Gene

Lakewood
California
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Please bear with me, as this is my first time trying to do any sort of tournament report,

Let me start by explaining my tournament experience and my Netrunner background to put this report in perspective. Before Netrunner, the only game I’ve gotten into the tournament scene with was Vampire: The Eternal Struggle (or Jyhad as us old timers know it). For several years (before wife and kids) I enjoyed playing it regularly and competed in probably a dozen tournaments (including several regionals). I even went to GenCon one year with some friends to play in a qualifying regional in hopes of playing in the North American Championships. I didn’t qualify for the championships, but I had a great time and got to see a few friends compete in the final round of the championships.

So fast forward several years (or a lot of years, to be honest). Along comes Android: Netrunner and I get addicted. I played a little of the original Netrunner, but I think the beauty and artistry of this game far outshines the original (okay, I’ll try to stop blowing wind up Fantasy Flight’s skirt and get to the point). I’m in a much different place in my life now, and a full time job, wife, and two kids make it impossible to devote myself to a game the way I would have in the past. So I’ve got a buddy of mine, Marcus, who got addicted to the game also. We get together as often as possible to get in a few games while our kids run wild around us (which usually means once every few weeks). I’ve played on OCTGN a little. Enough to say I’m a mediocre to upper-mediocre player, but definitely not advanced or elite. Having only played the game in person with my wife and Marcus, I don’t have a chance to see all the different strategies wily players can utilize, but I’m addicted to reading articles and forums and listening to every Netrunner podcast I can get my earbuds on.

With this distinct lack of experience, Marcus and I decide that we MUST go play in our local regional tournament, which is being held at Game Empire in Pasadena. We both understand that we will be crushed due to our inexperience, but we love the game so much and the crazy adrenaline rush it gives us, we just want to have the experience and don’t mind coming home compete and utter losers.

The Day of the Tournament:

April 20th arrives and Marcus shows up at my house at 9am. I kiss my wife and children goodbye, and we embark on the hour drive it will take to get to Pasadena. In the car, I confess to Marcus that I have changed out two cards from my Weyland deck I’m playing, making a fundamental change to a potential side strategy. I have ditched two copies of Oversight AI (because I just wasn’t getting them early game with the scary ICE when I needed them), and instead I have put in two copies of Woodcutter. I have never played Woodcutter before and have thrown it in as a potential threat with my advancing ICE deck (yes, despite all the disparagement against it, I’m running “Because We Built It”). So now I’m going into a tournament with an untested deck. Am I crazy or stupid or both? Marcus just laughs because he has his Netrunner box open in his lap and is currently putting together the runner deck he is going to play, still trying to decide which iteration of the deck he wants to use.

During the ride, while he puts his deck together, we discuss our fears for the tournament. Will we play fast enough? (Our normal games between one another last 45 minutes to an hour and a half, and now we have to complete two in 65 minutes (but we have been practicing on getting faster).) Will we end up playing with elite players who will look down their noses, sigh at us, and treat us with contempt? Do we even belong at a tournament of this level? It’s like we’re nerds back in high school feeling like we’re trying to slum it in the cool kids’ area.

We survive the ride without spiraling into too much despair and arrive at Game Empire with plenty of time to register and sit nervously shuffling our decks.

35 people show up to the Regional. That’s right, 35. Crazy. But everyone seems very cool, and the person running the tournament (I think his name was Travis, and I will call him that from now on) is a really cool guy and it looks like things will run smoothly. The first pairings are announced, and we’re off to the races...

Round 1:

I am playing against Geoff. I win the toss and decide to corp first. He is playing a Whizzard deck (the last thing I expected to see), up against my Weyland ICE advance deck. I think he might have picked this identity because Geoff seems to resemble Whizzard slightly (or maybe it’s the other way around). Geoff seems like a cool guy, and ten minutes into the game I am much more relaxed. He seems to be on about the same experience level as myself. I notice the wedding ring on his finger and I wonder if we are more similar than different. He seems to be hiding his nervousness behind a jovial manner, the same as me. I idly wonder what deal he made with his wife to spend the whole day playing in a tournament.

But enough of this esoteric, personal rambling, how about the actual game? Isn’t this supposed to be a tournament report, not a therapy blog?

The game itself was probably a standard game by middle of the road players. He had a good opening and had Wyldside out first turn. He built a decent trickle economy with three Underworld Contacts and Aesop’s Pawnshop. I fooled around building my servers and advancing an Ice Wall up to ten to make a juicy target for Commercialization. We went back and forth a little. He stole a few agendas, I scored a few agendas. Then I got a lucky break when I ended a turn with one counter on a Posted Bounty, he didn’t run on it, and he ended his turn with three cards in his hand. I scored the Posted Bounty, and had one click left to Scorched Earth him. Game over. My worst mistake that game: forgetting that he was tagged during my turn and not taking advantage of it to trash any of his plethora of resources.

We switched sides and I ran my Chaos Theory deck (fairly typical build) against his Weyland deck. I had the most amazing opening hand I think I’ve ever had: Magnum Opus, Notoriety, Ninja, Yog.0, and Personal Workshop. My worst mistake of the game (or at least the worst bumble) happened on my first turn. I ran against his HQ and he rezzed an Ice Wall. The run ends. I ran his R&D, he doesn’t rez the ICE in front of it. I think “cool!” I run his archives and for my last action play Notoriety! It’s turn one and I’ve already scored an agenda point! He nods and smiles and it’s at that point I realize I’m an idiot. I can’t play Notoriety, my run on HQ wasn’t successful. I smile sheepishly and put the Notoriety back in my hand. The rest of the game was kind of a blur. Again, we both get some agendas. I do remember that on the last turn, I didn’t have that many credits, so I Stimhacked past an Ice Wall in front of HQ that had been advanced eight times, had just enough credits left to run R&D, and then waltzed into an unprotected archives, and then Notorietied for the win.

After the game, Geoff apologized for all his trash talking, and I thought “What trash talking? He’s been a really fun guy to play against.” I don’t know if he was being too sensitive, or if I just was being too dense, but in any case, I couldn’t believe I was coming out of the first round with six prestige points. Oh crap! This meant I would be tied for top seed in the next round and end up playing some awesome, elite player who would just roll over me while laughing at my inability and inexperience...

I went to see how Marcus had done.

Low and behold, he had also won both of his games. We were both sitting at six prestige points! Now we were really nervous. We were fish out of water. We were out of our league. Oh well, were we men or cowards? We would face the future, come what may!

And then they posted the match-ups for Round 2. Anyone who has seen any sort of buddy movie before knows exactly where this is heading. Marcus and I were both sitting at table 2 playing each other! Of course!

Round 2:

So this was crazy. Marcus and I have spent the last few weeks playing each other and refining the decks we planned to play (or at least trying out all our decks on each other trying to make that decision). I knew all his tricks (look out for the Edge of Worlds in his NBN deck); he knew all my tricks (just trash both his copies of Yog.0 and he won’t be able to break any codegates). We laughed and trashtalked to our hearts’ content. It was a joy and a great stress reliever. We ended up each of us winning with our corp decks, but I got the 2 extra prestige points for the match due to stealing more agenda points as the runner. The only weird thing about our match was that as the time got closer to ending, and more and more tables were done, more and more people were coming to stand around our table and watch the games at our table and table #1 next to us. It kind of freaked me out, partly because I felt like it’s scouting a little (and in Netrunner surprise is so important), but mostly because I felt like there were coming over to see how the top seeded, expert players were doing, and I was still feeling like I didn’t belong here. I just got lucky. Any minute I would be exposed for the mediocre player that I am. Okay, enough self-deprecation, on with the facts.

The guys beside us (top seed at table 1) split their match exactly. And I’m not sure how many other people had 6 prestige points going into round 2, so I had no idea where that put me at the end of Round 2.

After Round 2 was lunch break, so Marcus and I ran over to La Salsa for a cool interior (it was a hot Southern California day), some good burritos, and a chance to burn off some adrenaline by telling stories about our Round 1 games. Apparently Marcus faced off against the only Jinteki player we saw there.

I was a little surprised. Based on all the net traffic, I expected to face off against nothing but HB fast advance and Noise or Criminal. I was halfway through the tournament and I hadn’t seen either.

After lunch it was back over to Game Empire to check the match-ups and attack round 3!

Round 3:

I was paired up against Brandon, who had sat next to me (at Table 1) in the previous round. He looked like a fairly serious guy, and he Corped first using Weyland (Building a Better World). There’s not much to say about the first game. He built a strong fortress, I had some trouble getting my rig up and running, and then he surprised me on a run and I face planted into an Archer and lost two programs (rooky mistake). I tried to recover, but it wasn’t fast enough to stop him from scoring seven agenda points.

What I took away from the game was that he was a good player, and a really nice guy. He didn’t get impatient with me, and he had a good sense of humor about weird things I tried to do in desperation.

For the next game it was my Weyland against his Chaos Theory. This was a weird game. I couldn’t draw an agenda to save my life. So I decided to build towers of ICE and advance them for good Commercialization economy. But he was running three test runs and three Femme Fatales (no surprise there). So what kept happening was that I would get a few counters on an ICE, he would bring out a Femme Fatale (sometimes test running for it, sometimes paying the full cost (he had a great economy going)) and target the ICE I was advancing. So I would end up trashing that ICE and installing something else and advancing it. He would bring out a new Femme Fatale and target that new ICE. So I would trash that ICE. This cycle went on FOUR TIMES! He actually trashed one Femme Fatale when he brought out a second, and then later brought it out of the trash with Test Run. Absolutely crazy. But a lot of fun.

And then I showed an utter lack of understanding for the rules. And learned why you should never play a card in a tournament that you’ve never played before. I installed a Woodcutter and rezzed it so I could start advancing it. Brandon looked up, surprised, and said “You can’t rez that. You can only rez ICE if it’s being approached during a run.” What? Can that be right? I don’t remember that? (Of course, I’ve never had the need to rez ICE during my turn, so it’s never come up.) I actually called Travis (our awesome tournament director) over and had him verify that yes, that actually was the rules of the game. I felt very embarrassed. But Brandon was cool about it, so no harm done.

We actually ran out of time on this game. It dragged on forever because I wasn’t getting agendas out, and when I was, Brandon was stealing all my low point ones. Finally with about three minutes left, I scored a Government Contracts and was at least on the board for three agenda points (to his five). I installed another Government Contracts, advanced it twice and waited to see what Brandon would do. He ran on it (confident he would make it though because I only had one unrezzed piece of ICE on the server, and it had been there a LONG time and I had never rezzed it. He probably thought it was a Hadrian’s Wall, and I only had six credits. So boy was he surprised when I burned my Government Contracts to rez an Archer which he couldn’t pay to overcome. I happily trashed his rig and sighed. Now I was in control. But there wasn’t enough time left. I managed to score the other Government Contracts, so when time was called, I had three agenda points to his five. So I ended that round with 1 prestige point to Brandon’s 5.

Round 4:

For the final round (before the top 8 got to play elimination), I played Matt (with the cigarette behind his ear). First round I was corp and he played a Criminal deck. I opened by putting a Woodcutter in front of my HQ. He ran on it 1st turn (no agendas in my hand, so no danger) and I finally got to rez that ICE. After that I advanced it once a turn until it had 10 subroutines on it. Early on I put a piece of lame ICE in front of it (to avoid Inside Job), and he never ran my HQ again (expect with Sneakdoor Beta, but I put a stop to that with a Hadrian’s Wall and some other ICE). Despite having his HQ credits turned off, he built up quite a nice economy and always seemed to have more money than I would have liked. I built some ICE towers and made sure I always had enough to rez Hadrian’s Wall. I was going to make things expensive for him. In the end, it came down to a weird play. He know from an early HQ run that I had a Scorched Earth in my hand, and while I’m not really playing tag-n-bag, I have 2 Scorched Earth to at least do it if I get the chance. Well, the chance came. He was at 4 agenda points and I had a Government Contracts and a Posted Bounty in my hand. He was flushed with cash, and I expected him to run my remote server and steal whatever I put down there. I needed to run him out of cash, so I put the Posted Bounty in there, figuring he would take it for one point, and I could quickly score the Government Contracts for 3 before he could build up enough cash to run the remote again. I didn’t advance the Posted Bounty and continued advancing ICE. He ignored the server and started drawing a LOT of cards. So he thought I had the tag-n-bag all set up and he was looking for his Plascrete Carapace. The problem was, I only had one Scorched Earth. So I started drawing more. It ended up where I drew my 2nd Scorched Earth on my 2nd click and used my 3rd to add a 2nd counter to Posted Bounty. Now all I needed was for him not to run my remote server on his turn, and then I had the game. My heart was pounding in my chest so hard I thought everyone in the room could hear it. My adrenaline was jacked up to the max. And in my head, I just kept repeating: “play it cool, breath normally, play it cool, don’t react, don’t do anything differently, don’t tip him off.” He took credits, he drew cards, and he ended his turn. I almost couldn’t believe it. I took a deep breath, drew a card, advanced and scored Posted Bounty, forfeited it, and flatlined him!

Wow! I needed to stretch and take some deep breaths after that to calm myself down and try to get some of the adrenaline out of my system.

For our next game it was my CT deck against his Weyland (Building a Better World). So I would finish the tournament without ever having to face HB or Noise. Excellent! This last game was a bit of a blur. He seemed to be in control the whole time. I did what I could to try to keep him poor, but sometimes that’s hard to do as a Shaper. At one point I actually had Maker’s Eyes clogging my hand with no way to break into R&D. That is super frustrating. It took me a long time to get a workable rig. He scored several agendas and I was behind. I had only scored a few points. The one play I distinctly remember was that he had a server with something advanced twice in it. I was thinking it was a Government Contracts. He had two pieces of ICE protecting the server. The inside one unrezzed, and the outside one an Archer with Oversight AI on it. I was feeling a little desperate, so I decided to lunge. He had one bad publicity, and I had 4 credits. Click 1: Magnum Opus for 2 credits (now I have 6). Click 2: I spent 3 of my 6 to play a Test Run and grab Femme Fatale. I targeted the unrezzed piece of ICE. Click 3: I Stimhacked the remote server. I just wanted to use the Stimhack money to break all the Archer routines so it would get trashed (due to the Oversight AI). I hadn’t really counted all the credits out, I just decided to lunge. So it took 12 credits to break Archer (8 to jack Femme’s strength up to 6, 4 to break the 4 subroutines). 9 came from the Stimhack, 1 came from the bad publicity, and the last 2 from my remaining 3 credits. I paid all the credits and was staring at my one remaining credit trying to decide if I should jack out or not (figuring whatever the unrezzed piece of ICE was, it probably had more than one routine, so I wouldn’t be able to bypass it with Femme Fatale). I had just decided to jack out when I heard him say “You can’t pay to break all the routines so...” I looked up and noticed that he had rezzed the ICE (a Wall of Thornes). “No! I was going to jack out, I didn’t say I was going on.” Now we had a bit of a problem. Technically, he was at fault. The runner is supposed to announce if they are continuing the run or jacking out, and he hadn’t checked with me before rezzing. But he was assuming I would go on because I had put my Femme Fatale maker on that ICE (which is understandable). So I could tell he was getting a little mad about this (not sure if his anger was more directed at himself or me). So I apologized for any misunderstanding and told him to derez and take his credits back. But here’s the problem: I still have 1 click left, and if I run again, I have 2 credits (because I get the bad publicity on each run), and now I know that that ICE has exactly 2 subroutines, and I can get past it with Femme Fatale. I think this went through both Matt and my head at the same time and we made eye contact. I could tell he knew what I was thinking, and he was starting to get upset about it. But I just couldn’t do it. I said, “Look, I shouldn’t know what that piece of ICE is, and I’m going to play like I don’t know.” So I used my last click to Magnum Opus for 2 credits and ended my turn. Matt seem impressed (and relieved ) that I decided to play the high road, and he scored the Government Contracts on his turn for 3 more points. At the end, I had 4 agenda points when he won, so we each ended up with 3 prestige points for that round.

So that put me with a total of 13 prestige points after 4 rounds. (I think Marcus ended up with 11.) The bottom player out of the final 8 had 16, if I remember correctly. So maybe if I had been a jerk and stolen that Government Contracts, I might have been able to win that game and end up with enough to make it to the top 8, but that’s a very big maybe. And I have to be honest, if I had done that, I wouldn’t have felt right about it, regionals or not.

So that was it for Marcus and I. But we didn’t go home completely empty handed. Eight random participants (who didn’t make the top 8) got cool plastic click tokens, and Marcus was one of those eight. We also felt like we got great experience and had a fantastic time.

None of my fears were realized. I didn’t play against any jerks. I felt like I was holding my own in most of the matches. My Weyland: Because We Built It deck went 3 and 1. Everyone I met was really cool. I never had to face a Noise mill deck. All in all, a great day.

Now I just have to figure out how to find the time to make it to more tournaments!
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Robbie M.
United States
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Wow. This is a fun read. Nice job.
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Oliver
United States
Pompano Beach
Florida
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I respect that you took the high road, but he was at fault. In fact, if you had jacked out who's to say you wouldn't have run that server again even without knowing what the ICE was. As a cynic I have a strong feeling he was pushing you to make a decision because he was afraid of you getting in. I would've taken the agenda the next turn.


EDIT: Thanks for the great report!!
 
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Jorge G.
Argentina
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I think the "therapy blog" is what makes this account awesome... I just love how your reflection on the experience intertwines with the more raw data from the games. Thumbs up.
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Steve
United States
California
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Emotions laid bare and all that. I wonder if I've played people at tourneys with all that going on in their heads.

Lodan wrote:
35 people show up to the Regional. That’s right, 35. Crazy.


I wouldn't call 35 crazy, myself. Isn't Pasadena pretty much the nerd capital of an area with 18 million people?

Anyway, congratulations on doing so well at your first tournament.
 
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Marcus
United States
Irvine
California
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Love the report.

The tension was fantastic, and definitely drove me to drink by the end of the night.

One thing I really liked: Whenever Lodan and I practiced for the tournament, we were very strict with each other to remember proper order (do pre-turn actions before mandatory draw...take my Underworld Contact credits before doing any actions). In the tournament, people were nice enough to remind each other to perform such mandatory actions, and if they were completely skipped, would allow someone to go back and perform the action so long as it was caught quickly. I didn't expect any of these niceties in a tournament environment.

Love Netrunner. Love the Netrunner crowd.

-Marcus
 
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Marcus Aurelius
Serbia
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Such a pleasant read.

I'm really glad that not-so-hardcore players can get make a positive experience out of the game, as that was one of it's alleged shortcomings.
 
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