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Is there a viable Full Grail build?

Has anyone figured out any truly viable uses for a full grail suite?

I love the concept and mechanics of the Grail set, but I can’t seem to make it work.
I’ve been trying out a Foundry build with amazon industrial complex, but it folds under any amount of full rig pressure and cant muster the influence or economy to play full fast advance.

I’m starting to test out NBN builds (NEH and TWISY) with midway station but even with tag storms and meat damage support I feel like it cant create a real scoring server that is any better than spending the 9 influence and 11 card slots (2 Excalibur) .

The suite has a huge number of advantages: Triple subroutines, moderate strength, low-ish costs, broad subrotine effects.
But I’m having trouble overcoming the flaws and costs: Use of influence, hand slots, deckslots, and need of supporting cards to make the most of those broad effects.

What are your experiences with Grail since the release of Merlin and Excalibur? What are the main hurdles you see when using them and how do you overcome them?

And What ID do you think has the most potential to bring the grail ice to bear?

I tried it in RP (pre-Excalibur, though Excalibur is equally good in-grail and out-grail so I don’t think it’d change my conclusions at all) and it was surprisingly good (I didn’t have high hopes after testing it in Foundry), but I drew a few conclusions from testing.

  • It’s a lot better than normal RP if they’ve never played against Grail before and/or aren’t expecting it.
  • Can enable a more rushy style of play (think why Chimera’s good).
  • It gets significantly worse against a skilled opponent who knows you’re using grail.
  • Merlin flatlines are fun to talk about but the main strength of Grail is them needing all 3 breakers to stop Lancelot happening. Merlin was only the big addition because it added Code Gate really.
  • Greatly improved Criminal and Anarch matchups, significantly weakened Shaper (Corroder + Sharpshooter + Deus X gets through all three and are cheap to get out in emergencies). In RP especially, Criminal wasn’t a matchup I was feeling weak in.
  • The lack of flexibility in influence is really painful. You can’t fit in even DBS without having to remove (some amount of) Eli for example - and you’re shooting yourself in the leg to not have DBS in RP I feel.
  • Early game is better, late game worse. It moves you closer to GRNDL’s style of play.

For the reasons listed above, mainly influence, making the matchup RP’s already good with better, and the fact assuming reasonable testing by your opponent against Grail probably means non-Grail is better, I did switch back to the standard RP suite and feel like it’s better.

I’m not sure which ID will do it best, but it will need to be one that doesn’t need as much influence (NBN is good because hey have Jackson and DBS in faction). Foundry Grail I’m not even sure is that great. I tested that a small bit but it defeats the point of Grail I think - you don’t really want a second Galahad, you want your Galahad to trash their programs.

I’m not sure how it worked out for people, but I know it has been tested in NEH in an AstroBiotics build which makes sense in my head. You can fit in 2 Biotics as well as the full suite and it forces out those 3 breakers very quickly in a deck that already wants to go fast. I’d say NEH’s weakest matchup is Criminal, too. If it doesn’t work there I’m not sure where I’d run it, though.


I think the main advantage of grail is the window it gives you during which they risk losing programmes if they hit an ICE without a full rig. Once that window has closed you’re stuck with some ok ICE that eats your influence and clogs your hand. So I think the best grail decks are those that rush aggresively. NBN (TWIY and NEH both have good synergy) and possibly Titan when it comes out.

I took an RP Grail build to my local GNK tournament, it was very effective as runners are scared to run early game which is when RP is weak. I think it is likely a viable build but need to test more to be certain.
In my tournament it went undefeated with four out of five rounds winning 7-0. Seems worth while to investigate further so far.


Yeah, it’s definitely viable and strong (stronger than I was expecting), but I feel it makes the Shaper matchup a lot worse, and Shaper decks can be really speedy these days (QT + Cyber Cypher + Lady + Mimic). It made the Noise matchup a bit worse too, but better against other Anarchs. That being said, it really did seem to walk all over Criminal (especially Criminals with little experience against it). These, to me, feel like the wrong matchups to improve/weaken, but I guess it depends on the rest of the deck/local meta!

How it does against Stealth Andy (or where it stands in the post O&C meta) is what will sell the build for me - Stealh Andy is a matchup I haven’t tested Grail against - I don’t like having really abysmal matchups against certain decks which (non-Grail) RP kind of has (I’ve been trying to tech against it recently). Stealth Andy is the real deal, and it’s hard to win as RP against a well piloted Stealth Andy deck.

I’ve had success with grail in two builds so far:

NEH rush that just uses grail to slow them down for an astro train to get going, with architects and a pair of eli to complete the annoying ice splash. You get really annoying face checks + NEH astro trains

The other one that’s been doing well is custom biotics splashing grail, power shutdown, jacksons and 4 influence in ice/card filtering (I’ve changed it repeatedly), breaking their rig and scoring through a troubleshooter server is particularly hard to deal with if they’re not extremely careful.

EDIT: neither of these ran excalibur, as I don’t think its effect warrants a card slot.

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I think 7 is sufficient. 2 Galahad, 2 Merlin, 3 Lancelot. 3 Jackson, 7 Grail, 2 business show, Ash. 1 other seems like decent influence in RP. I’m not certain about Eli being mandatory any more. It’s certainly tough to fit Grail, but not impossible. Jinteki ICE is really good. Especially in RP. Not sure it’s worth spending so much influence on ice.

I like the idea Winning Agenda had about Grail in BS. They were wrong about oversight AI, but I have a BS Grail build I’m keen to try.

Power Shutdown is friend to Grails. Also, the BS ability works nicely in conjunction.

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I’d be a bit more wary these days. Without splashing for Eli or Tollbooth you’re lacking meaty non-Sentry ICE to stop Stealth Andy walking all over you. Before testing both sides of her RP matchup I’d have probably agreed with you in the right meta (I know very good players who don’t use Eli or similar in RP), but after testing it I feel like without that sort of ICE you’re worsening your (by far) worst matchup - which is a scary proposition.

Ive had success with the foundry, Grail ice, and next ice. Searching for a Merlin and hitting them for 4 when they don’t expect it is killer.

I’ve also been having some fun with Grail in the Foundry, and I think it’s pretty strong. I built mine as a FA deck, with Biotics and 3-2s as well as EffComs and Shipment from SanSan as a back up plan. Ice was 9 grail (no excalibur), 6 NEXT, 2 Eli, 2 Architect. It has a pretty high winrate, largely because of the grail tech. Often the runner will have a painful lancelot/merlin facecheck early game, and then they have to get a full rig set up to facecheck safely. And even when they are set up, there’ll be 3 subroutines on every grail most of the time so they are pretty taxing. Meanwhile I’m Biotic-ing out my ABTs for even more nasty ice. I’m currently thinking I’ll ditch the NEXT suite for some more versatile, less parasitable ice, but I find the grail stuff to be really strong.

You can make it good in FA or in Glacier, too. FA you run into influence issues because you really want 2 SanSan 3 Jackson, but in glacier you run into the R&D thinning going late. Either way you have to be pretty savvy about where you keep your ICE/Agendas. Here’s the glacier I’ve been playing. I think it hasn’t lost yet. I’d say it’s as good as regular redcoats.

Foundry Glacier (49 cards)

The Foundry: Refining the Process

Agenda (8)
3 Accelerated Beta Test
1 Eden Fragment
1 Hades Fragment
1 NAPD Contract
1 Priority Requisition
1 Utopia Fragment

Asset (9)
3 Adonis Campaign
3 Eve Campaign
3 Jackson Howard

Upgrade (3)
3 Ash 2X3ZB9CY

Operation (11)
1 Archived Memories
1 Celebrity Gift
2 Enhanced Login Protocol
1 Green Level Clearance
3 Hedge Fund
3 Restructure

Barrier (9)
3 Eli 1.0
3 Galahad
3 NEXT Silver

Code Gate (6)
3 Merlin
3 NEXT Bronze

Sentry (3)
3 Lancelot

I think Etf is a better ID for glacier than Foundry. Foundry’s advantage lies in the early game, as you can quickly get ice to minimize the early accesses. I play my Foundry deck more as a rush build, scoring a few agendas, and getting out the last one with bio labour. The grail suite realy discourages early face checks.

Of course you can reason that Foundry shores up a glaciers early game, when it’s weakest. This might be worth more than the trickle of creds you get from Etf over the course of a game.

This leads to my question to the collective of stimhack wisdom: do you still consider Etf the best HB id, or is Foundry actually better? It probably depends on the deck style (FA, glacier, rush,…), if so which id for which style?

I’d defer to the world champion who obviously has a different and better informed view but when running glacier out of the Foundary I feel I need to do something about the late game R&D vulnrabilty and that normally involves spending six influence on Snare.

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I admit that the late game R&D thing can be a problem, but it’s something that can be mitigated by planning ahead. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it can be done. I tried doing FA in foundry and found that R&D was even more of an issue because you were less prepared to spend a ton of money protecting it. It’s hard to evaluate Foundry vs EtF. I think the credits are a generally better ability, but the grail ICE are just so good that it might be worth switching anyway.


Just decided last week to try a more taxing-based Foundry/Grail rather than the FA thing. Doing FA in HB is great with San San’s, but the lack of agenda steamrolling (like in NBN) makes only 3 Biotics a real problem.

@mediohxcore I really like the synergy with Foundry+Grail+NEXT, but how do you deal with parasite recursion? With gala, lance, and silver at low strength I feel as though it is rather potent against that corp build? I’m not trying to knock the idea, I’m asking how you deal with it because I wanted to try this build but I face a lot of Crim parasite recursion in my playgroup.

Then play something else!

Grails work just fine in Blue Sun, and while I haven’t played them in NEXT yet, the Foundry deck works also. You can squeeze in ITDs if you wanted, or even Biotics, in place of the ELPs/AM. Or, plug in a few Bootcamps. It all works.

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