My counter-points are thus:
Note: I ended up writing, like, a whole treatise on Smoke. I didn’t intend to, starting out, but it was kind of fun! My disclaimer here is that I’m not pretending to be some kind of god-tier expert on Smoke, or card evaluation, or anything. This is just a lot of what makes sense to me. I could very well be way off base (I just put this together on the spot) and I’m sure many will disagree. I’m not trying to criticize anyone or call any individual out, I just enjoy having in-depth mechanical discussions. Ok, with that out of the way, here is this crazy rambling:
ProCo is not exclusive to making mid-game runs. In fact, I find that it improves Smoke’s ability to make those mid-game runs while maintaining a robust deck structure. In order to explain this, I think I need to go into a little bit about why PiOT-Tapwrm is actually amazing and why the MWL is the worst for it:
Mercur, while phenomenal, is only a Stealth-Desperado for as long as you have recurring stealth to spend (so, up to twice per turn for this deck). It’s also much more rare these days to face a Corp with undefended servers. Besides all of that, ice is generally more expensive to break now (through subroutines) and you won’t be able to sustain your economy completely through mid-game runs. Most Smoke decks pack burst-econ to counter this and get through the mid-game. The problem is that runner burst econ is a bit on the weak side at the moment and, conversely, their sustain econ is a bit on the great side. Thus, Smoke needs to pair some sustain econ with that burst in order to make it through to the late game without running out of steam. Tapwrm has been the go-to choice for this, with Peace in Our Time, and that has been working out great! She gets plenty of burst to float through the mid game and it also lets Tapwrm give her enough to close it out.
This plan isn’t without its own downsides, however. Burst econ is single-use. If you are relying on it for your early economy then you have to dedicate many cards to it, which begins to make Smoke’s deck slots tight. Tapwrm requires support in the form of Sacrificial Construct, tightening the deck slots even more. Burst economy is also draw-intensive. You have to then dedicate deck slots to draw cards in order to make that economy more efficient. Now you can barely fit in your breakers, multi-access, and tech cards.
Now, in the past, these drawbacks have generally been manageable. You can squeeze in your breakers. You have enough money to win. You’re able to get the most important tech cards in there. That last bit is where it all falls apart with the new MWL.
The most important cards in your Smoke deck are the cards that let you deal with stealing Obokata Protocol in the early-mid game. These cards could be: Levy (a solid choice if you want to recycle all of that burst, trashed Tapwrms, etc…) or Film Critic (just nab it, baby) combined with Feedback Filter. With the econ package available to Smoke you absolutely cannot lose too many of your cards. You need those burst cards to sustain your econ and if you lose them then you can’t make it through the mid game. You need the SacCons to power your sustain through the late game. A Corp that forces you to contest Obokata early can get you into a situation where you are forced to drop many very important resources to get it, and Smoke’s reliance on each and every card in her tiny deck makes that a tearful trade. Levy brings those cards back, Film Critic prevents you from losing them in the first place. Most notably, both of these cards are restricted. By including the Tapwrm econ package you are now unable to slot those tech cards and now you have a much, much more difficult time dealing with net damage Jinteki. Which, as it turns out, is a strong and popular choice. I don’t think Smoke can survive the Jinteki net-damage-pocalypse without at least one of those (preferable Film Critic).
So, this whole experiment flows from the idea that we cannot include Tapwrm anymore because we can’t afford to lose Film Critic. Tapwrm remains phenomenal against the rest of the field but Jinteki becomes our worst nightmare, and that is unacceptable. We need a new sustained economy to go with our burst package.
One option presented in this thread: Mining Accident. Mining Accident allows you to potentially force the Corp to take Bad Publicity. This can be considered equivalent to the sustain econ by giving you a drip per BP every time you run. Incredibly synergistic with Net Mercur. Vulnerable to a monied Corp and a non-bo with PiOT. Have to drop PiOT now and replace a lot of burst with other cards. Experiments with RNG Key and Deuces and Stimhack abound! I want to see how those work out, they look fun and interesting!
(The part about my actual thought process):
My deck’s solution: Professional Contacts. ProCon is neat because it offers you solid drip right at the beginning of the game. I am loathe to give the Corp extra credits, even in Smoke, so I drop PiOT. ProCo is highly synergistic with Career Fair (opening hand dream) and so are Daily Casts and Net Mercur! It’s an obvious choice to include. I’m replacing Tapwrm with an in-faction card so now I have influence to spend. I still have econ missing from PiOT and influence to spend. What is good econ that cost influence? Well, Liberated Account is pretty good. OH HEY, I ALREADY HAVE CAREER FAIR! Lets throw it in. Liberated Account takes more clicks than the standard burst econ package, but ProCon drips more early credits than other sustain econ packages (while drawing into other econ cards), so I feel like that balances out and you end up with a similar economic flow. ProCon greatly increases the value proposition of spending clicks on draw, so I can drop my other draw cards (Diesel). That also frees up a ton of card slots… It’s tech city now, bois!
I have tech cards available for just about every problematic match up I’ve run into as Smoke. Film Critic is… well, Film Critic. Dummy Box becomes my new favorite card I hadn’t thought of until someone brought it up. PolOp and Interdiction helps deal with some very pesky upgrades and assets. Interdiction also helps as a counter-current. Misdirection saves you against early HHNs and protects your econ when you simply must run multi-Raven’d servers or are vs. Sync.
Ultimately, I have ProCon providing me a base amount of econ to use to install the cards I draw, my burst econ (basically Career Fair and Sure Gamble) to push me through the mid-game, and hybrid econ (Daily Casts, Liberated) to fill in the gaps. I can use the constant economy flow to run at least once per turn to get value from Mercur, Equivocation, and The Turning Wheel (this writeup has convinced me to drop the Maker’s/Legwork and go with the 2 Turning Wheel + something else). I don’t have to be drawing 4x per turn, nor should I be running 4x per turn. Runs and ProCon draw can be balanced well. I have tech cards for any matchup (except fast advance, I guess… ugh. Perhaps The Source is in order!? Dummy Box ).
Now, that said, Dirty Laundry is still a good card for this deck and if I had the slots I’d totally slot it.
Conclusion: I’m going to drop the Maker’s and Legwork and throw in the 2 The Turning Wheel, it just makes sense. Need to figure out what to do with the extra slot. Same Old Thing doesn’t make sense once the rest are dropped. A second Interdiction to better combat Scarcity (which would be devastating played early) is probably where I will go. Considering dropping a Liberated for a The Source. Dummy Box opens up so many interesting options… hnng.
Whew. Well, that was a fun write up. God bless you, whoever reads it.