I've been playing around with this card. It's surprisingly good.
It's the first Apex card to come out since Data and Destiny. I think we were all hoping that he'd get something to patch up some of his obvious problems, but when Reaver was revealed, responses were generally tepid. "Why are they giving us a program, when our memory is already so constrained?", "Clearly should have been a virtual resource!" etc.
I'm here to say that no, it's actually just fine as a program. Taking up memory is definitely a downside, but even with that, the amount of free, clickless card draw you can get from this card is unreal. (And if you've ever had 2 or more installed at once, you can see why it really needs at least a few limitations.)
Apex cares about card draw. Because of his ability, you're at your best the faster you can draw [and free-install] cards. In general, when building an Apex deck, I used to plan on around 6-9 influence being spent solely on getting cards into my hand. Diesels. Quality Times. Sometimes even Safeties First. Anything to ensure a constant stream of cards to install face-down as fuel.
Reaver basically solves that problem. Free card draw. You need to be trashing cards regularly for it to work, but as Apex, that's not hard. And then the cards keep coming in. This basically frees up 9 influence, which is pretty huge. (And goes a long way towards fixing up Apex's other problems, like finding enough influence to pay for all the event-based econ you're going to need.)
The elephant in the room though, is "what about memory?" Apex can usually only really count on 5 max. So how to pay for Reaver, Endless Hunger, and any other tricks you need? After a lot of tinkering, I really think the answer has to be "Ditch Endless Hunger". Or maybe more accurately, start treating it as an early-game tool of aggression, rather than your whole breaker suite forever.
Running off of just Endless Hunger (plus an AI and various other tricks to deal with everything else) was never easy. And it's only gotten harder, now that the corp has a lot more good ice that Endless Hunger can't break. Endless Hunger is still a decent early-game answer to gear-checks, but late game, I think it's time for Apex to just accept that Reavers + a normal breaker suite are probably a better value than Endless Hunger plus the full support suite it requires.
Anyway, back to reaver! A few useful tricks I've found so far:
- The obvious (and probably most important) one: It combos brilliantly with Chop Bot 3000, and makes a fantastic card-draw engine. (And heck, in these troubled times of NBN tag punishment, Chop Bot's alternative benefit -tag removal - is occasionally really useful as well.) Expect chop bot/reaver combos in most Apex decks for the foreseeable future.
- Much like Wasteland, it triggers max once per turn. Meaning that if you can contrive ways to trash cards on the corp's turn, you can get extra cards. (Firing off Hunting Grounds is a good way for this, if you know you're going to need cards next turn.)
- Combined with Heartbeat, it makes you even more impossible to flatline. Because Reaver can fire during the corp's turn, the first damage you block with Heartbeat is usually worth 2 damage - one for the actual damage prevented, and one from the card drawn from reaver. (It also makes you care a lot less about Bio-Ethics Association!)
- Also like Wasteland, it triggers off of a lot of things you might not expect: Trashing Clot after a purge, for example. Or overwriting a program with a new one. Or (less useful for Apex) trashing things like Temüjin Contract, Armitage Codebusting, Daily Casts, Liberated Account, Earthrise Hotel, etc, when they run out.
So yeah. Reaver - it's pretty cool! The influence is steep enough that I doubt we'll see other runners import it much, but it helps Apex a lot. I'm not convinced (yet!) that it's enough to bring Apex up into tournament viability, but it definitely gives our favorite internet-monster a much-needed shot in the arm!