Coming off Philadelphia regionals, I felt pretty great. Being able to go to the finals with my friend Jesse Merlin (Jerklin), who I learned to play the game with, was an awesome treat and I think it proved to ourselves and a lot of other people that Philadelphia was a force to be reckoned with. The decks I ran played phenomenally. I couldn’t have asked for more.
But, I did. I asked my friends: “Who wants to go to worlds?”
It was the next logical step for me. I couldn’t reasonably expect to go to both Gencon and Worlds, and considering that I don’t play too many games featured at either of them besides Netrunner, I decided that it would be Worlds. I wanted to check out the FFG center, meet all of the people I met on the internet, and compete with the absolute best. I got some mixed reactions from the people I asked to go. Some were understandably reluctant to spend the money without any prospects of doing well enough to help cover the costs. Some were discouraged by the apparently absurd power and randomness of Near Earth Hub. Some were just losing interest in the game.
But there were a few that were down to go with me, and that was all I really needed to justify it after finding a $175 round trip flight to Minneapolis from Trenton, NJ.
Jerklin and Ian Vaflor said they were interested and bought tickets on the same flight that I did, ready to take the World by storm. Others that I was close with online were also going. I was excited to meet the likes of Spags, Nordrunner, and Joe Held for the first time at the tournament, and to hang out with Ben, Niles, and Jesse Vandover of the Baltimore crew, who I collaborated with to some degree before regionals and were FFG Worlds veterans. Anthony Giovanetti also told me he was strongly considering going, and doing work with him on the Stimhack site has been an awesome experience that fueled my desire to get to the top. I knew I had a shot at winning, but mostly, I wanted to go to hang out with my friends for a weekend. Fuck, at this point, I felt like there were more Netrunners that I did know to one degree or another than I didn’t.
I set up a Skype chat for Stimhack users who were going to worlds who wanted to do some collaboration and testing. We got a few people interested who weren’t going to make it out to worlds but who wanted to test, and a few others who were going as well. Ultimately, we did a lot more talking than we ever did testing. Mostly, it consisted of looking at spoilers for anything that might shift the metagame away from Near Earth Hub. Being competitive players, most of us were very comfortable with Andy and at the same time very uncomfortable with our respective Andy builds’ mediocre matchups against AstroBiotics. A lot of the testing that we did do was based around trying to get Noise or Quetzal to have some kind of ridiculous NEH matchup without being outright terrible against the rest of the field.
Testing against NEH was hard. You sometimes won a few games in a row, and then you got a new opponent and fell flat on your face. We discussed putting together a database for learning how many random accesses we could get, since we felt like that was the only way to get a good mathematical idea of what was working and what was not. Immediately after I started writing down numbers down I played against someone who just started installing naked Astros against my Pawnshopless Noise deck and completely crushed me over a pretty long set. (My logic behind trying to build Noise without Pawnshop was that he was so reliant on it in any build that played it that you lost of you didn’t see it). It was soon after that I realized that NEH was going to be a crapshoot for everyone and the best we could do against it was win sometimes. Essentially what I did was take El-Ad’s Canadian Nationals winning Andy list (which looked very well tuned against NEH) and my Regionals list and try to compromise between the two of them. I reluctantly cut all of the Parasites for RDI and 2nd Corroder to speed up my game against NEH. Without those, your matchup was really in the gutter.
Which brings me to my corp choice, which felt like the easiest choice in the world for me. Seeing everyone cut Parasite from their Andy decks all at once to make room for the influence of things like Gordian Blade to break Lotus Field and RDI to be able to race against the lightning fast scoring of AstroBiotics was a red flag for me. The Replicating Perfection deck I pioneered for Regionals felt like it had one mediocre matchup to me at the time: a good Andy player with a lot of Parasites. Once the Parasites came out of the deck, however, Andy was a pretty insanely good matchup for me, and I knew it. Andy being able to battle your economy in the long game and try to lock out your remote server with a well-timed Account Siphon became a lot harder if you couldn’t use Kati Jones, run a central for a reasonably priced access, and run a remote for Security Testing all in the same turn. A lot of Andy players, such as El-Ad, were doing so well against NEH partly because they Kati Jones from their deck, which was another point in favor of RP.
As far as I was concerned, RP Glacier had no bad matchup anymore, and playing it was certainly the right move for me as everyone gunned for a deck that couldn’t have a more different strategy. One matchup that did have me worried, (for just a second), was Noise, who was making a resurgence because of his reasonable NEH matchup. Playing such a slow game meant that Noise could leverage his ability A LOT of times, and a lot of less experienced RP players were having serious trouble with him. However, we got a really great answer in Enhanced Login Protocol. While not amazing against certain Shapers who could use powerful run events to search for agendas to turn it off and further their score at the same time, Criminals and Anarchs usually just have to click to run, which they generally want to do every single turn. ELP just cut off 1/4 of their turn for as long as it stayed active. Seeing as there are functionally no strong runner currents, RP is in great shape to play an ELP and stick it for the rest of the game, until you win, not just because of its taxing ICE’s ability to minimize random accesses, but because the agendas in your deck are such a pain to try and steal. Having cut the second Tollbooth and second Ash from my regionals list to test ELP, I was initially skeptical but never removed them once I put them in. You just don’t often need an Ash when there isn’t enough time in the day for the runner to get into your remote server, (and adding the third Caprice worked just fine). Furthermore, I found that more and more players would just ignore your remote, and those players would be stopped by any two facedown ICE and an installed upgrade.
I didn’t have a great idea of what to expect in the rest of the field, but one thing I did a lot of in the testing season was play Chris Hinkes’ Jinteki PE deck (which can be found here). I had logged a whole lot of games with the decks I was resigned to playing at worlds, and I wanted to test out this novelty and have some fun burning people’s faces off while I was doing it. Obviously, Jinteki PE was capable of winning games, and what became apparent was that people are just stone terrible at playing against it. It really isn’t easy not to die. For those of you who don’t know, the deck uses utility 3/1s and a combination of advance and non-advance ambushes to widdle down your hand, and Ronin, Neural EMP, and Philotic Entanglement to finish you off. I was getting absurd percentages with this deck against players of all skill levels and decided that it was a really, real deck that needed to be taken somewhat seriously, although honestly I didn’t expect many people to play it and assumed that I could win against it a reasonable amount of the time with Andy. (Infiltration is particularly great against Hinkes’ deck because it lets you know which of his Mushined cards are Ronins and which are Overwriters, which can get pretty necessary sometimes). I told people on the forums who were floundering between RP and NEH that it was a real deck that they needed to practice against, but no one seemed to listen. As you might already know, some of the Netrunners across the pond were well aware of this, and in some sense they were a step ahead of the American metagame because of this.
Unfortunately, while I was having fun killing people, a lot of my friends were feeling Netrunner fatigue. I couldn’t really blame them. Near Earth Hub AstroBiotics is a pretty dumb deck. For every game you steal from them it seems like there were two where they “Oops I win” you by drawing economy into Biotic Astro into Astro Fast Track Astro bullshit, and that is the sort of thing that really makes you want to go play Hearthstone. Jerklin and SneakySly backed out on going to worlds, which was a huge disappointment for me because they are two of the best, if not the two best friends I have in the Netrunner community. My excitement for the whole experience dropped a ton, and I considered bailing on the trip as well. My girlfriend, however, gave me some words of encouragement (“You have to go! You’ll win!”) which was all I needed not to cancel my flight and book a hotel with Ian. After a little bit of a last minute panic about not having preregistered, Jesse Vandover agreed to buy our passes in advance of us getting to Minnesota and Ian and I were off to Worlds!
After arriving and making some phone calls, we showed up at the FFG Event Center’s satellite locations where I was told there was a Stimhack cube draft going on, which I wanted really badly to watch as it would be the first time I would see a meatspace version of the cube I was proud to help create, (and which is much, much more fun than any draft FFG has released to date). I helped Vandover build his decks, kicked back, and enjoyed one of the biggest collections of Netrunner players I had ever seen. Seeing the cube built for the first time was really cool, as I spent a good amount of time working on it with anthony, with one of my goals being the promotion of a diverse field. People were showing off their winning Oracle May/Motivation and Jinteki PE style flatline cube drafts, which was really rewarding to me as a designer, because it validated the idea that we could build the cube in such a way that simply drafting the most powerful cards was an inferior strategy to drafting a highly synergistic deck. FFG, take note.
Having people come up to me and thank me for the work I do for the community was highly rewarding as well. I have done a lot for my love of the game and the community, and getting some recognition in real life was new to me. Most of the time, I just get feedback from people at home, but getting props all the way out in Minnesota let me know that what I have been doing has been reaching people worldwide. Seeing that I was about to participate in the most populated Netrunner tournament in history, I knew it was going to be a kick-ass weekend. There was even a small tournament happening on Friday, which I was happy to sleeve up some jank for.
Noiseshop (45 cards)
Noise: Hacker Extraordinaire
3 Deja Vu
2 Quality Time
3 Sure Gamble
2 Clone Chip
3 Aesop’s Pawnshop
3 Daily Casts
7-Point Shutdown (49 cards)
Cerebral Imaging: Infinite Frontiers
1 Accelerated Beta Test
1 Eden Fragment
3 Efficiency Committee
1 Hades Fragment
3 Project Vitruvius
3 Jackson Howard
3 Accelerated Diagnostics
1 Archived Memories
1 Biotic Labor
3 Blue Level Clearance
2 Green Level Clearance
3 Hedge Fund
3 Power Shutdown
1 Reclamation Order
3 Shipment from Kaguya
2 Shipment from Mirrormorph
3 Shipment from SanSan
1 Subliminal Messaging
3 Eli 1.0
2 Wall of Static
Code Gate (3)
I’ll spare you too many details of that tournament, because it’s not what the report was supposed to be about, but I’ll tell you a little bit. I played Pawnshop Noise with Quality Times instead of Wildsydes which I hadn’t tested but the Baltimore players recommended, and the 7-point turn Power Shutdown Cerebral Imaging deck that I’ve played so many times on stream. Basically, griefer decks that people hate to play against for whatever reason, but I figured, “hey, at least I’m not Andy/NEH!”
In the first round I got matched up against Nordrunner who I swept despite double Architect against my noise and a crazy Nerve Agent turn against CI. I learned a quick lesson about Architect. Card is fucking good. I learned that the Baltimore players were splashing 2 of them in their NEH deck for Worlds as a sort of Caduceus replacement, and with all the crazy tricks you can pull with that card, it’s pretty much a must-break that demands a killer. I learned something else playing Greg, which is that this game seriously needs a set of floor rules dictating penalties for specific types of infractions. Greg accidentally accessed an extra card with Nerve Agent running on my CI deck, and I drunkenly called Lukas over for a ruling neither of us really cared about. The ruling was essentially that “the run was void” which makes basically no sense, as he missed agendas on every access. This sort of problem would repeat itself in worlds a number of times, and I think that it’s one of the most important things FFG needs to address if they are going to grow this game.
I met a lot of people for the first time face to face in that Satellite FFG location. Shout out to Spags, the guys from Bad Publicity, Ian Birdsall, one of the pioneers of FFG organized play, and quite a few other random Canadianish people.
I ended up 6-2 in that tournament, (punting a game as CI because I didn’t realize I could Biotic-Diagnostics-Diagnostics to mill the last 6 cards from my deck and combo off with the third copy) placing 4th and losing an alt art Eli to the winner, Jesse Vandover. I was sad I punted and played such a silly corp deck, because as any who knows me knows, I love me an Eli, and I would kill my whole family for a playset of alt-arts.
Later that night, back in the hot tub at the Radisson, there was some discussion about shoring up the last slots of our lists, (Niles from Baltimore and Joe Held from portland were both playing variations on my RP deck) and a lot of discussion about NEH being a bullshit, stupid deck. Nordrunner went so far as to claim that there was so much variance in the metagame because of NEH that no one in the tournament could have greater than a 5% chance of winning. Being a degenerate, I love to gamble, and being a little bit of an egomaniac as well, I love to gamble on myself even more. Thus, I proposed a bet to Greg giving him 10-1 odds that I wouldn’t win the tournament. Seemed like a safe bet to me. If I won, I got $100, and if I lost, $10 is a drop in the bucket. On top of that, if I won, it would be a great fucking story and I might become the first player to win a reasonable cash prize in a Netrunner tournament. Greg took the bet, having to back up his initial statement, and I dried off and got ready to head back to my hotel.
Before heading off, Greg and I went for a smoke behind the hotel and had a pretty awesome discussion about the future of the game. Both of us are sorely disappointed with the way FFG has handled the popularity of the game, but where I bitch and moan, Greg seemed brimming with awesome ideas about how FFG could promote competitive play. I was a little too dazed and confused to retain much of what he told me, but I do remember that he suggested FFG promote the best players in the game with interviews, more byes and travel compensation for tournament wins, and the delegation of broadcasting to those players. I think he’s right that if FFG took the effort to really promote the best players in the game, it would create a lot of drive for every player to become good enough to join the elite and take competitive play up a notch without the investment of too many more resources on the part of FFG.
I got a relatively good night’s sleep and in the morning hit up the free breakfast at the hotel for a quick face-shovelling of eggs from a carton. I headed to the event center feeling confident, (but realized that I forgot my player badge and ended up having to head back to my hotel before the start of round one, not giving me a lot of time to hang out with pals before things kicked off).
If you don’t know them by now, here are the decks I played in worlds:
Daily QT Andy (45 cards)
Andromeda: Dispossessed Ristie
3 Account Siphon
3 Dirty Laundry
1 Emergency Shutdown
1 Express Delivery
1 Inside Job
2 Quality Time
3 Special Order
3 Sure Gamble
1 Plascrete Carapace
2 R&D Interface
1 Daily Casts
2 Kati Jones
1 Same Old Thing
3 Security Testing
1 Femme Fatale
Honor and Perfection (49 cards)
Jinteki: Replicating Perfection
3 NAPD Contract
3 Nisei MK II
3 The Future Perfect
3 Jackson Howard
3 Mental Health Clinic
1 Ash 2X3ZB9CY
3 Caprice Nisei
3 Celebrity Gift
2 Enhanced Login Protocol
3 Hedge Fund
3 Eli 1.0
1 Wall of Thorns
Code Gate (4)
1 Lotus Field
Worlds had a huge turnout of two hundred and thirty-something players, but, as many of us feared, Lukas announced that we’d be playing only 7 rounds and cutting to only top 16. This was the biggest travesty of the tournament, in my opinion. With so many people flying out to play, they could at least give us more rounds than the average regional and cut to 32 as their rules dictated. Having skipped nationals, I had no super-bye, which wasn’t good news at all considering there would almost certainly be a lot of players making the cut or not based on tiebreakers. I ran the numbers and saw that it was likely every 11-3 would make it and 10-4 would be the bubble, after which I sat down for round 1 and played against someone who was pretty new to the game and at FFG worlds just to hang out and play games in general.
Round 1 vs Unknown Player with Connections Andy & Blue Sun Scorch
So, round one I live the dream of not playing against someone I know. At this point the tournament is populated with a lot of players who are more interested in other games at worlds, or who are mostly in it to get the alternate art promo Professional Contacts. My opponent busted out an Andy ID after I chose to corp first, (I think that this is the correct choice with RP because I think you are likely to be behind on points playing RP if you go to time, even if you are actually in a winning position).
Thankfully, (maybe), he busts out the Supplier and goes to town installing Daily Casts and Underworld Contacts, giving me time to set up economy of my own. Unfortunately, I knew all the economy he was getting was going to make it tough to tax him completely out of my servers, and I was going to have to rely on Caprice and his slow setup time. I did get one agenda scored quickly, but he spammed a few Siphons at me and the game didn’t feel quite locked up. I managed to score a Nisei mostly uncontested behind unrezzed ICE and took the game, thankful that I didn’t have to bank on winning Psis to take it down.
Against his Blue Sun deck, he had to mulligan and played the entire game as if he had a ton of agendas in hand. I ran amok on his archives with Security Testing and set up quickly, locking out his remote and winning off the backlog of points sitting in his hand.
(2-0, 4 Prestige)
Round 2 vs Unknown Player with Noise & Blue Sun Scorch
Surprised to be facing another Blue Sun deck in round 2, I was beginning to wonder if I should have taken Weyland much more seriously for this tournament. From what I understood, Blue Sun had a better matchup against me than the old Weyland decks, but that I was still pretty heavily favored, as I had not gone the route of cutting Kati Jones and could race them on money in most games. He did manage to oversight and obtain a pile of cash, but I was getting into R&D and managed to snipe a lot of points quickly to end the game before there was a reasonable chance of him having the cards needed to Scorch me down.
Playing against Noise for the first time had me giddy. I had almost cut one of my ELPs that morning to make room for another Tollbooth because no one I knew told me they were going to play Anarch. ELP really did its job here. I don’t remember a lot of specifics of this game, as I played Noise in the next round too, but I do remember that I played an ELP, he missed my agendas on his random accesses, and began to fall very far behind.
(4-0, 8 Prestige)
Round 3 vs Unknown Player with Noise & Jinteki PE
Sitting at 4-0 was pretty nice, but I couldn’t feel too good yet because the tournament was only cutting to top 16 and we had a long day ahead of us. Seeing my opponent flip PE made me immediately cautious. There are two relatively strong PE decks, Gozik’s Power Shutdown list and the flatline version pioneered by Chris Hinkes, so I was cautious about setting up breakers out of the gate after he ICEd both HQ and R&D on turn 1. After a Mushin, I was pretty sure he was on Hinkes’ deck, and stuck to the plan of running unadvanced remotes while pressuring HQ. He made the pretty big mistake of rezzing a Femme’d Komainu, not knowing the rules, and then another when he Mushined a Philotic Entanglement despite the fact that I had Infiltration in the heap and Same Old Thing on the board. I was glad to see my tech work out here, and that in combination with a few mistakes from my opponent made this a relatively stress free game vs PE.
Another Noise ID got revealed for game 2, and I kept a pretty phenomenal opener with economy, ICE, and an ELP. I was under quick pressure from a strong start of Cache, Daily Casts, and Aesop’s Pawnshop, and had to bleed a few accesses, but he was double clicking for them through ELP and missed a TFP psi game before milling a Jackson Howard, letting me Interns him out and take a breather while I set up my servers and then scored a Nisei, which is all I need to lock the game out.
(6-0, 12 Prestige)
Round 4 vs Spags with Prepaid Kate & NEH AstroBiotics
I heard from Spags himself that we were going to be playing a feature match, which got me pretty excited. I played magic for a long time and never got to sit for a feature, and the abundant space to spread out and play on was a welcome respite from having to drop my playmat on a two-foot wide space spanning two slightly uneven tables in the previous round. Playing against a fellow asshole also meant that I could dick around, banter, relax, and just generally have a lot more fun than if I were playing against someone I didn’t know.
For those who want to simply watch the recording of the game, it can be found here:
I started off Corping against Spags’ Prepaid Kate deck, and had one of the most filthy openers you could hope for. Celebrity Gift on turn 1 is good against anyone, but with no Agendas in my hand, and playing against Kate, I could reasonably leave up HQ for quite a while as I made my money. Turn one, I revealed Sundew, Jackson, Wall of Thorns, Komainu, and another Gifts and ICEd up. Spags made use of his turn 1 PPVP and got his econ rolling as well, but on turn 2 I drew the third Celebrity Gifts and showed off a similarly ridiculous hand as on the first turn. Jackson came online soon along with a Sundew and ICE for all my centrals, and Spags looked to be a little behind without any Datasucker in sight. Datasucker can be hugely important in this matchup because without Datasucker tokens, Kate doesn’t have a great way to deal with Komainu and Tsurugi facechecks. They generally either have to choose between Deus Ex, an awkward Atman, or a loss of their hand and a slow Parasite. The taxing began when Spags facechecked a Komainu on R&D, prompting a Deus Ex, and continued when he Legworked into a Wall of Thorns that had to be broken with an SMC’d Snowball. He missed my one agenda in hand, a Nisei, which got scored. It was followed by a second Nisei which closed out the game completely, which the FFG commentators seemed to vaguely understand when they realized that between those two counters and my ELP, Spags could functionally be locked out of my remote servers for a whole turn. The game was over as soon as I found a Future Perfect.
In the next game, I had the displeasure of playing against NEH for the first time on the day. Spags got his turn 1 Sweeps Week, as everyone seems to when I play Andy. Without too many ways to break ICE, but with an RDI in my hand, I decided to go for the race rather than try to keep him off fast advance, which is very difficult when the runner Sweeps you on turn 1 anyway. Knowing that Spags was playing 3 Architect kept me off facechecking his HQ ICE for a few turns, which possibly cost me the game, (it was an Eli). Spags had no ICE for R&D for a bit but I whiffed on 6 accesses before he iced up a SanSan and scored his first Astro on the next turn. I saw a Tollbooth on top of his deck and figured that would be the ICE he would put on R&D, so I had to take the convoluted route of installing and using Kati Jones and Corroder so that I could avoid the Toll hit but also recover quickly to Femme it. I ignored the SanSan, as there was no way I could both trash it and get into R&D, and I nailed 5 points there while Spags scored his second Astro. Unfortunately, two Astro counters and a SanSan meant that spags could Fast Track his 3rd Astro and Score his Breaking News all in the same turn, closing out the game. He flipped the top card of his R&D to reveal the winning Beale, and I was instantly tilted. 7-1 wasn’t by any means bad, but I hate to drop a game, especially one that was so close.
(7-1, 14 Prestige)
Round 5 vs Chris Hinkes with Vamp Kit & Cambridge Jinteki PE
Despite the fact that Chris is an awesome player, I was excited to finally get to play against him for the first time. It turned out he was playing the same Kit Vamp and Jinteki PE decks he has been playing for a while, which was good news for me, because I could negate the surprise factor he generally can get from playing more off-the-radar decks. After a quick pow-wow with D1en about how to deal with Hinkes ability to suck on a Magnum Opus and threaten a Vamp on me, I decided that racing his economy early was number one priority. If I could get the Nisei scored, he would have to play by my rules because I could stop his Vamps at any time.
He won the roll and chose to run first, which I was totally cool with. I got a pretty great start which included 2 Mental Health Clinic, a couple of Sundews, and some burst. Chris had a Modded for his turn 1 Opus, but had to make the awkward play of Test Running a Gordian Blade before facechecking my ICE without a Scavenge to let it stick around. Wanted to keep my economy in check, Chris went to trash my Health Clinics, but this gave me a window to jam my Nisei. Unable to Vamp me down, (I don’t think he even had it in his hand), the Nisei got scored and the rest of the game was a classic RP foregone conclusion.
When he pulled out his PE deck, I told him that this is where the fun would start. Having seen Chris play his deck on video many times, I wisely ignored his turn 1 Mushin, (which turned out to be an Overwriter), and went for his hand and his unadvanced installs. I stole a pair of 1-pointers off the table, but Chris Mushined a second card and advanced it. I knew that this could be double Ronin and then I’d be dead, but decided it was better to ignore it and play things safely for the time being, as I had a point lead and an Infiltration in my deck which could diffuse the situation on the board. While I was drawing, I got a lucky snipe of Philotic out of his hand, putting me at 4. Unfortunately for me, however, Chris had new tech in Archived Memories, brining back a Mushin and deploying a third advanced goodie. There was really no ignoring this one; I hadn’t found my expose, and if two of his remotes were Ronin I was dead. I ran the new remote, and sure enough, there was Ronin. I trashed it and promptly made a run on R&D, where I found a Future Perfect and won the Psi to close out the game. It turns out that his Mushins were Cerebral, Ronin, and Ronin, and so I was pretty proud of myself to be able to make the right call against one of the most accomplished psykers on the East Coast, despite some lucky central accesses making the game a little bit easier than it should have been.
(9-1, 18 Prestige)
Round 6 vs Magnus Benzein with Andy & NEH AstroBiotics
I didn’t really want to play against a guy named Magnus. As if it weren’t an intimidating enough name, the World Chess Championship was going on that weekend, (Chess is one of my favorite spectator sports), where World Champion Magnus Carlsen would be defending his title. So, a little bit of self-intimidation factor there, maybe. Still, there is always good reason to fear a European Netrunner, as they generally tend to bring something crazy to the table that’s always good enough to function while also being surprising. Magnus, however, was just bringing the standard two-headed monster, Andy/NEH.
He chose to Corp first, and lead with Sweeps Week, PAD, ICE HQ. I was ready to take another shot at R&D, hoping to get luckier than I did against Spags, but Magnus had the turn 2 Biotic-Astro, the turn 3 Astro, and the turn 5 Fast track Biotic to score the 3rd motherfucking Astro. Boy that deck can do stupid things. This was the first and only time in the tournament I actually lost control of my emotions. The is the last thing you want to happen to you as you fight to make the cut in the final rounds of Swiss.
My corp game against his Andy didn’t seem to start off well either. He got set up quickly, exposing me to Account Siphon early, which is one of the ways Andy can beat you. He did run the Siphon on me and got a considerable economy advantage, but the tags he floated allowed me to trash his money resources while bleeding accesses from R&D. Luckily, he didn’t see too much of note, and eventually my Pup wore down the money he stole from me and Magnus was left without a way to rebuild aside from clicking for credits. At that point, it was just a matter of installing my cards and sticking to the game plan, and I ended the game in decisive fashion despite a rocky start.
(10-2, 20 Prestige)
Round 7 vs Zach Cavis with Andy & NEH AstroBiotics
At this point, I did the math and saw that I was a lock for top 16 with a split, and was probably in on 10-4 in any event because of my tiebreakers. Zach won the roll and chose to corp first, and we played a relatively relaxed set compared to the last few rounds.
He did manage to pull a fast one on me, Sweeping me and installing a turn 1 naked Astroscript and scoring it on turn 2, making this the third time I was faced with an Astro counter in the very early stages of the game. Again, that put me on the race plan and I started pushing for accesses. He had a Jackson in play helping him to find more agendas to close the game, but whiffed for a second. I went to R&D through what I think I remember to be a Pop-Up with the plan of running Jackson to double up on my accesses that turn, but Zach wisely popped Jackson to shuffle in some operations before I got my first look. I did get some points out of R&D and I think some out of his hand as well, but I needed to click through Eli to get into HQ which meant that I had to get pretty lucky to keep him off his final few points. As it turned out, he had drawn into a Fast Track, which won him the game without giving me much of a shot at his HQ, and I once again took a loss on 5 Points as the Astro Train left the station without me.
I don’t remember much about game 2 in this round except that nothing of immense interest happened. I remember sticking a Sundew behind an ICE and an ELP, and Zach was discouraged from going after it at all because of the huge amount of effort it would take to go and take it out. Eventually, I think I trashed it because it was occupying what was to become my scoring remote, scoring an NAPD followed by a Nisei to functionally end things.
After the match concluded, I got to have a look over at the goings-on at table one next to me, where Spags was facing down Minh Tran, (the last holdout undefeated in the tournament going into the last few rounds). I saw he was playing PE, and got to catch a glimpse of one of the most riveting games of the tournament, in which Spags was down to zero cards in his hand and his deck after using his Levy. At 5 points, he couldn’t hit a 1 pointer without dying, but he managed to find a Future Perfect, his only remaining avenue to victory, and win the Psi game with his health bar blinking red, causing the crowd to erupt in applause despite the relative unimportance of the game with regard to anyone making the cut.
(11-3, 22 Prestige)
So, at the end of Swiss rounds, I was very happy that my RP went undefeated despite my whopping 0% win rate agains the NEH variance machine. I had quite a few friends at 10-4 that I was worried about making the cut, but most of the 10-2 tables split their matches in the last round, meaning that a lot of them might make it. I knew that Spags, Joe Held from the Stimhack Skype chat, and Ben from Baltimore would make it, but I was still one of the first to make it up to the final standings list to check on the status of my other comrades.
I came in at 4th seed and got a lot of good news along with only a few disappointments.I saw that El-Ad, the American Canadian national champ was in, as was Niles Stanley, an awesome player and deckbuilder from the Baltimore crew. I was sad to see that Chris Hinkes barely missed the cut on tiebreakers, but not everyone can make the cut when FFG dictated that we would cut only to the top 16. I tried to find Niles to congratulate him, but he took off in a fit of euphoria to find a beer, so I just went and got dinner with some friends and met everyone back in the Radisson hot tub for the third consecutive night. Congrats to the whole top 16; there wasn’t a more deserving bunch.
So, of what came to be known as the Hot Tub Crew, comprised of about fifteen of us, six of us were playing in the top 16. Spags, myself, Joe Held, Niles, Ben, and Brody had all made the cut and were ready to square off. A lot of back-patting went on, but those of us who made the cut knew we were going to have to put our serious faces on before shit went down on Sunday. With three RP Glacier decks going into elimination, (piloted by Joe, Niles, and I), I already felt like a winner for making what I felt like was a perfect metagame call to play my own pet deck and recommend it to my friends. I could only put myself in the top 16 once, but it was really something else to see three of my babies in there with me. I was going into the first round as high seed against Brody, whose decks I was playing with in testing games in his hotel room the night before. Unwilling to voluntarily subject myself to more AstroBullshit, I told him to no ones surprise that I would be choosing to corp against his Andy deck.
Elimination Round 1 vs Brody Lodmell with Andy
I had a pretty quick start in this game, but Brody was a little slow out of the gates. Despite playing redundant copies of his breaker suite, I stuck a Sundew while Brody burned his one copy of Faerie on a central access and lost a Future Perfect Psi. Sitting on virtually no way to break my ice, I went for a fast Nisei to take advantage of the huge chunks missing from Andy’s breaker suite. By the time he got up and running, I had already scored my 2nd Nisei, making him entirely too late to the party. Some of the finer details of this game are lost on me in a sea of Andys getting shit on by Replicating Perfection.
Elimination Round 2 vs Timmy Wong with Blue Sun Scorch
Having played against Blue Sun decks in the early rounds of swiss and seeing a few sitting next to me in the later rounds, I really didn’t know what to expect when it came to Timmy’s deck. I had seen an undefeated Mushin-Off the Grid list get knocked off its pedestal by Spags on a hail mary R&D access, I had seen Scorch, and I had seen more Glacierish builds. What I did expect was a much greater challenge than in the first two rounds, seeing as Timmy was knocking on the door of victory and my other Blue Sun opponents were not.
Timmy got a dream opening in this game. After ICEing up turn one, I had a beatiful econ set up with Gamble Gamble Security Testing with Desperado and Kati jones ready to come down on the next turn. Timmy not only ICEd up archives, but Oversighted a Curtain Wall, a play he repeated for THE NEXT TWO TURNS AFTER THAT AS WELL. This kid was double clicking for 13 fucking credits a turn on turns 2, 3, and 4 of the game, and my Corroder was close but not quite able to break it quickly in conjunction with my Datasucker. There was some some good new though; Faerie and Corroder alone were making Security runs on archives, and Timmy wasn’t rezzing the ICE. This isn’t the craziest information to get against certain decks; maybe it’s just too expensive for right now or something, but Timmy’s retarded large credit pool basically signaled to me that the only ICE that could possibly be on Archives is Archer, and Timmy didn’t have enough ICE to commit to double ICEing it. I also checked the R&D ICE, which he rezzed, and it was a Data Raven. I bounced off and let Timmy score a Geothermal behind what I suspected was a code gate/curtain wall remote. I found a Plascrete off an Express Delivery (1-of grangsta shit), and Femmed the inside ICE of his remote in case it was a Lotus Field, as Femmeing a rezzed Lotus Field remote is a lot worse vs Blue Sun.
I knew here that despite my good econ and Breaker setup, I could still be in trouble. Timmy could build a remote that could tax the hell out of me and still had me well behind in the credit race. I decided at this point that I would really need to push for points quickly because of how quickly things could go sour if he found an Ash or Midseasons or Lotus Field or even scored a project Atlas. The only obvious way for me to push for these points, not suspecting too many in his hand, was R&D, and through a Data Raven. I made the calculated risk to start running through it and quickly snagged a Pri Req while Timmy got another point off a Posted Bounty. I did take a couple of peeks at his hand, seeing Scorched Earth twice, making me realize that if I see the third copy I’m probably just dead. I did the only sensible thing and let him get some power counters on the Raven. Eventually Timmy had enough of my bullshit Security Testing and rezzed his Archer, blowing up my Faerie, essentially committing to the Scorch plan. In an effort to find the last copy, Timmy went to score an Atlas in his remote, and I knew I had to go get it. I had a pretty sizable pile of money, but Timmy had a 4-ICE server which I was sure contained at least one Curtain Wall. However, my only decoder was Passport, so if any of the non-femmed ICE were code gates I could have been shut out. Still, I hadn’t seen any on my accesses aside from the Enigma on HQ, so I went for it, paying absurd amounts of cash money to break first a Curtain Wall, another Curtain Wall, an Archer, and finally, an Enigma, saving my skin long enough to find the last 2 points in a Fracking off the top of R&D.
I think this might have been my best played game of the tournament. Later, against Minh, I would take at least two much more dramatic victories that involved psychological warfare as well as sound play, but technically, I think this was my high point. I managed to get an exact read on the situation, play technically and efficiently, and correctly leveraged risk despite a monster start from my opponent. MVP 1 Express Delivery for 1 Plascrete Carapace.
Elimination Round 3 vs Andy Shebuski with Opus Andy
As scary as Magnum Opus might seem to a Glacier player, the ridiculous economy package Andy has access to with Kati and Security Testing are so strong that I wasn’t terribly afraid to face the Shaper alternative. Unless an Opus player can get all the cards they need very quickly, clicking on Opus can become a chore, especially compared to the largely passive economy of Replicating Perfection. That isn’t to say that clicking for 8 on a turn isn’t ever good, it’s just that Opus decks can still find themselves losing the race to a Sundew.
This is precisely what happened in this game. Andy (heh, Andy playing Andy), got out a Killer and a Corroder, but needed to draw to a Decoder and therefore was spending too much time not mashing the Opus button. I don’t have a ton of memories of the details of this game, but I do remember Andy was without a Decoder for quite a bit, and by the time he was ready to come in and Siphon me, I had ELP scored and was safe to score an NAPD and then a Nisei behind a code gate on a remote. I think Andy may have disarmed my ELP by stealing an agenda off R&D, but I had another one ready to go and had him sitting on his turn after my IAA Future Perfect with no recourse. Who needs to fast advance when the runner’s turn isn’t worth shit?
Winner’s Bracket Finals vs Minh Tran with Andy
It started to hit me around this time that I was fucking killing it. There were only two undefeated players remaining in the tournament, me and Minh. I was initially a bit worried about having to potentially run against his PE deck, but found out he had corped for all three games up to this point and so I would get to run a triple with my RP deck against Andromeda in the top 16. I understood, however, that Minh wasn’t just playing everyone elses Andy, and that he would have a few tricks up his sleeve for me.
Sure enough, he was explosive right out of the gate, setting up with a Security Testing and John Masanori to start super-pro-contacting my Archives. My start was more lackluster, with a lot of ICE but not a lot of money to pay for it. After taking an unexciting 2nd turn of clicking for 3 credits, Minh deployed a full albeit limited breaker suite of Faerie, Corroder, and Passport and went right for my bank accounts with a Siphon. On the back ropes, it was going to be hard at this point to come back, as Minh would soon be ready to trash just about any economy that came my way. I managed to find a Celebrity Gifts and showed off my Future Perfect, so Minh went for another Siphon on me while I was on only four credits, despite my attempt to bluff thinking of rezzing the Lotus Field on HQ earlier. Down to 0 credits, I was in deep shit, which got even deeper after he Femme’d my Komainu on R&D and started taking peeks while I clicked my credits back up where he found a Future Perfect when I was dirt poor and took it on a 0-0 bid. Thankfully, he was floating the tags from his 2nd Siphon, and I was at Hedge money, so on the next turn I shut down his Masanori and Testing.
Unfortunately, Minh was still able to make really cheap R&D runs through a Pup, and it was at this point he found an NAPD contract. Because Minh was the higher seed, he would win a tie at time, and there was not a lot of it left here. I knew I would need to score three agendas to take this one, so I immediately went into aggro mode hurrying him up. I really don’t like to do this. I don’t see anything wrong with playing quickly yourself and trying to set the pace of the game, but having to rush my opponent to have any shot of winning wasn’t at all what I wanted to be doing. Still, Minh is a slow and calculated player, and I don’t think it’s fair to put me on the hook for that either. Honestly, there should be no time limit or a much higher time limit here, in the winners bracket finals of World fucking Championships.
Bleeding R&D accesses, I had to reenforce my deck with an Eli to replace the worthless Komainu, and cross my fingers that Minh would miss long enough to run himself out of cash. That’s pretty much exactly what happened: Minh started to dump $3 a turn into R&D, while I gifted him a hand of ICE and protection upgrades. Eventually, he needed to start clicking for credits and letting me nug the less good cards from his hand with my Pup, and it became clear that it was a mistake for him to let me turn off his economy assets. At this point, the tides were turning. I set up a remote for a Sundew and another for Jackson Howard and started to piece together a good hand of Code gate-Nisei-Caprice to start scoring while using an Ash to slow him down on R&D, (in retrospect, it’s possible that I should have flipped this, but I couldn’t really afford to be playing too many Psi games when I installed the Ash). A TFP protected itself on the top of R&D after I got my Nisei scored and promptly came down on my side of the table, however, Minh had another turn to come at my R&D before I could ICE up more there. He came in and told me he would take one damage from the Pup, which surprised me, because it would mean that he would access with only three credits and no way back in that turn if he saw an NAPD. Sure enough, his face had NAPD written all over it, and I picked it up, threw it in my remote, and immediately heard time called, giving me exactly the one turn I needed to win the game. Minh made the obligatory run into archives before going to check out my remote, and sure enough, there was a Quandary there making his Passport look sad, and I scored out the win from there. Phew.
Grand Finals Game 1 vs Minh Tran with Jinteki PE
During the long break between the last game and this one, I didn’t watch or play any Netrunner. I went back to my hotel, I grabbed a burger, I chatted it up with some friends about the absurd previous game, and I laid around on tables trying not to let the excitement get to me. Like Corwin Brindley said, Mushin no Shin. I didn’t see any games, but I kept good track of who was doing what by word of mouth so that I could play out the scenarios of what sides and against who I would have to play in the grand finals. I got whiffs of some drama from the feature match area but kept my head in the sand.
I really didn’t want to play Minh again. I didn’t know who he was at the time, but I had gained a lot of respect for him as a player and thought his decks were absolutely filthy from what I had seen of them. The missed NAPD I chalked up to more me hurrying him up into a brain fart than anything else, and I wasn’t excited to hear that I’d have to run against his PE deck. I knew what my game plan was against American PE, but I also knew his list was different, and probably better, and that I was practiced playing against only one style of play of a deck that can support many.
This game was a certified blowout. I wanted to stick to my normal plan of checking all the unadvanced remotes, but Minh had another plan for me. It was a two part plan, the first part of which was drawing a million unadvancable traps and widdling down my deck faster than a leaf blower. The second part of which was a pair of code gates on remotes, which made my Passport look stupid in the same way that I did to his in the previous game. I also lost my Killers; Mimic went down first, as I decided I wanted to install a Femme instead to deal with remote code gates, but by the time the Femme came around I was poor and under pressure and I lost her too. Yog didn’t decide to show up until there were functionally no cards left in my deck, and sitting at only 3 points and 6 HP meant that basically everything would kill me and I needed to win a Future Perfect psi. I went looking for it for a second, but Minh had the Philotic Entanglement to put me away.
Grand Finals Game 2 vs Minh tran with Andy
This was the first time I faced elimination in a double elimination tournament, and the pressure was on. I considered myself to be playing a good matchup here, but Minh’s Mediums and Sneakdoor could do a lot to pressure me early and I knew it could all be over soon for me. I was pretty confident up to this point that I would take the tournament, but Minh’s decisive PE win had me on the ropes. Furthermore, the last time we played, Minh should have won the game, and Lukas informed me that we were STILL ON THE CLOCK, so I could easily lose the game without ever actually losing the game.
Minh was thankfully significantly less brutal in this game than he was in the previous one. My opener was just alright, containing a Future Perfect, a bunch of ICE, and a Mental Health Clinic as my only economy. Minh has a better economic start than me, playing a Daily Casts, a Sure Gamble, a Desperado, and a Bank Job. A Hedge Fund showed up on turn 2 and was welcomed warmly into my Archives. However, Minh busted out the magic fingers and Sneakdoored away my NAPD. My Future Perfect was still vulnerable, though, which meant that I needed to ICE archives while I installed my Sundew, and was somewhat vulnerable with only 9 credits for four unrezzed ICE. He could not, however, get my Sundew, which snowballed with a Mental Health Clinic as Minh sat with a Sneakdoor and a Desperado, but no real long-term economy, which meant that the game was tilting in my favor even as he stole a second NAPD through the Sneakdoor. He used his Corroder to come get the Sundew behind my Wraparound, but all of this asset trashing was starting to become pretty expensive.
Still, HQ was vulnerable, so I got rid of my TFP with a Jackson and decided to let Minh into HQ rather than continue to rez ICE on archives to protect it. I found a Celebrity Gift and a Hedge Fund and made the classic heart-shattering RP play of showing off a beautiful Jackson-shaped hand for huge burst economy right after the runner broke bank trashing my assets. I further ICEd HQ with a Tsurugi to prevent any possible Siphoning to disrupt my scoring or bring Minh’s economy back in line with my own. I found a new Sundew that Minh had to run through an Eli to trash while I continued to build ICE. Interns put Sundew back into my remote server, and a third ICE on HQ, a Komainu, came down so that Faerie wouldn’t immediately turn on Siphon. Instead, Minh used his Faerie to take a pot shot at R&D and put a counter on a Medium, trashing Sneakdoor Beta in the face of a point-vacuous HQ.
Minh missed on that one access, leaving him relatively poor and staring down a board full of potential Sentries without a Killer. Meanwhile, I went on the plan of wait for an Agenda and throw it into my remote. I made a pretty ridiculous error when I tried to take a four click turn, mistaking my first click-to-draw in my mind with my mandatory draw, as I installed a Nisei and advanced it with my 4th click. Lukas pointed out that I took four and I asked him if I could take it back, and he said yes. This is pretty controversial, for good reason. I don’t know why Lukas allowed me take this one back, as there are no rules about it, but considering that didn’t get any hidden information revealed to me, (and that the highest authority on the subject okayed it), I don’t think the ruling was all that ridiculous. Now, with a known crucial Nisei in my hand, Minh had a target, and despite not having a Killer, went for the Legwork through two unrezzed ICE. Lulled into a false sense of security, forgetting what ICE he had seen, or taking a calculated risk to snipe my deck’s critical agenda, Minh lost his hand to the Komainu, and then continued into Tsurugi for my first flatline of the day, and I became World Champion.
(Final results: 22 Prestige, 5-1 in elimination, 16-4 record. 11-0 with RP, 5-4 with Andy)
It’s a pretty sick feeling, not going to lie. I took some time to do an interview with FFG and with Team Covenant, and collected my shits, including two bomb playmats, (they’re still fucking playmats, though), a backpack, (what?), a Gencon pass (unexpected surprise), and a regionals trophy mounted on a nub of wood. I went out to the rental car to collect my celebratory cigar, and headed out to a Mexican American restaurant with just about everyone left in the building for some $5 fishbowl margaritas. I won’t go into too many details other than the fact that we spent the remainder of the trip in a hot tub and almost got stuck in Minneapolis due to a freak snowstorm caused by how fucking ICE COLD I WAS ALL DAMN DAY.
A lot of you have been asking me about the card I would design, but outside of one not-tremendously exciting idea, I haven’t come up with much. I have had an idea in my head for a while about what Eli 2.0 might look like, but it would be relatively simplistic and after seeing Architect I am sort of realizing the vastness of design space in Netrunner in which I could design something much cooler and more complex. If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them so that I could bring some of my favorites to the table when I speak to Lukas!
All in all, Worlds was an awesome experience for me that rekindled my interest in the game. In the near future, I hope to stream a lot more, help to ensure Stimhack.com continues to be the go-to source for competitive Netrunner information, and host an invitational OCTGN tournament for Store Championship winners. In the tradition of countless Magic players before me, and adopted in the tournament report of Spags for the Netrunner community, I’ll dish out some props ’n’ slops to close.
Props to Amanda for encouraging me to come out to the tournament.
Props to all my friends that made it and that couldn’t.
Props to Jerklin for teaching me the game and being the best local competition anyone could ask for.
Slops to Jerklin for canceling his trip.
Props to Jerklin for staying home and making it significantly easier to win.
Props to the whole Stimhack Skype chat crew, especially Joe Held who actually made it out to the tournament. Props to Genestealers, SneakySly, Alexfrog, Pavlos, and Hollis. Slops to Orange Devil.
Props to everyone who uses Stimhack and/or participates on the forum.
Props to Ian and Lukas for running a smooth tournament.
Slops to Ian and Lukas for running a tournament that was not as good as it could have been had they followed their own rules.
Props to the Baltimore crew, Jesse, Niles, and Ben for being general badasses.
Props to El-Ad and Chris H for coming out from New York.
Props to Ian Vaflor for being an awesome travel companion and taking a million pictures.
Props to Dan Champion, semi-professional wrestler, for creating the best tank top known to man.
Props to Spags for being exactly the right kind of asshole.
Props to Canadians in general, and Brody, the Bad Publicity guys, and D1en in particular.
Props to Team Covenant for supplementing FFG’s photo and video coverage with their own. Can’t wait to see everything, guys.
Props to the whole Hot Tub Crew. There is not a more surly group of out-of-shape men I’d rather get pruny with.
Props to everyone who lost to me in the tournament.
Slops to everyone that beat me in the tournament. What the fuck were you thinking?
Slops to FFG prizes that aren’t alt-art Elis.
Slops to freak snowstorms.
Props to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport street team for getting me the fuck out of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Props to Nordrunner for having the balls to bet against me.
Slops to Nordrunner because pay me motherfucker.