Face-check, but don’t bother spending money for accesses. Get your Parasite working on expensive ice that the Corp has overextended economically to get up. Trash econ assets, but again don’t break yourself to do it (Example: make them rez ice to protect that Eve Campaign, but then just leave it). Draw a ton. Hopefully you have Professional Contacts to smooth that out, but still draw a lot if you don’t. Late-game lock the remote, and dig with Medium. In summary, this deck plays somewhat like an Anarch deck but with a bit less disruption and with quite a bit better tutoring and recursion.
3 Personal Workshop – This is probably the most important card in the deck, although you don’t NEED it like a stim-shop deck might. You will spend a lot of time drawing with this deck and it’s really great to set all of your definitely-need-this-later-but-not-right-now cards on it. Since you will have things on it all game, it also gives you 1 credit per turn, which is not to be overlooked.
2 Kati Jones – This is our long-term economy. You generally only want to start paying real amounts of money (more than 2-3) for breaking ice once you have her going. Pretty self-explanatory; use her every turn once she’s out. If you are really bad with your money you can play 3 of her, but 2 has been enough for me.
3 Professional Contacts – This card has great synergy with Workshop. This resource trio sets the rhythm for your game once you have them out. Draw 2 with Pro-Con, put 1 on Workshop, load Kati are your building turns. That’s 2 cards and 6 credits per turn, which is on par with, or better than, a turn on Opus.
1 Aesop’s Pawnshop – This card is not an engine in this deck, but more of a value card. You can plop this down mid-game and sell 3-4 things with it which is a great deal for 1 credit. It also can help get stuff in the yard to reload with Clone Chip, which has been relevant for me quite a few times before. You can also drop this fairly early if you draw a couple disposable programs (maybe a burned out Imp and a Pheromones that’s been purged) and it can really smooth things out. Finally, in the super late game this card can make you serious money while you start selling pretty much everything to make those last couple clutch runs. All in all, if you see it then it’s usually a bit better than a Gamble eventually, but there’s no reason to run more than 1.
3 Sure Gamble – Standard economy card that is especially great in Pro-con decks.
1 Stimhack – If The Professor had 3 influence, I would play 3 Stimhack. This card is amazing with Personal Workshop, SMC, and Clone Chip. I honestly think that in every matchup you gain at least 10ish percentage points just by drawing this 1-of. It’s a massive blowout every time I draw it and I wish I could have more. Oh well!
Tutors and Recursion:
3 Self-Modifying Code – “Search your binder for a program and install it, paying it’s install cost”. Obviously this card makes our deck work. You have your binder in your hand at paid-ability-speed. Amazing.
3 Clone Chip – The best target for this are SMC, Parasite, and temporary breakers. Try to use these for things you want to use over and over, and not just to get stuff out of the yard that you had to discard early while digging. We have Personal Workshop to take some stress off Clone Chips so we can abuse Parasite and SMC more with them. Don’t forget that if you have nothing to put on a Workshop you can save a buck by putting your Clone Chip on it. It’s like you’re Kate! (Not really…)
2 Scavenge – I had 3 of these for a while because of how strong and cheap (free) this card is, but it’s just a bit too awkward and hand-cloggy early game. It is quite good with all of our temporary breakers. I have Scavenged a Sneakdoor for a D4v1D before, which is hilarious when you look at the influence values of those cards. This is the card every Noise player like me is jealous of but can never find the influence or slots for.
2 Astrolabe – This helps us dig and is nice and cheap. Pretty self-explanatory. Playing a big console in The Professor is a mistake, since you want to spend your money on sweet programs.
2 CyberSolutions Mem Chip – Oh how I hate this card, but you really need it to have your almost-full rig, an SMC, and a Parasite out. Just slap it on the Workshop and pull it off once you need it. It is really nice in Clot match-ups though. You can leave your Clot on the Workshop with 1 counter and use this is a place-holder so you aren’t forced to install the Clot early. If you draw one of these early without your Workshop, feel free to chuck it, but NEVER chuck both unless you know for sure it’s going to be a fast game. You will regret it.
1 Lady + 1 Corroder – Go get whichever one of these is strongest for the match-up or situation. For Wraparound, Ice Wall, Wall of Static, Spiderweb etc. on R&D you want Corroder and for Elis and chunky stuff you will not have to break repeatedly you want Lady. It can be wrong to use too much recursion on a Lady. If you’ve Scavenged it for the 2nd time you maybe should have been using Corroder and spending that recursion on Parasite to save money. Choosing which of these to get is one of the tougher choices in playing this deck.
1 Cyber Cypher + 1 Gordian Blade – Honestly this Gordian could be a Zu.13, but I wanted to use my alt-art Gordian and they really are not that different (this is actually the reason!). Feel free to use Zu.13 instead. When I had Zu.13 there were times I wanted Gordian and Vice-versa, so it just depends on your meta. Cypher is nice against Lotus field and for early remotes. It’s also good with Scavenge. 70+% of games I just use Cypher, but when you need the more permanent option, it’s really nice to have. If you don’t have an alt-art Gordian, then run Zu.13, but I’m a sucker for pretty cards :D.
1 Mimic – Kills Architect, and sometimes bigger stuff if you’re lucky and draw your Datasucker. Other low strength sentries should eat a Parasite if possible.
1 Femme Fatale – Deals with massive barriers, Tollbooths and other things you can’t afford to pay through more than once. It also breaks Ichi 1.0 if you REALLY have to, and D4v1D can take care of the big scary stuff. Hopefully you never have to install this, but it needs to be in the deck just in case and it has won me many games.
1 Faerie – Having this card in a non-Criminal deck is NUTS. If you draw this early, being able to deal with an Architect face-check without having to blow 7 credits on an SMC for Mimic is HUGE. This also lets us not run Sharpshooter, since Faerie is pretty much strictly better. Faerie + Clone Chip is sweet. Putting this on Scheherazade makes me smile.
1 D4v1d – Deals with the big stuff that you don’t have to break repeatedly: Grims, Oversighted Curtain Walls etc. That 4 influence…feels good! If you are getting really big digs on R&D for cheap because of it, feel free to blow a lot of recursion on this.
The Fun Part: Other Programs
1 Cache – This is an interesting one. I stuck this in because I needed more Scavenge-bait, but it’s really nice to have around. You can Clone-Chip it out at the end of a run for NAPD money in a pinch, it can make a nice buck if you draw the 1 Pawnshop, and Workshop and/or Scheherazade make it more reasonable on its own. Feel free to cut this, as it’s a bit of a filler card, but I’ve liked it so far. Sometimes you are spamming Parasite, you want to Scavenge it back, but you have nothing you want to trash for it. This card is great for that. (FLEX SLOT)
1 Clot – This card really helped make The Professor more viable. You are still not great against NEH, but this card certainly helps. Stick it on Personal Workshop and let it sit there with 1 counter. You have pretty much the maximum number of enablers for it so why not! I suppose if your Meta doesn’t like Astroscript Pilot Program you could cut this. (FLEX SLOT)
1 Datasucker – This is just a money/efficiency card, but it also combos with Parasite and Mimic in the usual way. Datasucker makes your early-game pokes WAY stronger and is a boon to see early, but I wouldn’t ever SMC for it like some dedicated sucker-based shaper decks would.
1 Djinn – I wanted just a little more memory and this card also searches for the 2 best programs in your deck (Parasite and Medium). I have been looking to cut this card though, as I find myself discarding it a lot and not really missing it. Feel free to experiment with this slot, but you can’t really go wrong with more Parasite-tutoring. (FLEX SLOT)
1 Imp – Excellent economy and disruption card. Unless you can trash something super sick like a Biotic Labor, I would try to save this for pricy installed cards you need to blow up. Eve Campaign, SanSan City Grid, Daily Business Show, and Pad Campaign are good targets. If you have the Pawnshop or a Scavenge you can burn through this more liberally to sell or trade in its shell. You can also use Imp to amplify the strength of your Medium digs.
1 Medium – This is your primary win condition. Prioritize your parasites on R&D and end the game with a big-dig or R&D lock. I used to have an Incubator in here to help with really slow games, but it didn’t come up enough. If your Meta has tons of Glacier (especially Blue Sun, against which it is hard to abuse parasite), you can add the Incubator back in one of the flex slots.
1 Parasite – This is the best card in the game and the best program in our deck. Search for this card. Don’t be afraid to blow all your Clone Chips on it. Kill the R&D ice (or anything that cost them a lot). To give you an idea of how serious about Parasite I am, I once gave a Corp 20 credits from Targeted Marketing on Parasite to kill 2 NEXT Silvers on R&D. I won that game.
1 Pheromones – This is a new addition to the deck that I put in for the Incubator. It’s nice to charge up with Sneakdoor, and generally makes hitting HQ more reasonable. The REAL use of this card though, is to get 4-5 counters on it and then every turn bounce off or jack out of HQ, spending your recurring credits on Personal Workshop (Hilarious). Eventually the Corp will get sick of this and purge, and you can just pawn or scavenge it. I put this card in as a bit of a joke, but I’ve been quite impressed with it so far. Still, it’s not crucial. (FLEX SLOT)
1 Sneakdoor Beta – I have won games by getting all my points with Sneakdoor. This card is a blowout when unexpected. If you SMC for this you can get 4 runs instead of the 3 that the Criminals get with it, often for free. Many corps will respond to your big bank account and massive rig by devoting 4+ rows of ice to R&D, leaving Archives ready to plunder. Don’t break yourself to try to grab points with this early unless you KNOW they are flooded from how they are playing. Save it for the big moment.
1 Scheherazade – If you have read my Regionals report on Stimhack, you know about my love-affair with this card. This card makes you so rich! Put your SMC on it for a buck. Put the Lady you search for on it for a buck. Scavenge the Lady for a buck. Putting Sneakdoor Beta on this is just silly in all the right ways. You have SMC and Faerie to protect this from both Destroyers and Power Shutdown. SO GOOD!
1 Plascrete Carapace – Standard silver bullet. Especially good with workshop since you don’t have to actually pay for it until you know you need it. (FLEX SLOT)
1 R&D Interface – Feel free to put in more of these for some of the flex cards if you want. This is a Medium alternative when our memory is tight and is also a bit more effective if we can’t get in repeatedly and the Corp stays on top of their purges. I can see anywhere from 0 to 2 of these being pretty good (FLEX SLOT)
Magnum Opus – Memory is tight and Kati fits our plan better. Including this card is a blunder that A LOT of Professors make.
Nerve Agent – This deck is really light on HQ pressure, but Nerve is not the answer. It’s good with Sneakdoor but otherwise too expensive to use. I like the Pheromones better.
Lamprey – I do LOVE me some surprise Lamprey to force those rezzes, but this just isn’t quite enough of a dedicated Parasite deck to make this card worth it.
Random trash programs – So many people put silly cards in their Professor deck (Copycat, Hemorrhage, Disruptor), just because they can, and they really want them to work. The Professor is a good-stuff deck, not a jank-party.
Atman – I’ve tried this card at 4 counters to help supplement Mimic, but I never really needed it and it’s expensive to get out. I wouldn’t fault you for trying it, but it kind of overlaps awkwardly with the rest of the suite.
Faust – I haven’t tried this card yet and I’m meaning to. You end up with a lot of duplicates in your hand that you don’t need and Faust can convert them into Pseudo Inside Jobs. My guess is that the situations where this guy really bails you out are pretty rare, but feel free to give him a shot! He is quite good with Pro-Con I think, but he does clash a bit with Workshop, so I’m torn.
Give this deck a shot! When you first play it, have the deck-list with you so you know what your options are. If you know you are not good at managing early-midgame economy then cut some of the fancier programs and Flex Slots for some Daily Casts to help you get by. I haven’t needed them, but I am more comfortable in low-econ games than most, and the card is certainly acceptable (if quite a bit overrated). It took me quite a long time to get good with this deck so be patient!
In Summary: Here is the song for this deck and my favorite rig to date:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHLqmczOeXg (Get it? It’s a pun…)