last update 03.09.2006 12:01
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Frisky's Corner

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.)

*Corporate Boon
Corporate Retreat
Detroit Police Contract
Executive Extraction
*Main-Office Relocation
On-Call Solo Team
*Polymer Breakthrough
Priority Requisition
*Private Cybernet Police
Political Coup
Project Babylon
Tycho Extension

Bolter Cluster
*Canis Minor
*D'Arc Knight
Data Naga
Data Wall
Data Wall 2.0
*Fang 2.0
Fetch 4.0.1
Fire Wall
Ice Pick Willie
Neural Blade
*Pi in the Face
*Sentinels Prime
*TKO 2.0
*Viral 15
Wall of Static

Braindance Campaign
Corprunner's Shattered Remains
Holovid Campaign
Investment Firm
Rockerboy Promotion
Rustbelt HQ Branch
Solo Squad
South African Mining Corp

Chance Observation
Closed Accounts
Datapool by Zetatech
Efficiency Experts
Management Shakeup
New Blood
Night Shift
Off-Site Backups
Project Consultants
Trojan Horse
Urban Renewal
Olivia Salazar
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 with it.

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.


Frisky's Corner