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Feeling Blue About Blue Decks

Team UK testing team* recorded a lot of test data in the 3 weeks leading to up to worlds to understand the Escalation meta - I guess now worlds is over we can divulge some of it

As you can see its the CTM matchup which is problematic for Andy, not ETF. If we filter by the two Andy diehards (laurie and I) the numbers become even more representative of Andy’s potential. The final iteration of Andysucker I got to with strikes, medium and all the money had a win rate of 80% vs ETF and 60% vs CTM. I personally went 11-3 with her over the 2 tournaments and felt she was very strong. However to obtain that I had to jam every economy card into my deck possible and still rely on them not getting a nut draw. I also dont know of anyone else on Strikes. My record vs CTM was 3-2, others reported that they crashed and burned to CTM (small sample sizes).

In terms of why did Andy fail it is a bit of a mystery to be honest. Her numbers were neck and neck with whiz overall. When I asked UKs most wanted criminal Dave Hoyland why he was not on Andy his reply was also that the CTM matchup wasn’t good enough. Our data matches this anecdote. I suspect the high showing of CTM at the top tables favoured Whiz (who has better numbers vs CTM) over Andy in the end. I also feel that if I had smashed out another 20-30 games specifically of this matchup I could have equalled Whiz vs CTM, but that probably hints that the deck is weaker overall if the skill level required with it is higher. It could also be that more of the top players opted for Whiz over Andy which skewed the makeup of the top tables somewhat. Finally, the west coast whiz deck came out of left field and was not represented in our testing at all - the performance of that particular deck against CTM and the field was probably the final nail in the coffin for Blue regarding their lack of representation in the cut.

*lpoulter, rojazu, evilgaz, emilyspine, bruno, vinegarymink, beyoken, shanondin, seeheartype, echo, swiftie, rotage

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Now this is the data and discussion I was hoping for. Thanks rojazu, this is great stuff. Your conclusions make a lot of sense.

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Would Showing Off not be a good addition? You may have tried it, but I was just thinking: I know it’s 3 influence, but with most NBN Corps using Sensei Actor’s Union (and most undoubtedly hiding agendas at the bottom), seeing cards from the bottom up with Medium could push you over the top. You wouldn’t even have to keep it in hand if you wanted to use a Same Old Thing for it.

My current deck is very similar, and I have (almost) as many econ cards as you (one less Dirty Laundry and one less Security Testing). Including the suckers (I have 3x), Kati, double Employee Strike, and no Inside Job/Emergency Shutdown/SOT. I’m glad others are confirming my suspicion that slots are too valuable for IJ/ES/SOT in the current meta.

Although, I’m on 2x Turning Wheel. Have you or the UK team done any testing with TW? I think it improves the glacier match-up (although you don’t seem to need an improvement from your test results). It still allows you to pressure centrals earlier (instead of avoiding R&D). Although, it is vulnerable to tags. But mostly, I don’t like relying on a one-of card, especially in Andy, when you can’t really count on getting it if it’s not in your opening hand (Anarch/Shaper have enough draw to get to the bottom if they need to).

Another difference is 2x Sports Hopper. Again, for higher consistency, but also the extra link helps against CTM traces until you find a Strike. As well as Archangel; making the trace often less costly than breaking. Any testing done with Hoppers?

Seeing that Ben Ni was in your testing group. Were those EtF games Foodcoats and rush/jammy? Did you also test against Jeeves and/or ELP EtF?

criminal doesn’t have any influence to spare at all, especially not on stuff like this.
besides their sensies at most fire once (on turn 1) in the whole game if you are playing correctly.

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I tried Turning wheel for awhile - its great vs ETF when you can headbutt into a barrier and absolutely terrible vs CTM - its improving/weakening the wrong matchups I found.

Laurie runs 2 hopper (no plas), zu (no Gordon), 2 mediums and no strikes. His list is good and a little more aggressive - I tried his list for awhile and found it to be about the same vs ctm but worse vs ETF. Its worse vs kill also because hopper isn’t long term protection.

During our testing we found 2 legworks to be absolutely critical and padding out the econ with 3 casts was also vital in both matchups. I also tried IJ/ES/SoT but ultimately you are right they are always cards 46-50.

All of our testing games were online in the competitive lounge of jnet. Mostly glacier from memory. I did play Travis Yeo on the jeeves plan in the swiss and was able to control the game well vs him.

To be honest the spine of the Andysucker deck is what makes it strong, there are about 4 flex slots that you can use to tech for given metas (Im currently using them on NW, Plas, 2*Strike but I even had a build with critic + NACHs to deal with our own SYNC deck that was amazingly strong).

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Thanks for your insight.

If CTM/SYNC (or just yellow) continues to dominate so much during the Store Championship season, I think I’ll try some combination of Fall Guy and NACH (too bad the CTM tag can’t be avoided). Not sure what amount of each and it is a lot of slots, but turning off Breaking News would be a huge boon. It’s so annoying that you need so much to deal with that agenda.

It tried about 25 games with 1 critic 2 nachs 1 plas (downgrading Gordon to zu) in the 4 tech slots. I found it much worse vs CTM and having no networking was bad too. You have the game locked vs sync though.

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BTW when I refer to Core/spine Andysucker I found it easier to think of this structure and then build around it. This core is what makes the deck strong everything else is just meta spice

3 Account Siphon
3 Career Fair
3 Dirty Laundry
2 Legwork
3 Special Order
3 Sure Gamble

3 Desperado ***

3 Daily Casts
3 Earthrise Hotel
1 Kati Jones
3 Security Testing
3 Temujin Contract

1 Barrier breaker
1 Sentry breaker
1 Femme Fatale
1 Code gate breaker
1 Passport

2 Datasucker **
1 Medium ***

which leaves 4 tech slots and 7 influence to spend on them + your breakers

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I’ll test if Fall Guy (instead of Film Critic) make it a bit more nimble with 5 slots dedicated to the package. It’ll just make the EtF/Glacier match-up worse, just wondering if the gains offset the losses to less represented match-up. As @Cerberus said in his Whizzard write-up:

“I was happy to concede a bad match up to (HB) to make others better.”

In reality I think you will see ETF fade away a bit now following its showing at worlds which makes the 1x Kati less necessary also (although you still need it vs Blue Sun).

The problem I found with NACH is its a bit clunky, they can play around it (feed you agendas) and its anti-synergistic with your multi access or archives runs.

Yeah, that’s why I think Fall Guy may be better (although more slots) than Film Critic. Assuming you can get NACH before Fall Guy (a bit easier than getting FC and NACH at the same time), you can steal up to 5 agendas (assuming 5 slots on NACH/FG) and not worry about tags if you have the credits. It would be tricky if your seeing more agendas than you’re seeing ways to save NACH, but hopefully that’s a good problem to have.

I think the next avenue is to re-examine breakers.

I settled for Corroder, Mongoose/Femme, Gordon/Passport but there are quite a few competing ideas you can go with depending on the meta.

Fractors: Paperclip, Corroder, Sakir
Killers: Mimic (with Faeries), Mongoose, Femme
Decoders: Yog (with Vamedeva over passport), Zu (with hoppers), Gordon

The bird breakers are unplayable imo, however Sakir interests me a lot - it works well with suckers and the influence saved immediately makes me think 2nd medium or vamp.

Vame isn’t as stupid as it sounds. The deck is super rich, yogsucker is stupidly efficient and there are a lot of annoying 1 sub yellow ice knocking around. Plus it serves as a backup barrier breaker to get past those hard ETRs like WoS and Vanilla if your fracter gets sniped.

I like the idea of Vamadeva…

Peregrine is the only bird breaker that’s actually just bad. (Though it does handle Enigma/Quandary handily at least.) Golden compares to Mongoose favorably, and Saker compares to Aurora favorably. I believe that you can get away with just pretending their last ability doesn’t exist unless you’re super ahead in economy. That said, they’re still Criminal Breakers, so yeah, Corroder’s better than Saker…

The only real problem with the bird breakers is the install cost of them. That’s still a pretty big problem, but right now, Rich Criminal seems to be the way to go.

Inti has been a possibility in some of my decks as well, as a secondary barrier breaker (usually with Corroder). It’s just fine against most yellow decks running Resistor/Wraparound/Vanilla. Obviously less good against Wall of Static/Eli 1.0/repeated Quicksand runs. At 1 inf and a 0 install cost, it’s pretty affordable.

Im a big fan of inti too, however i fear its role needs to be re evaluated given the exitense of the best defence (same can be said of corrodr which can be sniped off a breaking news score).

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Sure, but you’re only including Inti if you already have Corroder backup. And if both of your barrier breakers are trashed, well, you were losing this game anyway as Criminal. But if you’re that worried, just spend the slot on Paperclip anyway.

I agree. Criminal breakers are the biggest challenge.

I run Yog and Datasuckers and I use Peregrine as a backup.

I don’t get the Peregrine hate. It’s compares favorably to Peacock. It’s not great against 3 or 6 strength ice, but that’s easily mitigated with one sucker counter. Otherwise, it’s as good as Zu. There are that many commonly played 3/6 strength ice: Magnet, Aiki, Crick, Archangel, and DNA Tracker. Archangel is the most common by far and most of the time you’re just better off fighting the trace or letting them bounce.

I do agree that their derez ability is just icing. If you do use them it’s for a critical game-winning play: siphon lock or Medium dig.

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Nothing like damning with faint praise!

Code gates are deeply unfair right now. They are some of the most taxing ice in the game - perhaps the most taxing. Shaper and Anarch have a very efficient breaker in the form of Cyber Cipher, with the not-so-bad option of Gordian at worst, and a bunch of tricks in between (and much less need for efficient breakers with their powerful multi-access)… Anarch have Yog.0, D4v1d and Faust. Peregrine can’t hold a candle to those breakers in efficiency, and its install cost is one of the worst in relation to its strength and efficiency in the game.

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You have to see my faint praise in the context of my response countering an argument that Peregrine is worse than the other aviary breakers because they are better than Aurora.

You’re right that Criminal doesn’t have a good code gate breakers. But, I don’t see them importing either the Shaper code gate solution nor the Anarch code gate solution as you list them. But they are bringing in Gordian or Zu by themselves, which really isn’t that much better than Peregrine. I’d rather have the extra 2-3 influence for something that will help me win or shore up a common bad match-up.

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