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Frisky's Corner

by Frisco Del Rosario

Rekindling the Flame War deck

The mail about Blink continues to trickle in. One reader suggests that Blink is the "light saber with which the Blinker uses the Force", and another says "put up or shut up" while offering a $500 challenge match.

I've been getting more mail than usual about my attitude lately, but it's just a coincidence that I've revived a Newsgroup Taunting deck recently. It's also a coincidence that it's exactly a year after the first successful Taunting deck was born.

David Liu, who won last year's Pacificon tournament (Nat Johnson won this year in a constructed/sealed biathlon), was perhaps the first player to conceive of using Edgerunner, Inc., Temps to install multiple Newsgroup Tauntings, and sharply limiting the number of the opponent's runs. Liu dropped the idea because the Taunting deck was not strong enough to defeat his Loan from Chiba/Bartmoss/Romp deck.

Joe Ganis passed the idea to me, and I embellished it with Day Shifts and New Galveston City Grids. On the eve of last year's Pacificon tournament, I was tuning the deck well into the morning, and trading for every Taunting in the hotel. I ultimately finished fourth in the Bay Area's last Wizards-sanctioned NetRunner event, and the corp deck lost only to two Loan from Chiba decks, which could afford to pay for the Newsgroup flaming.

Shortly after Pacificon, the Proteus expansion went into full distribution, and the Taunting deck faded away. Proteus offered greater bit-gaining machinery to the runner, dampening Newsgroup Taunting's effect, and the Proteus viruses made it almost impossible to play with an iceless corporate deck.

I tried adding ice to the deck, but found it too difficult to balance 10+ Tauntings, agenda, bit gainers, and Edgerunners with enough ice to keep it all safe. The best I could do towards the end of the deck's life was to combine Misleading Access Menus with Encoder, Inc., but was dismayed when viral-minded runners would pay the Taunting bits, and ignore the unrezzed payback ice. The last straw was when a runner successfully played a Pirate Broadcast, picking off all the Tauntings in order, then completing the Broadcast on the central forts. The runner financed the whole thing with Drone for a Day, primarily.

Months later, I saw Rob King playing a Taunting deck which combined Encoder, Inc., with Ball and Chain -- bit for bit, the strongest ice in the game -- and finding income elsewhere. That's a plan to explore, readers.

Cheap, weak ice does not suffice to protect a Taunting corporation in these days of Proteus. Filter, Sleeper, Data Walls 1.0 and 2.0 are not enough of a deterrent, and once the runner has installed a Skeleton Passkey and a Wrecking Ball, the corporation would rather draw another Taunting then another ice card.

I spent months thinking about this problem. Sentry ice had to be the answer. Shock.R is an obvious choice, but how many does the corporation include in the deck? Where do the bits come from to install the second row of ice? I couldn't figure it out, and World Domination soon became my signature deck. (Which other deck types became extinct with Proteus, I wonder.)

The Frisky AI installment Tin Soldiers reminded me that Too Many Doors is the least expensive sentry which actually ends the run, assuming the corporation wins the guessing game. The rap on Too Many Doors (no pun intended) is that the runner can just run into it -- hiding zero bits each time -- and bankrupting the corp in that fashion. Against a Taunting deck, though, the runner has to pay the Taunting toll before starting each run, and if the runner doesn't move quickly in search of a sentry breaker, the Taunting flames will grow.

Another card I've included in this "new, improved" taunting deck is Fetal AI. Red Herrings is a great card to include in a Taunting deck if there's room -- Fetal AI has that similar, nifty "runner must pay 2 to steal Fetal in addition to normal costs" text, and doesn't force the corp to use another card. The drawback to Fetal AI is that there is no agenda bonus -- that's not such a problem in a Taunting deck.


Frisky's Corner