Warning – everything in this report is either the truth or a lie. Written for posterity, to answer questions, but mostly for laughs. Told in bullet points in honor of Josh.0’s Codenames fail (not his fault I assure you).
- Background – 2015 was a terrible Worlds year for me in terms of tourney performance. I won a regional and then stopped practicing seriously. I didn’t practice at all online, and the heavy demands of work led to a rough Worlds. I started handing out sweeps; however, it all came to a halt the moment I get swept by Dien in round four or five. Switching to the best decks that I had zero practice with was a real recipe for disaster, and though I was 5-1 at the break, it was a total mistake — cut missed. Won’t get fooled again.
- With even less time than ever, I’m pouring myself into practice two to three weeks before Worlds, thanks to all those fine people who spend their free time programming Jinteki.net. I always hated OCTGN, and this is so much better, plus as a Mac user it means I don’t have to boot into Windows… Props to those people! Donations incoming.
- Wife and family got shooed out of my office a lot in October – “I’m in the middle of a heater here, give me 5-10.” #baddad
- Also, my smurf was 4BuckChuck, a tip of the cap to Betrunner. My testing of a new Runner that I decided to save for KOS was a safe “secret tech”.
- Congress Kate cracks me up; Daine from Chicago built it in Store Champs season to combat IG with Feedback Filter and drip. I told him I hated it at that event, but what I was really trying to say was, ‘I love it.’ Previously, I had a similar build before he made it popular and thought, why the Hell not. My build of it went 7-2 or 6-2 at Gen Con, and I felt like one of those games was just a bad game on me (played vs. Sam Suied in Round One), and a string of garbage accesses in the other game (Joseki). It was the right deck there, but my Corp was weak (Russian NEH) (https://netrunnerdb.com/en/decklist/38612/russian-exchange-undefeated-at-russian-nats-).
- In my last face-to-face testing with Spags, we both were kind of blown away with the Polish BioSYNC build. After testing, we had dinner at Kopps (local custard/burger stand) and discussed how to tweak it. Its most common line of defeat was a Whizz staying in sparring distance and getting a few agendas, and then Hail Mary running with double Medium into R&D to finish. I felt a Cyberdex Virus Suite (CVS) was a no brainer, and I wish I had thought to add two instead of the one in 44 cards. Also, with so much Net-Ready Eyes (NRE)/Yog.0, we thought a Lotus Field on a remote would be sick in the early/midgame. And, oh, was it. Most SYNC players refuse to build a remote, which I think is often the right play, but not always. Those were our major changes; deck was in great shape. We loved that Controlling the Message (CtM) tech from Runners was often garbage against it: Whizz, Slums, Employee Strikes, etc.
- Thursday – Worlds Swiss Day One
- I start off playing an AWESOME Irishman named Ben, on CtM. I get a Networking in my open and some strong econ and think, “Got this.” I put myself on a few drip credits and some OK cash. I run a Bankers with an upgrade which will leave me on four credits after the Sensie Actors Union trash. I won’t have to trash the Mumbad Virtual Tour in the server. I can click an Opus, shake the tag, and keep my Networking secret safe, for when he will eventually Hard-Hitting News me. I’ll drip and clear for 4; the tempo hit for him will be awesome. Too bad it’s not a Virtual Tour, it’s a Prisec, and guess what: he one-in-five’s the Networking. That’s two tags, Hard-Hitting comes…. I never recover, hitting three more Prisecs in a game of me constantly behind on tempo, a split starts my day and I think, ‘Man, Whizz seems like the right call here.’
- Round two: I play Raja (ajar on Stimhack) who’s in cosplay, which is awesome. Also, he is someone I really enjoy playing against. He traveled and had dinner with us for the Madison, WI 2015 Regional. I think I’ve got an easy Runner win vs. CI. Too bad I literally can’t draw a Vamp (I’m on two) until the bottom of my deck. By that time he’s drawn all but five or six cards, blind fires a Accelerated Diagnostics, double Biotics, and 7-points out without a run or the need of a Power Shutdown. My lack of a Councilman was PAINFUL; it was a last minute pull. I’ve never lost to CI, I get the deck on a B-level player understanding, having played and fired combos multiple times – so props to Raja! (I love how I apparently remember all my defeats much more than my victories, I guess).
- Round three: I get it going and get a sweep. It may be this round that I’m vs. Jimi Simon, who, btw, is one of my favorite guys in the game. Jimi is cool, and fun to play: he banters, he takes it all in stride, and he plays great original decks with high skill. He truly gets it, and if you’re super aggressive or unusual, his reactions are great. Spags thinks the world of Jimi’s deck designs and couldn’t stop talking about his Maxx deck in the 2015 Regional season the whole way home. Play of the game was SYNC where we are both on 4 points. My outs are getting slim, so I decide to take a chance. Jimi Injects, and loses a Faust. He’s early in his deck, and I think, ‘Go time.’ I throw a Global Food Initiative (GFI) in a new remote with a Tollbooth, and think that he does not have the cards to break it, and he can’t find them in time. I’ve got a hot Astro, a pile of cash, and a Biotic Labor, so I can get there. He drops a second Faust from hand and goes in, all in, and gets there. I laugh, thinking, ‘Well played.’ I stop to think for a moment, and put the second GFI in. I’m thinking he could get in, but it’d take everything he has to do it this turn. He thinks long and hard and lets it go; thank God. What kind of an idiot would put the winning agenda in the server on the wrong side of runnable? Sometimes, this idiot.
- Great lunch with Jamieson from Bad Publicity; always a fun time. Refueled for the second half of the day, I feel in total control on my Corp side, and I’m starting to think these new CtM changes are hurting my Runner. It’s tough, though; the popularity of Nexus Kate (https://stimhack.com/take-six-run-rd-a-nexus-kate-primer/) has actually hurt me. People are now prepared, and playing around some of my deck by accident, and the collateral damage on Congress is a real concern. Sadly, none of this showed up in testing where it won 80-90% of its games.
- Round four: Post Break, I get Kenny Deakins (Simonmoon). Kenny used to live in Wisconsin, and I wish I had played him more, but we didn’t live close. Last year at King of Servers (KOS), we got on stream versus each other at Table One. He is a FANTASTIC player, and a super nice guy. We joke around and have a couple of super fun games that I believe end in a split. Kate again can’t keep the tempo up, but to be honest, I remember talking to Kenny and having fun more than the games.
- Round five: I split as well in another game where Kate can’t get set up, and CtM is running buck wild with Sensie and Bankers. Some mulligans go to heaven; I hope this one rots in hell. Again, SYNC is sick af, as Whizz is getting torn apart by the tax and the tags. CVS does HEAVY work vs. a Datasucker and a Medium.
- Round six: Sweep. Double Vamp takes a game down (finally) and I’m going into Day 2 on 8-4, not feeling great. I’m thinking Day 2 will be CtM non-stop (as was Day 1), and I’ll be in the deep end of things with only Congress to protect me, which is not a wonderful feeling.
- Friday – Worlds Swiss Day 2
I know I’m backed up against the wall. I get some sleep, which is awesome and rare for me. Coming into Worlds, I loved my chances. I knew I was back to fighting form. I didn’t think my Kate would be the problem, but it was. My confidence is not as high coming into Day 2. I have a cup of coffee and just decide to cut it loose. I’m walking to the center from the Radisson, there’s a path up a hill behind the hotel, and I start ascending the hill and look up; the sun is perfectly lined up with the mouth of the path opening. It was like a movie, and I couldn’t help but smile. My mental turnaround was complete, and I was ready.
- Round seven vs. Gabe Moss. Super nice guy and a very, very solid player. At dinner the night before Scott and I had worked out a pretty enjoyable speech for us X-4 people. It goes something like this:
(cold open) “Are you a good person? I mean, if you and I were on a lifeboat, and we only have enough food for one person, the sharks are gathering, and only one of us has a family to get back to, would you be the type of person that would sacrifice him/herself so that the other could live? Because, I’m a good person.” I thought there would be some possible language barrier as the opponent Spags was using the speech on was a foreign National Champion. But his English was on point; he smiled, held up his hand, and said in a calm voice, “I get it, I get it. (pause) I am a good person.”
Gabe, however, looks me straight in the eyes, noting “I’m not a good person.” I smile and nod, “Fair enough.” We get to the work at hand. He’s on Andy / Blue Sun. I am not too worried, as I feel like a strong favorite versus Blue Sun so long as he doesn’t rush too fast on me, and I’m just confident in SYNC in general. My only concerns are Networking / tag removal / New Angeles City Hall, which, admittedly, are big concerns. I end up getting the sweep, close to going to time. I had maybe 100+ credits at the end of the BS / Kate game, couldn’t hit an agenda, and I had Vamped him three times for massive values. I then needed to keep tempo with his fourth round of Weyland fortune; it was insane. Next to me, Scott throws himself off the lifeboat, and grins on the way down. They say drowning is the most peaceful way to die, it’s like going home. Only I heard somebody lied about that…
- Round eight is versus some unknown UK guy named Chris Dyer. Scott asks me who I drew this round, I calmly say Dyer, knowing Scott’s a big believer in English Power. If you’ve never seen Spags give someone the “It’s serious” face, you are missing out on one of the world’s true experiences. I’ve been in the foxholes with him enough to see it. I knew it was time. At X-4, I wasn’t sure five losses would work for me, and thought my tiebreakers were fair at best. He was coming down from X-2. I believe there was an offer to split that was turned down in his previous round, which made getting swept a bit rude. Credit to Chris: zero tilt, zero concern. I asked him if he thought five losses would get anyone in, and he said he thought he would. There would be no lifeboat for either of us, just two games. I start on SYNC. I know my line, and I land a Breaking News (BN) to Closed Accounts for a 16 credit swing. I lack the cards to follow it up with a score that could seal the game. Chris is unbelievably patient, he’s playing around everything. He’s keeping four credits on Liberated Accounts to minimize damage, and he’s running with the money to make Hard-Hitting pointless. He’s also attacking the weakest server, or the one with the most accesses; everything is perfect and tight. It’s back and forth, a perfect dance, and I’m watching and thinking of someplace I can gain another advantage, but I’m not seeing it. He gets an NRE and Ice Carver up, and runs through my Little Engine on HQ. It takes me a bit to get the ICE to get rid of it, as it’s now a liability, but I finally do. Hard to overdraw for ICE when he’s on Medium. I risk a Jackson Howard in a remote to see if he’ll run a face down and risk the Rumor Mill, but he doesn’t let anything slide and runs. In the end he gets close to winning, my CVS is finally not under every agenda in my deck, and I get a virus wipe for HUGE value on a Datasucker/Medium combo. In this game I must have wiped viruses 5-7 times. Great game that I manage to pull away with. At the end of a turn Chris is discarding and hits his deck and flips up an Employee Strike (ES). My instincts are to quickly admit I know what the card is. Chris is such a respectable upright player that he immediately asks for us to call the judge. He gets a warning and shuffles the deck, but I would have rather he kept the ES, which is total garbage in the game; we laugh about it, as we both lose on that one. His Corp game is terrible for me. At this point I know what the British CtM looks like, and I know it’s a horrible situation for my Kate, as they are going to go way, way, way too fast for me. Immediate Sensie and Bankers has Chris way ahead of a fair-to-meh draw on my end. Chris forces me to Clot, maybe probing to see if I even run it, or if I want to go broke to get it. It works and I get an agenda; that’s about my only victory as Chris just cruises to an easy victory #noWhizznoproblems. Great player and a wonderful Champion for the game we love. Cheers, Chris!
- Round nine is versus Mason Hans. I know Mason a little, but I’ve never had a good chance to talk with him. Turns out he’s an amazing dude, the type of guy you would like to be on a lifeboat with. At five losses each, we know the score, and it’s not great. Only one of us has a chance of life, so we flip for what to play; comes up Runner for me. He’s on Palana, and I think the matchup might be favored to me, as it comes down to how fast he can go, and if he can get all the pieces before I can draw into mine. He sets up quick, real quick, and I’m worried. I’m hoping he doesn’t realize his tempo needs to be beyond fast. I get a bunch of drip, and a Beth Kilrain-Chang setup for 5 clicks a turn, Self-Modifying Code (SMC) into an Opus, and try to get above him. I drop Quality Time, and one piece of ICE on HQ lets me stay on whatever breaker I need with the Clone on board. I draw like mad, looking for either two Vamp, or Vamp plus Same Old Thing (SOT) as what I thought would happen goes down; Mason scores a Nisei MKII. He pumps a card into the server, and, a bit of fear hits me. ‘Is he going to gas pedal and advance, or does he need something?’, I ask myself. I think he needs something, so he instead Restructures and ices R&D (I installed an RDI, bluffing a run there and hoping to draw his attention away from HQ). My turn comes and I quickly drip 3-4 credits, and click for 10. He advances the card twice and plays money cards again. I do the math, and it’s go time. One ICE on HQ, and I hope it’s not too taxing because I’m going to have to run it twice. It looks like Mason might not even rez the ICE for a moment, as he investigates his remote cards. He makes the right call, and goes ahead and makes the rez. I can’t even recall what it was, but it wasn’t enough to cause an issue. I’m in and he fires his Nisei token. Click two, I drop the second Vamp, which lands flush. A remote run steals a Global Food Initiative and trashes the Caprice. R&D run finds an Encrypted Portals (cool tech btw vs. Yog) and a Marcus Batty (if he showed up in HQ, it’s me losing instead). It isn’t long until it’s over. Mason takes it as well as expected, a tough situation for us both; he played great and he showed a lot of character. Despite not knowing me well, despite essentially falling off the lifeboat on a hard beat, despite everything, Mason ended up sitting in my corner for the rest of Worlds. He sat behind me in all of my games and supported me until the end of my run, it was awesome.
- Round seven vs. Gabe Moss. Super nice guy and a very, very solid player. At dinner the night before Scott and I had worked out a pretty enjoyable speech for us X-4 people. It goes something like this:
- In 2014 FFG had a pretty horrifying system for pairing rounds. It was first by record, then alphabetical, meaning I got paired up for every event, every time, and the larger the event, the more pair-ups I got. Every round you could look to my table and note where the divide between my record and the guys above or at times below me were. It was insane. My strength of schedule (SOS) tiebreakers was always tops. By the end of the tourney, I had the loss record that puts people on the bubble, I had ZERO concern that I’d make the cut, as I played UP all day. When the sheets drop, I’m the 17th player, a heartbreak, as every national champion makes it in over me, super byes giving them a super-SOS (only spags, the #1 seed that year, had a better record than the Nats super bye ‘opponent’). This is on my mind as I’m waiting for the final results to post. I’m 16th seed, and relief washes over me. Dan D’Argenio comes flying out of the crowd and high fives me about 30 times.
- Round of 16 Game One – I’m paired versus the #1 seed Wes Odom. I don’t really know him, but I know of him. He makes a kind offer to me: if I concede my first game to him, he’ll concede his second to me. This is a dangerous man, clearly. Also, he split all day into the finals from the #1 seed and still kept his seed; impressive stuff. He’s relaxed and we end up having a lot of fun banter. We sit down and I try not to show a preference in sides to tip him off. I ask him what he wants to play. He’s not sure what’s coming out of that Kate, people STILL keep talking about me being on Nexus. I walked by a couple guys I don’t know talking about the Kate in the cut being a totally unique build. Feeling like the Siphon will do the work and not caring about tags as much, Wes chooses to run. I’m relieved; he asks me if I’m happy with the choice. I think for a second and just say it’s not a big deal. Honestly, I didn’t want to sound like some sort of ahole bragging about how happy I am, I mean, I might lose. We have a fun game with a lot of great talk during it. Wes does a great job attacking and the real killer is his first inevitable Medium dig for 3 straight agendas, specifically which agendas is what kills me: BN, Astro, BN. We get to the point where he has enough tags that I can Psycho a Beale. I have the Beale and a GFI in hand, and I’m praying that he runs out of tempo. He’s slowing way down, as he has Rebirthed into Omar as a way to get a run a turn into R&D even after there are 2 ICE there. His deck is running slim and I literally just need to draw the Psycho, or have him hit a CVS on a dig into R&D. It doesn’t happen and he hits the last BN for the win. Brutal game where I couldn’t get a single BN scored, couldn’t draw a Jackson, and definitely couldn’t draw the Psycho to win; well played and my only loss on SYNC.
- Losers Bracket Game One – Here comes the only other non NBN/Shaper player in the cut, David Saiya. A lot of UK Davids came to play some solid Netrunner. We had both Corped already so we roll off. It’s Shaper on Shaper for who is the last Green standing, and I roll to run. David has a bit of a slow setup; I crush out a Sensie on turn 2 or 3 and hold my breath for a Hard-Hitting that doesn’t come. I could deal with it but the tempo would be horrifying. Before he knows it I’m dripping money and he has to respect the Clot. He gets an agenda out, but it’s just a Beale. It’s the first non-BN/Astro super first turn game vs. CtM I’ve had in two days. Pretty soon I’m locking David in a world of hurt, as he literally can’t do anything, his ice is garbage, and I can run through it. He tries to push an agenda that I Clot and run. I don’t need to Vamp him, as it’s hopeless for him, locked in the Toolbox prison of Kate. He concedes with a hand full of agendas, and an Archives full of agendas.
- Losers Bracket Game Two – Praying I get to go back to SYNC, I draw Brian Cronin, who I was convinced was another Brit until he starts talking; uh oh, SF team, the bad news CtM deck. We roll, and it’s CtM vs. Kate, hard mode confirmed. He has a great start and I have a nightmare, I’m living in a nightmare, to quote Macho Man Randy Savage. I draw, and draw, and draw, and get a really slow and terrible setup. The second I hard pay for a Daily Cast in desperation, on 1 Link, 1 Underworld Contacts, and 1 Beth, he smashes out a BN and an All Seeing Eye. It does not get worse than this. I’m fighting back and the only thing keeping me alive is some agenda hits. I may have Clotted to get an agenda at one point on just enough credits to do it. Clot out, with a hot Astro, I decide it’s my last or second to last turn. I have just enough to Clone an SMC into a Fracter and go ham. I know the winning agenda is in there, and I need to hit it and something on R&D, needing two agendas and I’ve got five, maybe six or seven accesses. I pull the trigger, trash the Clot, and go to work. I run his hand 3 times, all whiffs; run R&D and there’s an agenda, but only one. Good night. It really wasn’t that close and my outs were slim. It was all I had. And so my run ends.
- I get to stick around this year due to the schedule and watch the final games, great experience. Start talking KOS with my team, and there is a lot of drinking and confusion on what people are playing. Now, there’s a change of mind. We end up deciding to not run any Whizz decks at all (LOL). Congrats to Chris – an awesome run. I also enjoy Ben Ni bringing a lot of personality and a hype man to the tourney. I’m gonna get me one of them hype men next year. That guy brought a lot of energy and accessories to the scene. I like it.
- KOS – Can You Dig It?!?!?
- My favorite Netrunner event of the year, hands down. The greatest format for the greatest game. My team? It’s, umm … interesting. I consider Versace Brick Syndicate Re-Up to be akin to a high performance race car, perhaps overturned, and dangerously close to exploding or spiraling out of control into the crowd, killing spectators. It is definitely not street legal. Dan is a madman, an absolute animal. Joe loses his mind on a bad beat in the first round and blows his top, as Jesse smirks, and quietly goes 2-0 in the opening round. We battle our way up to Table 1, and manage to win the whole damn thing somehow. Jesse plays masterful Netrunner, and everyone on the team rallies. I play my backup Worlds deck, which I maybe should have ran, a Valencia deck that went 5-0 despite never once breaking a subroutine on a piece of ICE. The boos rain down, the bad guys win. Big props to Nick Soto (sotomatic) and Ben Torell (Dodgepong), as those guys put on a hell of a stream from what I could tell.
- Dinner with the ATL crew + more is non-stop laughing. Pacer/Zach/Jack/Soto/Ross/Spags/Travis/Ben/etc. are a unique experience. I get to hear all the Zach/Jack stories and they are amazing. The Endless Hunger games (https://twitter.com/iLogos/status/794212834850799616) as told by Zach is entertainment of the highest form. If you ever get a chance to hear a story told by Zach, do it. The man is a treasure in the scene, and we take care of our treasures. Pacer also has the driest wit, dropping bombs like, “I’m 37, but if I shave you’d swear I’m 36.” In round 5 of KOS, Ross tells his opponent, while on 1 card left in R&D as Corp, that if he has a Fisk Investment Seminar in hand, he’ll win (knowing he’ll FA for the final 2 points on his turn). The guy goes, “Great idea.”, and plays a Rebirth into Fisk, and runs the only server he can, Archives, forcing the draw.
- Sunday, Jon Dalessandry, Scott, and I hit the Vikes game. We sit next to the Vikings radio broadcast booth in a suite and have an amazing experience. Scott gets us deluxe accommodations, Jon can barely talk he’s so happy. And, despite the Lions winning, nobody gives him a beat down. People are even nice to the Packers fan cheering actively for a tie.
- Every year Scott and I glom onto something, which becomes the theme of Worlds in our circle. In ‘13 with Nordrunner it was the Old Greg bit (which Nords had previously never seen – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LZo9ugJTWQ.
In ’14 we still believed – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdaaGlyu7EQ.
In ’15 it was Hard Times Dahdddy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9py4aMK3aIU.
And this year a Tollbooth Willy reference led us to The Peeper – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW_9OGN4hEQ. Loving it.
- As Scott would say – The Corny Shit:
- This is the greatest game I’ve ever played, win or lose. You are all the best group of gamers I’ve ever known. The world over, I’m always impressed with the quality of people playing this game. Great minds are drawn to the greatness that is Netrunner. The game isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty damn close. There are too many of you to name, but man what a good time.
- Props to the foreign players, you guys are fantastic. UK travels like an Army and we have our first non-US Champion, cheers guys.
- Props to Jesse Vandover – great friend, great to see you two times a year – still got it, still got it.
- Props to the unsung Baltimore/D.C. crew – Ben, Rob and company, keep on trucking fellas.
- Pour one out for Niles, miss that guy, has to make it back one of these years.
- Props to Joe who I skipped my flight to take a car ride with, such a great guy and an amazing player – pure natural talent for the game.
- Props to Scott aka Spags. All you people love him already, but remember, he was my friend first. A legendary player and a great friend, his expanse of knowledge on music, films, games, etc. is beyond impressive.
- Props to the strong showings by the MN teams in KOS, plural. Nice job guys. And on that note – Impressed with the second place team as well. Next time I’m in town for an event I’d like to take those guys out to dinner. Raja, Abram, Jeff, and Melvin. Seriously, take me up on it. If I’m there for Regionals or something, let’s do it. Congrats! Wish we could have played.
The Stuff People care about:
o SYNC was a modified version of the Polish list. Genius build in my opinion. All the parts are great. Slight modifications, I found myself seeing value in cards I wanted to cut like Psychographics and Fast Track, both won me games in testing and address fringe cases where you need to win. I would have wedged a second CVS into the deck in that field if I could have, which would have slammed the door on my close games and made it likely to go undefeated.
o Kate is a deck near and dear to my heart. Look, it didn’t carry me at Worlds. I know it’s not the optimal deck. My goal was to play something I was totally familiar with. To win with this deck, you have to make small sacrifices constantly. I’m always thinking about what I’m giving up in board state, what can I deal with, etc. You need time to set up and sometimes you don’t have it and you can’t panic. You have to find the cracks in the game that you can exploit into an opportunity. I had never played Shaper at Worlds. Scott is such an amazing Shaper player, so I always felt like I was stuck in the mud compared to him. This is, in a way, my love letter to old school Netrunner: Magnum Opus, Toolbox, etc. I played it on principle and I’m sure people will hate me for it, but don’t think for a second I didn’t understand what I was doing, or I honestly thought this was the best deck. Sometimes people make the decision they want to make, not the one that benefits them the most. I worked hard on this deck and I’ll always have a fondness for it, and I was shocked it didn’t do better than it did.
o Bonus Deck – Regional season I built and refined a Bioethics deck. I was upset to see another deck very similar putting people onto this style of build; thanks Jonas / Industrial Genomics. It was designed as a great equalizer, a deck that required skill to play, but also put new players on par with experienced players for one simple fact – Ain’t nobody runs expose. Expose, people, it’s great. Knowledge is the true power of the game, and if I could do anything to Netrunner, it would be to amp up traps while making them skill intensive. At any rate, this is the much speculated Biotech list from regional season. Last time I played this, in Chicago, multiple players were on expose, it warmed my heart, and cost me two games.
o I’m sorry, did you want the Valencia build? Hard pass.
o Also, #TeamDog