I’ve been an Anarch since the 2014 nationals when I built a random (pre Cache) Noise deck the night before the big day and turned quite a few heads by making the cut. I stuck with it and had a great head start into the Noise revival and had quite a bit of success in the casual season. But with the spoilers for Order and Chaos out it was time for a change. I decided Ed Kim wasn’t for me, although everyone runs operations I don’t like cards that are very opponent specific and this felt like an opponent specific ID to me along with the power of the other two choices it was the first I ruled out. MaxX seemed the strongest of the three from initial impressions but in deck speculation stage I just didn’t get as excited as when I thought about the Valencia options. I had played an Iain Sterling frame job-blackmail deck in the past and if that could win a single game then I knew Valencia had some real teeth (Eater pun?). So I started thinking about Valencia.
I am slightly apprehensive about writing this for one reason, Valencia’s strength is in her not being prevalent. All decks can be teched against and we all know the importance of meta calls but none quite so easily or so destructively as Valencia. The first problem is bad publicity removal. No matter what type of Val you play Elizabeth Mills will upset you. Rezzing a Lizzy is like having a permanent Cerebral Static and a deck full of dead draws. Furthermore with Executive Boot Camp running one Lizzy could really turn into a good idea. Boot Camp brings us on to the second problem, the corp rezzing some ICE on you. That means Accelerated Beta Test, Oversight AI, Executive Boot Camp and Eliza’s toolbox. Other problems include Ash and Caprice – need I say more… If all of these saw minimal play we would have little to worry about, unfortunately this isn’t the case and any one of these can really punch a hole in your game plan. And the final Val problem I will mention is the 50 card deck. I think this was the right call by FFG for an ID that will always rely on some amount of combo and has the power to become a little over powered without due caution. That means though that your draw engine should be as at the forefront of your deck building as your economy engine.
I had my first deck planned before I had the cards and on the first Tuesday Netrunner night at my local game store (Eclectic games, Reading) after the release of O&C I bought the pack and built the deck right there and then. My first Val deck was about hand manipulation, so itinerant protesters, investigative journalism, vigil, wanton destruction and sometimes haemorrhage. I just flicked through my Val v1.0 through v1.7 and remember how many revisions I made with this, desperately wanting it to work. I tried desperado, I tried Account Siphon, I tried Eater-Keyhole, I tried actual breakers. I think the best of these was Eater-Keyhole for central pressure and obviously the Blackmail recursion for remotes (and archives). I think the reason this deck was never quite there is that it wanted to do 3 things that all needed pieces (Blackmail, Keyhole, Itinerant Protesters), as well as AstroBiotics still having dominance and this isn’t exactly quick. So I moved on.
After chatting to fellow Anarch Brendan (see his wonderful Noise primer here) I formed the idea for Valencia v2. I decided to go all out and rely whole heartedly on blackmail. I ran Incubator, Medium and Nerve Agent and I never ran without blackmail. That means the sum total of my ice interacting cards consisted of 1x Crypsis, 1x D4v1d and 1x Parasite. Believe it or not this deck went 5-0 in the swiss and Oxford store champs and can be seen in action soon on the NeoReadingGrid youtube channel. I mainly came up against AstroBiotics where the trick is to trash the SanSans and wait till they are about ready to score from hand before dropping the Nerve Agent, build up again and try and win off Medium. I also came up against a lot of well piloted Blue Sun where patience is the key. Although this deck was never going to make the big time it gave me incentive after the demise of my first Val attempt. It is worth noting that the only 2 Valencia’s in Oxford mad the cut with Vapo going on to win. Shout outs to him for Val v3.
The third attempt was a tweaked version of Vapo’s hivemind-Chakana deck that he imported to Valencia from SlySquids Provoke2Purge Noise deck. Valencia is a great fit for this combo as the threat of Blackmail slows almost every corp down and what this deck needs is time. The reason I wanted to give this a go even after my 5-0 with v2 was that all of the fear of losing to ICE rezzing and bad pub removal is gone. Mid to late game with a Darwin installed Blackmail isn’t even your primary win condition and that is one hell of a relief. I made some tweaks and took this to a small store champs in Bracknell where I finished 2nd to James B. You can find Vapo’s store champ wining deck here
Firstly you need more than just Blackmail, any deck that has 8 decent cards that give you a straight loss is not a good deck. Eater-Keyhole is great out of Valencia - Blackmail provides all the remote pressure you need and a seamless way into archives for the win. Knifed is the best of the cutlery (wraparound and blue sun). You must include ways of drawing cards and maybe even tutoring blackmail with Planned assault. You need all the Blackmail recursion you can get and you need money for keyholes (with no ICE to rez on remotes it piles up on R&D). All of this leaves even a 50 card deck making some really tough decisions. Also with clot on the horizon RP was on the rise and I was sure Caprice would put an end to thoughts of a truly consistent and completive Valencia.
With The Valley on the horizon everyone was talking about clot, though my thoughts were firmly fixed on another Anarch card – Paige Piper. I am an Anarch and I also like my decks consistant and these seemingly contractadicting statements are often at the heart of my builds. Paige really got me thinking and I took to building Val v4. There are a lot of cards you want to see early and you don’t want to see again. For these cards I tend to run 3 and suck up the dead draws so Paige already suited my deckbuilding style from the go. It also opened up playing Kati Jones for long term economy (as she’s a run 3 or 0 for me). The other combo that I was always going to try was running 3 Wyldside with 3 of the new Adjusted Chronotype, fixing the draw problem and potentially thinning 4 cards in one fell swoop (more like two).
Through playtesting (thanks to James N for a lot of this) I learnt a few things. Paige works and so does Wyldside Chronotype, Wyldside+Vigil+I’ve Had Worse results in decking yourself and finally that I’ve Had Worse isn’t great when you have decked yourself. This led to some pretty major changes, Vigil went for 3x Box-E, IHW/planned assault went completely and the added deck space allowed for 3x Parasite (never a bad thing). Realising I had some influence to spare I decided to drop 3x Kati, 3x Data Folding and add 3x Magnum Opus as well as go up to 3 of both Plascrete and Vamp. This was a meta call and I lucked out on it big time. Turns out clickless draw leaves lots of clicks for opus, and lots of money leads to Vamp-Eater being a thing and in turn that leads to a solution to RP and the dreaded blackmail killing Psi game. I still hadn’t played against RP in testing going into regionals but it plastered the top tables and those Vamps earnt their deck slots ten-fold.
Valencia Estevez: The Angel of Cayambe
3x Déjà Vu
3x Sure Gamble
3x Wanton Destruction
3x Box-E •••
3x Plascrete Carapace
3x Adjusted Chronotype
3x Paige Piper
3x Same Old Thing
3x Magnum Opus ••••• •
2x Self-modifying Code ••••• •
15 influence spent (max 15)
50 cards (min 50)
Cards up to The Valley
My favourite first turn is Paige (firing her), SMC, credit, credit, allowing you to fetch Opus on their turn to fire Paige again. If you have the Wyldside to install turn 2 you are laughing else draw/Opus and start setting up. I can not overstate enough how important getting Magnum Opus early is, this is your life line and without it you have little other economy. You will find the Blackmail threat slows the game down long enough for you to get into a really strong board state. Against NBN my thinking was to run remotes (blackmail if there is ICE) and Vamp to prevent the kill or fast advance. HB is actually a tough one, you have to run remotes due to the ABT threat as well as Eliza’s and Executive Boot Camp, beware of the kill threat and see how It goes. RP you out economy them with Opus and then Vamp when they try to score. Other Jinteki you Eater-Keyhole spam and finally Weyland you get Plascretes out and time the Blackmail runs carefully. On the day she went 8-1 facing off against 4 RP and no NBN.
I will be focussing mainly on my Valencia games with the occasional mention of corp games. My corp deck was a NEH, Scorched, Traffic accident, Midseason’s sort of thing. I had one Psychographics and I didn’t use it. Only other things worth mentioning are a borderline janky ICE distribution and running a totally operation based economy. This ended up being the right call as no one accounts for Restructure, Restructure, Midseasons. The reason I won’t mention it too much as almost every game was a dice role, 4-2 in swiss and 1-2 in elimination with every loss (and a lot of the wins) going down to a last turn you win or I win play. Here is the deck:
Near-Earth Hub: Broadcast Center
3x AstroScript Pilot Program
2x Breaking News
3x NAPD Contract
3x Project Beale
3x Daily Business Show
3x Jackson Howard
1x Archived Memories ••
3x Hedge Fund
3x Midseason Replacements
3x Scorched Earth ••••• ••••• ••
3x Sweeps Week
3x Traffic Accident •••
3x Data Raven
1x Information Overload
2x Universal Connectivity Fee
17 influence spent (max 17)
20 agenda points (between 20 and 21)
49 cards (min 45)
Cards up to The Valley
We were late starting which wasn’t great as I had a commitment at 8pm back in Reading (I got home at 2am). I was paired up against Kester, a great player and as far as I know the only other Valencia at the Regional. He played EtF and did the correct thing rushing with the hope that I didn’t have Blackmail and he was correct. He quickly scored 5 points and soon after that gave Valencia her first and only loss of the day. On the corp side he saw a kill piece and slowed down, I bluffed out an Astroscript unprotected and then installed a Breaking News. Next turn I advanced the Breaking News and then used the Astro token to score and then kill.
After the split with Kester I met a newer player by the name of Conrad. He was super cheerful and massive respect for jumping into tournaments after just 4 months with the game. He played Next Design and I topped decked and ABT and NAPD turn 1 (even though next design hit 3 ICE). I soon Blackmailed a protected Vitruvius and Keyholed for the win. I think Kate then had an unfortunate traffic accident fleeing from her house that just exploded.
This is the part of swiss that scares me, win and you can start dreaming, lose and you are in the midfield for the rest of the day. I played against PE which is an OK match up for Val but not a great match up for Joey. The guy seemed pretty nice so I decided to run everything he Mushin No Shin’d and anything unadvanced. I hit a physic field but made the right call trashing 2 Ronins and scoring 4 points. I installed Plascrete after seeing a scorched and took the brain damage from Cerebral Cast (Box-E doing work) and Keyholed for the win. Don’t know what happened on the corp side but I won (it was a long day and all my corp games were the same).
Now at the business end of things I met Laurie on table 4 and so began the first of four RP games in a row. I corped first and again I can’t remember what happened but I won. Then began my first match against RP with this deck, I knew it involved Vamp and patience but after that I was guessing. I built up with Opus and made some runs on HQ, Parasite and Knifing away till it was unprotected. I think he then tried to score allowing the Vamp then run to trash Caprice and steal. With HQ open I made it to 6 points. Laurie was clearly flooded which wish confirmed when he declared he had 6 agendas in hand before sheepishly realising I was only on 6 points and it was still click 1. I ran HQ 3 times and lost a psi game. I kept pressuring HQ and failing to score while 2 Nisei’s got scored, including 1 from an Interns he left there after a Jackson. I Keyholed a Future Perfect and then my heart sank as Laurie installs double advances on top of Caprice. He has 4 points, I have 6 there is a Future Perfect in Archives (ICE’d) and a Caprice on another Future Perfect on the remote leading to one of the tensest turns I’ve ever had. I have about 50 credits so I Vamp, he uses a Nisei counter (still leaving one counter). Click two I Blackmail Archives for a psi game Laurie lets me in thinking that I can Vamp again giving me the win (in fact I only had a Deja Vu but it was the correct call) and I somehow win the psi game. Great game and I am shaking slightly.
I meet an undefeated Zach on the top table and so begins RP game number 2. I get set up fast with Wyldside, Chronotype, Eater, Keyhole and Opus and then I wait. I am getting 8 credits a turn Zach is getting 4 from Sundew and Mental health Clinic’s. He installs advances in a remote on an upgrade. I have the credits and can Vamp then run to score the Nisei and trash the caprice. I can’t remember the order things played out after this though I know there was some Keyholing and some Caprice moving but I do remember the turn which involved a Vamp run for 55 credits putting us both on zero to score in the remote and trash another Caprice. This game I felt more in control due to having learnt some things from the game before but mainly due to not playing against 2 Nisei tokens. The game took a long time though and we moved onto game 2 with about 10-15 minutes to play. I played very fast and very loose (against Kate) with multiple unprotected agendas and got the Midseasons (having to Archived memories a Restructure). With no clicks left I wait with Scorched, Scorched, Traffic Accident and Quandary in my hand. Time is called and Zach installs and trahes Utopia Shard hitting both the scorches and he gets a timed win.
I play Ben Ni and go straight into RP game number 3. I get going fast and he protects against the Keyhole by putting an upgrade on R&D. My heart then sinks as he using an Executive Boot Camp to rez a Lotus Field on his scoring remote. He scores a NAPD behind the Lotus Field with a Caprice installed (for 5 advancements due to the bad pub, a great added Val bonus). I then sit back to control the game by using Opus with Crypsis in hand. He rezzes the Caprice on the remote and then rezzes Caprice on RnD to trash the remote Caprice, Interns the Caprice to HQ instead and installs behind the Lotus Field (and some unrezzed ICE). Next turn he advances and then on my turn I install Crypsis and Blackmail to steal a Nisei. I get my last points from Keyhole just in time with a Crisium Grid now on HQ. Like the game before we have little time, like before it is against Kate, and like before I play fast. I miss the kill and he wins.
I finish Swiss 9-3 with 2 corp losses and 4th place. I’m super pleased given that there was 11 Super Bye’s with that killer strength of schedule. I’m in a really tough place now as it is 7pm and I was supposed to be in Reading for a really important commitment at 8pm. There is a lot of phone grovelling and I flip my decision about 6 times before deciding not to drop. I apologise to Tim after getting his hopes hope after his well fought 9th place.
I play Rob and elect to run against RP. I have a bit of a moment when I realise I just elected to play against RP when I could have played with NEH against Andy (Unlikely to be running Clot), Valencia works! It is much the same except this time I’m up and running with Keyhole and the Vamp threat before a remote or a Caprice is even in sight. We both build up to 50+ credits, I score 4 points and put the win into archives. Rob gets a caprice onto HQ and one into a remote and
installs advances. I’ve been avoiding the Future Perfect in Archives due to limited blackmails and then time is called. I miss the Psi game pass the turn, Rob scores 2 points and I get the timed win.
I play Iain for the first time all day having somehow missed him in the swiss. We have to roll for sides and I end up playing corp, Iain is running traditional Sucker-Andy. The kill threat is hardly a secret by now and if anyone can play around scorched it’s Iain. I race for money not worrying about holding back Restructure and Iain digs for Plascrete. I’m rich and I’m flooded and so I through down an Astroscript unprotected (no Midseason no Scorched), I score it. Next turn I score another one and then the turn after that I score a Beale. With 5 cards in hand, one of which is a Breaking News Iain comes in 4 times to get it on click 4 and goes onto win.
I play Quinns and I desperately wish I had been paying more attention when he spoiled half his Gagarin deck on Run Last Click (runlastclick.blogspot.co.uk/). I lucked out on this one and in doing so prevented the only Gagarin player (possibly ever) from winning the double sided ID which I felt pretty bad about. Quinns played it really well getting an Executive Boot Camp out early and rezzing everything (I’m getting worried). He gets to 6 points (seriously worried). All three Jacksons have been removed and I somehow manage to get 7 points into archives, I click Opus twice and pass the turn (needing the credits for NAPD). I blackmail into archives for the game next turn and just in time, luckily dodging the Orion that was sitting there unrezzed waiting for me to get greedy. I found myself missing RP and felt very lucky to scrape the win.
I meet Rob again and this time I have to play my NEH against his Andy. Somehow he didn’t know I had the Scorched and he ran aggressive seeing a Traffic Accident. He then sat back allowing me to find the pieces and I got the Midseasons but made myself broke. He had 5 (maybe 6) points, I had Traffic Accident, Traffic Accident, Scorched and little money. I needed the second Scorched for a kill through Plascrete and so I drew and took credits waiting. Somehow I got it before he did (think game had been in Archives a while) and top decked a Scorched Earth with 6 credits for the Scorched, Scorched, Traffic Accident kill.
So I meet Iain again for the losers bracket final. I was told afterwards that it was a great game and a pity to not have been filmed. I think this was as my deck really did its thing and a lot of those watching hadn’t seen it yet. Iain was playing Blue Sun and I didn't know the exact list but I did know I would likely die.
I had a great opening with Paige, Opus and Wyldside all on the board by turn 2. I continued to build getting the entire rig out and using Paige to thin my deck by the maximum 14 cards (not including Plascrete or Same Old Thing). There was an Oversighted Curtain Wall on a remote which I had left for a long time while setting up. He then scored The Cleaners unprotected because I wasn’t in a position to steal it (and not die). I Blackmailed to Eater the Curtain Wall and then jack out. He installs unprotected gain and then double advances, I ignored it again and took money and got the 3rd Plascrete down. Iain didn’t score and I assume shattered remains. At this point I had everything I ever need on the board and a hand full of events. I keyhole some Jacksons and continue to wait. Iain rezzes shattered remains, bounces it to hand with his ID ability and installs double advances. Stupidly I discarded my only Vamp so I same old thing Vamp him to zero (to avoid Shattered Remains) and then check the remote for 3 points. Next turn Iain bounces some ICE, Hedge Fund, Punitive, Punitive (with The Cleaners Scored)and I elect to lose 2 of my 3 plascretes. I Wanton Destruction his hand to no cards feeling that it earns me some Keyhole space without the kill threat and sure enough I get 2 more agendas in the coming turns this way. Pretty intense game but a lot of fun.
So Zach comes through the winners bracket with his RP/Kate loosing 2 games all day to myself and Iain. I end up corping first which is good as although I’m confident about taking down RP again it’ll take a long time and it’s almost midnight. I have to win twice anyway so makes no difference which we do first.
We both race out of the blocks with the economy and I install advance an NAPD (bluffing the midseasons). Zach leaves it and we continue to build. I install and advance a Breaking News with a Scorched, Scorched, Traffic Accident, Midseasons in hand feeling pretty good about myself (no Plascretes or Shard out). Zach takes it and therefore doesn’t lose. I Archived Memories a Restructure and Midseason for a trace of 38 leaving me with 6 credits (convenient) and Zach with a hard decision – spend all of his money to take 3 tags. He makes the correct call realising the he can only clear 2 with a Lucky Find (and his 3 PrePaid’s), had he taken the 3 tags it was game. He took 37 tags. On his turn he drew twice digging for his single Plascrete then Makers Eyed (stealing 4 points) and last click took the NAPD that was still on the table for the game. Tough loss but he played some awesome Netrunner on the day and was a clearly deserving champion.
I joked early on in the day about how terrible it would be to make the cut, miss my girlfriends gig and meal (on her birthday) by staying for elimination, and then to end up second. Where as actually that exact thing turned out to be a lot of fun! Still not sure I made the right call by not dropping after swiss, but at least I gave Valencia a shot at the big time (right in the window before every deck runs 3x Executive Boot Camp).
Great day and thank you to Leisure Games for running the tournament.
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