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Are horizontal decks top tier now?

Specifically referencing to IG and Gagarin here: I play whizzard with 2 slums (yes this is all I feel safe playing these days) and still consistently lose to these. Maybe I just lack the skills needed to deal with a horizontal decks properly, but I noticed a serious influx in them ever since friends in high places was printed (wtf FFG?). I’ve yet to see them lose to me or spectating (its a pet peeve of mine I haven’t beat IG in months).

Both seem to use elizabeth quite often to deal with slums, and include powerful gotchas to go with their core strategy (seeing things like HHN, chronos project the ever-popular ronin+dedication etc). All I’ve learned over my last few games is that obsessively trying to control the board is an absolute fools errand, they will find a way to get out of the lock. Perhaps the answer is powerful central pressure or something else I’m missing.

How have you fared vs decks like this recently? What have you been playing? Am I mentally damaged if I can’t win as the like, 1 counter ID to them? For those that have been having success: what kind of steal agendas/control the board ratio do you find works and what centrals do you tend to pressure most?

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Slums is merely okay vs these decks. It’s usually not the hard counter you’d want, because (as you mentioned), Mills is out there, gunnin’ for the slums. It’s still not a bad inclusion, though, because it still helps counter CtM as well. Emp Strike is still a great option, both for turning off their ID and to counter the Cerebral Static that they’re running for the same reason.

Really, the best bet is to just run a Whizzard deck with shit-loads of econ. Learn what you need to trash and what can wait. If you can keep Jacksons and Sensies off the field, HQ tends to get overloaded, so make sure to poke in there occasionally if they haven’t been able to clear their hand in a few turns. Don’t be too afraid to just smash your head into Archives every once in a while. You’ll probably take damage, but it needs to happen.


Worth noting that referring to “IG and Gagarin” is a bit misleading. They are very distinct in what their plan is. The games don’t really even resemble each other. You have to focus on each one individually.

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I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “pressure centrals.” That is and always has been the way to beat horizontal strategies, and is strongly augmented by run-based economy.

Since you are already playing Anarch, you might try the Obelus + Hades Shard build, it’s pretty disgustingly good against asset spam.


I don’t think this is true. The way to beat horizontal strategies has been to play Whizzard and trash everything. Assets are so strong and synergistic with each other that pressuring centrals instead of controlling the board is almost futile.

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Yeah, I definitely agree with this. Pressuring centrals is a last ditch strategy you take when:

  1. You have medium in hand
  2. You can get into R&D cheaply
  3. You’re probably going to lose anyway

Otherwise, keep on trashing. ESPECIALLY if you’re Whizzard or have Desperado or Employee Strike or Scrubber.

Sometimes it’ll feel futile for several turns in a row, but remember that draw is uneven and some turns they just won’t draw anything great to play out (obviously this doesn’t apply when they have MCH out and plenty of juicy assets left in the deck).

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The way to beat spam is to control their board and then switch over to centrals once this has been achieved.

Temujin, Sec testing & desperado out of criminal is also very effective against spammers.


@rojazu You stated that much more succinctly than my response. My point was, horizontal decks are weak on centrals. They can’t rely on consistent economy and their centrals are weakened by typically low ICE counts and the need to protect some high-value assets.

Whizzard is played because of CtM and Anarch cards like Faust, Medium and the various ice destruction suites, and his identity happens to also be very good against any corp running assets. Tournament CtM isn’t asset spam; it’s an economic pressure deck that uses a collection of high-value must-trash assets to force the runner to lose clicks and credits via trash costs and tag removal. When it achieves an economic lead it uses it to score out through various tag punishment effects. That’s not asset spam.

Asset spam is IG prison, Gagarin hot tub, and NEH of many varieties. It’s more of a throw what you have in hand at the wall and see what sticks strategy. I don’t feel comparing these decks to CtM (and Whizzard’s high amount of play) is very productive.

So really, there are two kinds of horizontal decks, and they require different strategies to beat.

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