(Editor’s note: This article was submitted by Michael Walsh (Miek))
Welcome back to Mull or Keep, episode 3, trois, tres, whatever.
Note: This list was mostly compiled when the latest released pack was Martial Law (and only just released), and may be out of date for the Quorom meta.
The Situation – The Mystery Whizzard
You just tried out netrunner only a month ago and immediately fell in love, so of course you go into the deep end. You own every pack, you want to build all the decks, but of course you’re smart, you know the best way to learn decks is to play already made decks by great players. Going slightly out of your comfort zone you hit up notable stimhack player @SimonMoon for his latest and greatest HB glacier deck. Of course he obliges, and you’ve been testing on jinteki.net casual just to get a feel for the game.
One day you’re on jinteki.net casual, and this player comes along and plays you. “Miek” he calls himself, the name is familiar. Isn’t he kind of a competitive player? What is he doing on jinteki.net casual. This guy is obviously a scourge and you just have to beat him. Unfortunately you don’t know anything about his play style, so you’ll have to infer everything based on his ID “Whizzard : Master Gamer”.
There are several popular styles of Whizzard right now (with many variations of each). The important part isn’t the small differences, but the main styles of each.
- Hate Bear – Essentially Whizzard with Siphon Spam backup. Both Siphon as well as DDoS or Faust to enable the Siphon makes this a huge T1 threat. Based on popularity it is probably 30% likely that it is Hate Bear.
- TemuWhizz – Whizzard with Temujin Contract for insane money + standard breakers. Ideally you want to protect all centrals T1 to prevent him getting easy money via Temujin Contract. Based on popularity, it is probably 40% likely that it is TemuWhizz.
- Frantic Whizz – A weird Whizzard list with Temujin Contract, Magnum Opus, Vamp, and Frantic Coding to setup minimal pieces super fast. Similarly to TemuWhizz you want to protect all centrals, but it is less of a priority as they have other ways to make quick money (Magnum Opus). Based on popularity, it is probably 10% likely that it is Frantic Whizz.
- DumbleFork – Oh how the mighty have fallen. This was a super oppressive deck for a very long time, and is probably underrated right now as it is still very strong. Its T1 pressure is low, however prioritising ice on R&D is probably a good idea as it will destroy what little ice you do have there and medium dig for a big win. Based on popularity, it is probably 15% likely that it is DumbleFork. (Note: This does seem to be increasing again in time for Quorom.. interesting)
- There is also a 15% chance of it being some renegade non-meta Whizzard deck, such as something with Apocalypse; En Passant; Keyhole; DLR; Nexus etc.
Looking at all these Whizzards, and having no clue exactly which it could be, we need to make some priorities about what is the worst case. If it is Hate Bear but we act as though it is TemuWhizz, the worst case is a huge tempo swing from Siphon. If it is TemuWhizz but we act as though it is Hate Bear, the worst case is that they get approximately a Day Job’s worth of money and maybe some free accesses, but also that we have some wasted ICE on HQ that we need to use for rush. If it is Dumblefork but we act as though it is HateBear, we are unlikely to suffer any ill consequences T1, however we have still wasted an ICE on HQ that we needed for rush. If it is Frantic Whizz and we assume it is HateBear, then we are likely to give the corp a Day Job’s worth of money and a few accesses, similar to TemuWhizz, however the HQ ice will be useful in the future against the Vamp turn.
Why do I keep comparing to Hate Bear? Because it is pretty clear that Hate Bear has the most impactful T1 against the corp. That said, going all in on hate bear strategies is possibly a great way to lose against another Whizzard variant. While it might be 30% chance that the Whizzard is hate bear, the chances of DDoS + Siphon within hate bear are reasonably low, and it is quite possible you auto-lose against Temuwhizz if you over-focus on protecting HQ.
ICE HQ for protection against Siphon. Get some ice in a remote and make some quick money with an Adonis campaign, and then rush out some agendas fast. The preferable way to go is ABT (fire for some ice), GFI, and then you can force them to check every remote for a never advanced win. Foodcoats is pretty good at generating just enough money to win, however Whizzard is also very good at disrupting this money, so you need to ice your campaigns to guarantee they make money. Fairchild 3.0 is your most valuable ice, however it has some problems in that a) it can be clicked through during Siphon and b) Ice Carver + Net-Ready Eyes + Yog.0 just completely blanks it. A lot of players nowadays will run first click to facecheck HB ice expecting a Fairchild 3.0 at worst, so architect is really good here as the facecheck power is very strong. Foxfire is a solution to the Ice Carver/NRE/Yog problem that forces them to rely on Datasucker (Datasucker can be blanked by CVS during a run if need be). Playing fast is always important, and while you shouldn’t completely neglect HQ and R&D it is usually worthwhile pushing them to spend energy on your remote instead. While Rumor Mill completely invalidates Ash and Caprice, they can still hold weight until Rumor Mill is found, and at least force a click to clear it. In fast play the Rumor Mill often doesn’t come up, or only affects 1-2 remote plays. ICE is getting strong enough that the defensive upgrades are less relevant (although still important). Some of these specific Whizzard decks mentioned above run Employee Strike instead of Rumor Mill, but it is worth noting that another similar deck of the same archetype might have Rumor Mill instead, so no assumptions can be made here once the reality of the deck is revealed.
This really depends on the Whizzard, but all of them really want to keep the Corp poor. Temujin Whizzard is the worst at this, but they all have the recurring 3c to easily trash Adonis Campaign. Hate Bear can keep the corp poor by Siphon (especially with DDOS), as well as continuing to trash everything. Frantic Whizz has Vamp which is clearly a strong way to keep the corp poor. Dumblefork keeps the corp poor by trashing its ice after its rezzed, and applying pressure where the ice is weak. If siphon is used, it is unlikely that the tags will be cleared, as HB has little tag punishment and Obelus turns them into an upside. The Runner might assume (fairly but incorrectly) that the HB deck runs Best Defense, however, the ideal Runner play is to soak up the Best Defense hit and keep redundant copies of crucial cards in hand with your giant hand-size.
The goals to consider when Mulliganing are therefore:
- A way to protect against Siphon (e.g. ICE)
- Adaptability to Temujin (e.g. extra ICE)
- A way to make money (e.g. campaign + ICE or Hedge Fund)
- Advancing your game plan (e.g. an ABT/CST with some backup)
It is pretty clear that ICE is very important in the starting matchup here. Naked Adonis is poor for Siphon Ducking as the runner can trash it for free with Whizz Creds, and is likely to do so prior to Siphon.
It is worth noting that all Turn 1 plays may change based on mandatory or subsequent draw, going through every possibility takes too long to explain here.
Hand 1 – Eli 1.0, Ichi 1.0, Fairchild 3.0, Adonis Campaign, Ichi 1.0
Lots of ice, although there are problems with early money, however EtF credits are good. This can use FC3.0 to protect against Siphon plays, and has a spare Eli 1.0 if it turns out the corp is on Temujin, or can do Adonis + Eli if Temujin does not come out.
Ideal Turn 1 Play: Ice Fairchild 3.0 on HQ, gain a credit, gain a credit. End turn on 8 credits.
Hand 2 – Global Food Initiative, Accelerated Beta Test, Fairchild 3.0, Enhanced Login Protocol, Ichi 1.0
The right amount of ice, but a bit more vulnerable otherwise.
Ideal Turn 1 Play: Ice Fairchild 3.0 on HQ; gain a credit; gain a credit. End turn on 8 credits.
Hand 3 – Ash 2X3ZB9CY, Corporate Sales Team, Adonis Campaign, Caprice Nisei, Jackson Howard
No ICE is a pretty big deal breaker.
Ideal Turn 1 Play (Forced to Keep): Mandatory draw; draw; install Ash on HQ; install Adonis Campaign. End turn on 6 credits and some potential Siphon Ducking.
Hand 4 – Eve Campaign, Breaker Bay Grid, Adonis Campaign, Ichi 1.0, Project Vitruvius
Even though Ichi 1.0 is dead it goes a long way as a bluff ICE and can duck the siphon too. You ideally want some ice for rezzing the bbg+adonis but you’re likely to draw something and it will set you up strongly for the late game. Against non-Whizzard this hand would be great as the BBG+Eve Campaign could be safely installed naked.
Ideal Turn 1 Play: Ice Ichi 1.0 on HQ; gain a credit; gain a credit. End turn on 8 credits.
Hand 5 – Ichi 1.0, Jackson Howard, Accelerated Beta Test, Hedge Fund, Caprice Nisei
This is similar to Hand 4. It has less long-term economy but ABT + JH can set you up strongly for late game and Caprice on HQ is potentially huge if they declare themselves as Hate Bear.
Ideal Turn 1 Play: Draw; ice Ichi 1.0 on HQ; Hedge Fund. End turn on 10 credits.
Hand 6 – Enhanced Login Protocol, Archived Memories, Magnet, Jackson Howard, Global Food Initiative
This has the potential to save your HQ from Siphon but its ability to advance your game plan is incredibly weak.
Ideal Turn 1 Play (Forced to Keep): Install Magnet on HQ; gain a credit; gain a credit. End turn on 8 credits.
Hand 7 – Breaker Bay Grid, Jackson Howard, Architect, Ash 2X3ZB9CY, Accelerated Beta Test
Architect is a great piece of ice for them to faceplant and is very relevant. The Jackson + ABT is great for establishing your game plan, and as soon as you find some relevant ice you can rush to try and score it.
Ideal Turn 1 Play: Install Architect on HQ; gain a credit; gain a credit. End turn on 8 credits.
Hand 8 – Magnet, Project Vitruvius, Project Vitruvius, Ash 2X3ZB9CY, Ash 2X3ZB9CY
Magnet is hard ETR but this hand does very little to advance your game plan.
Ideal Turn 1 Play (Forced to Keep): Draw; install Magnet on HQ; install Ash on HQ. End turn on 6 credits.
Hand 9 – Caprice Nisei, Ash 2X3ZB9CY, Cyberdex Virus Suite, Architect, Sherlock 2.0
Similar to Hand 7, Architect is a great piece of ICE to protect HQ and keep it relevant. Caprice is also great if you find out that it is a Hate Bear variant of Whizzard, as you can shove it on HQ and be massively ahead.
Ideal Turn 1 Play: Install Architect on HQ; gain a credit; gain a credit. End turn on 8 credits.
Hand 10 – Ichi 1.0, Fairchild 3.0, Ash 2X3ZB9CY, Sherlock 2.0, Eve Campaign
This hand has decent ICE and some long-term econ, and potentially has a very strong first turn against Hate Bear as well as some reactivity against TemuWhizz after the first turn.
Ideal Turn 1 Play: Install Ichi 1.0 on HQ; install Fairchild3.0 in remote; install Eve in same remote. End turn on 6 credits.