[Standard] Animal Blades Esâ [UK Nationals 2023]

SeaRose 213

I took this list to UK nationals 2023. It is a modified version of Animal Farm Esâ with a little sprinkle of Esablade, oh but what a sprinkle!


Step 1 of a decklist writeup: talk about a different deck, or, “live by the blade, die by the blade”

I had run the Esablade list a lot and played it at Worlds 2023, after which Lostgeek and the NWE testing group released their monster into the wild. Don’t get me wrong, Esablade it is a really fun breakerless deck relying on Tsakhia "Bankhar" Gantulga, Boomerang, Slap Vandal, Botulus, Hush and going quickly. However, for me, this was a real weakness at Worlds, corps were happy to trash host ice and because Esâ is no good at graffiti I’d have to decide to either facecheck more than I’d have liked or Boomerang something facedown before knowing if it was a threat or not. More often than not I’d run as quick as I could just with Bankhar, which led to some really frustrating accesses of unstealable drones and unawardable degree certificates. However, the combo that I loved about the deck was that Bankhar could rollerblade! So, when I got home from Worlds and started jamming new Esâ lists, my heart belonged to 3 green influence points and all I wanted to do was stuff a triple pair of skates into any deck I tried…


Why shoehorn skates into a perfectly excellent list?

So, Lostgeek has a fantastic write-up of his deck, where he forces his animals to walk. This deck is fundamentally the same so go read that if you want to understand how to play Netrunner at a high level. However, if instead you’d like to hear why you should purchase rollerblades for your animal friends, keep reading…


This deck doesn’t mind losing cards in hand that much, we have strike funds and steelskins, and your underpaid research intern who can draw you some cards before or after without worrying about trashing her like an unopened can of energy drink. The main thing I love about blades is keeping the momentum, Esa loves momentum! The noping the “when encountered” means Saisentan isn’t an absolute nightmare (you’re playing Esâ, they know to choose Event), Starlit Knight doesn’t get to do its party trick, and you can avoid the tempo loss of removing tags from things like Funhouse and Jaguarundi by never gaining them in the first place. Sure, a lot of the time you’ll just use the blades for net damage created by Bankharing a facedown ice, but it really cuts down the level of risk when you’re gambling on a facedown ice.

I freed up influence for 3 sets of skates by cutting one copy of Laamb, which I didn’t find to be a problem. The LAAgeMoBot combo of turning ice into barriers and breaking them for 1 credit without paying to boost strength (because “how much core damage have you taken?!?”) is a really fun trick, but mostly useful for when the corp has double iced servers so you can’t just Bankhar your way through them. However, because as Esâ you’re threatening HQ, R&D, remotes, and archives (to pick up any sabotaged agendas), the corp is spread thin (plus their ice often unintentionally ends up in the bin), and often takes a while to double ice key servers. Because of this you don’t need to find Laamb right away, so 2 copies instead of 3 seems fine to me.

The deck went 3 wins and 4 losses at Nationals, which was similar, although slightly worse, than my result with Esablade at worlds (4 Wins – 4 Losses – 1 Draw). I think the results came down to piloting mostly, rather than any match-ups that felt impossible, which is a plus for the deck as that wasn’t 100% my feeling at worlds.

I probably won’t write up my corp list. I was playing a slightly modified R+ that is currently all the rage which I’d only been playing to test against because of Not_Yeti’s sage advice. I ended up taking it instead of my usual corp list, because it seemed stronger than the jank I usually play, but on the day it wasn’t the right call, I hadn’t gotten enough reps against different kinds of runners and a lot of games just drifted away from me during the midgame. Anyway, lesson learned, play the jank you know and love, not the new hotness that you think you ought to love…

Thanks to Paulyg for organising a fantastic tournament and to all the others organising and judging (particularly Lew and Finnbar – you both rock!). Thanks to all of the Midlands Grid and Quear Earth Hub, it was lovely getting to spend time with you all and I’m really proud of how everyone did!! It was great to meet UK players we met at Worlds, as well as a ton of friendly faces who we hadn’t met, not_yeti, Nicky3.0, Terje, Sauc3 (and others I’m sure I’ve forgotten) it was lovely catching up between games. Big love to Tamijo and Kay, no amount of pineapple juice could ever repay the gift of introducing this wonderful game with such enthusiasm. Thanks to everyone I played, all of you were lovely opponents but I wanted to say an extra big thanks to Russell and Potat for providing some of the best games all weekend. Russell, you were an absolute gem to play against and I’m not sure I’ve laughed more during games, such good fun. Potat, our epic game (against my corp) was one of the most exciting games of Netrunner I’ve ever played. So many shifts in tempo and advantage and a really well-deserved win with some really great off-meta cards. When I’m proselytising about the game to people who don’t play, I often stress how much fun it is even when you lose – you’re so involved, and you can’t not respect excellent plays and the risk-reward of tense turns. It was a real highlight (go aurora borealis mountain goat thing?!)

Finally a big thanks to zoehope – it was way more fun with you by my side and I’m so proud of your impressive finish!