The Road to Nationals 2015

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The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Chimpster » Tue Jun 02, 2015 6:24 pm

Site Article: http://netrunners.co.uk/articles/the%20 ... onals.html

Alex White, winner of the 2015 UK National Championships has kindly taken the time (before jetsetting off abroad) to take us through his nationals journey. Part two of the series (the event itself) will be published soon, so watch this space folks!

On behalf of everyone at netrunners.co.uk, a huge congratulations to Alex for a hugely impressive performance - every bit the worthy winner!
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby king_mob » Tue Jun 02, 2015 8:50 pm

Massive congrats Alex, hard fought and well earned win.

Would you be able to expand on the comment about "best decks?" - as in, from your perspective is there a definitive single deck given the current card pool (and this applies to whatever the card pool is) that is quantatively the best? Im guessing your meaning 0 bad matchups?**

**edit: reading that back it seems like im disagreeing - actually far from it, im asking as im more interested in playing competitively now than i was when i started playing ANR, and correspondingly less interested in deck building. If a player of your calibre is saying that you get better chances playing competitively playing the best decks, i think thats worth paying attention to. I made a point similar to this on facebook, that the most prominent archetypes currently have had a massive amount of manhours poured into them by the community in terms of tuning and playtesting, and its important to realise this and take advantage of that. What my original question really should be is - do you think there is only really 1 corp and 1 runner, or is there a wider spectrum to choose from?
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Xenasis » Tue Jun 02, 2015 9:22 pm

king_mob wrote:Would you be able to expand on the comment about "best decks?" - as in, from your perspective is there a definitive single deck given the current card pool (and this applies to whatever the card pool is) that is quantatively the best? Im guessing your meaning 0 bad matchups?


To me, the best deck for a tournament is the deck that'll give you the highest winrate at that tournament. That deck could theoretically have an 80% winrate against all decks except a 20% against one top tier deck and still be the correct choice, but it depends on a number of factors, the current meta, meta at the tournament, amongst other things. You don't need to have a good matchup versus everything (though that's usually a good sign), it just needs the best numbers against what you expect the meta to look like.

You addressed this to Alex, so I'll not pretend this is answered completely, but those are my thoughts at least!
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Nemamiah » Wed Jun 03, 2015 6:05 am

king_mob wrote:Massive congrats Alex, hard fought and well earned win.

Would you be able to expand on the comment about "best decks?" - as in, from your perspective is there a definitive single deck given the current card pool (and this applies to whatever the card pool is) that is quantatively the best? Im guessing your meaning 0 bad matchups?**

**edit: reading that back it seems like im disagreeing - actually far from it, im asking as im more interested in playing competitively now than i was when i started playing ANR, and correspondingly less interested in deck building. If a player of your calibre is saying that you get better chances playing competitively playing the best decks, i think thats worth paying attention to. I made a point similar to this on facebook, that the most prominent archetypes currently have had a massive amount of manhours poured into them by the community in terms of tuning and playtesting, and its important to realise this and take advantage of that. What my original question really should be is - do you think there is only really 1 corp and 1 runner, or is there a wider spectrum to choose from?


I'm not Alex either, but I'll answer anyway.

Right now the best decks are RP and Kate, and I think it's fairly clear cut. If you're a competitive player whose top priority is looking to win a big tournament they should be your starting point for what to play, and you should only switch if you have a good reason.

The two most common reason for changing to something else is a meta call or playstyle preferences. For example, if you're expecting 90% of the field to play RP an Anarch Vamp deck of some sort is probably a better call. Making that sort of decision is seriously brave though and can back fire if you're wrong, hence most competitive players gravitating to the 'safe' choice.

The second point, about playstyle, means that if you're not comfortable for whatever reason playing a certain style of deck then you shouldn't take it to a tournament, even if it's the "best" deck. Playing something different that you're familiar with and enjoy will get you better results in all liklehood. As an illustration of this, Brendan and Tim played Noise and Grail NEH respectively at Nationals and had great results; I'm sure they'd both say they'd have done far worse playing Kate and RP.

One final point; this really does only apply to winning the tournament. A good deck and a good player will often make the cut, but it's at that point that the consistency that Andrew mentions takes over. I think that's why you see lies of different identities at the sharp end of big tournaments, but Kate and RP inevitably still come out on top.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Brendan » Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:20 am

Nemamiah wrote:The second point, about playstyle, means that if you're not comfortable for whatever reason playing a certain style of deck then you shouldn't take it to a tournament, even if it's the "best" deck. Playing something different that you're familiar with and enjoy will get you better results in all liklehood. As an illustration of this, Brendan and Tim played Noise and Grail NEH respectively at Nationals and had great results; I'm sure they'd both say they'd have done far worse playing Kate and RP.


Hm, I'd have probably done worse playing Kate due to lack of practice - though the reason I haven't moved to Kate beforehand is I have a great time playing Noise, whereas Kate I don't find so interesting. I don't know about RP - that deck is extremely strong, and I played a ton of RP before. Mostly I didn't want a day I came out of shaking over psi-games, so I picked a different deck (though it did have a single Caprice). I think I had a more pleasant day even if my results were worse than their potential.

All that said, my corp did fine and it's hard to say my Noise games would have gone any better as Kate (even practiced). I had no real illusions about winning (I thought I might top 8 with some luck, and could have done) and my motivations were having a good time, not playing what everyone else was playing, and only then placing as highly as possible. Keeping those priorities in that order is pretty important to me for enjoying the game without getting frustrated at lucky draws and agenda floods and silly things like that. Alex is prepared to vomit all over the floor if that's what it takes to win, and I just don't have that in me!

One final point; this really does only apply to winning the tournament. A good deck and a good player will often make the cut, but it's at that point that the consistency that Andrew mentions takes over. I think that's why you see lies of different identities at the sharp end of big tournaments, but Kate and RP inevitably still come out on top.


I'm not so sure - there were 7 Kates and 5 RP in the top 16. I think the fact that Kate and RP is so consistent is what lets them do well over Swiss, where lots of games are played. In the Top 16, when everyone's brain is mush, anything can happen (and almost did from what I heard of Alex's game vs Marc's NEH Butchershop!). We could all have been sat here discussing Kate/NEH or Whizzard/NEH if things had gone a little different, and it's little stories like that that that dominate the Top 16 I think. But with 7 Kates and 5 RP, we were probably going to be seeing Kate/RP as the winner.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby king_mob » Wed Jun 03, 2015 9:46 am

Guys, thanks a LOT. While my original question may well have been directed to Alex, i really appreciate hearing from more experienced players regardless (im happier this is a discussion thread rather than Q&A if im honest, maybe i should of been broader with my original question).

Xenasis wrote:To me, the best deck for a tournament is the deck that'll give you the highest winrate at that tournament. That deck could theoretically have an 80% winrate against all decks except a 20% against one top tier deck and still be the correct choice, but it depends on a number of factors, the current meta, meta at the tournament, amongst other things. You don't need to have a good matchup versus everything (though that's usually a good sign), it just needs the best numbers against what you expect the meta to look like.


Thanks, this makes a lot of sense, and really explains the idea of a "best" deck in terms that i think pretty concrete. Regarding winrates, how do you get this number? I know octgn can export stats, or is it as simple as playing a hell of a lot and keeping track? I think the latter is something i need to make a habit of anyway, both playing more and tracking progress to evaluate card/deck choices post mortem.

Nemamiah wrote:The two most common reason for changing to something else is a meta call or playstyle preferences. For example, if you're expecting 90% of the field to play RP an Anarch Vamp deck of some sort is probably a better call. Making that sort of decision is seriously brave though and can back fire if you're wrong, hence most competitive players gravitating to the 'safe' choice.


This is probably what i found confusing, when a lot of the community is saying kate+RP yet the top cut at nats was fairly mixed. I know that i have more experience with noise at this point so iv been sticking with that, but of course....

Nemamiah wrote:One final point; this really does only apply to winning the tournament. A good deck and a good player will often make the cut, but it's at that point that the consistency that Andrew mentions takes over. I think that's why you see lies of different identities at the sharp end of big tournaments, but Kate and RP inevitably still come out on top.


This also makes a hell of a lot of sense, and matches what Xenasis was saying above. I think consistency is really the keyword, as Brendan said.

Brendan wrote:my motivations were having a good time, not playing what everyone else was playing, and only then placing as highly as possible.


100% agree that this is an important part of the game, and not something id ever want to lose sight of haha, but i think personally iv been a bit too precious about this before, and in wanting my novel idea to be competitive is probably holding me back. Iv come along way from playing straight jank, i happily net deck an ID i think is not widely played (i was into RP pre-clot, before it was cool :p) but i think the reason im asking all this to begin with is that my interest in the game is moving into a different area of it, if that makes sense?
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Tim the Enchanter » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:15 am

Playing NEH grail turned out to be a wise meta choice given my innovative 'draw three merlins within 10 cards' strategy.

More generally, totally agree RP and Kate are the best decks, pretty hard to dispute that right now. I personally think though that Kate is a much clearer 'strongest deck' than RP is. I think the explanation is that there are some pretty well known ways to tech against RP which are effective like vamp, parasite recursion, pro co (waiting for Calimsha to register on these forums just to dispute this...), such that i think you can get a deck with a pretty favourable RP matchup if you really try. Whereas I think its hard to think of any deck I'd see to be favoured over a strong Kate deck right now.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby king_mob » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:19 am

NRE MaxX looks pretty solid.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Tim the Enchanter » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:27 am

I agree, though I do think certain world champions are understating just how bad blacklist is for Maxx. If its behind a lotus field then if either both of your yogs or both of your NREs ends up in the bin you are just totally screwed. Even if not, it creates a mad panic to break into a server a time of the corps choosing, Maxx often can't cope for even a few turns without access to her heap.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby MasterAir » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:34 am

I think it depends how the coin falls. Lotus isn't that good if it isn't Yog.0 hate. If Lotus Field goes away, Anarch gets very good. Net Ready MaxX is quite possibly the best deck. If everyone has Lotus and Power Shutdown or some other NRE hate then Kate still wins.

I think only having access to half the cards in your deck is a problem. Though maybe not as big a problem as it initially seems. Netrunner is a game of finding a way with what you have.

MaxX (even in its minimum punk rock guise) is way way cooler than Kate. I'm glad it's close.
Last edited by MasterAir on Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby mendax » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:41 am

I'm definitely going to be testing NEH with power shutdown as both clot hate and NRE hate. It should be interesting, at least, and Astrobiotics is beginning to creak (finally).
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby king_mob » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:43 am

MasterAir wrote:MaxX (even in it's minimum punk rock guise) is way way cooler than Kate. I'm glad it's close.


Same, i know kate has the higher winrate but im thinking of sticking with the anarch vibe and giving maxx a try before caving completely and running Alex's list verbatim.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Vinegarymink » Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:31 pm

Cheers for the support guys!

I agree with basically everything Xenasis said. The best deck is just the one that you reckon will give you the best chance of winning the tournament, and you need to take a lot of factors into account. Generally I feel like the best deck is consistent in and of itself, includes individually powerful cards and doesn't have any horrible matchups. While the best deck can still fail at any of these criteria, both RP and Kate are certainly all three of those things. The same can be said of the NEH deck that I was playing pre Clot.

Because we work as a pair Andrew and I generally don't end up playing pet cards or cards that we just like, since the other will call us on it. I was playing an RP deck with Excalibur at one point and Andrew kept calling me an idiot until I took it out.

I'm also confident in our shared ability to look at the big picture in figuring out what the best deck actually is. Often people just use their personal experiences to form their view of the meta, and end up thinking that Argus is the best deck because some dude in their meta keeps wrecking them with it. Keeping up to date with tournament results is a huge boon, as is taking on board things said by other players that you respect.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby king_mob » Wed Jun 03, 2015 3:13 pm

Thanks a lot for the feedback Alex! And thanks again to everyone else who chimed in. Lots of top 16 players dropping wisdom in this thread, very very valuable for a moderate player like myself.

Vinegarymink wrote:Because we work as a pair Andrew and I generally don't end up playing pet cards or cards that we just like, since the other will call us on it. I was playing an RP deck with Excalibur at one point and Andrew kept calling me an idiot until I took it out.


I think this is really important, not holding onto cards because i think they are good despite the vast majority of players saying otherwise is being sentimental, i dont think its good to ascribe directly to groupthink and just blindly go with what everyone is doing, but like i said above, the amount of time the community puts into an archetype is well over what any one person will be able to, so taking advantage of that is pretty key and i think that will sometimes mean playing something you think is boring, or dropping something you particularly like. Excalibur is a good example, although i still think that wrecks face in RP :P im trying my RP build without to make sure my success with it isnt just me being biased towards it, trying to make sure its actually making a difference etc.

Vinegarymink wrote:Keeping up to date with tournament results is a huge boon


I was going to ask actually what you (and every one else!) go about gauging the winrate of a deck in a given matchup? I know that octgn stats are available, or is it less clinical than this and you just need to play a lot of decks against a lot of decks!

Vinegarymink wrote:taking on board things said by other players that you respect.


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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby MartinP » Wed Jun 03, 2015 3:41 pm

king_mob wrote:Primary reason i use this forum. The wealth of knowledge here is immense.


Really? I thought it was just for trash talk!

Good writeup Alex, will look forward to part 2.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby pruneface » Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:26 pm

Found this article (and thread!) gave me plenty of food for thought. Thanks, folks.

Regarding 'best decks'. I mean, obviously we're using 'best' as a synonym for 'most competetive' here, but I want to touch on something that a bunch of folks suggested, which is that there are decks that, no matter how competetive, won't suit you because they are a bad match for the sort of pilot you are.

My philosophy is that I will build a deck that I am able to consistently enjoy playing, and use that as a benchmark for creating a good deck. As the locals know, I am a hugely competetive person and really enjoy winning. But, I also like decks which allow me to be competetive and make dramatic and /or big 'plays'; that's what's so appealing about the Maxx Dig or Die, Runner, Die! archetypes. At the same time, I hate being put in situations where I have no control over the game - for example, credit denial as a corp, or being locked out as runner. So, with that in mind, I tend to iterate towards something that has the highest % chance of me feeling happy after I played a competetive match with someone, and hope that leads me towards building competetive decks.

I'm certain this way of thinking has plenty of flaws with it. One big pitfall I'm aware of is that something which 'feels' bad in a game - like wiping virus counters, or clicking for creds twice to kill DLR - isn't actually bad in terms of competitive strategy; this is one of those things where using instinct is less useful than logic. But so far it has led me to make some interesting decks and avoid bad play experiences.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Sixtyten » Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:40 pm

pruneface wrote: At the same time, I hate being put in situations where I have no control over the game - for example, credit denial as a corp, or being locked out as runner. So, with that in mind, I tend to iterate towards something that has the highest % chance of me feeling happy after I played a competetive match with someone, and hope that leads me towards building competetive decks.


Having been on the end of much syphon spam, it never pleases me to do it to others. However, sometimes it's the most valid tactic to help me win the game. Having been headlocked last weekend, it's very frustrating, but completely legitimate. As always, learning how to manage/play around it is interesting...
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Cerberus » Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:47 pm

Learning how to play against headlock / denial decks is really important currently. Playing Stu's Reina Headlock a few times over the last month or so has really helped. May build that deck just to educate (make cry) my meta mates.

However running an ITD deck is also upsetting people!
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby MartinP » Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:57 pm

Cerberus wrote:Learning how to play against headlock / denial decks is really important currently. Playing Stu's Reina Headlock a few times over the last month or so has really helped. May build that deck just to educate (make cry) my meta mates.

However running an ITD deck is also upsetting people!


I think I speak for a lot of people that playing against a deck that doesn't allow you to play netrunner (ITD, Headlock) doesn't make for a fun game on the opposite side of the table. This didn't stop me looking to sleeve headlock reina up for deck testing prior to Nats however :P (It's only because I couldnt see how the economy of the deck works that I didn't). It's certainly a valid strategy and a very viable deck archtype, just none one that produces a fun game! (Imo)
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Brendan » Fri Jun 05, 2015 1:11 pm

I think I speak for a lot of people that playing against a deck that doesn't allow you to play netrunner (ITD, Headlock) doesn't make for a fun game on the opposite side of the table.


One could easily argue Astrobiotics, RP and even Kate are all decks that crucially deny or or minimise aspects of the game. ITD and Headlock are no different. The fact that Headlock has a bunch of hate cards (Wraparound, Himitsu Bako, drip economy, Crisium Grid to some extent) and ITD has setup issues means I think the only justifiable reason to dislike them is that they can drag on for quite a long time. If your deck just folds to them, that's no different to folding to Astrobiotics - it just takes longer. I think they're quite interesting to play against if you've a deck that includes the right cards.

Playing against a deck you have chance against isn't much fun though, I agree.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby GuyCliquil » Fri Jun 05, 2015 2:31 pm

Brendan wrote:
I think I speak for a lot of people that playing against a deck that doesn't allow you to play netrunner (ITD, Headlock) doesn't make for a fun game on the opposite side of the table.


One could easily argue Astrobiotics, RP and even Kate are all decks that crucially deny or or minimise aspects of the game. ITD and Headlock are no different.


I think there's a psychological difference that makes these feel different. When I'm playing against Astrobiotics & RP it is, to some extent, a race against time and I can still do some mad, desperate, lunges at central servers that may score me something. When I am playing against Headlock all I can do, most of the time, is click for credits, purge, and wait to die. Having no credits, and no choice on where to spend them, I think creates a different experience.

Similarly against Kate there's still the chance of bluffing something out, or icing up, or just hoping your luck holds etc.

None of that is a reason, necessarily, why people shouldn't play headlock - at the end of the day it is part of the game, but I think it goes some way to explaining the vitriol some people have for it.


The fact that Headlock has a bunch of hate cards (Wraparound, Himitsu Bako, drip economy, Crisium Grid to some extent) and ITD has setup issues means I think the only justifiable reason to dislike them is that they can drag on for quite a long time. If your deck just folds to them, that's no different to folding to Astrobiotics - it just takes longer. I think they're quite interesting to play against if you've a deck that includes the right cards.



You forgot Sealed Vault - getting close to being an auto include in my Oxford take alongs! :P

Playing against a deck you have chance against isn't much fun though, I agree.


Man... why would I EVER turn up to play Netrunner if that was true! :lol:
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Brendan » Fri Jun 05, 2015 2:46 pm

GuyCliquil wrote:When I am playing against Headlock all I can do, most of the time, is click for credits, purge, and wait to die.


Which is about as effective as flailing desperately at centrals once RP has ice on all centrals and a Nisei counter, or Astrobiotics has an Astro counter and four points. There really are a lot of good ways to play against Headlock - I think understanding how it works might help you play against it better, and as Cerberus says, it's pretty important to know. Most people won't give you the choice (such as it is) of runner decks to corp against! It is beatable, very easily by certain decks, and crushing it feels pretty damn sweet too, you know? ;) I think you should sleeve it up and give it a try.

I find Kate a much worse psychological matchup.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Cerberus » Fri Jun 05, 2015 3:05 pm

Headlock reminds me of RP, it gets to a point where they have an Ash and Caprice remote with taxing ice, centals rezzed and loads of asset economy going with a Nisei scored and you think that's it I'm done, the games over, it's just not finished yet.
Against Headlock, you are in the game until they get you to zero credits and have Lamprey / Crecentus and Clone Chip etc. Then you are likely done. The name is apt, it does Headlock you.

It's all about avoiding getting to 'that point' against both decks. People have lots of experience against RP (and tech) and if they had this against Headlock it would likely be different imo. It's definitely a strong archetype, Stu provided this by placing 1st/2nd seed at Nationals with it.
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Re: The Road to Nationals 2015

Postby Brendan » Fri Jun 05, 2015 3:38 pm

I posted some thoughts on playing against it from the corp perspective. Other people should contribute - it's a lot more interesting for both sides if you know how to play against it.

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