Trash the Top 4! A Netrunner Store Championship Report

Late on a Monday night, 21 Runners battled through Swiss rounds at Good Games Melbourne’s store championship event. When all was said and done, four players stood ahead of the rest. The cut to elimination rounds would have to wait until later in the week, and the weary warriors got a chance to rest before battling for honour, glory and a sweet plaque.
Here are the players that made the cut:

Jesse Marshall

Name: Jesse Marshall
Profession: Thursday afternoon backgammon player

What decks are you playing today and why?
Runner: Kate R&D Lock
Toolbox of efficient breakers, program tutors, card draw and a professional contacts + economy events engine. R&D interface is one of my favorite Runner cards, and being able to drop one for no credits with a Modded on click one with breakers set up to get through always feels powerful.

Corp: Weyland BABW
Money is pretty important for corps – Weyland makes that relatively easy. Killing people with Scorched Earth may not always come off, but it presents another threat to the Runner and interferes with their plays enough that it can be a powerful asset even with one (or two) Plascretes on the table. Snare also keeps the combo viable regardless of the defenses that the Runner assembles.  A mix of small and medium-sized ice lets you score reasonably often.

How do you feel about the Spin cycle so far (Pre-Double time)?

It’s made the game play so much more smoothly. Creation and Control brought some much-needed neutral ICE, powerful shaper tutors and Runner neutral economy cards, but the Spin Cycle has fleshed out strategies to a sufficient extent that you can now run decks dedicated to a particular strategy without having sub-optimal cards in your deck purely because the card pool is too small.

FFG have been unafraid to make multiple cards dedicated to existing strategies, and have rewarded each faction with new ways to do the things they already wanted to do more efficiently or more consistently. The Caissa cycle was a bit of a letdown (Knight being the only one that is really playable), and Reina Roja was not really what Anarchs needed to become viable. GRNDL’s 10 influence along with the huge drawback of Bad Pub shows how timid they have been with pushing new corp identities since the core set, which is unfortunate.

Identities need good economy, and shouldn’t be punished so heavily for what is a basic requirement (this advantages you in one of the game’s resources in some way to a moderate degree, or two of the game’s resources to a small degree).

What about Jackson Howard? Too good or necessary evil?
Good, necessary, welcome.

What are you most looking forward to in Netrunner?
Coffee and Donuts. Also, a new Weyland 3/2 agenda (preferably with a nice upside as well).

 

Phil ChanName: Philip Chan
Occupation: Doctor

What decks are you playing today and why?
Runner: Noise
Noise is THE most fun Runner to play. I think people are now too concerned about having an answer for everything in their Runner decks. I love being unpredictable and being able to win using any combination of my programs, and sometimes without having used a breaker at all.

I play a really old-fashioned non-Workshop Noise with cards up to Creation & Control only. I think he is highly underrated. He pressures every server right from the start, forces the corp to trash their Jackson (which every corp now depends on using) and tends to make the corp accumulate agendas in HQ.

The ethos of the deck is to be able to play with any combination of cards and not depend on having to draw any one card in particular. It is, therefore, very consistent and reliable in its own way. I draw and I play with what I’m dealt and – whether that’s virus milling, Medium digging or sniping remotes with Crypsis – the plan is different every game. It’s all about making the right calls given the current game state – that’s my favourite thing about Netrunner.

Corp: NBN Making News
I tend to play different decks/factions every few weeks and experiment a lot with unpopular cards. I happened to be playing a HB:ETF no fast advance, super server deck around the time of the Games Lab Store Championship but found that I went to time far too much because it was taking about 45 minutes every time I played corp… so I decided to revisit the much faster NBN, which I hadn’t touched for five months.

NBN has always been my favourite. I don’t know what I love more – the high risk, high reward mechanics or just the straight up flavour of the faction.

How do you feel about the Spin cycle so far (Pre-Double time)?
The game is a lot more fun to play purely because it’s no longer a chore to play corp thanks to much-needed economy. However, I really don’t think Spin Cycle has affected Runner decks that much at all. If it’s done anything on the Runner side it has only reinforced old deck archetypes. Not much innovation there.

But, in general, more cards means more variety. I’m impressed with all the different types of decks I’m seeing in Melbourne. I think we’re quite a creative bunch.

What about Jackson Howard, too good or necessary evil?
Similar to my thoughts about corp economy – Jackson Howard makes the game more balanced. Prior to Jackson, drawing early agendas basically crippled your corp game. That’s just not fun. He gives that corp deck you came up with a chance to actually play out its plan.

What are you most looking forward to in Netrunner?
Nasir Meidan. I love cards that make you think about the game in a completely different way.

 

Tomas Daniel
Name: 
Tomas Daniel (that’s me!)
Profession: Sales Guy

What decks are you playing today and why?
Runner: Noise – Account Syphon recursion
I had been playing far too much Andromeda over the past few months and after bombing out in an earlier tournament a change was required. The original list was pulled from an earlier store champs in the states and the pilot managed to top the swiss. I put it together and played it raw at the last store champs and missed out on top 4 on tiebreakers. The deck attacks from a lot of angles and if it gets on top of you early it tends to keep pressure really well. Gorman Drip was a standout star and can grow pretty quickly when you bankrupt the corp with Syphon or strip their HQ with Haemorrhage. Oh, it trashes a card too.

The change that I made was suggested to me by Jesse. I felt like the 3 Joshua B’s were bricks every time I saw them and against two of the more common match-ups (Weyland and NBN) it was too big a risk for not enough upside. Instead, 3 Corroders come in to take the heat off Knight/ Crypsis/ parasite. It stops the corp from hiding behind Bastion, Ice Wall and (most importantly) wraparound. All about keeping the pressure on.

Corp: Weyland – “Glacier”
A similar story to the Runner deck, I’d been burnt out over HB fast advance and wanted to try something a bit more ‘ordinary’. With the amount of Plascretes floating and my relative inexperience piloting archetype in this meta it didn’t feel right playing Tag&Bag. This list came from the Cafe Game store champs and I ran the exact list to the 5th place finish last week.

With this deck, the changes were a bit more apparent. The lack of Jackson gives me anxiety especially in a tournament setting. Heimdall was never any better than the other large ICE in the deck (which there was quite enough) so that got cut to make room. I cut a Restructure for the second Jackson as I was having trouble floating enough credits at many points of the game. Melange made room for GRNDL Refinery which feels like a better economy piece as well as a great bluff. There is still one influence to play with and I’d like to try another Rototurret or a 3rd Jackson

How do you feel about the Spin cycle so far (Pre-Double time)?
The power level of cards in general feels like it has increased overall. While the previous cycle was plagued by horrible Weyland ICE and a few crummy identities, there have been fewer issues this time round. I would like to have seen a few more identities and a different ‘theme’ for Jinteki but we’ll get there in due time.

What about Jackson Howard, too good or necessary evil?
He certainly came in at the right time, it really felt like the Runner was light years ahead after Creation & Control. The ability to not lose games is certainly a strong one and its hard to argue that the corp doesn’t deserve that ability. For now I think he’s great for the game, but when a card becomes this ubiquitous it does raise an eyebrow.

What are you most looking forward to in Netrunner?
Draft!

 

Jay KristoffName: Jay Kristoff
Profession: I’m a sci-fi & fantasy author. Still getting used to saying that . . .

What decks are you playing today and why?
Runner: Andromeda fixed str rig.
Pretty boring, but it’s reliable and I wanted one of them perty Wotan mats.

Corp: HB Fast Advance (the B is for Boring).
Because it’s reliable and I wanted one of them perty Wotan mats

How do you feel about the Spin cycle so far (Pre-Double time)?
Well, Jackson was huge. Some of the Bad Pub tech for Runners seems a little unfinished, but presumably we’ll see that strategy fleshed out. Big fan of GRNDL. Red Queen is fun too, though I haven’t built a RQ deck I’m 100% happy with yet.

What about Jackson Howard? Too good or necessary evil?
Absolutely necessary. Variance can completely screw a corp game. You can literally lose before you get out of the box. Any card that helps smooth that variance out is a good idea. I still think Corp should get a double mulligan, too.

What are you most looking forward to in Netrunner?
The day they reprint World Domination.

 

Semifinal A: Jesse vs Phil
Not much can be said about these games, both were over within about 10 minutes. Jesse opened the first as Corp mulling a terrible hand into a worse, ICEless one. The top of R&D was vomiting agendas at anyone who touched it. His opponent unable to draw defences, Phil had the perfect punishment in Medium and swiftly plucked the needed agendas to take the game 7-0.

Install medium you say?

Install medium you say?

Needing only a single point to take the match, it was good news for Phil and NBN as he scored Breaking News on turn 3 before either player could break a sweat.

Semifinal B: Tomas vs Jay
I won the roll and shuffled up Runner. An early Account Siphon put Jay on the back foot economically. His first agenda scored was a Profiteering, a double edge sword that he was eager to live or die by as he took the full 15 credits. Unfortunately, this allowed ‘free’ runs on R&D through Bastion with Corroder resulting in the bleeding of a few agendas. By the time things were shored up I was already on 5 points and got lucky picking a 2 pointer off the top of the deck again. The final score was 7-1.

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Game two saw Andy get out to fast start hitting an early Datasucker and Account Siphon. The pressure was on and Jay had assembled his rig with 6 counters left on the powerful virus. However, he flew too close to the sun when he ran on R&D with only a single credit and 1 Bad Publicity from a scored Hostile Takeover. Shot down by an Archer and Corporate Troubleshooter combination and losing both Yog and Mimic sent him back to the stone age and the game was over soon after.

Finals: Phil vs Tomas
A year ago if someone told me that two Noise decks would be fighting for honours at a high level event I would have dismissed it. Times have changed and the red menace is making top tables around the world!

Phil won the roll and against the grain, chose to Corp first. The first turn was a big gamble that I think lesser men would not make. He Celebrity Gifted a hand of Astroscript, Draco, Enigma, Psychographics and Hedge Fund then chose to ICE up R&D. Knowing that this would be my best chance to derail the Astro-train, I played an Imp and ran 3 times trashing a Midseason but ending up agendaless. Taking that risk gave him the time and money to set up his defences on central servers. Eventually he set up a Sansan and managed to score two Astroscripts through it.

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In a last ditch attempt to scrape some points I installed a pair of Deja Vu’d Drips and hit archives, scoring a single 2-pointer to go with a lonely Breaking News from earlier. Already out of steam and facing 2 Astroscript tokens and a Sansan, it wasn’t long before we were on game 2. Phil wins 7-3

Shuffling up the Weyland in this situation was quite daunting. Most combinations of two agendas would see me lose the game on the spot and against Noise I would need more luck than usual. Early on Phil managed to steal a 2 pointer after installing a Corroder on his 3rd click and running blind into a new remote. The Bastion protecting it fell to his last 3 credits, though the pressure was off until he rebuilt his economy.

A stressful situation

A stressful situation

The game was decided on one big play. I install-advance-advance’d into a well defended remote, only to be answered by a Crypsis and a mountain of credits. After dropping down to a single credit he accessed his reward, a GRNDL refinery. Unable to trash it and penniless, the game came to an end a few turns later with the final score 7 – 3 in my favor. As per tournament rules, this resulted in a tiebreaker match!

Finals 2: Noisey Boogaloo
A best of 1 for all the marbles with Phil on Runner again. I had lucked out with Noise trashes in the last game and I had a sneaking suspicion that Weyland was going to eat dirt this time. Early cash and a lack of cheap ICE gave the Runner a few early agendas. At one point he Test Run’d for a Parasite to leave R&D with only an upgrade to protect it. With Medium out things would have gone bad quickly if Ash wasn’t there to save the day.

With no defense and running dry on credits, Jackson Howard gave me a chance by drawing Curtain Wall and Oversight AI using a single click. This stopped the bleeding for a while and let me score some agendas through my remote. Unfortunately, I misplayed by not adding extra ICE to R&D and after gathering enough credits Noise broke through with Corroder and Medium to pluck the last 4 points he needed! Phil wins the Good Games Melbourne 2014 store championship!

To the victor go the spoils!

To the victor go the spoils!

I had a chance to catch up with him after the event to get his thoughts on a few things.

How do you feel about your Top 4 matches?
First of all, a great bunch of guys to share the top 4 with. It’s always a pleasure playing Tom and Jay. Jesse, who I played for the first time is also another gentleman.

My first game against Jesse was very unfortunate for him and I think it demonstrates the biggest flaw of the game – how hard it is to play as corp with a bad starting hand. Essentially, he mulliganed into no ice for R&D and I won on my 5th click of the entire game using only one card – Medium. As corp, all I had to do was score a Breaking News to take the match 8-0, which I did in turn 3 or 4.

The final was against Tom.

Corp first, my starting hand was: Celebrity Gift, Astroscript, Enigma, Draco, Hedge Fund, then mandatory drawing into Psychographics. I gambled by playing Celebrity Gift on turn 1, revealing all 5 cards (including the Astro) and iced R&D. I decided that the risk of losing the Astro was worth the early game advantage. The gamble paid off, as Tom was empty handed after three runs on the undefended HQ. This allowed me to play a very solid early game.

The second turning point in the game was baiting Tom into spending an entire turn installing a Knight onto Wraparound in order to steal a measly Breaking News. This allowed a follow up turn of trashing Wraparound + hosted Knight, installing Rototurret in its stead and installing the Astroscript behind.

Although I won that game 7-3, it definitely does not reflect how close it was. Tom did a very good job keeping me poor throughout the game. I had to play very carefully to finally rez the SanSan I needed to seal the deal. MVPs were definitely Eli and Viper.

As Runner, the hardest match up for my deck is probably Weyland big ice + Ash + Corporate Troubleshooter… which Tom was playing. I was able to steal a Government Contracts for a draw by blindly installing a Corroder and running a remote with 3 credits to spare. Luckily for me, the ice was Bastion… However, Stimhacking into a remote only to find a GRNDL Refinery with 1 credit left meant a huge swing that made sure I was locked out for the rest of the game.

I lost that game 3-7, bringing us to game 3, where I would run again. I actually felt that it was a big advantage for me to run again because by then I had learnt the mechanics of Tom’s corp deck. I knew I had to establish a large credit pool throughout the game and not commit to a specific server early in order to make Tom feel unsafe. It was a really intense game, essentially, of economy. I was able to win at around 15 or so cards left in R&D with a Medium dig.

This one match demonstrated all the reasons I love playing Netrunner.

On NetrunnerDB you talk a bit about your Runner play style. Can you elaborate a bit on that?
Indulge me for a second, so that I can make a general point. I think there is too much of an obsession around deck lists. Why aren’t people talking more about individual play styles and decision-making? My decks are built to facilitate the way I play and I strongly believe that every player has a certain play style or decision-making process that can be defined and studied.

Noise suits me a lot because I like to play unpredictably and take calculated risks. My deck doesn’t have an answer to everything, but that’s okay, because it doesn’t have to. I think the clue is in the name – “Anarch”.

The most important skill to have with my deck is constantly calculating the distribution of agendas between the four areas of attack – HQ, R&D, Archives and remote – sure, this is important for any deck, but more so for Anarch because you simply cannot run them all.

The two complaints about Anarch I always hear are – not enough money and not enough draw. The solution is easy – put more money in your deck and don’t rely on any single card to win. If I have to draw a Workshop or a Sahasrara in the first phase of every single game then I’ve probably already lost a significant fraction of my games even before I’ve started playing.

I’ve spoken more about individual concepts for Noise “V” on NetrunnerDB, so I won’t bore you with them here, but if I had to summarise this it would be – draw some cards, stop complaining and play with what you’re dealt!

Are there any changes you’d make to your decks coming out of the event?
Noise “V” has 3 or 4 “bonus cards” that I always like to swap out. 2x Test Run, 2x Imp were new additions for the tournament. Cards that used to fill those spaces include Bank Job, Modded, Nerve Agent, Vamp, Demolition Run. At the moment, I think the deck works very smoothly as it is. That usually means moving on to try something completely different for me, but… Noise is just too much fun.

NBN “Morag” is an updated version of a deck I took to Nationals and hadn’t touched for at least 5 months! I’m not really that interested in refining it any further and I will probably play another faction for the next tournament, probably Jinteki… but don’t hold me to that!

How do you feel about the Organised play in Melbourne? Is there anything that you would change?
I moved over from Glasgow, Scotland about 6 months ago and I felt like a kid in a candy store. Melbourne is seriously spoilt when it comes to really great, knowledgeable, well-stocked stores, comfortable gaming spaces and strong community. Tom does a great job of being proactive and really driving the community forward.

The one and only thing I would change is for everyone to want to go to the pub after game nights!

Anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks to the friendly staff of Good Games Melbourne, all the nice people I played in the tournament, and to ATGN and Tom for these great community articles.

Oh, and a shout out to the Netrunners back in Glasgow – The Lanarkshire Gamers, Spellbound Games and my arch-nemesis/sparring partner, Charles.

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2 Comments
  1. ayanami2025
    March 22, 2014 | Reply
  2. March 22, 2014 | Reply

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