The Plugged in Tour came to Portland, and we had about 32 people come to compete for glory in front of the designer of the game himself, Lukas Litzsinger.
I just want to say first of all how much I loved that the FFG staff created this tour and came out to these events. (And it’s great that Europe is going to get some love as well!) Playing with Lukas was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in Netrunner, just to be able to play this amazing game with its creator, and I got to both see two new unspoiled cards and have him sign some of my cards as well! (The new cards I saw were Subliminal Messaging and Power Shutdown).
Here are the decks I played at the event. I went with Andromeda because I feel that it is still the most powerful, it’s my favorite to play, and I expected people to be trying to hate on the Atman deck. I played NBN because I feel it matches up the best against Atman, with its ability to deny resources to the runner, destroying their Pro Contacts, Kati, Daily casts, etc. NBN along with Weyland are the two strongest corps right now. Weyland has better economy and alternate win conditions (Scorch), but NBN has better ice, agendas, and non-kill tag punishment.
Andromeda (45 cards):
3 Datasucker ***
2 Corroder ****
1 Yog.0 *
1 Mimic *
2 Special Order
3 Account Siphon
3 Emergency Shutdown
2 Forged Activation Orders
1 Inside Job
3 Sure Gamble
3 Dirty Laundry
3 R&D Interface ******
3 Plascrete Carapace
3 Daily Casts
2 Kati Jones
2 John Masanori
1 Bank Job
I played 2 John Masanori, which is a great card, but tricky. You have to be very careful about playing him, you want to scout some ice first and then play him, ideally. He makes you more likely to end up going into a tagstorm mode at some point in the game, so I tried to be less dependent on Kati, going down to 2. I’m not sure that was the correct decision, as I did get screwed on economy a couple times, though that was also fueled by not drawing Desperado in those games. I might find a way to add back in a Kati, or maybe just some other econ.
John Masanori is kindof feast or famine. There are times when you have to hold him in your hand, because playing him will screw you. There are times when he is amazing, and just draws you a card every turn, and lets you make runs into Archives or whatever for Card + Credit + Sucker, even better than using a Professional Contacts!
I also feel like in needs a little bit more breakers/special order. A couple games I was struggling to draw into a breaker, while an opponent was scoring agendas.
NBN Making News (49 cards):
3 Project Beale
3 Breaking News
1 Priority Requisition
1 Character Assassination
3 Popup Window
1 Rototurret *
2 Ice Wall **
3 Caduceus ******
1 Archer **
3 SanSan City Grid
2 Bernice Mai
1 Corporate Troubleshooter *
3 Jackson Howard
2 Melange Mining Corp
3 Hedge Fund
3 Green Level Clearance ***
1 Closed Accounts
I tried out a TWIY deck for a while, but eventually went back to Making News. My main reasons were that I wanted to use Caduceus, which is a solid ice for Making News that usually ends up being free to rez, and that it’s made it a lot easier to fight Atman decks with 15 influence instead of 12, and the ability to make good use of Draco. I really like Draco in Making News, he punishes face checking by being very cheap and putting out a free trace 4 (with the free bits), that they MUST beat, so it’s very draining. It’s similar to a Shadow but doesn’t cost an influence.
I started out trying to play some sort of almost highlander (1 of each card) NBN deck for fun, playing tons of different ice and tons of different upgrades, and tag punish cards. The deck would’ve been something like this:
(See my post near the top of that page)
But I found that I had to spend too much influence on ice, and there were certain things I really want multiples of, like 3 Green Level. So I went with a more reasonable list.
I am playing 2 Freelancer, as they are the key to defeating Atman for me. Breaking News into trash your two economy resources for free is very strong. I really love Freelancer right now, but only in NBN, because it’s really Breaking News that it works with. The psychographics exists to punish people siphoning me and keeping tags, or just going all in on tags from Bernice.
I don’t play Data Raven anymore because I feel it makes you too vulnerable to being all-inned, and if you can’t kill them with the tags you might just lose the game as a result. (I still think it would be great in decks with Scorched Earth).
Melange has some anti-synergy with Jackson Howard, who really goes better with low-click economy cards (either Operations, which is the best option imo, or Adonis or Pad Campaigns – things that don’t eat many clicks). But I still felt the need for some. I didn’t want to play just a couple drip econ cards and open myself up to Bank Job for just a couple cards.
I feel this deck needs more economy, but it’s out of room. It’s incredibly hard to fit all the things you need into a corp deck these days! You could possibly cut a tag punish card or two and an upgrade for more economy. Economy ice is incredibly helpful at conserving deck space, which is part of why I love Popup so much, and love Caduceus in Making News.
I feel that Green Level Clearance is excellent in this deck, as it helps you both draw into more ice and pay for them as well. It helps you to play a bit less ice in your deck and still come out okay. Beanstalk is also great, but I was out of room and influence.
What would I change about the decks I played:
While strong, I feel that there are a few changes I would make to these decks.
First of all, the NBN deck is light on economy, and mostly it wants more burst economy. Good choices are Beanstalk Royalties, Successful Demonstration, and Celebrity Gift.
Melange is potentially cuttable, as it doesn’t really fit in that well with the Jackson plan and the goal of rushing agendas extremely fast. I think the Troubleshooter should be the first thing to go, as the deck is usually too poor to use it effectively.
In looking for more influence to cut to fit in burst economy cards, the Archer might be the most reasonable cut, though I think it’s quite useful.
I discussed the deck a lot with Anthony (Stimhack creator), as he wanted to play a variation of it in his plugged-in tour two days later. We agreed that it definitely needed the following:
+3 Beanstalk Royalties
+1 Ice (replacing Archer).
He made these changes, and also cut a Bastion and added two TMI. I feel that TMI is a good card against Account Siphon, and can be good if the opponent messes up and makes a run on it with almost no money, but that in other cases it’s often dead. I think I wouldn’t add more than 1 TMI, however I think one TMI is perfectly fine, mostly for Siphon defense.
He also cut Freelancer for more Closed Accounts. I personally think Freelancer is amazing, even critical, as the best way to win is to manage to ruin the runner’s economy by trashing a couple economy resources early on with it, after a Breaking News.
Freelancer is better against Katman, while Closed Accounts is better against Siphon decks, so in a way it’s a Meta call. Freelancer is also better against Whizzard DLR decks. I feel that the deck should contain both Freelancer and Closed Accounts, thought the numbers of each could vary.
For the Andromeda deck, I had added John Masanori, cutting a Kati and a breaker. Masanori is amazing when he works well, but at other times he can be bad. It is best to play him midgame after scouting the opponent’s ice and building some rig, at which point he sustains your draws. However, getting him early on, without economy cards, is horrible, and this happened to me once in the tourney.
Also, I found that in multiple games during the day I struggled to draw breakers, indicating that I had cut them a little too much.
I would make the following changes:
-1 John Masanori +1 Kati Jones. I would add more consistency with drawing Kati, and trim Masanori back to 1, as a good midgame option, but not something you always need.
-1 (Forged Activation Orders?) +1 Special Order. Cut something for more breaking power, but I’m not sure what. Maybe a Forged.
Also, I would possibly do:
-1 ??? +1 Faerie. I’d like a Faerie as a hybrid economy card/emergency breaker. Again, what to cut is up in the air.
The cut cards would be based on the expected Meta. If I didn’t anticipate drip economy, I would cut the Bank Job. It I thought few people would play Scorched Earth, I’d cut one Plascrete, and so on.
Onward to the games:
The Great Blur (Rounds 1-3)
Rounds 1, 2 and 3 are a blur in my memory. The cause of this strange phenomenon will be discovered later!
Rounds 1-3 vs. S.S., K.J., and BDB (Kate, Jinteki PE, Kate, Weyland Core, Andromeda, and NBN TWIY)
Some events occurred during these games, but I don’t remember most of them. I won them all. One was close and I got down 6-0 in it very fast but came back.
- The tourney started off for me as NBN, getting 3 Astros right away, and Astro-chaining for the win. My opponent got Opus and then ran through a popup on R&D a fair amount after I already had gotten 3 Astros, which I was happy about because it gave me $1, and had no chance of taking an Astro. The game was very fast.
- Against my round 1 opponent’s Jinteki, he seemed to have a bad luck starting hand. I got a free Gila Hands from play undefended and then an agenda off the deck. He went for an early Nisei behind 1 ice, but I was able to infiltrate it, then inside job it.
- I killed a fresh Daily Casts with a Character Assassination in one of these game, leaving my opponent clicking for $1. However, the two Kate players didn’t put out any resources against me! They weren’t playing Atman (that I saw). At least one of them played Darwin.
- An opponent started out by playing 2 ice guarding a card in a remote as NBN. I decided to start with Sure Gamble, run it. It was Popup/Draco, and I got in, scoring the Astro! Astro chaining prevented!
- In one of my NBN games, I had two Beales in hand, when he went Sneakdoor-> run hand a bunch, scoring both. He then scored a third Beale off R&D, putting my in an early 6-0 hole! Somehow I clawed my way back into it and won the game (there was a SanSan involved), but not without a few more accesses on R&D that each risked death. I rezzed an Archer on R&D, but he got through it once with a Clone Chipped Fairy, and again with an Inside Job, but didn’t get the winning agenda off those accesses.
- One of my opponents played a Darwin Kate deck with tons of things like Cyberfeeder, Cloak, and Toolbox. Darwin still wasn’t that much of a Challenge to beat, I got Tollbooth on R&D, cleared if it got up to be able to break that, and I stacked several multi-sub ice on a remote to make it expensive to urn, and played lots of SanSans there.
- In one game, an opponent who had Darwin was running through my Caduceus on R&D. I had already gotten two uses of Melange Mining Corp, giving me lots of money, so he decided to let me keep getting $3 more off it, but break the End the Run trace. Ending up with ridiculous amount of money, I put a Priority Requisition in my remote server which had a Draco. I rezzed the Draco with 8 counters and brute forced the end the run. Draco was great! Usually I just rez Draco for 1 and make the opponent lose $4 avoiding the trace, using it as a very taxing cheap ice.
Having finished round 1 EXTREMELY fast, I went over to the tables with the FFG staff. Lukas was there, as well as “someone from sales”. Sorry person from sales, I’m pretty sure you’re awesome as well, but I was too entranced by Lukas to remember your name.
I didn’t get to play yet because the area was filled with a few people who weren’t playing in the tourney and were already playing matches vs. the FFG folks. Darn! I thought the goal of the tournament was to either crush your opponent or lose to them super fast, and then go play the FFG staff!
After round 2, again I was one of the first people finished, and I went over to the FFG challenge area, but this time the staff were busy teaching two new players how to play Netrunner, with starter decks! Argh!
Finally, after round 3, I was again quick over to the tables, and this time I got to play against the man himself, the great Lukas Litzsinger, creator of Android Netrunner.
The Best Netrunner Game Ever!
I played Andromeda against Lukas with the GRNDL deck. I knew this deck was very scary, with Punitive Counterstrike and lots of money. The deck aims to let you come in, score a 3 point agenda, and kill you as a result.
Playing Lukas was incredibly fun, and I was thrilled to be able to let him know how much I loved the game, and all that they had done with it. Sometimes we all bitch about balance. Sometimes we beg for answers to problem cards. But in the end, we all agree that this game is unbelievably amazing, and that FFG has done an incredible job with it. Various spoiled and released cards from the Spin cycle like Jackson Howard, Restructure, and others, also have me believing that balance between the runner and corp is coming, and that the corp will gain better tricks to handle the runner’s power cards.
Turn 1 Lukas played the first of two new cards I would see: Subliminal Messaging!
How cool! A free credit that comes back any time the runner doesn’t run! This was strong in the GRNDL deck, trying to bait us into the trap.
He played a card behind ice, left HQ and R&D open, and played a Restructure, taking him to $16 on turn 1.
I was greatly afraid of death if I ran, so I got economy going with Daily Casts and Kati. I played Desperado and a Plascrete while he scored a PSF.
Next came my R&D interface, and I attacked the exposed R&D, seeing the second new card: Power Shutdown!
I took the card off R&D, and looked at it, and…OMG A NEW CARD! WHAT IS THIS!
A Weyland operation that lets the corp trash X cards off their deck, and then the runner must pick a Hardware or Program in play of cost X or less and trash it!
Initially I didn’t realize the runner chose, so I figured he would trash my Plascrete. He played it with X=3, and I chose to kill my Desperado, and then play another one from my hand, happy to maintain the Plascrete.
After a Siphon and a failed run that caused John Masanori to tag me, he started pinging me with PSF.
I figured that my Plascrete was essential to surviving, so I took the damage, figuring that I could win this race because he had no ice on HQ and I had John Masanori, so I could do a run each turn that gained me a card, a $, and an access. However, as a result I lose a Corroder to damage, and was without any Icebreakers.
Lukas scored a Hostile takeover and then used it to rez an Archer on R&D (I had no programs to trash, but it was all he could get to stop the 2 card accesses!) I was able to shut down the archer after an HQ run.
I put out a second Plascrete, and Lukas continued to work on agendas behind a Hive, the 5 subroutine Weyland Barrier that loses subroutines as the corp scores Agendas. I was unable to get through it, and Lukas was able to get an Atlas scored, going to 4 points.
I scored a 3 pointer off R&D, and out came the Punitive Counterstrikes! I decided to take 3 damage from my hand, and 3 off my Plascretes, holding onto 1 card in hand in case that deck was hiding a Neural EMP, and keeping enough power on my Plascretes to stave off a kill.
At this point I figured that I needed to remove the tags, since I might get hit with a lot of Scorching and PSFing otherwise.
We continued on, with me trying to lock him out of Agendas by hitting R&D, and him trying to score behind the Hive I couldn’t break because I lost my breakers to damage, to keep alive my Plascrete.
I got a Hostile out of R&D getting me to 4, and he installed and double advanced another card!
I frantically dug 3 cards in my deck for a way to break the Hive, without luck. Nooooo!! Was I about to lose to the great Lukas? Was it a 5/3 agenda to give him the win?
I ran R&D in desperation with my final click. He had the unrezzed Archer still there to stop me, and if he rezzed it he would not be able to win with a 5/3. If I scored 3 points in my 2 accesses I could still win.
He rezzed the Archer! I was stopped.
The Agenda turned out to be a Posted Bounty, not a 5/3, and he was quite close to being able to Scorch me out, through the Plascretes, at a couple points in the game, but I was barely keeping ahead of him with Siphons.
In the end, I finally found a way through to R&D again, and found a 3 pointer to finish off the win! A very close game!
Then a thing happened*:
What is this? What happened to my memory of all that came before? The first three rounds are a blur to me now!
Oh that evil corp! They knew I saw their secrets from the GRNDL deck! Two new cards that had not yet been spoiled!
But this attempt to erase my memory was ineffective! Only my memories of the first 3 rounds were wiped out!
(*This may be a complete lie)
My surviving memories:
The GRNDL deck is very interesting. It certainly does a great job of not caring much about bad publicity. It doesn’t put up much defense to runs, it just threatens to kill you if you make them and score an agenda! It does a good job of making the drawback not very big, and making the $10 starting money really important, by threatening to kill you with Midseason/Sea Source, Scorch and Punitive Counterstrike, if you run its undefended servers and get agendas.
I told Lukas, “so GRNDL really needed to be 10 influence?” He said something like “I think it could’ve been 12. It’s a deck that really wants influence”. I agree, 12 would’ve been better. Maybe it could’ve been 15, but seeing how it played with the new scariness that Weyland can put out if you run them early with less money than they have, I’m not sure. Personally, I think I’ll just run Core Weyland with tons of burst economy, and the kill threats as a way to improve the central server defense.
Lukas and I chatted a bit about Netrunner, board games, and how neither of us play many board games anymore because all we play is Netrunner and League of Legends, and then I had to go back to the plugged in tour for round 4. I collected my signed Scorched Earth for the victory, and went to my next match.
Round 4 vs. Joe Held (Whizzard/HB EtF)
Joe is a strong player, and has a very annoying Whizzard Data Leak Reversal/Siphon/Joshua B deck. It plays Siphon, Same Old Thing, Déjà vu, Joshua B, DLR, and more annoying things, to leave you broke and mill your deck into the archives. Fortunately, I have some experience against the archetype, which is definitely a viable one.
I had two Freelancers, which are like a magic bullet against his deck, taking out the Joshua Bs and DLRs for free (which is really important when you’re at $0), helping to survive the brutal onslaught.
Somehow I managed to win the game as NBN, even though I didn’t draw a Freelancer!
It was a close match ending in a 7-6 victory, as I scored agendas on a defended SanSan while he DLRed me and scored agendas in my deck and Archives. At one point I just stopped killing his Joshua B and DLR, and went for the win, needing him to not manage to get an agenda in the next several cards. I got lucky and they weren’t there.
In our other game, I played Andromeda against his HB and mulliganed a weak hand into a weaker hand. I got 2 Masanori and 2 Plascrete (worthless vs. his HB), no Desperado and no economy at all. I ended up playing John Masanori, hoping his ice was Bioroids, getting tagged when it wasn’t, and then clicking for $1 a lot because I couldn’t get a single economy card. He played SanSan and scored a couple agendas, but then he ran out and couldn’t find more, even though he was drawing.
I kept him poor for a while with Siphons, and he eventually got 2 rezzed SanSans (rezzing the second to dodge a Siphon), both behind different ice I couldn’t break, so I knew my only hope was to prevent him from drawing Agendas.
His R&D was guarded by Enigma, and I got a couple R&D interfaces and desperately hunted for my Yog or Special Order. Finally I got it and started hitting his R&D.
Eventually I pulled back into it and got some accesses on R&D with R&D interfaces, but only got 2 points. He did a Beta Test to put him up to 5 points, and activated it, getting a Rototurret and Ice Wall onto R&D. This crushed me, as I now needed two more different breakers to get in, and didn’t have the money to play them and couldn’t find them.
He won soon after, giving me my first loss.
The match took a while, and we didn’t have much time left after it. I went over to talk to Lukas some more, and got him to sign my Andromeda!
Round 5 vs. Nick Patron (Kate/Weyland)
In a rematch of our Regionals finals, I was matched against Nick Patron at table 1, while next to us at table 2 was Joe Held from my last match, and Brian Goodwin, another strong player (who killed me with a Scorch in Jinteki at regionals!)
I played my Andromeda first against Nick’s Weyland. Clearly, because my Andromeda was now signed by Lukas, I would be invincible!
It was a very interesting and tense game. I got out Desperado and R&D interface, and was running HQ and R&D. Nick was advancing agendas behind a couple ice in a remote, and made the decision to not rez his central server ice, conserving his money to score points. It resulted in me getting several points off R&D, while he scored a Government Contracts.
Nick then scored an Atlas, and got very close to winning. But I was close as well (I believe it was 5-5).
I ran R&D, and Nick rezzed Archer to stop me. I lose Corroder and Yog as a result, setting me back, but it put Nick out of range to win the game. He scored another 3 pointer to get back to 6, and I managed to Shutdown his Archer, but he got more ice on R&D.
We then engaged in a mad race to get what we needed, with me trying to find the breaker to get into R&D while Nick tried to get the agenda to win.
I managed to get a Crypsis and had just enough money to make one final Glory run through his R&D ice with it, accessing 3 cards (two R&D interfaces). It was pretty much my last hope, as I would now be broke and couldn’t get in again next turn, and Nick had probably drawn an Agenda through his prior digging that he could win with.
Luckily, the 3 cards contained an agenda and I took the game.
At a score of 8-1, I was now guaranteed top 2. In fact, I might be guaranteed 1st at this point, but it depended on tiebreakers, and we all didn’t know who had better tiebreakers.
We played the other side, with him playing Katman against my NBN. I got out a SanSan and used it to Breaking News-> Freelancer his Pro Contacts and Daily Casts, denying him money, but he was getting into my R&D with an R&D interface. He killed the SanSan leaving him poor.
I was stuck on my initial 2 ice, Caduceus and Popup, and he Parasited the Caduceus and killed it with Datasuckers. I got a Bernice and put it on R&D, and he started taking tags and leaving her there, but he was getting accesses.
He took an Astro and a Breaking News right away in the first couple of accesses, and I struggled to draw Ice. I finally got a Tollbooth, but couldn’t rez it. I then got an Archer, and put it on R&D. But he had seen the Archer on top of R&D and knew it was there. This held him off for a couple turns while he hunted for an answer, but eventually he found one (Inside Job?) and the hit R&D again for two cards with an R&D interface. The two cards were breaking News and Priority Requisition, and it was over.
Final Record: 8-2. 4-1 as runner, 4-1 as corp.
The tourney over, we got the final standings, and I got 1st, having the best tiebreakers of the three of us with an 8-2 record (Me, Brian Goodwin, and Nick Patron). Joe, my 4th round opponent, had made top 8 and had the best strength of schedule of all, having the misfortune of having to play the top THREE finishers in the tourney.
With the tourney over, it was clearly time to beg Lukas for some more signatures! In the end, I got the following things signed by him:
- Scorched Earth Promo.
- Gabriel Santiago Promo.
- Kate Promo.
- Crypsis Promo.
- Regionals playmat (Beale).
- Plugged in Tour playmat.
- Jackson Howard.
In signing my Jackson Howard, he crossed out the 3 on return 3 cards, replacing it with a 1, nerfing my Jackson. Hehe.
My sitting there getting autographs developed into a line of people trying to get Lukas autographs, and he graciously signed a bunch of people’s cards and playmats.
Thanks Lukas for being awesome and making an awesome game, and for signing so many of all of our cards.
Thoughts on Netrunner’s Future:
The plugged in tour left me feeling great about the future on Netrunner in general. First of all, I think Fantasy Flight is awesome for organizing this outreach program, and sending its staff to play with fans across the country. It’s great that they were able to add Europe is well in the next cycle.
Secondly, I am confident that the designers of the game recognize our collective concerns about Runner vs. Corp balance, are attempting to address the issue, and are capable of designing solutions to the issue.
The plugged in tour staff decks, GRNDL and Jinteki, do a great job of showing new tools that the corp will have in the future, to help combat the runner. Many cards in these decks give me a ton of hope for Corps in the future, such as all the great new Ice (Hive, Wraparound, Inazuma, Swordsman, Yagura, etc.), new economy (Restructure, Subliminal Messaging, Sundew), new threats (Power Shutdown, Punitive Counterstrike), and new tricks (Caprice Nisei, Shock), and also the NAPD Contract agenda with built in defense.
While previously, I already had confidence in the developers to do a good job with the game (as evidenced by the awesome cards that already exist and the fact that they managed to make an even better game than original Netrunner), talking to Lukas made me even more confident. We discussed the possibility of counters to Parasite and Datasucker, such as Ice that cannot have its strength reduced, and he agreed that it was something they had discussed.
I believe we are starting to see and will continue to see cards to improve the balance of the game (strengthening corp), over the coming year. The genesis cycle tended to give runners more goodies than corps, but that was all designed a long time ago, before it was clear that runners were stronger in high level play. Now we are seeing the results of design with the intent to help out corps, and it shows. Jackson Howard was only the beginning, and much more is coming. I am very excited by many of the cards that have been spoiled, and I feel they will help out a lot.
It was after 1am when I got home from the tourney, but it had been an amazing experience. Winning was nice, but getting to meet Lukas was even better. This event was pretty much one of the coolest things I’ve ever been to, and a great time was had by all.
Thanks again to Fantasy Flight for putting on this amazing tour!
And oh yeah….if you’re wondering, I voted for Fisk. 🙂