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Subject: Sic Itur Ad Astra #4: Weyland vs Criminal rss

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João Almeida
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My The Space Between and my First Contact finally arrived! Put I'm still waiting for Upstalk...

Sic Itur Ad Astra #4: Weyland vs Criminal (up to First Contact)

You can skip this introduction if you're already familiar with this article series.

A lot of players have problems building their own decks. Android: Netrunner gets new cards every month, and the game requires you to have two decks with playstyles completely different, so I can't blame those who ask for help. But let's face it, if I just tell people which cards to use, they'll never learn how to build their own decks. That's why I decided to start this articles series.

Once per week, I'll post my tests reports, where I'll try to identify my tournament decks' weaknesses and I'll use that knowledge to improve them. That way, I'm not only sharing my results and opening my decks for criticism, but I'm also helping people to understand how they can test their own decks.

But I'm not gonna lie, getting into the "perfect deck" is a boring task. It's how life works: to become good at something sucks. Studying sucks, training sucks, exercising sucks. To be the best, you have to do what no one else is willing to do, it is that simple.

About my testing method, what I do is to play with a pen and a paper on my side. Whenever I draw a card that won't help me, I take note. Whenever I lose a match because I didn't draw what I needed, I also take note. In the end, I check everything I wrote and see what I missed the most, which were the most useless cards, and then I replace them. That way, by trial and error, my deck keeps improving slowly as my studies keeps going.

Rival of the Week: Andy/Sucker

Decklist available here

I always said that I don't like playing Criminal, and this deck didn't changed my mind. It is strong, consistent, and efficient, but...

...I don't know, I just didn't like it.

The greek champion, Nikos Sakkas, didn't make anything that I would classify as "out of the box" thinking in terms of deckbuilding. His deck is a very standard Andy/Sucker, and it is as good as we would expect it to be. This deck will probably be a top tier for a long long time.

The Gaming Sessions (win rate: ~30%)

This was the most frustrating week so far. For the first time, I failed to find a pattern on why I was losing to Criminal, other than "because I'm playing Weyland". There wasn't a particular card that I was missing, or a particular card that I was drawing too much - it felt like I always had 5 wrong cards in my hand. It was not a matter of improving my deck, but the archetype that as not appropriate for that match up.

The problem was that my Weyland deck was adapted to be brazilian environment, not the american/european one. Nikos Sakkas' deck is oriented to late game dominance, with only a few bursts of early game pressure (like Legwork, for instance). That's why fast advance is so popular there, because it is good against slower Runners. Here, we play Runners more oriented to early game pressure, and that's why decks like Personal Evolution, Psycho/Beale, and my vegan Weyland works better.

This difference not only explains why my Corp deck is so bad against the decks that are popular at the north hemisphere, but it also explain why my Runner deck performs so well against decks that americans and europeans call "broken", like Astro/Biotics. As I like to say, Android: Netrunner is a game about counterpicking. Answering the meta is a huge (and underrated) part of the game. Andy/Sucker counterpicked me, and there was nothing I could do about it.

The Rant of the Week

During my researches, I found out that Jesse Marshall won the Australian National Tournament (~80 players) playing Tag n' Bag. I tried his deck and got 3rd place in a tournament this weak, but only because Whizzard carried me. Players who know how to play against Weyland can beat Tag n' Bag even without Plascrete Carapace. In my opinion, either the australian environment is not properly adapted to face Scorched Earth decks, or Jesse Marshall is far better than the other players there. His deck doesn't seem good enough to beat an 80 players tournament.

There is an agreement between most player that, by now, Weyland is the weakest faction. As I said above, I don't thnk Weyland is weak by itself, but that the competitive environment evolved to a place where it can't be effective.

Basically, you have two ways to play as a Corp, you either make the mid game longer (like "glacier" decks), or make your deck faster to win during a short lenght mid game (like "fast advance" decks). My deck tried to take the first rout, and found two problems.

First, cards like Kati Jones allows Runners to have a good late game economy without spending influence, which makes the economy struggle hard to win in the long run. Second, Weyland way to delay the Runner's rig is by trashing programs, but it does it very miserably:

- Power Shutdown is bad when everybody is playing Datasucker;
- Archer requires the Corp to forfeit an agenda;
- Burke Bugs is pure crap when both Andy and Mac have natural link;
- Grim gives you a bad publicity, and can be prevented by D4V1D;
- Swarm can be prevented even without an icebreaker.

So, I decided to give a chance to the other side, and build a fast Weyland deck. The problem is that Weyland "rush" style is, again, very weak compared to how other factions do it. Haas-Bioroid and NBN have two different 3/2 agendas and in faction accelerations (Biotic Labor and SanSan City Grid). Jinteki has a huge amount of damage sources, which forces the Runner to go slowly at the beggining at the game.

Weyland, on the other hand, has only one 3/2 agenda, and thanks to Hostile Takeover, it has serious problems playing NAPD Contract - one of the best agendas of the game. The Scorched Earth threat, as opposed to Jinteki threats, relies on SEA Source or Snare!, both out of faction.

But if I'm not scoring agendas from hand, maybe I can use Oversight AI to rez strong pieces of ICE fast and score agendas behind it, right? Yes! ...but no. First, D4V1D beats all Weyland big pieces of ICE. Second, Kit + Cyber-Cypher breaks those big guys pretty cheap. Rushing pieces of ICE is not as good as rushing agendas.

What to do, what to do...?

For those who read my articles since I started writing, you know that I sticked with Anarch since the Core Set days. I'm a competitive player, but I value "faction loyalty". I really like Weyland thematically, and with Order & Chaos coming out soon, part of me wants to keep trying Weyland as the fixes are just three months away. But the other part of me feels that enough is enough.

Fantasy Flight Games is failing with Weyland just like they did with Jinteki during the Genesis Cycle. We wasted a whole cycle gaining cards for the "advanceable ICEs" archetype (Salvage OP!!!), then we received more source of bad publicity and meat damage (while the Tag n' Bag problem is the lack of tags, not damage), and now we're waiting for the morphing pieces of ICE to prove their value. Weyland is finally suffering from packs and packs of negligence.

So... to sum it up, I have no idea what I'm going to do with my Corp deck.

Next week, I'll give Quetzal a shot! Will I be able to play without Whizzard after all this time?

For the records, I'm not claiming to be better than the players mentioned above, and I'm not claiming that I could have won the tournaments mentioned above either. My tests and conclusions are totally based on my personal perception of the game, and do not account the players' skills.

Previous Articles
Sic Itur Ad Astra #3: Anarch vs Jinteki (up to The Space Between)
Sic Itur Ad Astra #2: Weyland vs Anarch (up to The Space Between)
Sic Itur Ad Astra #1: Anarch vs NBN (up to Upstalk)
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Christopher MacLeod
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Moncton
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Great analysis of the problems with Weyland.

I'm not surprised you lost to Andy, IMO a strong Andy player should win 90% of games against a standard Weyland build of equal skill. Weyland wins only with the nut draw or by punishing a Runner mistake.

In a large tournament you may win early rounds by flatlining newer players and later rounds by punishing mistakes from tired people who normally know better. It also seems likely that Jesse just played smarter on the day which goes a long way in Netrunner.

I consider Cerebral Imaging to play Scorch the best as they have the hand space to store combo pieces, endless Operation economy that can actually outpace the Runner's, and recursion to either kill Plascrete and Scorch again or just Biotic into triple Scorch.

So what to do about Weyland...

Blue Sun is a big step in the right direction because it overall shores up the ICE mixture and economy but I also think that traditional Weyland style has to change away from mixed decks that try to do multiple things poorly.

I am completely with you on Vegan Weyland as I feel Scorch is too easy to turn off. The best case scenario is that people respect Scorch just in case, and you don't actually waste the deck space and influence to play it.

The way forward for Weyland as I see it is, from most viable to least:

1. Slow glacier decks based on asset economy, large expensive ICE and scoring behind Ash. Nothing groundbreaking here but the simplest plans with the fewest moving parts are usually the best. I feel that this is slightly better than HB:ETF fast advance which is already a respectable deck.

2. Rush 4 points, finish with Accelerated Diagnostics combo to score 3 points from deck. Advantage of this is that rushing 4 points is feasible when you play NAPD, combo is tutorable with Project Atlas, and that most opponents have zero to little experience in the matchup so you can capitalize on Runner blunders such as trying to race on money or allowing early scores with the plan of late game R&D lock.

Disadvantage is spending a lot of deck slots on so-so cards like Shipment from SanSan, though others such as Interns and Subliminal benefit from a Noise-heavy meta. Other disadvantage is that Imp is commonly played and with the upcoming Edward Kim, losing critical Operations becomes more likely.

3. Rush to start, finish with fast advance. Right now I feel this is just a bad HBFA, but depending on Weyland's unique 3/2 from the deluxe expansion, Blue Sun may be able to invest all their money in ICE to prevent R&D lock, then still bounce something and Biotic/SanSan out a 3/2 and then finish the game with a Hostile Takeover.

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