ABOUT THIS THREAD
This is the second of hopefully 7 threads (1 per faction) that will evolve as my limited experience and the LCG evolves. As with the other threads, a convention of 1.5 Core = adding the 3rd card of doubles is used. Once again, all suggestions, advice and criticisms are welcome as I am no expert, just good at analysing game mechanics.
WHY SHAPER NEXT?
Just as I believe Haas-Bioroid (the first handbook) is currently the strongest Corp, I believe Shaper is currently the strongest runner. This section explains my reasoning.
At this snapshot in the LCG’s evolution, Criminal is considered the strongest runner deck (based on results). But I suggest this is more a reflection of Corp players not knowing the safeguards to counter Gabriel’s tricks. Sure Criminal has strengths (great early game, Corp must protect all servers, credits, ice breaker search, anti-tag resources) that more than compensate for its weaknesses (no card draw, poor ice, no ice credits, poor late game). But the weakness of Criminal is that the hurt from its many events (resulting in program fragility) can be minimised. And without his tricks, Gabriel is mediocre.
Here are simple safeguards that any Corp player should take when playing against Gabriel.
1. Place the your first 2 ice on HQ (vs. Inside Job)
2. Have enough credit to rez any 1 ice installed (vs. Forged Activation Order)
3. Leave an unrezzed ice on HQ (vs. Account Siphon)
4. Install your 3rd ice on Archives (Sneakdoor Beta eats memory, cannot combo with Inside Job)
5. Install weak ice at the front of each key server (vs. Inside Job)
6. Create weak remotes with 1 worrying unrezzed ice for PADs (vs. Bank Job)
Following the above rules where possible, Criminal becomes far less effective.
Anarch suffers from poor credit, the cornerstone of any deck. No wonder Noise is so disaffected with society – he’s always broke, relying on Stimhacks for big runs. It’s no coincidence that the 2 most fun factions to play, Anarch and Jinteki, are also the focus of the first 2 data packs, as they need a boost.
Shaper (specifically Kate) is not about tricks and does not rely on weak ice. Her build is self-contained and hard to disrupt by the Corp. She builds an awesome rig then efficiently runs at any assets placed in the remote fort (and occasionally R&D). She is the runner clone of Haas-Bioroid, not just with her identity mechanic (more limited than HB) but also because both factions play the efficient long game that can’t be bypassed by good play. I contend both factions fear the other as their worst opponent.
Kate has weaknesses. The Corp never needs to spread thinly by protecting Archives, unlike the other 2 core runners. She is vulnerable to early quick agendas scored by NBN (but, much like Haas-Bioroid, who can be mugged by Criminal early game, eventually her long game should catch up against NBN). Kate has links in identity, console and Rabbit Holes. Prior to WLA, I play Sacrificial Constructs instead of Rabbit Hole against her most feared Corp (but ZU.13, Ash and Draco in WLA change this dynamic).
Just as Corps play differently against each runner (some Criminal safeguards above), runners should try to follow some basic safeguards based on the Corp faced.
1. End turn with 4-5 grip vs. Weyland/NBN/Jinteki (vs. Scorched Earth, Jinteki ice & identity ability)
2. End turn on 5-7 credits vs. NBN/Weyland (vs. Closed Accounts, threaten Gamble vs. Red Herring)
3. Never run blind into ice without a killer (sentries trash programs, Rototurret is only 1 influence)
4. Avoid running with less than 3 grip (Snare in HQ/R&D, a Wall of Thorns is only 1 influence)
5. Take safeguards if blindly accessing advanced assets (6 grip vs. Junebug, Construct vs. Secretary)
6. Prepare for first click runs vs. Haas-Bioroid (but also minimise click-intensive exploratory runs)
Currently, following rules 1 and 2 above, runners often ignore multiple NBN tags (save clicks/credits) and when a remote fort is empty, they hit HQ (if runner finds Psychographics in HQ, switch to R&D). This is another reason why proposed (pre-WLA) decks favour Sacrificial Constructs over Rabbit Holes.
Kate has another advantage over the other runners. Currently, due to the cost of Toolbox and having memory chips, she does not need 3 Core sets as much as the other runners (who want to install their console early). So this first instalment looks at the evolution of Kate from 1 Core to 2 Core + WLA.