This article comes to us from Stimhack author Brian Williams, aka Saan.
Edit: The Most Wanted List was announced roughly a day and a half after the publishing of this article, so I have added a short section to the end of this article on how it affects the deck as well as the changes I would make to make it compliant to the new influence limits.
There has been a lot of discussion in the general Netrunner community as to why Weyland isn’t doing well, and what would be needed to bring them back into the competitive scene. I’ve thought a lot about this, and I’d like to share some of that with you. I’ll start with outlining some basic problems Weyland has – mind you, there are a lot of problems: advanceable ICE being kind of bad, lack of in-faction synergy, the fact that Helium-3 Deposit was ever printed at all… but the main problems I want to focus on are the ones below.
*Pictured: Helium-3 Deposit and the only printed Weyland card to date that uses Power Counters.*
Weyland has a problem, sadly, with killing runners. It’s not that they are lacking in meat damage, it’s just that yellow decks have better options for actually tagging the runner (which is needed before the meat hits the table) and have enough free influence to spend all of it on kill cards from Weyland. The prevalence of these decks has lead runners to pack more meat damage protection than they used to, leaving Weyland, who is slower to find the kill, usually unable to actually connect. The solution to this problem is obvious: don’t try and kill the runner; win the game through scoring agendas instead. Unfortunately…
Weyland also has a problem scoring agendas. A popular strategy for winning against Weyland is to let the corp score agendas while the runner builds up their rig and money until the runner gets to the point where they have the money and breakers to break into Weyland’s scoring server as many times as needed, keeping them from their final agendas. Weyland is then forced into the strategy of either trying to out-pace the runner, constantly gear-checking them while trying to score out faster than the runner builds up, or spending influence importing things like Ash 2X3ZB9CY to help score out. The problem with racing the runner is that runners have gotten nothing but faster and more efficient, so this strategy has a high risk of variance. The second strategy has a lower variance, but eats influence rather quickly, leaving little left to import things like better ICE or assets.
Finally, Weyland has a problem with pressuring the runner to run on remote servers. Usually, remote pressure in Weyland involves throwing an agenda in a remote and asking the runner, “Can you get in this time?” If they can, you’re sad. Almost any other non-agenda Weyland card that you can throw in a remote doesn’t matter, because Big Green doesn’t actually have good things to put there, so there’s no point in the runner making a run. This usually leads Weyland to building just a single remote server, since there’s little point in building one to house anything other than agendas. If you look at the most competitive decks from the other factions HB: ETF, NBN: NEH, and Jinteki: RP, they create multiple remotes and can have multiple threats presented. Not all are protected, but all are advancing their game plan. Weyland just has The One Remote, and like The One Ring, it often just ends up getting burned.
The problems of scoring agendas and giving remote pressure are actually somewhat related. It’s hard to have good remote pressure when you’re just creating one remote, and that remote is also the remote that is used for scoring. If you have your one remote used for something other than scoring, eventually agendas will pile up in hand and the runner can pick them off. Blue Sun gets around that by being able to pick up what was in the server once they feel like scoring, making them the only Weyland deck right now that has a viable, high-level build. All other Weyland identities falter here. All but one.
Those of you who have guessed where I am going with this: Hi there. Those that haven’t: welcome to the show. I’m talking about Gagarin: Deep Space.
Stay with me here.
Gagarin has been long overlooked as a competitive identity for a few reasons, but primarily because, at first glance, the ID power doesn’t seem that powerful in Weyland. Making the runner pay a credit to access a card in a remote server is nice, but it’s only really useful if the runner actually runs the remotes. If they don’t, the ID is effectively blank. Coupled with the fact that for a very long time the majority of Weyland assets ranged from severely underwhelming to completely unplayable, it made convincing the runner to run Weyland remotes that don’t have agendas in them a hard, if not impossible, task. This meant that one had to import assets from other factions, leaving little influence for helping Weyland’s other problem: scoring agendas. The last few packs of the SanSan cycle added some nice assets, but not enough to make Gagarin a useful identity, in my opinion. It wasn’t until Data and Destiny that I think Gagarin really got the last couple cards it needed to be legitimately good.
My experimentation over the last several months in solving the problems I laid out above have lead me to this deck, and so far it feels fairly strong.
Code Gate (6)
I built this deck with the goal of handling the three Weyland problems I discussed. It forgoes meat damage in favor of creating a ton of high value remote servers to pressure the runner, using the ID to make trashing these remotes more expensive. The expense of trashing these remotes allows cards like Ash and NAPD to help push out the final few agendas to close out the game. I’ll chat a little about the general plan of how to make the ID work, then go into why I’ve made the card choices that I have.
As I said above, if no one is checking Gagarin’s remotes then the ID is effectively blank. The idea behind this deck is to make runners check remotes, and to make them trash remotes. Mainly, I try and do this by running assets that are high enough value that the runner really wants to get rid of them. I think it’s Gagarin’s real strength: I want you trashing my shit. If you don’t, I get to do two things: get massive value from the assets, and score naked in undefended servers.
This second point is really important for this deck. When playing against someone (especially someone who hasn’t played against you before), you need to try and score a naked agenda, preferably early in the game. The reason you need to do this is simply so they know you will. Counters on Project Atlas are great and all, but forcing the runner into running face down cards is incredibly important to this deck working correctly, and this is the most forceful way to get that to occur. Fortunately, if they refuse to run unrezzed cards, you can oftentimes just win. If they do run your remotes, and they find the agenda you were trying to stash, that’s actually fine. The game isn’t over when the runner steals a Project Atlas or The Future Is Now; the game is over when the runner scores 7 points. That agenda went to a better place: a place where the runner knows they have to check remotes.
Once the runner is checking remotes they’re playing your game. In addition to paying a credit per card accessed, if a runner has checked a remote, they’re more likely to trash what they see inside. After all, they’ve already paid the price of entry; the most efficient play is to trash it while they’re here. Otherwise, if they decide it needs to go at a later time, they have to spend the click and the Gagarin access credit all over again. If you look at the average trash cost of assets and upgrades in this deck, it costs around 4.4 credits per card trashed from a remote, and this is assuming they’re all just naked. This gets expensive for the runner very quickly. The assets chosen are high enough value that if they aren’t trashing them then that’s still good news for you, since now you get to use the cards that you put in your deck.
Seeing as we’re Gagarin, it makes the most sense to me to have most of the economy be generated through remote play. There are only so many card slots you get, so spending card slots on operation economy means those are card slots that you aren’t using to create more servers for the runner to have to run. PAD Campaigns, Launch Campaigns, and Expo Grids make up the meat of the econ, with Hedge Fund being the only operation economy. The Root functions as a fantastic economic asset if left unchecked, and finally Pop-up Window functions somewhere between economy and protection.
PADs make a nice, if somewhat slow, drip economy, but they’re twice as good with an Expo Grid behind them. They’re usually the most common Expo target, mainly because they’re the most likely to hang around, since the rest of the assets are more directly threatening to the runner. If you put an Expo on something more threatening than a PAD, it increases the chance the runner will run on it to trash it, because now they get to deny you your good thing as well as the Expo credit every turn. A PAD on Expo costs the runner 9 credits total to trash, so usually they’ll just go for the 5-credit PAD, since that also turns off the Expo. This deck has 15 assets, however, so something’s probably going back on there next turn. I’m only running two Expo Grids rather than three, mainly because it’s a conditional card, and if I draw one and don’t have an asset to power it, it’s blank. Having two of them makes it so I see them often enough, but don’t see them too often for them to be useful.
Launch Campaign is effectively a slow Restructure in that it pays you 5 credits if left alone. It gives you a credit when you rez it, so there’s value as soon as it’s alive, and it has a really attractive trash cost for the runner. It’s 3 to trash out of Gagarin, so it’s not too bad to just play these naked in the early game. If they trash it once it’s rezzed, you got a credit and they spent 3, which adds up to the same credit differential as a Hedge Fund. I really enjoy putting these behind a Pop-up Window, just to make it more annoying for the runner. It’s still a low enough cost for them that they’ll often go kill it, but even if they kill it as soon as I play it, it’s a 5 credit swing. The Pop-up server can then be used for more Launches, or for other non-permanent assets, like Public Support. Mid to late game, you can throw the Launches in your scoring server when you’re not using it, as HB would an Adonis Campaign.
So far I can really only justify including a single copy of The Root in the deck, mostly because of its high initial rez cost and the fact that it’s unique, so you can never have more than one copy of it up at a time anyhow. I try not to rez The Root unless it’s the runner’s turn and I can use its 3 recurring credits to get immediate value from it, either by rezzing ICE on a run, or assets at the end of their turn. It’s better if I can also get 3 credits of value off of it on the next turn as well. I will almost always try and throw a small to mid-sized piece of ICE in front of it, because I know the runner needs to go trash it. I’m even okay with them trashing it, I just want to get value off it first, and I want them to have to pay. If they don’t want to trash it, I can get almost infinite value from it – rezzing ICE for free, rezzing monetary assets for immediate profit, scoring agendas from zero credits – and it will basically win me the game.
The rest of the non-Jackson Howard assets are chosen because they have powerful effects and high trash costs. They provide the rest of the remote pressure that Weyland usually lacks by giving the runner something to go spend money on that isn’t a run on a central server or an agenda. This ends up costing the runner money with which they need to do those other things.
Team Sponsorship and Interns are two of the cards that really make the deck work, because recurring trashed assets and upgrades means the runner has to go spend money on them again. If you’re running low on money, they can recur Launch Campaigns. They can get back Parasited ice. A favorite play with Team Sponsorship is using it to recur Ash back into the scoring remote after the runner trashed it on the previous turn, or using it to install your next agenda from hand (or Archives) into your server to score next turn. If you score The Future Is Now, you can look for any ICE, upgrade, asset, or agenda in your deck, and install it with Sponsorship right afterwords, right where you need it most. It is the power play of power plays.
Public Support is also a real hero in this deck, and to Weyland in general. It’s probably one of their best cards because the runner needs to go deal with it, but they can’t score the points it can give you if they don’t. It makes another great naked install in the early game, because that sucker is 5 to trash. If they go get it, Team Sponsorship or Interns can throw it back out there later. They have a few turns to gather the money, so if it’s undefended, throwing a piece of ICE over it as it ticks down isn’t a bad idea. Depending on the ICE I find, this might become a scoring server later, or just a small server for disposable assets. In the mid to late game, these usually find themselves in the scoring server if I don’t anticipate needing it for a few turns. Either way, the option to gain a free point or make the runner trash a card is just amazing. Once scored, these are great to sacrifice to Archer or Corporate Town, and help the deck to have enough points to feel comfortable having two cards that require you to sacrifice agendas to them without needing to run a ton of 1-point agendas, which would just dilute the deck.
Finally, there’s Corporate Town. Corp Town is a god damned powerhouse of a card, because so many runner decks these days run a lot of resources that they rely on, and trashing one a turn (key word: unpreventable) is amazing – it has singlehandedly won me so many games against so many decks, it’s just nuts. Corp Town is one of the top cards I find when I score The Future Is Now, which has the side benefit of also giving me the agenda I need to forfeit to it. Despite this, I’m only running one copy, because having to sac an agenda to rez it isn’t something you can afford do over and over, and because finding it is rarely hard, thanks to TFIN and Project Atlas.
Moving on to agendas, there’s something you might have noticed about the agendas in this deck. Namely, only three of the ten agendas in here are green ones; the other seven are neutral. This is mainly because the agendas used are dictated by the needs of the deck, and Weyland’s agendas don’t really fit those needs.
The deck needs to be taxing, and NAPD Contract has been the staple agenda for taxing runners since the dawn of time. In this deck it’s also really good for scoring, since it’s often pretty safe to push an NAPD through your remote, especially if it’s on an Ash. It’s usually brutal for the runner to have to pay 4 to score it – paying 5 if it’s in a remote is crippling, and often un-doable. Even worse for the runner is them paying 1 to see that they can no longer pay 4. Advancing NAPDs twice after installing them is somewhat common, in order to make them look like a 5/3 to encourage a run. It’s also nice if I have three free clicks the turn I want to install it, but don’t think I’ll have three free on the next.
I firmly believe that Gagarin needs to try and score naked agendas, so there needs to be 3/2’s and maybe 3/1 agendas. Weyland only has one 3/2 agenda, and fortunately it’s Project Atlas. I say fortunately because having the ability to over-advance it to use as a tutor for key cards in a matchup is fantastic, plus it bluffs rather well as an NAPD if advanced. If a multiple-turn scoring window opens up, being able to score an Atlas one turn, then tutor up your next agenda with an Atlas counter the following turn makes the runner’s life very hard. I find that tutoring for agendas is what I usually use Atlas counters for, since if the runner opens a scoring window and you don’t have an agenda, being able to call up the best one for the situation is incredible. That being said, I still score the majority of them unadvanced. It’s effectively blank if you do this, but it serves that higher purpose of forcing the runner to run remotes.
The Future Is Now is a very powerful agenda, which is good, because it needs to be a very powerful card to exist as a 3/1 in a deck. TFIN fulfills the same dual purpose that Project Atlas does; it’s a card that you can score naked, and it grants you the ability to search your deck for whatever card you need. Unlike Atlas, you don’t have to show the runner what you went to find. You have to be a little careful with this card, though, because if you have 5 cards in hand when you score it, you’ll have to discard something after you tutor your card up. As the game progresses, it can be right to advance this card once in the scoring server so that you can install your tutored card when you draw it, assuming Team Sponsorship doesn’t just do it for you.
Finally, the deck needs Global Food Initiative. It doesn’t just need one or two 3-pointers; previous iterations on the deck taught me that. Because no other 3-point agenda is only worth 2 points to the runner, it specifically needs Food, and nothing else is a good enough replacement. This is the Jackson Howard of agendas. The deck can not afford to have a single access give up 3 points to the runner; whenever that happened in previous iterations, it felt like the game just ended, and Gagarin lost. Usually, that’s what would end up occurring. This deck often ends with the runner having 3 agendas scored; however, with Global Food, they need a minimum of 4. It is well worth the 2 influence.
I’ll keep the ICE section short, as there’s really not that much to say. I only run 15, mostly in order to increase the number of assets I can run. It can feel light on ICE sometimes, but that usually means you are drawing those assets instead, and can use them to apply remote pressure while you find more ICE for centrals and scoring. A majority of the ICE is fairly cheap, and is really just meant to get you through the early game. Much of the smaller ICE is still useful later, seeing as you can throw one over an asset the runner is going to want to trash just to make it more taxing. There’s four pieces of decent sized ICE in the deck – Wormhole, Tollbooth, Archer, and Assassin – and this seems to be enough to be able to provide a nice tax on the servers that will are likely get run on the most, depending on the matchup.
There are only four barriers in the deck, which is odd for Weyland, because they’re supposedly known for them. The thing is, most barriers just aren’t that taxing, and none of them hurt for the runner to face check, so I simply don’t include that many. The barriers I’ve chosen to include are Ice Wall, which is chosen because it only costs a credit and ends the run, and Spiderweb, which taxes either 3 credits to Corroder, or 2 counters to Lady. Enigma fills the hole of a smallish code gate, simply because Weyland doesn’t really have good choices in faction, and with only 15 ICE I can’t really afford to play positional things like Wendigo. As I said earlier, Pop-up Window is somewhere between economy and protection, but feels really good in the deck. Caduceus is one of Weyland’s only ICE that is taxing for the runner to check without an appropriate breaker installed, so it makes sense to include at least one.
The last ICE is Tour Guide. He’s a weird one, and is either amazing, almost useless, or somewhere in between. He’s also the card I’m least sure about in this deck list. His strength is 0, which leads to Parasitic problems. Because he gains subroutines only when assets are rezzed, he can be literally blank. However, he can also be a sentry with 6 end the run subroutines. Heck, a lot of the time a sentry with a single ETR sub is good, simply because the vast majority of sentries don’t end the run. He also performs another roll in the deck: promoting the trashing of installed assets. I’ve said numerous times that I actually want the runner to be trashing things; this little guy gives a gentle nudge in that direction. That’s the reason I’m running 2 of him and only 1 Caduceus instead of the other way around.
Finally, there’s Ash 2X3ZB9CY. He’s the last piece of the Weyland puzzle in that he can help you score those last few agendas that are normally so hard. It’s not like it’s news that Ash is an amazing card, but he is so, so good in this deck. The extra Gagarin tax goes very far with this dude, saving valuable credits on the times when you need to boost the trace, since you only need to trace the runner to the point where they don’t have a credit left for the Gagarin access. If they trash him, he costs 4 rather than the normal 3. Plus, if they do, then you can Team Sponsorship him right back, or Interns him right back, or, if you’re feeling spicy/desperate, use Jackson to shuffle him into R&D, fetch him up with Project Atlas or TFIN, and put him right back. It’s very taxing for the runner to get rid of him from a remote, and soul crushing to see the same Ash just reappear. I’m pretty sure crushing someone’s soul is worth, like, 4 credits at least.
Cards that didn’t make the cut
A question I’ve fielded a number of times is “why isn’t Launch Campaign a Capital Investors instead?” The answer is that it used to be, but Capital Investors sucks. I wanted a card in that slot that had a lowish trash cost that the runner still wanted to run on and get rid of, and Capital Investors seemed like an okay card for that slot. Plus, whenever I have a free click, if it’s alive, I can click for 2 credits instead of 1. Seems okay, right? The problem is that in order to feel like I’ve accomplished something in life when I rez it, I want to click it for the entire turn to get value. It costs 2, so the first click is just a click to pay for rezzing it, which feels gross. The next two clicks gain me 4 credits ahead of where I was. The runner runs it, it trashes for 3, and that’s okay. However, there are very, very few turns in the game where I want to use the entire thing just clicking for credits. If I have spent the entire turn clicking for 4, I’ve come out exactly 1 credit ahead of where I would be just clicking for them normally. Sure, the runner needs to go kill it for me to not get more value out of it, which costs them the money that I want it to cost them, but it just feels very, very slow. Most of the games, it would sit on the table, unrezzed. I have a lot of things I want to be doing with my clicks in this deck, and Launch Campaign is clickless to get money from. I’ve made the switch, and I haven’t looked back.
Paywall Implementation is a card I used to have in the deck as well. The general idea was that I could increase the value of the runner’s runs on my remotes by not only having them pay the Gagarin access, but by Paywall gaining me a credit as well. Mostly I liked it, but I took it out for a couple reasons. The first reason was simply deck slots. I don’t like running a lot of operations in this deck, because that leaves less room for assets and ICE (which I’m already pretty light on). The second reason was that sometimes the little bit of extra value Paywall created for me would be what tipped runners over into not running my assets as often until they could get an agenda out of a central or my scoring remote, and that’s something I really don’t want.
Turtlebacks is another card I have seen in Gagarin, and that’s something I just haven’t been able to get behind. They give you money for installing remotes, which is great, but 2 to rez means that it takes 2 installs to get them to even pay for themselves, let alone actually make you money. They’re already slow to get set up, but if you see them late in the game it’s very possible that they’ll be dead weight, since there might not be enough new servers left to create in the game for them to be profitable. The other econ options I have available to me just seem like they’re better at all points in the game. The trash cost is pretty tasty, but overall the card just seems very much not worth it for the price, influence cost, and deck space.
Something I’ve also seen talked about (and have considered myself) is Architect. It has a lot of Gagarin synergy in that it helps me install all the things I want to install as well as recur things from Archives, which is already a theme in the deck. It’s really the influence that’s holding me back. If I wanted one or two, I’d probably have to take out the Pop-up windows, the Tollbooth, or both – that’s really my only slightly mobile influence if I want to keep the same general build. Tollbooth does a lot of work in taxation, and Pop-ups are amazing for throwing at assets to make me money and tax the runner’s. I could maybe see making Tollbooth an Architect if D4v1d is just everywhere (and it might be getting there), but this also leaves me down a large, taxing piece of ICE, which is not good. More likely, the two Pop-ups could turn into an Architect and either another Ice Wall or an Quandary, but this removes a small bit of econ while also leaving the deck slightly more expensive to rez. I could really see playing around with the deck to try and fit Architect in, though – it might have a place somewhere.
Lastly, probably the biggest question I get is why I am not running Oaktown Renovation. It is a truly bonkers agenda. Making money while I score out points? Sign me the hell up. However, it just doesn’t fit into what the deck needs, based on the agenda outline above. NAPD is so, so relevant in both taxing the runner as well as scoring out that there’s no real replacement of it. Atlas is Weyland’s only 3/2, and is therefor also irreplaceable. TFIN gets me single cards that I need on a per-matchup basis, can also be a naked agenda (seeing as the three Atlas’ aren’t really enough by themselves), and fuels Archer and Corp Town. Food gets me a safe-to-run 3-point agenda, and increases deck slots slightly. If a gun was pointed at me and I had to put Oaktown in, I might actually go -2 Food, -1 Launch Campaign, +3 Oaktown, and maybe make either Assassin or Wormhole another Tollbooth to use the influence (or more probably make a Tour Guide into an Architect to try that out). Either way, that adds more agendas to the deck, which I think is bad, and it takes Food out, which I also think is bad. NAPD’s can’t look like Food (since it’s not there), which is bad. I just think it makes the deck a weaker version of what it is. Maybe a lot of testing could prove me wrong; I’d certainly be willing to at least try it, but right now I’m not sold.
Things change from matchup to matchup, but I’ll walk you through the basic shape of a game. Generally, a good opening hand has at least one ICE, an assortment of assets, and maybe a Hedge Fund. An agenda is fine too, especially when it’s a 3/2 or 3/1. Really, the only agenda I’m not wild about seeing in an opening hand is Food. As I said, I like to play unadvanced agendas early, and a turn one agenda can certainly be a play, especially when paired with an asset alongside it. Most of the ICE is cheap, so being lowish on credits can be okay for a little bit. Build your credit pool through your drip, click for the occasional credit when you need to, create servers like it’s your job, and start a scoring remote. Usually I do this in front of a Launch Campaign or a Public Support, since the runner likes to trash these, and protecting them either lets them fulfill their purpose or makes the runner spend more to get rid of them.
In the midgame, it’s good to have a disposable asset server for things like Launch Campaign with a small piece of ICE to increase the annoyance factor. Team Sponsorship is good to throw in servers like this as well, since it’s a very good trash target, as it can run away with the game if left unchecked. Basically, any really high-value asset could have an ICE in front of it; just read the game state and think of what the runner should trash, then make it annoying for them to do so. The server will almost certainly get used again for more of the same. By this time, a larger server should be established as a scoring remote, and hopefully it has an Ash in it. You can still try and bluff out naked agendas if you want, but the remote is usually a safer play at this point. If you need money, Launches can go here instead of in a less safe server, though don’t be afraid to overwrite one if a scoring opportunity presents itself.
The late game is usually just beefing up whatever servers the runner can win on while looking to score that last agenda. Public Support is amazing here, because it can present a threat of a win without giving the runner something to win on themselves, and their run to trash it might be the run you need to open a scoring window for a real agenda.
I’m not going to go super duper in depth as to what exactly to do in each matchup, simply because the games can play out drastically differently depending what order you draw your cards in. Instead, I’ll try and cover what cards are good in general, bad scenarios to watch out for, and how to help fix or prevent those scenarios.
Kate has money, so it’s important to try and tax her wherever you can. Usually this means your big ICE goes over R&D and the scoring remote – no surprises there. Make her check your unrezzed assets, and probably put Public Support in a remote to make her spend more money to get it. Keep presenting threats in terms of high value assets to open scoring windows. Having multiple turns in a row where you don’t present more things for her to do usually just results in her sitting back and getting cards and money, which isn’t great for you. Getting a Jackson behind a piece of ICE is good, since it allows you to draw into more options to present for her.
Right now there’s a couple variants of Prepaid Kate running around – the ones with Parasite/Stimhack/Datasucker, and Noah’s variant with D4v1d. Figuring out which you’re playing against is crucial, as that drastically effects which of your ICE are best. If there’s no Parasite in the deck, Tour Guide’s value skyrockets, as does most of your smaller ICE. Conversely, Tollbooth gets a lot worse, since it’s just 3 bucks and a D4v1d counter to get through. Archer goes up, though, since it takes either an entire D4v1d to break or an Atman at 6, since usually that deck doesn’t play Sharpshooter. Some non-D4v1d decks use Cyber-Cypher, some use just Gordian Blade; figuring that out is also important, as it makes Wormhole and Tollbooth more or less useful.
If I can at all help it, I like to leave HQ undefended for as long as possible. If I’m doing a good job, I can just throw whatever I draw into remotes. Early Atlas’ or TFIN’s get played naked along with assets, NAPDs can often be scored, and I don’t feel too bad if I have to have an agenda in hand if I have 4-5 cards. If I get a couple agendas with nowhere for them to go, then ICEing HQ is great, but delaying it allows me to place ICE where it’s usually needed more: R&D and remotes.
Ash is a key card in most matchups, but he usually sees the most play here. If I can recur a thing in a game against Prepaid Kate, it’s usually going to be an Ash, since it’s good on both the scoring server as well as R&D.
Stimshop Chaos Theory
It’s not the world’s most popular archetype, but Chaos Theory tends to run Magnum Opus, which can lead to hard times for a deck like this. It’s actually not a bad matchup for Gagarin, but you need to ICE more remotes than usual, so it can get hard if you don’t see enough ICE in the early game. As with Kate, getting a protected Jackson is great. You need to make more remotes than she can trash easily while protecting a few along the way. Again, leaving HQ undefended can help you defend the remotes that she wants to click up and trash. Other than that, the game is basically just making her run more than Magnum allows.
I’m going to loop most Criminals together here, as the game plan tends to be similar against most of them. Against Criminal, you’re probably not going to have enough ICE to protect all your remotes from Security Testing and Bank Job unless they’re trashing them. Fortunately, one of the best things to do with the Security Testing and Bank Job money is to trash remotes. You’ll want ICE in front of your best ones, which are usually monetary assets. Getting through the early game is the most important against criminal, and that takes money. Most of your assets are going to be rezzed the turn after installation, but consider leaving a couple unrezzed to fend off Account Siphon if you can’t get any reasonable sized ICE in front of HQ. The Root is great for this, as you can use it to rez ICE on the Account Siphon itself as well as lower your money, making the Siphon worse for them. If you can get The Root protected somewhat, you can use those free credits for a while, making play at lower money levels more doable.
I get a lot of questions about Desperado, as it effectively turns off the Gagarin tax, seeing as they get the credit on the successful run, and then can use it for the access. My answer to that is that yes, it’s really annoying. However, criminals rely on making that money when they run, and you still end up taxing it out of them. They still need real money to trash your shit, and they’re not getting it from Desperado itself, so long as they’re running remotes. It also means that naked agendas become a worse idea, since checking things pays for itself, so take that into consideration.
Corp Town is usually a good rez against criminal, since you can kill things like SecTest, Daily Casts, and Kati Jones. You’ll usually want to protect it, since it can hurt their economy quite a lot until they can get in and kill it, giving you scoring windows.
So you’ll notice that I talk about naked agendas, like, a lot. Leela turns that off almost entirely. The plays she can make after bouncing key ICE back make it completely not worth the risk. Instead, just use a scoring server. That and the fact that you need to ICE central servers taller and sooner means that this matchup is much more volatile in the early game than against most other flavors of criminal. Your remotes get less ICE, which means that SecTest and Bank Job get more leverage. Lastly, advancing a Wormhole just asks for punishment, so either don’t install it (since 9 is a hard sell for a rez cost) or don’t advance it if you do. Other than that, it’s fairly similar to standard Criminal, just harder.
Unfortunately, a lot dies to Parasite in this deck. That’s your life now, so deal with it as best you can. Try to hold onto additional ICE to replace that which dies, and try and spend most of your recursion on the same.
The card that scares me most every time I play Noise, though, is Imp. My usual rule is if I see an Imp, I purge an Imp. It’s hell on tempo, but it’s more of a tempo loss to have Noise come and trash 2-3 things per Imp install.
The best card in this matchup (and, indeed, against all Anarchs) is Corp Town. If you can get it out and get it protected, it almost wins the game by itself. Sometimes, it’s even right to throw an Ash on it, just to make sure it lives. 90% of Noise’s econ comes from Aesop’s, Daily Casts, and Wyldside, so shutting that down makes it very hard for him to win. You can score out as he struggles to get back in the game.
Try and get multi-sub ICE on your remote and R&D for when Faust comes out, because at that point you’re trying to tax both his credits as well as his hand, and Archer is perfect for this. It has enough subroutines to mow through and entire D4v1d, and takes 5 cards to break the relevant subroutines for Faust. Putting Ash in a remote means there’s a good chance he won’t have enough cards and credits to get in twice, and might make him give up on it entirely.
This is usually a pretty hard matchup, because 3 free credits a turn to trash my shit can sometimes be too much. God help you if he’s playing Imp, Scrubber, or Desperado for some reason. Usually they don’t, because 3 free trashing credits are enough. Either way, almost every remote is probably going to need ICE, which makes centrals weaker. This also makes naked agendas a weaker play, since he’s more likely to check what you put down, but this is okay, since the reason you play naked agendas is to get runners checking your remotes anyhow. On the plus side, he “only” gets three credits a turn, so if you can get a protected Jackson out, you can draw into more assets and ICE to help advance your board state faster than he can wreck it, similar to against a Magnum Opus deck. As with all Anarchs, Corp Town hoses him pretty hard, and can really turn a bad match around. It’s a harder matchup, but far from unwinable; it’s just going to be more of a struggle than usual. Desperado Val is a similar match to Whizzard, since she gets 2 free credits on a successful run, so a large portion of the above is true in that machup as well.
So far I haven’t lost a game vs Minh MaxX, but almost all of those games were won on a knife’s edge. DLR decks don’t play Netrunner the same way most other decks do, so you have to change your game plan accordingly.
I’ve learned that in the DLR matchup, the only card you care about at all is Corp Town. Just get it out, and protect it however you possibly can. Getting it out too early can get you wrecked, though, since if they can get breakers and money they can trash it before it does the damage you need it to. If they do trash it at any point, try and get another agenda scored, and try and recur it back into a secure remote. If you can do that, the deck has a very hard time winning. It might seem counter-intuitive, but killing econ assets first is usually better than killing the more threatening DLR and Wireless Net, because monetary assets are the cards needed for MaxX to get in and trash Corp Town. Make MaxX poor, then go after the rest of her resources. It can also be good play to use Corp Town to trash her Wireless Net’s, then use your credits to trash resources as well to speed up the process of turning the DLR machine off. Even if you just end up trashing the Fall Guys, it keeps her from trashing the Fall Guys to turn into credits for a run to trash Corp Town.
HQ is the other server you really need to worry about, since Siphon is a thing. Getting one of the large ICE over it is fairly important. Wormhole is fantastic to get out, since a fully advanced wormhole can be rezzed to protect a server even at 0 credits. This is great to protect Corp Town as well.
Mainly, just get Corp Town out and try and weather the storm, scoring where you can. I’ve won by letting MaxX go through her deck twice before she could go through mine once, and that’s a very good feeling.
This matchup is a different story, mainly because of two cards: Blackmail and Scrubber. Keeping a Corp Town alive is still very key to winning, but it is much harder when she can Blackmail through your server and trash it for a discount. Ash is very, very good here, as that makes Blackmail a worse option if you can keep her off getting a good Siphon.
Overall, though, this is probably the deck’s worst matchup, but I’m not going to feel too bad, as this is most corp’s hardest matchup. If I were seeing DLR Val a lot, I’d consider playing 2 Corp Towns and another Public Support to help fuel them, but even then I think it would still be hard. Fortunately, I haven’t been playing against it as much any more, so I feel okay with my current build. As it is, naked agendas are good when she’s in the early game, since the deck needs to draw a lot to get set up, and doesn’t have time or money to check everything. If Scrubber comes out early, though, try to pay attention to what the player likes to do. If they ignore remotes til they’re rezzed, sneak out an agenda. If they don’t, try and find another avenue.
Lastly, remember that NAPDs are now 5/2 agendas, thanks to NAPD’s oft-forgotten drawback. It sucks a lot, but that’s your life now that Val has Bad Publicity on you.
Other than that, the matchup is similar to Minh MaxX, since they’re 90% the same deck. That 10% makes life pretty difficult, though.
Overall, the deck feels very strong right now. Mainly, I think it’s that this deck can do what so far only Blue Sun has been able to achieve – it can actually pressure the runner through remote play, and use that pressure to score. And, unlike rush decks, it can do that without the need for your agendas to be your only pressure.
I know there are other Gagarin builds out there that people have come up with. I’m sure that this deck probably isn’t 100% perfect. However, this is the best feeling Gagarin build I have played so far, and it’s the best feeling Weyland deck I’ve played in a long time. It’s not flashy; it’s not going to kill people. But if you like winning corp games while also playing Weyland, I honestly think Gagarin is in a really good place right now.
Most Wanted List
So about a day and a half after this article went live, the rules for competitive Netrunner changed. Fortunately, it doesn’t affect this deck as much as several others (RIP Pre-paid Kate). It does affect it slightly, though, because a major agenda within this deck was on the Most Wanted List: NAPD Contract. As I said in the main body of the article, this is a pretty key agenda to the workings of the deck, and I really think the deck can’t simply switch to something like Oaktown Renovation and call it a day. The way I see it, there are a couple edits to the deck that could be made. I’m testing them both, and I’ll see which comes out ahead. I’ll go over those edits in a bit, but first there’s some influence shuffling that needs to happen.
If this deck is to keep any amount of NAPDs in it, some influence needs to go away. The easiest place for this to happen is the Pop-up Windows. These were really a luxury for the deck, and while they were very nice, they are by far the most mobile influence. There really isn’t any ICE that’s near Tollbooth in terms of taxation for it’s size, Ash can’t leave the deck, and Team Sponsorship is necessary for the recursion the deck relies on. Obviously Jackson Howard goes nowhere. So, assuming we’re keeping Global Food Initiative and as many NAPDs as can fit, that leaves the deck at one influence over limit.
The first possibility is to replace a single NAPD contract with an Oaktown Renovation, and then replace the Pop-up windows with small-ish ICE to cover for them. Right now, I’m using an Ice Wall and another Caduceus. Since they’re replacing Pop-up Window, I didn’t want to put in anything too expensive, because this ICE slot is usually meant for asset protection. Ice Wall only costs 1 credit to bring up, and Caduceus gives another ICE that can be painful to face-check, which is always nice.
The second possibility is to make the same ICE edits as above, but instead of removing an NAPD contract, remove a Global Food Initiative instead, replacing it with 2 Oaktown Renovations. This leaves the deck at 50 cards, so I also took out a Launch Campaign, seeing as Oaktown Renovation also functions as economy and Launch Campaign is the least taxing of the assets to trash. It is possible to instead remove a copy of The Future Is Now, bringing it back down to 20 agenda points, but I’m keeping it in for now as I test it to minimize the number of changes to the deck at once.
Once I find which changes turn out to be the best, I’ll let folks know in the comments.