Project CROW

CROW 2: Hayley Kaplan vs. Pālanā Foods

This is the second iteration of Project CROW and came out in October 2019. It is made for beginners familiar with System Core 2019. It is once again meant as a glimpse into current competitive Standard decks and shows a match between Jinteki and Shaper. It starts off with a match between Jinteki: Replicating Perfection against Chaos Theory: Wünderkind and ends up with Pālanā Foods: Sustainable Growth against Hayley Kaplan: Universal Scholar in four steps.

On every level the newly introduced cards are explained step by step until reaching the two decks that placed at second and tenth place played by @Testrunning and @qvm respectively at the World Championship 2019 in Rotterdam!

Stage 1

The Corporation deck revolves around taxing clicks as well as credits. Two of these cards are already in the System Core 19: Jinteki: Replicating Perfection and Nisei MK II. The third was released as part of the Champion Cards released at Magnum Opus 2018: Border Control. It is an ok piece of ice with a bit of facecheck punishment, but really shines with its paid ability: it can be trashed to end the run. So whenever the runner made a run, broke everything and would access the server, it can be trashed to stop the run and force them to spend another click and money to get in again.

The Corp can play some mind games with NGO Front, which was introduced in the Kitara Cycle. Like Border Control, it can be trashed as a paid ability just when the Runner would access it. This allows the Corp to force more Runs on the remote.

The final card that we're including in this first level of Project CROW is Rashida Jaheem. A great card from the Kitara Cycle that accelerates the Corporation by providing cards and credits.

The Runner is a pretty standard Aesop's list. Find your Aesop's Pawnshop and Professional Contacts to then draw cards, install them and sell them afterwards for profit. If left unpressured, these decks can accumulate 30+ credits very quickly that can then be used with the efficient breaker suite to get into the remote whenever needed.

Most of the cards in this deck come from the System Core 2019 with the exception of three: Self-modifying Code (SMC in short), Clone Chip and Daily Casts. The first two cards are from Creation and Control and are the backbone of pretty much every Shaper deck since their release. SMC allows lean decklists with breakers as 1-of inclusions that are tutored when needed. With an SMC on the board, the Runner can contest the board very early on and Stimhacks can be used to get breakers out for "free". With Clone Chips they then have access to SMC at instant speed. Whenever a breaker is needed, one will appear out of thin air...

Stage 2

In this level we're giving the corporation their win condition in La Costa Grid, which was part of NISEI's Uprising Booster Pack. It allows to score out Nisei MK II under the disguise of other assets. This will a whole new level of pressure on the runner.

The second vector of attack is Obokata Protocol, which puts the runner under a tempo constraint. Stealing it often means spending the next 4 clicks to draw back up.

This plays into the Corporation identity: Pālanā Foods: Sustainable Growth, which gains 1 the first time each turn the Runner draws a card.

The last important new addition is Excalibur, which is a piece of ice with the mythic subtype. This type of ice can not be broken by normal means and its subroutine will prevent the Runner from initiating any further runs on this turn. Together with Border Control, this allows the Corporation to score out any agenda they want. To stop this from happening, the Runner deck includes 3x Pelangi with which they can paint any subtype on the piece of ice they're encountering. This ability being only once per turn puts the Runner in some interesting decisions on recurring Pelangi with their Clone Chips.

Stage 3

We're now at a level, where this deck in the hands of a good player could do reasonably well at a competitive level. Most cards were replaced by their most efficient variants and allow a variety of lines of play.

The Corporation got some more tools as well as some nasty pieces of ice. Starting with the tools, we've got Bio Vault, which can either work to bait the Runner into an expensive run or - if they don't bite - as a means to stop a run later on. Together with Border Control this can make runs very much impossible, if not dealt with by the Runner.

The second tool is Scarcity of Resources, which can be used to slow down the Runner considerably. When under Scarcity, the Runner has to really think hard about whether installing that Daily Casts is really worth it (often enough it is not).

Finally we've got the three pieces of ice in DNA Tracker, Anansi, and Thimblerig. While the first two might seem very nasty, the third one is one of the most impressive pieces of ice released. At only 2 rez cost it does something that was only possible in very janky ways before: reposition ice. You have a costly and taxing piece of ice on the remote, but no agenda ready to score? Shift around those ice to put it on a central instead and wait for later. Be sure to familiarize yourself with time timing chart: You have to activate Thimblerig before your mandatory draw, so you can't use that information to decide where to place your ice.

Stage 4

We've arrived at level 4. These are decks that people brought to the most competitive tournament of 2019: The world championship in Rotterdam! On the Corp side we've arrived at 2 Grid for 2 Place, which was played by @Testrunning to a first place finish at the Crown of Lasers side event as well as the second place in the main event. The final additions are IP Block and Cyberdex Virus Suite (short CVS), the first of which is comparable to Wall of Static in this matchup, but gives much needed punishment to AI breakers like Aumakua. CVS does fit the same role in protecting Archives against farming Aumakua tokens. In this matchup it doubles as a way of purging Pelangi mid-run and forcing a use of Clone Chip.

On the Runner side we've got Surfing Rainbows (for value) built by @qvm and myself. While I myself only managed to get 106th place, @qvm and @HerbartKlopstock placed 10th and 65th with it. It swaps two of the Akamatsu Mem Chips for Astrolabe, which together with Paricia shores up the Asset spam matchup considerably and both can be sold to Aesop's if they should not be needed. Furthermore, we've got Clot for the Weyland matchup, which can be very hard to stop once they get to 5 points and can use Audacity to score the final 2 points for the win. And finally there is Misdirection to protect us against Hard-Hitting News, which you should already know from the previous iteration of Project CROW.

Regarding game play not much has changed since level 3. The newly included cards are mostly for shoring up all the other matchups, that I have neglected while building these duel decks.

Once again: Congratulations! You started out with decks near to the Core Experience and followed a path to end up with strong decks in the current meta. I hope, I managed to show you a few interesting cards and decisions in this matchup. There's many more to learn and I'm sure a lot of experienced players would love to play this matchup with you. Feel free to join the #beginners channel on Stimslack and/or DM me under @lostgeek. With your newly gained knowledge, you can also create and join lobbies on to battle against other decks. There's a lot to learn in those matchups too, but with the experience of at least 4 matches, you should be prepared a little bit more for those games!