Moon 44 (1990) - 9th at European Championships 2017

Highwire 795

Moon 44

Around a month before Euros, after the launch of Terminal Directive, two different conversations happened. The first was between me and Manchester PE Enthusiast Dave Knowles; He’d be working hard to find a competitive build for PE, and I’d suggested that, like any deck that wants to install a bunch of things, Estelle Moon might be a perfect fit. I threw together a PE Moons deck and messed around with it in Casual on JNet for a couple of days before sending Dave the list.

“I think there’s something here” I said, as I sent him the decklist on slack, “but people keep trashing the Moons, which seems unfair.”

A few days later, I was spectating a different slack discussion, as Chris Dyer, Abram Jopp and other members of the #uk slack community were talking about what tech to take vs the accepted best deck, the ETF Moonspam deck.

“I think the correct amount of Slums right now is zero. It doesn’t do enough against Moons” was the line. I don’t remember who said it, but it made a lightbulb pop in my head. I’d remembered 9 month ago dragging myself through IG matchups just hoping for a Slums. I took the PE shell, ported it into IG, and started testing.

3 weeks later, it won 8/10 games at the 2017 European Championships, helping me reach 9th in Swiss and 12th overall.

THE DECK AND HOW TO PLAY IT

Looking at the list, you’ll see that generally, this isn’t a new concept. The same grindy IG strategy the original prison decks employed is still in play. The addition of Estelle Moon and Friends In High Places, cards which should basically come stapled together, is what gives this deck both economy, speed and consistency to mean that it can begin to put the runner in a series of lose-lose decisions earlier in the game, and can recover from setbacks faster. Instead of the ETF moon decks relying on hiding her behind ICE in order to start getting triggers on her, you use the combination of people's fear of your face-down remotes plus the increased trash cost from your ID ability to have her survive unrezzed on the board for a single turn, at which point, a rezzed Moon into Tech Startup install, then install, install, play Friends install 2 from Archives can give you a 5 token Estelle in a single turn. This in turn provides both the card draw fuel to continue the installation cycle and the economy to do things like rez two Hostile Infrastructures. Friends is also an improvement over the old Museum of History because instead of slowly cycling back Bioethics one at a time you instead get to install 2 of them straight from Archives again and again and again.

Early game, it’s important to establish your Archives as a threat. Having watched Dave Hoyland play IG49 last year at a few events, I quickly stole the standard opening turn of “mandatory draw, draw, draw, ICE Archives, discard 2, go”; This gives the runner the option to try and spend their opening 4 clicks looking for agendas in your open centrals, nakedly contesting archives (usually a bad call) or setting up. Normally you are happy with any of these options and your following turn will usually involve further drawing, installing assets (Tech Startup for Estelle as priority, then Turtles/Jackson if you already have an available Estelle) and keep generating token on Estelles, popping them for 4-6 cards and a large payday, allowing you to not only continue to fill your archives with facedowns, but drawing more installables to build your board. Discarding key pieces into archives during this is generally fine since Friends will grab them back into play for you when needed.

Install everything as if it were a Snare! HoK and Fetal and Philotic go on the table along with Snares and Psy Field. A good poker face is important, because one of the best ways to establish a kill is to make the runner start guessing on face downs.

Once an oppressive board state is established, Tech Startuping through or installing manually your Bioethics, you can start looking for a kill with enough of a combination of Neural EMP, BioEthics, Enforced Curfew and Chairman Hiro. You can either grind them to death with Bioethics, or kill them in a single turn if their hand size drops dangerously low or they do something rash like ever making a run.

ICE positioning is important; generally R&D defends itself for the most part - between Snares, Shocks, Fetals, and the inflated trash cost of your assets, there are plenty of ways for runners to kill themselves by running your R&D repeatedly. Moon & Jackson on board defend you from Indexing pretty well. Hostiles cover Keyhole. If you find yourself with spare clicks and ICE late in the game, denying people totally free accesses isn’t terrible, but it’s not a priority. My first ICE will almost always go over Archives, then depending on how ruthlessly I have been able to install everything, the second might also go there or on HQ. I do not think I have ever ICEd a remote with this deck.

When your opponents get desperate and run your Archives is normally when you can think about landing a kill. Passing 1-2 Kakugo to hit 1-3 Shock!s in Archives, especially if you have a scored House of Knives, can often just leave the runner unable to reach a safe hand size unless they devote all their remaining clicks to drawing. If they do, you can usually overdraw with Estelle/Jackson to make their entire previous turn fruitless. Also an unprepared Archives run into a Komainu can have the same effect. Even instant-speed Parasites on it should, at that point, be triggering Hostiles for trashing the ICE, having exactly the effect you wanted anyway.

Eventually, you will reach a situation where you have 3 Neurals in hand and the money to fire them. You can score HoKs off the board at that point. If the runner sits back and waits to deck you out, then you use friends & Tech Startup to establish the Chairman Hiro + Curfew kill (play Curfew, rez Hiro, drop Runner hand size to 2 on end step, kill with 3x BioEthics). Or, if they run, the 3 Neurals + remaining Bioethics should be enough to get the kill.

MATCHUPS

Run Based Andy has a terrible time against this deck. There’s generally no safe targets for a Temujin on the corp side, because the threats of Snares etc are so real, and random Net Damage can just dismantle key pieces from their hand. Legwork is equally risky, and with limited in faction recursion and extreme difficulty contesting assets which can cost 5-12c each to trash, they find themselves having to guess and be lucky to do well.

Temujin Whiz has a better time - Conspiracy Breakers are obviously less vulnerable to the Net Damage plan, and Whiz can contest your early assets to a limited degree, but at a significant investment. However, once you have survived even three or four turns, your Archives + Board State should be stable enough to make Whizzards econ, even with his 3c, dwindle and you can play through the rest of the matchup.

For Siphon Whiz, see the above comment on Temujin Whiz and my comment below on Siphons. Generally, if you can deny them Siphon money, you can play the game out like you would vs Temjuin Whiz

Faust Lock Hayley can’t contest your assets. They have Critics, which is annoying, and 3 Levy, and Laguna Velasco which means the game can go long, but they are still vulnerable to Hiro/Curfew and more often, they are forced into a guessing game on your facedowns and die to the Bioethics/Neural combination. Also Komainu on Archives in this matchup has spectacular value.

Standard Smoke/Shaper also can’t contest your assets. They don’t generally have Levy, and that means they die faster. They CAN usually get into your Archives, so making sure you have an appropriate number of Shocks and Kakugos defending it is important.

If you are expecting Siphon in general (Since thanks to Dave Hoyland, it’s now accepted that Siphons belong in every ID and are a separate matchup on their own), sometimes it can be more important to get rezzable assets installed so you can cash out your credits before they are stolen if you are leaving HQ open turn one (which I think is correct). Often I have deliberately dropped myself to 1-2 credits in the face of a siphon knowing a combination of Estelle and Turtleback triggers on my turn will recover me enough to do anything I want.

WHAT THE DECK HATES

First, lets say this. Feedback Filter is not good enough against this deck. FF + MOpus is not good enough against this deck. I tested against it a bunch.

Geist is hard to kill, and a patient Geist with Film Critic has a decent matchup against this.

An early Rumour Mill is killer. Later in the game you can often score a HoK or Philotic off the table to clear it, but it absolutely cripples you early econ/overdraw when Estelle and Jackson both get turned off.

Slums is still godawful to play against. I don’t run any tech against it, because this deck was built specifically for a meta with limited to no Slums expected. The one game I played where my opponent played Turn 1 Slums as Val (into Emp Strike and Rebirth into Whiz) was my only comprehensive loss with the deck.

Strike is also annoying early out of Whiz, since then you need Hostiles rezzed to help defend your assets, which is difficult early.

It’s important for me to stress again that this deck was almost entirely a meta call. As a known quantity, I expect it to need refining and altering to deal with hate cards which can drop its win percentage significantly.

CHANGES AND SOME ANSWERS TO EXPECTED QUESTIONS

The ICE mix is up for some debate. I think the 3 Kakugo and the Komainu are great, The other 3 are debatable. I think 1 Crick might be OK, I rezzed the Tracker once all weekend but when I did it was unexpected for my opponent and great value for me, and the Mother Goddess is definitely incorrect and should be something else, though I am not sure what - possibly a second Komainu.

Influence is pretty static at 3 Jackson, 6 Estelle, 3 BEC, 3 FIHP. The only wiggle I can see is switching to 2 Estelle, 3 Tech Startup frees up 2 for something, but I don’t like the loss of consistency.

I’d like a second copy of Enforced Curfew to give me ways of clearing Currents early, but I am not sure what I would cut for it.

No Chronos Project? Tested that as well, dropping the Philotic for 2 CP. I didn’t like what it did for my agenda density so reverted it.

No Jeeves - You have paid the HB card tax? Tested with a single Jeeves, but never saw huge value from it (apart from a very sick Triple Neural, Jackson Neurals, pop Estelle, draw 8, Neural number 4 kill I got in testing, but that didn’t seem like a reliable reason to keep playing it). Probably the 50th card in this list.

No Ronin? Tested with it, never needed it, dropped it.

ENDNOTES

This deck was a ton of fun to play, felt like a strong outlier and I had some great games with it. It owes a lot to the poor people I battered with it on my JNet smurf, the Sheffield Netrunners who let me mercilessly murder them with it in testing, Dave/Shockeh for the original inspiration and indirectly, Dan Sargent and Dave Hoyland who played enough IG in my vicinity to give me a starting point for learning to play this deck in the first place.

14 comments
5 Jun 2017 Cerberus

Great deck, will take it for a spin and come back to you with some feedback. I predict a 1 of Ronin is worth it to give you a different kill option, but could well be wrong.

How much have you tested against Eater Siphon? Eater is normally really bad as it allows them to check archives easier. Siphon is also bad as your economy is limited often.

I loved Cortex lock and Quandary in IG49, did you test these at all?

Well done on a great placing!

5 Jun 2017 Highwire

Thanks @Cerberus- I tested against Eater Siphon a little and generally its not great for the reasons you mentioned but Kakugo makes it more pallettable since it often represents 1-2 Net to flip Archives anyway, and as long as you can avoid giving away too much money to Siphons by dumping creds into assets, generally Siphon still finds it difficult to contest all your assets, especially if you can overdraw with Estelle to make them go back again and again. I tested with a Cortex Lock but generally found that my opponents never facechecked my ICE early enough for it to be relevant. I never considered Quandry (or Vanilla) because I had MoGo as a hard ETR but its probably worth testing if it was good in the original IG49.

I did test a Ronin, but without the Dedi combo kill it felt really slow and clunky, especially since I never advanced anything generally if it wasn't to score. However, I did go back and forth on it and including one is probably correct, but it would have to come either at the cost of one of the dangerous installables (shock/snare/field) or cut the ICE package down to 6, neither of which I am wild about. Obviously I'd be super-interested in your feedback after you have had a chance to mess with it a little.

6 Jun 2017 scd

I'm so unused to playing a 49 card IG with any money, I'm going to give this a whirl just to see what its like. Looks fun, thanks for this!

8 Jun 2017 HaldontheExile

I love this deck concept, and I'm eager to try it out. I can't wait to see how much nastier it gets with Obokata Protocol.

Did you consider Breached Dome at all?

8 Jun 2017 Highwire

@HaldontheExileEarth's Scion wasn't legal for the event, so no Dome, and I am not sure a second set of Shocks! is better than the Snare/Psi Fields. I am definitely going to test Obokata over TFP when the deck comes out and I suspect it will be better; it certainly defends itself better in Archives...

9 Jun 2017 guy.brush

I don't like the HoK in this deck. Are they really worth it? I'd rather have GFI and two more assets.

10 Jun 2017 Highwire

@guy.brush I don't know where the INF for a GFI would come from; also removing even the remote threat of scoring out means your opponents have a much stronger "wait you out until you advance something" game against you. Also a single scored HoK increases your kill potential every time the runner feels priced into runner (a single Komainu into HoK token wins games); in addition, they can be scored off the board to clear annoying currents, and stolen HoKs help set up a Philotic kill opportunity. Overall, I'd be very wary of losing them, but I see where you are coming from.

11 Jun 2017 guy.brush

Okay I'm gonna play around with this deck.

13 Jun 2017 stoppableforce

Breached Dome isn't until Crimson Dust, so you're gonna be waiting a while.

I'm really tempted to play around with this. My pet ice to try over the Mogo is Chrysalis; I took one in IG49 to GenCon last year and it fired repeatedly over the course of the day, even in an Anarch-heavy environment. May have to give it a swing.

20 Jun 2017 jpthegreat

How is your economy, with just Moon?

20 Jun 2017 Highwire

@jpthegreatthere are also 3 Turtlebacks and 2 Tech Startups to find Moon. and FIHP to recur her. The answer is, my economy was good enough to get me to 10th out of 227 players, so probably OK? :P

29 Jun 2017 Ebrey

Triple Strike, Aeneas Andy seems to just wreck this deck - Best Defense could take care of the problem, but you'd have to draw it and it's dead in most matchups. Anything else you would recommend to shore up the matchup? Or just don't play this deck while the UK Andy list is popular?

1 Jul 2017 mkwht603

In place of DNA tracker and MoGo I've been running two Aiki. It's cheap to rez, expensive to break, and sniping two random cards from the runner's grip when facechecked is pretty good. I had one match on JNet where opponent face-checked when I had a genetics pavilion rezzed, and they had already drawn two from wyldside. they draw nothing from psi game, take two net, and one of the cards was i've had worse which did nothing.

3 Jul 2017 scd

So, I'm thinking of fooling around with this some more after reading some of the changes suggested here. Including:

  • Swapping the TFPs for Obokatas
  • Perhaps cutting a Snare for a single Chrysalis for ambush/ice
  • Putting in a couple of cheap Aikis instead of the more expensive MoGo/DNA Tracker

The one thing I'm so used to with IG that I don't see here and want to add are Breaker Bay Grids, but I just don't see how. This list looks like it makes more money than last summer's IG49 lists did, but hard-rezzing Hostile Infrastructures repeatedly is gonna suck. Especially when just a simple Friends play can bring both back out of the trash. Given that the Hostiles and Neural EMPs are really the only game here sans Dedication Ceremony/Ronin, I'd want to bolster that wincon somehow.

Is the free Hostile Infrastructure a thing of the past due to limited slots?