by Frisco Del Rosario
Tuning a starter deck, part 2
Last week I touched on a few principles of tuning a sealed deck for
the purposes of reducing a 60-card starter to a tournament minimum
45 cards. That article prompted more reader feedback than any other
-- each correspondent suggested a change or two, but everyone agrees
on 35 or 40 cards.
Perhaps if this week's look at the corporate cards generates enough
mail, I'll devote next week's Frisky AI to the discussion.
I don't know how cards are distributed for the purposes of filling
out a 60-card starter, but it makes some kind of sense to me that
as good as the runner cards in this box were, the corporate cards
are bad. (I asked you last week to send me an icky runner starter
-- Charles Schwope of Dallas did, and that's another work in progress.)
Detroit Police Contract
On-Call Solo Team
*Private Cybernet Police
Data Wall 2.0
Ice Pick Willie
*Pi in the Face
Wall of Static
Corprunner's Shattered Remains
Rustbelt HQ Branch
South African Mining Corp
Datapool by Zetatech
Rio de Janeiro City Grid
That's only 59 cards, too. I'm not even sure what I'd want the
60th card to be. City Surveillance, maybe, considering all the tag
cards. We've got an Executive Extraction, so Corporate Downsizing
and Employee Empowerment come to mind. When you get right down to
it, this starter is so poorly distributed, we only got three code
gates, so even a Quandary would be helpful.
A sealed runner deck is easier to tune than the corporate side.
Keep the income and carry enough programs and other cards with useful
abilities. The corporate starter, though, has to be tuned with other
considerations in mind:
To bag or not to bag. It's always a
good idea for the sealed corporation to carry Chance Observation,
Trojan Horse, and Urban Renewal. To make meat death a larger goal
requires a few more damage dealers -- perhaps three meat damage
cards should be a minimum. In this deck, we have Urban Renewal,
Solo Squad, and On-Call Solo Team.
Built for speed? Constructed speed decks
can live on the thinnest of ice -- even 15 Filters is a plausible
selection of ice in a Psycho Stupid Tycho deck. In sealed play,
corporate agenda will be installed and left vulnerable, and bigger
ice is needed if the corporation is to prolong the middle game.
Our subject starter is disgustingly weak in the ice department --
the strongest ice here is Zombie, Homewrecker, and Data Naga. That
might suggest a tag and bag policy, for the runner will probably
reach the endgame sooner than we would like.
Agenda ability. In constructed play,
an agenda's special ability seems to be diminished slightly. Take
the Psycho Stupid Tycho deck again -- please. Tycho Extension awards
no special ability -- it's just the fourth agenda point which makes
the deck work. As much as I hate Corporate War, the card
becomes interesting in sealed play because it's far more difficult
for the corporation to arrange to have the 12 bits handy. In a starter
deck, you are forced to play with seven or nine different agenda,
and you must make each scored agenda count. Priority Requisition
rarely sees the light of constructed play, but it's a big sealed
deck card. An early Corporate Retreat is often a win for
the corporation. If you're dealt Project Babylon in a starter, play
The first thing to do is separate cards by
class, and we're off.
I begin by selecting agenda, always keeping
the money first. Detroit Police Contract (hope to draw it
early!), Corporate Retreat (gold in sealed deck play), Political
Coup. I'll play with Executive Extraction, even though there aren't
many Gray Ops agenda around. Project Babylon is a sealed deck must.
Priority Requisition isn't so wonderful with so much weak ice, but
the other available agenda -- Corporate Boon, Private Cybernet Police,
Polymer Breakthrough -- are too difficult to achieve. And that,
dear readers, is the only reason Tycho Extension is included, because
the others are overly difficult. I do not recommend playing with
Tycho Extension is sealed deck play -- there is nothing worse than
losing four agenda points to an early RD run which you can't stop
due to the draw. Finally, I preferred On-Call Solo Team to Main-Office
Relocation, even though Main-Office's difficulty can be reduced,
because this deck will attempt to bag the runner.
I include 14 or 15 ice in a 45-card deck. In sealed play, I like
to keep five code gates, five walls, and four or five sentries.
This crappy assortment only gave us three code gates and four walls.
The sentries give us options, though. I take Zombie, Homewrecker
and Data Naga because they're the biggest we have. I like Bolter
Cluster and Neural Blade very much for their "can't break next ice"
subroutines. Hunter and Fetch 4.0.1 might serve the winning tags,
who knows? There isn't much inexpensive "end the run" ice here --
I don't like this deck at all.
How bad is this deck? I keep all of the nodes, operations and
upgrades. In 59 cards, we got 22 nodes, operations, and upgrades,
so few that there's nothing to think about. So, after selecting
eight agenda, 14 ice, and keeping 22 nodes/operations/upgrades,
the only cards left to choose from are ice. I go with Ice Pick Willie
because it's the least expensive "end the run", non-tracing sentry
we have to choose from, and for the sentimental reason that I used
to believe that Ice Pick Willie came in every booster pack.
Last week, I said, "hey, I got a great runner deck, so challenge
me with a bad one." This week, I ask, I got a crappy corp deck,
give me something which presents options.