Today’s report is from Ve Herrmann, detailing the Palm Bay regional tournament that took place on May 30th 2015.
About the Author and the Road to Regionals
Not too long ago Netrunner was just a game I played casually as I have with all games since growing up. I’ve never really considered myself good enough at any game or really much of anything to consider entering serious competitions. Somehow though, I was convinced to attend the Plugged-In Tour Tournament and it was the first tournament for anything I had ever attended. While I didn’t do amazing, I definitely learned tournaments, especially in the Netrunner community, aren’t all that scary and are just a lot of fun. After that, I attended several GNK tournaments and Store Championships over the next year or so. I never took them too seriously but I was gradually improving and eventually consistently placed 2nd or 3rd among a dozen or so players on average.
Fast forward to March 2015; I am organizing our 2015 Store Championship. I’ve organized a few tournaments at this point, having taken over responsibly for such things in our meta a few months prior. Generally we get somewhere between 10 and 12 people. To my surprise and terror, we end up hosting 25 people for our Store Championship. Whatever slim shot I thought I had of taking first place had vanished after observing how large the field was going to be and now I was much more worried about balancing my duties as TO as well as playing. Fortunately, I was very comfortable playing my decks and was able to finish all my games with plenty of time left to tend to taking match results. As I took the match results I noticed a strange trend: I was winning all my games and was seeded at the top for almost the whole tournament. After all the Swiss rounds, I had just edged out the other players having only dropped a single game. I never really won anything like this. It was a completely new sensation to me and it felt like I had really pulled something off.
Not long after this, Dan D’Argenio announced the StimHack Store Championship Invitational. Normally I probably wouldn’t think such a thing was for me with the level of competition involved. That said; I had my store champ win putting me in a small pool of Netrunner players that were actually allowed to participate. It felt like a waste to not at least give it a try. I went in with a very conservative expectation, knowing that the level of competition here was going to be so much larger than any store championship. I told myself I would be happy with anything better than 0 wins for the day. I once again surprised myself and out of field of 126 players I was ranked at 41st with 8 wins and 5 defeats. I was completely blown away with what I could accomplish if I really knew my decks and gave every game my best shot. At this point, I became more hooked on Netrunner then any game I’ve ever played. Regionals were announced for the first time ever in Florida and I knew I had no excuse to not go and perhaps surprise myself once again.
Deck Choice: Runner
Ever since first getting into Netrunner I’ve always gravitated towards the shaper faction. They have two features that really appeal to me: flexibility and a great economy to back it up. Pre-paid Kate is the richest and most flexible deck out right now in my opinion. It also doesn’t hurt that the deck is so ridiculously fun and rewarding to me that even after playing it for several months I can’t get enough. Every game is a small puzzle and Kate always has the tools to get the job done efficiently.
My Kate list is fairly standard but I’ve made a few deviations. First, I have gone with a single Gordian Blade because I hate scavenging Cyber-Cypher for a one off Legwork or archives run and also the rise of Blacklist. Next, I have cut Deus Ex because really PE is basically absent in the current meta and I found it generally a dead draw. As is in fashion now a days I also fit in a Datasucker which pairs nice with my Gordian blade. I have also splashed for #slottheclot. To help me find Datasucker as well as improve rush matchups I have gone up to 3x Self Modifying Code. The games where you can’t find one early can be nasty.
Kate “Mac” McCaffrey
3x Dirty Laundry
1x Legwork ••
1x Levy AR Lab Access
3x Lucky Find ••••• •
2x Quality Time
1x Stimhack •
3x Sure Gamble
2x The Maker’s Eye
3x Clone Chip
1x Plascrete Carapace
3x Prepaid VoicePAD
1x R&D Interface
2x Same Old Thing
1x Symmetrical Visage
2x Cerberus “Lady” H1
1x Gordian Blade
1x Mimic •
1x Clot ••
1x Datasucker •
1x Parasite ••
3x Self-modifying Code
Deck Choice: Corp
During the store champs and SSCI I had played two different iterations of NEH. The store champ version being a Midseason/Pschographics/kill deck with lots of options to win. The introduction of Clot basically killed that deck and so I went with a taxing/FA hybrid deck that did okay at SSCI but I didn’t like the lack of options it had if the game went late. As many others have done, I decided to revisit an old favorite of mine: Replicating Perfection. Right after Caprice Nisei came out; I remember bringing an RP deck to a store champ wanting to give it a shot thinking I was so original. I kept playing the archetype until after Honor and Profit, having grown bored with it.
With NEH down in the dumps, it felt like a good time to dust RP off. I found it’s definitely as strong as ever. Newer powerhouse cards like DBS and Crick have made the deck even more consistent. I had known that the evolution of stealth Andy had altered the ice suite but I was happy to find that there was actually a bit of diversity within RP builds. There are many different ways to go with agendas, ice and utility cards. My tech choices were to go with Crisium Grid for Vamp and The Maker’s Eye and Susanoo to give Kate decks an occasional headache. I also decided to go with an agenda suite including a Fetal AI as opposed to the 3rd Future Perfect. I liked that it increased the likelihood of the runner having to steal four agendas to win without including another free-to-steal agenda. DBS makes the suite even stronger by helping me find my 2x Future Perfect only when I need it to win the game with a third score.
Jinteki: Replicating Perfection
1x Fetal AI
3x NAPD Contract
3x Nisei MK II
2x The Future Perfect
2x Daily Business Show ••
3x Jackson Howard •••
3x Mental Health Clinic
1x Ash 2X3ZB9CY ••
3x Caprice Nisei
1x Crisium Grid •
3x Celebrity Gift
3x Hedge Fund
3x Eli 1.0 •••
Code Gate (7)
2x Lotus Field
2x Tollbooth ••••
1x Cortex Lock
Round 1: Bye
Having won my store champs, I spent the first hour of the tournament talking with the other two players from my meta with tournament byes. It’s so strange how long an hour feels when you have to sit and wait but how when you’re playing Netrunner it doesn’t feel like you have enough time.
Current Prestige: 4
(Prize support offered by Dogs of War)
Round 2: Toan’s Cybernetics Division and Edward Kim
Toan is someone whom I play with often. He is generally an aggressive player who never leaves home without Snare in his corp deck. Our previous weekly game night, I played against a Cybernetics deck that attempted to rush and contained 3 Snares to take advantage of the reduced hand size. I assumed he was playing a similar cybernetics deck. I did my normal PVPP Kate thing and got some money and an SMC set up so I could prevent any early scores in the remote.
He seemed to be having a rough start as he hadn’t put anything in the remote for several turns. I started poking some central servers. I knew this was a different version of the deck when I stole a three point agenda. His next turn consisted of playing two Punitive Counter Strikes though he didn’t have much economy to speak of and I was able to beat both traces no sweat. A few turns later, I get another three pointer from random accesses. From here I decided I could afford to sit back and build my board as he could no longer Punitive me. I closed the game out with a Legwork for the last agenda.
We switch sides and I am a lot more nervous. I know Toan has two or three Hacktivist Meetings in his deck which can wreck me as RP if I can’t score quickly. Just as I feared, his opening hand contained a Hacktivist Meeting. However, just in case, I played my opening mental health clinic face up. At this point, I remember that his only solution for large code gates is Knight. I am able to burst up in money with a few Hedge Funds and Celebrity Gifts. I make a Tollbooth+Caprice server and jam a Nisei MK II in there. For him, he would have to spend two clicks installing and hosting Knight then two clicks running and then winning a psi game. He doesn’t have the Knight so I get my first Nisei which kills Hacktivist Meeting.
Next turn, Toan’s first click is to play ANOTHER Hacktivist Meeting. I groan but decide that he still probably can’t get in if I rush out another agenda. This time, he does have the Knight and we play a very important psi game which I luckily win. To retaliate, Toan plays a THIRD Hacktivist Meeting, but I just shove a Future Perfect in my Tollbooth server for the nearly guaranteed win with my Nisei token still in play. Turns out Hacktivist isn’t always so scary!
Current Prestige: 8
Round 3: Stephen’s PPVP Kate and HB:ETF
Stephen is another player from my area and typically does extremely well at our local tournaments. I don’t recall a whole lot from our two games except than that they were over fairly quickly. My RP start is awkward and full of agendas which don’t include any Niseis. I end up scoring an NAPD first which is something I generally try to avoid. But Stephen ends up winning off of RND multi-access shortly after that.
I appears that Stephen may have had an equally awkward corp start. I mainly focus on setting up quickly though and when he has his scoring remote set up for the next turn I play a Legwork for 4 points. Then I get a R&D Interface and get 2 more. I finish it with a Maker’s Eye for the last 2 points.
Current Prestige: 10
Round 4: Robert’s Gabe and RP
For the first time I get paired up with someone from a different meta. I play my RP first and open with a Celebrity Gift showing Lotus Field as my opening ice. I naturally place the Lotus Field on HQ. I then proceed to get slaughtered with what must be the optimal opening turn for a Gabe player. Click1: Sure Gamble to 9 credits. Click 2: Install Cerberus “Rex” H2. Click 3: Account Siphon, I rez Ice, he breaks and siphons me to 2 credits. Click 4: Emergency Shutdown on Lotus Field. This turn was followed up with a Sneakdoor Beta and there isn’t much else I can say except that I lost that game. In hindsight it was a bit foolish to show a criminal the only ice in my hand perhaps.
A little shaken from that game, we go into his RP versus my Kate. From the first few turns of the game I start to assume he is a newer RP player as he plays his Sundews out naked and I go and trash them. He plays an ELP to make it harder to trash his assets and I start to fall behind in tempo while he sets up a scoring server. I am able to get an agenda off of R&D but the next turn he turns ELP back on and with me at a low credit total, he is able to safely jam an agenda in his server. I’m not really in a place to contest it so I draw for economy but I get nothing helpful. I am terribly behind and he is able to rush out the rest of the points he needs.
He tells me after the game that he is playing a rush version of the deck and was happy I’d given up my setup time to trash asset economy. With two losses I assume I am completely out of the top 8. But I decide I am okay with that. All things considered, this is the largest real life tournament I have ever been to outside of the plugged in tour. Considering I am at the high tables, I decide I should feel happy to be even on wins and loses.
Current Prestige: 10
Round 5: Leela and Tennin
Unfortunately I didn’t catch this player’s name. We start off with his Leela versus my RP. I have a fairly strong start except I only have a single ice against Leela. I’ve played against Leela a lot and if she can get that first turn score she can really snowball out of control. Regardless, I play my ICE on HQ and play two DBS thinking it will assure I find my ice in the coming turns. To my horror, my opponent plays a click 1 maker’s eye. I luck out and he misses any agendas. With two DBS clicking away and no economy showing up for my opponent I get set up quickly. Eventually, he Siphons into DLR and I see what his deck is up to. With my booming economy, no real harm is done and I place a Crisuim Grid on HQ. From here, my opponent was too behind to stop me from scoring out. Leela’s ability had very little impact as I was free to IAA my two point agendas and then replace anything he bounced.
After how well the first game went, I regained my confidence and set my eyes back on the top 8. My opponent tries to rush out behind an Eli 1.0 and Caprice server. Luckily, I have a lady in hand and run on it three times winning the psi game on my last attempt. My opponent adds a new ice to the top of the Eli since my lady only has a single counter left and adds a new card in the bottom of it. I get an SMC and run at the server. The ice is a wall of thorns so I fetch my 2nd lady and score two more points. My opponent decides that with two empty Ladies I can’t get in a third time so he IAA’s into the server.
I play Quality Time to find an answer and I get it. I then play a clone chip (with one already on board) and a Stimhack. This allows me to perform some shaper bullshit in the form of using clone chip to install an SMC which trashes a lady. Then I use my second clone chip to reinstall the lady fresh with counters and win the game. There are few things more joyous than winning a game with some good old fashioned shaper bullshit.
Current Prestige: 14
After talking to the others from my meta about our records, I once again felt like it was very unlikely for me to make top 8 with 3 losses. To my surprise, it turns out I was 4th seed. I felt very lucky to have made it to top 8 and at this point I was fairly tired. I wasn’t concerned with how far I made it in the elimination bracket. I was excited to see that our meta’s Stephen also made the cut at third seed.
Match 1: Stephen from Orlando’s PPVP Kate
I remember I found it humorous that I drove quite a distance away and the majority of my games at this point have been against people I play every week. Though perhaps that speaks more to how strong our meta is!
For our elimination game, it is decided that I will play corp. I get a much better start compared to our earlier game. I get some early burst econ and an early sundew with some ice on it. I make taxing RND a priority and I get double tollbooth on it. However, my scoring server is quite weak with just Eli 1.0 and Lotus Field against an Atman at strength four. I put my Caprice in the server with an advanced Nisei MK II. Steven runs at it and wins the psi game clearing out caprice and getting himself my Nisei, shortly afterwards he scores another Nisei from HQ.
DBS feeds me the third Nisei and I am able to win the psi game to score this one. Stephen switches his focus to RND but doesn’t get the agendas there he needs. I am able to score an NAPD and then proceed to put TFP in the server. He runs on it with two clicks remaining and wins the first psi game. I use my Nisei token. And we play a psi game for the fate of the game. Due to exhaustion my brain has abandoned any theory or logic to apply to psi game bids. My brain provides a seemly random number and fortunately for me it’s not the same one Stephen picks.
Losses in Elimination: 0
Match 2: Michael’s HB:ETF
I was quite intimidated about this game because Michael was top seed in swiss. He only took one game loss. Michael had a potent scoring server with Turing and Heimdall 1.0. He was able to rush out 6 points quickly after I clumsily bumped into Turing with an Atman and Datasucker counters. I was pretty well set up though Michael baited me into the server several times with non-agendas like Breaker Bay to break my bank. I eventually bankrupt myself on a fruitless Maker’s Eye. Having exhausted all my Clone Chips for Clot; Michael finishes out the game with a double Biotic Labor to score efficiency committee.
Losses in Elimination: 1
Match 3: Robert’s Gabe
Once again I find myself going against Robert’s Gabe deck with a bit of anxiety after our last game where he ran. This time though I play much more cautiously and slowly develop my board making sure to keep lots of money flowing. At one point I believe I had over 40 credits just to be safe but perhaps that was overkill. I used my Daily Business Shows to find my crisium grid for archives to protect from sneakdoor and kept Caprice on HQ. Eventually just grinded him down and scored out fairly easily.
Losses in Elimination: 1
Match 4: Stephen Ball’s HB:ETF
This game was a bit of a blur. I remember more about the pleasant chat we had about how tired we were at that time. We both had fairly good starts as he was able to complete an Adonis Campaign and I got two PPVP’s early. He scored out a Gila Hands and then a 2 point agenda afterwards. I was at four AP and noticed he was low on money so I played a Maker’s Eye into unrezzed ice and got 2 Beta Tests for the win.
Losses in Elimination: 1
Match 5: Michael’s Kate
My next game is a rematch with Michael, this time with my RP. I have a bit of an awkward start. I have to install Jackson and overdraw early to flush out agendas. From there I get stabilized with some burst econ. I notice Michael is playing a stealth build which makes me want to end the game earlier rather than later. I set up a server with Tollbooth and Caprice and I am able to score out Nisei MK II. However I had to go broke to do that and gave up a few rnd accesses with an interface in play. I decide the game won’t go on long enough for Michael to win in RND because I have the agendas to win in hand. I take a risk and Celebrity Gift two NAPD and a Future Perfect. This gives me enough money to close out the game. My third click that turn is to add an Eli 1.0 to HQ. He does go to HQ and gets an NAPD but it’s not enough and I was able to rush out the other NAPD and The Future Perfect afterwards.
Losses in Elimination: 1
Match 6: Pacer’s Blacklist RP
When I started the tournament eleven or twelve hours ago, I certainly never saw myself in the grand finals. We both spend the early game setting up. Pacer gets a first turn Sundew behind ice and I get early two PPVP and a Datasucker. I draw into Mimic and with a Datasucker counter I feel safe from Cortex Lock. I take a stab at HQ and get a lucky Nisei MK II. Afterwards I run on his Sundew (behind a cortex lock) and trash a naked Pad Campaign. I go for a rezzed Jackson Howard but get hit with a Tollbooth. Now I am bit low on econ and I draw to get my bank back up. Pacer recovers with a new Sundew and other asset economy. I spend a turn to Same Old Thing a Lucky Find to keep my money high and not give away too big of a scoring window. I also have a Stimhack in hand for extra burst should I need it.
Pacer clears out the Jackson behind Tollbooth and shuffles in three operations. He then installs an agenda and advances it. My turn, I Same Old thing for Dirty Laundry on archives to get a central run while collecting prepaid credits and Datasuckers; I pray for no Crick and I just see a Pup, which I pay through. I access the archives and I am surprised with a random Fetal AI that Pacer had accidentally forgotten to shuffle with Jackson. I pay two credits for the two points and avoid any damage. Next, I Stimhack into the remote and get my Gordian Blade but lose the psi game. I examine my credit total and decide it’s not worth it to try again.
Next, I Parasite the Tollbooth and try to rebuild my economy. I notice R&D isn’t terribly protected and I play The Maker’s Eye. I didn’t know it at the time, but Pacer was playing Hades Fragment so I was potentially on game point. I am guessing because of that, he decided to burn his Nisei token on Maker’s Eye.
He then rezzes Blacklist which puts Atman out of reach and restricts me from playing Levy. We continue to grind it out when I realize my deck is nearly out of gas. To make things tougher, I hit a Snare! on a second Maker’s Eye which otherwise misses. The Snare forces me to trash Levy from hand. With both Same Old Things already used I have no way to reshuffle my deck now.
I decide to run on Blacklist and Pacer rezzes Ashigaru in front of it to bounce me. I go to R&D and he rezzes Susano with his remaining credits. I get sent to archives with three datasuckers and pick up my 4th one after he uses his last Jackson. My next turn, I run R&D and use my four Datasuckers to break Susano with Mimic and score a Nisei and a Future Perfect for the win.
Losses in Elimination: 1
Match 7: Pacer’s Noise
The luck that got me this far had been spent by the time this game started. His opening turn is nearly the optimal start for a Noise deck. He installs Cache, Wyldside and an Adjusted Chronotype. The next turn he then installs an Aesop’s Pawnshop. I get early burst econ and decide the only way I can win is if I rush out. I make a Tollbooth server and I successfully get a Nisei scored. Though I end up going broke due to Pacer’s Lampreys. I sink everything into scoring a 2nd Nisei but he parasites down my hq ice and takes all my money away. Then he trashes my RND ice and Medium digs me the next turn and finishes the game by running archives. Brutal game but I am happy it was over quickly. Pacer played it flawlessly.
Losses in Elimination: 2
Overall, this was the most amazing tournament experience I have had. It felt so draining, yet so rewarding to have made it so far. I loved getting to meet so many new people who share this awesome hobby. I was slightly star struck seeing some familiar faces from Peach Hack’s videos. I am so very proud of the Orlando meta who definitely showed up and took some names. We took two spots in the top eight and many more in the top 16. Dogs of War were also awesome enough to offer best in faction trophies to the top players of each faction, which we were able to take two of the seven.
- Dogs of War for having the best tournament support for an LCG I’ve ever seen. Everything from the prize support, to dual streaming, to the overall flow of the event blew my mind. I’ll definitely be back in the future. Totally worth the drive!
- The Orlando Meta for showing up and performing extremely well. You all are so much fun to play with and I look forward to our future game nights and tournaments.
- Stephen K. for being a familiar face from the Orlando meta in those final elimination games. Congrats on Top 8 again!
- Jonny Anderson for constantly letting me blab to him about Netrunner and recoding my first elimination game instead of resting his melted brain. Congrats on 10th with Nasir and Nisei Division!
- Chris Yang for representing the meta in the Atlanta regionals and having an awesome performance. I hope you come back from Taiwan at some point for a visit!
- Stephen Ball for correcting me with a player name and being such a pleasant opponent!
- Pacer for giving me two amazing games I’ll remember for a long time.
- Michael for being such a kind opponent and showing me how good Turing is.
- My lovely girlfriend Jean for preparing a wonderful (she disagrees) breakfast that day and helping me get the caffeine and calories I needed to succeed.
- Matthew Martin for being the original cultivator of the Orlando Netrunner community and being much better at shouting than me.