Netrunner week sneaked into next week, but I’ve started so I’ll finish. I’ve read many blogs and facebook posts from Netrunners, even during the short while I’ve been playing, doing an in-depth analysis of what worked and didn’t for them at the tournament they just completed. Every time my response was ‘who reads this stuff?’ But now the boot’s on the other foot I can see that the answer is ‘it doesn’t matter’. There’s something quite pleasing about writing down what happened, even if it’s just you that benefits (as always, anyone else is a bonus). So while I’m certainly not qualified to give any ‘expert analysis’, here’s what I think happened in each of my games.
My rules for deck building/selecting are: 1) They must be fun to play and 2) I prefer do things a bit differently. That may prevent me from ever being a top player, but as they say on Run Last Click, “you’re not gonna make any money playing Netrunner.”
That ‘fun to play’ thing rules out a whole load of runner decks for me. In the brief time I’ve been playing I’ve tried a number of the popular archetypes (Endless Waltz, Noiseshop, Blackmail Val, Dumblefork, Stealth Hayley, Stealth Kate…) and I’m still to land on one I really like. A few weeks ago I played an opponent on Jinteki who was using Multithreader and The Toolbox to boost Study Guide and then run for free with the recurring credits, using Kate. It seemed ‘simple’ and fun, and after a few games with it I was doing as well as I was with any other runner, so decided that was my deck. But in the few days before Huddersfield I kept finding myself running out of ‘free’ credits because Shrike was so expensive against big sentries, so I made the rather rash move to switch Multithreader for Cloak so that I could bring in Dagger as my killer. The influence this freed up also allowed me to use Corroder instead of Snowball. It seemed like a winner. It wasn’t. If you don’t get Toolbox out early you can’t install more Cloaks (or you have to forgo another breaker) so you’re not pumping Study Guide and suddenly everything is expensive. I think the least said about it the better.
Conversely, I feel much more at home on the corp side. I’m quite happy to play most of the popular styles (not you IG), and even some of the unconventional ones. I originally intended to play Supermodernism but as my success rate with it tailed off I went back to the yellow deck that I feel like I’ve played forever. It was described more than once on the day as ‘unusual’ and ‘not really sure what you were doing’ which I was thrilled with! It all centres around scoring some early one pointers and then using 24/7 News Cycle to Break News and Scorch away the pain. It was originally in NEH, just for the influence, but I decided to switch out the Traffic Accidents for Exchange of Informations (another nice use of 24/7) which allowed me to take the extra defence of Haarpsichord. In testing it worked great and on the day played okay but I kept finding myself one card short. I think trying to juggle Scorches, EoIs and All-Seeing Is was too much for one hand, so needs refining. Anyway, on to the games!
Round 1 – vs. Hayley
It starts off great and I get the economy and one-pointers I want. In a short time I’m up 4-0 while Hayley installs, well, everything. Once she’s (should I talk about my opponent or their character here? Seem’s I’m going with Hayley, sorry Daniel) set up there’s not much I can do to stop her and she steals two GFIs. This is my perfect set-up for double EoI but dig as I might I can’t find a second one. As she takes another one pointer off me I panic and fire the one I have. This puts me on 6 points but I can’t get the pieces together quick enough to do anything and they score out anyway.
vs. IG Biolock
There’s not really anything in my deck which will stop IG doing what it wants. I buy as much time as I can by spending a fortune protecting myself with Guru Davinder. When it became clear time was running out I ran with what I had on R&D. Amazingly on first run I’m able to Film Critic a TFP and steal a GFI. In hindsight I should have been doing this much earlier. I get one more turn to try another lucky run but it wasn’t. And then I woke up dead.
Round 2 – Bye
Round 3 – vs. Kate
It turned out to be a deck very similar to mine, built around Study Guide. But the key ingredient was New Angeles City Hall and Film Critic which reduces me to a blubbering wreck. She also has Mopus to stay rich so runs through my Ravens literally like they weren’t there, knowing she can pay to avoid any tags. I resign myself to just playing out the game. Lesson learnt here is that you should never switch off. Near the end she got cocky and decided to steal GFI rather than FC it, so that she could run again for the win. That should have resulted in NACH being trashed, and me unloading a firey hell of tags and Scorch. But I didn’t realise and neither did they; NACH stayed on the board until the end, two turns later. If we’d got the judge involved it would have probably been messy, so I said I didn’t want to bother and the game was lost.
I steal a cheeky Atlas early but he puts up a modest defence while I take forever to find the pieces to get past it. By that time he had 27 servers set up. I can’t really remember what happened but I never felt like I was in it.
Round 4 – vs. Palana
My deck impresses me only be setting new records in slowness of setup. By the time I have anything he already had two Niseis scored, and you can tell it isn’t going to go well from there. It was over quickly.
The marathon game. I know I need to go quickly so force out a couple of one-pointers early. But this isn’t the Geist deck I’m expecting. Instead it’s using Off-Campus Apartment to rack up the connections, including Decoys, The Source and Fall Guys. Along with Forgers and Cars in his hardware I’m having to do a million calculations every turn to work out when and if I can do anything. He’s been all the way through his deck and Levy’d back and the score was still only 2-2. I’m juggling and recycling my pieces to keep the pressure on where possible. He steals a couple of agendas to take a 5-2 lead. But I still have a chance; he was down to a single Car as Scorch defence and providing the link for his virtual breakers. If I can make him spend the Car he’ll have to trash his breakers and then maybe I can score out behind my soft defences. But I never get chance to play out this plan as time is called and he takes the timed win.
Round 5 – vs. Gagarin
The least enjoyable game of the day. Obviously he’s going sideways and is using some convoluted combos to shuffle everything on every turn and slowly build up tokens on Mumbad Construction Co. I try to attack his centrals instead and find them protected by Study Guide. Those Shrikes I took out of my deck during the week would have been really useful now, but Dagger does nothing. I forlornly try and trash some servers but he’s Museuming them back quicker than I can trash. Some pain later he wins easily.
Last game of the day and my head is thoroughly mashed. He’s dumbleforking so destroys any attempts I have to slow things down on R&D. Ignoring all that, I manage to cheekily score a few one-pointers and get to a position where double EoI would win me the game. But as usual I don’t get the cards I need and get picked apart. And that was that.
Pointing out the obvious, my runner deck was a disaster. The Saturday morning idea I’d had (Whizzard with all the hate) would have been much better for all the sideways I encountered. I’ve since built and played with it, and found it pretty good even if they don’t go sideways. But a certain announcement has put a spanner in the works of that. That same announcement has also forced me to rethink my 24/7 deck, but apart from changing to Harishchandra (for influence) I think that just needs tweaking rather than binning. We’ll see.
In the unlikely event that you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. Any comments very welcome. Normal service will be resumed shortly.