Fire is coming! (12th+ at Worlds, 1st and Undefeated at EAC)

Kikai 1587

"It's like playing PE against yourself. I love it" - Jinsei

"I can't remember when I've played an anarch that felt as anarch as this" - Iceprisma

”Can’t figure out a good quote, but this was fun to play. Even though I did not take any time to learn it beforehand.” - AxWill

12th / 37th / 80th / 139th / 183rd at the 2023 World Championship

1st and undefeated at the East Anglian Championship

With thanks and love to @PSK, @YsengrinSC, @Havvy, @Cook_ed and everyone that was involved in making Worlds 2023 the best netrunner event I've ever been to, as well as to @not_yeti and @cobrabubbles for putting on a simply cracking EA Championship in Cambridge.

Special thanks to all of Unband 🍌 and EA Sports 🏅 for being just great groups of people to hang out and play netrunner with 💙.

Fire is coming

The yellow phone on the wall started ringing.


This is another example of clicking with one of @The King's many genius ideas, and then refining it over and over (and over and over).

When the 23.09 banlist was announced, one of the first things that @The King said was "now we can play Laamb and Begemot". Esâ was on my radar as a tier 1.5 runner (xi is very popular in East Anglia), but, I was focused on refining an Arissana list at the time, and so I filed the idea under [potentially busted] and moved on. A few weeks later and I had pretty much given up on Arissana and was looking for a new runner. @The King invited me to oracle a few games of him playing a 3x Laamb/Begemot Esâ list (with T400 Memory Diamond to support the 2nd Laamb), and I was blown away by how aggressive the list was, and how much pressure he was able to apply on HQ, R&D and Archives at the same time.

We quickly took the list and made it even more aggressive--sacrificing the ability to play multiple Laamb in order to apply more consistent and early pressure.


Esâ is a meta call, and the meta call looks something like this:

P1: Hoshiko is the only tier 1 runner ID. Hoshiko is also easy to play, and widely popular.

P2: Esâ is one of four tier 1.5 IDs (the others being Arissana, Sable and Zahya).

P3: Hoshiko's only bad matchup is Rush Ob. Esâ's best matchup is against Rush Ob.

P4: All of Esâ's bad matchups (glacier, and scoring asset spam) are unpopular (because they are crushed by Hoshiko).

C: we should play Esâ and Rush Ob

This meta call proved to be broadly correct, with Hoshiko being the most popular runner of the tournament, and glacier and scoring assets being almost non-existant (unless your name is @Sokka234 🏆 ).

Fire is coming.

Tommy's father was downstairs--in the basement wood shop--cutting a piece of clear pine on the table saw. The sound of the saw was screechingly loud and a big plume of agitated sawdust was forming in the air


STRONGLY FAVOURED (80%+): Rush Ob, Skunk+Void Asa

Begemot breaks Envelopment for 1 credit.

Light the Fire! invalidates the Skunk+Void remote

FAVOURED (65%+): PD, Reaper Function NEH / Ob, Rush R+

The PD ability, combined with Vitruvius counters, make this matchup a little tricky and don't give us much room for error, but we have all the tools that we need to win.

Against Reaper Function or Urban Renewal, Marrow and Steelskin Scarring make us exceedingly difficult to kill.

These matchups are ours to lose, as long as we don't make a mistake.


Not our best matchups, but playable.

BAD (<50%): Scoring Asset Spam

Amani Senai ruins us.

Fire is coming.

Tommy's mother was outside on the front lawn tending to a small flower garden. She was visibly upset about her flowers' condition.

Card Choices

We play only 2 x Laamb because the meta is fast. If the meta was slow, we would play a third and a T400 Memory Diamond.

Since we are installing Laamb in every matchup, we can (and should) think of Begemot in terms of pure economic value. Laamb breaks any ICE for 7 without Begemot or 3 with Begemot, so every turn we use Laamb we are banking 4 credits. If we install Begemot and only break ICE with it once, we are actually down a credit (Begemot costs 5 to install). Two breaks, and we are still only 3 credits up (equivalent to Easy Mark). In short, we should only install Begemot if we plan to use it 3 or more times (see the Breaker Suite section at the end of the write-up for what this essentially means on a per-matchup basis).

In a deck full of run events, Zenit Chip JZ-2MJ is a fourth (and improved!) copy of Ghosttongue. Surprisingly, it is even worth installing against glacier decks (if we see it early).

Mystic Maemi was a late, but impressive, include. As an added bonus, it really improves those matchups where we don't want to install Ghosttongue (e.g. PE).

Buzzsaw is just the simplest answer to Magnet. For EA Champs I tried to be clever and use Boomerang and Hippo to solve the magnet problem, but that quickly falls apart when you hit a Thimblerig (anyway, I won.).

Notable Exclusions

"Why did you have to go and send my Running Hots to the shadow realm?" - The King

Running Hot is the most obvious, and notable, exclusion. Without Liberated Account, Dr. Nuka Vrolyck and Boomerang, I (personally) think the value is limited--not bad, but not good enough. Not everyone shares this opinion (and that's fine). @The King and @Council both cut Moshing to play 1 x Running Hot. @The King also played 1 x Liberated Account (which I think took him to 46 cards). I will say this: Running Hot seems like a great card to have if False Lead is going to be popular.

Fermenter helps with stealing SDS Drone Deployment and Degree Mill, but we run archives so aggressively that it is difficult to get more than 5 credits of value from it.


On the morning of Worlds, @Rustryder suggested Zer0 as an alternative to Moshing. Both @IcePrisma and @AxWill made this change, and were broadly happy with it. I wasn't keen on making an untested last minute change, but, the more I think about it, the more I am excited to try it. The deck feels like it is missing a draw card, and I'm hopeful that the switch to Zer0 could fill that gap. Also, it helps to steal Degree Mill.

I also want to test 1 x Divide and Conquer (dropping a Finality). It is quite likely wrong, but Chastushka into Divide and Conquer sounds like a winning move to me.

Fire is coming.

Just then, a man appeared running frantically in the street, the man yelling: "Fire is coming! Fire is coming! Fire is coming! Fire is coming!"



Mulligan for Marrow, Ghosttongue or Zenit Chip JZ-2MJ. Each of these gives us a turn 1 core damage trigger, and sets us up for future turns.

An early Tsakhia "Bankhar" Gantulga is, usually, also very important.

Core Damage

We need to learn to manage our hand against core damage. This means installing critical cards before taking damage, drawing up to pad our hand to protect cards that can't be installed, or playing cards to increase the chances that damage hits Strike Fund or Steelskin Scarring. This is the key skill to develop in testing. Once we can manage our hand without thinking about it, then we can spend our attention in game focusing on what the Corp is doing instead.

Katorga Breakout is the safety blanket that gives us the confidence to risk losing key cards to damage early.

Other notes

Spamming Finality is a good way to lose the game. The best times to play it are:

  • after a Spin Doctor shuffles agendas back into R&D
  • when the Corp is rushing out one agenda after another, and we need to get a R&D lock to slow the game down
  • in the late game, when R&D agenda density is high

Learn when to give up on landing an early Chastushka. Double ICE on HQ is a good indicator that we should look to apply pressure elsewhere.

Don't be afraid to blind Botulus HQ early. It's a simple move that forces a response.

Remember that we can play Steelskin Scarring for draw, or Strike Fund for credits. We don't have to hold them in hand for damage!

Breaker Suite

Because of memory issues, and because we need to manage our hand against core damage, it's important to have a picture in mind of what our ideal breaker suite looks like in each matchup.

vs Rush Ob

Laamb + Begemot + Botulus / Buzzsaw

vs Weyland/HB/NBN Glacier (inc The Outfit)

Laamb + Begemot + Botulus

vs Jinteki Glacier

Laamb + Begemot + Buzzsaw

vs PD / Asa

Laamb + Buzzsaw + Botulus x 2

vs PE / R+ / NEH

Laamb + Botulus x 2

We will often deviate from these suites, and that's okay, but it's important to have an idea of what's necessary and what isn't before we lose a key piece (usually buzzsaw) to core damage.

Fire is coming.

There's a fire burning in the streets,

everybody move their feet.

Fire burning in the streets!

Everybody! move your feet!

17 Oct 2023 jan tuno

Great writeup! It was a pleasure to play you

17 Oct 2023 Terje

So glad we got to play each other again! And well played, was pretty sad as PD when you walzed into my remote for two credits to fuck my shit up :D

17 Oct 2023 Diogene

AMAZING DECK! I love it!

Using Laamb like a permanent Boomerang, simply amazing.

Some questions : How is the econ of the deck? Laamb and Begemot are actually somewhat expensive. Also, from experience, no one rez a barrier once the big cat is installed (unless you are cheeky). So, painting an ice for 2 and paying 1 to break seems (total of 3) is not actually cheap.

Also, how did Earthrise Hotel do in your matches. It look like an very insteresting piece of acceleration.

Congratulation on making the cut with this fabulous Esa deck. Cheers!

18 Oct 2023 Kikai

@Diogene thanks! I'm glad you like it. I think it's a lot of fun.

The answer to both your questions about Begemot is that we rarely install it early, and often we don't install it at all. 3 to break literally any ICE is mostly cost effective, with the exception of low-medium strength code gates, which is when Buzzsaw is important. Those only tend to see play in HB matchups.

Earthrise Hotel is critical. We spend most of our clicks drawing cards. I would play a second copy, if I thought that the deck's economy could support it. This is why I'm so excited to test Zer0.

Full disclosure: @Council made the cut with this list, I placed 37th.

27 Oct 2023 Jinsei


Besâme mucho

Eu tenho medo