I am become…pawnshop? (1st Gamescape SC, undefeated)

phette23 2261

I've played Apex a lot since worlds with a great degree of success, losing just one game across three GNKs with my build of the chop cam deck. I was initially unimpressed with Assimilator; chop cam Apex was already a strong engine deck so adding additional, expensive pieces that were draw order dependent seemed dubious. Assimilator looked like fun jank but not playable.

For kicks, I assembled the beginnings of this list and did a few test draws. In the first one, I had an engine dripping a card and four credits by turn two. Assimilator was getting value even without Aesop's; every time I cheated a card into play it was saving 2-4s. I tuned the list by adding Chop Bot back in and Peace to help with setup speed. Chop Bot doubles the number of keep-able opening hands and accelerates you to your engine pieces, then can be sold to Aesop's once no longer needed. It's also useful in the CtM matchup. PioT eliminates the tempo hit from Assimilator; it's dead in the late game, once you're dripping more money than the corp, but that's fine, facedown it. I also realized that Hunting Grounds was markedly better in the deck; it tutors targets for Assimilator and can trigger trash effects on the corp's turn. I went up to 3x and the deck became quicker. Also, people don't play around a third Hunting Grounds ;)

The core of the deck is: 3x chop bot, heartbeat, aesop's, assimilator, wasteland, reaver, hunting grounds. I'm not sure how much I would tweak any of that. The breakers are meta dependent—if you can get away with nothing but turtles that's great (I originally had no sentry breaker) but a Cycy almost always makes it because code gates are the best ICE right now and the Cycy ruling makes it powerful (it works on any server when cheated into play with Assimilator). Card slots like Prey, Interdiction, and Deuces are filler to address a few problems (Miraju/Kakugo, Scarcity, etc.) but might be able to be improved. I literally did not play the list once before the SC so I doubt it is optimal.

I had Trope initially but cut it for Paperclip so that the final breaker suite is the most efficient one available. I realized that Trope wasn't necessary; most games don't go long enough that you run out of gas and when they do you can go infinite with Harbinger; assimilate harbinger back faceup, then Aesop's it again. With the full engine, that nets 6 for 2. Having infinite Lucky Finds is usually good enough to win. Just remember to save one Harbinger for this situation.


0-0 | Builder of Nations — this matchup is exceptionally favorable as Heartbeat can prevent all damage and BoN is often a slow deck. I didn't have a great draw but single-accessed 2 three-pointers on R&D while farming for TTW & turtle. I worried about Punitive for a second but…with 7 installed cards already I was basically invincible. While BoN eventually RPC'd a Government Takeover, I had enough TTW counters to check that HQ was clear and eventually find the final agenda in R&D.

2-0 | Skorpios — my plan was to build up to a big one-turn win with TTW but that didn't quite work out. I facechecked a Chiyashi early on, losing 2 of my turtles, and was in rough shape as I went to trade agendas for my installed cards. Luckily, one TTW ate the first Hunter Seeker and my opponent forgot to trash the second one when I ended my turn tagged due to Snare. I almost got locked out once Paperclip was removed but managed to use Aumakua as a barrier breaker to finish the game with TTW. Also, a funny play we realized later; at one point my facedowns were all 3 non-AI breakers so if my opponent had just fired a blind Best Defense at one of them, I would've lost.

4-0 | CtM — @joseki and I decided to ID but we played a friendly game. I ate three Hard-Hitting News this game, including a SEA Source - Closed - HHN combo, and still scraped back. The engine is pretty impressive at recovering from zero credits while chop bot can clear a tag too. In the end, I should have lost this game but went for a desperation TTW run on R&D & hit agendas with both accesses.

5-1 | CtM — my opponent mulls into agenda flood, installing three cards. I really like to check remotes when CtM opens like this in case of AR Security. I use Dirty Laundry and Assimilator to check all three remotes while staying under 5s, stealing 2 agendas and dodging a MVT. From there, I can just play it safe and use turtle to single access while drawing engine pieces. I got very little of the engine assembled this game (chop bot, reaver, just one wasteland) as all three Aesop's were in the bottom ten cards but turtle and Hunting Grounds were so effective against CtM's ICE that I won.

Top 4 winner's final | Titan — this is a terrible matchup against a blazing fast deck but I mull into a viable hand of Sure Gamble, turtle, turning wheel. Those are pretty much the only cards I play as I aggressively run for accesses and close out the game without digging for my pieces at all. I facechecked a triple-advanced Hortum on the remote forgetting that the subroutines would be upgraded, but my opponent tutored two non-agenda cards out of R&D (HQ was unprotected) so density was pretty good as I went for one last TTW dig and won on the first access.

I'm not sure this deck is tier one but it is highly competitive and has some extremely favorable matchups. In particular, if kill or attrition decks become popular, Apex has phenomenal tools to deal with them. If you find Heartbeat with any amount of speed, you cannot lose to Brain Rewiring or most Jinteki net damage. CtM is a 50/50 matchup where you have access to an excellent hate card in Hunting Grounds. You could also add a Shadow Net (for selling the 15 Minutes or sometimes GFI). Fast decks like CI or Titan are, I admit, rough matchups and typically involve ditching your game plan out of desperation. Luckily, Aumakua can win games by itself.

8 Jan 2018 presheaf

Congrats on a great performance and a really nice list! Would you cut the Deuces for a Rachel Beckman? Also, how critical do you find having extra copies of Aumakua and TTW are? It would be fun to squeeze in a PolOp too, although judging by your writeup it doesn't seem like it would have helped in any of your games. (Except maybe for sniping Bankers vs CtM or something, I don't know.)

9 Jan 2018 A_Runner_is_No_One

Odd Question. How are you installing those Aesop's Pawnshops with Apex: Invasive Predator? Other than that, pretty spiffy deck and writeup.

9 Jan 2018 A_Runner_is_No_One

Odd Question. So, is Apex able to enter meatspace now? If so, watch out!

(The better question is why anyone didn't say anything about you installing Aesop's, a non-virtual resource, which Apex cannot do.)

9 Jan 2018 A_Runner_is_No_One

So, uh... When did Aesop's become errata'd to be a virtual resource?

9 Jan 2018 A_Runner_is_No_One

So, Aesop's is virtual now?

9 Jan 2018 wait what

@A_Runner_is_No_One Install Aesop's face-down, then flip face-up with Assimilator. Face-down Runner cards aren't anything in particular (thus not Resources), so the install is legal, and flipping Resources face-up doesn't trigger Apex's restriction since the card is already installed.

9 Jan 2018 A_Runner_is_No_One

Sorry about the post spam. Kept getting errors, and didn't think any of it posted.

9 Jan 2018 EnderA
9 Jan 2018 phette23

@presheaf 1x Beckman's worth testing, cheating her in early would help with setup speed. I like 2 TTW because it's your win condition but 3rd turtle is flexible. Pol Op might help against Aginfusion or Gagarin, plus it synergizes with your whole engine if used on corp turn.

@A_Runner_is_No_One what @wait what said. Apex's restriction is on installing, not deckbuilding, so you can include Aesop's in a list and Assimilator does not install it flips face up. That's why we're talking about Beckman & Pol Op too :)

10 Jan 2018 Saan

I'm not sure how to feel about this one, Eric. You won an SC with Apex, but the list doesn't include a single copy of Apocalypse. I'm super proud of you, but I also feel this hollow sense of disappointment =(

10 Jan 2018 Saan

I'm not sure how to feel about this one, Eric. You won an SC with Apex, but without a single copy of Apocalypse in the deck. I'm super proud of you, but feel a hollow sense of disappointment =(

10 Jan 2018 scd

This deck is a dream. I've played a handful of games with it or a close, 46 card variant (+1 Endless Hunger, +1 Brain Cage, -1 Prey) and it's ... not won me many games, okay, but it's really fun!

A few ideas and thoughts on your version and my tweaks:

  • Hunting Grounds is MVP for this deck, for sure. I can't recall EVER using the trash ability on that card before this past week, and with Assimilator it's just awesome. You get screwed if, like, your Sure Gambles and PIOTs end up getting installed facedown, of course, but then it's just more cards for you to burn.

  • Assimilator makes Apex feel like a "flexible Ayla" oddly enough. You can put most anything facedown and just leave it on the table to not get messed with by the Corp for most of the game. When you need to use it, just Assimilate the card and voila, instant tech card. Assimilator is expensive to install but it makes Apex feels like a free-to-use, expandable NVRAM for tech. The only thing I can think of that would even hit the facedowns is a Hunter Seeker, and who's ever going to Hunter Seeker an unknown facedown? I love it.

  • The Cy-Cy trick is pretty badass, but I've also tried out including a singleton Brain Cage, primarily for the Obokata matchup. If you're certain you're going to have to steal one, then buffing up your hand ahead of time and leaving yourself clicks to draw a bit back up really neuters any significant tempo loss from losing all those cards. Oh, and with Assimilator, you don't take the damage on install. At worst it's another facedown to burn?

  • The addition of a singleton Endless Hunger also won me a couple games, especially vs. rigshooter Skorpios builds. I just put it facedown most games and let it sit there, and when the Corp thinks they're safe to start advancing stuff out in the remote, I assimilate. People still seem to want to play around the nonexistent Apoc, but forget about Endless Hunger for some reason.

My main issue has been churning my deck, to be honest. I often run out of cards. I don't know what I can do to mitigate this other than maybe learning when to Pawnshop the Reavers earlier or something. I can't see any other good options for recursion -- maybe trying to find room for Trope, but is it worth it?

When the deck gets going (thank you Hunting Grounds), it really starts to go through cards fast. I'm going to flirt with a 47 card build as in some ways this reminds me of those slightly chubby MaxX decks.

Thanks for the super-fun deck!

10 Jan 2018 scd

Maybe -1 Aumakua, -1 Aesop's, +1 Trope? That seems like a bad idea, but... maybe?

10 Jan 2018 phette23

@Saan it's sad, I know :(

13 Jan 2018 EnderA

I feel like replacing the Na'Not'K with MKUltra would be helpful, especially if you're willing to add in an Apocalypse (which I think even just 1x of is really useful even just as a threat.) It can be sold (or facedown installed, then sold) and reinstalled clicklessly for a profit. It also doesn't require using an Assimilator activation to reinstall post-Apoc, along with Paperclip. It's less efficient, but you have Aumakua for efficiency. Apocalypse synergizes quite well with Aumakua.

I echo the sentiment that 1x Rachel Beckman would be amazing. It's a single influence, and extremely valuable in the HB matchup (vs MCA Austerity Policy/Enhanced Login Protocol,) and/or for an Apocalypse turn, although the click goes away once you Apoc.


-1 Na'Not'K, -1 Deuces Wild, -1 Peace in Our Time or TTW?

+1 MKUltra, +1 Rachel Beckman, +1 Apocalypse

15 Jan 2018 presheaf

@scd When your deck runs out, use Assimilator to flip Harbingers so your Aesops has targets. (Of course, you can trash Reavers first, as they're dead when the deck is empty.) This lets you keep on getting money. If you need more cards, yeah, Trope is the obvious inclusion, but I'm not sure that you need it.

16 Jan 2018 Greasythumb

I amused and saddened that Apex now plays neither Apocalypse nor Endless Hunger.

16 Jan 2018 Everfree616

Playing with a variant of this list at the moment and, while I still have trouble setting up fast enough against certain builds, this is the smoothest Apex has ever worked for me.

I'm currently using Black Orchestra, Brain Cage, Trope and Apocalypse just to help deal with early damage from facechecks if I don't pull Na'Not'K and for dealing with Obokata. It also helps if my Wastelands are down as I can bin a conspiracy breaker for quick credits and card draw in a pinch and Trope means I usually have a better chance of recovering than an entrenched opponent after the Apoc turn.

Asset spam is still an issue but maybe the Beckman suggestion is the fix for that as it's usually clicks and not credits that restrict cleanup.

17 Jan 2018 freshmint22

You can't Best Defense a face down card, so your breakers were safe.

15 Mar 2018 BagOfSquirrels

Great template! I swapped out 3x Peace for 3x Ghost Runner, it's not as efficient in terms of creds but since it is a virtual you don't have to use Assimilator to "res" it and either Pawn it at 1 cred or trash it when it is empty to trigger other parts of the engine, plus you aren't feeding creds to the Corp.

I also swapped out the -3x Aumakua for another +1x Paperclip and +2x Overmind. I figure I will get 2-3 breaks off Overmind in most situations and then Pawn it or trash it for the engine. It's probably just me, but I don't like relying on the trigger conditions for the counter on Aumakua.

I'm going to give it a shot next week and see if it is workable. Maybe swap in 1x Brain Cage, Rachel, or Apoc or Maybe even Global Sec Clearance if need.

20 Aug 2018 Thornstromb

What would you replace Cyber-Cypher and Dirty Laundry with for a Rotated build? Mass-Driver might be a valid replacement (it may not be as efficient, but using Assimilator to bypass its cost is effective). No idea what 0-inf econ to sub in for DL.

22 Aug 2018 Thornstromb

Please Ignore prior comment.... ive been misreading the Rotation factors the whole time. DURRRR