Near-Earth Tempo: An Example of Deck Pruning and Design

So with Data & Destiny having arrived in Melbourne stores a few nights ago, I’m revisiting NEH FastroBiotics after taking some time off from it, and boy am I blown away by how much things have changed!

Looking at lists old and new, there’s are a complete bog of options available, so I decided to just add them all to one big pile and start siphoning off the muck.  Before I knew it though, this swamp had the stature of the King Himself, and better option seemed to be draining it.

Yellow cards, a bog.

Near-Earth Swamp: Bog-cast Center

Agenda (15)

3x AstroScript Pilot Program

3x Breaking News

2x Global Food Initiative   ••

3x NAPD Contract

3x Project Beale

1x 15 Minutes
Asset (32)

2x Blacklist

3x Daily Business Show

3x Franchise City

3x Jackson Howard

3x Launch Campaign

3x Lily Lockwell

3x Marked Accounts

3x PAD Campaign

3x Reality Threedee

3x Team Sponsorship   •••

3x Turtlebacks   •••

Upgrade (9)

1x Ash 2X3ZB9CY   ••

3x Cyberdex Virus Suite

2x Red Herrings

3x SanSan City Grid
Operation (18)

3x Biotic Labor   ••••• ••••• ••

3x Fast Track

3x Hedge Fund

3x Restructure

3x Shipment from SanSan

3x Sweeps Week

ICE (34)

3x Eli 1.0   •••

3x Paper Wall

3x Wraparound
3x Archangel

3x Enigma

3x Little Engine

3x Pop-up Window

3x Quandary

3x Tollbooth
3x Architect   ••••• •

1x Rototurret   •
3x Special Offer

32 influence spent (max 17)

28 agenda points (between 44 and 45)

108 cards (min 45)

This is clearly far too much to work with here, without deciding on some kind of overarching strategy beyond “play yellow cards.” Tempo play really appeals to me and a lot of cards brought in recently by D&D and the late SanSan cycle, (Team Sponsorship especially) open the style right up.

With that in mind I’m going to use impactful face-checks and cost-efficient gear-checks.  For this Wraparound and Paper Wall are going to be more suited than Eli 1.0 (it’d also be good to have that influence back).  Little Engine and Archangel are basically perfect for the style, forcing the runner to expend clicks to acquire a credit lead (or at least a substantial amount) before being able to run.  This is in stark contrast to Paper Wall and Wraparound, which both reward the runner for disregarding long-term economy to access now. Without a rig built specially to race with large remotes, most runners will be pulled in one of the two directions, from which I’ll capitalize.

I want to be able to punish either move with SanSan and Biotic Labour, so they’re definitely staying. I also want to be able to act any time the runner gives me a window, so Lily Lockwell is staying, where-as most of the asset economy is going.  Global Food Initiative is the perfect agenda here, and easily score-able among the Little Engines, Archangels, and Shipment From SanSans.

Paring back some of the influence and more expensive cards with this in mind, I’m left with 60:

TempoBiotics (With One Round of Cuts)

Near-Earth Hub: Broadcast Center

Agenda (12)

3x AstroScript Pilot Program

3x Breaking News

2x Global Food Initiative   ••

3x Project Beale

1x 15 Minutes
Asset (12)

3x Franchise City

3x Jackson Howard

3x Lily Lockwell

3x Team Sponsorship   •••

Upgrade (6)

3x Cyberdex Virus Suite

2x Red Herrings

3x SanSan City Grid
Operation (11)

2x Biotic Labor   ••••• •••

3x Hedge Fund

3x Shipment from SanSan

3x Sweeps Week

ICE (17)

2x Paper Wall

2x Wraparound
2x Archangel

3x Little Engine

3x Pop-up Window
2x Architect   ••••
3x Special Offer

17 influence spent (max 17)

22 agenda points (between 26 and 27)

60 cards (min 45)

This is where the cuts get much harder, and take some justification.  With the larger remote, I can afford to run light on Cyberdex Virus Suites (but not too light), so there’s a cut there. Likewise, with most expected accesses being on centrals it makes little sense to include Franchise City, since I’ll never know when’s a good time to rez it.  Seven cuts to go.

I want scoring to be impactful, and expect to spend most of my turns navigating to find a window, so these 2/1s have a really high opportunity cost when Team Sponsorship isn’t in play.  I’ll keep two, since they’re so strong when I do have Team Sponsorship; they both develop the board and establish point pressure.  Nine central ICE is too many I think, so one or two of these barriers is going to go.  Normally I’d cut the second Wraparound to help out the economy a little.  However, I think the synergy between Wraparound and Archangel is worth exploring, so I’ll cut Paper Wall.

Red Herrings is hard to evaluate.  On one hand it’s good at buffing the remote to score the 5/3 or other agendas through a Clot.  On the other hands it’s easily trash-able from centrals and so makes them susceptible to repeated runs. If there were some 4/2s it’d be much easier to justify, since they could be played out together, but with the 5/3’s I feel like it’s going to take too much setup to be better than just more ICE.

The last card is always the hardest, and this time it’s gonna be a Sweeps Week.  Of the fifteen economy slots it has the highest variance, but with the decline in Andromeda’s popularity that variance seems to be mostly against you now.

And here we have it, ready to test!

TempoBiotics v0.0

Near-Earth Hub: Broadcast Center

Agenda (10)

3x AstroScript Pilot Program

1x Breaking News

2x Global Food Initiative   ••

3x Project Beale

1x 15 Minutes
Asset (9)

3x Jackson Howard

3x Lily Lockwell

3x Team Sponsorship   •••

Upgrade (5)

2x Cyberdex Virus Suite

3x SanSan City Grid
Operation (10)

2x Biotic Labor   ••••• •••

3x Hedge Fund

3x Shipment from SanSan

2x Sweeps Week

ICE (15)

2x Wraparound
2x Archangel

3x Little Engine

3x Pop-up Window
2x Architect   ••••
3x Special Offer

17 influence spent (max 17)

20 agenda points (between 20 and 21)

49 cards (min 45)

After a few games, some initial thoughts and feelings:

Archangel feels less impactful than Architect, but also much less situational. The high strength makes it relevant even when gear-checked, and lets us punish runners that go low to make successful runs on centrals, especially with multi-access.

The three credits on access and trace6 is comparable to installing and rezzing and Architect against runners with between five and seven credits, which most will fall within as they substitute towards cards to develop their breakers and larger rig.  However, I’ve been having trouble finding the creds to actually utilize installs, so I’ve mostly been playing out any Special Offer or Pop-up Window in the top 5, and recurring a trashed asset.  Not bad by any means, but still a long way from the power plays Architect made gains on, and certainly not strong enough to invest so many credits, influence, and options in, especially since it’s checked so easily.

Generally the money was very light-on.  This is a tendency of mine, to make a few different strategies compete for limited economy, and force myself to make a decision on what to exclude.  I also tend to draw up for a few more turns than initially expected, and so Lily Lockwell usually wasn’t necessary for me to use a window, even if she was necessary for closing out a game within 4 turns.  One copy can definitely afford to go, even though she is a priority target for Team Sponsorship, especially as your score your fourth or fifth point.

Launch Campaign seems like a natural fit, and should make its way in for at least a few games.  It’s worth noting here that Biotic Labour lets you circumvent the remote, so scoring with it won’t require us to trash a Launch Campaign that’s not complete.

The synergies between Archangel, Little Engine and Wraparound are impressive. There’s a good thing going on here.  Oddly enough though, neither Wraparound or Little Engine are particularly impressive when stacked with themselves, whereas Archangel, (with the exception of a Gordian Blade check) gets much stronger. It’s possible the Snare! principle applies here, and you should just play three.

Special Offer looks a little situational;  you think “what if they don’t run there and I never get those credits back!”  However, there are enough situations that it’s basically guaranteed, and most commonly where you install it in front of another piece of unrezzed ICE.  It’s shaping up to be one of my favorite cards in the deck. The ability to drop to one credit and still rez fearsome ICE is powerful, and in combination with Shipment From SanSan and Pop-up Window, this means you can keep scoring even in the face of multiple Account Siphons.

Round one of testing complete, the deck is starting to look a lot less hairy.

TempoBiotics v0.1

Near-Earth Hub: Broadcast Center

Agenda (10)

3x AstroScript Pilot Program

1x Breaking News

2x Global Food Initiative   ••

3x Project Beale

1x 15 Minutes
Asset (10)

3x Jackson Howard

2x Launch Campaign

2x Lily Lockwell

3x Team Sponsorship   •••

Upgrade (5)

2x Cyberdex Virus Suite

3x SanSan City Grid
Operation (11)

3x Biotic Labor   ••••• ••••• ••

3x Hedge Fund

3x Shipment from SanSan

2x Sweeps Week

Ice (13)

2x Wraparound
3x Archangel

2x Little Engine

3x Pop-up Window
3x Special Offer

17 influence spent (max 17)

20 agenda points (between 20 and 21)

49 cards (min 45)

At this point the necessary changes are indicated mostly by situational impressions and direct comparison, and will happen usually one at a time.  Going into this round of games I had two primary concerns: That the economy was still a teeny bit light; and that that four situational cards (in Cyberdex Virus Suite and Lily Lockwell), was one too many.  After a few more games I think that assessment is correct, and the one to go will be the second Lily Lockwell.

While Lockwell is certainly very powerful, the way that Team Sponsorship lets you trigger NEH while you score has meant that your gas usually still flows quite well.  In the situation where you don’t have Team Sponsorship up you still do have the option to draw up with Jackson Howard, play out a Biotic Labour, and score through your SanSan, all in one fell swoop.  Even if it this play is more expensive and sees less cards, it comes up often enough to question the inclusion of two Lockwells, especially when you draw both.  This won’t be the case for Lily in decks with tags, where she’ll get much better in multiples by allowing the corp to tutor and draw for a mere one click.  However, this list doesn’t tag at all.

Lily has certainly has been good when you don’t have Sponsorship, but not as good as a Cyberdex Virus Suite when the runner has Clot, or a Datasucker and a Yog.0.  It’s a tough decision for sure, and definitely one I wouldn’t be surprised to see the other way around, depending on personal and meta-dependant preference.

Whether to include a third Launch Campaign or a third Sweeps Week is again pretty close.  I’m preferring the Launch a little at the moment, since they’re great to chain behind a Pop-up, taxes the runner out while still putting you ahead on credits, and can set up an early Special Offer.  Both the credits and the tax can be turned into scoring mechanisms thanks to Little Engines ridiculous base strength and Archangels impressive base trace, which puts it nicely in the win-win box.

My opinion of Archangel grows, having cleaned up both a Sneakdoor Beta and an HQ Interface, cards you’re basically cold too the rest of the time, in one run.  I’m yet to hose down a Bagbiter (try replaying that one), or blow up a Djinn or Leprechaun rig, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

TempoBiotics v1.0

Near-Earth Hub: Broadcast Center

Agenda (10)

3x AstroScript Pilot Program

1x Breaking News

2x Global Food Initiative   ••

3x Project Beale

1x 15 Minutes
Asset (10)

3x Jackson Howard

3x Launch Campaign

1x Lily Lockwell

3x Team Sponsorship   •••

Upgrade (5)

2x Cyberdex Virus Suite

3x SanSan City Grid
Operation (11)

3x Biotic Labor   ••••• ••••• ••

3x Hedge Fund

3x Shipment from SanSan

2x Sweeps Week

Ice (13)

2x Wraparound
3x Archangel

2x Little Engine

3x Pop-up Window
3x Special Offer

17 influence spent (max 17)

20 agenda points (between 20 and 21)

49 cards (min 45)

Thanks for reading, and enjoy Data & Destiny!

Liam ‘Shielsy’ Prasad is an panellist for The Winning Agenda. He was the runner-up for both the 2014 Melbourne Regionals and the 2014 Australian Nationals. He is a budding mathematician and TWA’s resident Anarchsit. Follow him on Twitter @5hielsy

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Near-Earth Tempo: An Example of Deck Pruning and Design

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