This is a tier 1 deck.
Right, maybe it’s a bit arrogant to be the judge of whether or not my own deck is tier 1, but at least I have your attention now. Some readers will already be familiar with Bootcamp Glacier; but when I brought it into the recent StimHack Invitational, several runners didn’t know how to play against it and there was even some commentary that I’d be better off trying to play my strategy in HB or RP. So it seems this deck is still a dark horse! It’s a very flexible and resilient choice going into regionals season, but it can be very punishing of “playing on autopilot” mistakes, which means it’s time for an article to demystify it.
If this sounds new to you, read on. If you’re already sold on ditching your hostile takeovers, skip ahead to the Matchups section for some in-depth strategy discussion.
Since the days of the core set, the big W has been synonymous with Scorched Earth. Weyland never had any good cards for fast-advance, and the only way to get decent economy (Hostile Takeover, Geothermal Fracking) came with bad publicity attached, putting glacier off the table. So if you were playing green cards, you were sure to be trying to destroy the runner’s programs and then burn their house down.
With more expansions, the strategy only got weaker and weaker. Plascrete Carapace made supermodernism’s win condition inconsistent at best, and cheap breakers like Sharpshooter and the universally-playable all-star Faerie made it extremely easy for the runner to make your best ice embarrassing. Spin cycle brought GRNDL, Punitive Counterstrike, and Grim to give the strategy a bit more teeth, but with Sweeps Week, Fast Track, Caprice Nisei, Sundew, and The Future Perfect, the other corps were getting better faster. At the end of the day, smart runners had plenty of options for playing around SEA Source, Snare, and Archer. You couldn’t “play around” the astrotrain or a psi game.
Enter Blue Sun.
The obvious combo suddenly allowed weyland players to apply a lot more pressure to a runner’s economy. They’d either bend over backwards to kill an Oversight AI’ed Curtain Wall when it appeared, or miss the boat on breaking it and need to juggle paying through the curtain to steal an agenda and stay rich enough to avoid SEA source at the same time. There’s no doubt blue sun was a huge boost for supermodernism decks… but even so: plascrete still existed and archer could still be played around. The deck was still weak to a patient runner who moneys up, lets you rush out a first few points, and then locks you out of your scoring remote in the endgame while finishing your off on centrals.
I think for a long time the community did not realize how great Blue Sun’s ability is for the glacier plan. People instead focused on the fact that, in terms of the game’s flavor, weyland is all about winning in a totally over-the-top way (trashing the runner’s rig or catching them in a flatline). But in terms of strategy, I call this “win-more”.
The ID ability gives so much flexibility in terms of reacting to what the runner is doing. On paper it seems like this might be about sudden influxes of credits for flatlining, but the more resilient (and much more potent) threat is that at any moment where the runner is poor or missing a breaker, the corp could rearrange their board and credit pool to find a really crazy scoring window for their 5/3 out of seemingly nowhere.
Winning Just Enough
“Wait a sec. You said archer and scorch are win-more cards, but I thought there was no such thing as win-more in netrunner!”
Not so. Think about all the games you’ve lost because your SEAs and scorches were “blank cards”: when you draw them in your opening hand instead of ICE on a bad mulligan, when the runner has I’ve Had Worse or plascrete, or when they have more money than you. If we already expect runners to play around the fragile but popular meat damage cards, why not spend those 4-5 deck slots and 2-4 influence on something more resilient that can help us come back from behind as well as help us win?
On the other hand, think about a game where you did win with a flatline: you must have had a substantial credit lead on the runner (not to mention an agenda point lead to pressure them into over-extending). If we’re giving up on the scorch plan, all we need instead are cards that let us leverage a pile of money into scoring agendas. The usual glacier package of Ash 2X3ZB9CY, Tollbooth, and NAPD Contract fills both roles — losing less, and winning just enough.
Likewise, with the bad publicity / program-trashing strategy, you might score some free wins against careless runners who overextend into an archer, but you give up the late-game staying power that glacier offers against skilled runners who know how to avoid getting their programs trashed. When I choose my deck with an eye for the top tables at regionals, I’m gonna assume my opponents will be careful.
The “win-more” factor comes into play when you consider the opportunity cost of including a card that helps you ONLY when you’re winning versus a flexible card that can serve both as a win condition AND as a way to come back from behind. That’s what bootcamp glacier is about: we’re forgoing the possibility to snowball and get “free wins” in favor of the ability to very consistently “barely” win with a score of 7-6.
With me still? Ok, on to the deck tech.
Here’s the build I played in the SSCI. It’s not fixed in stone, as there are a couple tech slots to adjust based on the expected metagame, but it’s close to optimal and it’s within 2 or 3 cards of what I’ll bring to regionals.
Bootcamp Glacier, Ben Blum (bblum), 19th place SSCI (126 players)
Blue Sun: Powering the Future
1x Corporate War
3x NAPD Contract
2x Priority Requisition
3x Project Atlas
1x Adonis Campaign ••
2x Executive Boot Camp
3x Jackson Howard •••
2x Ash 2X3ZB9CY ••••
2x Crisium Grid
3x Hedge Fund
3x Oversight AI
1x Snatch and Grab
3x Curtain Wall
2x Ice Wall
Code Gate (8)
2x Lotus Field ••
2x Tollbooth ••••
15 influence spent (max 15)
20 agenda points (between 20 and 21)
49 cards (min 45)
Cards up to Order and Chaos
Here are a couple similar builds from other players, although I’ll mostly focus on my own card choices.
Root+Adonis Glacier, Noah McKee (Nobo715), 5th-6th place SSCI (126 players)
3 Adonis Glacier, Minh Tran (mtgred), 9th-12th place SSCI (126 players)
Rootcamp, falseidol, 1st place SSCI LCQ (29 players)
Bootcamp Glacier, Ron Zacapa, 1st place SC Brussels (21 players)
Bootcamp Glacier, Luis Escudero, 1st place SC Madrid (14 players)
Nuclear Ice Cream, licoricemaniac, 1st place SC Montreal (15 players)
The main feature of the deck I want to highlight is the agenda composition: 7x two-pointers and 2x Priority Requisition. Glacier decks have always had to find a solution to “the 5/3 problem” — coping with the high-variance possibility that the runner will randomly grab 3 points off the top of R&D in the early game, establishing a lead that’s very hard to come back from. RP solves this with The Future Perfect, of course. Here, the solution is your Project Atlas counters.
The trick is that since you only have 2 copies of the 5/3, you can make them difficult for the runner to find (e.g., hiding them with jackson and overprotecting R&D with tollbooths or hives), and then using an atlas counter to go put one into your remote when a scoring window opens. Once you get one 5/3 into your score area, the other is hard enough to find that it usually takes the runner 4 agenda scores to win, while you only need 3. It’s like the effect you get from playing Shi.Kyu in Harmony Medtech, but without even needing to spend card slots on it.
Sounds far-fetched? Watch the commentary videos I’ll post down at the bottom of the article. It’s a small sample size, but in my experience, it’s very common to win with a score of 7-6, and very uncommon to lose 6-7 (losses tend to be 4-8 or 5-8).
Deciding what to do with your pri-req when you draw it naturally is probably the most skill-testing (and potentially punishing) part of playing this deck. The normal reflex is to Jackson Howard it away, and that’s usually correct in situations where you have to play passively, but jacksoning too much can degrade your R&D density for the late game. If you sense a scoring window coming up, you can manipulate the runner’s perceptions about whether it’s worth Legworking by discarding with jackson but keeping the agenda. Other times, especially against anarchs and/or when your centrals are under heavy pressure, the remote can be the safest place to store it while you wait for jackson to show up.
There’s less to say about the other agendas. NAPD Contract in particular is good when the runner tries to lock you out of your remote by taking a pile of money and forcing you to play passively — it serves as the game’s best advanceable trap when you install-advance-advance it, which both threatens a 5/3 score and threatens to slowly score 4 2-pointers if the runner ignores it.
Corporate War is just a worse NAPD, but the (clickless) 7 credit refund is sometimes better than an atlas counter. I’ll probably swap it for the upcoming Oaktown Renovation.
While OAI+curtain looks on paper like an easy way to make 13 credits over and over, the reality is that Lunar gave runners plenty of ways to cheaply interact in the form of D4v1d and Cerberus “Lady” H1. That’s where Adonis Campaign comes in. It’s not that either is the primary econ engine and the other is the backup plan — more like, having both lets you overwhelm the runner by putting both out at the same time, ensuring that at least one will stick. (And often, if one sticks while the runner spends out to trash the other, you’ll end up with a scoring window as a bonus.)
Executive Boot Camp lets you have 3 adonises in your deck for only 2 influence, and Interns lets you bring a trashed adonis back quickly without having to jackson back the whole EBC+adonis package and wait to draw it again. Additionally, EBC gives a ton of flexibility in terms of rearranging unrezzed ice, shuffling to foil an Indexing, and completely hosing “unrezzed-matters” runners like Valencia, Leela (sort of), and Nasir. Likewise, interns is a great card for both defense and aggression, alternately bringing back adonis, ash, and crisium depending on how you need to react to the runner. Whenever I shuffle cards back with jackson, I’ll shuffle all my copies of interns before anything else.
19 ice may seem like a lot for blue sun, who can bounce and relocate ice as needed, but the ice suite is pretty aggressively split between early-game and late-game cards, without much middle-ground. In your opening hand, you want to see as many copies of Caduceus, Hive, and Datapike as possible, but in the late game these cards can often become irrelevant, and it’s better to liquidate them and dump their rez cost into an Ash trace. Likewise, there needs to be a critical density of taxing late-game ice or you won’t be able to score your last agenda (wormhole is a much worse tollbooth, as it can only copy ETR in this deck, but it still works to score behind late-game).
Leaving aside Curtain Wall’s obvious role in the OAI combo, Hive and Caduceus are our most important ice for establishing an early lead. Hive is a big pain for a runner who needs to pay through it repeatedly: crims will pay 12-15 credits to get past hive and ash to kill your adonis, while shapers need to spend 3/4ths of a Lady — either way, it’s often a choice for the runner between letting you keep adonis or giving up a scoring window. Caduceus is huge against 0-link runners, as the 5 credit tax goes a long way to dissuade face-checking.
The luxury of playing a no-scorch build is there’s a lot of spare deck space for cards that hose the runners we’re most afraid of. Change these around freely depending on what’s popular in your area.
Crisium Grid serves as an Ash for defending your centrals. It’s key against Prepaid Kate (otherwise the hardest matchup) for doubling the cost to play multiaccess events. It also makes it more than twice as expensive for runners to get in with Account Siphon, Emergency Shutdown, and Eater.
Snatch and Grab lets you blow up Kati Jones, a staple of anarch economy, who’s only going to get more and more ubiquitous in the post-Clot meta. It’s at its best in this deck, where you only need 1 copy and can tutor it out with atlas at a key moment.
Taurus eats R&D Interfaces, which haven’t been as common lately in shaper builds but, again, because of Clot, I expect to see coming back in force during regionals season. Plus, as a 5-strength sentry that’s not a destroyer, it’s very difficult for many runners to interact with.
Changeling used to be a popular choice for hosing Mimic-only shaper decks, but as those have started to play 1x Atman or Femme Fatale recently, it’s too narrow and not high-impact enough that I’ll always prefer a crisium over it. That said, Nobo715’s SSCI list played 2 Changeling and 2 Patch, so maybe there’s still some unexplored territory.
Let’s talk about how to beat the runner decks I’m most watching out for going into regionals. Moreso than any other corp deck, you can’t simply play bootcamp glacier on “autopilot”, but have to play several turns in advance to foil the runner’s game plan.
Calimsha PPVP kate
Against an expert kate player who understands the matchup herself, this is probably the worst matchup for the deck. You should expect Kate to be able to blow up your OAIs with Lady any time after turn 3 or so, which means at best you can use it to distract the runner so you can make your adonis safe. In other matchups, it’s equal priority in the early game to score atlas with a counter or to get adonis to stick. Against Kate, the fast adonis is the only thing that matters. Kate is best at answering one corp threat at a time, so if she can take out adonis and get time to recharge before OAI shows up, you’ll be broke all game. The econ works best when you can make adonis and OAI at the same time.
On paper, the atlas counter is really strong early because it threatens the pri-req scoring window at any moment, but kate’s credit pool is so unpredictable that you need to have a long drawn-out battle over their Cyber-Cyphers/Ladies/Scavenges before the window will appear (it typically appears around when she plays Levy AR Lab Access). For this reason I try to put a code gate on HQ and archives (to make Dirty Laundry difficult) and to put off scoring so that hive takes 3 Lady counters instead of 2 for as long as possible.
Crisium is huge in this matchup for foiling all their event multi-access, and you should make sure it stays on R&D every single turn. The more Maker’s Eyes you allow to connect, the farther behind you will fall. You should expect to need to give up 1 or even 2 NAPDs in your remote to make a scoring window, so you can’t afford to lose too many points on centrals. If the runner comes to trash your crisium, put it back with interns. (If she runs again on the same turn after trashing crisium, take advantage of her overextending to make a score of your own.)
Here’s a commentated SSCI game between Kiv and myself of this matchup, and here’s another with Calimsha.
Other PPVP kate (with a permanent decoder)
Outside of the online / stimhack league metagame, Calimsha’s recursion-heavy Kate isn’t as popular as the more money-hungry builds that play Gordian Blade (such as the SSCI-winning deck). Here your lotus fields tax for 3 credits instead of 1, and tollbooths for 7 instead of 5, so it’s easier to play a straightforward glacier game instead of bouncing remotes around. S&G can sometimes kill a Kati Jones, which may not create an immediate scoring window but will always put you solidly in the lead. On the other hand, this kind of deck usually plays 2 or more RDIs instead of all event multiaccess, so (as I found out in round 6 of the SSCI) crisium grid alone isn’t enough to deflect the runner’s attention away from R&D. Play a mix of crisium and taurus if you expect to face this deck.
Chaos Theory Stimshop
RDI is the natural enemy of glacier, and it’s especially intimidating when all 3 copies come down for free by turn 5. On the other hand, Magnum Opus economy can make CT much more predictable in the late-game than PPVP kate, allowing for easier creation of scoring windows if she over-extends or kills an OAI. Nevertheless, it can be impossible to break a remote-lock, so it’s more important than ever to IAA NAPD as a trap to drain her credit pool. It largely comes down to your luck with the runner not scoring in R&D, since you need to sacrifice some NAPDs in your remote to get breathing room. A taurus can go a long way here, which forces a femme instead of a mimic, which in turn makes caduceus all the more taxing. It’s a worse than average matchup and in the end you’ll have to rely on some coin-toss remote plays in terms of bluffing pri-req and NAPD as each other.
All criminal matchups are about the econ war, which is pretty straightforward: shut off security testing with a 2-3 cred tax on archives and play around siphon with enough ice on HQ to go broke rezzing it. You have to lean hard on adonis here, since the breakers can all come down very quickly and make your OAI combos nothing more than “the runner loses $11 and you lose one of your best ice”.
Any time you plan on having a remote or R&D curtain wall rezzed you also need to make emergency shutdown sufficiently taxing, which is best done with a crisium or tollbooth on HQ set up well in advance. This is also the matchup where Ice Wall is at its best, as it’s a cheap way when money is tight to protect yourself from Inside Job or to make your adonis safe early with 2 different types of gear-check. As for siphon, it’s one thing to avoid getting your money stolen by going broke, but do also watch out for the clever runner tactic of making siphon behave as Vamp on the turn you’re trying to score.
No matter the andy variant, your early game play is going to be pretty much the same. Mid and late game you’re going to need to spend a lot of time repositioning your ice based on their breaker suite. Against andysucker, don’t forget that Gordian Blade keeps its strength, and spread your code gates around. Against stealth andy, overload their refractor with multiple codegates on your remote (it’s because of this matchup that I play Wormhole rather than Orion), and if you can find all 3 caduceus then you overload switchblade as well (probably on HQ).
Here’s an old game from my stream showing the stealth andy matchup.
Are you in the habit of IAAing every agenda even if it’s not a 5/3? If not, better get some practice. Other matchups, it’s best to score your 5/3 second, since being at 5 points makes all your remote plays a lot more threatening than being at 4. Against Leela however, you have to play a lot more conservatively, giving yourself a spare click on your score turn to replace ice. It’s a harder and higher-variance matchup than Andy: if she can bounce your IAA 5/3, the scoring window for it might evaporate and never come back; but other times you can just get a free win when your R&D is made of titanium.
A lot of Leela builds play Rex and Passport instead of spending influence on a decoder, so you can threaten to gear check them for their second dog or just run adonis safely depending how they treat your remote server.
There are a lot of different Val builds, but they usually seem to pack the dual threat of Blackmail (to slow down your remote play) and Medium (often combined with Incubator and/or more blackmails) to win with a small handful of high-impact R&D runs. It’s easy to say in theory that if you can bootcamp all your ice, you win, but it can be tricky to do as it’s very slow. You often have to bootcamp a remote ice to protect the bootcamp before you can bootcamp R&D to defend against medium, so we’re talking 3+ turns. Protect your R&D with ash, as it’s often enough to focus on gear-checking for your remote, even into the end-game (Lotus Field lets you gear-check anarchs 4 times instead of 3).
Here’s a game from falseidol in the SSCI LCQ showing how to play against Eater builds.
This matchup is a cake-walk with optimal play but you do have to tread carefully. MaxX leans heavily on Account Siphon to fuel her economy, and on Retrieval Run to get free installs of her missing rig pieces. All it takes to foil that are having enough credits of ice on HQ to duck underneath a siphon by rezzing it all, and making archives taxing with a piece of early-game ice. You can’t stop retrieval run completely, but a single caduceus or hive (5-6 creds of tax) can go a long way, combined with playing around siphon, to making her too broke for keyhole to be threatening down the road.
Don’t leave your curtains rezzed after OAIing them, as a Knifed can put you broke and off-balance for several crucial turns. The option to use interns and/or bootcamp to fetch jackson makes Wanton Destruction less scary; and obviously if you draw one of your crisiums it can be worth 3+ turns of tempo.
This is the most interesting of the anarch matchups, as this MaxX has so many different angles of attack, so you can get a lot of cat-and-mouse play where both sides are jockeying for board position, fighting over the corp’s ice placement. The main threat is Datasucker and Parasite recursion: if you leave archives open and she can keep an early sucker on 2+ counters, she can insta-parasite your hives and prevent you from stabilizing, so you need to make archives taxing early.
As usual against anarchs, you gear check 4 times, and it’s hard for MaxX to assemble all 3 of Mimic, ZU.13 Key Master, and Corroder the first time through her deck, while simultaneously threatening a D4v1d+silverware play. Likewise, the gear checks are strong enough that OAI+curtain is easy enough to protect behind another piece of ice, but I’ll almost never leave a curtain wall rezzed after that for fear of it getting Knifed — just bounce it, save it for later OAIs, and rely on towers of hive/lotus/cad/booth for your staying power.
The only thing that matters in the midgame is fighting not to get your ice blown up in some way or another (parasite, silverware, or daviding OAIs), and it can even be worth giving up 2 agenda points if it keeps your board stable. It’s like how in the Calimsha kate matchup you are too focused on protecting adonis to afford the tempo hit of scoring; here your adonis is safe but you have to protect your ice. Typically the right time for the first score is within a turn of the Levy. Late-game, you’ll have to eat your archives (and often HQ) ice to get enough money for your final score, opening back up to datasucker, but it can be okay if you can put enough pressure with your remote plays that she can’t afford to durdle around with the midgame parasite plan.
Here’s a game I recorded from some recent playtesting, and here’s another from Nobo715 during the last stimhack league top-4. No spoilers but both show the importance of playing around ice destruction (and the bit of luck needed to draw the right kinds of ice to be able to do so).
Blue sun glacier builds are very well-positioned going into regionals season. With the meta settling down after Clot’s release, runners will have a much easier time tweaking to beat the most popular corps, and RP and HB both have big targets painted on their heads. RP is weak to parasite- and imp-heavy anarch strategies, and HB has always had trouble beating Andromeda.
Blue sun has very good matchups against red and blue cards, being naturally resistant to Parasite, Femme Fatale, and Account Siphon. Anarchs have to bend over backwards to kill anything with 2 or more strength (that’s everything, of course). And because of Clot shifting the meta towards glacier, a lot more runners will play femme again, in turn making this the best tollbooth deck in the format. Don’t miss out on it when you go to playtest for regionals.
Continue the discussion at forum.stimhack.com