The Road to Nationals
After Regionals Season, it was announced that there wouldn’t be any Nationals for the Philippines. Not exactly a heart breaker for the community, since we didn’t have one in previous years either. I started asking around in Malaysia and Singapore if they would have Nationals (since they had one last year) and I rounded up a group of Netrunner friends to practice with, just in case the stars lined up and we could go to Malaysia or Singapore to compete.
Then the unthinkable happened.
August 27, 2015. 3:12pm. Freddie Tan, owner of Neutral Grounds posts a picture of a Quetzal playmat with “2015 Filipino National Championship” printed all over it. The entire Philippines Netrunner community goes wild.
Normally, I would be all set to prep for a tournament like this. My wife Claudia is one of the best players in the Philippines, and she’s always ready to practice me. Unfortunately, Claudia has been very busy with work and she told me that she might not have enough time for Nationals. I decided to look for somebody relatively new to practice with. I didn’t want to practice with veterans, since I knew I would feel bad if they won — but if I practiced with somebody new, if they won, then I’d be cool with it.
I narrowed my list down to Cuki, Kenno, and Sam. Cuki and Kenno are veterans of AGoT LCG, winning a bunch of championships between them and Sam was 1st Seed in the Regionals that I won (I was 2nd Seed). Out of the three of them, only Sam was game to practice during weekdays, so that was that. We set a weekly practice session, and we wanted to increase it to twice a week if time permitted.
It was a bit difficult to prepare for Nationals because we had no idea what datapacks would be legal for the tournament. The tournament organizers wanted to delay the final legal datapacks until the last weekend before Nationals so that our meta could be as up to date as possible, but that’s not exactly good for practicing / playtesting. I decided to assume that we would be legal up to Old Hollywood, since Regionals was up to Chrome City.
For my runner deck, I knew I would probably end up with PPVP Kate. Kate is too strong and too easy for me to play to not be my first choice. I won a Regionals with Kate, and reached top 3 in a 2nd Regionals, so I was pretty confident with her.
My 2nd option was Valencia DLR Cheese, but only if Universe of Tomorrow was legal. I playtested both of these runners for the PSI Games, so I was pretty confident I would do well with either.
For my Corp deck my first choice was RP since I didn’t like how Butchershop was performing without Explode-a-Palooza. I still wasn’t happy with Butchershop without Data and Destiny, but I expected a lot of Film Critic if Old Hollywood came out, so I had to give up the RP plan if that happened.
Unfortunately, our Nationals ended being Chrome City legal, so it was a pretty stale meta. I expected a lot of NEH, but with lots of RP at the top tables since Film Critic wouldn’t be legal yet.
1st Place, Philippines Nationals
October 25, 2015
Jinteki: Replicating Perfection (Trace Amount)
3x Nisei MK II (Core Set)
2x NAPD Contract (Double Time)
3x The Future Perfect (Honor and Profit)
1x Chronos Project (First Contact)
3x Jackson Howard (Opening Moves) •••
3x Sundew (Mala Tempora)
3x Mental Health Clinic (Honor and Profit)
1x Daily Business Show (All That Remains) •
3x Caprice Nisei (Double Time)
1x Crisium Grid (First Contact) •
1x Cyberdex Virus Suite (Order and Chaos)
3x Hedge Fund (Core Set)
3x Celebrity Gift (Opening Moves)
1x Interns (Mala Tempora)
3x Eli 1.0 (Future Proof) •••
1x Himitsu-Bako (Opening Moves)
Code Gate (9)
2x Tollbooth (Core Set) ••••
1x Enigma (Core Set)
1x Viper (Cyber Exodus) •
2x Lotus Field (Upstalk)
3x Crick (Breaker Bay)
1x Ichi 1.0 (Core Set) ••
3x Pup (Honor and Profit)
1x Susanoo-No-Mikoto (Honor and Profit)
Kate “Mac” McCaffrey: Digital Tinker (Core Set)
1x Stimhack (Core Set) •
3x Diesel (Core Set)
3x The Maker’s Eye (Core Set)
3x Sure Gamble (Core Set)
2x Quality Time (Humanity’s Shadow)
1x Scavenge (Creation and Control)
1x Levy AR Lab Access (Creation and Control)
3x Dirty Laundry (Creation and Control)
3x Lucky Find (Double Time) ••••• •
1x Legwork (Honor and Profit) ••
1x Plascrete Carapace (What Lies Ahead)
3x Clone Chip (Creation and Control)
3x Prepaid VoicePAD (Second Thoughts)
2x Astrolabe (Up and Over)
2x Same Old Thing (Creation and Control)
1x Symmetrical Visage (The Valley)
1x Mimic (Core Set) •
1x Atman (Creation and Control)
2x Cyber-Cypher (Creation and Control)
1x Sharpshooter (True Colors)
2x Cerberus “Lady” H1 (All That Remains)
1x Datasucker (Core Set) •
1x Parasite (Core Set) ••
3x Self-modifying Code (Creation and Control)
1x Clot (The Valley) ••
Round 1 Superbye
There was a pretty good turnout for the Nationals – 36 players. I spend the first round chatting with Mon. We figured we would face each other in Round 2, so we talked about our IDs, and realized we should play fast since we are both playing RP.
2 Wins – 0 Losses
Round 2 Mon Tan (Whizzard and RP)
Mon is one of the best players in the Philippines. He came into Nationals with a superbye after winning 1 of 2 Regionals we had (I came in 3rd in that one). Mon likes to play with Tier 1.5 decks (Valencia, Whizzard, Quetzal, Cerebral Imaging, etc). I expected a good fight.
Kate versus RP
I wanted to Corp first, since I didn’t want to run out of time with a winning board position but down on points. Mon was also playing RP so he had the same sentiments. We agreed to randomize it. He ended up corping first. Not a good start.
I’ve had a loooooong record of getting crushed by RP, mostly because I played Andromeda a lot, and before Stealth Andy, it wasn’t a good matchup. I eventually shifted to Kate because Stealth Andy is crushed by NEH, and Andysucker is beaten by RP. I still didn’t have a lot of practice versus RP as Kate prior to Nationals (since games take so long).
Unfortunately for Mon, I’ve taken steps to address this. #1 my Kate deck is teched versus RP (no Indexing, Cyber-cypher for Lotus Field, Sharpshooter for the Ichi, triple SMC for the Datasucker) Also, I had a very solid gameplan, which consisted of killing all the money assets, Parasiting away as much ICE as I can, and winning psi games.
I killed all his money assets the moment he rezzed them, even if he had tons of credits. I knew that his credits would run out eventually, and that his psi games would start to go in my favor if he had no money to recover with. I saved my Legworks, Maker’s Eyes and Dirty Laundries for when I planned to run his remotes so I could maximize my clicks. I got my Datasucker out the moment I had a spare SMC. He rezzed an Ashigaru on R&D, which I promptly Parasuckered and kept hammering him on centrals whenever he tried to score to force him to rez ICE.
I made a huge mistake of sacrificing my SOT to declare “Hedge Fund”, which Mon calls me on jokingly, but just to make sure I check, and apparently, I DON’T have sure gamble in my heap. I’m pissed at the sloppy mistake. I can’t turn it into Lucky Find since it was 3rd click 4th click, but thankfully I had the dirty laundry, which lands on archives, and let’s me keep going. The sloppiness didn’t hit me too hard. He started having money problems near the midgame, and he couldn’t protect everything. I dont remember much about how I stole agendas, but eventually his deck crapped out 7 points.
3 Wins – 0 Losses
RP versus Whizzard
Unfortunately, we had 13 minutes left to play the 2nd game. I had a bad feeling it was going to go to time, so I tried to rush as much as I could.
He killed an early Mental Health Clinic for free, so I put a Pup on top of the next one, and he never ran it. I defended a Sundew with Bako when I saw that he couldn’t find his breakers.
I figured it was L4J and not Siphon spam when he played a Clone Chip, so I put my Crisium Grid on R&D to help the Pup. He Parasited the Pup on R&D, but the Crisium Grid kept the Medium from going crazy. I put an Eli on R&D, and I scored a Nisei behind Lotus Field when he went down to 2 credits. I found an Ichi and put it on the remote and scored another Nisei when I found a window.
He found an NAPD during this time, and but he let my DBS live. Which let me find my agendas when I needed them, and bury them when I didn’t have a window. I eventually found a TFP, and scored it behind 2 Nisei tokens. Knowing exactly where my agendas were really helped me make decisions on when to use Jackson to reshuffle back agendas, where to add / rez ICE, etc.
4 Wins – 0 Losses
Round 3 Sam Poblacion (Leela and Argus)
Sam was my main playtest partner headed into Nationals, so I had an idea of what decks she was playing. I kept telling her to play Kate and RP, or NEH or ETF, but she said she was more comfortable with Leela and Argus.
RP versus Leela
This was a rough game. I thought I had it in the bag, since Leela has a terrible matchup against RP, but she found 2 early RDIs and they were really giving me a hard time. That really pressured me to either defend R&D or win faster. Thankfully, R&D was rock solid, and it just refused to give up agendas. She eventually found 4 points, but not before I was able to stabilize. Still, it was very annoying to try and score with IAA an agenda, only to have it bounced back to hand after a 3-card access run on R&D. She did this twice before I was able to stabilize.
Security Testing is not as effective when you need to run through Pup first. Also, Caprice helped me dodge an Account Siphon. The game could have been very different if that Account Siphon hit.
Kate versus Argus
I had a very simple game plan against Argus: Dont die. The deck will not score out against me, it’s just too slow. So the only way I could lose is if I hit a Snare and there are Dedicated Response Teams on the board, or if I let myself get Scorched. I ran most of the stuff on the board as soon as they were installed. I couldn’t risk the board having multiple DRTs when I access a Snare. Sometimes I find agendas, sometimes I hit Snares, but my main goal was to find DRTs so I can start using my Maker’s Eye. I eventually find my Plascrete, kill 2 DRTs and then I go to town with Maker’s Eye for the win.
6 Wins – 0 Losses
Round 4 Kenno Nishioka (Kate and RP)
Kenno is an AGoT player with a bunch of tourney wins under his belt. He’s obviously got the killer instinct, being a spike player and all that, plus I know he’s playing Kate and RP. It looks like he’s really playing to win, and that always means some exciting games.
Kate versus RP
My gameplan against RP worked in Round 2 versus Mon, so I planned to execute the same thing against Kenno. Early on, he played Celebrity gift to show an ICE, Jackson, Sundew, Caprice and Nisei Mk 2, guarded by an Eli on HQ. Since I had Datasucker, I ran it for single access plus sucker token since I had 4 juicy targets in HQ, and hit the agenda. He tried to rush out some points, but I had the Stimhack when he thought he had a window. After that, I just built up my rig and economy, and kept playing Maker’s Eye for the win.
RP versus Kate
Kenno is very aggressive, when he should have been building up. I think he set himself back too much with his early runs. RP is weakest early game, like most corps, but if you don’t win early by being aggressive you will lose, and Kate doesn’t have the tools to be super aggressive. Kenno eventually ran out of steam, and I score agendas when he tries to recover.
8 Wins – 0 Losses
Round 5 Chris Tan (Noise and NEH)
For as long as I’ve known Chris, he’s played Noise and NEH Astrobiotics. He’s got tons of practice with the decks since he doesn’t ever change, as far as I know, and the fact that we’re matched up at this point means he’s been doing pretty well. I’m happy I ended up matched versus Chris. I didn’t want to end up facing my wife Claudia since that would lower our chances of winning Nationals. She’s also near the top of the standings, so I’m glad we dodged each other.
RP versus Noise
The game plan versus Noise is to rush. The longer the game goes on, the worse it’ll be for me. Unfortunately, he installs an Imp early on, which means I have to at least try and defend HQ. He also trashes an early Nisei, but fortunately he doesn’t run it yet. I found Crick to defend archives, and when he ran Archives (no Jacksons yet) I installed the Nisei, pretending to be an MHC or a Jackson.
After a while, I manage to stabilize, and Noise can’t seem to find his Aesop’s. I put a Crisium Grid on R&D, and then start building a remote with Lotus Field and Eli. I score agendas behind the two ice. I was deciding if I should try to score the naked Nisei, but I drew all the agendas I needed to score. The agenda actually ended up sleeping on the board the entire game. I found it super funny afterwards. Sorry Chris, hahaha.
Kate versus NEH
I’ve always maintained that NEH doesn’t stand a chance against Kate, especially after Clot was released. This is the main reason I shifted to Kate after all, since she has game versus RP and NEH. I ate my words during the PSI Games, were my only 2 losses were to NEH. So I came into this game with a healthy amount of respect for NEH, but seeing as how we didn’t have Team Sponsorship yet, I expected this to be not as hard.
I try to check remotes to keep Chris honest, but an Astroscript and a Beale sneak by me behind an ice while I was building up. I manage to steal a Breaking News and a NAPD from centrals, and then steal another Breaking News on the board. Chris scores a Beale via Sansan CVS, and all of a sudden, he’s at match point.
I Maker’s Eye into a Quandary, and since my other Cyber-cypher is in my hand, I have to Parasite it, and I see a bunch of ICE. Chris adds another ICE to R&D and I build up some more, hitting him with Legwork, to find nothing in HQ.
I have a feeling he has the winning agenda in his hand, but I just didn’t hit it. The next turn I Maker’s Eye again, making the mistake of not installing the Cyber-cypher in my hand, and he rezzes a new Quandary At this point all my Clone Chips and money are in the heap, and I only have 6 credits. I have an SMC on board, and my only out is Atman for 0 to break Quandary and then pay 1 for Pop-up. If I do this, I’d have to click for credits the next turn so I can Levy, and that might give him the window he needs to win. I decide to not push through and try to snipe the agenda from his hand. Nothing.
Next turn, he finds TWO 3/2 agendas on top with DBS and wins the game. Zzzzz.
9 Wins – 1 Loss
Cut to Top 8
I end up being #1 seed, and my wife Claudia is #2 seed! Woohoo! This makes me super happy since all our practice paid off. My playtest partner for Nationals, Sam ends up at #9, but since somebody in the top 8 had to drop, she gets into the cut. All my opponents (Mon, Sam. Kenno and Chris Tan) end up in the Top 8.
Eliminations Round 1 versus Sam (Argus)
I play Sam again, and after the mulligan, I’m forced to keep a hand of Cyber Cypher, Lady, Diesel, SOT, and Maker’s Eye. Not a good hand, but it’s a good thing she’s playing Argus. It’s a slow deck that I don’t expect to score out against me. She opens with 1st turn hostile. The bad pub will help me trash the DRTs, which I plan to hunt down.
I dig for my Plascrete and PPVP, and I have a hard time finding it. I eventually draw into Quality time, and Diesel and then find my first PPVP. FINALLY.
I discard a bunch of breakers. She has a facedown install that I’m hoping is not Chronos Project because I just chucked Levy in the bin. Turns out it’s Corporate Town, trashing my SOT which is bad, but not super bad. I still have one SOT, so I just need to draw it before she can sneak out the Chronos Project.
I keep hunting down the DRTs, and I find Project Atlas and also an NAPD. I’m pretty surprised to see so many 2 point agendas. sam is in a really bad place. all I need to do is find my Plascrete, and I can start being really aggressive.
She installs in the remote, there’s no reason for me not to run it, and its a NAPD. I expect her to hit me with Midseason, but there’s not a lot I can do, if she has the kill in hand, the best I can do is pay all my money to stop as many tags as I can. If I don’t die on her turn, I’m going to go to town with Maker’s Eye. She goes Hedge Fund, Midseason. I still don’t have my Plascrete so I’m on a clock. Thankfully I only need 1 point, and the Maker’s Eye on my turn seals the deal.
Eliminations Round 2 versus Omi (Kate)
Omi is another regular face at the top tables. He won a Store Championship this year, and he was also Regionals Champion back in 2013. We have a small rivalry going on and off, and he knocked me out of the 2nd Regionals, playing this exact same matchup, only I was Kate and he was RP. So this is a bit of a rematch.
I keep a solid hand of 2 ice, Celebrity gift, Nisei and Interns. I celebrity gift, and install ice on HQ to protect the nisei. I dont expect him to Maker’s eye or run R&D super early since I’ve shown him I have a Nisei in my hand.
I defend centrals and money up. I start to setup my remote and try to score a Nisei behind a Tollbooth when he goes low on credits, but he has the Stimhack to steal it. The only good thing that came out of this is that his codegate breaker is Gordian Blade. I play my 2nd Tollbooth on R&D to tax him.
He starts moneying up and I’m scared of his money. He also has the SOT for Stimhack, so I try to money up instead of rushing, and hope he he burns his money on Tollbooth on R&D. Jackson and DBS do a lot of work to let me find the stuff I need.
Omi senses that my Jackson draws have been feeding me agendas and he Legworks to steal the 2nd Nisei. The SOT / Stimhack is really putting my remote on lockdown. I need to find my Caprice to give me a chance.
Thankfully, I snuck out Chronos Project out the turn right before he hits me with the Legwork, and hit a bunch of multi-access and economy. He already has 4 points at this point though, all of them Nisei, so it’ll be an uphill battle.
I find a scoring window, and score a TFP behind the Tollbooth with a facedown Ichi in front while he tries to recover. I install advance advance an NAPD, faking out the TFP win. He goes in for the steal, but he’s forced to get an Atman 4 to break the Ichi, (I think I nuke his Sharpshooter with the Chronos earlier) and he can’t afford to get through Tollboth. I go up to 6 points.
I find another NAPD and move to score it, he whiffs on Maker’s Eye’s. And he doesn’t have enough to get into the remote, and I still have a Caprice on it. I score a Chronos, 2 NAPD and a TFP to win. What a grind.
Eliminations Round 3 versus Mon (Whizzard)
This is a super important game, since the winner gets twice to beat for Finals, and the loser goes into the Loser’s bracket to grind it out.
I keep a hand of Sundew, Gift, Jackson, and 2 ice. I play the Gift, to show him nothing in hand, and then play a Pup on R&D. Mon probably felt he wasn’t aggressive enough in our first game, so he starts running a lot, mostly for single access. He manages to kill Caprice and Jackson on R&D, but he has to pay a ton of credits because of Pup. I draw into a Mental Health Clinic, and defend it since Whizzard will kill that shit. I play my Sundew, money up and dig for agendas to score. He doesn’t seem to have anything, he literally has nothing on the board at one point. His aggressive start has not paid off.
He stops killing my money assets which lets me really build a huge credit pool. He kills my Pup, so I defend it with Enigma since I’m afraid of the Medium.
I try to score Nisei while he has nothing, but he plays Yog, so I decide to defend R&D with more ICE before continuing to score the Nisei since I’m pretty confident he can’t get into the remote anyway.
I draw another Nisei and score it while he has nothing. Mon is in a bad place, with me having 2 Nisei counters. All I need now is a TFP to win, and I find and score it without much resistance. I actually end up not using the Nisei counters at all. His early game runs on R&D really slowed him down, and it shows in the last turns of the game, where he has no credits and not a lot of programs to threaten me in anyway.
I take a long break to eat dinner with Claudia, my brother Nino, Mon (we’re all friends), his girlfriend Raphnie, and a bunch of other players, while we wait for the Loser’s Bracket to finish up their games. Mon goes back to face the winner, and I watch Mon win to face me again in the finals.
Eliminations Round 4 versus Mon (RP)
I really wanted to play RP again versus his Whizzard. I’m forced to play Kate though, and Mon tends to play defensively with his RP, so I get myself ready for a long game.
I mulligan into Lady, SOT, Mimic, something else and Diesel. I’m not happy with the mediocre hand. Mon ices up centrals and moneys up. He’s not planning to rush. I Diesel to draw PPVP, Sure Gamble and SMC, and suddenly things are looking up.
Mon defends Archives, and then starts to develop a remote. I’m trying to draw into more economy, but I also want to start facechecking. I play mimic so I can start face checking Architect. I run HQ for single access, I see Pup and decide to Parasite it since I have another SMC in hand and won’t have enough memory. And I manage to snipe a Nisei from his hand. This makes me VERY happy. I Dirty Laundry back into HQ and hit NAPD. I can’t steal it, but at least i know it’s in hand.
He gets Sundew and MHC up and defends HQ some more. I figure I need to kill the money assets asap, so I play eenie-meenie-minie-moe on where the Crick is, hit an Enigma on R&D, and kill the MHC. I’m not happy about leaving the Sundew alive, but I suspect it’s Bako or Eli, and I don’t have Lady online.
I run HQ and he rezzes Susanoo going to zero credits leaving him without any credits to rez the Crick on archives. or whatever ice was defending the Sundew. This was a huge mistake, I think, and this might have been the turning point of the entire game. He goes to zero, I kill his Sundew and his Caprice on a scoring remote, and I have a good feeling he has a bunch of agendas in HQ.
Mon starts looking at my heap, and I instinctively think about Chronos Project. I’m pretty sure it’s defended by a Barrier, but I make the mistake of running it, and I’m right, it’s Bako. I still don’t have the Lady to get in, and I don’t have the clicks to SOT the Levy in my heap. Huge mistake on my part.
I decide to just prep to crush R&D after he scores the Chronos Project.
On his turn he plays Celebrity Gift. WOOOHOOO. I celebrate since it’s not Chronos Protocol. That was his window to getting back into the game, and I won’t it him get another chance to sneak Chronos out. I find the Clone Chip for my Lady back in, and continue to kill his asset economy.
He scores a Nisei after I hit Excalibur on R&D, so I just Levy because I have no other moves.
I draw a hand of Diesel, Sure Gamble and 3 Lucky Finds. Kate Super Saiyan Mode. Absolutely brutal.
He’s low on credits, and he has a Caprice on his scoring remote that I want to kill, so I attack it, and he defends it with Crick. I lose the first psi game and go back in, and he uses his Nisei counter to protect the Caprice. He saves his Caprice and gets Sundew and MHC back. I think I came out slightly ahead, because I can easily go back to kill his economy. I proceed to do this next turn, and then steal an NAPD with Maker’s Eye.
I want to try and snipe the TFP I know he has in his hand. He has CVS installed, so I know he can use it to mess up my Datasucker when I try to break the Ichi with Mimic, but I have Clone Chip and a ton of credits so I don’t mind. He kills Atman 6, but I hit the TFP on single access!!! I lose the psi game, and Mon immediately tries to score the TFP behind what I guess is a Tollbooth on his Caprice server. He only has 11 credits so I figure that if he rezzes the Tollbooth, he’s going to have a hard time recovering and I can still try to win on the psi game. I plan to try and steal it twice.
I play clone chip, run his R&D and jackout, then Stimhack into the remote to play atman 6, trashing the Cyber Cypher on R&D, and then replay it into the remote. Lots of tricks to get into this scoring server. He rezzes the Tollbooth, goes down to 3 credits, and then we’re down to the psi game.
I crush the psi game to become the first Filipino Netrunner National Champion!
Props to my wife Claudia for always practicing with me and for ending up as 2nd seed after Swiss!
Props to Sam for getting into Top 8 despite playing what I felt were poor decks for the meta (Leela / Argus).
Props to my brother Nino for helping me get addicted to this game, and for always being ready to play. Same goes for Raphnie, Mon, Tere, Adrian and Omi who put up with all my daily Netrunner rants and raves,
Props to all my opponents, those were the toughest Swiss rounds I’ve played, everybody I played against ended up in the Top 8. Rough.
HUGE THANK YOU to Sir Freddie Tan of Neutral Grounds Philippines for always supporting the Netrunner community, and for helping us have our first (of many) Nationals.
Props to Meeple Power Games for holding the monthly GNK tournaments at The Appraisery that help keep the community excited and hungry to play. We’re putting up our videos on YouTube soon, check out Meeple Power Media (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnJq0b8NcexzeQkXRJVg-Ww).
Props to Daniel and the entire Philippine Netrunner Nationals Organizing Team. They had customized countdown timers with Netrunner art projected on a huge screen, special alternate art Custom Biotics as bonus participation prize and for running the smoothest Netrunner tournament I’ve ever played in.
And lastly, to my Netrunner idol, Dan D’Argenio, thanks for answering my noob questions and helping me finalize my RP deck, haha. I’m your biggest fan!
We’re going to get some Filipino players over to Gencon or Worlds next year, so you guys better get ready.