Express Elevator to Hell: Party Edition (FFGC Regionals 1st)

Axlotl 2564


Venue: Fantasy Flight Games Center on 5/21/2016. 42 players.

Decks: Ken Tenma: Express Elevator to Hell: Party Edition, New Angeles Sol: This Deck Still has Shop in the Title.

Swiss standings: 8th place. 13 points. 6-3-1. Tenma 3-2, Sol 4-1

Round 1: Noise, lose 3-7. ETF, win 4-2 (time).

Round 2: Foundry, win 7-4 (next ice gets to be a problem). Nasir, win 7-0.

Round 3: Noise, win 7-4. Sync, win 7-5.

Round 4: Noise, win 7-5. Sol, lose 6-7 (to a fantastic topdecked Psychographics after time was called, epic game).

Round 5: Whizzard win 7-0. NEH lose 4-2 (Traffic/Scorch/Scorch through Plascrete).

Top Cut:

Win 7-0 vs ETF. Siphon lock.

Win 7-0 vs Palana. Siphon lock.

Win 7-6 vs Leela. Taxed out faeries with double sentries on all centrals.

Win 7-6 vs ETF. Fired ABT hit 3 agendas early without Jax. He came close to winning thanks to upgrade spam stopping Siphon lock, and 3-2s but I dug RnD for the 4th agenda.

The gestation of the deck: I played Ken Tenma in a few of the earlier store champs, including one top cut, but later switched to Haley. I wasn’t happy with her performance so I’ve been trying a variety of new decks out (almost played Apex at FFG for fun). One of the decks I tried out while looking for ideas was Timmy Wong’s Siphon spam Whizz. After seeing how oppressive Employee Strike was against certain IDs paired with Siphon spam, I thought back to Kenny T. What would a Ken list look like with Dejas and Strikes?

The initial version I threw together for some testing on Jinteki played Public Terminals and High-Stakes Job like I had earlier in the season, but I found myself ditching the Terminals more often with less run events, which in turn reduced my desire to High-Stakes. I reevaluated the deck, and made a new list. If I found myself needing more cards to feed Faust, well, why not feed him something that turns into a benefit later in the game? Enter Party.

In the early game focus on Siphon locking. Letting them score an early agenda can help enable siphon locks, so don’t worry too much about aggressive pushes on their part, but feel free to force the rez, just know if you let a Turing on a scoring server get rezzed you have no answer beyond 3 clicks. Poke RnD when they can’t rez ice and you don’t need to worry about setting up the next Siphon. Root upgrades out of HQ between Siphon plays. You play 8 Siphons (3x Siphon, 3x SOT, 2x Déjà vu, plus a Planned Assault), and have Levy to reset. That is 80 credits max you can drain. You won’t, but you could. Multi-access is scale back in favor of credit denial. As the game develops transition over to a mixed rig with 1-2 normal breakers. Ideal rig should be a Mongoose/Faust/Sucker/central breaker. Emergency Shutdown probably worth a slot or 2, and would help vs Turings. I didn’t think of it when I built this final version (the night before).

Card choices:

Exclusive Party: It performed even better than I had anticipated. 0 -> 4 or 5 credit swing is great for tempo and re-enabling Siphon lock in the late game. Early Faust food is good, especially when it takes entirely zero consideration about what to toss.

Faust: This is how you get early Siphons to hit. You need an AI to ensure a proper reaction to whatever kind of ice they drop on HQ.

Special Order: 3 more copies of Faust.

E3: Necessary for transition to mid game. As ice slowly builds on HQ to try and stop the Siphon lock, you’ll need to pitch fewer cards. E3 also tears the HB matchup apart and negates ice that is otherwise problematic for Faust.

Breach and Passport: Breach is mostly to shrink Wraparounds, but sometimes it is also useful when your credit pool balloons or against things like Next Silver. Passport answers central server Turings magnificently. Passport is one of many MVPs. Watch your opponent commit Turings to centrals to hope they can stop the Faust backed Siphons, only to end up taxing you 1 credit for an install and 1 per run.

Mongoose: Backs Faust nicely. Negates things like Komainu that would otherwise be problematic, and Swordsman. Added a second after I cut the 2nd Faust from the old list.

Quality Time: One of the big changes I made was moving entirely away from the small handful of resources I used to play, for maximum tag floatage. QT is one influence and great dig, or burst for Faust.

Same Old Things: Siphons 4-6. Or Levy or late game multi-access dig.

Déjà vu: Siphons 7 and 8. Or program recursion. I didn’t need to pull any programs, but the option exists.

Employee Strike: MVP. Guts Palana, Blue Sun, and ETF. Solid vs NEH. Enables Siphons versus Sol, and makes Siphons versus Sync easier. Obviously useful vs IG.

Drive By: Kills campaigns before a Siphon. Would not mind a 2nd.

Inside Job: Outer Turing on a scoring server. 1 is fine.

Planned Assault: Was originally two, but I felt better with just the 1. Helps get the initial Siphon if needed, otherwise pulls your singleton Maker’s/Legwork.

Logos: A poor excuse for a console, but it doesn’t cost influence. +1 hand size is relevant. Search is relevant. MU really isn’t. I dump them to Faust a lot. I do like Logos in the NBN Scorch matchup, though. Pulls your Plascrete and gives you a 6 card hand to weather Traffic-Scorch-Scorch, but holding 6 cards and still being able to do anything is hard. Debating trimming one or maybe even both. Who needs a console?

Data Sucker: MVP. Every Data Sucker counter is a card saved on odd numbered ice. One is fine, as you’ll see it eventually on the first trip through the deck and it isn’t 100% vital. Also helps a lot with the awkward pump ratios of your other breakers.

22 May 2016 Smokestack

This deck is amaze balls and its brutal to watch him pilot it against people. Jus' sayin.


22 May 2016 W4lt3r B15h0p

As a Ken player myself I always look to see if there's anything neat happening with my favorite runner. Congrats on the win. @Axlotl what's your ideal starting hand?

22 May 2016 EnderA

Did you consider Peacock instead of Passport? Given that it's mostly anti-Turing, Peacock costs 1 more for break, but can break remote Turings. How often did you actually need the Passport, other than Turing?

But yeah, changing a Logos into a Plascrete makes sense, maybe also 1 Drug Dealer? Poor man's Wyldside, but also helps keep a large hand for Corp's turn, and completely fine if they spend a click to trash it - it already gave you a card. Or Inside Job, just cuz it's fantastic.

22 May 2016 Axlotl

Ideal opener is Siphon + Faust. (Including Planned Assault or Special Order). Everything else is pretty irrelevant early as the 1st Siphon is absolutely highest priority and the other cards are most likely fuel. Versus HB just the Siphon is probably good enough. Siphon, click through a bioroid or Turing is an acceptable first turn. Early Employee Strikes vs Econ IDs are great also, though.

Drug Dealer was in before, but I decided I didn't like to even give a broke runner the option to kill it, and Dealer occasionally backfires in close games. QT was fine. Click drawing sometimes doesn't feel bad at all when the opponent is clicking for credits. I briefly considered Peacock. Very, very briefly. Every extra credit it takes to hit HQ in close games is detrimental. I feel Passport is 100% the right call here. Passport is also solid against a good selection of code gates, especially ones that they can rez with 3 or less credits. =)

22 May 2016 ymogawer

Would public terminal work in this deck?

22 May 2016 EnderA

I don't think Public Terminal would work. Most of his event runs are Siphon, which is free.

22 May 2016 Axlotl

Terminal was cut when Party came in. It isn't bad, but was often one of the easiest cards to feed Faust, so Party fits the slot better.

23 May 2016 TheBigBoy

Been Jamming this on Jnet today after see it in action a bit yesterday. It's a monster. I've won every game easily. Every single card has been useful at some point. Well built deck!!! 10/10

23 May 2016 RubbishyUsername

If you're not a fan of Logos, what's your reasoning behind not taking any of the other in faction consoles that aren't Desperado? And why not just find room for the Crim's best card?

23 May 2016 Axlotl

Logos does the most for me out of the available consoles, without spending influence. Desperado is great, but not quite good enough here to spend influence on.

23 May 2016 SkittlesSinistereo

I've never had any luck with siphon spam before - more often then not end up a crispy corpse under a pile of rubble. Do you have any advice for r.e when to be clearing and when to go tag-me?

23 May 2016 Axlotl

Well, I did lose to Scorch in one round, but only because he had the full Traffic-Scorch-Scorch and I wasn't 100% clear on if it was Scorch or not. I cleared until I hit Plascrete. If you want to be safe, you can always clear. Even if you make less money, keeping them broke stops traces from happening. This is why i wouldn't mind a 2nd Plascrete, as you can then float tags entirely safely with both Plascretes.

23 May 2016 SkittlesSinistereo

I would guess if you're keeping the corp broke as possible, the worst case scenario is to be floating tags and have them sweeps/beanstalk scorch, which couldn't kill if you maintain a decent hand size and would only reduce your tempo for a turn while they have to spend another turn recovering from the scorch (assuming they would even try to scorch without a kill guarantee)

23 May 2016 The Broken Meeple

How do you manage against Sol decks when they are using Targeted Marketing - won't they naturally be naming Account Siphon as their chosen card and thus render that useless unless you can pull one of your two Employee Strikes in the deck? Even then once an agenda is scored/stolen it will just come back out again?

23 May 2016 Axlotl

Against Sol I held Siphons back until I hit an Employee Strike, which stuck for a handful of turns.

Important to note, that when the Sol player scores while Strike is out, it doesn't bring back their Current.

23 May 2016 Simone Suka

Made some games with it, won 1 or 2 and lost 1. Is 1 makers enough?

23 May 2016 frost-duty

So having played it a few times the deck is obviously very solid. A few questions though. Is a crescentus or 2 worthwhile? Once people get decent HQ protection (I had a Booth, Eli and Troll, it becomes really quite difficult to repeat siphon. Do you think this would be worth a slot or 2 (and if not, why not).

I also find it a little annoying playing vs NBN with close accounts and data ravens etc. When you go tag and lose all your cash its pretty painful stuff, but once again siphon becomes not so economical after a point.

I guess it all revolves around this question - is there any backup play if they get caprice on HQ/weather the siphon storm?

23 May 2016 ryanbantwins

How is the NEH matchup?

It seems that you'll have a hard time trashing their assets, especially if they can dodge your siphons by rezzing assets. They have stupid taxing ice like archangel and they can operate with low creds, so they can keep dodging the siphons in the late game.

23 May 2016 Axlotl

A 2nd maker's would be nice, but I'm of the opinion nothing can be cut for it.

I'd run Emergency Shutdown before Crescentus, as it has better applications vs Turing.

With Data Raven and Closed Accounts, if you go tag mode it effectively blanks ice like Data Raven. If you clear tags through a Data Raven, its only two cards for Faust and 3 tag clears, doable, but painful. If your keeping them low, you should have a free turn after that to refill. One nice upside with Faust is usually after a Siphon you don't have many cards in hand so Sweeps are weak. With Closed Accounts, you play more Siphons than they do CA, so you can do something like hold back a Party to bait the CA and get back online.

I faced down many Caprice on HQ over the day, you just have to root them out.

NEH will be pretty tempo dependent. If you can trash assets then Siphon you're in a good spot. Employee Strike really slows them down with Siphon pressure. They want to keep making and rezzing servers to try and dodge Siphon, but only 1 will be vulnerable to getting trashed right before a Siphon, and without a fresh card from every first server made they'll find themselves needing to gain credits, manually draw, and do multiple installs, giving you a couple turns to rest on your laurels and set up your hand, likely all while poking RnD. If they spend two turns making money and rushing to scoring a 2/1 to clear Employee Strike I don't feel bad at all.

23 May 2016 Axlotl

Also, Caprice does nothing if they are already at zero credits. You can run in and do PSI games, bidding low, to tax them out and keep forcing them to click for credits until you win one and clear her, then immediately Siphon. Obviously there is some risk in the later game if they get a lot rezzed on HQ and manage to get a Hedge Fund in, but at some stage you can abandon Siphon lock and switch to Maker's spam if RnD is soft from the battle for HQ.

24 May 2016 hutch9514

Looks so cool. Hope there are videos i can watch of the gameplay soon.

24 May 2016 Axlotl

None were recorded at the event.

24 May 2016 hutch9514

ah too bad. congrats on the win

24 May 2016 Myriad

Going to try this same deck, subbing in two Comet once Turning Wheel drops. Comet + Exclusive Party sounds cra-ma-zing.

Although, you probably go heavy tag me. So maybe turning wheel isn't the right approach.

25 May 2016 VixinXiviir

Answer: Some Valencia builds don't need a console (but that's just cuz I worship Apocalypse". I agree with the whole "take the Logos" out.

25 May 2016 ABushelOfGoats

Super oppressive. Just had the (mis)fortune of playing against it a few times on JNet. Yeesh.

25 May 2016 Imperialcreed

This deck is legit. Took it for a spin on a whim this evening and it just crushes. Siphon spam early and often and not a Crisium Grid in sight. What a time to be alive. Thanks for a great deck, so much fun to play and I'm delighted it's work out well in competition.

25 May 2016 ABushelOfGoats


25 May 2016 Imperialcreed

@ABushelOfGoatsI shall never forget all the credits you sacrificed at the altar of this monstrosity.

25 May 2016 ABushelOfGoats

@Imperialcreed1 like = 1 crisium

25 May 2016 Imperialcreed

First we gonna Faust, then we gonna roll Siphon let it pop, go let it go eXpress gon' give it to ya He gon' give it to ya eXpress gon' give it to ya He gon' give it to ya

25 May 2016 ABushelOfGoats

@Imperialcreedgod that needs to become a thing immediately

3 Jun 2016 Swatchblade

I played against someone playing the same (almost) on Jnet. He told me it was all about the opening, he tried to Siphon turn 1. He also played Rebirth into (propably) Ken. Could u comment on that version @Axlotl?

3 Jun 2016 Axlotl

Yes, early siphons sticking is what really moves the deck into high gear, but you can come back later if you don't get a good opener, its just much harder to pull off. Turn 1 Siphons is why the deck is a Faust build, its the best way to stick turn 1 Siphons.

I haven't tried a Rebirth version yet, and I probably won't. The lost influence hurts and Rebirth is inconsistent by design.

5 Jun 2016 igrekk

What do you mean by inconsistent by design? If times are bad you can always rebirth to Stirling

5 Jun 2016 Axlotl

As in its 1:45 by virtue of being 1 per deck.

But mostly I just don't think its worth the influence here, as there isn't any runner you absolutely want to swap to. Rebirth makes sense with Val and Andy where swapping is always an upgrade, but here I can see a lot of matches where it isn't all that good, and you'll be missing whatever was in that influence slot before.

7 Jun 2016 igrekk

I was generally thinkig for Rebirth in Andromeda decks. What about Fisk Investment Seminar instead of Quality Time? Do you considered about it?

7 Jun 2016 Axlotl

Fisk isn't terrible here, but Quality Time is far, far more flexible. Quality Time serves two main purposes in this deck, 1: refill your hand after a Siphon and 2: dig deep when you need pieces to set up a Siphon. Fisk Seminar is good for purpose 1, but not purpose 2. If the Siphon lock has been broken, or never started, you'll need to dig fast and deep for cards, but you really don't want to give 3 free draws to the opponent in that situation.

I think the deck as it stands has just enough card draw. If you wanted to free up 1 influence you could drop a QT for 2x Fisk (cutting Logos).

7 Jun 2016 Axlotl

Also, potential updated list: I'm currently testing this deck as -2 Logos -1 Mongoose, +2 Plascrete +1 Emergency Shutdown.

Between the 5th and 6th data packs in Kala Ghoda I think a full set of Plascrete is needed. Shutdown is mostly a flex slot, but does give you a tool for remote server Turings or can just be used for further econ denial.