Sometimes very simple cards lead your deck-building to totally new places. Such was the case for me when I opened Kala Ghoda and really took a good look at this card:
The math on this card is great! If Dirty Laundry is 3 credits for 0 clicks, then this card is 6 credits for 0 clicks. That kind of raw, numeric power cannot be ignored. If Eli 1.0 has taught us anything, it’s that potential drawbacks and conditions can usually be off-set enough to take advantage of good stats. Here were my thoughts on making High Stakes Job work:
- This card is amazing when the Corp has 0 credits. The more aggressive we are and the more credit denial we play, the better it is going to be. Since our deck will be Blue (I’m not splashing a 3-influence econ card), we will obviously have 3 Account Siphon which is this card’s best friend.
- This card works well with criminal derez effects even beyond the extent that they are denial cards. If you know what an ICE is, you can make your run considerably less High-Stakes.
- We probably want an AI breaker. If we have to assemble a full or nearly full rig before playing this, it is probably not worth the effort over a more reliable economy card like Daily Casts (which is usually only 1-2 credits worse).
My mind at this point immediately went back to Faust Gabe. Perhaps this was the card to bring that deck back from its post-MWL grave. There is an obvious problem with this card in that deck though. When you play Faust Gabe, you either have essentially infinite credits, or very very few credits. Getting from 6 to 12-15 is not as interesting as for other decks. If I’m breaking for 0, why do I need 12?
There is another AI breaker though, one that has been mostly sitting on the bench lately while Faust enjoys its time in the spotlight. This breaker can definitely make good use of 12 credits:
Nom nom nom. The more I thought about it, the more Eater just made sense. Security Testing and Account Siphon weren’t going to access cards anyway. I thought “This is so cool, I can run for Security Testing into HQ as Gabe. If they let me in then I get 5 credits and if they don’t I can break with Eater, getting my money back and then some!” Then I realized something that should have been obvious. As soon as HQ is 4 credits or more for Eater (which is not at all hard to do), this is all a gigantic waste of time. If only there was a card that let Eater break all that HQ ICE for free…
That’s right. Pheromones. It was all coming together. Run HQ for free to gain 5 credits (and yet another Pheromones Counter), and Emergency Shutdown the Corp’s HQ ICE. Next turn High Stakes Job back in for ALL THE MONEY. I’m not sure I can even count that high (seriously though, you get 11 credits from 1 click).
I imagined what the Corp might do is just give up on HQ, rezzing a single small piece of ICE to stop accesses and just let me get my money, making my Pheromones useless. Well we can’t have that can we? What’s a good way to make use of 10-15 unused recurring credits during a run on HQ?…
Now we’re talking. This is starting to look like a BigBoy deck. Here’s what I arrived on after this High Stakes Job, Eater, Pheromones brainstorming session (Thanks to SimonMoon for the brilliant name):
Perfume Shop (45 cards)
Gabriel Santiago: Consummate Professional
3 Account Siphon
3 Dirty Laundry
3 Emergency Shutdown
2 High-stakes Job
2 Inside Job
1 Levy AR Lab Access ···
2 Special Order
3 Sure Gamble
1 Vamp ··
3 Desperado ◦◦◦
1 Hades Shard ·
2 John Masanori
3 Same Old Thing
3 Security Testing
1 Eater ···
1 Keyhole ···
2 Sneakdoor Beta
General Game-Plan: Slow the Corp down with Gabe’s built in early pressure, punishing them with Eater + Account Siphon if they make a remote play too quickly. Deny long-term economy and try to get as much free Security Testing money as possible. Once the Corp has properly sealed off their centrals, we will hopefully have Desperado, Eater, Security Testing, John Massanori, and Phromones out (or most of these pieces. We won’t always need them all depending on the Corp’s ICE spread). At this point we have total control. We can take 5 credits and a card every single turn. We can Emergency Shutdown whatever and whenever we want. We can Full-Value Account Siphon at will. Once a Criminal deck (especially Gabe) has control over HQ, the game unravels quickly for the Corp. At some point it is possible that the Corp is able to keep run-ending ICE rezzed on all relevant servers, but this should take so long that we can realistically have over 50 credits. At this point we can nail them with Vamp, Derez most, if not all, of R&D, and drop Keyhole to close the game.
3 Desperado – Don’t play another Criminal console, even with the 3 influence penalty. This card makes absurd amounts of money. It is one of the only cards in the game that continues to make money even without you trying, which naturally makes it an even better fit for a Vamping deck.
3 Sure Gamble, 3 Dirty Laundry – Standard Criminal burst economy. These are necessary to pay the install costs of our rig and deal with early-game trashing.
2 High Stakes Job – Dirty Laundry on steroids. Once you get your Eater Security Testing engine online it can take a few turns to start turning a significant profit. This card catapults you into big-number territory and makes you an immediate threat. Sometimes the Corp doesn’t start with a Hedge fund and spends all of their money rezzing on HQ turn 1 or 2. This can let you drop a High-Stakes when the Corp is on 0, which speeds up your set-up a lot. Even though this is the card I started this whole brainstorm with, I only want to run 2 since it can be blank sometimes, and you NEVER want to draw multiples early.
3 Security Testing – Punish asset economy, force rezzes, and seriously milk HQ with Eater, all for 0 credits. Make sure you don’t play a Siphon/Vamp after declaring this on HQ (looking at you, Thebigunit3000 🙂 ). After Desperado, this is the best card to see in your opening hand.
2 Pheromones – This card is so funny. One of the Corp’s natural responses to Gabe is to pile ICE sky-high on HQ. Eater Pheromones laughs at this. Once you get to a certain point, the Jellyfish Army isn’t even worth purging anymore, since the unspent credits from the previous turn stay on the card for one more use even though the virus counters are gone! Unless they for some reason have porous ICE on HQ or refuse to shut off your Sneakdoor, this is typically not worth playing until you have Eater out (or another breaker that’s getting you in).
3 Emergency Shutdown – I would probably play 5 of these if I could. When you are hitting HQ for a profit every turn, this card just feels dirty. One of the best answers to Gabe is a Tollbooth on HQ and 3 copies of this card shuts that plan down, literally.
2 Crecentus – Hey, it’s Shutdowns 4-5. The fact that this takes MU is annoying, but you can work around it (don’t play your 5th MU unless you are sure you need to). Front-loading the click is nice though. I find that it is often best to save these for your Vamp turn, letting you get genuine accesses in HQ after you drain them to 0. Crecentus is better than Shutdown for this because it saves you a click when it matters. Having this + Faerie out means no one will ever rez an expensive Sentry against you.
3 Account Siphon – Your goal with this card is not to pin the Corp on 0. Its best use is making remote plays. When the Corp goes for a score or a big economy play like Sundew or Breaker Bay Grid + Adonis Campaign, relying on Eater for most of our breaking is annoying. Account Siphon + Inside Job will get you into most remotes though. You almost always shake the tags from your Siphons. Only Float in match-ups where they have no punishment and Security Testing is less valuable (Against something like Greenhouse rush, for example), or if you know you can lock the Corp on close to 0 for a very very long time and close the game before your money dries up.
1 Vamp – This is the nail in the coffin. This deck paralyzes the Corp, putting the game in stasis while you make a huge amount of money and Pheromones counters, until the right moment when you Vamp into a remote run or Vamp into several turns of free Keyhole runs. Since you have 3 Same Old Things you can fire this early to bust a remote if you get a chance and can still have it when you need it later. Even though the deck only has 1 of this card, and it is a huge part of your strategy, you only need it at the very end of the game, and by that point you have usually drawn most of your deck.
2 Inside Job – When you can’t actually access cards most of the time, it can be nice to get into at least trivial remote-defenses. This card, sometimes combined with one or two of your actual breakers, is a good way to deal with Crisium Grid on HQ as well.
1 Eater – The Centerpiece of our rig. You only have 1 copy and basically no recursion for it so DO NOT GET THIS KILLED OR NET DAMAGED. People actually run Swordsman now. It’s a big deal. Sometimes you can’t or shouldn’t afford to play around it but if you have time to, DO IT. If you see the Corp drawing relentlessly and then finally putting an ICE on HQ, there is a good chance that it’s a Swordsman. Get a Faerie or Mongoose out quickly if there is any reasonable chance of running into the card. It is usually better to be safe than sorry.
2 Faerie – Protects your Eater from Swordsman and protects you from Architect Face-checks against HB. This may seem weird, but if you run into an early Komainu it can sometimes be better to lose your hand than to use your Faerie. Decks with Komainu often also have a Swordsman or even two, and without your Faerie you may not be able to run for a long time.
1 Mongoose – Your permanent Faerie as far as Swordsman is concerned. I’ve been super impressed with this card. It’s not great as a main breaker but as an AI support card it’s WAY better than Alias. This is very often part of your final rig since Swordsman can crop up out of literally any deck.
1 Breach – Wraparound is annoying. Even with Breach it is probably the single best ICE against this deck. Once you get the Breach out it is nothing, but the Breach is often totally useless otherwise so this is a big pain.
1 Passport – Turing on HQ looks silly once you play this. Passport is also just a great breaker by itself. Breaking HQ Enigma for 1 with a 1 credit install cost is great. I love when I draw this naturally and they start with a small Code Gate on HQ.
2 Special Order – I started with 3, but this proved unnecessary. It turns out that Inside Job, Emergency Shutdown, and Sneakdoor Beta can still get you pretty far with no breakers and by the time you need your Eater or your specialty breaker you have usually drawn one of these or the program itself.
Card Draw/Recursion (6)
2 John Massanori – We don’t really make unsuccessful runs, and we make a run every turn. John is literally as strong as possible in this deck. You’re basically taking 5-click turns once this is out. Make sure that you use Eater to finish runs when you have this out (unless they are crazy expensive). Not having to deal with the tag is a big deal, and you’ll get your Desperado credit back as well.
3 Same Old Thing – Use this on Account Siphon, Emergency Shutdown, Inside Job, Vamp, Levy, or even a High-Stakes Job if you really need to. This card is super flexible in this deck and I am never sad to see it.
1 Levy AR Lab Access – It’s kind of strange. I originally had a Déjà vu for emergency recursion but I found my deck ran out a surprising amount against players who just refuse to do anything but pile ICE on centrals. I’m not super sure about this slot. It has totally saved the game for me a few times, but is usually dead. I could see cutting it (maybe for a 2nd Eater) but I know the deck would take a hand-full of auto-losses if I did. Having this in your deck also lets you leverage John Massanori to play aggressively against PE, so that’s a nice bonus.
Win Conditions (4)
1 Keyhole – Don’t be in a hurry to play this (except against rush decks, against which you can feel free to go nuts). When you drop this you probably cannot play a Sneakdoor for the rest of the game, and that’s a lot to lose. It’s usually best to wait to play this until the Corp is basically out of the game and winning is a formality. This card just gets it done quicker than anything else and actually works with Eater, unlike other multi-access.
1 Hades Shard – Some people try to get clever and lock you out of archives or lean on a protected Jackson. This card ends their shenanigans. This also gets you free wins against IG sometimes, which is a deck a lot of people are toying with right now.
2 Sneakdoor Beta – This is also an economy card, but I put it in this category because it’s actually one of the main ways I end up getting points. If I know they are holding agendas (nothing has come out of HQ but ICE for a while), I’ll take their money, shutdown archives if necessary and then hit them through Sneakdoor a few times. This is also a way to assassinate early HQ upgrades like Crisium Grid and Caprice Nisei.
Final Thoughts: This deck is very funny, and I really enjoy playing it. That said, it’s a long way off from being totally competitive. Wraparound out of a fast deck is a massive pain, pop-up on R&D makes you sad post-vamp, pop-up on HQ can feed the Corp a lot of money, and once someone starts an Astro train you don’t really have much recourse besides going all-in on your one Keyhole. The Astrobiotics match-up aside, this deck is far from a joke. I really like how it makes you think creatively and really assess the type of game you are in. Should I use shutdowns now to slow down the Corp, or should I save them for after the Siphon/Vamp? Should I not let the Corp rez remote ICE so I can get in after I zero them out, or should I force all the rezzes so they are poor and I can devastate a central with a Shutdown? I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Contact me any time in the comments here or on the Stimhack forums or Slack channel with your thoughts.
Aside: The Edward Kim deck from last article has evolved into the post-MWL monster that is Cutlery Whizzard (which apparently will now be called “Dumblefork”). As I write this, it is considered the best Runner deck in the game by many of the highest caliber players. Remember that it began with a binder-dig and an unplayable ID? Fun decks that you build don’t have to be competitive right away. Stick with them over a long period of time and let them evolve. Don’t give up on a good idea just because it’s not perfect against the currently established decks. After months of persistence, you never know what you might end up with…
…Of course, if the idea sucks you should probably bail on the deck. Make sure the idea is good 😉
Update: Since writing this, the need for a Levy has proven to be a fluke. I have removed it to upgrade the Breach to a Corroder and for 1 Akamatsu Memchip. The Memchip has been great for making the Keyhole transition much less painful in the super lategame.