I was reading El-ad David Amir’s article on Nasir Medan recently (which you should check out if you’ve not read it), and it inspired me to write a deck tech for one of the newer runner identities Leela Patel. Special thank you to FF0X for reading through this for me and providing feedback.
I have been playing Leela since she first came out and have taken her to three different tournaments as well as playing her at my weekly Netrunner nights. The main reason that I have dedicated so much testing time to her is because she is so fun to play, her ability changes the way that the game is played for both runner and corp.
I have found this to be useful in every game; however it varies how useful it is from game to game. In the games where you are able to score an early agenda it sets back the corporation’s board state and often gives you an opening on another server, sometimes this snowballs and you score multiple agendas in short succession totally destroying the corporations defences resulting in a quick victory. These situations often feel like you are playing core set Gabe and if the corporation has a poor start you totally roll over them.
It is much more common is for her ability to give you opportunities, when the corporation scores an agenda and you are able to bounce a piece of Ice protecting HQ or R&D, this often allows you to get in with a key attack such as Account Siphon, Legwork or with an R&D Interface. Even after this attack the corporation has to reset their defences costing them clicks and credits to do so affording you more time or opportunities. The worst case scenario for Leela’s ability is when corporations score very few agendas and not until their defences are completely set up, in these circumstances her ability often only costs the corporation credits and a click to put back the bounced card.
While her abilities impact is not guaranteed, it is stronger against certain deck types and weaker against others; therefore the rest of the deck can be built to threaten those weak match ups. Her ability is particularly effective against decks with a high number of agendas such as the Cambridge Jinteki PE deck, this has a large number of 1 point agendas and relies heavily on its advanced cards such as Ronin and Cerebral Overwriter to threaten the flat line, Leela is strong against this as her ability will trigger on a regular basis and there will be extremely good targets for her ability. Her ability is less effective against decks such as HB Redcoats as it runs a very low amount of agendas which means her ability won’t trigger often, and the deck will often not try and score until it is very set up and defended which means there are less opportunities when you bounce a card.
Common plays that I feel are good for Leela are attacking the server that you don’t have any tricks for, while building your rig so that you are able to apply remote pressure. This means that when you score an agenda or the corporation manages to rush through an agenda an opening appears which you can ideally exploit with a Legwork, Account Siphon or R&DI. Making a run early is therefore recommended with Leela in case a new attack window opens, as you don’t want to give the corporation chance to close it down on their turn. Her ability also requires the corporation to play differently, as otherwise they create gaps in their defences, wise corp players won’t be scoring Breaking News or Hostile Takeover without reason in the early game, as it could open them up to a multi access or credit denial attack. This means that the corporation player does not just need to create scoring windows but also needs to account for what attack window scoring will create for the runner.
My current deck...
Leela Patel: Trained Pragmatist (All That Remains)
3x Account Siphon (Core Set)
3x Dirty Laundry (Creation and Control)
2x Emergency Shutdown (Cyber Exodus)
2x Inside Job (Core Set)
3x Legwork (Honor and Profit)
2x Lucky Find (Double Time) ••••
3x Special Order (Core Set)
3x Sure Gamble (Core Set)
3x Desperado (Core Set)
2x Plascrete Carapace (What Lies Ahead)
3x R&D Interface (Future Proof) ••••• •
2x Kati Jones (Humanity's Shadow)
1x Same Old Thing (Creation and Control)
2x Security Testing (Honor and Profit)
3x Cerberus "Rex" H2 (All That Remains)
2x Corroder (Core Set) ••••
3x Faerie (Future Proof)
1x Femme Fatale (Core Set)
1x Garrote (True Colors)
1x Mimic (Core Set) •
1x Passport (Honor and Profit)
15 influence spent (max 15)
46 cards (min 45)
Cards up to All That Remains
The economy in this deck is one of my favourite things about it, firstly there is a lot of it, and I always prefer decks with lots of economy. Generally one of the most common mistakes that I see new players making when they are deck building is to not run enough economy because they want the cool cards.
The reason I like the economy so much is because it has a large amount of burst economy in the form of Sure Gamble, Lucky Find, and Dirty Laundry, this is great for the early game set up and pressure and key to most competitive decks at the moment. It may seem that the deck has too much economy, or that the Lucky Find's could be replaced with other cards such as Daily Casts or Bank Jobs, I am not running these cards for a specific reason, I want the deck to be able to apply pressure early and having economy is key to this. Daily Casts takes time to kick in and could limit what I can do, I think this card is better in Andromeda where you have other burst economy to sustain you from your 9 cards while this trickles in. Bank Job is a very good card in the current meta, because of the large amount of NEH, however, there are also a large number of glacier decks, which this card is significantly worse against and I wanted this deck to be viable against anything it comes across. You could definitely change the economy to tech against certain metas, for example removing the Kati Jones and Lucky Finds for the 3rd Security Testing and Bank Jobs if there is a lot of NEH etc.
It also has the Desperado and Security Testing combo, Desperado on its own is a great card that makes running much more economical, but with Security Testing these two cards are an economy engine of their own against any deck with open remotes like the ever popular NEH. This combo however struggles against glacier builds because when they are able to lock down their servers your economy dries up, and it is for this reason that the deck also runs Kati Jones, which is an ideal card against glacier decks which are slow and plan to score out of a remote, as having a full rig and a lot of credits will allow you to deal with most situations. This means that the deck has answers to both glacier and asset spam decks which is important since the strongest decks currently are NEH (asset spam) and RP (glacier).
The breaker mix up really shows a different style of Criminal game play to what is generally seen in the current meta. Often a Criminal deck will run with only 1 copy of each breaker type with Faerie and Femme for support, this deck however is running a large number of breakers, 12 in total (6 Sentry breakers, 2 Barrier Breakers, 4 Code Gate Breakers). The reason for this is that it needs to be able to set up a rig quickly, so that it can apply remote pressure. A build up of agendas in HQ is great with cards such as Legwork in the deck. The breaker suite is also very flexible, there are breakers in the deck for particular match ups.
Starting with the Sentry breakers, we have 3 Faerie, these are great for early game aggression and allow for face checking to see what breakers are needed, they are often used up on Architects or other early game sentry Ice but this is still worth it. They are also great as Power Shutdown defence, something this deck is quite vulnerable to. Mimic is a really strong breaker even without Datasucker support, against popular deck types such as NEH Astro Biotics and RP Glacier, Mimic is a key card, both of these decks rarely run any Sentry Ice with a strength higher than 3, therefore it is very efficient and you have Faerie as back up for unexpected big sentries. Femme Fatale is a key card for dealing with troublesome Ice such as Tollbooth and can also be used in a similar role to Mimic, dealing with the low strength Sentry Ice that many decks are currently running. Finally, we have Garrote, this is not a breaker that is installed every game, in most the other Sentry breakers are sufficient, however some decks, especially HB Glacier builds have high strength Sentry Ice that you will needs to break multiple times, Garrotte is for these match ups. As this hopefully shows, the deck has an answer to any type of sentry, so there is no worry that against certain deck types you will be locked out or require a huge number of credits because you are using an inefficient breaker for large Sentry Ice such as Femme Fatale.
The barrier breakers in the deck are considerably less exciting, two Corroders meets the needs of the deck. I have tested out Lady in this deck in place of one of the Corroders, and while she is good against Eli which is a problem for this deck because it has no Datasuckers or Lady to break this cheaply. However, without recursion it was not worth the fact that she would get used up after a few runs.
Finally, 3x Rex and 1x Passport make up the codegate breaker suite, a suite that may raise eyebrows but that I've found very reliable and efficient. Again, early game pressure is the order of the day and with cheap install costs (Passport 1c, Rex 3c) and great overall efficency, both allow you to start quickly without any tempo hit. 3x Rex is to ensure that double stacked codegates on remote servers don't become problematic in the mid-late game.
It wouldn't be a Criminal deck without some tricks. The key things that I wanted in the deck were cards to take advantage of Leela's ability, therefore it has Account Siphon and Legwork for open HQ. For R&D it seems sensible to also have the burst multi access which you can keep in hand and use when the corps defences have suddenly disappeared. However I felt that being able to threaten an R&D lock was much more important in the current meta and so I went with 3 R&D Interface, as these are a constant pressure for the corporation once they are on the board, especially when combined with Inside Job and the fact that Ice is often bounced back to hand. Emergency Shutdown is also a great card for Leela as you want derezzed cards so that they can be bounced back.
I feel that some Leela builds go too over the top on getting cards that combine with her ability, for example running Logos, Emergency Shutdown and Cresentus. I think that it is sensible to have cards that combine with abilities, but you only need so many, it is actually the Account Siphons, Legworks and R&DI which are combining with her ability, as they are taking advantage of the window her ability opens.
Special Order may seem strange in a deck with 12 breakers, but the idea is to have the right breaker for the deck or situation you are facing. Installing a Garrote is not the right call in all games, against NEH you can likely just use Mimic which will be cheaper against most of their sentry ice such as Architect, especially with Faerie as back up. The same is true of the Decoders, you may need a Rex because it is on a remote and you have a Passport, or you want your Passport to fake not having remote pressure and so you don't waste counters. Finally, you only have 2 Fracters, so you may need to go get one, it’s the most common use of Special Order for this deck.
Plascrete Carapace – I don't play in tournaments without 2 or 3 of these!
The nice thing about this deck is that it has options against most decks. I would always keep a hand with economy and cards that I feel are going to be good against the particular match up I am in. Ultimately having economy and breakers is key for remote pressure, and that is something that is important to the deck, as it allows agendas to build up in HQ and this is where Legwork is powerful. Being able to deal with most deck types is what I think this makes this deck strong.
If NEH is still strong in your meta then I feel the following changes are worthwhile:
-1 Cerberus 'Rex'
-1 Same Old Thing
-2 Kati Jones
+1 Security Testing
+2 John Masanori
+1 Bank Job
I think that it would also be viable to go down the Indexing or Makers Eye route instead of the R&DI route, however I think indexing is weaker against Glacier builds where it is just not viable to get in multiple times and R&D lock is so important against NEH. R&DI is basically good against all the common deck types, and I feel the economy in the deck is sufficient to support them.
The deck is missing card draw and that is the only thing that I currently feel needs more testing, I am considering:
-1 Cerberus 'Rex'
-1 Same Old Thing
+2 Card Draw
What the card draw is I believe needs to be based on your meta but these are what I am currently thinking:
+2 John Masanori
+2 Earthrise Hotel
+2 Mr Li
I think that Earthrise or John M are likely to be the better choices unless you want to tech against Fast Advance.
Even with somewhere around 50 games with Leela under my belt, I don’t think I’ve discovered the perfect build yet. What I do know is that she is strong, I don’t think that she is going to be the next tier 1 identity but I do think she is a viable runner who is at least as strong as Gabe, but maybe that is too bold a statement this early on.
As I said in my introduction, I’ve played her this much simply because she has been fun (and competitive, I don’t think I could play something this long if it wasn’t). I’ve had some amazing moments with her, and managed to pull off some great plays following an agenda score or steal. I’ll leave you with a story about a Blue Sun game in a tournament, he was running a number of 1 point agendas (Hostile Takeover & Posted Bounty) and around turn 10 he has been bouncing Ice with his ability and so have I, then I manage to score two agendas in the same turn one score allowing the other. At this point after I have bounced two more cards the corporation literally has no cards on the board. These sort of cool things or one-two combos happen a lot with Leela.
My recommendation is try her out, there are lots of builds, and hopefully you’ll find mine useful as a starting point.
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