I have no idea how to play Shaper. I feel very out-of-control and at the mercy of the Corp when I play a remote-camping strategy. When the Corp draws cards and floods themselves I want the freedom of running HQ without feeling like it’s slowing me down too much. I hate having to fall for remote bait because my judgment of my opponent is off. I’ve always wanted to build a Shaper deck that could be aggressive and put real pressure on the Corp.
A few months ago, this card was spoiled, and I was filled with hope
By itself, Patron is optional Wyldside with the condition of an open server. I figured it would only be good when combined with other successful run effects, of which Shaper has very few (DaVinci is NOT worth it…) I really wanted to make Patron work (It has tiny Elephants!), but I was worried that the support just wasn’t there.
However, if we combine Patron with a classic combo from out-of-faction, things start to get very interesting:
Spending a click to gain 2 cards, a credit and a Datasucker counter (that cannot be blocked by Cyberdex Virus Suite in Archives) is VERY strong. This is an engine that the Corp MUST respond to, and this means I can force them to alter their game-plan, rezzing ICE on all their centrals before they can proceed with what they wanted to do.
I built a draft of this deck and actually had a lot of fluff in it. The last 5 slots were utility and pseudo-efficiency cards that, although useful at times, watered down my game-plan and made the deck feel clunky and inconsistent (things like Paricia and Cloak). I played the deck a bunch and by the time Patron actually came out in Salsette Island I was a bit unsatisfied. Then The Liberated Mind came out and I saw a card that took this deck to the next level:
With this card added into the above engine, we are running at beyond Wyldside-Chronotype efficiency. I immediately cut all of my fluff slots for Ashes and the deck became WAY faster and a genuine blast to play. Here’s the list:
DumboKate (Credit to ErinRockABitch for the Elephant Reference)
Kate “Mac” McCaffrey: Digital Tinker
3 Dirty Laundry
5 Out of the Ashes
3 Sure Gamble
1 The Maker’s Eye
3 Clone Chip ☆☆☆
2 Desperado ☆☆ ••••• •
1 Plascrete Carapace
3 R&D Interface
3 Daily Casts
1 Film Critic
2 Kati Jones
1 Datasucker •
1 Parasite ☆ ••
3 Self-modifying Code
9 influence spent (max 15-6☆=9)
45 cards (min 45)
General Game-Plan: Apply pressure immediately with some combination of Patron, Desperado, and Datasucker. SMC for Datasucker if you feel like you’ll be able to get a lot of counters if you do. Try to get agendas out of HQ with Desperado runs if you can so that the Corp can’t force you into remote runs before you are ready. Get as much ICE rezzed as possible. Since Atman + Parasite is your primary breaker suite, multiple consecutive face-down ICE in front of a Corp with a bunch of money is your greatest enemy. Discard your Ashes and use them to keep up the pressure. Install RDI’s with Modded as you draw them and once you have 1-2 of them out start putting serious pressure on R&D. Use Kati Jones to pay for your Atmans if your Patron gets blocked. Late game jam Kati and see 3-4 off R&D every other turn until you win.
Specific Card Choices:
Economy (16 + ID):
3 Sure Gamble + 3 Dirty Laundry + 3 Daily casts – Standard neutral economy package. Dirty Laundry is ESPECIALLY good with your run economy engine. Casts is a bit awkward. If you have to choose between playing it and Patron on turn 1 it is usually correct to play the Patron.
2 Kati Jones – Atman and R&D Interface are expensive to install and you are not running totally freely in the late game. Kati fits perfectly in this deck since you almost always have spare clicks to toss her way. Any turn you feel cramped for clicks just remove an Ashes or two so you can load her still.
2 Desperado – The first time I installed this for 2 credits I lost my mind. In this deck it is not uncommon for Desperado to make you 2-4 credits every turn for the entire game! So often I install Desperado Patron turn 1 and then poke an open HQ twice and steal an agenda. Most people do not expect Shaper to go there for multiple single accesses that early, and Desperado lets you punish these Corps for corner-cutting.
2 Modded – I found that drawing a bunch of R&D interfaces was super awkward since I never wanted to install or discard them early on. Modded lets you get them out of your hand pain-free. Sometimes these only get you 2 credits when you use Modded on Desperado, Atman, or even Plascrete, but they are still liquid money and you are drawing so many cards that you’re never sad to see them.
1 Datasucker – MWL why you do this to me? Ideally the deck would have 2 or maybe even 3 Datasuckers (probably a Stimhack and The Turning Wheel as well), but alas you usually have to SMC for this. This enables your Parasite Atman rig, just watch out for CVS! Run on early clicks against HB still if they might have a CVS down. You can’t afford the tempo hit of reinstalling an Atman. Against Archer decks don’t get greedy, just suck it up and install Atman 6.
Kate – Pretty busted Identity. This makes you about 8-10 credits per game and at the points when you need them the most. People also make a lot of assumptions about what you’re going to be doing when you put down this ID, and with this deck most of those assumptions are totally wrong!
3 Patron – The namesake of the deck. This card draws you through your deck like nothing else. It’s not at all uncommon to end the game with fewer than 10 cards left in your deck and not even feeling like the game was that long. There’s no need to ever install more than 1 of these. Also, NBN players can kill this with their stupid Breaking News plays that they are going for more often these days, so hold an extra in hand if you can against them. Against really rushy decks your Patron will be active for the whole game and you will have no trouble keeping up. If you thought John Massanori was good against NEH, wait until you’ve tried Patron! Also, TINY ELEPHANTS!
3 Diesel – These are pretty nice for finding your Patron and keeping you moving when you don’t draw it early. Feel free to still play this if your Patron draw doesn’t get you what you want. You always have Ashes to discard so overdrawing is rarely a concern.
3 Self-Modifying Code – Search for your Datasucker, Parasite, or specialty breaker. I REALLY hate searching for Atman with this. Atman is so expensive so I’d rather install it from hand if I can. Remember to SMC things on the Corp’s turn to save a credit when applicable.
5 Out of the Ashes – I REALLY wanted to find room for 6, but the only cuts that make sense to me are the 3rd Atman or MAYBE The Maker’s Eye. Those slots feel like high enough impact that I want to keep them for now. Ashes means that, first few turns aside, we are kind of running a 40 card deck and at best we are running something like a 35 card deck. These along with Desperado help you keep up with asset spam like nothing else. Naked Agendas NEVER work against this deck, which is very appealing to a low-variance inclined player like me.
Broken Cards (4)
1 Parasite – Once you have sucker counters, this lets you run fear-free. Prioritize your Parasite uses on R&D, since you only have 4 of them at most, but don’t be afraid to use one somewhere else if you think it will land a steal. I’ve even used it on Archives to kill a Pup when the Corp was poor so I could farm Patron runs there.
3 more Parasite I mean… 3 Clone Chip – If you use more than 1 of these on a non-Parasite, you’re doing it wrong. Really try to install your Atmans from your hand so you can save these to kill stuff. Clone Chip Parasite is your ONLY answer to Swordsman so be aware of that when using these up.
Win Conditions (4)
3 R&D Interface – This is your late-game win condition. I’ve never had 3 of these out as often as with this deck. Patron flows them into your hand and Modded gets them out. Before you know it you are poking R&D on click 0 with Ashes for the start of a super threatening turn.
1 The Maker’s Eye – Sometimes it’s YOLO time. Save this until the game is on the line for both players and then go HAM for 5-6 cards and win. Some games against HB end with me getting my rig and/or brain blown up on a hail-mary 6 card Makers that barely gets there in the last 2 cards. It may seem niche but this card has won me too many games already for me to cut it. This is obviously a great tool against NEH as well, where 2 credits for 2 accesses is a great deal at almost any point in the game. The new Exchange of Information decks often force you into a win-now-or-lose-from-tags situation, and Maker’s can help you reach for the last few accesses you need to close out the game.
Ice Breakers (5)
3 Atman – This really could be 2 with perfect piloting, but I’m really liking the crutch of having 3 of these and not having to worry about managing where they end up. I want to be able to lose one to damage and not have to Clone Chip it out. In some of the worse match-ups (like Archer decks) you may even need to install all 3. It comes up very rarely, but enough that I don’t feel safe going down to 2. Don’t have a fixed-mindset about your Atman numbers. This is a tempo deck, so set them to what you need for the situation, although 4 is the most common number for sure. Against HB Atman 3 + Atman 4 will carve through all of their ICE.
1 Inti – I added it as my Wraparound answer, but this card has really impressed me. I’ve gone entire games against NEH and SYNC with it as my only breaker. It stuffs the Wraparound rush harder than even D4v1d does. The more I play with this card, the more I like it. 0 cost is really huge for a tempo deck and lets you install it with a spare click even before you see the Wraparound.
1 Cyber Cypher – 2 of these would also be acceptable, since there is no Scavenge in this deck. This is your answer to remote Turing, but also to garbage Code Gates like Enigma and Quandary on R&D when you don’t want to waste a Parasite. You really don’t want to use this for Lotus Field against Palana Foods, since you will be installing Atman 4 for their Elis anyway, so only Cyber Cypher a Lotus Field if they make a very aggressive rush play and you can’t afford the Atman yet.
Tech Slots (2)
I hate tech cards, but these two are pretty acceptable for an aggressive deck and have already won me several games.
1 Plascrete Carapace – We run a lot and it can take us a while to get rich enough to beat a big trace. Having protection to not get paralyzed by SEA Source, Punative, or Argus fear is nice. 24/7 News Cycle is hard for us to interact with aside from Plascrete.
1 Film Critic – Helps against Midseason Replacements and The Future Perfect. Palana Foods will often somewhat under-defend R&D and HQ against you in the late-game and this can punish their reliance on TFP to keep them safe in that situation.
Final Thoughts: This deck is the first time I’ve really felt comfortable with a Shaper deck (that’s not some stupid Siphon or Vamp abomination). Patron and Desperado help you keep up with fast decks, while Kati, Atman, and Parasite give you the staying power to deal with slower ones. If you don’t know what to do with this deck, attack! Slamming your face into ICE and dealing with the consequences is the best way to learn how to pilot DumboKate. The first time I hit an Architect and still drew 2 and gained a credit I thought “That really wasn’t so bad…”. I’ve been on a monstrous tear with this deck since I built it. That said, it is not truly competitive for a lot of reasons that are not really worth going into here. That didn’t stop me from playing with my Cutlery events and it won’t stop me now. My hope is that someday this shell evolves into a real player in the Meta because it really is fun to play, both with and against.
The school year is over! This means I am entering my sweet, sweet teacher-vacation months. I plan on doing a lot of Netrunner streaming over on my twitch channel (twitch.tv/TGTheBigBoy), so check that out if you want to see some of my decks in action!