This is the second part of my report on the Netrunner tournament scene in the UK. The first part can be found here.
As I said in the first article, this is a great time to be playing Netrunner with so many events over the next few months.
I wanted to attend at least two Store Championships, but real life has clashed with my local events and therefore we have only been able to attend one.
We've been doing lots of deck testing and have been playing the same decks so much I am looking forward to playing something silly on our next Wednesday meet up, as I need a break from the tournament decks I have been running.
For the local tournament we all took Andromeda and actually the deck didn't perform as we had hoped, I was certain that this needed an overhaul, but over the last month I have been testing Gabe with Knight, this is definitely a strong deck but I was feeling like it was quite difficult to close out the games, those last few agenda points were always so difficult to get. That being said, there were some games where you just get a blow out victory because they see too many agendas or not enough ice and the deck runs riot over those types of start. A week or so before the Store Championship I remade my Andy deck to take into account all the issues I had in the last tournament, gone were the meta cards like Compromised Employee and Decoy, and in went generically useful cards like more Emergency Shutdown and more breakers, I wanted early pressure and running more breakers helped this, also Tollbooth is on the rise again, with some decks playing three (because of the improved corp economy), Archer is popular as ever and Emergency Shutdown is king against these. I play tested this and it devastated everything I played against, it was really consistent with getting breakers, economy and much better at dealing with big ice which was the problem before. In the end I opted to go with this, as Andy makes games more consistent and I am more experienced with her.
On the corp side I took the variation of HBFA that I took to the local tournament, as it went undefeated, so I just tweaked it slightly. Dave and Si, who are the main guys who practice with me took totally different decks, after months of testing we all went different ways, Si ran Noise and Jinteki – Personal Evolution, as they are the factions he knows best and Dave took an event based Chaos Theory deck and NBN Making News, which was fairly standard Astro, San San and Ash.
I'm not shocked that they moved away from Andy as she didn't deliver last time...
So, the Worcester Manaleak Store Championship
There were 20 people in attendance, and the plan was to do five rounds of swiss and then cut to a top 8. People had travelled from Birmingham, Coventry, Oxford, Cheltenham, Shropshire and a number of other places.
Chris picked to Corp first, and was playing shell game Jinteki, after a standard burst of economy on my turn one I dropped a Faerie and started running. I managed to score an early Braintrust by using Faerie to get past a Neural Katana on R&D, then I proceeded to run a number of the card he played down either when there was little risk or I had made him poor from rezzing or Account Siphon. I managed to score a False Lead and another Braintrust from the remote, but also ate a Snare and a one advanced Junebug along the way. Being careful and drawing up, running on click one and all these standard things will do you really well against Jinteki, I was able to pick up the remaining points from R&D after I got a breaker down for the Neural Katana, won 7 – 0.
We swap and Chris starts rig building, so I kick off my asset economy, there is a point in the first few turns where I play a San San into a new remote and the following turn he installs a Professional Contacts, costing him most of his credits. I use the San San the next turn to score, and then the turn after, getting me to four points. He sets up a Nerve Agent and runs a lightly protected HQ a few times scoring an Efficiency Committee but doesn't trash the San San due to lack of credits, I Protect the San San and then get rich while waiting for the agendas, which I score as soon as I see them. Win 7 – 2.
Prestige = 4
I decide to corp first, and lock down centrals with the huge amount of money my asset based economy is giving me. He is using draw cards like crazy and then Freelance Coding Contracting them into archives. I get a San San set up in a remote and ice it up, he gets a Deep Red and a Pawn set up and I see what is going on, I rez San San and score, the following turn I manage to keep him out of my San San and score again. He gets set up and decides to R&D lock me scoring two points from R&D, so I score my last agenda on the San San. Then we play the game where he runs R&D and I draw through, he then manages to get into HQ but misses the 1 in 5 which I score for the win 7 – 2
As Jinteki he plays a shell game, which I largely ignore and try and R&D lock him as he doesn't see much ice and the ice he does see he plays on HQ to prevent Account Siphon. I manage to score early from R&D and set up my breaker suite, but he just cannot keep me out and other than a Gila Hands Arcology he manages to get through I see all the agendas before he does. Turned out to be a short game. Win 7 – 1
Prestige = 8
He corps first and is rolling in money very quickly, he rezzes a Tollbooth on HQ but I have access to R&D for a few turns and see some big ice such as Flare. This tells me he likely isn't running the Scorched Earth combo so I start ditching Plascretes. He manages to rez a Hadrians Wall over R&D and start locking me out of centrals. He scores a Hostile Takeover and then a Veterans Program in his remote, but I force him to rez a Curtain Wall to do so. The game turns quite quickly when he installs an agenda and the following turn I Sneakdoor Beta and Shutdown the Curtain Wall, I manage to score some more points from HQ and then Shutdown the Hadrians Wall which he cannot afford to rez again. The changes to the Andy deck to deal with larger ice really shone through here, win 7 – 2
We swap and I manage to get a remote server set up and score an early Gila Hands Arcology which sets me up for money for the rest of the game. I secure central servers and get a San San down, and manage to score another 2 pointer. He manages to make an early Indexing run and score two points as I start locking down my servers more. This game is pretty brutal, as I lock him out of R&D with hard ETR ice and taxing ice and just wait for agendas to FA, eventually winning 7 – 2.
Prestige = 12
He corps first, and does a standard opening, I burst economy and get a Faerie and a Corroder out first turn, on the second turn I run R&D and he doesn't rez, and I score an Astro, so I run again and get a Beale, run again and get another Astro. A few turns later I pull a Breaking News from HQ for the win. Random luck is random... Feel really bad for Sam, as there was nothing that he could do about it.
I corp and only see one ice after a mulligan, so protect HQ in case of Account Siphon. He plays a Sure Gamble, drops two R&DI and runs, but doesn't see anything. I draw a Roto and put it in front of R&D, he runs again next turn and I don't rez and he doesn't score, I think he sees seven cards without getting an agenda. I start to get going with economy and manage to get a San San server set up. On his third R&D run he pulls 3 points, I score using the San San and it forces him into a run and I trash his Corroder with a Roto. I manage to score another four points and just need to get my last agenda. I manage to trash his second Corroder and think I have the game tied up and so just draw for my agenda. He Test Runs back his Corroder, and makes an R&D run netting him another three points. I have a rezzed San San, two Biotic Labor and a lot of cash but just cannot get my hands on an agenda because of the two R&DI. He makes a run and doesn't see anything so I use Jackson Howard to shuffle, but don't draw an agenda, so I draw but nothing, draw again and get a Vitruvius, which I Biotic, Biotic and then score on the San San for the win. Crazy close game.
Prestige = 16
I corp first, and am able to get some cheap ETR ice up on my central servers early, I get some asset economy going and play some points behind a single Wall of Static, the first one, a Gila gets Inside Jobbed, but the second one gets left and so I score the ABT and activate it because I have a Jackson Howard out. This locks the servers down more and I am able to Fast Advance the rest of my points without to much issue. Win 7 – 1
When he corps, I am a little worried, I have a good starting hand, but it doesn't have any Plascrete and I know Taurean is running the Accelerated Diagnostics Scorched Earth combo. I decide to keep as I'm not sure mulliganing for one card is a good plan vs a solid hand. I get my economy going and aim to out credit him, this is tricky but I manage to keep ahead thanks to Kati and burst economy. However, since I am not running much he scores both a Hostile Takeover and a Cleaners. This does give me a significant economy advantage and so I am able to run R&D which he has only lightly protected. I score some points and he starts building up cash so I get an R&DI down and try to R&D lock him, I manage to to score a Cleaners and then build up credits so he can't combo me to death. I make a final run on R&D and get the winning points, however this game was a lot closer than I realised, as he had a way of comboing out a 5 point agenda from hand when he had the perfect cards and 16 credits, which he did, he just needed me to run so he could activate the Power Shutdown. Win 7 – 4
Prestige = 20
According to the system data I scored 100 points (10 per game) and dropped 21 points, which is just over 2 points on average, so cannot complain, and it left me as 1st seed.
The top 8 looked like this:
All of these games were recorded, the videos will be much better than my memory.
I win the roll and decide to run, I have a good starting hand and a good mix of breakers so I run early to check his ice and he rezzes Eli's and Bastians. I get a Corroder down and a Sentry breaker and make occasional runs and manage to snipe an agenda. I make sure that I keep enough credits to threaten his small remote as he ices up HQ a lot. A few turns later I drop a Sneakdoor and run HQ scoring again, I then Shutdown and Femme my way into R&D. He can't keep me out of either server for long and I manage to over run him for a 7 – 2 win.
As corp, I keep a hand with no agendas and so ICE and economy up. He manage to score an Efficiency Committee early, but it is only a matter of time before I can fast advance an agenda using a Biotic Labor for the win. We continue the game anyway as we are waiting on the other games and I win seven to four (or maybe two??). I do remember making a terrible mistake during this game where I installed what I thought was an Adonis but was actually an Archived Memories, I had both in hand.
I've played Neil before in another tournament and know he is a good player, so I knew this is going to be a tough game. He wins the roll and decides to corp first, I mulligan but get a hand with no breakers or Special Order, in the early game I run and he keeps me out with an Ice Wall on both R&D and HQ. He manages to score both a Hostile Takeover and a double advanced Atlas.
I finally draw a Special Order and get out a Corroder to go with my Datasucker, I then Same Old Thing it to get a Ninja and start running. He has the credits, to rez all of his Ice and I manage to make a few R&D runs netting me a Corporate War. He scores a Hostile Takeover to put him at four points. A little later in the game he installs a card in his main remote and advances it once, and another in his secondary, I run the secondary and he rezzes an Enigma, I'm fairly sure it is an agenda so I install a Femme and target the Tollbooth on HQ and Siphon him to zero. He uses the last Atlas counter to get an economy card and the turn after scores another Atlas getting him to six points. The next turn he Power Shutdowns and kills my Datasucker, then does it again and kills my Corroder. I check archives and find three points, making it 5 – 6. The only server I can threaten is HQ so I run on it and pick up a Frakking for the win. This was stupidly close and could have gone either way, I felt I got unlucky with some of the R&D runs and lucky with the Power Shutdowns, I think Neil probably deserved to win this one in all honesty. Win 7 – 6
Game two, was winner take all. I Ice up R&D but don't have any other Ice, so I drop some asset economy. He runs HQ but doesn't score, and so I start rezzing economy. On the second turn he runs my open HQ and scores the Efficiency Committee I have. I finally start drawing Ice and economy and start locking down, and he starts trying to Parasite everything to death on R&D. I manage to get out a San San and start scoring. He kills the Ice on Archives and building up Datasucker counters for a big run of R&D. However I am able to get to six points before he is ready. I'm not sure if he got two or four points, but my deck was a strong counter to his, R&D attack with Keyhole is his main attack and I want R&D locked down so I can Fast Advance. It also helps that I am running some high strength Ice which make it more difficult for Parasite.
He wins the roll and decides to corp first, seems to be a bit of a thing with people being more confidant with their corp deck. He starts off with a Sweeps Week, the first time I have been hit by this all tourney. He Ices HQ and plays a Hedge Fund. First turn I economy and run the open R&D getting a Breaking News. Over the next few turns, he ices up and plays a lot of economy cards. He doesn't have enough Ice to create a safe remote, he is drawing with Jackson a lot and my few runs are not getting me anywhere. I figure he has agendas in HQ as he hasnt been playing any and so I drop a Sneakdoor and run three times, scoring an Astro, Beale and Breaking News. I decide to set up, and just look for that last point, this allows him to Biotic Labor out a Astro and then a turn or two later score another. I manage to pull the last point from R&D so win 7 – 4
I corp and Ice both centrals and put out an asset, I'm worried about him sniping my agenda in HQ and so manage to score two points early using a Biotic Labor. But he gets his Corroder and sentry breaker out early so he gets easy access to R&D but doesn't score. The game goes to an interesting scenario when I Archived Memories back my Biotic Labor, he Account Siphons me, but I rez HQ ice to keep me poor, over the next few turns, he Account Siphons me another four times using Same Old Things or more Siphons thinking that if I can get to six credits I can score. The game turns on the last Siphon as I have an Adonis out that I used to keep me safe from a previous Siphon, and he bankrupts himself to hit the Siphon, but I am able to rez a San San to stop the drain. This means I gain three credits from Adonis and then score using my San San. There is nothing he can do to get rid of the San San and so I am able to score again to give me the win.
It was mentally close, I've never been Siphoned that many times, the majority of them didn't hit because of me being able to rez assets and upgrades but they still kept me poor. The HB deck was designed to give me a solid defence against Account Siphon and it really pulled its weight here, probably winning me the game.
So, after 8 matches, I had a perfect record and got to take home a cool playmat and a certificate I hope to use in the few months time...
People at the tournament were really cool and it was nice to meet some people who had come from further afield. Special mention has to go to Sam who also brought his toy rat called River, with him to 'cheer' him on. You can probably see it in the video.
I'm not going to go into a crazy level of detail here, this is a Store Championship not Worlds, but I thought it would be interesting to see what was splashed for in the different decks, maybe some key Ice that were used throughout.
Lets start with corp:
As you can see, 6 of the top 8 splashed for Jackson Howard, with the other two already having him in faction, no real shock here that everyone was using him. There are two people who splashed for a full set of Eli 1.0 and another set in my HB deck, and this is interesting, as it ties in with what I have been seeing lately which is more taxing / multiple subroutine Ice, and I think this is because Runners can often get their rig up much faster nowadays and therefore just have an ETR of each type isn't enough, you need to be able to tax them when they have it.
There is a reasonable amount of Fast Advance splashed for with three decks either splashing for San San City Grid or Biotic Labor, interestingly, all three people who splashed for Fast Advance already had a full set of Biotic or San San in faction and were supplementing their in faction strategy.
I think that after this we see solid cards that are splashed for, that are generally good in most decks, some examples are Snare, Rototurret, Tollbooth, Operation Economy (in this case Green Level Clearance), Wraparound (which has replaced Ice Wall as the cheap barrier of choice).
I was expecting the Runner influence to be much more spread out than the Corps, but I was wrong, and in hindsight, none of the top spends surprise me, and they are all red cards... Datasucker was splashed by 4 of the top 8 Runners with the 5th place Noise deck also running them, it is such a powerful card and works well as both free credits and with fixed strength breakers. Corroder being so heavily splashed really doesn't surprise me, as I think FFG have put themselves in a hole with Corroder as no other Barrier breaker is used consistently as Corroder is so good. I thought Power Shutdown may have moved some people away but actually people would rather protect their Corroder than have something else as a backup. Yog.0 being splashed is also not a shock, especially when you consider that Datasuckers are so popular, I think it may become less popular as Code Gates such as Inazuma come out, but that is a wait and see...
Outside of the red cards, the splashed cards were also quite unsurprising to me, some examples are R&D Interface, Parasite, Knight, Indexing, Femme Fatale, similar to some of the Corp splashes many of these cards are good in most deck types as they are just strong or versatile cards.
I'm not too surprised by the high number of Archer, as this is greatly influenced by half of the top eight running Weyland. A lot of the Ice is neutral and this is what I would expect to make up the most as it is accessible to everyone, therefore I think that the ones to call out are the faction specific ones, these being Eli 1.0, Wraparound, Rototuret, and Tollbooth.
As I mentioned previously, I am seeing a return of taxing Ice, such as Eli and Tollbooth, these are great for costing the Runner and stopping repeated runs. Eli is especially potent on a central server and combined with other Ice, meaning that its main weakness, which is being a Bioroid, is mitigated. It costing four to break is great to prevent repeated R&D or HQ runs. Tollbooth has been a favourite card of many since core, however it hasn't been around as much since Emergency Shutdown came out and Runner economy and tricks became so good that getting a Femme Fatale out was easier. However I believe that the growing corporate economy has enabled the return of more expensive Ice, and this is why we are seeing more Tollbooths and other mid range ice again.
Both Wraparound and Rototurret are great cards in most decks, Wraparound because it forces out a Barrier breaker, and gives AI and Parasite decks a hard time, and Rototurret because it is a reasonably cheap ETR Sentry Ice and therefore great for forcing the runner to get their Sentry breaker, it is also extremely strong in front of another ETR Ice as it can often trash breakers when the runner goes and gets what they need for the Ice behind. I know I personally trashed at least three or four breakers with Rototurret during the tournament.
Anyway, two tournaments down, and now on to the Chronos Protocol tour. I can't really have asked more of my decks on the day, I was very pleased with how the HB one was performing anyway and I think I will not be making any huge changes other than testing NAPD Contract with it. The Andy deck really did well considering its poor performance last time, and the changes really made a difference in several of the games, I think this still needs tweaking but I am much happier than I was.
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