Today’s tournament report is a guest post brought to us by Julian Knab.
Dear fellow Agenda-seekers,
Last weekend, Munich saw it’s very first Netrunner tournament take place in the Funtainment LGS. I’ve been playing competitive Magic for almost 10 years now and have travelled to various big events all over Europe, yet I felt more excited about this local Netrunner tournament than for anything I’ve attended over the last couple years. This is what I brought to the tournament:
Runner: Criminals – Gabriel Santiago
3 Account Siphon
3 Emergency Shutdown
3 Armitage Codebusting
3 Sure Gamble
3 Corroder (**; **; **)
3 R&D Interface (**; **; **)
3 Compromised Employee
3 Sneakdoor Beta
3 Plascrete Carapace
3 Special Order
3 Inside Job
2 Forged Activation orders
2 Femme Fatale
1 Yog.0 (*)
1 ZU.13 Key Master (**)
45 cards, (15/15 influence used)
Corporation: Hass-Bioroid – Engineering the Future
3 Accelerated Beta Tests
3 Project Vitruvius
3 Executive Retreat
3 Ice Wall (*; *; *)
3 Wall of Static
3 Caduceus (**; **; **)
3 Ichi 1.0
3 Adonis Campaign
3 Eve Campaign
3 Melange Mining Corp.
3 Hedge Fund
3 Green Level Clearance
3 Biotic Labor
2 SanSan City Grid (***; ***)
49 cards, (15/15 influence used, 21 Agenda Points)
My Criminals build follows the current trend of just ignoring tags and instead just playing 3 copies of Plascrete Carapace. Other than that it’s your usual resource-denial, hyper aggressive standard Gabriel deck, looking to dominate your opponent economically. In order to do so, you have to do a lot of early game running before installing programs. This lets you easily facecheck ICE without the fear of Rototurret, thus setting back the Corp and allowing you to build up your rig while always threatening to Inside Job into any agenda they dare to install in a (most often) lightly protected remote server. R&D Interface over Maker’s Eye is a change I made just recently and consider standard by now.
Also note the three copies of Corroder. Against Criminals, Corps need to block HQ asap with some cheap yet actual End-the-run ICE. Right now, Ice Wall and Wall of Static are among the most widely played ICE in that category so opening a hand with Corroder already nullifies what would otherwise be a very efficient stop to your HQ runs. Just make sure you’re not blindly running with Corroder assuming to face a barrier…only to have the Corp rezz Rototurret and rain on your parade.
Lately, lots of people have been asking me about Crypsis. While he’s not very efficient, he’s still a strong answer to HB Rush, especially Chimera and Rototurret and definitely deserves its spot in Gabriel. Sure, you’ll later have better and more dedicated breakers but chances are, you will be able to catch the Corp off guard early on, and just run right through their suddenly not-so-safe-anymore server of 2 different pieces of ICE after starting your turn with zero Icebreakers in play.
For my Corp deck, I chose HB Rush over HB Fast Advance. There difference in builds is the overreliance of the later on Biotic Labor, often incorporating 3 copies of Archived Memories to basically score all your agendas out of hand. HB Rush however plans on scoring its first 1-2 agendas “naturally”, i.e. by exposing it to the runner for a turn, protected be cheap End-the-Run ICE and only later switches into Fast-Advance-Mode with 3 Biotic Labor but 0 Archived Memories.
Because of this strategic difference, both decks play different selections of ICE. I’ve seen several HB Fast Advance decks eschew Chimera, Enigma and sometimes even Wall of Static. The reasoning is that Enigma becomes pretty much useless really fast in the current metagame where everyone and his mother is playing Yog.0. Chimera on the other hand is awful on central servers — which is all HB Fast Advance really wants to protect in the first place! HB Rush however is well equipped to make use of the usually short window of opportunity during the early game when your opponent just can’t get past this annoying Chimera/Enigma/Whathaveyou and sees you scoring a 3/2 agenda as early as the second turn.
Besides ICE selection, another major difference between HB Rush and HB Fast Advance is their agenda suite. Because Biotic Labor works best with cheap agendas, HB Fast Advance prefers to run 3 Private Security Force and 2 False Lead whereas HB Rush usually relies on scoring the more expensive Executive Retreat in the early game by installing it behind 2 pieces of EtR-ICE (making it Inside Job proof).
Round 1: Simon with Andromeda and HB – EtF
He wins the die roll and chooses to run first, which I’m pretty comfortable with. In Netrunner, the pace of the game is much more up to the runner’s choice. For the Corp, especially HB Rush, slowrolling is going to kill you in the long run as most of your ICE will at best be just a nuisance in the endgame. The runner however gets to make choices throughout the entire game. Do you run hard? Do you prepare and give the Corp a window of opportunity? Will you trash their PAD Campaigns right away or are you planning on closing out the game in the near future? Do you call their potential early bluff because you just have to or can you actually let this one slide?
What’s most important to making all these choices is information. Because of the current scoring system, the result of the first game has a significant impact on the way you will play the 2nd one and since the runner gets to make more choices based on this information, he/she will be able to draw more profitable conclusion than the Corp during the 2nd game.
So whenever you are running first, all you got to work with is awareness of the current game state. Although this is still by far the most important resource to your game, choosing to Corp first will give you even more information at no extra price when later assuming the runner’s role.
1st game (10-2 against Andromeda)
I ICE both central servers and drop an Eve Campaign on my first turn. Fielding Andromeda, Simon doesn’t do a whole lot and just plays Sure Gamble, Desperado and Compromised Employee which is soon to be followed by second copy. Classic Andromeda who (compared to Gabe) usually trades aggressiveness on the 1st and 2nd turn for a stronger punch on the 3rd and 4th turn. On his second turn he runs into my Enigma on R&D, then Special Orders for Yog.0, which lets him steal an Accelerated Beta Test from my deck a turn later. Little did I know this would be one of only two agendas stolen from me throughout the entire tournament.
As Simon starts to run low on money and with no Fractor in sight, I am able to score Executive Retreat behind an unrezzed Ice Wall and an unrezzed Rototurret, playing around the threat of Inside Job. Still short of Corroder, Simon installs a Medium and a Datasucker but finds nothing of note in R&D and passes the turn. A timely Wall of Static quickly puts an end to his Anarch shenanigans.
At this point I am running a little low on money and couldn’t play my two Hedge Funds I drew off Executive Retreat for 2-3 turns. But with the threat of R&D runs temporarily stifled, I use two turns to ramp up to 5 credits, eventually allowing me to make cash in on my two Transaction operations. Meanwhile, instead of digging for Corroder, Simon had been putting 4-action-per-turn-pressure on HQ for several turns. Since my hand is 2x Hedge Fund, 1x Biotic Labor and 1x Enigma I’m completely fine with his actions. When he tries for a blind Account Sipphon, I am able to just rezz an Ice Wall (replacing my 1st turn Enigma on HQ); in his defense, I was down to 2 credits and could have very likely not been able to actually rezz the lonely ICE in front of HQ.
Simon tries to recover by throwing out Katie Jones and charging her. When he gets greedy and tries for a threesome with another copy of (the unique) Katie Jones, his economy hits rock bottom. “Fair enough”, he realizes his mistake and passes the turn after taking a credit. The game continues with me only drawing usless ICE while Simon eventually sets up a Corroder via Special Order after spending several turns just taking credits. Having two Biotic Labor in hand, I’m just waiting to draw into more ABTs or Project Vitruvius. Instead I draw a Executive Retreat some turns later. Because Simon is already back to pressuring my HQ real hard and could easily get through any of my remote servers…I show him an Enigma in hand, moan about its uselessness, then proceed to draw a 6th card on my last action and discard Executive Retreat.
At this point, Simon keeps pressuring my HQ which I think was a strategical mistake. He had already seen Biotic Labor which meant that any 2 point agenda would be immediately scored, greatly reducing the chance of me actually holding an agenda in hand anyway. Instead I think he should have kept pressuring R&D despite the increased costs of runs there. He however lacked a Killer other than Faerie and thus couldn’t really get through the Rototurret in front of R&D.
But once HB Rush switches into Fast Advance mode, you have to pressure R&D as frequently as possible. Running HQ every once in a while is fine but pretty low EV once you’ve seen a Biotic Labor there. So I believe the correct move for him would have been to keep drawing cards until he gets his Ninja/Femme online. Instead he keeps pressuring HQ 4 times/turn and (luckily) ignores Archives, allowing me to eventually draw into ABT and Project Vitruvius, scoring them directly out of hand and winning 10-2.
2nd game (10-0 against HB:EtF)
Simon starts with ICE in front of HQ and R&D and opens a remote server. First thing i play Compromised Employee and Desperado, then run R&D. Simon rezzes Pop-Up-Window but thanks to the credit I get from CE, I have exactly 1 credit to get through (finding nothing). On my last action I run HQ and see him rezzing Eli. He doesn’t rezz the card in his remote server (despite having 4 credits) making me think it’s either an Eve Campaign or a next-level-mind-trick 2-point agenda. Turns out it was an Adonis Campaign and he just forgot the rezz it. On his turn he takes two credits and installs an ICE in front of the remote which now makes me 100% certain that it’s neither a 2- nor a 3-point agenda. This leaves his R&D wide open on my 2nd turn:
1st action, run R&D, pay for Popup Window — steal Accelerated Beta Tests
2nd action, run R&D, pay for Popup Window — steal Project Vitruvius
3rd action, run R&D, pay for Popup Window — steal Accelerated Beta Tests
4th action, run R&D, pay for Popup Window — see Hedge Funds.
Simon draws for the turn then concedes. Only after the game we both realize it would have actually made sense for him to continue playing for the slim chance of still winning at least the 2nd game. He also immediately mentions that playing that Eli 1.0 in front of the remote server instead of R&D was a pretty bad move, especially considering that it ha already become obvious that he wasn’t hiding an agenda there. 10-0.
6-0 in prestige // 20-2 agenda points
Round 2: Achim with Andromeda and Jinteki – Personal Evolution
1st game (10-0 against Andromeda)
Opponent wins the die roll, elects to run first.
I start with ICE on R&D and HQ, then put Adonis Campaign in my remote. Batshit crazy, hu?
Achim does his Andromeda thing, starting with Sure Gamble, Compromised Employee then cashes in a Bank Job on my Adonis Campaign. Fearing Inside Job (especially out of a 9 card Andromeda), I open a 2nd remote Melange Mining Corp hiding behind an Ice Wall. My opponent takes the bait, Inside Jobs and trashes the MMC. After playing Mimic and forcing me to rezz ICE Wall in front of. (I believe) he passes. On my turn I still refuse to put an agenda into a remote server protected by only 1 ICE and drop Ichi 1.0 in front of R&D. I couldn’t (and generally don’t really want to) put Ichi in front of the remote just to make it Inside-Job proof. For HB Rush, Ichi 1.0 is most useful in front of central servers as you really only want End-the-run ICE in front of your remotes to protect your critical early agenda which you plan on scoring naturally.
Achim then plays another Compromised Employee, some card I don’t remember, then runs R&D. Ichi trashes Mimic, I lose the trace then have him stopped by Enigma. On my turn I only durdle around with some Adonis/Eve Campaigns and a Green Level Clearance . Achim Inside Jobs into HQ (?) put fails the 1:3 chance of hitting my agenda. Inside Jobs on central servers against HB Rush always appears to be a pretty weak use of the card although I admit that it’s “ok” after the Corp played Green Level Clearance on the last action.
Having seen two Inside Jobs I decide it’s about time to make my move and install Executive Retreat behind the Wall Static and advance it twice. Simon runs it, gets stopped, then Special Orders for Yog.0 after taking a credit. I think getting Yog instead of Corroder is a fine move here. First, he was just short of money to Special Order and install Corroder, potentially stealing my agenda on the last action. So since he had enough reason to assume I was gonna score a 3 point agenda next turn, he was forced into shifting focus onto runs on (Enigma-protected) R&D for the rest of the game. Also, he should be more likely to naturally draw into a Corroder than his (presumably) lonely Yog.0, assuming he’s following the trend of including 3 copies of the best Fractor in every Criminal deck.
After I score Executive Retreat and drawing 2 Biotic Labor off of it, Achim can’t maintain pressure on R&D as I keep throwing all my new-drawn ICE in front of it, funded by Eve and Adonis Campaigns. Over the next 4-5 turns I draw into more ICE and two agendas, closing the game out 10-0.
2nd game (2-10 against Jinteki: Personal Evolution)
Knowing that only scoring a single agenda would immediately win me the match was a huge advantage during this game. Although it seems desirable to win 6-0, a 4-2 would be fine with considering this being only a 3 round tournament with cut to Top2 Playoffs. In my opinion, Jinteki is by far the weakest Corp when played against correctly but is also able to punish misplays just as severely as Weyland Tag ‘n Bag, so I didn’t really want to get flatlined even if it that means missing out on an agenda here and there.
Having won the first game 7-0 also meant that Jinteki’s Personal Evolution ID would be much less useful during this game.
Achim ICEes HQ, RD and opens a remote. Instead of just facechecking his ICE which most likely (and actually) was a Neural Katana, I play super passively, only trashing a PAD Campaign and drawing cards trying to find a Sneakdoor Beta or a Killer. Guys, I’m really way too afraid of Neural Katana in this game. Achim on the other hand also doesn’t do a whole lot, not advancing anything, just playing assets and upgrades and the occasional PAD Campaign. When he’s down to 2 credits, I drop R&D Interface, then run on his deck with 3 cards in hand and click through Eli 1.0. My reasoning was that this was the perfect time (even though it being basically my last action) as he couldn’t pay for a potentially devastating Snare. Hitting an agenda would ensure a 4-2 win and put me down to 2 cards in hand. Because he only had 2 credits, he wouldn’t even be able to Neural EMP me out. Worst thing would be hitting a Fetal AI which would reduce me to zero cards and kill me in case he had a Neural EMP.
I run, hit Fetal AI, then die to the Neural EMP he actually had. Fair enough. 2-10.
10-2 in prestige // 32-12 agenda points
Round 3: Philipp with Kate and NBN: Making News
1st game (10-0 against Kate)
I win the die roll and choose to Corp first.
Philipp has only been playing for two weeks and already switches into “Please don’t destroy me mode” before the game even starts. He’s playing a Kate deck with very little Icebreakers. He also seems a little reluctant to put pressure on me by facechecking my ICE, allowing me to out-economy him big time. Several Adonis and Eve Campaign ramp me up to over 30 credits while Simon keeps durdling around Shaper-style, casting Diesel, Quality time and installing Rabbit Holes.
Since he can’t find a Gordian Blade for the love of his life, I easily score two agendas behind Enigma and a Ice Wall, then fast advance two additional agendas after actually doing a bit of digging with actions and Green Level Clearance, something I usually shy away from; I hardly ever draw as the Corp.
We end the game with him never having installed an icebreaker (but having discarded Crypsis?).
2nd game (10-0 against NBN-Making News)
This game was over quickly. Philipp declines to mulligan a hand with zero Ice. He slams Sure Gamble then opens two remote servers. Yeah, I was as confused as you are.
I drop R&D Interace, run and see Scorched Earth + Data Raven. I then run HQ, find nothing and end my turn running one of his remote servers, trashing a Melange Mining Corp. On his turn he draws a card, then advances the card in his remote server twice. What kind of sorcery is this? Either this guy has balls of steel or he’s just a complete madman.
Turns out he’s playing Project Junebug and I run right into it. After discarding my entire hand I draw up to 3 cards and pass the turn. Since he’s running low on money, I’m at no real threat of getting SEA Sourced + Scorched Earth out of the time. On his turn he’s playing Data Raven on a remote, puts something in it and takes a credit. I untap, and run:
1st action, run R&D — steal Project Beale, steal Breaking News
2nd action, run R&D — steal Project Beale, see some other card
3rd action, run R&D — see some other card, steal Astroscript Pilot Program.
I’m sorry for Philipp but on the other hand, you can’t really leave HQ and R&D unprotected against Criminals for three turns. He later told me he didn’t want to mulligan his first hand because of the fear of drawing an even worse one. To be honest, I’m also pretty reluctant to mulligan as the Corp but having no ICE is just one of the worst possible hands, even if it doesn’t contain any agendas; you just have to mulligan that, especially against Criminals.
I think at some point I also Account Siphoned him and cleared the tags off me. I asked him whether he wanted to react to the AS but he declined despite having an unrezzed PAD Campaign. Generally speaking having rezzable assets/upgrades in your remotes or a Bernice Mai on HQ helps a lot in reducing the impact of AS. Losing all your money on a trace is pretty bad but at least you disarmed your opponent’s Account Siphon. This decision however of course depends on a lot more factors, first and foremost to what extent credits are the actual bottleneck factor the current game state is revolving around.
16-2 in prestige // 52-12 agenda points
The Final — Achim with Andromeda and Jinteki: Personal Evolution
1st game (10-3 against Andromeda)
Achim edges out two other opponents by 2 prestige points and gets to play the final against me. He wins the die roll and to my delight chooses to run first again.
The game plays out pretty much the same way our first game did. He plays double Sure Gamble, Compromised Employee, forces me to rezz Enigma on R&D, then dicards a card. End of turn I rezz my Adonis Campaign but am too afraid of Inside Job to go the usual Rush-Route, so I hold on to my agenda. (Looking back at it now, running out that unprotected Adonis Campaign on the first turn was a pretty questionable move considering I had already seen Bank Job during our Swiss match.)
Achim casts Dyson Mem Chip and Zu.Keymaster and takes some money. I try to bait his Inside Job by installing Eve Campaign in a remote with only a single ICE in front of it. He falls for it (nothing you could really blame him for, tbh), Inside Jobs, then takes some more money and a card. On my turn, I become a little loose and decide not to play around the potential second Inside Job like I did during the Swiss. I install Executive Retreat and advance it two times. On his turn, Achim takes two more credits (going to 3 I believe; likely in order to trash a potential Melange Mining Corp), then Inside Jobs and steals my agenda. This. hurt. so. much. I got greedy and he punished me for it.
Loosing your first agenda is a really big deal with HB Rush. In order to win, in the overwhelming number of games you have to score at least one agenda naturally (meaning without SanSan City Grid or Biotic Labor). Considering that you are playing a lot of cheap yet End-the-run ICE, you’re best equipped to do so in the early game. At the beginning of the match your best strength is not the stopping-power of your ICE but their type. Even though they are rather weak ICE, most opponents will have trouble getting through Enigma, Ice Wall or Rotorurret on the first few turns. That’s why this is one of the few decks you actually want to play Chimera in, which is only week to Crypsis. The popularity of this strategy is also one of the reasons why you should really consider running 3 copies of Corroder in your Criminal deck; being able to break through Ice Wall and Wall of Static ASAP is a huge deal. Also note that while Chimera is strong in HB Rush, it usually has no place in HB Fast Advance.
Since Achim stole my very first agenda, I figure I have to adjust my game plan in order to still win this match. Biotic Labor is nice but will only get you three 2-point agendas over the course of the game. SanSan CityGrad doubles as a sudo-Biotic Labor yet is weak to being trashed before becoming active. Also, the longer the game lasts, the weaker my defence on R&D will become while also not being able to build a safe enough remote for SanSan to survive for a turn.
So here’s what I did: Immediately after Achim took down my Executive Retreat, I install a Project Vitruvius and advance it twice. He’s at only 1 money (2 when he forces me to rezz Wall of Static in the remote protecting my agenda) which means that if he doesn’t have Corroder in hand, he would be 1 credit short of Special Ordering for it, installing and running. Being already pretty far behind, I figured I just had to take these odds and try to go for maximum value of Project Vitruvius. It paid off as Achim only draws a card, then takes 3 credits and passed. I score my agenda with 2 hosted power counters on it, suddenly putting me back into the driver’s seat! Achim then keeps pressuring HQ and R&D (to no success) but stumbles economically and often just resorts to taking 4 credits for the turn with the occasional card draw. In the meanwhile, I fast advance an Accelerated Beta Test, declining to use it. There might be very rare occasions where you actually might want to give it a try but most of the time it’s just a fast-advanceable 3/2 agenda.
At this point, the score is 4-3 in my favour and I’m dominating my opponent economically. When I’m at 13 credits, my hand is: Biotic Labor, Eve Campaign and 2 useless ICE. On my turn I draw Executive Retreat. I do some quick calculations, then just take 3 credits and pass. This move allows me to score my 5/3 agenda right out of hand on my next turn, something I had never done before. I’m pretty much all-in on Achim not running my weakly protected HQ and stealing the agenda. This however was pretty unlikely as I had 5 cards in hand AND he already knew I had Biotic Labor in hand, making me less likely to actually be holding an agenda in the first place. Taking 3 credits could have made him do a double take on the situation though.. Whenever your HB opponent passes with 16 credits, you should realize that you are on the risk of being Triple-Biotic-Labored out. Maybe “should” is too strong of a word but you get my point: at least consider the possibility.
When Achim just spends his turn taking credits, I’m relieved: I get to actually perform my crazy combo turn me in front of a crowd: 3x Biotic Labor (powered by Project Vitruvius), install Executive Retreat, gain a credit from my ID and advance it five times. 10-0, hilarity ensues!
2nd game (10-0 against Jinteki: Personal Evolution)
The last game of the tournament. I feel the only way I can actually lose this is by being flatlined so I play super conservatively, never putting myself in a position where I could be net-damaged out of the game. This however doesn’t mean that I’m not running hard whenever I can. Unlike during our Swiss match, I predict the Neural Katana in front of his HQ but still run into it in order to hurt his economy. Discarding three cards vs. 4 of his credits, +2 credits for me is a trade I will take any day of the week against Jinteki, especially in the early game. I discard some cards I don’t really need, then draw two more cards, luckily hit an Emergency Shutdown and cast it on his Katana. I feel pretty good about my odds at this point.
Achim installs two cards in a remote then takes money. I’m not really sure what’s going on and decide to play it safe, drawing some more cards and getting 2 Armitage Codebusting online. I let him do his thing on his turn, see him rezz a PAD Campaign and put ICE in front of it. On my turn I just draw a card and gain money with Codebusting. He opens another remote and gains money. I run R&D, get stopped by Enigma then proceed to just take money with Codebusting and draw a card, looking for my Sneakdoor Beta (which never shows up). On his turn, he advances the card in his remote twice and puts ICE in front of it. I still don’t what it is. I draw some cards, knowing that I can easily let this potential agenda slide and install R&D Interface and Zu.Keymaster. Usually you want to hide your tricky Hardware and Icbreakers until the turn you are going to use them. However, against Jinteki (and Weyland/NBN Scorched Earth) you actually want to be able to run on your very first action allowing you to draw more cards on the 2nd through 4th action in case you hit something evil.
Achim puts ICE in front of Enigma on R&D then advances the card in his remote to 4. Ronin? Junebug? Setup for a Trick of Light later? Or does he just want me to run into another Neural Katana? I don’t know. Instead of finding out the hard way, I just run R&D. With him at only 2 money, I already anticipated the Chum and just pay 5 to get through all of Enigmas subroutines.
I hit a Braintrust and a Private Security Force and the game is over, ggs! 🙂
We still finish the game just for kicks and I quickly close it out 7-0, stealing another agenda from R&D and Inside Jobbing the final one on another remote he opened.
22-2 in prestige // 72-5 agenda points
Looking at it now, I feel that HB Rush might be at a point where it wants to start incorporating 2 copies of Aggressive Secretary. Nothing feels better than draining your opponent’s resources on an early run through two pieces of ICE only to see him lose two programs. Because of the current dynamics in all HB Rush matchups, the runner can’t really let you get away with scoring even a single agenda through a remote server. That’s way we start to see a lot of Crypsis and more Icebreaker-heavy builds (e.g. the 3 Corroders in most Criminals decks) and Aggressive Secretary lets us take advantage of this trend. With careful play, you should still more than often be able to score your first agenda naturally. However, scoring the 2nd agenda this way has become increasingly harder because of the reasons I mentioned above. I believe playing an Aggressive Secretary on turn 3 or 4 and advancing it twice puts so much pressure on the Corp, they just have to find a way to access what could very likely be an Executive Retreat. I will surely be giving it a try, very likely cutting a Caduceus and something. Caduceus has been very underwhelming recently. It used to be one of the most efficient pieces of ICE but Link is currently at an all-time high in runner decks as traces and NBN are something to be actually worried about.
Thanks for reading and looking forward to your feedback,