With C&C giving a wealth of options to Shapers, it’s worth taking some time to explore new shaper strategies and evaluate their strength.
The most powerful new Shaper effects, in my opinion, and in no particular order, are:
Atman + Datasuckers. Atman alone is like a Femme Fatale that tries to hit multiple ice of the same strength. Atman with Datasuckers hits multiple strengths of ice. While low strength Atmans are okay, they only bypass ice that are easy to break with normal breakers. High strength Atmans on the other hand, let you cheaply break some very difficult ice! I feel that the best Atman strength, with Datasucker support, is 4. (At least in a world where Eli gets played a lot). But of course, this choice is always best made using the circumstances of the current game as a guide, you should not blindly follow a certain number all the time.
Parasite/Imp + Clone Chip. Recurring parasites and Imps at instant speed to destroy ice, destroy assets, cards in hand, etc., is very strong. Parasite also combos nicely with Datasucker, which we already want for Atman. It ALSO combos nicely with a high strength Atman! Simply Atman the high strength ice, Parasite away the low strength ice. These cards also combo well with Scavenge and Test Run, to find and recur even more Parasites. You don’t even need more than 1 Parasite in your deck. You can find it with Test Run or Self Modifying Code, and then begin recurring it.
Sahasrara + MU, Programs, and recursion. Sahasrara is a strong economy engine for a heavy program deck, especially one that returns programs from the heap. Noise already knows this, and loves it with his Viruses and Déjà vu. But Shapers can use this same plan, with recurring Parasites and Imps.
Escher + R&D attack. Shapers are excellent at attacking R&D, with R&D Interface, Makers Eye, and Indexing in faction. But Corps know this and will heavily ice R&D against them. Escher helps solve this problem by moving the ice around ,putting the big ice that used to be on R&D onto some server you no longer care about, like HQ, or maybe even Archives (if you forced them to ice it because you were attacking it with Datasuckers so much).
Nicely, these strategies tend to fit together synergistically, providing hope for a shaper strategy that might be on par with the top strategies of other runner factions.
To summarize what the new Shaper themes look like:
- Shapers tutor for programs, and recur them from the discard, at instant speed. They install breakers at-need, not in advance.
- Shapers destroy ice very frequently with Parasite recursion, and Assets/Upgrades cheaply with Imp recursion. They fight your Scorch Combos by Imping them from your hand.
- Shapers no longer focus so much on having a breaker of each type. Instead, they Atman your big ice, and either kill your small ice or make them irrelevant (Yog).
To combine these strategies into one deck, I present:
Kate: “Professional” Anarch
(Admit it. That picture makes you want to play this deck).
1 Femme *
1 Yog *
1 Corroder **
2 Datasucker **
1 Parasite **
1 Imp ***
3 Self Modifying Code
1 Deus X
2 Grimoire ****
2 Test Run
Some reasoning behind the deck choices:
Professional Contacts is used as the draw/money engine. I honestly don’t know if this is viable. It seems strong on turn 1. If you don’t draw it for a long time, you might be screwed. I would definitely mulligan for it. I think that if you get this card to start, your money problems will be mostly solved by it.
Kati Jones is the first backup plan. A single Kati can provide sustained economy for a while.
Magnum Opus is the ultimate backup plan. If you have no other sustained income sources, you can tutor for it. This is of course bad. However, it is better than clicking for $1 repeatedly. If you then draw Professional Contacts later, you can Scavenge away the Opus to pay for something else, and free up MU, recovering the investment. I think this makes Opus a reasonable include.
I feel that these economy cards might be the shakiest part of this deck. I’m not a huge fan of Pro Contact and Opus, but I think they could work well here.
I decided against Replicator because it kept feeling too slow in testing, ate deck space, and doesn’t work with Pro Contacts. You could think of this deck as a test of whether Pro Contacts is a viable card.
Datasuckers are important and I wish we had 3, but influence is tight. They can be tutored if you don’t get one.
I am playing Grimoires because they both help our MU issues a lot, and power up our virus recursion. They make our instant parasites more powerful, and increase the chance that random imps will force a virus purge.
I am not playing Medium, even though its excellent. Shaper has R&D Interface, and my goal is to use Imp to force purges sometimes, so medium wouldn’t be quite as good. I feel that the Imp and Medium contradict each other in this deck, and Test Run and Scavenge are too good with Imp.
I cut Nerve Agent, but you could play it as a way to pressure HQ. It is tutorable. I think that some games, I will never care about Nerve Agent. Other games, when I feel HQ is beginning to hoard agendas, I will make a surprise strike with Nerve Agent and Imp, and scour their hand. You could cut the Nerve Agent for something else if desired, like 1 Datasucker, 1 Crescentus or something. (Crescentus is strong with recursion tools to handle large ice).
I feel that a Yog will then let us focus our Parasites on other ice types, letting us ignore Enigmas. I don’t have a Barrier breaker because I plan to Atman the bigger ones and Parasite the Small ones. Or Femme a super-advanced Ice Wall/Hadrian. You could add one if desired, but I am attempting to save MU.
Sahasrara helps us reduce our credit expenditure to mostly paying for and using Atman/Femme, trashing of things when we don’t have Imp, and using Test Run or Self-Modifying Code. It helps make all those Clone Chipped Parasites or Imps free. It lets us Scavenge a used Imp into a bigger program like Yog or Magnum Opus.
Deus X exists as a counter to Jinteki, or oversighted Heimdall 2.0 or Janus. Or something to bring out if HB hits you with a couple brain damage. You can play it for free with Kate+Sahasrara, eat a Snare, and recur it. You can also get it at instant speed against Jinteki after you take damage mid-run, to make sure that the next potential hit won’t kill you.
I don’t know that Pawnshop gives enough value in this deck, but you could try adding one.
What changes could you make to this deck?
- You could scrap the Professional Contacts engine, and go with card draw like Diesel, and other income sources. (Workshop/Stimhack, Pawnshop, more Opuses, etc.).
- You could cut things like Grimoire and add different programs, like Sneakdoor Beta, Crescentus, 3rd Datasucker, more Parasites, Medium, etc.
- You could try for more programs + Coding Contract to discard them for money.
- You could switch IDs. They all have benefits for this deck, though for others you’ll want to add more economy most likely, as things won’t be free as often. However, this has the disadvantage of not being able to play the Season 2 promo Kate ID!
I don’t know that this archetype is as strong as Noise with Sahasrara, or Andromeda with Anarch cards and R&D Interface. But it’s probably the strongest Shaper archetype. Perfecting it and then comparing it to other factions is worthwhile.
Finally, A Kit version of the deck:
1 Femme *
1 Yog *
1 Corroder **
1 Datasucker *
1 Parasite * *
1 Imp * * *
3 Self Modifying Code
1 Deus X
2 Test Run