Testing Ground

Netrunner is a game I have probably played more than any other of the last few years. An intense, cerebral and difficult game I find much joy in playing and have recently been trying to improve at. I’d consider myself to be an intermediate player and I’ve come to the conclusion that one of my weaknesses as a player is not experiencing enough of the builds that are out there.

To this end I am going to start playing the Netrunner Database (NRDB) deck of the week then write a little review of it. My intention is to play the deck a minimum of 5 times, record my win/loss and then write up what I think should be changed if anything. This will help in three ways I think: give me more experience playing Netrunner in general, expose me to many different deck archetypes and building ideas and give me more writing experience.

So first up is an Apex deck, a runner I have been playing around with little success.

Runner: Apex
Deck Name: Eviscerator
Deck Architect: Axlotl
Win/Loss: 2/3

The concept of the deck is pretty strong, keeping the corp poor whilst you get setup to Apocalypse early and often. It can be the case that you can get in a really early Apocalypse with the DDOS and Account Siphon being great tools to get that hit. I have found this can be especially devastating at the right moment, preferably just after the corp has rezzed a few assets and is expecting money to flow back in.

I did find that Account Siphon could be a  bit of a problem if used during an Apocalypse run, as you are then down to 3 cards from 5 after playing both and vulnerable to the scorch, one of my losses was down to this. Now that may just be my inexperience with the deck but I feel like siphoning the corp on an Apocalypse run is a strong play so I will be including Plascrete in my own build to alleviate this threat.

Endless Hunger is an immensely strong breaker, allowing you to penetrate most of the corps End the Run (ETR) ice. Saying that there is a lot of ice that technically isn’t ETR but effectively does and I can’t decide whether Crypsis is the answer to those things or not. I think with Apex you have to take the hit or maybe include a more powerful breaker like Eater or Faust, I’ve seen a couple of builds with the later. Hitting the corp early and often with apocalypse does help with the ICE problem as well, but that is not always an option.

Kraken was a surprise to me as it  is a card I hadn’t really considered much before now. I found the corp would occasionally install an agenda behind a single piece of ice. I could then play ddos, fire it and run the agenda scoring it and removing a piece of ice from in front of another server. Neat trick. However I think 3 of is probably overkill and will look to reduce it, probably to 2, in my own version.

I initially wasn’t sure about the inclusion of some cards, a few of which seem to be padding out the deck a little. Infiltration, although more efficient than clicking for bits, seems weak when compared to maybe getting some recurring credits for your multiple events. I am intending to drop all of these for PrePaid Voice Pad. Not only can this card give you credits for events but can be sacrificed for your Endless Hunger or Heartbeat if need be.

I can totally see the logic behind Uninstall but I really think it’s not necessary. You don’t really have the clicks to plan bringing Endless Hunger back into your hand before you Apocalypse so I’m planning to replace it with Brain Cage in my own version. I figured more hand size to go with the quality times and give you more fodder for installing face down. You don’t really want to be discarding cards with Apex.

I think Apex suffers at the moment from not enough stuff he can use. Common cards like Same Old Thing are out of reach to him because of the arbitrary decision to make them a non-virtual resource. I think it might have been better to say he can’t use any Connections as there are some cards that aren’t virtual but would really give him a boost, but it is what it is. Forthcoming cards like The Turning Wheel will give both him and Adam a boost and who knows what the rest of the Mumbad cycle will bring.

I have found that Apex really lends himself to a stalking predator style of play, building up to the point where you can Apocalypse and choosing your moments wisely. Sure you can occasionally get in an early sneaky apocalypse but a lot of the time it is better to wait. The deck has reminded me of the benefits of patience and building my board state, something I have trouble with at times. I have a tendency to run when I don’t have anything better to do but I will now endeavour to take time to build and look for the opportunities that present themselves instead.

Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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