Last year, I was excited enough for Worlds 2015 that I wrote a hype piece for it. Although a few of my solid, guaranteed, Stimhack Lock of the Year <tm> predictions fell somewhat flat, the opportunity for me to make similar blowhard failures again this year arose. Never being someone to shy away from shouting into the void to keep my ‘popularity’ level up, I decided to take on another list of predictions, musings, and general garbo noises coming from my mind for Worlds 2016.
DAVE HOYLAND WILL WIN WORLDS 2016
Let us begin with some controversy. A lot of shade was thrown my way for one of my main predictions last year:, that a representative from the United Kingdom would win Worlds. While I was a tad off, their contingent showed well, with four of their number making the Top 16 cut. Non-Americans rounded out 9 of the Top 16 players, showing the strength of those dedicated enough to make the costly journey to middle-of-nowhere dank venues to toss cards around for a mousepad.
That brings us to my pick. Yes, I am aware picking a single person is silly and naïve, especially in such a large and talented field of players. Even though casual play of the game may be down due to numerous factors (that could fill another article), competitive high-end play is as strong as it has ever been. Those dedicated enough to travel to Worlds will be well-practiced, ready to show off their skill. Mr. David Hoyland (Cerberus) is at the top of that group. He was the trailblazer for his country, coming to Worlds alone in 2014 and doing quite well. Like early Europeans visiting America before it was settled, he brought home tales of the good times to be had, and also the unsuspecting natives ready to be pillaged and rused. Thus, with a number of National Champions in tow, the U.K.’s numbers swelled last year. This year, their numbers are nigh doubled from 2015, and their knives only got sharper. Chris Dyer had a smashing year, ending in him winning the BABW, the British arm of the ANRPC. Alex White (vinegarymink) sagged a bit in early 2016, but has had a solid past few months, including entering the finals of the BABW, and the first Top Deck Monthly Cup series hosted by Greg Feeney (flowerscandrink). While these chaps are fine players, and stand up dudes, they do not have the ferocity of Dave. Being one of the most aggressive players I have played against (Jens Erickson is still near the top for me), he brings the hunger of a Jordan or Kobe to the table. He is the Man in Black from ‘Westworld’; fire your shots, see them fail, and then perish at his hands.
Dave Hoyland may not win Worlds, but I would not mind seeing a foreigner win, and the U.K. has a solid chance again, due to their numbers. I also would not count out groups coming from Australia, Sweden, Germany, Poland, and more; a very tough bunch.
YELLOW WILL NOT WIN WORLDS
This is not a bold move, as NBN decks have yet to win Worlds. They were shattered under the force of the MWL2 and accompanying erratas. Yet, … they live. They continue to receive help and love. They thrive (see: 7 of the Top 8 at the BABW were on yellow). It is well known that Lukas Litzsinger loved NBN, and they got so much love in turn. When Weyland received Commercialization, yellow got Sweeps Week. Blue Sun was good, but it was no Near-Earth Hub (NEH). Exchange of Information, Sensie Actors Union… the list continues. It was thought that with Damon Stone fully taking the helm in the Flashpoint Cycle, the yellow gushfest that held sway for over three and a half years was going to slow, making way for Jinteki, Mr. Stone’s pet corp. However, 23 Seconds arrived, and… we got Controlling the Message (CtM). And Hard-Hitting News. And more fun tag toys keep coming in Flashpoint.
The direction Damon is taking the game seems solid, and the players are generally content with his initial steps. However, I do not believe people are enjoying having to tech so hard for CtM. It is nice that other tagging options, and non-kill tag punishment cards, have entered the environ. It speaks well for the future of the faction’s focus. In this nigh rotation period, though, it has made yellow into a strong force despite the gutting they received from the MWL nerfs.
Despite all of this, I do not believe yellow will win Worlds.
Their representation will be high. Expect to see CtM at the top tables in numbers, and well represented overall. I believe the hate is too strong and heavily packed for it. Employee Strike, Whizzard, Scrubber, Salsette Slums, Networking, New Angeles City Hall, and other hate cards have been seen flying around at ANRPC finals and on Jinteki.net (JNET) enough recently to scare some off of CtM. Others will be determined to fight through the hate, and hope to dodge it in the Swiss. We all know about what gets one through the Swiss…
That brings me to our winning Corporation, and returning champion, Engineering the Future (EtF). Still one of the most solid Corps, it has received a number of nice tools recently, including a strong piece of Code Gate in Fairchild 3.0. The ability is the best in H-B, and one of the best in the game. Rumor Mill hurts the Foodcoats glacier game a bit, but one has to face it. Anarch have a number of current options, if they run any at all. Plus, EtF has a variety of builds that are all robust, making it difficult to fully tech against. Strong players will be on this ID, and I feel that they will pull it out in the cut.
WORLDS WILL BE MORE FUNNEST THAN EVAR!!1!
This will be the fourth FFG Worlds I will be attending for ANR. They have all been fun in their own ways, and I have met many good people, online avatars, and future friends in Roseville each November, and expect nothing less this year. The list of people to finally meet face-to-face grows smaller each fall, but there are still those I have yet to meet (looking at you, Winning Agenda kids). As fun as the actual World Championships are, they have diminished in value to me each year. That should be no surprise, as we humans suffer from that dang Law of Diminishing Returns, with ANR being no exception. The diminishing returns from FFG in terms of prize support is another factor, but let us not beat that dead Whizz.
Much like where one lives, or works, vacations are what one makes of them. Going to a large gathering of like-minded card nerdbears is no different. Each year, I’ve tried to add some extracurricular activity onto my Worlds sojourn, just to make it a more pleasurable experience. Last year, it was going to an NBA game with a bunch of Stimhackers, along with running the King of Servers team tournament. Both were enjoyable experiences for all, and the latter was deemed by many to be the highlight of Worlds. I have brought back both events this year, and am also attending an NFL game in the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
Basically, try something different at Worlds, if you can. Some are coming early to train up. See the city, enjoy some good food (not that Radisson cheese plate), or hit the Mall of America… OK, maybe not that last one. Having a family, I really cherish my small amount of ‘bachelor time’, as my wife calls it, so I note you should try the same. Many of you are already attending King of Servers, and that’s a great side event. The FFG Friday event this year, ‘Gunslinging with FFG Employees’, seems neat but may be crowded. If you missed the cut, that might be a good day to take in some sights around the Twin Cities. Worst-case scenario, just sit in the hot tub most of the day.
FFG WILL NOT HAVE A MAJOR SCOOPS ANNOUNCEMENT
FFG recently sent our asses to Mars with the Red Sand Cycle announcement, which was well timed. Flashpoint news was through, and the community is starving for scoops. We have entered a 24/7 scoops cycle, and the eaters in the FFG community are always ready, cutlery in hand. While the Red Sand announcement was a nice amuse-bouche, ANRers have a voracious appetite, and a full meal is what they require. In a just world, FFG would make a bigger deal of Worlds. Sadly, ANR is just one of many products they produce, and like a family with too many children, neglect is bound to occur.
If FFG truly wanted to hype up the crowd at Worlds, a major announcement and/or release there would really help the player base’s attitude, the game, and perhaps new players, too. Rotation is slow in coming (should have happened after Mumbad, IMHO), and the Ice Wall to entry for new players continues to be advanced. FFG really did it right at Gencon 2015, not only bringing the rest of the SanSan cycle with them to sell ahead of time, but the next big box, Data and Destiny, as well. The hype was strong, especially for those of us not there. A similar move would be a nice thanks to the players who attend Worlds, some dropping major coin on travel. At a minimum, the rest of the cycle for sale would be great. The ‘boat’ is a well known lie, yet the refrain from being able to tell us that Santa isn’t real will keep FFG from releasing the packs there. Beyond that, having either pack one of Red Sand (doubt it is ready yet), a new box set, or even news of some sort of a Core reset would be really welcomed. I found it is best in life to keep expectations for anything low, to avoid disappointment. It worked well for me and Episode VII, and will do the same work in this situation.
WHIZZARD WILL WIN WORLDS
Oh, what a world we live in, and what a beautiful game we play. Whizzard, once the laughing stock of the community, including yours truly, has sat upon his Iron Throne replica this entire calendar year, with the briefest lull coming around MWL2. People doubted his strength, or necessity, after the Mumbad Cycle cards took a slight hit, and he showed them their folly. Granted, he did not win Gencon, but was well represented, performed well, and continues to thrive. Remember when I noted that the BABW finals was dominated by CtM? Well, they were all also playing Whizzard.
If you want to win Worlds, you should be playing Whizzard, running tech against him, or both. It would be nice to see him get his final run, and win the crown, before his imminent death. However, in the world of cyberspace, does one truly die? Perhaps he will become Apex’s manservant, uploaded into an ill-fitting cybersuit, having to wait on Apex’s hunger demands constantly.
The real winner of Worlds will be Temujin Contract (TCON). That bloody card was costed one Influence too little, and instead of being an adrenaline shot to the heart of Criminal economy, it has become an invasive parasite, showing up in nigh every Runner deck. It will be in the winning Worlds deck, and its prize will be a prompt placement on the MWL3 sometime during Store Champs season. We could see another rogue deck win that doesn’t run it, like MaxX DLR; I would not count on it.
DICE WILL BE USED AT WORLDS
In a controversial decision recently, FFG OP updated the FAQ, and noted that third party tokens are not allowed at major FFG-run events. They confirmed it via Twitter. I am taking someone’s word on that, as I abhor the medium. As many of the community are known Dice Wizards, Dice Lords, or Dice Slammers, the news of this did not go over well. Some have been reaching out to FFG, trying to get a ‘doctor’s note’ to allow them to use dice due to a ‘medical condition’. Others are resigned to the fact that their stock in ANRPC metal dice has plummeted, and will have to dump them at a loss due to their inability to see usage. However, I believe some will flaunt the rules, sending a middle finger (or two fingers if you’re from England) to FFG, and try using them anyhow. They can’t disqualify and ban all of us, can they?
They have attempted to push some of these rules in the past, including banning third party IDs at major events. I would like to believe this was due to them seeing many acrylic NEH at Worlds 2015, and not being happy about it. Despite an official rule change to this regard, I saw plenty of third party IDs being used at Regionals and Nationals, and not a single warning nor disqualification was handed down. Granted, using dice, especially for credits, is what prompted this response from FFG. Personally, I am not a fan of dice for econ, and use metal coins for that, displayed in columns by denomination, on the top corner of my mat. It’s clean and clear to both players on my econ at all times. Dice are easily manipulated and changed, intentionally or not. However, I am not accusing any of cheating or foul play. I am just noting that I see FFG’s point of view, but don’t believe in their ruling. Some people only rely on dice, and will continue to do so. Expect to either see dice used at Worlds, or a large amount of judge calls early to tell people to put away their dice.
Worlds 2016 is shaping up to be another great experience. I expect to experience a lot of laughs, some hot tubs, great beer, horrid weather, and some fun sportsball. Win or lose, the opponents and camaraderie are top notch, and not to be missed. If you are a big Netrunner fan, and want to both challenge yourself at the highest level while having a great time, I heartily recommend coming to Worlds. 2017 should be even better, due to the Star Warsian folk being shunted to their own event, allowing more room on site for FFG-run events.