Quiverfull Argus, or: A Demonstration of How Scoring Plans Equal Game Wins
(gifs courtesy the lovely 0thmxma)
Quiverfull is the name of a conservative Christian philosophy that equates one’s children to the arrows in a quiver. This is the deck’s philosophy. Our agendas are our children; we should protect them, but they are also our weapons. By aggressively scoring agendas, we force the runner to take riskier and riskier choices to keep us from winning. Eventually, they either run out of luck or run out of courage.
Argus compliments this game plan by adding a “when stolen” clause to every agenda in your deck. In general as a corp, I don’t like to push an agenda unless I have two “problems” for the runner to solve. Argus’ tags/meat exists as a permanent problem, so it simply requires one other problem to add, be it a piece of ice, or a Prisec. This lets Argus set up a threatening scoring remote faster, needing fewer cards to do so. And the faster we can start scoring agendas the more effective our gameplan will be.
While Argus’ ability triggers during a run, dealing with the effects of it - clearing a tag or drawing more cards - is normally done outside the run. What this means is that bad publicity is less of a downside for us because the runner can’t use the BP credits to deal with the problems we set up. We still don’t quite want to go whole hog on BP as much as, say, The Outfit - we’re not (just) trying to tax the runner on credits, but also on clicks – finding breakers, clearing tags, drawing cards. In addition, bad publicity cards trade immediate benefit in the short term for drawbacks in the long term. This is fine for us, because our gameplan is to win in the short-term and let the long-term be damned.
Our primary weapon against runners. Every agenda in this deck needs to be as punishing for us to score as it is for the runner to steal. 3/2s are the most efficient agendas scoring-wise, so we’re running quite a few of those.
- Above The Law – Although there are two things in ATL’s favour (being a 3/2, sniping a resource) the timing of the resource snipe can be tricky. As tempting as it is to let it sit a turn, we’re better off just scoring it and moving on to the next one.
- Azef Protocol – The latest 3/2 for Weyland. Again, while dealing two meat damage is nice, it’s hard to guarantee it’ll be effective, and the cost of trashing one of our cards can be very damaging to our minimalist setup. That’s why it’s only a 2x of. It’s best to score this as your second or, better yet, third agenda, trash the scoring remote, and fast advance out the win with Audacity.
- Hostile Takeover – A classic Weyland agenda. Being a 2/1 means we can fast advance it from hand, and the first one puts us 25% done scoring if the rest are 2 pointers. It also gives us a bucket of money to either score the next agenda or tag the runner with. Against anyone other than crim, a t1 Hostile is a great play.
- Oaktown Renovation – Probably one of my favourite agendas. The advantage of Oaktown over Cyberdex Sandbox or Offworld Office is that Oaktown advances our gameplan while advancing it (and threatening to score). Compare with any other 4/2; if the runner steals it while we’re pushing it, we are at a 2c difference for trying to follow that up with a Hard-Hitting News. The downside of being a public agenda is mostly mitigated by the fact that the deck isn’t based around bluffing “is it an agenda, or isn’t it?” the bluff is “if you steal this, will you lose?”
- Project Atlas – The cornerstone of the agenda suite. You can, if necessary, score it as a blank 3/2. However, this is one you’ll almost always want to overadvance for. A single Atlas counter gives you access to any card in your deck; it gets you the Audacity (or the last agenda) to fast advance out, it gets you the HHN or Economic Warfare needed to land the runner in tag hell, and it even gets us a Too Big To Fail if we’re really strapped for cash.
- Standoff (Optional) – Again, this deck thrives on agendas and jamming in the remote. And if we want to run Archer, they’re great fodder for it. And we can often score them tempo-less (if the runner doesn’t trash their stuff, and ideally we should not be giving them enough time to install extraneous stuff.) However, scoring a Standoff amounts to 3 clicks for 3 credits and a draw, so if you’re desperate for an agenda, you’re better off just power drawing for 3. And it’s fine to ditch them to Archives! If we can load 1-2 real agendas and a Standoff in Archives early on it can serve as a nasty surprise for runners who think that it’s a safe server to run. They also make great bait in remotes for runners who are keeping pace with you.
The potatoes to our agendas’ steak. Operations are our counter-threat to scoring out. The runner should always be fretting over “Do they have access to Economic Warfare + Hard-Hitting News?”. Operations also don’t have trash costs (usually), which means that our plan of taking some BP is less damaging than a deck that relies heavily on Assets and Upgrades.
- Hard-Hitting News – HHN is your main deterrent against the runner actually running your flimsy servers. The value of HHN is not just in landing a kill, but also being extremely taxing click-wise for the runner to resolve. For example, against a Shaper with Misdirection on the board, a great play for us is to install Oaktown, advance, HHN. Now the Shaper has two clicks and four fewer credits to run our remote with. Or, if we’re waiting to top deck the game-winning 3/2 to Audacity out, we can throw an HHN at the runner that we know they can clear, so they spend their time clearing tags and not running centrals.
- Economic Warfare – This card is maybe broken, but only because HHN exists. HHN’s weakness is that if the runner is at a comfortable credit amount (8c), they can spend the turn just clearing tags, and we probably had to boost the HHN trace by at least 5c for it to land. And if the runner has Daily Casts or Liberated Accounts waiting in the wings to bounce their economy back, then all we’ve done is waste both our time. This is where EW comes. EW raises that comfortable threshold from 8c to 12c or 16c, which is a lot harder for the runner to ramp up to while preventing us from scoring. Again, it’s not just about the absolute credit difference. Compared to a card that simply gains us 4c, EW often makes it impossible for runners to clear tags in one turn. In that same scenario where a runner has 8c left on a Liberated and 8c in their pool, the addition of even one EW to our hand means the runner can’t fully clear tags in one turn. Because of this, we don’t want to waste our EW’s willy-nilly – we save them for a turn when we want to HHN, or at very least a turn when we’re pushing agenda 3 or 4.
- Consulting Visit – Tag n’ bag decks are essentially combo decks. We need the tag and the bag parts; neither do much for us without the other. We need consistent access to our pieces, so we run Project Atlas and Consulting Visit. The cost on CV is quite steep for such a barebones deck such as ours, so be sure to factor it into costs. And while it isn’t worthwhile to use it to fetch a Hedge Fund, if we’re really in a tight spot money-wise, we can still use it to fetch a Too Big To Fail for 5c over 2 clicks.
- High-Profile Target – The closer for the runner if they choose tags. Obviously, we use this to kill a runner we’ve tagged. One of the best things about HPT is its dirty cheap cost. This means we can happily spend ourselves broke tagging the runner and then next turn, credit credit boom! A lot of clever runners may float 1 or 2 tags, thinking that one HPT won’t kill them. That’s where we double tap them, or combo HPT with Azef.
- Audacity – This is our closer for the runner if they choose to let us score agendas. If we can get to 5 points, then we can eschew our scoring remote and just focus on centrals. This threshold lowers to 4 if there are Hostile Takeovers yet to be scored. This front-loads a lot of pressure onto the first two agendas. If we can score those, then time is on our side. This is great for our aggressive gameplan, because we are forcing the runner out of their gameplan of setting up a solid economy, and into our plan of being forced to take risks.
- Hedge Fund – While our gameplan is cheap thanks to EW, and many of our aggressive agendas pay for themselves, we do require some start-up capital to do things like rez ice, fire Prisecs, threaten HHN, etc. Hedge Fund is a bland choice, but Government Contracts has too high a threshold cost to be reliable, and our cards in hand are too valuable for Hansei Review. Even IPO (for eternal formats) is too fussy to work around with, not usable on the same turn we HHN. Our econ needs to be active from t1 for us to be aggressive.
- Too Big to Fail – Here’s some more exciting money! 7c for nothing! The downsides of this, only being playable under 10c and giving us a bad publicity, are mitigated by our deck’s playstyle. If we’ve made more than 10c, then either we’ve more than enough money to tag the runner, in which case we don’t need more, or the runner also has 10+ credits, in which case HHN is rapidly becoming obsolete. Remember, we don’t just want to land HHN, we want to land HHN when the runner can’t afford to clear all or even most of the tags. This is different from earlier tag n’ bag decks (SEA Source + Scorch) where the absolute credit lead was what mattered. Put another way, if we already have 10c, we don’t want more credits, we want to be pushing agendas.
- Archived Memories (Optional) – This deck is very light on the recursion. We are an extremely aggressive deck; we don’t have time to shuffle cards back in and wait to draw them again. Think of the gas pedal as the runner’s neck – we never want to take our foot off either. AM is the best recursion choice because it puts the cards we want back directly into our hands. Did the runner slip out from one HHN, and now they think they can run without fear? Surely, we don’t have two HHN’s. Surprise, motherfucker.
- Digital Rights Management (Optional) – As before, the early game is crucial to our deck. We need not only tools to threaten and punish the runner, but ways to force them to run. We do that by threatening to score agendas. DRM gives us access to any agenda, so we grab what suits the situation. If credit totals are tight, we grab an Oaktown. If we’re in a position to really bully, we grab an Atlas. DRM also installs the agenda, which is useful for us because it makes it that much easier to threaten to overadvance the Atlas or Oaktown. If you really want to be cheeky, you can grab an Atlas but install a Rashida or a Prisec or a Standoff. The disadvantage of DRM is that successful HQ runs turn it off, and we don’t want to waste time and ice protecting HQ early, except against Crims.
While the ice in this deck is important, it’s not nearly as important as in a glacier-style deck. Because we’re running so many operations and agendas, we need make cuts somewhere. Part of that is in Assets and Upgrades, and part of that is in Ice. We should have about 13-15 ice total. This means our ice needs to be extremely efficient. We need to be able to place any piece on a central or a remote, because it may be a long time before we draw a better piece. Also, we’re not trying to build deep servers; no server should be more than two ice deep (if that). Building those deep death-servers takes time and credits we can’t afford to waste. So while it's really tempting to a build double Funhouse double Border Control remote, we’ll be much better off with just any two of those. The ice also needs to be cheap to rez. Funhouse is the biggest ice we run at 5c, and our 4c pieces of ice have subs that discount their rez cost. Again, our priority is to get a threatening remote set up as quick as possible.
- Funhouse – Really the only “fixed” piece of ice in the deck. Funhouse’s advantage is that it stacks with our gameplan of taxing a runner’s clicks outside of a run. All the bad publicity we take doesn’t really help the runner clearing tags. Historically, one of the problems with Funhouse on a central server is that it’s easy for the runner to install a Turning Wheel and bounce off the Funhouse for counters. That shouldn’t be a problem for us, as we’re usually going faster than a Turning Wheel can keep up with. What is a problem for us is if the runner goes tag-me, then the ice does nothing, and they can gleefully run through it. It should n’t prevent us from using this ice on centrals, but it is something to be aware of.
- Mausolus – Very similar to Funhouse. Mausolus is more punishing to facecheck at the expense of being fully breakable. A Boomerang targeting Mausolus makes for a very sad rez. The good news is that even with bad pub and the best breakers, Mausolus still takes a chunk to break. Also, we should keep in mind that Mausolus doesn’t actually end the run. After eating the subs, runners are free (and often do) carry on and check the server. This can be good for us if we’re able to follow up on our turn, but not if we’re having to click for credits afterwards. Also, if the runner goes tag-me, it still has two relevant subs, so if we have a choice, we should place Funhouse on the remote and Mausolus on centrals. Also, don’t bother advancing this.
- Border Control – Border Control is our only piece of ice that’s not very good to have on centrals. It’s not terrible to have on HQ against crims, but against any other runners it should only be played on centrals if we’re desperate. Border Control gets a pass on this inefficiency because it’s so damn good on a remote with Funhouse. Not only does it waste a runner’s click (i.e. another tax outside of running) it also compounds Funhouse’s tax as well! A remote that’s Funhouse + Border Control + Prisec is our equivalent of Skunkvoid.
- Archer – On the face of it, Archer would seem somewhat counter to our plan. Sacrificing an agenda costs us scoring tempo, and scoring tempo is what we use to force the runner to do things they don’t want to do. On the other hand, Archer is a massive piece of ice that effectively locks that server off. We can run dummy agendas like Standoff to offset the tempo cost. Archer also has the advantage of sometimes simply blowing the runner out of the water, especially if they lack recursion for their breakers. Trashing an Engolo or a Bukhgalter with this is “gg” as often as landing an HHN is.
Beyond those pieces of ice, you’ll probably want some more to hit that 13-15 amount. Right now, I don’t think there are any auto-includes, but there’s a lot you can experiment with. They all have their pros and cons, and I’ll list possible options briefly. When choosing ice, we should keep in mind what kinds of breakers and tricks we’ll be seeing early (things like Botulus, Boomerang, bin breakers, etc.)
- Sandstone – Great gearcheck on remotes, not great on centrals. We definitely don’t have the time to purge.
- Baliff – Cheap gearcheck whose cheap break cost is offset by the fact that it drips us a few credits
- Vanilla – The cheapest of the gearchecks but is basically useless once the runner finds a breaker for it.
- Battlement – Expensive (for us) gearcheck that’s slightly better against Botulus.
- Tithonium – Has the potential to be another nasty surprise like Archer. However, we don’t want too many ‘sacrifice an agenda’ ice, and 9c is really too expensive to rush behind.
- Magnet – Gearcheck that’s great against Botulus and has annoying numbers for Engolo. We already have a bunch of good code gates though.
- Authenticator – A cheap, nasty facecheck, but if the runner is going tag-me, it’s blank.
- Enigma – Pretty standard gearcheck ice, with a relevant sub for facechecking. Again, we’re already pretty good on Code Gates.
- Veritas – A nasty facecheck, but the trace sub greatly diminishes with bad pub.
- Sapper – If we’re really worried about Conduit, this is good tech. But otherwise, this ice is too positional/conditional.
Assets & Upgrades:
I’m lumping these two together because we’re running so few of them. Us running bad publicity means these cards are especially vulnerable, and they weaken our centrals as the runner can trash them and run again, seeing new cards. The advantage is that we can use these cards to bluff as agendas, which is especially effective when we’re at 5 points, as any face down card in the root of a remote could be a game-winning 3/2.
- Rashida Jaheem – We’re trying to go fast. For that we need cards, and we need money. She provides both. If the choice is between putting down a Rashida or pushing an agenda, we should go for the agenda in the early game. Remember our gameplan! Force the runner to make tough decisions by aggressively scoring.
- Prisec – A nasty surprise at the bottom of a server. We pay 2c for a guaranteed tag (which will normally cost the runner 2c and a click to clear), as well as a meat damage. Plus, if the runner doesn’t want to have to deal with this again, there’s 3c trash cost. This combos very nicely with our ID and our gameplan, quickly ramping up the outside-of-a-run costs to check a server. Depending on a few other factors, we can even push agendas without ice, and just install a Prisec or two to defend them.
Again, we should remember our gameplan – aggressive scoring. We want to be pushing our first agenda by turn 2 at the latest. For opening hands, we’re actually looking for agendas, in addition to a few other things. We also want to see some econ, and something to start setting up a remote - either a Prisec or piece of ice. Keep in mind that our econ could be in the form of an agenda! If we’re against a crim, we’ll want another piece of ice to protect against an early Diversion of Funds. Finding our tag n’ bag pieces is secondary - we’ll draw into those later, but first we have to create the threat of scoring out. Common t1 plays are: score a Hostile; hedge, ice remote, install something in its root; ice remote, install Oaktown, advance; etc.
Agenda two is often the pivotal point of the game, and we should be pushing it around t3/4. If we score the second agenda, anything in the root of the remote is now a must-run. That’s when we can really bully the runner. So, before pushing our second agenda, we should ideally have a combo piece or two in hand. Our spare clicks should be spent drawing cards rather than clicking for credits. If the runner does steal the agenda, it should be at such a tempo loss that we can land an HHN and push the next agenda, effectively forking them between stealing another agenda or clearing the tags.
From there, it depends on what the runner’s chosen. If they’ve chosen to contest, we should be punishing with HHN and then protecting centrals, so they don’t steal out before we find access to an HPT. If they let us score, we should bully them by jamming things into the remote, defending centrals as necessary.
Another thing to keep in mind is that even if HHN is no longer viable because the runner was able to generate a ton of credits quickly, there are still ways to kill the runner. For example, you can still force them to run through a Funhouse/Prisec/agenda remote click two or three, forcing the runner to end with a couple tags, which you can close out with double HPT. This works because of our focus on taxing the runner on clicks outside of a run and not simply credits. So if we have to discard at the end of turn, we should discuss our HPTs last out of our hand, and ditch the HHNs and EWs first.
There are two things that I wanted to emphasize in this decklist writeup.
- Having a scoring plan is essential for any successful corp deck. In this deck, it’s aggressively scoring agendas in order force the runner to act when they’re not ready. In other decks it may be different – like setting up a remote that’s too taxing to check every turn, and then bluffing agendas/assets. As a corp player, agendas will pile up in our HQ, and we can’t just shuffle them back into R&D. We need to be scoring them in order to force the runner out of their own gameplan.
- All of our deckbuilding choices are made with this scoring plan in mind. Our econ and our ice are not necessarily the “best” available cards, but the best ones that synergize with our scoring plan.