This is the Hoshiko deck that QtM brought to APAC 2023, securing @KyraWNY, @crowphie, and me a spot in the top cut. I built it with constant help and feedback from my teammates, and am very proud that we got to this point.
crowphie's Sparrow Brawler deck dominated our initial internal testing. It felt really hard to build a Runner that could even think of contesting what the Corp was doing without being credit checked too heavily, and we identified R+ Tempo as the deck to beat.
We noticed pretty early that Hermes and Aumakua were the best tools to fight the deck, but that runners still needed a lot of liquidity to be able to keep up, so we tried importing the package in Anarch, which was very happy to play turtle given the loss of its usual breakers (we're quite sure that a Turbine Cleaversaw rig is a trap in the current state of the meta).
The shell immediately felt very strong, and over time the list adapted by adding a lot of situational, half-tech cards that could help deal with many different bullshit a new meta could throw at us. It can take a while to get a feel for what's needed and what can be Moshed freely, but once you do you can go very fast and just play the 35-40 cards you need for the matchup. The deck is reasonably quick at drawing into anything you might need, and has enough tools to make holes through very big ice, get rigshot multiple times and still be operational, make the Stavrun combo ineffective, contest a well-defended remote without having to actually run it, blank problem ice like Phoneutria, contest jams through an Oppo Research fork, get Mutually Assured Destruction-ed for 7 tags and live to tell the tale.
This deck is so based on specific slots being there for very specific situations that it deserves a card-by-card breakdown. Some of the includes are self-explanatory. Let's go through the most important ones.
Aumakua: most important card in the deck. You want it down as soon as possible, because most important ice in the meta is weak to it and IP Block is gone. The few ice that have game against turtle can be dealt with with other stuff in your toolbox.
Hermes: second most important card. We could perhaps have tried to fit three copies, allowing us to up the deck size a little bit and fit some more economy and a third Moshing. This console absolutely obliterates any rush deck by opening space for your Turtle and Wake to charge up whenever your opponent tries to score quickly. If they try to score slowly, you either contest safely or make your way into a central and try to defuse the score. This is my pick for strongest card in TAI so far along with Oppo Research.
Labor Rights: gives you protection from Trojan Horse + ZATO decks that try to remove your Num, and extra late-game economy against asset decks that want to Oppo Research you too many times. Also allows you to feel a little safer when Moshing a card you're almost sure you won't need.
Devil Charm: gives Stavrun protection and helps you deal with Wraparound, but most importantly this is a useful post-purge tool, especially against big Outfit ice. Combined with Hippo, it helps making a hole in any server, so you can charge Turtle+Leech again. Kyra's list played an extra copy of this, going up to 48 cards.
Gachapon: I tried The Price a bit and was unimpressed. While a card that helps you find Hermes earlier is helpful, the meta is a lot about finding your early drip, and Gachapon helps you dig deeper. Being allowed more choice in how to fix your future draws is also very helpful.
WAKE Implant v2A-JRJ: this is an incredible multiaccess card and well worth the influence. It synergizes with Hermes in incredible ways: when the agenda in the remote gets scored or stolen, you can just amass counters on Wake and get ready to contest the next jam by just barging into R&D and finding things there.
The Twinning: it's a little sad compared to Wake, honestly. Very draw dependant, and games in this early part of the meta tend to go too fast for you to charge it a lot (though Hermes slowing things down helps). We didn't put Stargate in the deck because we assumed that a smaller console than usual would have made it impossible to use it effectively, but maybe we should have tried that a bit. This is still good when it's good, but there are many games where you can't make effective use of it.
Hannah "Wheels" Pilintra: I called this card bad during spoiler season and I had to eat my hat for it. While this is obviously useless sometimes, this deck isn't slot hungry at all and it is very fine to have many situational cards. This makes it impossible for R+ Tempo to force its way through a lost game with an Oppo Research. It also means that if you have enough money and four cards in hand, the Corp needs to Mutually Assured Destruction you for 8 tags rather than 6 (which was very relevant in my Swiss game against coldlava's beautiful Ob list).
Miss Bones: good in theory, but never showed up when I wanted it, and lost my only game because I didn't have enough money against an asset deck. Might be best to cut this and Pinhole Threading and go back to 3x Aeneas Informant like in earlier versions of the deck (which synergizes powerfully with Wheels). Having an extra way to turn on The Twinning is good, though, although I'm pretty sure forgot about this interaction for the whole tournament. I blame sleep deprivation.
Buzzsaw: we felt like Magnet and Virtual Service Agent would be everywhere in this tournament, so we decided to fit two copies of this. We realized a little too late that Aumakua deals very elegantly with VSA if you have a Hippo installed, which maybe justifies cutting a copy of this.
Cleaver: you install this very rarely and it's mostly for Wraparound. Barriers in this meta almost always have 1 strength or are too big for Cleaver to deal with efficiently anyway. Still good to have around.
Num: this breaker is extremely underrated. It's a tech card for sure, but deals with Outfit which is the best deck at strength-checking turtle, allowing you to run everywhere without fearing facechecks from Archer and Trebuchet. I had played it in Freedom in the past, but it took a suggestion from Kyra to remind me that it was what we needed.
Leech: I find this one of the most skill-testing cards in the deck and I'm still not sure exactly when it should be installed or moshed, and when it's worth the MU and the tempo you dedicate to it. Very hard to comment on it.
Huge thanks to my teammates from QtM for hyperfocusing with me an insane amount for four days, and building busted corps that forced me to build such a busted runner. There is a lot of room for optimization here, much more than in the R+ deck, but I'm still convinced that we had some of the strongest lists in the field, and that allowed me to go undefeated in Swiss (and then fail miserably in the cut as per tradition).
Thanks to NSG for organizing APAC, to judges for running the event very smoothly, to the casters for the nice words, and to my wife @krysdreavus for always helping me perform in a very spoons-consuming competitive game despite chronic illness.
7 Aug 2023 crowphie
7 Aug 2023 Ams
7 Aug 2023 coldlava
7 Aug 2023 Paillu