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Big Breaker PPVP Exile

So I wrote a short article on Exile that I think brings enough new to the table to not post it under the existing Exile thread, but it didn’t end up being long enough to be a full article. I’m sure if I worked on it I could elaborate deeper, but I feel like it’s more important to get this out there.

Exile has long been considered the king of jank, only subservient to the God-Emperor King over All Jank The Professor. The main reason why is that, compared to Kate’s ability, his ability usually triggers fewer times. Kate gives a $1 discount when a program (or hardware) is installed, while Exile only gives his extra card when a program is installed from the trash. Although cards are generally more useful than credits, the fact that Kate triggers almost every time Exile’s does and more makes her still superior. The point of this article is to examine in what cases Exile can fit into a deck and not be inferior to Kate and then to examine whether the deck itself can be as good as a general shaper one.

First, let’s examine the cases in which Kate’s ability is not useful. Even if Exile can trigger his 200 times, if Kate’s discount would be useful in all those cases, Exile would still be inferior. There needs to both be an opportunity for Exile’s ability to be useful and for Kate’s to be useless for a deck to want Exile as its ID. We might end up finding out that a viable archetype exists that simply does not work well enough with Kate as its ID. Then again, we may discover that Exile’s best simply doesn’t match up to the power of the generalist’s economy.

Here are the cards that nullify Kate’s ability:

-Few programs or hardware
Since icebreakers are required programs, and hardware is generally very useful for its security, it is hard to make a deck with few enough programs or hardware to matter. In addition, Exile’s ability is also triggered by installing programs and by Clone Chip, so you can’t really take advantage of the weakness of Kate’s with Exile. A good example of a deck that does successfully run few programs and hardware is the Chaos Theory Oracle May event deck, in which Chaos Theory’s benefits (memory and deck size) end up being more powerful than a discount on three cards that are hardly ever installed normally.

-Programs or hardware that cost $0
Examples of these are Paricia, Inti, Cortez Chip, Q-Coherence Chip, Self-modifying Code. As you can see, they do not have a cohesive theme and are not powerful enough to structure a deck around. We can ignore this when optimizing Exile for the most part.

-Test Run / Retrieval Run / Eureka
These are some of the most powerful cards that actively waste Kate’s ability – getting a 1c discount on a card you can get for free is useless, and it means the discount is not applied to future programs or hardware installed. Eureka, however, is extremely situational, as it requires Angel Arena or Motivation, but could go in a big-breaker toolbox deck if it lacks enough ways of getting out cards for free. Test Run is an extremely powerful card, and is one of the prima facie reasons for looking for non-Kate options, while Retrieval Run is also situational but requires fewer parts to come together than Eureka does.

-Code Siphon / Scavenge / Modded
Code Siphon can obsolete Kate’s ability, but is generally a worse tutor than Test Run, as it requires an R&D that is neither open nor blocked, i.e. multiple pieces of binary ice for which you have a breaker in front of R&D, and in addition gives a tag. It would be possible to build around Code Siphon + Test Run + Femme Fatale and maybe Yog.0, but too many conditions need to be fulfilled for it to be useful. Scavenge is relatively useless on its own, but it can become incredibly powerful as I’ll mention later. Modded can sometimes waste Kate’s ability, but is only used to its best with 3c programs or hardware, which are less numerous that 4c ones, which include the interfaces, Sneakdoor Beta, Keyhole, and CyberSolutions MemChip. Modded ends up driving the deck towards Kate’s superiority.

-Personal Workshop
Personal Workshop both functionally gives one credit a turn for a low price of 1c, and also allows programs and hardware to be installed mid-run. Personal Workshop, however, works so well with Nasir Meidan that making it the focus of an Exile deck would be a mistake.

-An extremely efficient credit per card ratio
This is one of the more subtle ways in which Kate’s discount can be worse than Exile’s draw – if the relative power of cards in comparison to credits is high. One way to do this is to use event economy, which suffers from needing clicks to be drawn but ends up with very high click-efficiency overall, with a freely drawn Sure Gamble being 3 times as good as a click of Magnum Opus.

-Programs that want to be brought back from the heap repeatedly
Examples of this are Crescentus and Parasite, in which the more copies you have of a particular program, the more powerful each individual program is. This benefits Exile because he is likes recurring programs, but ultimately this reason on its own is not sufficient to play Exile rather than Kate, because Kate could get a 1c discount on Crescentus and Parasite every time they are installed. Sharpshooter and Deus Ex also are useful cards to recur that also give Kate a discount and Exile a card – given the infrastructure for recurring programs that already exists in an Exile deck, these may be useful but cannot be the focal reason.

Now, in comparison, let’s look for the cards that trigger Exile’s ability and find the connections between Exile’s strengths and Kate’s.

[picture of Clone Chip][picture of Parasite][picture of Neural EMP]
Clone Chip is the most basic weapon in Exile’s arsenal. It allows him to draw cards during the corp’s turn, which is invaluable against Net Damage Jinteki, saving him from triple Neural EMP or Ronin+EMP. More basically, it functions as three recursions per LARLA, which can double the number of uses Exile gets out of any temporary card like Sharpshooter, Deus Ex, or Parasite. Being a hardware that costs 1 credit, however, Clone Chip is optimal for Kate’s ability, and so is not enough to justify using Exile over Kate. It also almost completely safeguards the runner from getting his or her key icebreakers permanently trashed.

Pawn, on the other hand, is excellent for Exile over Kate, as it fulfills Kate's Weaknesses #2 and #3. Since it only recurs Caissa programs, which cost 2 credits maximum, and normally requires one click per trigger, it remains merely a niche program except for one interesting combo: Deep Red + Pawn + Scheheherazade. If the corp has a server protected by a single piece of ice and you host a pawn on that ice with another pawn in archives, then successful runs (which are easy to come by in the current NEH and RP infested meta) will both draw you a card and give you a credit. It's not very viable, however, as it requires all three of the parts to be useful.

Now getting down to the good cards, Test Run and Scavenge are the core of many Exile builds. Test Run and Scavenge both satisfy Kate Weakness #2. Test Run allows you to tutor out icebreakers and use temporary programs like Imp or the Cerberus breakers extra times. Scavenge doesn't tutor, but it also allows you to restock temporary programs. Together, they can get a program out for only three credits. For example, you could test run a Femme Fatale onto an R+D ice against Replicating Perfection, The Maker's Eye and steal an agenda, Scavenge it onto an unrezzed remote ICE that may be Eli or Komainu, and then steal an agenda in a remote, all the while keeping handsize up to not flatline against Fetal AI, House of Knives, a Pup, or a Tsurugi.

Retrieval Run can also get a program out, like Torch or Femme Fatale, for only 3 credits in a single card, but requiring a successful run on Archives. Because Shapers tend not to produce much Archives pressure compared to Criminals who have Sneakdoor or Anarchs with Data Leak Reversal or Datasucker, you'll often be able to get one or two Retrieval Runs through. It costs two influence, but when you look at it in combination with Test Run and Scavenge, a theme begins to come through that can eventually make a cohesive deck that works best for Exile. Even if you aren't able to permanently install Femme without paying its install cost, installing it with Test Run is the Shaper version of Inside Job and Scavenge lets you repoint it to another piece of ice. Unlike Test Run, Retrieval Run is limited to programs already in the archives, which gives a powerful incentive to overdraw, and requires a successful run on Archives, which in an Anarch or Criminal deck would be difficult, but which tends to be easy as Shaper, at least until the first Retrieval Run is played.

So, what themes can we build an Exile deck around? Leaving out Pawn for later, three of the four bring out Programs for free, and three others of the four work especially well with cost-efficient limited-use programs. Let’s use those two themes as the backbone for two decks.

First, the more common theme, limited-use programs. Of these, Imp, D4V1D, Parasite, and Overmind are some of the best. Overmind generally works better with Chaos Theory because it wants a specialized deck, is not too cost-efficient, and runs on MU. Parasite works well with Kate and not as well with Test Run or Scavenge, but we may include it anyways because it is a good program to recur.
The economy, then, can include Personal Workshop, which allows the corner-case programs and hardware to be ready without wasting MU. Since the deck will have Levy AR Lab Access, temporary resource economy like Daily Casts and event economy like Dirty Laundry or Lucky Find will able to be used twice as much, ensuring that the benefit provided by Exile's ability is less likely to stop being useful.
For central pressure, we have Imp for HQ and a single copy of Retrieval Run for Archives. When it comes to R&D, the server Shapers are best at pressuring, the three main options are Indexing, RDI, and The Maker's Eye. Indexing is the best option for this deck because it provides the greatest number of accesses per card and can be recurred with Same Old Thing and LARLA.

Exile Limited Use Programs

Exile: Streethawk (Creation and Control)

Event (17)
3x Dirty Laundry (Creation and Control)
1x Indexing (Future Proof)
1x Levy AR Lab Access (Creation and Control)
2x Lucky Find (Double Time) ••••
3x Scavenge (Creation and Control)
3x Sure Gamble (Core Set)
3x Test Run (Cyber Exodus)
1x The Maker’s Eye (Core Set)

Hardware (5)
3x Clone Chip (Creation and Control)
2x CyberSolutions Mem Chip (Fear and Loathing)

Resource (8)
3x Daily Casts (Creation and Control)
3x Personal Workshop (Cyber Exodus)
2x Same Old Thing (Creation and Control)

Icebreaker (9)
1x Atman (Creation and Control)
2x Cerberus “Lady” H1 (All That Remains)
2x Cyber-Cypher (Creation and Control)
1x Deus X (A Study in Static)
2x Femme Fatale (Core Set) ••
1x Inti (Creation and Control)
1x Sharpshooter (True Colors)

Program (6)
1x D4v1d (The Spaces Between) ••••
1x Imp (What Lies Ahead) •••
1x Parasite (Core Set) ••
3x Self-modifying Code (Creation and Control)

Finally, the big-rig version. This is the deck here I've had the greatest success with; it hasn't gone undefeated, but has a solid ~65% win rate in my in-person games. It works especially well against Jinteki, especially damage-based RP. One other theme of two of the cards that install programs from the heap is that they are events that cost a small amount of money. Combining that with the fact that Exile wants to have an efficient credit per card ratio, Pre-paid Voice Pad is the perfect solution for Exile's economy and also helps Retrieval Run and Test Run.
Inject was in this deck for a long time, and worked amazingly, because this Exile doesn't want his programs in the hand anyways, so in essence it drew four cards. However, the influence it took up prevented it from running any Parasites, and so Clone Chip often ended up unused. Replacing Inject with Diesel also allowed it to include a full suite of Lucky Find. Quality Time seems good in a PPVP deck, but it sucks up the credits from PPVP and often doesn't allow enough clicks for the economy cards to be used before they have to be discarded. I wish I could include Personal Workshop, which would allow a Femme to appear mid-run (and also wastes Kate's ability), but everything in the deck so far is necessary.
For breakers, the deck runs three Femme Fatales, which are absolutely essential for the late game, a Torch to solve code gates permanently, and Inti and Lady H1 splitting the work for barriers. After losing a game to Kitsune, I put in a singleton Atman to solve the Trap Ice, but I have yet to see how effective it is.
A lot of deck spots are taken up by money, breakers, and recursion, so I have had to make do with two The Maker's Eyes for multi-access. This may end up changing, but this deck has extremely good remote pressure and anti-work compression, so it doesn't need as much pressure on R&D.

Exile > Kate v3

Exile: Streethawk (Creation and Control)

Event (23)
3x Diesel (Core Set)
3x Dirty Laundry (Creation and Control)
1x Levy AR Lab Access (Creation and Control)
3x Lucky Find (Double Time) ••••• •
2x Retrieval Run (Future Proof) ••••
3x Scavenge (Creation and Control)
3x Sure Gamble (Core Set)
3x Test Run (Cyber Exodus)
2x The Maker’s Eye (Core Set)

Hardware (9)
2x Akamatsu Mem Chip (Core Set)
1x Astrolabe (Up and Over)
3x Clone Chip (Creation and Control)
3x Prepaid VoicePAD (Second Thoughts)

Resource (2)
3x Same Old Thing (Creation and Control)

Icebreaker (7)
1x Cerberus “Lady” H1 (All That Remains)
1x Atman (Creation and Control)
3x Femme Fatale (Core Set) •••
1x Inti (Creation and Control)
1x Torch (Mala Tempora)

Program (4)
1x Parasite (Core Set) ••
2x Self-modifying Code (Creation and Control)

In conclusion, Kate is not always better than Exile. Go out and try him – you (probably) won’t be disappointed!


Shout-outs to @PeekaySK and @Crunchums.

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You forgot that Exile’s ability isn’t limited to once per turn (unless I missed it).


I’d just like to make note here before I go back and read this article, that sometimes you need cards more than credits, so who cares if kate’s triggers more. Sometimes card draw offers more benefit than install discounts. Looking forward to a deep dive.

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Yeah - I did forget to mention the usefulness of card draw to prevent flatlines, which I think is a major advantage over Kate, who has a harder time against Jinteki. I actually think damage RP is the best matchup for this deck because of all its click compression, and cards matter much more when flatlines are possible.

I took the Big Rig version for a spin on my Youtube channel last night:

Have a look - by my count it wasn’t any better than Kate this game, but also not significantly worse. I gave my first impressions in the video, but I’ll play it a bit more before I make any suggestions for changes.


Interesting game. You played quite a few things differently than I would have. Also, your opponent didn’t pay for stacking the pop-up on HQ, and his Diversified play was correct, you led him astray - DP requires a card in the server.

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Whoops! You’re completely right about Diversified, I misremembered the card text and thought it was just 1 per remote. At least it was in his favour, so I don’t feel bad.

It usually takes me a few games to get a feel for a new deck, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you had some good strategy tips that I didn’t pick up on yet.


@kiv Great video, I enjoy watching all your videos thanks for posting them.

One thing that caught my attention is that when you clone chipped an SMC at the end does Exile’s ability require you to draw before you can fire the SMC to fetch Atman? Or is this a paid ability window that you get to choose the order. I was thinking if the card draw was first then you might have drawn the Atman instead of the second SMC.

@xerxes Great deck and write up,looking forward to trying it out!


Good catch - I actually misplayed and should have drawn with Exile right away. SMC is a paid ability and I can’t use a paid ability until my triggers have resolved.

I just forgot that I had to manually double click Exile because it’s not automated. I did think about the chance to draw Atman before starting - it would have been fine to install Atman from hand in that case and continue.

I figured you had the play either way, thanks for the clarification!

I am no stranger to forgetting card triggers, I forget to use astrolabe all the time because of the nature to double-click the card.

Fun video. I enjoy your commentary.

I did the scorekeeping: 5 credits for Kate, 4(?) cards for Exile. Three cards is what I have on my scoresheet, but I think I missed the Clone-SMC-Atman one at the end. Although maybe that shouldn’t count as entire card draw, as that is the case where the Exile ability can hurt you, by drawing the target card into your hand. That was good thinking on your part to do the Clone Chip play before the run, preparing yourself for just such an occurrence.

Funny I just made an Exile deck the other day so it seems a coincidence that this article comes up. However, could just be biased sampling, as I may not even have clicked on the thread if I hadn’t just built an Exile. :slight_smile: Mine has got extra jank, but it’s surprised me how well it’s done so far. A little more testing and maybe I’ll post it here. Good to see the discussion and videos so I can glean more pro-tips for Exile play.

So it looks like
-1 Inti, Akamatsu and +1 QT, Astrolabe might be a good idea for more card draw. I do really like having three FF’s available against Glacier decks, but you could take one out for a Day Job if you feel there isn’t enough economy.

These changes sound good to me. Astrolabe is good in the most common matchups and 1-2 QT is always reasonable with PPVP.

If I did cut the 3rd Femme, I’d try with a Datasucker. It helps Femme deal with Architect/Caduceus, since we aren’t playing Mimic. That also powers up Atman 4 to take on Tollbooth, Grim, etc and any extra tokens can fuel insta-Parasite.

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Hey All, (first time poster!)

Long time follower of the game, and have played a little, (managed to win the first tournament I played in!) with the Kate version of a PPVP deck. And love the idea of porting it to Exile! Drawing cards is my favorite thing to do in games, not close.

Anyways, a couple questions, I always feel like I don’t know when to use Atman, what has anyone found is the “go-to” use? I understand it’s very versatile, but have always shyed away from it, I feel as if I never use it optimally.

@kiv Have you tried the one Datasucker how did that fare for you?

Also is Deus Ex a decent consideration? perhaps I’m using it as a crutch, but just asking more experienced players how they feel against Jinteki with the deck as is.


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Welcome aboard!

If you see both Lotus Field and Eli (either rezzed or during accesses on RnD/HQ), set Atman to 4 and go to town. If they’re using a lot of Grim/Archer, set to 5 and have a party (this one requires a Sucker though). Don’t worry too much about “saving it to use it optimally” - especially if you’re Exile, you can always reset it with Scavenge and get a card out of it. Aim to recoup its install cost in, say, 2-3 runs over what you would have paid with your other solutions to that particular ICE setup and you should be fine.

Overall, Atman’s biggest strength is not necessarily doing something other breakers can’t (although you could argue that it’s the most reasonable way to break Excalibur vs. RP, for instance), it’s doing the work of several other breakers, all in one card (maybe two).

Also, by its sheer existence, it punishes several ICE compositions in corp decks and allows you to capitalize on mistakes your opponents may have made in that stage. Getting through a Tollbooth, a Grim and a Shinobi with one card… it doesn’t get much better than that :smiley:


To add to this:

Atman/sucker rigs tend to run a 0/2/4 or 0/4/6. The 4 is basically forced by lotus field, and then use the 6 if you face big ice like Archer or 2 if you’re expecting things in the Enigma/Tsurugi range. Oh, and straight Atman rigs usually run 1x inti to turn off wraparound, while general parasite shenanigans deal with swordsman if it ever shows up.

Other decks run a 1x Atman as a razor once you know what ICE is out and where it’ll be most effective.


Thanks guys sorry to derail the conversation.

But Also thank you @PeekaySK especially, I’ve been following your decks for a while I loved Vivat Academia and Cerebral Hive of Giraffes and its Iterations. The CI deck helped take me to win the very first tournament I attended! Very cool to get a response :smile:

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