I build a lot of decks. I think experimenting with new ideas and seeing what does and does not work about them is a great way to get a better understanding of Netrunner. My deck-building process usually starts with the binder. I flip through the pages of un-played cards looking for hidden gems or synergies. About a month ago, a few cards stood out to me
Anyone who plays a reasonable amount of Netrunner probably got excited about these cards when they first read them. Here’s why I think now is the time for a heavy-Cutlery deck:
- ALL THE BIOROIDS. Eli 1.0 and Ichi 1.0 get wrecked by these cards. Forked is probably the single cleanest answer to Ichi 1.0 in the entire game. Arguably the strongest Corp deck right now (HB Glacier) plays 3 copies of each of these.
- The prevalence of Cyberdex Virus Suite and ways to recur it (and rez it for free) has made Parasite and Datasucker far less reliable than they have ever been. You just can’t run in to blow up an Assassin with Datasucker counters and get hit by a CVS. Also, Datasucker counters are just hard to get in the first place nowadays.
- Global Food Initiative has slowed down the game a lot. A slow game makes ICE destruction more powerful and more important.
Plenty of people have tried to build “The Cutlery Deck”. Sadly, such a thing never really came together. People have run the occasional 1x Knifed or 1x Spooned to spice up their deck, but never seem to take the plunge. The community has seemed to decide on a few problems with these cards:
- You probably can’t destroy things for a while since you have to have the matching Cutlery event AND breaker for the ICE the Corp has rezzed. This means that you could have 1-2 of these events sitting in your hand for almost the whole game. Anarch is a faction that has to click to draw a lot so having effective brain damage is very annoying.
- If you play Eater (which came out in the same box as these events) to circumvent half of the puzzle, you inherit all of the problems that come with that card. I’ll not enumerate them here, but there are quite a few of them.
- If the Corp keeps unrezzed ICE in front of the ICE you want to destroy, it can mess up your plans.
- Cutlery takes up a lot of deck slots and always seems to be the 46th card that gets cut.
These are all great points, and from them we can draw some conclusions:
- Cutlery probably demands an AI breaker to get used in a timely manner.
- Cutlery is probably best in a deck that does not mind having some dead draws.
- Since they can’t be searched for in any way, Cutlery probably needs to be in a deck that draws a ton of cards.
- Since they eat up a lot of space, Cutlery demands a deck with high-impact, slot-efficient cards.
This leads us to a single conclusion. Sorry to be so redundant with the last article, but when good cards get printed I like to play with them:
Faust makes Cutlery very interesting. Who cares if you have to discard 3 cards to break something if you only have to do it once! I sat on this line of thinking for a long time, but couldn’t think of what exactly I wanted the rest of my Faust-Cutlery deck to look like. Then I saw another Binder card: An ID that gets absolutely no respect (and probably rightfully so).
The community has a lot to say about Edward as well. Most Corps just play their operations as soon as they draw them, and when HB Glacier runs 3-5 operations, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to go with Mr. Kim. I asked myself, “What does being Edward Kim really do for you?” Here’s what I came up with.
- Against low-ICE kill decks, Edward is a huge nuisance. Scorched Earth, 24/7 News Cycle, Midseason Replacements, Neural EMP, and even Mushin No Shin are all cards that sit in HQ until the right moment, giving you plenty of chances to swat them out of the Corp’s hands.
- Against decks that have a typical number of operations, Edward has some nice synergy with Medium, essentially giving you a free Imp counter during each dig.
- Early on, your ID gives the Corp slightly more reason to rez on HQ. Maybe they only have 1 Agenda and would just let you in normally, but if they have an operation along with that, it may be enough to entice them to put the shields up. If you read this blog with any regularity, you know I am of the opinion that forcing substantive ICE to be rezzed on HQ is one of the best things you can do early game as the runner.
- That Link tho.
When a lot of players see Edward, they try to maximize his ID ability to create some weird “Trash everything” theme-deck. They run jank like Gang Sign + HQ Interface, Hemorrhage, and Wanton Destruction, trying to blow up as much of HQ as possible, as if that is a primary path to victory (it’s not). This got me thinking that maybe the best way to use Edward’s ability is to just…not use it. Edward’s ability provides tiny blips of value throughout the game, but its biggest selling point is that you are REALLY hard to kill (especially with 3 I’ve Had Worse added in). Imagine that we could build a runner deck that is impossible to kill. What corners could we cut in deck-building?
- We could run really low-econ. Perhaps even with no sustained/infinite economy engine.
- We could run more aggressively.
…and most importantly:
- We could tech our ENTIRE 45 to beat OTHER prominent decks.
This was when my two thought experiments came together. What if Ed Kim is the home of the Cutlery deck? When I ran Faust Gabe into the ground, my worst match-ups were always kill decks, and when I went up to 2 Plascretes from 0 I started to lose too much in the HB match-up. I was ready to be invincible…
EDDIE SMASH (45 cards)
Edward Kim: Humanity’s Hammer
2 Career Fair · ·
3 I’ve Had Worse
1 Levy AR Lab Access ···
3 Sure Gamble
2 Clone Chip ·· ··
2 Desperado ··· ···
2 Adjusted Chronotype
3 Daily Casts
3 Liberated Account
1 Same Old Thing
General Game-Plan: Use burst econ, Datasucker, Desperado, Parasite, and Eddie’s ability to threaten the Corp early and slow them down while you get Wyldside + Adjusted Chronotype online. Once you have Faust in play and are starting your turn with a 7-card hand, string together a chain of Cutlery events to tear down the Corp’s entire R&D (or remote server, if applicable). Use Medium to close the game, threatening Clone Chip + Parasucker to keep the lock going. If the Corp is playing a kill deck against which the ICE destruction + Medium plan is less relevant, Eddie’s ability and I’ve Had Worse should keep you safe while you carefully dissect them.
Economy/Efficiency Cards (17):
3 Sure Gamble, 3 Daily Casts, 3 Liberated Account – This is the standard modern Anarch Economy package. All of these cards are excellent and highly deck-slot efficient. However, they have something in common: They are terrible at getting you back from low credits. When you access that Jackson on 5 credits, think very hard about your ability to bounce back if you choose to trash. Also be careful about going too low for a Wyldside early on. Clicking back up can be a slow process…
2 Career Fair – This really helps mitigate the downside of Daily Casts’ and Liberated Account’s set-up costs. Our deck has 11 targets for this, so it’s pretty much never dead. This makes turn 1 Wyldside WAY better. You could experiment with Dirty Laundry as well if you have other plans for this 2 influence, but I like how unconditional, easy, and fast Career Fair is.
2 Desperado – So I had 6 influence left… With our AI breaker rig we don’t need the 2 MU of Grimoire, and Desperado is REALLY good when a server has no ICE. Desperado + Datasucker is also great HQ and Archives pressure. If the Corp lets you, feel free to farm these servers 2013 Andromeda style (Spoiler: They won’t let you). Along with Imp, Desperado makes our horizontal asset-spam match-up much better.
2 Imp – This was a late addition and really helps combat the principal problem with Anarch economy packages. This lets you trash that turn 2 Sansan or Pad Campaign without ruining your tempo. These are also the final nail in the coffin for Corps trying to kill us. Have you ever trashed 2 Scorched Earths in one turn? It’s funny. Imp also nicely synergizes with ICE destruction, since you can trash potential replacement ICE out of centrals, reducing or sometimes eliminating the Corp’s options.
2 Datasucker – These keep our Faust-usage efficient by lowering strength 3 and 5 ICE to even numbers. Also, even though Parasite-Datasucker is the weakest it has ever been, it’s still easily worth running almost in any Anarch deck.
0 KATI JONES – We are abandoning long-term sustained econ, as per our advantage I cited earlier. All of our late-game breaking is done with Faust.
ICE Destruction (11)
2 Knifed – I don’t always see barriers, but when I do, they’re Eli. This is the most efficient answer to Eli in the game, and every Glacier deck runs 3 of him. Also, you can totally discard 3-4 cards for a Wraparound if it’s going to blow up afterwards. Sometimes you play against Blue Sun and use D4v1d + Knifed to kill a hard-rezzed Curtain Wall they were planning to bounce next turn. That wins the game.
2 Forked – Ichi 1.0 is the bane of runners these days, and Forked makes smashing Ichis your Day Job. Sadly you can’t kill Architect, and a smart and patient Corp who somehow knows you have Forked will shield their Ichi with one. One trick you can do is Fork the server and only break 1 of the Architect subs, allowing you to trigger the Forked on the Ichi behind it. This play is not always a good idea, but you should keep an eye out for it.
1 Spooned – I only have 1 Spooned because the only Code Gates right now that are great targets are Tollbooth and Archangel. You don’t run HB’s remote server more than 3 times typically, so using this on a Turing with D4v1d is not really necessary. The other Code Gates people run are usually pretty small and you can just Parasite them.
3 Parasite – You don’t want to use Cutlery on small, cheap ICE, but such ICE are exactly the ones that fold to Parasite. What’s left to say about this card? It’s still the best runner card in the game. It continues to take hits to its power-level as the environment fights back, but it still dismantles a Corp’s board and warps their play like no other card can.
1 Same Old Thing – This has to be in the deck for Levy security, but if the Levy is near the bottom of your deck or you have no chance of losing it, you can freely use this for the Cutlery event of your choice. Don’t discard this to Faust. I regret it every time I do, which wasn’t true with the Gabe deck. I wish I could find room for more than 1 of these. I had 2 before I added the Imps.
2 Clone Chip – You can also use these on D4v1d or Imp, but Parasite is obviously what these are for. A great trick is running an ICE with Faust, a Clone Chip and some sucker counters with no Parasites in the yard while the Corp has a Cyberdex Virus Suite. If they do not use their CVS before encounter you can discard the Parasite to boost Faust, sucker the ICE, and Clone Chip the Parasite to blow it up, all with no CVS window. #HBTears. Some players know this trick and will blow their CVS when you don’t even have the Parasite in hand!
Card Draw (9)
3 Wyldside 2 Adjusted Chronotype – These serve the purpose of the Drug Dealers in the Faust Gabe deck. You need click-less draw to not open scoring-windows too readily when you use Faust on R&D. If you start the game with burst economy + this combo it’s extremely hard to lose. Noise players should be familiar with this concept :P. If you don’t have burst, Credit, Credit, Wyldside Chronotype is a fine first turn. You may have to take 4 the next turn if you don’t draw a Daily Casts or Career Fair, but you’ll be set up far better than if you try to Click to draw into econ first.
3 I’ve Had Worse – The PE/Killteki Match-up is trivial with these + Levy, and since we want a bit more card-draw anyway, making our Scorched Earth match-up even more awesome can’t hurt.
1 Levy AR Lab Access – I use this in about 20 – 30% of games, but every single one of those would be losses if I didn’t have it. The look on the Corp’s face when you reload your Silverware-Shotgun is priceless.
Win Condition/Multi-access (2)
2 Medium – The best card for punishing a Corp with no ICE on R&D. This is your most relevant card against Fast Advance. If they can get up 5-0 you can still open R&D and lock them out. Because of Ed Kim’s ability not even Fast Track can save them!
Ice Breakers (6)
2 Faust – I started with 3, but I found that I always drew multiples before I even needed to play one. I cut one when I added the Imps and haven’t missed the 3rd. If you’re wondering why I seem addicted to Faust lately, I did some introspection and came up with this:
Aside: Some abstract theory stuff
Glacier decks have gotten to a point where even the most efficient breaker suites get taxed out in phase 3. You can have a full Anarch rig with ICE Carver and Net-Ready Eyes and an HB’s R&D could still be 8+ Credits. Runner sustained economy can’t keep up. Both Kati Jones and Magnum Opus are too slow and awkward. This leads me to believe that the solution to glacier is to focus your economy slots on Burst econ only, transitioning in the late-game into money-less breaking via Faust or Stealth. I plan to play pretty much exclusively with Faust or Switchblade suites until I feel this change.
1 Mimic – Architect is annoying. You can discard 2-3 cards to it for a while, but eventually you want to be able to pay 2 credits instead. You don’t need the Mimic in a hurry, but you do need it eventually, so 1 copy is perfect. Also, Swordsman is a card that some people think is playable.
1 Corroder – You don’t want to always have to Knife Wraparound. Corroder is just good enough that having one is nice value. Wall of Static is annoying for Faust. You would rather pay 2 credits than discard 2 cards a lot of the time.
2 D4v1D – This card + Cutlery wins you the game when the Corp rezzes big ICE. Tollbooth, Assassin, Ichi 2.0, and many others represent a significant investment for the Corp. Having them blown up for a few credits and some counters is heart-breaking.
Final Thoughts: This deck is a blast to play. I’ve had very good success against Glacier decks and Kill decks. If I’m being honest with myself the Astrobiotics match-up is not amazing, but your 2 Mediums and 2 Knifed actually make big-digging them pretty reasonable, and I don’t think the match-up is worse than 40%. Is this the best way to play Edward Kim? Probably. Is Edward Kim the best ID for this strategy? Maybe. You can play this shell out of almost any Anarch runner! Try it out of Whizzard if you want to really bury HB Glacier. Try it out of Reina to ruin Blue Sun’s fun or to add some econ denial spice to the ICE destruction, all while keeping your sweet, sweet 1 link. Try Valencia if you want Blackmail to scare off early scoring attempts, and get some help with trashing and running through Pop-up Windows. Try Quetzal if you…want to be a bird? Perhaps the best build is a Whizzard one that cuts the 2 Imps for 2 Plascretes. Take some of these for a spin and let me know what you think! Leave me a comment here, message me on the Stimhack forums, or tag me on the Stimhack Slack chat with any thoughts or questions.
Until next month, I leave you with this, the sound of glacier tears: