Getting a grip on the Sleeper Hold

I’m interested in learning how to play @thebigboy’s Sleeper Hold deck.

Abram Jopp has written a blog post about the deck that gives some indication of the ways to play it. In his own write up, Jopp confesses that even he struggled to figure out why the deck does not just fall apart, so I don’t feel terrible that I have a hard time getting the parts and pieces of the deck to work together.

In my early testing with the deck, I find myself confused quite a bit. I have a basic handle on how to play a traditional Foodcoats or Spagscoats ETF, but this deck is not as straight forward as those.

So, I’m interested in hearing from more experienced pilots.

What does your early game look like with this deck?

What kind of board state are you hoping to build in the mid-game and late-game?

How do you make enough money and manage your economy during the game to keep your head above water? (No Hedge Funds!)

Do you have any match-up specific suggestions?

I tested a version of this deck that only had maybe 3 different cards, but one thing I learned very quickly was to exploit the synergy between Team Sponsorships and Advanced Assembly Lines. Also remember that you can use AAL on your opponent’s turn and trigger EtF’s ability. A lot of the games I played with this were very narrow wins and every credit counts so try to exploit these things as much as possible to give yourself that extra edge.

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I won a GNK with it a month or so back. Rush hard against shapers, click-compressed asset spam vs slums, and keep outs for siphons. Jeeves can give you a huge advantage over the long game if uncontested.


ELP makes the deck. If you’re not running 3, do it. FiHP is only necessary as a 1 of, cut any extras. Score Sleepers ASAP, unless you’re moderately sure you can protect it and set up TS shenanigans.


What exactly does the synergy between TS and AAL look like?

When you score an agenda with a Team Sponsorship on the table you can recur AAL from archives rather than installing a card directly from your hand, and then just use the AAL to install from hand during your Opponent’s turn.

You end up netting 2 credits from rezzing the AAL, and then you gain a credit on your opponent’s turn to install the ICE (or whatever asset) from hand.


You can also defend your TS by keeping it in HQ and tossing out AAL. If they trash AAL, oh well, too bad, you still have TS. If they don’t, you can rez AAL (getting money), trash it to install TS at the end of their turn (getting money) and have it ready for your turn (rezzing it for less than what AAL gave you).

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Another important synergy is that between AAL and Clone Suffrage Movement (CSM). With AAL, you can install Clone Suffrage Movement at the end of your opponents turn, keeping it safe in your hand and almost guaranteeing you’ll get it to fire once.

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Then you use CSM to pick up Friends in High Places and recur AAL again!

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Or ELP if they turned it off. FiHP is nice if there are no other targets, but CSM is really there for recurring ELP, Lateral, and Biotic.

Srsly, ELP does an arse load of work to discourage runs and trashes, or at least makes the exchange super lopsided so you can rush/FA out. I cannot emphasize this enough: ELP must be up as much as possible. That’s why you run 3x.

Lateral is a solid CSM target because it gives you a 3c discount on a Biotic turn, makes you shatloads of money with AALs, or combines ICE installs with credit gains.

Biotic is Biotic. Not sure this requires explanation.

Think of it this way, @FightingWalloon: Sleeper is a deck about creating action (click isn’t quite the right word) disparity between you and the Runner. You’re trying to combo your cards together to perform all sorts of tasks on your turn. Installs. Credit gains. Draws. Scores.

The cards in the deck are all geared towards that. You need to look at your lines and notice these combinations, or you’re not firing the deck on all cylinders. Hell, you’re not even really turning the engine over. Nearly every click should breakdown to two actions (or, barring that, at least one click per turn should).

One of the other keys to the engine is TS. This helps turn scores into more money via AAL recursion, or spam out trashed TS/Jeeves/SanSan for more compressed actions. Better yet, you can go get a CSM and force the Runner to spend a click or two at worst case (best case they let you have it).

Cute trick with TS: If you scored ABT with TS on the board and Jack in the bin, fire ABT first. If you got a fist full of ICE, you just technically made a shatload of money and can install AAL or Jeeves or SanSan with TS. If all agendas, install Jack and cycle them back R&D. Or install the agenda, if you’re spicy.

Now, an example of compressed actions would be doing the same cute trick by installing ABT with Lateral. Either way you’re using Biotic to score it, but if you Lateral the thing it was 3c less AND you got all the sexy triggers.

Sleeper is also really good at forcing Runners to respond, wasting clicks and creds. You have a huge load of high trash cost assets. If you spam them out, even vs Whizz, you’re forcing the Runner to respond to them or give you benefit. If they do? Cool. Score with Biotic as you turbodraw a lightly attacked R&D. If they don’t, reap the benefits and look for lines of play that maintain tempo as you score (which is super easy if they don’t contest your remotes at all).



Oh… Almost forgot. Score 7. No, seriously, you can’t wait to score in with Sleeper. You want to start ASAP. You have gearcheck ICE and tempo increasing cards so that you can start scoring FAST. If you’re going to slow roll it, not take risks, and try to set up the perfect scoring server… Sorry, but Sleeper is just a shitty Glacier deck at that point.


I have in my own game demonstrated how about a glacier the deck is. That is a very good point. Thank you for your insights. Do you think you ever really try to build a scoring remote?

Absolutely. You have some taxing ICE and you can rush behind gearcheck stuff. But your ICE is supposed to slow the Runner down, not keep them out forever.

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You have to race Shapers. Luckily, they can’t really trash your assets, so you just spam as fast as you can and build a two-ice remote (ideal is some combination of Architect, FC3, Vanilla, and Ichi - Magnet and Lotus Field are pretty bad against Shaper). Try and make them plant Architect or click FC3 before bouncing them with Vanilla. Try to cheat the 3rd (or 4th!) ice onto your remote via ABT, Sponsorship, or Architect fires - you want to go fast and saving that click / couple bucks to get more ice on there is key.

It’s really tempting to score behind a single FC3, but don’t do it unless you’ve found Login Protocol. Clicking FC3 to prevent your rush score is a pretty good trade for them in my experience.

If I were you I wouldn’t Biotic 3/2s unless they have exactly enough program tutors on the board to get into your remote so that you can still score if they Clot (and then you have an extra click to put down a Sponsorship or w/e). Biotic is still super-useful in the matchup to score Food from an un-advanced state (with 2 of them or via SanSan / Jeeves).

Against Whizzard, the two keys to the matchup are Enhanced Login Protocol (and its never-ending dance with Employee Strike) and Accelerated Beta Test (Corporate Sales Team, if your build has it, is also super high-impact). Chances are, you won’t win without Beta Test-ing something like FC3 or Architect (ideally you can then immediately Sponsorship a Magnet over the FC3 to protect it from Parasite and Spooned! :smiley:). If it’s a Temujin Whizzard (a la the World Champ deck), then it’s also pretty important (IMO) to try and cheese four of your seven points (ideally 2 of them will be ABT or Sales Team) behind gear-checks (as opposed to FA), because this will be a lot more cost-effective. “Score 4 points before they find a way through Magnet, best 3-rez ice ever” has been a pretty common pattern in my games. However, you might want to Biotic ABT (because the fire is so important) rather than risking it in a dicey remote (something like Vanilla, where they can get through with Parasite or a breaker). Just don’t Biotic Vitru for your first 2 points unless you have like 2 Sponsorship and no ice.

What you do early depends a lot on your draw - just spamming assets is a little bit fruitless without ELP (this includes recurring assets with Friends!). So, if you don’t have ELP, your early clicks are generally better-spent installing whatever ice you have and trying to cheese points (Vitru is worse to score than ABT or Sales Team, IMO, but if you must, try and get a counter on it rather than score it as a blank 3/2 - that’s one E-Strike turned into ELP later). Assembly Lines is a big exception, since you get a benefit even if they trash it, you kind of want it in the trash anyway for Architect and Sponsorship and whatnot, and if they don’t trash it you can AAL ice after they name a Temujin server.

The rush-ABT-early plan is threatening enough that you can actually get a lot of Architect plants that way (if it’s FC3 they can click it, if it’s Vanilla they can Parasite it so they’ll run click one a lot of the time). If you start the game with two ice, AAL behind Architect is a pretty sweet turn one, since you can stuff Temujin (and Medium! and Keyhole!) if they don’t run it, and you get an Architect fire if they do (low-value Architect fire, because nothing in Archives, but still - sometimes if you put out a naked Sponsorship or Jackson they’ll run it before planting your Architect and then you’re on the highway to value town). The early game basically goes like this - you install some stuff, they trash it, you try and score and/or get them to plant Architect or FC3. If at any point during all this you hit ELP then you play it and spam all the assets you’ve been holding (this is a great time to play Friends if you have it). Eventually your remote will lose value, either because they find breakers or all the ice gets blown up (putting SanSan in there is still pretty sick if they’re like, breaking a Lotus with a Black Orchestra). At this point you hopefully have 4 points and now you’re just holding on for dear life and trying to FA the last 3-4 (Sleepers is a life-saver here) while keeping the runner off your centrals by installing Clones, Sponsorship, etc. ELP and Friends are really huge in this part of the game, since Sponsorship and Clones triggers are huge in the race to FA all your crap before you die to Medium. Be smart about when you play Friends - Friends for 2 naked assets is pretty bad if ELP is not up. It’s much higher-impact if you wait to put SanSan / AAL behind ice, or just install a bunch of crap on one turn with ELP up.

Against Criminal, I usually lose after getting 4-5 points and then getting Siphon-locked and losing on R&D. So my advice there is “if you think you have enough ice on HQ, you’re wrong”. Again, “try and cheat out your 3rd / 4th ice via ABT / Sponsorship / Architect” to save on install costs is the name of the game here. Play slower, try and stuff Temujin with AAL.

EDIT: btw, if you wanna stream some two-headed play or just play some games against me I’d be down, just PM me here or on Slack


The deck works this way:

If they trash all your things, use the tempo loss as scoring windows.

If they only trash CSM, then repeatedly force them to trash it.

If they trash nothing, use CSM to recur money and biotic until you win.

Your loss conditions are:

Runner gets full rig + R&D lock (you were too slow/didn’t draw enough).

You get blasted by Siphon (you were too fast)

All your stuff gets trashed and you run out of money (you didn’t protect TS when you should have)

They take 7 from centrals before you score out (you probably protected TS when you shouldn’t have!)

Well-timed legwork (you probably drew too many cards)

You get clot locked (you didn’t draw enough cards)


Thanks for the invitation @higgs_bozo. I can’t ever plan my free Jinteki time ahead very well, but if I ever see you on the same time I am, I’ll hit you up.

As far as Clot lock goes, I saw someone running a clever innovation that worked pretty well. They ran a single AggSec for situations where they are remote locked to IAA in their remote. Against Clot Lock, hopefully you make the runner spend a CC to get the clot up, then trash 2 breakers when they hit the trap. The idea is they won’t have the credits/CC/breakers to challenge the next score in he remote the following turn.

It was a neat little surprise. I believe he cut a CSM for it.

Ya if your meta is somehow full of Shaper, that’s a reasonable thing to do, as is cutting something for a CVS.

I’d just play CtM until they change factions tho :sob: