Two weeks ago I took down Manchester Regionals in the UK with a standard Replicating Perfection deck and a Valencia deck that I’d been working on since Order and Chaos was released. I’ve declined to write a tournament report about the event itself as, other than getting food poisoning, throwing up and being granted a time extension to buy a new shirt, the tournament itself wasn’t that interesting. You can consider this deck ‘sick tech’.
When Valencia was spoiled, my first thought was to build a deck that aimed to run four times in a turn, since doing so would make her ability worth a frankly absurd 4 credits. While Blackmail was obviously going to be good in any Valencia deck, the puzzle for me was figuring out what kind of shell would work best beyond that. Keyhole and Eater seemed like the obvious path, since Keyhole was the perfect card for my ‘run four times a turn’ plan. After several iterations and a lot of tweaking I eventually ended up with this list:
Grim Feast (50 cards)
Valencia Estevez: The Angel of Cayambe
2 Deja Vu
3 Dirty Laundry
3 I’ve Had Worse
3 Sure Gamble
3 Clone Chip
3 Adjusted Chronotype
3 Kati Jones
This is the list that I took to Manchester with one change; I cut 1x Crypsis for 1x Knight. After the event I felt was a mistake, and have reverted for this list. This deck is a viable choice for Regionals and beyond because of the prevalence of Replicating Perfection in the current metagame. Desperado, Kati Jones, Vamp and Parasite are all very good against RP, and unless they pack Crisium Grid, this matchup is extremely favourable. I’ll talk about the various matchups in more detail later.
While many of the cards in the list are obvious, some might not be as clear. I will address those here.
- Clone Chip. I’m a fan of 3x Clone Chip in pretty much any Anarch deck, and that’s no exception here. Parasite is often a big part of your game plan, and you’re going to win a lot of games by recurring them. Add to that the synergy with Inject and I’m very happy to be spending 6 influence on 3 of these.
- Desperado. Spending 9 of our influence on 3 copies of a unique card in a 50 card deck might look crazy. However it’s hard to convey just how fantastic Desperado is in this list. The card’s power level is obviously high, but it’s even better than usual in a Valencia deck that packs Eater. You can expect to be picking up credits from this 3 cost hardware several times a turn consistently. It incentivizes stacking Datasucker counters and makes Keyhole spamming even more viable. It helps to turn the Bad Publicity money into real money. The impact this card has on the game shouldn’t be underestimated, and every version of this deck that I’ve played has packed 3.
- I’ve Had Worse, Inject, Wyldside. Spending click after click slowly drawing through your deck is a sure fire way to fall behind as Corps put more and more pressure on runners. This couldn’t be truer in Valencia, given that her 50 card deck size hurts consistency. This deck also includes cards like Blackmail, Kati Jones and Desperado, which have more of an impact than most of the other cards in the deck. Finding them quickly and consistently will be vital in a lot of our games. The Wyldside + Adjusted Chronotype combo was adopted from Joey Macmillan’s 2nd placing Valencia deck from the London Store Championships, and I’ve been happy with it so far. You want to be running and clicking up Kati on your turns, so clickless draw is valuable. Installing Wyldside on its own is also fine, especially since it helps you to find the Chronotype. If you’d rather durdle a little less, Wyldside and Chronotype could be replaced with Earthrise Hotel.
- Datasucker. While hardly a fringe card, this isn’t the auto include that it used to be in Anarch. Given its synergy with Parasite and the fact that we want to run a lot, Datasucker more than justifies itself here. It’s fairly common to spend your clicks running archives to get a counter and Desperado money, and if we’re on the Keyhole plan in a game Datasucker makes running R&D over and over again more efficient.
- Vamp. This card is very much a known quantity at this point, given how strong it is in Headlock Reina. It’s also great in this deck, turning a loaded Kati Jones into a huge problem for the corp and using Eater to make the Corp’s remote servers vulnerable. Desperado and Val’s Bad Publicity give it a little boost as well.
This is an attempt to pre-empt questions about why X or Y card isn’t in the deck.
- Wanton Destruction. Given its obvious synergy with Eater, this card might seem like a slam dunk. Unsurprisingly I did test it in the first conception of this deck, but slowly reduced the numbers and then cut it altogether. I found that making the corp discard non Agenda cards barely achieved anything, and without that factor Wanton is just a Legwork that costs 4 clicks. Maybe I just suck with Wanton, but I’ve found Vamp to be all the HQ pressure we need.
- Hades Shard. This is mostly an influence issue. I really like the 3x Desperado 3x Clone Chip spread and I dislike the thought of cutting any of them to make room for the Shard. It clearly synergises with Keyhole, but I tend to find that Blackmail and Crypsis will get you into an Iced up archives when the game winning agendas are in there. Jackson is an annoyance but in my experience he’s unlikely to be the difference between winning and losing when it comes to Keyhole.
- Same Old Thing. This card is fairly common in Valencia lists, but I found that it didn’t do enough. It is extra copies of Blackmail but I’d rather use Déjà Vu given that it’s more versatile. Corps have ways to fight Blackmail so having lots of copies of it won’t necessarily win you the game. We’re not interested in recurring anything except Vamp, so SOT is too narrow here.
- Knifed, Forked, Spooned. I don’t dispute that these cards synergise with Eater, and for me their exclusion is more of a deck slot issue than anything else. We’re already good at killing ice between Parasite, Clone Chip and Datasucker, so I chose to leave the Cutlery in the drawer. If you can find space for them I would respect their inclusion, and they may improve your HB matchup.
- Paige Piper. I’m probably biased against this card because I think people tend to overrate effects like this, but I did test it and decided that it wasn’t worth the slot. It’s obviously great if you see it on turn 1 and proceed to thin a lot of cards, but testing revealed that finding it by turn 3 or 4 was too late, as several unique cards would have already been installed. I’d certainly never play her over a card that actually puts more cards into your hand like Inject and I’ve Had Worse. The art is rad so I can respect running this card in casual play.
How to Win
Given the presence of Keyhole and Blackmail it isn’t hard to guess how this deck wins games. However, there are several paths to victory and lines of play that I felt would be helpful to outline here.
The first order of business and the deck’s main strength, is grinding out the game by making your turns more efficient than your opponent’s. Getting Kati Jones, Desperado, Datasucker, Wyldside and Adjusted Chronotype on the board means that you’re probably generating more resources per turn than your opponent. With this in place you can proceed to just let the game go on as long as possible, getting further and further ahead as it continues. This kind of plan is much easier as Runner than it is as Corp because you can deal with a lot of Corp advantages by trashing their assets and killing their ice. Once this is achieved there are several ways that you can ensure that the game actually ends in your favour.
- Keyhole. This is extremely obvious but it ought to be stated anyway. With Datasucker, Desperado and Bad Publicity your Keyhole runs will often fund themselves, and you can just spam it until you’ve scooped 7 points out of archives. This is your go to plan against non-RP Jinteki, and is often how you beat non-Blue Sun Weyland. This line has upside if you have shares in card sleeve manufacturers so bear that in mind.
- Ice Destruction. While always a weapon in your arsenal, sometimes this is a plan in and of itself. You’ll want to run a lot to build up Datasucker counters and Desperado credits anyway, so at some point you may decide that your aim is just to Parasite every piece of relevant ice that gets rezzed. Clone Chip and Déjà vu give you a lot of ways to recur Parasite after all. At some point the corp will hopefully run out of relevant Ice or money to rez it, at which point you can run wherever you want. This plan is most likely to work against NEXT Ice HB and Blue Sun. Consider taking this approach if your opponent owns promo Eli 1.0s since you might be able to sneak them into your heap and sell them for food after the game.
- Server Camping. Sometimes you may find that you don’t need to actually try and win yourself, and instead just wait for the corp to try to score something. At that point you can go in and get it. Blackmail is most obviously a part of this plan, but sometimes Vamp is even better, as it isn’t stopped by Caprice or Ash. Just keep acquiring resources and wait for the corp to try to end the game. This is your plan A against RP.
- The HQ Power Turn. This isn’t all that common given that Jackson Howard exists, but if it’s been a while since the corp has overdrawn and discarded with Jackson you’ll probably find that agendas have built up in HQ. At that point you can often Parasite your way in and run 3-4 times, scooping up a decent helping of points. Desperado and Datasucker will reward you for creating an open central anyway, so even if you don’t get a significant number of points by doing this it still creates a problem for the Corp.
If the Corp has a better lategame than you, or if they’re just playing a quick deck, the grinding plan isn’t as viable. These are the tougher matchups but you can still compete. Against the former, you either need to fight harder to get on top, trashing whatever is giving the Corp the advantage, or just get aggressive. Against the latter, aggression is clearly the only option. Desperado still pulls its weight when you’re trying to be aggressive, so you do have some options. Additionally some of the quicker decks are vulnerable to Keyhole spam, so try to get that going quickly if the long game isn’t an option.
I wanted to outline what playing against specific Corps is like, and how good or bad your matchup is. This list should help you to decide whether to run this list in your expected meta, and will give you a head start on any testing.
- Replicating Perfection. As mentioned above, I consider this to be a very good matchup. Both of you are good at building advantage turn by turn, but the difference is that you can disrupt their plan while they can’t do much about yours. Get Desperado and Kati into play, take down their Sundews and Mental Health Clinics, and wait for them to go for an agenda before landing the Vamp. Feel free to use your Blackmails to take Sundews down, but if you’re confident that you can get past any ice that they can afford to rez over them run it normally. You can often leave Daily Business Show alone because unless they have Crisium Grid in their deck none of their cards bother you very much. If an upgrade is installed in HQ start running it until you find out what it is. If it’s anything that’s likely to interfere with the Vamp you need to trash it.
- Non-RP Jinteki. You also have a good matchup against any other kind of Jinteki deck. Keyhole avoids Snare and PE’s ID ability, Parasite kills their low strength ice, and their fragile economy makes them vulnerable to Vamp.
- Blue Sun. To be honest I haven’t played against this quite as much as I have against the other decks on this list, but I’ve faced it enough to have a good idea about how it plays out. Blue Sun doesn’t care about Parasite until you’ve built up Datasucker counters, at which point it cares an awful lot. Stop them from pulling ahead while building up Datasucker counters, and in my experience Blue Sun will really struggle once you accrue 10 or so. If they don’t pack Ash, Blackmail is also extremely scary. If they’re playing Adonis it should go without saying that you need to kill it. D4v1d is primarily in the deck to stop Blue Sun from speeding ahead with Oversight AI.
- Non-Blue Sun Weyland. If your opponent is on Argus Security or Titan nonsense you shouldn’t have much trouble. Their ice is easy to kill and often cheap to bust through with Eater. Kill everything, threaten Blackmail, and eventually Keyhole for the win.
- Non-NEXT Haas Bioroid. This is the common problem matchup. I faced Bioroid heavy HB 3 times in Swiss in Manchester, and only came out on top once. Eve and Adonis start to become an issue once they’re protected by ice. You can’t usually afford to waste Blackmails on them because they’re often needed to get into their scoring server, and your opponent can often pull ahead economically. If you can really slow it down and get Kati going you can compete, but the high strength of their Bioroids make running a lot more expensive, and killing them is time consuming. If they don’t pack Caprice you can get rich and sit on Blackmail, but this is rare and still not a guarantee of success. If you expect a lot of this in your meta I’d consider another deck.
- Haas Bioroid with NEXT Ice. HB packing NEXT ice turns this matchup from bad to good. Eater busts through Bronze pretty easily, and Silver and Gold are very easy to kill with Parasite. Kill as much Ice as you can while threatening Vamp and Keyhole, and just push for board advantage.
- NEH Fastrobiotics. This matchup is also pretty bad, which is why I added the miser’s Clot. If you draw it you’ll probably be fine, but if you don’t you’re in for a rough ride. Get Desperado into play and be as aggressive as you can afford to be. They tend to be vulnerable to Keyhole so if you can get the time to get that going it’s a decent wincon. Always remember that D4v1d is an answer to Wraparound. You could tweak this deck to improve your NEH matchup by cutting Wylside for John Masonori and making your aggression options better. If they don’t pack Biotic Labor and instead have chosen to spend their influence on some other strange plan, your matchup definitely improves.
- Other NBN decks. Their ice sucks and you’re difficult to tag. They probably can’t go quickly and are easy to disrupt, so just grind out the game.
Hopefully this guide has helped you to understand how the deck functions and whether or not you want to play it. I’m reluctant to call this deck tier one. That would imply that you can always take it to any tournament and be in with a good chance. This is very much a meta deck, and you should consider its relative strengths and weaknesses before sleeving it up. If you anticipate RP and hate psi games, this deck is a good choice, the more Jinteki of any kind the better it gets. It’s also one of the best decks to play against a HB deck with the NEXT suite. You’re a lot less vulnerable to common hate cards like Blacklist, Cyberdex Virus Suite and Chronos Project, so you should also consider this if you want to blindside a hate filled meta. Bad Publicity removal is clearly a problem, but it’s not a lost cause by any means. I’ve beaten plenty of decks that have rezzed Elizabeth Mills.
I don’t consider this deck perfect, and I would welcome your comments and tweaks. If you have any more questions feel free to ask them in the Stimhack thread accompanying this article.
I’d like to thank my friend Jay Glover and accomplished player Andrew ‘Xenasis’ Hynes for their help with proof reading and editing.