This is my report on a mediocre showing at a recent Netrunner Store Championship. Usually you tend to see tournament reports from folks that won or did really well. I thought it might be a nice change of pace for the bulk of us that don’t win to see a report on mediocrity. I was the very definition of it, finishing with 5 wins and 5 losses, and coming in 11th out of 21 people. Note that this report will assume a reasonable level of familiarity with Netrunner, so if you’ve never played the game, then this may not be your cup of tea.
I decided to bring a Kit Stealth Spooned deck for my runner and a Blue Sun deck for my corporation. The idea behind the Kit deck (see list here) was to rely heavily on the efficiency of Refractor. This was combined with Spooned and Same Old Thing to destroy as much ice on R&D as possible, and Maker’s Eye to multi-access for the win. It is slower to get going than most runner decks that I try and struggles against fast advance, but can be tough to stop once setup. I almost played a personal favorite Noise Virus Shop deck (see list here), which excels at decking the corp and runs very infrequently, but struggles against Blue Sun, which I expected to be (and was in fact) prevalent. I’ll likely return to Noise once Clot comes out in the near future; the more 1 cost viruses the better.
On the corporation side, I went with a Blue Sun deck (see list here) that aimed to use the identity’s ability to bounce not only ice as most people usually do, but also economy and ambush assets. The idea is that I can install ambush assets early (either the advanceable ones, Aggressive Secretary or Shattered Remains, or the unadvanceable ones, Snare or Psychic Field) and if they do not run them, then rez and bounce them to my hand. Either way, the runner becomes wary of installed cards, which I use to try to get to 5 points (through an unadvanced 3/2 agenda and a double-advanced 5/3 agenda). This can force them into the tough position of having to run and check everything. When it gets up and running, it can work well and be very fun to play. I like trying to put the runner in a position where they clearly cannot choose the wine in front of me or the wine in front of them.
Round 1 vs. HB ETF / MaxX
I knew my first round would be very tough when the random pairings were announced. My opponent had finished Top 16 at Worlds 2014, done well at several Regionals, and ultimately won this very Store Championship.
- Despite all of that, I lucksacked my way into a win in the first game against his Haas-Bioroid Engineering the Future deck. I beat a Caprice Nisei psi game on the first attempt to steal the first agenda. Then he hit two Priority Requisitions on an Accelerated Beta Test. He used Archived Memories to pull one back and I happened to snipe it from a full HQ on my first attempt, then ran Archives with a leftover click to steal the other. It’s impossible to say how a full game would have gone, but everything went my way in this abbreviated one. I know I’m wary of actually triggering Accelerated Beta Test if I’m not playing The Foundry or don’t have a Jackson Howard on the table, so was surprised my opponent went for it; he must have a ton of ice in that deck.
- The second game was against a slightly modified version of Reg-Ass MaxX. Unsurprisingly, D4v1d destroys Oversight AI and can seriously cripple the Blue Sun economy. He ended up floating tags through Data Raven, and using Deja Vu to bring back I’ve Had Worse, which was key to preventing a Scorch victory. A poor Blue Sun is a rare thing, but it seriously hampered the deck and led MaxX to victory.
Round 2 vs. HB CI / Leela
Usually at tournaments, I find that I win the first round 2-0 and then get paired against someone great that beats me back down. This time, I went 1-1 and figured I’d get a less stellar opponent in the second round. Alas, I got paired with someone who actually finished Top 4 at Worlds 2013, but just happened to also go 1-1 in the first round. This was a brutal round.
- I lost the first game against Haas Bioroid Cerebral Imaging because he pulled off the combo that let him score 7 points in a single turn using Power Shutdown and Accelerated Diagnostics. He used Power Shutdown to put his entire deck into his discard pile, then Jackson Howard to put 3 cards back, then Accelerated Diagnostics to trigger them all, including Biotic Labor for more clicks and Interns to reinstall agendas, then Efficiency Committee for clicks, and Shipment from SanSan and Shipment from Kaguya to finish two more agendas. It was impressive and made me wish I’d played the Noise deck with Hades Shard mentioned above!
- I lost the second game to Leela Patel. Psychic Field hit early and kept the runner gun shy so I could reach an early 5-0 lead, but he sniped 5 points from HQ to make it 5-5. I tried a 3/2 agenda behind a Tollbooth when he only had Passport late in the game when R&D and HQ were in trouble, but he dropped Cerberus Rex to take the victory. This was the one game that I lost throughout the day but think I should have won if I’d played better. I had an opportunity earlier to try to score an NAPD Contract behind decent ice when the runner was relatively poor, but made the mistake of instead clicking for credits in order to use a Restructure. I should have tried to close it out quickly and press my advantage rather than building a cash reserve. Instead, I headed to lunch down 1-3.
Round 3 vs. NEH / CT Snitch
Round three was against a friend that I regularly play Netrunner with, so we were very familiar with each other’s decks, which made the mind games even more interesting.
- I pulled out the first game against his fast advance NEH because Maker’s Eye grabbed me a bunch of points from R&D. He stacked ice three deep on R&D (knowing the goal of my runner deck), but plenty of economy and Femme Fatale helped keep the pressure up.
- I won the second game against his Chaos Theory deck in large part due to a first turn Housekeeping that lasted essentially the whole game. The Chaos Theory deck involved using Au Revoir and Snitch to earn 12 credits per turn, but there are a lot of pieces to setup and Housekeeping can really slow Shaper decks down. I am a big fan of Housekeeping and think it is one of the best currents. Maybe not quite as good as Enhanced Login Protocol, but right up there, at least until the runner gets some decent currents outside of Shaper. This round brought me even to 3-3.
Round 4 vs. NEH / Andy
The penultimate round was against the two most classic decks, NEH fast advance and classic Andromeda. Neither went my way.
- I knew Kit would have trouble against NEH fast advance, but my troubles were magnified by the fact that I saw 1 economy card the entire game (despite an early Astrolabe). I tried to keep the pressure up, but was stymied by lack of economy. This problem was compounded by two early Biotic Labor Astroscripts. I actually managed to make it 5-5 with a late Maker’s Eye, but ultimately could not afford to maintain R&D lock (which is crucial for stopping NEH) and lost to Astro counters. Looking forward to Traffic Jam and Clot next month (despite what this interesting blog post had to say about it).
- The second game was frustrating because my Blue Sun deck was flooded with agendas and Andromeda won quickly with Legwork. It’s my own fault for not including Jackson Howard, but I wanted to use the influence for tagging and ambushes.
Round 5 vs. Jinteki RP / MaxX
I was motivated in the final round to try especially hard to bring my record back up to an even 5-5 and managed to pull out both games.
- The first matchup was against a classic Jinteki Replicating Perfection deck, like the one that won Worlds last year. This is a good matchup for my Kit deck because her recurring credits pay off big over the long haul. I made sure to keep the corp poor by trashing all the Sundews I could find. I drew into the Spooned and Same Old Thing cards at the right time, which kept R&D ice to a minimum for the win.
- The second matchup was against another Reg-Ass MaxX deck, which I had already faced in the first round. This time though the Levy AR Lab Access was discarded early, and he floated a tag just long enough for me to trash Same Old Thing late. His deck ran out with no recursion, although he did have a decent setup with a full breaker suite, Datasucker, and Kati Jones. I did my deck’s classic move of rezzing and bouncing an advanced Aggressive Secretary, to follow it up with an agenda for the win because a reinstalled Aggressive Secretary would have completely destroyed his rig.
Overall, I had a great time. The most common runner decks I saw were definitely MaxX and Leela. The most common corp deck I saw was Blue Sun, although there was a fair amount of Haas Bioroid and NBN. As I tend to do after a tournament, I have now taken apart all of my decks, and am trying some new things, like Silhouette on the runner side and Gagarin Deep Space on the corp side. I’m sure I’ll go back to Noise when The Valley comes out because I have an unreasonable amount of fun using Wyldside and Aesop’s Pawnshop to install virus after virus after virus on Scheherazade using Cyberfeeder. And if that sentence makes sense to you, then you probably understand why I’m still obsessed with Netrunner even after 900+ plays.