This deck went 4-1 in Swiss and 2-2 in the cut, losing twice in the finals to aDumbBrick's excellently teched Mti.
When SOCR 7 began the consensus was that corps were much stronger than runners. I actually played the first week of Swiss with a Freedom deck, hence why Steve didn't see all six rounds of Swiss. My ice destruction Freedom list was great when my opponents had a slow start, but it tended to struggle against faster Corp openings. When the MWL was leaked, we were given a chance to switch IDs and so I opted to move to Steve.
The most meta defining card in SOCR 7 was Surveyor and every successful runner deck had above all else to be able to efficiently answer Surveyor. Apocalypse is the strongest anti-Surveyor tech in the format because Surveyor incentivizes the Corp to commit as much ice as possible to the board, especially on the remote. This means that even just the first Apocalypse can be a game ending a blowout, leaving the Corp with little ice, and against a deck packing 5 bypass events, even less hope of rushing out behind a single piece of ice immediately post-Apoc.
Unfortunately, the Criminal breakers in Terminal Directive are, with the exception of Abagnale, hot garbage. This means that Criminals want to avoid running as much as possible, especially against all star ice Wall of Static, which was, no joke, arguably the second best ice in the format after Surveyor. Early versions of this deck included Paragon and Bankroll, but it quickly became clear that running frequently enough to get value from these cards was not desirable.
At its core, this is a combo-control deck. You have no positive win condition like Indexing or Maker's Eye, but instead rely on preventing your opponent from ever being able to develop their board enough to score out. In SOCR 7, where glacier was by far the most consistent strategy, this pure denial plan is very strong. The only opponent I played who was not trying to abuse Surveyor to score out was Brick in the finals, who knew what I was playing and devised a clever strategy using Data Raven's and HPT to kill me despite the fact that I had boarded out my tagging cards.
I chose to take full advantage of the powerful tagging cards Criminals received in Kitara and R&R: specifically Credit Kiting, Hot Pursuit, and Rogue Trading. This left me vulnerable to tag punishment side boarding but I was not effectively punished for this choice until the grand finals, when I faced a very strong opponent who I had played in Swiss and who made some very creative deck building choices to beat my Steve. Two of my three loses were in the finals to that deck.
Specific tech choices:
I ran 3x Employee Strike for most of the tournament but struggled to make good use of my remaining influence. I tried Test Run, and then later 3x Process Automation, but neither were very impactful. Ultimately I decided that 3x Liberated Accounts did more for me than E-Strike, and I absolutely stand by that decision.
Depending on my matchup I boarded out the tagging cards for Armitage Codebusting, Pad Taps, Embezzles, and Bankrolls. 3x Faerie is ideal against Mti, but probably unnecessary against most other decks.
This deck was a lot of fun to build, tune, and play. I think it was one of the two or three best runners decks in the format, although that is mostly because of dominant Surveyor was this tournament. ADumbBrick's Ayla list is generically much stronger. The one downside of both the tag me plan and the Apoc is that it is linear and therefore predictable and counter-able. Once you pick D&D as your big box as a non-mini-faction runner, you are pretty much committed to Apoc. The pure strength of this deck against the dominant Corp strategy in the format paid off, and I was only punished once for picking a glass cannon runner.
Since Terminal Directive will be treated as a big box next tournament, this deck is not going to be possible to build since so many of the breakers are from TD and you have to pick Apocalypse. Its possible that some other Apocalypse deck will be strong next tournament: Surveyor still looks like one of the best cards in the format. Personally I've been working on a run based, non-Apoc, Gabe list that I'm very happy with. My goal in any format is to find and play the most annoying Criminal and I tend to maintain that tradition for a long time.
Finally, I want to thank FightingWalloon for organizing a very fun tournament, and all of my opponents for the games we played together! A special thanks to aDumbBrick and ManBunBatty who I faced both in Swiss and in the cut for so many interesting games.
7 Oct 2018 internet_potato
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