Part 1 – Testing in a local tournament – can be found here.
Part 2 – Store Championships – can be found here.
Part 3 – Chronos Protocol Tour – can be found here.
Part 4 - Regionals - can be found here.
Part 5 - Nationals - can be found here.
I never expected to be writing a tournament report for Worlds, I wasn’t even planning on attending UK Nationals until I qualified for the 16 person invitational. I am pretty glad that I did, since I had an amazing time in Minnesota, it was really nice meeting many of the people I chat to online about Netrunner and meeting new people. The Netrunner community is amazing and I want to do a few quick shout outs to the local Minneapolis guys and girls, thank you for making us feel so welcome, you made our trip, next up I need to give a shout out to the other National Champions, who I spent a large part of the weekend talking to, Jesse, El-ad, Alex were all contributing factors to a great weekend. Finally a shout out to some well known players in Netrunner, Spags and Jesse Vandover, both were really welcoming, great to chat to about builds and strategy, so thanks guys!
While I had a great time when I got there, I was pretty unexcited about going to Worlds, there were two reasons for this, mostly it is the NEH dominated world we were/are living in. Now I am sure that some people will tell me that NEH didn't win Worlds or even make the top 3. But I think it is important you know how much NEH there was… there were over 90 NEH players, 9 out of the top 16 were NEH, and while NEH didn’t make it into the top 3, don’t be fooled by its dominance, the majority of the NEH players in the top 16 went out because of their runner games. There will always be a dominant deck type, I’m fine with that, but the dominance of this deck type caused there to be significantly less deck variety at Worlds. (which you will see when you see what corps I played).
The other reason for my lack of excitement was how late in the day FFG/Esdevium contacted me about organising my trip. It was the start of October before I had any solid information to act on, and this made the whole experience painful as I was rushing to organise everything.
Regardless I went, and man, am I glad I did. I'm not sure that this is going to be a tournament report, since there are a lot of games, and I can't remember many of them, especially my runner games, it’s hard to remember what happened against all of the NEH ;) Instead this will likely be a bit more about my experiences at Worlds and some information about some of the memorable games I played.
After a great but long trip to the states, we (my wife and I) settled into our hotel, and did some touristy stuff for a few days. Since this isn’t about Netrunner I'll skip over this...
On the Thursday I went to a local gaming store in Minneapolis called Mead Hall Games and Comics, because I'd been invited by a guy I knew from online chats over at the Penny Arcade forums. They had a Netrunner night, which I took part in. These are some of the friendliest and welcoming guys I've ever had the privilege of meeting, so if you are ever in Minneapolis, you should check this place out.
Friday was the Winter Tournament side event, I decided to not play the decks I was taking to the main event, because I didn’t want to give away my decks. I decided to play an old version of my Andy deck, nothing too exciting to talk about here and my HB Blood Angel deck. This is a glacier deck with Punitive Counterstrikes and recursion to allow a flat line threat. The fact this was a side event made me laugh, as it had 84 people in it, which is bigger than any Netrunner tournament that the UK has had (to the best of my knowledge). There was definitely people playing less competitive decks in this tournament, and I think this shows by the fact that I didn’t play against any NEH at all and only played one RP.
I played against:
•1 Weyland BABW (1 Supermodernism)
•2 Jinteki PE (1 Cambridge and 1 Jamiesteki)
•1 Jinteki RP (Standard)
•2 Kate (1 PPVP & 1 Stealth)
•2 Andromeda (1 Sucker and 1 Supplier!)
During the tournament I had the honour of playing the mum of the Corp Draw guys and Caleb from Bad Publicity. Both of which were amazing fun and I am really glad I got to meet them.
The tournament went really well for me, I finished undefeated with 7 wins and 1 timed win after 4 rounds of swiss. This put me on the same points as Jesse Vandover, which I was pretty pleased with, as this is a guy who has won several regional’s, made top 4 at Worlds last year etc.
It was good to be playing at a similar level as him. In the end I finished second on SoS to Jesse, which I will be honest and say I was gutted about, I wanted to win the 84 person tournament, but also because the prize for 1st place was an alt art Eli which is something rare and I would love to add to my collection. Still, I was pleased with how I did, picking up the alt art Weyland BABW ID and alt art Plascrete, and another alt art Melange Mining Corp. However the fact that my corp deck did so well, winning all of its games from a combination of scoring out and flat lines made me really wonder if I should play it in the main event.
It comes around to the day of the main event, and I have a terrible nights sleep. Mostly because of nerves, and my mind wont stop processing the plays I made in the tournament, and what I could have done to win. Stupid brain! I have high expectations of myself, I am a competitive person and want to win, however more than that, I felt I was representing the UK. I'm not a person who is particularly patriotic, but I wanted to show that there are some amazing players over here, and as the only person from the UK (that I was aware of) I felt like I needed to represent. Especially since Pavlos/kordan11 didn’t get chance to go last year.
So, what decks did I take and why? My full deck lists can be found here.
I was fairly certain that I was going to take Andromeda, I've been playing here for ages in one form or another and I just love the early game advantage she gives. I'd been testing PPVP Kate a bit and while I thought it was good, I didn't think it was anywhere near as good as Andy (at least in my hands).
I knew that there was going to be a lot of NEH, and that whatever I played it needed to be able to take an AstroBiotics deck apart. I started off testing my standard Parasite Host Andromeda deck against it, and it got destroyed time and time again. The lack of multi access was really hurting it. I tested out the Magnum Opus Andy decks that had been floating around at last years Worlds to see if this R&D attack with updated cards was viable, while this was more successful, but it was still far too slow and it was actually the Magnum Opus part that wasn’t working. In fact in testing Desperado and Security Testing were by far enough economy with the standard burst in Andy decks. So, I had a good economy against AstroBiotic, and with cards such as R&DI and Legwork. I was finding that I had enough multi access.
Card draw was what testing discovered was the decks weak point, it constantly ran out of steam while I was running aggressively, so I made the decision to play a tag me deck using John Masanori as my card draw. This allowed for a 'perfect run' with a single click netting me 3 credits, a sucker counter and a card. This allowed me to use the rest of my clicks aggressively, it was an amazing engine when set up. I was quite pleased with the deck against NEH and it was winning a good percentage of games. However the decks match ups against RP or other glacier builds was really bad, no Parasites or Kati Jones was a problem. The compromise was quite effective, which was dropping down to 1 Corroder and running 2 R&DI and 2 Parasite, and using Breach as my back up Fracter.
1 Kati Jones also went in for glacier match ups, the deck was still focused on NEH killing but an RP match up wasn’t quite as terrible as before. I was definitely hedging my bets that I would play against a lot of NEH, but wasn’t willing to have no answer to RP and Blue Sun which I was expecting a decent number of.
On the corp side, I had been testing my Blood Angel deck a lot and I believe it is very good with an experienced pilot, it basically never loses in local GNK tournaments, but I wasn't sure if it would cut it against top players. I had also been testing an NEH kill deck that I had named Red Rain, it had gone through a few GNK tournaments undefeated and I believed that it would get several flat line kills from over aggressive runners who thought they were playing against Astro Biotics.
I had been discussing with Seb/Malefact about his experiences with a similar deck, and watching some of Greg Nordeng’s YouTube channel where he was running something similar, and it had very good win rates. I like decks at the moment with a double win condition, and this met this criteria. In testing I found that scoring an early Astro almost always led to a flat line win, firstly because the runner suddenly goes all out to stop the Astro Train, and because that advancement counter allows for Breaking News off a San San in to double SE plays. Very strong. Also like with Weyland Supermodernism, you just try to rush agendas, and if the runner hits a Snare you have a good chance of being able to SEA Source Scorch for the win.
I think both of these deck choices were very much dependent on the fact that I was expecting to see a lot of NEH, if that call was wrong and I ended up playing a variety of decks, and/or people weren’t teching against those decks as much as I thought, I was going to really struggle with the decks I had picked. If I was going to a less important tournament where players were more likely to play less competitive decks, I am certain that these lists wouldn’t stand up to good players. Because of the success of the Blood Angel deck, the previous day I was really tempted to run it, but I stuck to what I had planned. Was it the right call, who knows? Even now, knowing how I did, I’m not sure it was the right call.
Before I talk about how the 7 rounds of swiss went I think it is important that I talk about some things that got a lot of criticism, the prize support and the cut being to the top 16. I'll be honest and say that I wasn't that bothered about the cut to 16, I thought it was harsh but most cuts will be if you are on the outside. There weren’t any cases of a tied SoS meaning places were decided by a coin flip which is something that I don't like. However, I also wasn’t hopeful of making the cut so maybe I was just not worried. The prize support I do think was a little disappointing, I really like the playmat for the World Champion, it being unique is great. But playmats for only the top 8 does seem a little bit light to me, if you make the cut you still have to fight for a playmat, it should be something that is given to all of the people who make the cut I think. There were also bags for the top 4, which were just like the Nationals ones but with different art work, and power tokens for the top 16. Both seemed fine, I just think it was the small number of playmats that people didn’t like. In previous years the mats have had ‘Top 16’ or ‘Top 8’ etc on them which they didn’t have, they were just the same, bit of a shame I guess.
The alt art Professional Contacts was an okay prize, I don’t think it is a commonly enough played card to make it as cool as last years Eli, but still I like it. I do like the fact that the art has The Collective in it, nice that they aren’t gone from the universe in full. Though ProCo is definitely a card you want to play as a 3 of, as it is best early game, and only the top 32 were given 3 (1 for entering, 1 for finishing 7 rounds, 1 for top 32).
Because I was a National Champion I was lucky enough to have a super bye for round 1, I spent this time chatting with the other National Champs. Nerves were killing me by this point.
I played the following in the 6 rounds of swiss that I played:
•5 NBN Near Earth Hub
•1 Jinteki Personal Evolution
•1 Chaos Theory
How did the decks perform? Andromeda went 5-1 dropping one game against Near Earth Hub against the Dutch National Champion Alex, once Security Testing and John Masanori were out the deck was able to keep up with the speed of NEH and really apply some great pressure. I was really pleased with it. I was really pleased that I had teched against NEH and played almost purely NEH.
The NEH deck went 3-3, which looks really bad, and caused me some serious concern, however in two of the games it agenda flooded really badly, in its first game it saw 8 agendas out of 17 ish cards. I was definitely worried about the deck after the first two games, and wishing I had run my HB deck. However in the later games it did better, though interestingly it won all three games by scoring out, which is actually not that common for the deck, the flat line threat was definitely still a factor though.
Despite there being a lot of NEH games in swiss I did have some really memorable games. Firstly I played against Jens Erickson (the 2013 World Champion), and split my games against him. However I felt in control of both games and was very close to winning both, in fact the corp game which I lost I was about to flat line him if he hadn’t pulled the winning agenda from R&D. Damn close.
My favourite game was actually against my only non NEH opponent who was running Personal Evolution, he was running a deck similar to the Cambridge regional winner. I got set up early and was running R&D each turn and ignoring the remotes. This allowed me to trash a number of traps before he saw them, including all 3 Ronin. I had to take a few turns to draw back up after hitting Snares or Fetals and this allowed him to draw a Future Perfect which he Mushin’d and I ignored as I knew it wasn’t a Ronin (I also ignored all three Cerebral Overwriters). The game was placed with him on 5 points and me on 6, and me running dangerously low on cards. He eventually got me down to no cards in stack with a Ronin (he’d Jackson’d) and EMP combo and I hand only 3 cards in hand after drawing back up. I pulled the winning agenda before hitting a Snare which would have lead to the EMP kill. Was a great game, I love playing as and against Cambridge PE, it is always fun, win or lose.
I finished swiss with a 10-4 record, and based on SoS I finished in exactly 16th place. I couldn’t believe that I had made the cut, I hadn’t been expecting to after dropping four games. I basically ran around excitedly for the next 30 minutes. The cut was as expected pretty harsh, dropping out some really noticeable folk, Chris Hinkes finished in 18th place, and Jesse Vandover, Greg Nordeng, Jens Erickson, didn’t make it. Plus lots of other noticeable folk. What I was really pleased about was how many of the National Champions made the cut, I believe that there were 8 or 9 National Champions in the tournament and I believe that 5 made the cut to top 16 (UK, Canada, Australia, Belgium and Poland). This is really good, why you may ask, because it shows that the National Champions are great players who are making it in the big tournament. It justifies why FFG are flying them out, and it encourages others from these countries to watch Worlds and hopefully, attend. I wasn’t expecting to make day two, so I was so full of adrenaline, and excited, this was terrible as it meant that I had another night with basically no sleep. We did go out for a curry with the local Minnesota guys which was really nice.
I also got chance to chat to Lukas during the day, he was getting bombarded by questions about random stuff, so I felt guilty asking him more questions but it wasn’t like I was going to get another chance to talk to him in person. I was very polite and asked a question rather telling him something was stupid and needed fixing. I’m not sure everyone was doing this, and I felt bad for him. The only question I asked him was why had the tournament tie breaker had gone from Weak Side Wins and then Strength of Schedule (SoS), to just SoS? I explained that I agreed that SoS should be the primary tie breaker, but I was surprised that there wasn’t another tie breaker. Lukas said that this was actually down to their ability to track the information when running tournaments, they didn’t have the software to track it easily and had no desire to so manually as it was too difficult. He said that this will likely change when FFG have tournament software in the near future as he likes Weak Side Win after SoS as a tie breaker. I suggested that he allows Weak Side Wins to be used in Store Champs, Regionals etc if the people running the tournaments are willing to track this information, even if it isn’t something that FFG use during their tournaments. I think this would be better than things being decided by a coin flip, which I think is pretty terrible.
Game 1 – Spags with NEH
I chatted to Spags a bit the previous day and quite a bit during the Sunday and he’s a really nice guy. We chatted about how UK Nationals was an invite only event where you needed to come 1st or 2nd in a Regional or place in the top 6 of the qualifier to play. Spags said he really liked the format, and felt like Worlds should be the same. It was an interesting conversation because the format had been largely slated in the UK from what I had seen. I’d not really formed an opinion of the format, I think I was largely indifferent, and was more focused on the amount of abuse the guys running the Nationals were getting because of it. We also chatted about my Andy build after the match, which he was a fan of, and it was nice discussing an Andy build down to the detail of each card. As it is common for people to write Andy off as good regardless, but I think that it is the influence spend and the few cards that are different that really matter. The actual game against Spags was horrible, my opening hand contains two Plascrete, no Desperado, Security Testing or John Masanori. It has a bit of economy but no Special Order, its just not going to cut it against NEH. I take a mulligan and get no burst economy, no Security Testing and both John Masanori… Great. My first turn is play Desperado, play Kati Jones, use her and take a credit. Discarding the spare Masanori and I think a Plascrete or spare Desperado. I run aggressively and face plant Architects, not ideal but Spags only puts out PADs and Marked Accounts, so it could be worse for me. I draw for my Sentry Breaker but cannot find one or a Special Order. Spags manages to get to 5 points and have a scored Astro token, while I am trying to establish an R&D lock. I manage to pull back to 3 points from R&D before he finishes a game which I’d lost a long time ago. I think with a better draw I could have won the game against the hand Spags had, I’d definitely like to play him again.
Game 2 – against Joe Held with Andromeda
Joe is one of the friendliest people I met during the weekend, introducing himself to my wife, chatting about non-Netrunner stuff as we played. Great guy. This was also one of the shortest matches I played all weekend.
Turn one I install a San San city grid, play Sweeps Week and protect HQ. He Sure Gambles, drops an R&DI and Dirty Laundry’s R&D. He pauses during the first access and I realise he has seen one of the kill cards, for his last click he plays Plascrete. My mandatory draw is a Scorch.
I decide that if he is careful I cannot win through flatline, and so use the San San to score an Astro. He runs R&D but doesn’t score, and so I ice up the next turn with a Data Raven in front of an Eli. Joe decides with the Astro scored, he needs to be quick, and so runs through the Raven taking the tags and clicking through Eli to see 2 cards. He sees the second Scorch but also starts seeing agendas, I try and draw through the lock, to get a piece of Ice to stop him. I draw into the third Scorch, but don’t have the credits to play them. The next turn Joe runs and hits a Snare which I opt not to trigger since I can’t kill him due to lack of credits. I spend the next turn clicking up to 9 credits, and know that unless R&D gives up 2 more agendas I likely have the game. R&D doesn’t give up any agendas and so I triple scorch the next turn.
I think that Joe was more excited than I was that I’d got the triple scorch, I apologise and he is happy and high fiving me. Such a nice guy!
Game 3 – against Tomasz with Chaos Theory
I win the roll and have to think long and hard about what I want to play, my Andy deck had been far more successful the previous day, but it is very focused on taking down NEH and playing against a Tennin deck doesn’t sound ideal since it is likely to be glacier. I also remember seeing somewhere online that his Tennin deck destroyed an Andy deck on Twitch the previous day. I decide to play corp, though I’m worried that his Chaos Theory deck isn’t a great match up either, I think it is the best of a bad choice.
I Ice up early and play a NAPD and San San down in the open. Tomasz gets down a Personal Workshop and puts all three breaker types on it, but otherwise seems to be struggling for economy. I realise that I need to start scoring as my Ice isn’t going to keep him out when he has all of his breakers and economy. I score an Astro off the San San and Tomasz Stimhacks my HQ with an SMC out, using the credits to go and get Magnum Opus. I score out a Breaking News and he gets down an R&D Interface, and starts to R&D lock me. I have a Wraparound, Pop-up, Data Raven and Grim on R&D towards the end of the game with Tomasz on 4 points. I draw a Beale on a turn he is taking credits and play it out into the open, hoping he will focus on R&D, which he does and I score it, putting me on 5 points with an Astro token. He runs R&D last click desperate to R&D lock me as 1 more agenda gives me the win but doesn’t see anything. At this point I believe that I have two ways to win, triple advance and score out the NAPD I put there first turn using the Astro, or flat line him with 2 of the 3 scorches I have in hand. I show him both of these. It is pointed out after the game that I couldn’t score the NAPD because of the bad pub from the Grim which we both missed. I definitely had the win from the flat line, but we both missed the bad pub.
I spend some time chatting with Tomasz through the rest of the day, guy has a wicked sense of humour!
Game 4 – against Ben with NEH
I’m running against NEH and have a fairly solid opener as does he. The early game definitely favours me as I am applying pressure and an early Sneakdoor nets me an Astro and a Breaking News. Ben starts to lock me out and so I Special Order my Corroder and last click Siphon him, being fairly certain he is running Biotic and not Scorch. I’m not sure if I think this because he has used a Biotic to score an Astro or if I have just seen one at this point. My plan is to keep up my aggression by putting down John Masanori and using my Siphon money to trash his 2 rezzed PAD’s denying him any economy to FA. On his turn Ben clicks for credits and plays Closed Accounts causing me to lose around 18 credits.
This play changes the whole game, suddenly I have not economy and no way to be aggressive. I draw trying to get some economy on the go but cannot find any. Mean while Ben is making money from the PAD’s that I cant get rid of and using FA to start scoring. While I try and make a come back, from my point of view I knew that the Closed Accounts had cost me the game, it was too big a swing. I lose the game a short time later, my economy never able to recover. Ben played really well and Closed Accounts is not a common card in NEH and it definitely won him the game here. He told me it was a 1 of that he was running to combo with Breaking News off a San San.
So I was knocked out of Worlds in the top 8, I can’t really complain as I had a good run, and I’m pretty pleased with my performance. I was definitely ready to stop playing Netrunner though, after playing in the Winter Kit side event, then 7 rounds of swiss and then double elimination I was happy to stop. Fatigue is definitely a thing that people who watch games online don’t take into consideration. You do make mistakes after 30 games of Netrunner over a few days.
My decks had a bit of a role reversal during the double elimination stages with my Corp deck winning both and my Runner losing both. I’m not that worried about the runner losses, as the opening hand against Spags was terrible and killed my chances, and the loss to Ben was because the deck was designed to go tag me and he was one of the only NEH players running tag punishment (as a 1 of) which he had in hand after the early game Siphon. I have to accept that this was one of the decks weaknesses and it cost me the game. The corp deck was much better and seeing early Scorches really makes the deck deadly, which just never happened in swiss. I think the deck is likely as strong as I thought it was, and it was likely bad play by me that caused some of the losses, mostly due to lack of sleep.
Overall I think I did a fairly good job of predicting the meta, but likely didn’t do enough testing with my corp deck as I was much more familiar with my HB deck. In hindsight I think that this could have done very well against the NEH focused decks, as the ones that didn’t have sustainable economy such as Kati Jones would have struggled against my glacier style kill deck. The amount of multi access in the anti NEH decks is the only thing that could cause issues for the deck, though scoring 3+ points against the deck with little money is often a death sentence. Part of me wishes I had played my HB deck, but another part of me realises I made top 8 in the world, and I won both of my corp matches in the elimination rounds, so to be happy with how I did.
I do hope the UK Netrunner guys feel I represented them well, that is important to me. I’m happy with my performances over the weekend, and that’s important as well. While I was quite down on the games meta, Worlds was such an amazing experience I really want to play more now. I’ve no desire to play with or against NEH, but am looking forward to playing some jank and trying to build a competitive deck that hasn’t been seen yet. Also the game is always changing, I’m happy to wait for cards to kill off Astro Biotics, I just think it’s a shame it was everywhere at Worlds. I have already started trying to drum up UK based folk for going to Worlds 2015, it was so good I want others to experience it, I’ll be going, UK National Champion or not. If you are reading this, and from the UK, you should come with us, it is honestly worth it.
Massive props to FFG for running a really fun event, and bigger props to the Netrunner community for being so friendly. Finally, if you are UK based, please come and join our forums, we are really trying to create a great UK Netrunner community, which involves organising travel to other areas tournaments, helping new players with deck building and other guidance, so please come and contribute. If you’ve not already, you should check out the Netrunners.co.uk YouTube channel.
Dave / Cerberus
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