This post today is a guest post brought to us by Andrew Barrett.
I Put on My Robe and Whizzard Hat – 6/22/13
We had 32 people from the chicago-area attend this event at The Gaming Goat in Schaumburg Illinois. At this tournament, I was also the TO, I don’t think playing in the event impacted my ability to run the event, as all of the complications that arose during the event happened mid round. Regardless, I wanted to play something that would either win or lose quickly so I could go input the scores as soon as the games finished.
So I figured, hey Jinteki and Whizzard are pretty terrible right? I should either flatline someone for being careless with jinteki or just get rolled after some rapid, non-interactive turns – and Whizzard was something I had kicking around in my head, not to be a netrunner hipster, but as sort of a metagame anti-hero. The result surprised me to say the least.
After 5 rounds of swiss I was the only undefeated player in the tournament. I did not win the event however, after I finished passing out prizes and setting up for the top 4 elimination round, I had a business emergency to tend to and had to jack out. The 5th place runner (Scud from BGG) took my place in the cut to top 4.
The guys at the top 4 table were all, in my opinion, way better players than me – and if I had been able to participate, it would have taken a lot of luck for me to survive both elimination games. So this report is mostly about how you can leverage strong metagame choices into a good showing at an event.
I’ve been playing whizzard on and off since cyber exodus, and he never really impressed me more than any kind of noise deck I would play around the same time – he ended up getting shelved for a long time. Even when playing Gabe or Noise, everytime I paid credits to trash something, I couldn’t help thinking “whizzard wouldn’t have had to pay for that.”
At the same time, whenever I installed a virus while playing whizzard I couldn’t help thinking “Noise would have pitched an agenda into archives for that.” Even during this tournament, my opponents would reach for their r&d to reflexively trash something each time I installed a virus – I would have to stop them and say: “It’s okay, I’m a Whizzard.” It just never seemed to be the right time for Whizzard.
However, a Whizzard is never late, he arrives precisely when he intends to. I’m not sure when the Sansan revolution happened, but it’s here now and we all just have to deal with it. At my event 41% of all corp decks contained SanSan City grid – only one heroic loner elected to use trick of light in his deck. Couple this with the fact that every HB list that people post on the internet comes pre-packaged with the warning label: “This deck probably loses to whizzard, but I can’t say for sure because nobody plays whizzard.”
I think it’s time to let the Whizzard out of the bag.
As for corp decks? I’ve always hated Jinteki, for a long time, this corp just seemed like a noob-check to me. I hated playing against it because the games were always long, grindy and dangerous – and everyone new to netrunner seemed to love jinteki for the simple reason that: if you are new to netrunner, Jinteki will kill you, and killing people is fun. Then we all grew up a little, stopped running on our last click, and started drawing cards, suddenly Jinteki has lost it’s lustre and the games feel like playing core set NBN with worse agendas.
Along came Hollis’s masterful Jinteki article: http://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/19853/my-secret-love-affair-with-jintekipersonal-evoluti
This is in my opinion, the best strategy guide ever written for a netrunner deck. There are a lot of great articles, but I think this one really opened the most doors for people. Hollis has a beautiful mind, and I hope someday to see Netrunner the way Hollis does. This article really hit home for me, because his list was so much like Jinteki lists I had made and failed with in the past. There was no secret tech, no new ice set-ups – the secret tech was inside of our own minds all along.
So this is the deck I took with me, and it’s basically the same as Hollis’s old list there. I’ve only had about 25 games with it and the deck fluctuates week to week for me. Sometimes I want 3 or 0 grids, sometimes I want all ronins or all junebugs. I ended up with this list for regionals, because I wanted to have some higher trash costs. In the end, I decided that I wanted a junebug instead of a 3rd grid just as a way to back-up my advancement threats if the game goes too long, and my assets in archives give away too much information.
I hadn’t been seeing a lot of jinteki around, and weyland was very popular. The idea behind playing weyland tag-n-bag is that you can pick up free wins by scorching people who fail to play around your strategy. I applied this logic in choosing jinteki. I know criminal is super popular (and super good) they excel at applying pressure, by playing jinteki – I can ju-jitsu them and turn their aggression into wasted turns drawing cards.
So Jinteki (PE) became my Meta-Metagame deck – I would try to pick up free wins by punishing people who fail to play around my net damage and have a better chance of putting the most popular runner faction on tilt.
I flat-lined all but 1 of my opponents.
I lose the die roll and corp first against gabe. On my turn, I installed H.grid on my HQ and a NK on r&d then clicked for a credit. In my hand was beanstalk royalties, neural emp and an agenda. I didn’t use the beanstalk because I wanted him to think he could bankrupt me by running my ice or account siphoning me.
On my opponents turn he played desperado, ran my r&d taking 3 net damage, stole a braintrust off the top taking 1 more net damage. I had 2 credits after rezzing NK, so he ran my HQ possibly thinking that I didn’t have credits to do anything to him? So I rezzed h.grid and flatlined him. Even if he had drawn a card before running I still had the beanstalk+emp or agenda that could flatline him.
Game 2 my opponent played the original NBN. He protected his HQ with an ice wall, 2 other ice on r&d 1 ice on a remote. I played corroder and drew a bunch of cards. I got to trash 2 mining corps and 2 marked accounts before I drew an account siphon to make the deja vus I was holding very strong. I made him broke, and spent 2 turns checking his hq and the top of r&d for all of the agenda points I needed.
I played my friend Will in round 2, today and on numerous other occasions he has made it known that he just “can’t play against jinteki” I gave him some friendly advice and he ran first with his Andromeda deck that he’d stomped my other decks with the night before. He infiltrated to avoid a NK on turn 1 and ended up account siphoning me and getting a big economic advantage in the first few turns. I kept my transaction cards in hand for the most part, I wanted a buffer for my agenda(s) when he inevitably got a sneakdoor down. I dealt with this by installing 1 and clicking for 2 for most of my turns.
By around midgame I had a neural emp in hand, and had set up a 3 advanced fetal ai to make him think it was a ronin, I installed it in a server with a hokusai grid and a data mine in front of it. He drew to 6, account siphoned me to 1 credit and ran it on his last click. It’s worth noting that I had 1 credit at the time; however Will knows my deck and he remembered that he had trashed my only junebug in an earlier r&d run. So after accessing the data mine and going to 5 cards, he still elected to continue and take the rest of the damage leaving him with 1 card in hand. I followed this up with a beanstalk and 2 emps for the flatline.
Game 2 Will played his HB fast advance deck. I trashed 2 eves, 2 mining corps, 2 sansans, and at least 1 adonis campaign this game. I had a hard time drawing a corroder and he was stacked with elis. I had to account siphon him 5 times before getting all of his agenda points out of his hq. Yog and Ice carver let me walk through his vipers, data sucker and corroder gave me cheap access to his r&d. He managed to biotic a beta-test dumping 2 cards into archives and putting a roto-turret in front of it. I didn’t install the mimic in my hand and run it right away, but when I did I was rewarded with 4 points and the game shortly after another hq access.
Game 1 against NBN(twiy*) I had to mulligan a bad hand and got a worse one, I was able to keep him poor for a few turns, and got to trash a bunch of assets for a bargain (2 sansans, 1-2 marked accounts and 1-2 mining corps). I took a risk and didn’t install plascrete against him, I ended up sitting on 4 tags the whole game. I managed to steal 6 points worth of agendas, but he got an astroscript online a turn after closing my accounts, I played around his closed accounts by holding back an armitage – I had known I’d need a closed accounts contingency plan before picking whiz for this event, but I figured armitage or credit credit dejavu account siphon would be enough to keep me going.
In the end there was a turn where I knew what was in his hand, but couldn’t quite get into r&d for the last point, he pulled a breaking news and sent Whizzard back to Azkaban – giving me my first and only game loss as runner.
Game 2 against his Andromeda deck was a little shorter, he was taking his time and drawing up cards, I spent a turn setting up a fetal+h.grid server which he defeated in 2 clicks by quality timing and running it. However, he installed an HQ interface and I had to resist jumping for joy as I already had 1 snare in hand and some ice I didn’t want to install to encourage him to run more aggressively. I spent some time crafting a trap hand by drawing extra cards and clicking for creds, right after I got my second snare, he slapped down a sneakdoor and started aggressively checking my hand. He hit a last click snare and went to 0 cards, which I followed up with a neural emp for the flatline.
I played a very strong player who had a round go to time earlier, and was a point ahead of me in he standings.
Game 1 he played Andromeda and I couldn’t draw a trap to save my life, he kept checking my hand with 3 hq interfaces installed, and I couldn’t get anything to punish him. I really wanted this flatline but I couldn’t make it happen. I got a braintrust scored before he pulled a priority req out of my hand for the win putting our match at 2 to 10.
Game 2 my opponent played HB with sansan and asset based economy, and whizzard did what whizzard does and broke his back with account siphons and trashes – unfortunately for me, my opponent managed to biotic a beta test to tie up the match; unfortunately for him his beta test did not reward him. I mopped up the mess whizzard made slowly but surely, making runs or siphoning him to keep him poor. My Asset hit-list was pretty good this game as well, I ended up with 15 to 18 credits worth of free trashes.
This was a really exciting game for me, because my opponent was clearly a fellow fan of stimhack.com! He was piloting NBN and Andromeda, which I recognized as Alexfrog’s 2 decks he had written about pretty quickly into the first game; however, there was one huge problem:
He and his friend ended up playing eachother in round 3, due to their round 3 opponents dropping I had to manually pair them (I was using challonge.com) and edit their scores for the previous game to make their prestige and match points add up properly before round 4 – then challonge decided to bone me hard when their scores coincidentally put them in the same prestige bracket and paired them up again in round 4.*
*This was the biggest hiccup in the entire tournament, some people had given me incorrect score sheets and thrown off the prestige before the last 2 rounds were paired, but all of that stuff I was able to correct before the round began
So when I found out that my opponent had just played against and beaten the other guy playing whizzard twice in a row I couldn’t help but think that the TO gods were punishing me.
He corped first and on my first click I ran and face-checked a flare, setting the tone for the rest of the match. I relied on my resources to keep my cash going because I couldn’t hammer him with siphons, I got 2 mediums into play and tried going for a big dig, but he had hedge funds and ice to make it too expensive to run more than a few times. I ended up with 5 tags when he psycho’d an astroscript, then used it to score a beal. He sat on 4 points for a while, and since he used his data raven counters before the psycho – I was able to start slowly clearing my tags.
Even without being able to siphon him, I was still able to keep him poor, and after trashing 2-3 of his sansans I knew I could still win the match if I played tight. By midgame I had trashed 2 adonis, at least 2 sansans and 2 mining corps and 1-2 marked accounts. He closed my accounts around this time, unfortunately it also bankrupted him and I recovered enough to trash more assets. He was baiting me into running his scoring server so I knew I could run his hand and probably score the last 2 points I needed; however running that server would have costed me twice as much as I had. I didn’t take the bait on one of his installs and he built up some cash with an adonis campaign. My credits were pretty low, and he was pretty rich, so when he installed a card in his scoring server I spent my turn stimhacking it only to access… a mining corp. When the brain damage hit my last dejavu and consequently my last stimhack – I thought I was done, but my opponent made a miscalculation and allowed me to steal the winning agenda out of a remote the following turn.\
Game 2 my opponent played Alex’s andromeda deck and played extremely aggressively, he infiltrated a NK on my hq, account siphoned me taking the net damage and installed some interfaces. Losing my bankroll was painful, but at this point in the tournament I’d been account siphoned so many times, starting with -5 credits was nothing new. I didn’t get much for ice, except for a chum, which let me bluff a chum data mine on archives after he put out a sneakdoor. His quality times were very well timed and it let him keep up the aggression for longer than I expected, but given that he had interfaces out and was checking multiple cards out of hq and r&d – I knew I could seal the deal if I maintained a threatening amount of credits.
After scoring his second agenda, he had to spend a whole turn drawing cards which gave me some breathing room to set up a kill. I got him to run a fetal ai and score it, with his last 2 clicks he drew up to 4 and passed to me, I clicked my credits up to five and dropped a scorched earth + emp on him for the flatline.
Final Thoughts and Decklists
At this point I had to cut to the top 4 for single elimination, and I was unable to participate. I checked out their lists earlier today, and no one else in the top 4 looked like they would go down easily! Overall, I’m extremely surprised by how well I performed, I ended up being able to goad my opponents into making mistakes they might not have otherwise made, purely by virtue of the “rogue factor” of my lists. Most of the decks I played against did not offer me any surprises, so I had the benefit of knowing what my cards are and being able to figure out their strategies just by virtue of their deck archetypes being somewhat rigid in design.
If I were to play at another regional tomorrow, I’d take these same lists; and I would probably go up to 3 grids in jinteki cutting either junebug or ronin.
Playing whizzard I really wanted desperado, really really badly almost every single game; however I only drew my spinal modem twice all day, and going to 2 account siphons just to add 2 desperados doesn’t seem that great on paper at all. The list I put together was a melange of other whizzard lists and aggro noise decks. I knew I would need to spend a lot of my clicks taking draws, and I debated using some 1-2 quality times in place of some easy marks – after playing in the tourney, I think I definitely need to test +2 QT -2 easy mark.
My reasoning behind not playing it was that I would basically need to draw an armitage in my starting hand to be able to support a quality time, I already feel terrible having liberated accounts in my opening hand – quality time is something I don’t need in the early game. The ice carvers were great, I was debating cutting 1 for a data sucker, but 2 and 2 ended up being the right number for me.
Jinteki: Replicating Perfection
Total Cards: (49)
Priority Requisition x2
Fetal AI x3
False Lead x2
Melange Mining Corp x2
Project Junebug x1
Pop-Up Window x3 ■
Data Mine x3
Neural Katana x3
Wall of Static x2
Caduceus x2 ■■
Hedge Fund x3
Beanstalk Royalties x3■
Neural EMP x3
Scorched Earth x1■■■■
Hokusai Grid x2
Whizzard: Master Gamer
Total Cards: (45)
Deja Vu x3
Account Siphon x3 ■■■■
Easy Mark x3 ■
Sure Gamble x3
Spinal Modem x2
Plascrete Carapace x2
data sucker x2
Liberated Account x3
Armitage Codebusting x3
Ice Carver x2