Before my body is dry

presheaf 558

TheBigBoy, patron saint of deckbuilders, once claimed to have built the best Blackguard deck, which turned out to be his Vamp Kit build with a copy of Vamp swapped out for Blackguard.

I am going to make a slightly bolder claim: this is the best Apex deck which wouldn't become better if you took out Apex from it. It's not tier 1, but I think it has the marks of a mid-tier 2 deck. I'm also going to make a less bold claim: playing this deck is the closest you can get to the fantasy of being a weird cyber alien monstrosity. Do you want to feel like all your cards are just fuel for the fire burning within you? Until the second coming of Pitchfork, this is probably the best you can do.

The econ engine

The only cards Apex has which include the word "draw" or "cred" are Wasteland and Reaver. In a pretty innovative piece of deckbuilding, I noticed that both of these cards trigger on trashing your own installed cards, and elected to play both.

When choosing a way to trash my own installed cards, I noticed that there are precisely two cards in the game with the text "When your turn begins, you may trash another of your installed cards", and in keeping with our choice of minifaction, we're going to play the bad one.

This is, on its own, a decent econ engine. But what makes it actually good is that both Wasteland and Reaver can trigger on the Corp's turn as well. What this does is make every card with a trash cost paid ability Kinda Good. Apex has two cards available to him which do not cost influence, so of course I had to play both in Sports Hopper and Hunting Grounds. Then I looked for 1-inf stuff with a trash icon, and I picked Spy Camera because you're not rich enough to just run R&D for single accesses, so knowing when there's an agenda on top is pretty good (but really, mainly for the trash icon). Having Utopia Shard would be cool, but Spycam is a lot easier to chuck on the table once HQ has any kind of ice and arguably more useful.

If you actually try this out with the remainder of your deck being blank cards, you'll notice that you eventually draw a lot. In an age long gone, there used to be a breaker you could play to profit from this, but in this trying time, I think the best way to profit from drawing a bunch of cards is just being on event econ. You also pretty much need Levy AR Lab Access unless you want to look really dumb when your deck runs out and you were just getting used to drawing 3 cards at the start of each turn.

That's it?

Well, I also chose 3 okay breakers in the conspiracy suite, but yeah, pretty much! At its core, this is a deck which plays breakers and a way of generating money for the breakers. As for tricks, it has three cool ones in Prey, Apocalypse and Hunting Grounds, the latter of which messes up a lot of kind of annoying ice if needed, and otherwise just feeds your econ engine or turns on Prey.

There are also a couple of tech cards in "Mad Dash" as the 7th point where necessary, Apocalypse for the games where there's just no other out, Stimhack for surprise econ and The Turning Wheel for multiaccess. Then there's Infiltration for sneaky glacier players who NA non-agenda cards to drain your bank and for the shell game matchup, though your main trick there is Heartbeat, which also helps against any kind of kill combo deck.

Another fun fact, is that a lot of otherwise really good cards aren't that good against you. FC3 is 'only' 6 creds to break, not 9, because trashing an installed card is not a problem at all (if you know it in advance you can just not do it at start of turn) and every piece of NBN ice with an on encounter effect is just a lot less useful with Hunting Grounds. Sure, a lot of ice is actually good against your kinda mediocre breakers, but if you know which ones, you can blow them up with Prey.

Further, you can be really stupid and still not lose to HHN. You don't make enough money to prevent a successful trace from rich corps, but when you realize that Chop Bot can remove a tag at the start of your turn, that you can save Deuces Wild vs. SYNC and that every card with a trash icon can become creds if you have Wasteland on the table, it's pretty hard to find a window to successfully HHN you.

Closing remarks

I want to reiterate that I don't think this is really a T1 deck. It does a lot of cool stuff, but I think a good money 'n breaker Runner these days need to get a lot more multiaccess than Turning Wheel. Besides, I think you're hard countered by Skorpios (you could beat Hunter Seeker by playing Dummy Box, but given that you trash about one card each turn, their ID power is basically going to blank Levy, so I think you should just give up on the matchup), and Apocalypse isn't a feasible answer to asset spam in a world of Hostile Infrastructure.

But I do think it's a solid T2 deck. Like, if you're the kind of person who is happy losing to the top decks and having a fair competition with the rest, I think you're going to be satisfied playing this. If you want to win World's, maybe look elsewhere. Otherwise, take this deck, cut the tech cards you don't like and add the ones you do, and go have fun.

14 Oct 2017 Narduwel

Has the economy been strong enough to run the conspiracy breakers? I had a similar Apex deck before rotation that ran off Faust, and I remember still having a fairly hard time with money.

14 Oct 2017 presheaf

Kinda. You need to use Prey on the awful ice, and infiltration/spycam to run smart. You could swap aumakua for datasucker or use it to break the nasty ice.

15 Oct 2017 RubbishyUsername

I agree with @Narduwel, I wonder whether you'd be better with multiple AI breakers and maybe some utility for the case you Apocalypse. It's not like you're looking to repeatedly trash MKUltra for effects, is it?

15 Oct 2017 presheaf

Having a second copy of Aumakua would be cool for sure. I could see cutting Stimhack for it, as they kind of fill similar roles. But just so we're clear, this isn't a deck which normally plays Apocalypse. In my last 10 games I think I only planned on playing it once, and I found a win through a lucky Spycam peek instead. I have thought "I wish this Apocalypse was a second copy of Infiltration instead" more than once.

16 Oct 2017 Snake Eyes

Double Levy AR Lab Access is excessive imo. Even Spyware ran only one, and it used Faust as a primary breaker to get around the money issue. I haven't done much experimentation with Apex: Invasive Predator in a long while - but I feel like this deck is starving for money. Would consider dropping a levy adding a 3rd Deuces Wild adding a 2nd Aumakua then ... filling up more Spy Cameras... actually getting up to 6 Spy Cameras would be totally worth it too. Dropping The Turning Wheel for the 6th Spy Camera wouldn't be insane. To get around asset spam without laying down Apocalypse, a single Paricia does a gigantic amount of work for Apex.

16 Oct 2017 Drakeheart

In fairness, Apex struggles with money in general. Being stuck with virtual resources does that. There are options, but programs like Multithreader or Magnum Opus cost MU, which means building to account for that. Hardware like Cyberfeeder, Prepaid VoicePAD, or Cybsoft MacroDrive could be potentially useful, but you'd need to have a goal in mind for it. And all of these take up precious Influence & deck space.

16 Oct 2017 presheaf

@Snake Eyes: I think this is going to come off more hostile than it is indended (because it's not intended mean-spirited at all!), but have you tried the deck? I go through my deck literally every game I don't randomly lose early on, and find myself having to play the second Levy in something like 50% of my games. Playing only one makes triggering Hunting Grounds a very risky proposition for you as well, so I think playing 2x is correct.

As for money, some games you don't draw Wasteland and it's a bit tight (or people play Scarcity before you get any Wastelands down!), but otherwise it hasn't been a huge issue. (If you find that it is, I would replace the Deuces Wilds with Peace in Our Time.) I have even beaten a Palana glacier despite my econ engine being 100% based around drawing every turn, which I'd attribute to Stimhack and a combination of using Prey smartly and having Spycam/Infiltration save wasted runs. I am currently testing a build which plays more efficient breakers (Gordian and Shrike) to save a bit of money as well courtesy of @nicohasa.

That being said, I would not at all be opposed to adding any good money card. The problem, as @Drakeheartpoints out, is that there aren't that many good ones left. Of the ones you mention I'm most keen on the extra Spy Cameras, and have considered the Paricia as an asset spam tech. But I think cutting the Levy to pay the inf for it is a mistake. I also think slotting extra Aumakuas is a mistake (unless you're planning to play an Aumakua-only build, which is actually an interesting idea) because you're going through the deck and only really need the one copy of it.

16 Oct 2017 presheaf

@Snake Eyes: Sorry, I now understood that by Spyware you meant a deck - for some reason I thought that was a Geist deck, but I now see that it's a deck you made with basically the same Reaver/Wasteland econ. So I guess you're pretty familiar with the archetype already - my mistake. :)

I still think most of my comments apply, though. The key inclusions in my list which you don't play are Turning Wheel, Aumakua, Stimhack, Infiltration and extra Preys. The latter in particular are a lot easier to use multiples of when you're on 2x Levy, and really saves you a lot of money on the nasty ice. The first three also are really good and indirectly save you a lot of creds as well.

Honestly, though, the main difference between our lists might just be that post-rotation corps look a lot different, I don't know.

16 Oct 2017 Snake Eyes

Nawh I haven't played it, I don't see it working to the level that I'd like for an Apex deck, due to the lacking economy versus the average break cost of most ICE, plus not having the money to deal with trashing assets. It isn't easy to get the numbers to work for our sentient AI overlord. I'm working on an overhaul of my Apex but I'm not satisfied enough with it to perform atm. Faust was a major part of it and losing that breaker changes all the math and takes away a big chunk of the benefits of the most powerful draw engine in the game that is unique to Apex.

Speaking of Hunting Grounds, I meant to address that in my first post - I think 3 of them is unnecessary, partly for the exact reason of potentially losing a Levy AR Lab Access, and partly because the pieces of ICE that trigger on it aren't too plentiful. Komainu and Data Raven are really the only popular ones. A potential work-around for the Levy Hunting Grounds issue though is instead to go triple Fan Site and The Shadow Net, which could be a nice burst econ boost with stuff like click-reduced Day Jobs profiting 10 or Sure Gambles profiting 9 as well as a safety net for Levy AR Lab Access.

16 Oct 2017 presheaf

I can't really say anything except that outside asset spam matchups, I've been okay happy with the econ. :) I think if you cut the Stimhack for a Paricia as you did in your deck, you get more game against asset spam corps at the cost of a dead card vs. honest corps, which might be worthwhile depending on the meta.

I think Fan Site is a good idea, although influence is a concern. I ended up slotting 1x Shadow Net as a tech card against News Team, 15 Minutes, etc., but also as a means of recurring Levy if worst comes to pass. I don't think Day Job is worth the inf given that Shadow Net Sure Gamble is only 1 credit less, though, but if you pretend 1 Fan Site = 9 creds, cutting Deuces Wild for it becomes appealing.

As for Hunting Grounds, I'd add Tollbooth and IP Block to that list. I've lost one CtM game partially due to needing to click to remove tags from IP Block and Data Raven, so I think it's worth playing at least 2 of - 3 might be too much, but, it's a lot better when you're on 3x Prey. Data Raven in particular can be trashed by Prey by first using an installed Hunting Grounds to stop the encounter effect, during break step trigger it to get 3 facedowns, let sub fire and then in pass step trigger Prey to trash the 3 cards you installed + 1 more and there goes the Data Raven without giving you any tags at all.

16 Oct 2017 presheaf

Actually, I guess the obvious cut for the Fan Site is a Stimhack. Both are sorta 9 creds. Fan Site requires a click, but offers the extra utility of giving you a Levy in a pinch and can be played for creds against corps without expensive ice.

24 Oct 2017 Snake Eyes

Well done with what you've been doing with this lately. I've been wrecking people with that Palana deck I've been working on and Apex was the only hard match/loss I've had with it yet.