Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Cookbook to CI7 - A post-Flashpoint retrospective

The Cookbook to CI7 - A post-Flashpoint retrospective

Quorum, the last pack in the Flashpoint cycle, is now released. Since the release of Sifr and Aaron Marron, a lot of competitive minded players are considering CI7 the best deck right now. This is made even better by the release of Violet Level Clearance, a very strong card that boosts all archetypes of Cerebral Imaging (including the non-Power Shutdown variants). As such, it may be important to get a refresher on CI7, and note what has changed since the Cookbook was last updated.

If you are new to the whole concept of CI7, the original introductory article can be found here.

Changes over Flashpoint

Rumor Mill

Jackson be gone

Due to the prevalence of Employee Strike, CI7 already had to make sure to have currents available to deal with this. Rumor Mill is especially interesting as it doesn't require you to answer it immediately, but instead requires an answer on the combo turn, as you can not use Jackson Howard to start the combo if it is out. If you have Biotic Labor + a current you can start the combo normally, just requiring some extra credits.

In general, Employee Strike is worse for CI7 than Rumor Mill, however if the deck is running Siphon (and/or Vamp), then Rumor Mill is worse. Siphon and Vamp both make a run, allowing you to potentially combo out if you have the right cards in hand (usually Reuse + 2x Biotic Labor). Because they require a run, they only work well with Employee Strike if the corp cannot combo. Rumor Mill throws this off, as Biotic Labor x2 + Reuse means there are no Biotic Labors left in the deck to play the requisite Biotic Labor + current to turn off the Mill. This is not necessarily a problem in general but it is worth keeping in mind when playing (and designing decks to beat CI7).

Cheaper currents

0c : Trash a runner current

The last cookbook deck had 2x Enhanced Login Protocol to counter Employee Strike (and Rumor Mill). The effect of this current is mostly non-important, and frequently may as well just read "2c: clear a runner current". As such, when Scarcity of Resources came out for "1c: clear a runner current" there was an immediate switch. Now, with Enforced Curfew functionally reading "0c: clear a runner current", it is most likely the current of choice.

Less Faust

Still a good card but influence is tight

Dumblefork is still a great deck, but the existence of Temujin Contract has significantly weakened its former glory status in the meta. Dumblefork was a favoured match-up for CI7 previously so this isn't necessarily a good thing; however, the lack of Faust means we can change up our ICE suite accordingly.

Added 'ssubroutines'

The oldest "new" card of them all

Wait, what? This isn't from Flashpoint! In fact, Paper Wall was from the very same pack that had Accelerated Diagnostics and Power Shutdown (and Interns). However, both Vanilla and a bit of gestation time had to occur for some brilliant soul to realize how great Paper Wall is in this deck (full credit to former World Champion Dan D'Argenio for indeed being that brilliant soul).

Similar to Vanilla, Paper Wall is 0 to rez, and similar to vanilla, its only real value is as a gear-check for a breaker. Unlike Vanilla, it is 1 strength; thus, when combo'd with Quandary, the Runner cannot just beat it with an Atman at 0, and when Parasited, they still have to wait a turn before they can run (outside of Grimoire/Datasucker/Sifr). However, none of the above are the real reason that Paper Wall is so good. That very reason is that it lets you go all in on the Mother Goddess suite, giving barrier protection on Paper Wall without giving barrier vulnerability to Mother Goddess.

As such, the new ICE suite for CI7 is currently: 2x Paper Wall, 1x Quandary, 3x Mother Goddess, 1x Excalibur. With the existence of Quorum (and thus, Parasite spam's inevitable return), this suite may need changing, as Magnet gains value and Macrophage may be useful too. Against Criminal, however, this suite is devastating, and Criminal is in position to be a lot better, with the release of Aaron Marron.

More Siphon Anarch

When they play this 6 times over 2 turns, you cry
With the release of Obelus, Siphon Anarch has gotten a lot stronger. Hate Bear Whizzard is the most common example of this, but it is also reasonably common out of Valencia and Quetzal. This is a tough match-up as they can continuously push you out of combo range very early before you can react, and they are also commonly running Hades Shard as well (for the Obelus combo) which significantly lengthens the setup time required in a game. These Anarchs often have Eater/Faust which do not care about the current ICE suite, and use powerful cards to prevent ice-rezzing such as Blackmail (+ En Passant), DDoS, etc. Whether or not they clear tags depends on whether or not they get the Hades Shard. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can "2c: trash the Hades Shard because the runner stayed tagged" but a smart runner will not let this happen.

Notrunner got good

This is basically the runner version of CI7

DDoS + False Echo + Hyperdriver was always a fun deck that had a good time against CI, but the release of Rumor Mill and the restriction on Astroscript Pilot Program changed this from a Jank Deck to something that is powerful against much of the field. For a deck that relies on the runner making a run (Power Shutdown), the "Dyper" deck is CI7's worst nightmare. Your only option is to rush out cards behind remotes early, but even then, your odds are poor. In the "Playing against CI7" article, there was talk of saving up for a power turn, but when that power turn has 13 clicks and doesn't have to deal with ICE, there is nothing CI can really do.

Sifr silliness

Is the sky falling yet?

This is just released, and is obviously good. Nobody knows exactly how good yet, and fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on which side you're on), CI7 is somewhat resilient against this card. However, an early medium could still end the game for the Corp and this card, combined with Parasites, can readily remove any ice that would prevent said assault.

Hasty Relocation

A new variant of CI

Somewhat helping against the Dyper menace is a new card called Hasty Relocation, which lets you put 3 cards in HQ onto the top of R&D. Given how effectively this combos with Accelerated Diagnostics, some clever individuals decided to create a new variant of CI based around Relocation. One of the bonuses of Hasty CI is that it does not require the runner to have made a run to start comboing towards the win. It doesn't win all in one go like CI&, but can still win reasonably fast. The downside of Hasty CI is that the runner doesn't have to fear making a run, so instead Hasty CI relies on more taxing ICE like Fairchild 3.0.

The existence of Hasty CI is actually a boon for CI7, as now a runner will not immediately be able to know your deck on seeing the ID and thus may struggle to determine the correct strategy. Against Hasty CI, you want to run non-stop, while against CI7, you only want to run early. That being said, running early is valuable against both, and can very quickly tell you what style of CI you are up against.

New Tech Cards

These have potential
Best Defense was released in Intervention, which allows the Corp to kill pretty much anything a tag-me player has on the board, but also lets you hit any 0-cost card from a non tag-me player. Dyper saving up Apocalypse on a Bookmark? Best Defense. Councilman preventing you from doing the combo? Best Defense. SMC threatening you with a Clot? Best Defense. This is certainly nice for helping with these scenarios, however CI7 already has outs against all these problems (except Dyper, however Dyper runs Sacrificial Construct to counter this - so Best Defense still has utility), so the value of this here is weak.

Ark Lockdown was also released this cycle, letting you remove cards in the runner's heap from the game. This is pretty good for permanently removing a Clot or for removing Parasites if they're on the Sifr Parasite-Spam strategy. This may see more play if the Sifr case becomes overwhelming, but for now is not included in the deck.

Macrophage is a new piece of ICE designed to destroy viruses. It purges, trashes a virus, removes a virus from the game, and ends the run. Its rez cost is only 3 and yet it is a 7 strength code gate with 4 subs, which is insane value; however, each sub is conditional on a trace. This is mostly only good for defending R&D against Medium, and may still be a liability as it turns your Mother Goddess into a code gate. It is also an extreme liability against the new Criminal decks du jour featuring 3x Power Tap, as each run on R&D will provide them 12 credits if there is a rezzed Macrophage. As such, you would only rez this on R&D against an Anarch player with Medium, meaning you are dedicating a slot to an ICE that you won't even be using in all games.

Violet Level Clearance

Oh boy

What a huge economic boost this is. It gives the same number of credits as BLC, except it costs 1 less click and gives 2 more cards. The trash cost is actual a strong liability if you are experiencing a Medium dig, however the raw power VLC adds is definitely worth the downside. With 3x of this in your deck, you can use them all (or let them get trashed) and when you use Reclamation Order to get them back, you can immediately play one again. I am currently testing 3x VLC, 3x Hedge Fund, 1x Restructure as my 7 econ cards right now. It should be noted, however, that Quorom was only recently released and these are experimental gut feelings. I tend to value credits quite highly to give oneself reactivity during the setup and combo.


As such, the decklist has undergone some new renovations. Most of the changes are in fact quite old cards, so this is ironically probably the most competitive deck with the least new cards. However, it is clear that Violet Level Clearance really adds to the power level here, and the Enforced Curfews provide some minor efficiency boosts.

Some potential changes we could make to the deck include: -1 Restructure +1 BLC; -1 Hedge Fund +1 BLC; -1 Quandary +1 Macrophage;  -1 Archived Memories +1 Ark Lockdown.

1 comment:

  1. Any chance you can talk about some of the anti-hate combos with Cyberdex Trial out?