NRDB in Review 11-16-15: Spark City Surveillance

Spark City Surveillance on NRDB

When all of the decklists started dropping post worlds, I was thrilled at the idea of getting to write about a high tier deck, playtested and lovingly iterated upon lovingly before debuting on NRDB. Something we don’t often get to talk about around here.

And then Zeromus’s Spark Agency made the front page.

Which I guess proves one thing, and it’s that there is something NRDB loves more than netrunner fanfiction, more than clever deck names, even more than irrationally overconfident strategy write-ups…


Spark Agency: Worldswide Reach
Agenda (10)
3x AstroScript Pilot Program
2x Breaking News
2x Global Food Initiative ••
3x NAPD ContractAsset (18)
3x Adonis Campaign ••••• •
3x City Surveillance
1x Eve Campaign •••
3x Jackson Howard
3x Launch Campaign
3x PAD Campaign
2x Reversed Accounts

Upgrade (5)
2x Ash 2X3ZB9CY ••••
3x Product Placement

Operation (2)
2x The All-Seeing I

Barrier (3)
3x ResistorCode Gate (5)
3x Pop-up Window
2x Tollbooth

Sentry (4)
1x Information Overload
3x Turnpike

Other (2)
2x Special Offer

15 influence spent (max 15)
20 agenda points (between 20 and 21)
49 cards (min 45)
Cards up to Data and DestinyDecklist published on

Wow! Look at all the fun stuff! How did he do it?

Well, it’s remarkably easy to fit fun cards in your deck when you don’t have a win condition sucking up pesky deck slots. Functional ice? Nah, Sansan City grid? Nah. Zeromus, give me something here; faust is everywhere you have wraparound at least right?

Wait, there are two copies of Ash2x8129813jziq here.  Well there you, go that’s the answer right? There is an obscene amount of money in this deck, you can definitely threaten a big ash trace.  Ash makes a server cost double +3 to run. Which, in most decks is really good…  In this deck it costs 0-1 credits to run a server, meaning ash is going to be strictly worse than red herrings half of the time.

Aha, tollbooth is an actual taxing piece of ICE.  Two copies of ash and booth each means  it is a line of play that you will see almost as often as Halley’s comet.

It’s clear that applying logic and reason to this list is getting us nowhere. We’re still no closer to answering the important question:  How do you win games playing against the Jinteki of Credits?

Straight up trolling.

Put yourself in the shoes of Zeromus’s hapless king of servers victims who likely only had limited experience testing against spark decks that are trying to win the game, which in no way prepares them for dealing with this bullshit.

If your opponent spent 9 influence on bioroid campaigns, you might think there was some larger meaning to them beyond Neural EMPing one of your credits – you might think Zeromus had some master plan for spending all of those credits, and worst of all, you might think you are on some kind of clock because he’s playing NBN.

Trying to trash his assets and deny him money is a completely losing play, running low on cash makes checking the critical mass of remote servers mentally draining, and that’s when the first astro slips through off the table and the imaginary pressure begins to mount.

It’s a frustration game, the deck isn’t behaving like NBN decks you have dealt with before, and the frustration makes you sloppy.

This deck cannot be successful when it’s list is known.  At king of servers it was an unknown list run by an experienced player who knew his wins needed to come from a perfect storm of luck, trolling, and frustration.

Suggested Changes:

For the rest of us this particular deck is now a known quantity, and future endeavors to troll people with spark agency will best be carried out with a different spark agency deck.  The best card in Zeromus’s deck is reversed accounts – let’s start there.

The mistake people make when trying to build around this ID ability is  jamming every card with the word “advertisement” in it and calling it a day.  1 card is worth 1 click, and that remains roughly true most of the time in most decks; 1 credit is only worth 1 click when you have no other options, the credit value of a click soars well above 1 for 1 as soon as you get above 5 credits or install an economy card.

This means that the value of Spark’s ID ability is going to trend downwards over the course of the game, your ID is threatening when the runner is broke, playing cards to make the runner broke is the best way to maximize your ID power. Reversed accounts is a nice 8 credit punch, but I think closed accounts also needs to appear in any serious spark list to help deal with big credit bursts like account siphon.

Honestly, there are mile-wide holes in this deck’s strategy (run everything, don’t trash anything that just makes money). If you are struggling to play it, and maybe thinking this Zeromus guy must be a really amazing player to have won 4 out of 5 games with it — you would be mistaken!

It’s simply that Zeromus is a huge troll and this deck is his bridge.

There’s definitely something here that we can learn from the troll-king of netrunner, tricks and traps are widely panned in the competitive community because of their variability – but such a huge facet of the game should not be quickly discarded.

Most players rely on the existence of Project Junebug to cast a shadow of doubt onto their corp plays, but against a familiar corp deck the threat is completely diminished. When you play against common Tier 1 NBN decks, you know that the worst thing a single advanced card will ever be is an Agenda.

Then you have players like Zeromus and Kookoobah changing the game for all of us just by keeping things a little more mysterious and injecting some much needed uncertainty into the competitive scene.

It’s a style of gameplay that is often imitated and rarely successful. Too many traps makes your R&D suffer, too much misdirection will cost you tempo because the runner can pivot from click to click and your board commitment is total. It is extremely easy to fail when playing “mind games” add into that the fact that no amount of “mind game skill” will override the free will of your human opponent, a raw potato and baby you’ve got a stew of failure goin’.

This week, rather than playing a copy of the above list — take something that you have been playing lately, and do something terrible with it.  Swap a pad campaign for a ghost branch – turn your architect into an assassin and an aggressive secretary.  Swap your out of faction crick for a shinobi.

High risk, high reward! Just one weird trick that defies conventional logic! Dip your toe into the ocean of jank – tournament season is over; go for a swim.

see ya next week nerdbears,



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