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Subject: Portland Regionals 6/22: A Tourney of ICE and Fire rss

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Alex Rockwell
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Portland Regionals 6/22: A Tourney of ICE and Fire
Like a George RR Martin Novel, this post will be very, very long! It’s actually more than 20 pages in Word. Also, I ramble way too much about myself, philosophy, life, and all sorts of meaningless things like that that have nothing to do with Netrunner! They might even be stupid, or things you won’t agree with! Read at your peril!
*******************************************
Our regionals finally arrived, in my new hometown of Portland OR. Ironically, it occurred on the same day as the regionals for my old hometown of Seattle, where my friends would be competing, with nearly twice as many people.

In the end, 27 Netrunners showed up to compete for glory and neat Netrunner swag.

Corp Deck and thoughts:
“HB SanSan”: Alex Rockwell

HB: Engineering the Future: 49 cards
(11 agenda)
3 Accelerated Beta Test
3 Project Vitruvius
3 Private Security Force
2 False Lead
(11 upgrade/asset)
3 SanSan City Grid *********
3 Melange Mining Corp
3 Adonis Campaign
2 Eve Campaign
(7 operations)
3 Hedge Fund
3 Biotic Labor
1 Archived memories
(20 ice)
3 Ichi 1.0
3 Rototurret
1 Tollbooth **
3 Enigma
3 Popup Window ***
3 Eli 1.0
3 Wall of Static
1 Ice Wall *

Agenda Mix: I decided on the PSF/False lead agenda mix, over using 5/3s, for two reasons. First, they work better with SanSan City Grid. SanSan helps 3 difficulty agendas the most. Second, I know that a runner can never get three points from one card, which I feel is safer. The agenda plan is to score any four agendas, as long as it doesn’t include a pair of false leads. Basically, if you don’t get both False Leads, and all the rest of your agendas are two points, then False Lead is practically a 3/2 agenda. A neutral 3/2 agenda! This provides me with eight 3 difficulty agendas.

SanSan City Grid: In my testing, this basically proved to be pretty much the best card. EVER. SanSan is insane. It’s like a Biotic Labor that leaves behind something that the runner must kill (hopefully running through ice, then paying $5 for). If they don’t or can’t kill it, then you get FREE biotic labors on every agenda! Runners are powerful right now. They have the advantage over corps. But over months of testing, trying out all sorts of things like Trick of Light, and everything else, I found that one corp card was the key to having a reasonable chance of beating the runner. SanSan scores agendas AND it contributes a huge amount to winning the economy war. And against an average player, it often allows the scoring of two, three, or possibly even all four agendas, with a single SanSan.
In addition, SanSan can serve as Account Siphon defense, left unrezzed, and then rezzed as they get in, to prevent them from gaining $10. An Account Siphon that gives the runner $10 in addition to hurting you is backbreaking. An Account Siphon that ‘merely’ breaks you but leaves them poor as well is simply a ‘great’ card.

Economy cards: I went with two Eve Campaigns because when the card is good, it is very good. When it works, and you can cheaply defend it early, it’s such a huge advantage. +$11 over time is the same benefit you get from activating a Melange three times. A living Eve Campaign is practically three Timewalks. However, the card is high variance. Have it killed after rezzing, and you’re set back about as much as the runner. ($1 for the corp is more valuable than $1 for the runner in my experience. So your loss of -$3 is almost as significant as the runner losing 5).
Eve also serves as Account Siphon defense, like SanSan. This was a critical feature in my choices, as I fear Account Siphon more than anything else as Corp, and I expected a heavy criminal field, as Criminal is the strongest runner faction right now, and tons of people know it.

I kept 3 Melange, and I feel that it is almost always strong. At times where I draw “too many” money assets, I tend to try and only defend them modestly. If I can get use a Melange once, and then get the runner to spend a click and several $ running through and killing it, then the goal is achieved. It can be followed by more money assets and I can continue to win the economy war that way. If I am low on them, I can guard them more heavily.

I think it could be reasonable to play Green Level Clearance instead of some asset economy, as it provides instant income without the risk of being denied. However, this doesn’t provide as much upside or potential to drain the runner’s economy. Green Level has a different kind of downside: Sometimes early on you might get too many agendas and need ice and economy, use Green Level, and simply get yet another agenda. Whereas if you had installed an Eve Campaign or Melange, and the runner gets through ice and kills it, at least you also slow down their pressure.

Ice: The ice mix is low cost and focused on being good vs. criminal. If expecting a heavy shaper or Anarch field you might make a few different choices, like a second tollbooth, or maybe a couple shadows if you feared Noise Workshop. But I expected Criminal, so I wanted Popups and lots of 3 cost ice.
Enigma replaced Viktor in my testing over the past several weeks. My experience was that Yog would probably be prevalent, and it crushes both ice. If they will be nullified later on, I should at least play the one that’s stronger early in the game, which is Enigma. Viktor is better than Enigma later on, in non-Yog scenarios, as it costs more to break, and combos with other Bioroids.
I also cut Viper, as the Andromeda link, often combined with more link to use Underworld Contacts, really killed the card in my opinion. Against a Criminal you really want to FORCE them to find an icebreaker to get through. You don’t want to let them just pay $2 or even less and ignore your ice.
Even then, because of Yog, I don’t really like Enigma, and I would like to cut one. A possibility would be -1 Tollbooth, -1 Enigma, +2 Ice Wall or something similar.

For Barriers, Eli is strong, he is like a Viktor who doesn’t have Yog weakness. He never gets cheap to break, in any way. Even E3 making him breakable for Click+$ is an above average cost for a $3 ice. Wall of Static and Ice Wall round out the defense.
For sentries, Rototurret and Ichi provide surprise value. Roto forces a sentry breaker to be played, and Ichi is always hard to deal with.
I feel that this Ice mix is strong, but similar ice mixes are also strong. Anywhere from 0-2 Tollbooths might be best depending on what you expect to face. The card I most want to cut down is Enigmas.

The spectrum of HB decks:
This deck is kind of in the middle of a spectrum of ‘fast advance’ type HB decks. I’d describe this spectrum like this:

“HB No Remote” --- “HB Trick of Light” --- “HB SanSan” (THIS DECK) --- “HB Rush” ---------“HB Big Server”

HB No Remote is a deck with Trick of Light and about 15 ice that often won’t even ice a remote server. It protects centrals, plays burst economy cards, plays out some undefended Adonis/Eve, and uses Trick and Biotic to score.

HB Trick of Light is a deck that makes a remote, has 18-20 ice, and uses the remote mainly to guard a Melange/Adonis type asset. Then it tends to score with Trick/Biotic.

HB SanSan is this deck. It aims to use a remote or even two, to protect assets and SanSan. It will try to get a heavy defense above a SanSan, and use it to score an agenda. If the runner trashes it, it will be very expensive, and more SanSans will follow. If the runner doesn’t deal with it, it probably wins the game by itself.

HB Rush is a concept described in detail by JopeJope in one of his posts. It uses some 5/3 agendas, and more defense like Ash, and more End the Run focused ice like Chimera, to try and force through Agendas manually, early on. It then uses SanSan/Biotic to finish the game once the server is not sufficient.

HB Big Server is a more traditional, core set style HB deck, playing things like Heimdall or Janus and trying to make seriously heavy defensive servers.

I feel like this deck contains the best of both worlds between ‘Fast Advance’ and ‘Rush’ type decks. It uses the SanSan as its engine of scoring agendas, which tends to provide more value than Trick of Light, as after it is used, it sticks around, crushing the runner economy, or providing additional fast advances.
It also uses the ‘nine 2s and two 1s’ agenda mix, which I believe is the best. Scoring four of the 11 agendas results in a win, unless you got two False Leads. Most of the time, False Leads act identically to 3/2 agendas. And 3/2 agendas are one of the best things in Netrunner! If you instead scored a 5/3 agenda, False Lead becomes pretty worthless. It is no longer like a 3/2 agenda.

SanSan combos best with 3 difficulty agendas, so providing eight of them in the deck is incredibly strong. It also allows a PSF to be scored with a single Biotic.



Runner deck thoughts:
Datasucker Andromeda (that others have already posted the clever names for)
Andromeda: 45 cards
(12 Programs)
2 Corroder ****
2 Yog.0 **
2 Faerie
1 Femme Fatale
2 Crypsis
3 Datasucker ***
(9 Hardware)
3 R&D Interface ******
3 Desperado
1 E3 Implants
2 Plascrete Carapace
(17 events)
3 Account Siphon
3 Emergency Shutdown
2 Inside Job
3 Sure Gamble
3 Easy Mark
2 Special Order
1 Infiltration
(7 resources)
2 Kati Jones
3 Compromised Employee
2 Bank Job

In testing runner decks I came to the following conclusions:
Criminal is the strongest faction right now. While it has the weakest lategame, its lategame with R&D interface is still good. Its early game is far stronger than Anarch or Shaper.
R&D interface is the strongest lategame plan available to shapers or criminals. (Anarchs have Medium). The R&D interface lock provides Criminals with the needed lategame. You can basically make a runner deck, and if you put in 3 R&D interface, and you have some economy and some breakers, then your lategame plan is secure. This means you can focus the rest of the deck on pressuring the opponent. The combination of criminal pressure with the R&D interface lategame plan is very strong.
Desperado is at the heart of the strategy, and provides sustained economy while you attack. It is so good that I am much happier with a starting hand of two desperados, ‘wasting’ one, than with a hand of 0. Thus, 3 of them are required, even though this will result in discards. Turn 1 discardable cards are perfectly okay for Andromeda, it lets her run, or activate a turn 1 Kati Jones.
Datasucker is simply too strong in the criminal strategy to not play. It combos with Desperado to provide incredible value for doing the thing you want to be doing: Running. It is needed to make the best code gate breaker, Yog, into an unstoppable force. It makes running efficient and degrades the central server defense of the corp immensely.
As a result of playing Datasucker and Desperado we want our economy to be low-click intensive. Armitage is weak. Magnum Opus won’t work with the Datasuckers eating MU. Bank Job is strong when you can run efficiently and get +$1 from desperado. Kati is useful.
As a result of Datasucker eating MU, and providing pressure on Archives (it forces icing of Archives, because Datasucker + Desperado lets you run an undefended archives for way too much value), Sneakdoor is less strong. It provides significant anti-synergy with Datasucker. Datasucker is generally the stronger card, so Sneakdoor got cut.
Without Sneakdoor, HQ interface is not strong enough. It was also cut. This really helps to focus your setup on the R&D interface plan, and provide deck space for utility cards and early pressure.
Emergency Shutdown, while not as good without Sneakdoor, is still strong. You can play it after an account siphon to break the corp’s back. Even played on a $3 ice, it’s decent. But the ability to crush $8 ice or Archers with it is essential in some matchups. I have had good players that I respect cut it from this deck. I think they are making a large mistake. (Possibly, their dislike of it was based around playing Underworld Contact and then having to remove Account Siphon tags. This leaves them too click poor to pull off the: Account Siphon, Shutdown, Shutdown, run your remote for free turns that I get to perform. Also, they weren’t playing Compromised Employee. I strongly feel that the strategy of being able to ignore tags is the way to go, and that Emergency Shutdown and Compromised Employee are good in that strategy.
The plan of ignoring Account Siphon tags and other tags, and having Plascrete is incredibly strong. It basically causes your Siphons to provide $6 of extra economy, versus having to remove tags. Because this plan is SO strong, it makes long term resources unattractive to this strategy. A Kati Jones played early, used 5 times to provide a huge burst of midgame economy, is still decent. Often the corp will then spend the $2 and a click killing it. If they don’t, one click to add $3 to it will often force them to do this, essentially making it a better Armitage that drains the corp some once you go into ‘infinite tags’ mode. However, it is not always correct to go into infinite tags mode, especially against NBN. This is a strategic decision, not an automatic.
Underworld Contacts: I didn’t play them. They are okay. I explained in a recent post why I feel they are borderline. In the end, I cut them because they didn’t play well with the ‘ignore tags’ strategy.
Bank Job is amazing in the current meta. Every opponent I played either provided me a free target to Bank Job, or something I could Bank Job with only one ice, for about $2. Even paying $2 for the run, a Bank Job ends up costing 2 clicks to play and giving $6 with a Desperado. That’s like a Sure Gamble and a $2 click. I wish I had played 3! In a world where HB sticks out undefended Eve campaigns, Weyland might put out Dedicated Response Teams, and NBN is more prevalent, with its Marked Accounts, Bank Job is almost always usable. I think it needs to return to people’s decks in a big way. Bank Job was one of the best cards in my deck all day. In the ignore tags strategy, it is nice to have economy resources like Bank Job that get used right away, and don’t stay in play, vulnerable, to provide their value.
Faerie is like an economy card that breaks one sentry. It lets you run without fear, identify what ice is, and find a good Femme target safely. It’s great to crush Oversight-AIed Ice. In one game, my opponent Oversight AI’ed multiple flares. At one point, my favorite play of the day was that, with only a few credits on me (and an opponent who could afford to power up the trace if needed), I went: “Special Order for FAERIE, Faerie, Run, break it for $4”. Got his Breaking News. First time I’ve ever special ordered for Faerie. Femme would have been too expensive.
Compromised Employee is a part economy card, part link card, which usually has provided enough value by the time you Siphon the opponent and accept tags, that it’s not worth trashing. It also makes Emergency Shutdown even better. In the end, I chose it over the Underworld Contact/Globalsec ‘engine’, I chose this as a way to provide part of the economy, most of the link boost, and to save deck space.
The breakers. The Anarch breakers are simply better than other breakers, at least if you have datasucker, and Crypsis provides excellent backup. I wanted to keep 1 femme in the deck ‘just in case’, as it can be tutored for, and is good lategame. Mimic was a consideration, and is strong, however I felt that all 15 points of my influence is currently spend on things that are absolutely essential, and that Criminal has decent sentry breakers so I might as well use them.
E3 was excellent any time I drew it. And I wasn’t even playing against HB! Facing Jinteki and NBN decks with Ichi and Eli, I pretty much always wanted this. I would DEFINITELY include E3 in decks right now. Though maybe it will get worse when the 2.0 Bioroids come out, and it requires 2 clicks to use.
I actually didn’t draw my E3 much, but I was frequently wishing it would appear. When I did draw it I liked it a lot.
Plascrete was critical in several matches during the day. It actively prevented two losses, and allowed me to accept tags I would’ve had to remove in a couple other games. Additionally, the lack of Plascrete cost me a game due to being Scorched. So its inclusion was highly justified!

My hopes and expectations for Regionals, (in which I ramble about my own beliefs and psychology way too much. Feel free to skip this part if you want).
Despite what you might imagine by reading my strategy articles, I don’t actually really enjoy Competition when there is pressure or “things at stake”. My preferred style of gaming is to be serious about a “casual” game. That is, that nothing is on the line, but we try our best and play to win. The loser can learn from the experience without really feeling bad about it, and the winner can feel justified in their decisions and strategy.
I play games to determine their optimal strategies, to try perfect my play, to ‘solve’ the game. And then to share my knowledge with others, to improve the general level of play of a game, for everyone who cares. I don’t have any desire to ‘keep secrets’, to hide strong strategies, and use them to win at a major event.
In essence, I like to be more of a game analyst than a “Pro”. I want to figure out the best strategy, and explain it to others. If you compare my play skill to someone like a Pro player of Magic the Gathering, I am clearly worse. I make many more mistakes than a true pro, though I am generally good at coming up with strong strategies and developing a deck, and tend to be better than a typical player.

Coming to a Netrunner Regionals tournament, I definitely felt pressured. A tournament is a time to defend one’s strategic ideas. To show that your decisions are correct, that you correctly understand what is strong, what works in the game. But the thing about tournaments is that they involve a very, very small sample size, of high-leverage games. Variance plays an enormous role!

Variance is the enemy of the analyst. If you want to know which of two strategies is better, but the variance makes it so that one is only better by a few percentage points, then it is hard to determine. You need a lot of testing. In the end, a tournament does not always result in the best player or the best strategy triumphing, though those players do have a better chance than others.
Perception of a tournament’s results differs from this however. Most people’s perception of the results of a tournament is that the strategy that won was the BEST strategy. That the runner up was the second best strategy. The reality is that the variance of small sample size has a large effect.

So what did I hope to achieve from the tournament? Foremost, I hoped to do well in order provide evidence that the strategies I had developed were, in fact, strong. When one likes to post their thoughts about the strengths of cards, decks, and strategies, it is useful to have evidence to back it up. “Hey, I won a tournament with this” is good evidence. The higher profile the tournament, the better.

Secondly, there is the factor of the glory of winning, and the cool prizes given out as evidence of this accomplishment. It is human nature to want to ‘win’, to be the one who is the fittest, the most capable of survival.

I feel that I have a somewhat unique philosophy on competition. I hope for our Civilization to eventually create some form of utopian paradise in which people no longer must compete for survival. In which there are no losers, and where everyone can free pursue their own dreams, follow their passion. Maybe something like “The Culture” of Iain Banks. I love to compete for the sake of competing, but with absolutely no consequence attached. The pain of the loser necessarily damages the joy of the competition, for the sum of the parties involved, and thus, playing for nothing, yet always trying one’s best, ‘feels’ best to me. To compete hard, but for nothing, releases the urge to dominate inherent in our nature, caused by our evolution, without inflicting suffering on the loser, the less fit. It provides meaning, goals, things to achieve, without the corresponding suffering of failure (or at least, with only minimal suffering of pride, but no ‘true’ consequence).
I would hate to actually be a Pro, competing for money that I required to survive. To be in a position where if I lost, it would have true, real consequences for my wellbeing. As a consumer of competition (a watcher of Pro Sports, of Professional League of Legends, and follower of Netrunner tournament results), however, I do love the existence of tournaments. I tend to find the experience of observing top competition exhilarating, and the experience of participating nerve-wracking.

In “Real Life”, competition has severe consequences. The game of real life success is quite addicting, the rewards for success significant, and the punishment of failure severe. And unlike a game, you can’t really opt out of it. Or at least, doing so is permanent, and will inflict tremendous pain on those who care about you.
In a real life ‘Game of Thrones’, to win is to inflict terrible things onto fellow sentient beings.
In real life business competition, benefits can be achieved, in the form of increased efficiency, the weeding out of inefficient economic strategies. But the cost is immense short term pain to some people. This I see as a necessary cost in our current civilizational development, as scarcity is real and scarce goods must be allocated. I certainly am thankful that we have not remained stagnant in an era where everyone must be a farmer and suffer from hard work and deprivation, for thousands of years. Even if the cost was that conditions were even worse for some people, for some time.

People probably think of me as competitive. I am, in games. “The goal of a game is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning”. I am goal oriented. I enjoy the battle of two strategies against each other. I want to see the stronger strategy revealed. I hate when variance interferes and makes the weak strategy win. But I don’t want anyone to suffer as a result. When the game is casual and the pain of loss fades quickly, that is best. I guess maybe that makes me some hippie liberal. I guess that’s what you get when you combine competitiveness and empathy.

Fortunately, even in the Netrunner Regionals, not much is really on the line. All that is really on the line here, would be some cool prizes, and the force of evidence I could gain in support of my strategies, or the defeat of them. For the sake of being able to provide evidence in support of the decisions I explained above in my decklists, I hoped to win, or at the very least make top 8.


Onward to the actual results!
Having already buried you under a Tome of words in this post, I should continue. I won’t opponent names because I don’t remember half of them. We weren’t allowed to take notes during games, and so I simply didn’t record anything.

Round 1 vs. Weyland/Andromeda
I started out with runner, played two Compromised Employees turn 1, and other economy. Turn 2 I began running, and the first two ice I found were Caduceus and Viper. Wow, did those Compromised Employees already start paying off! Two Bank Jobs netted me a ton of money, as I was able to run his Caduceus remote server for only $1 with my Employees. I got out a Plascrete to give myself safety, and I broke through for a couple Atlases in his remote, and scored the rest of what I needed off R&D.

Against his Andromeda, I started with some economy assets, built up a decent remote with a SanSan in it, and scored four agendas on the SanSan, in rapid succession. This proved to be a recurring theme in many of my games. I found that SanSan simply DESTROYS most average players. And it is quite strong against even a top player as well.
2-0 games, 1-0 matches, 6 prestige.


Round 2 vs. Jinteki: PE / Andromeda

I have spent a lot of time ragging on Jinteki, through BGG posts and other outlets. I feel they are the weakest of the four Corp factions. I feel that they rely too much on opponent mistakes in order to win, while other corps can perform better if the opponent plays flawlessly.
I made a big mistake against Jinteki. And I lost.
Early on in this game I lost a Plascrete Carapace to damage, before getting a good chance to play it. (In general, I would try to put out Plascrete vs. Jinteki. Getting Scorched after taking damage and a tag form Snare is a big way to lose.
So what did I do? In a key situation, I made a play of Account Siphoning my opponent down to $1 (eating a damage from a Hokusai Grid), Shutting down an ice, and making a run which netted me an agenda (and another damage). This was followed by his turn of ‘Credit, Credit, Scorch’.
My opponent played it well. He made things tight, made me feel under pressure, like I had to take risks. I had already seen Ichis and Popups, and felt that at the very least it was unlikely that he would have more than 1 Scorch in the deck, and if he had one, he had a good chance of not having drawn it yet.
I should’ve played my Plascrete early. Made sure I didn’t lose.

If you’re going to play Jinteki in a tournament, I feel that at least 1 Scorched Earth is probably needed. It’s another way to induce mistakes. You’ll take advantage of average players, even good players.

So is Jinteki worth playing? I still would say no. I definitely believe that a good Jinteki player, playing a tuned Jinteki deck, will perform well, and get plenty of wins. They will take advantage of average players, and often even good players.

But it’s not like that same player with a different deck wouldn’t ALSO perform well. I still believe that player would perform a few percentage points better with turned deck of a different faction.
Taking advantage of average players? Yeah, I can do that too…with a SanSan.

So I went into game 2 having lost game 1 with a score of 10-2. (10 being the match points of any win, flatline or agenda win). I would try to salvage the match with a strong Corp performance.
And guess what? I powered four agendas through a SanSan. AGAIN.
I put up a decent defense on R&D that cost him a turn and about $5 to get into. He ran my hand some without me having anything there. He ran my deck about 6 times over the course of 12 turns, for one card each, and got unlucky, never hitting anything. I managed to draw agendas on turns he didn’t run it, and by drawing several cards in a turn, and forced them through the SanSan.
After a 7-0 corp win I took the match, pretty much entirely on the back of one single card. SanSan, the best corp card in the game.
3-1 games, 2-0 matches, 10 prestige.


Round 3 vs. NBN/Andromeda.

My third Andromeda opponent in a row, but my third new corp type.
These games were both very close.

In game 1, I ran against his NBN, and performed an Account Siphon into his HQ, which had ChiLo AND Bernice Mai. Taking four tags, I never looked back. I put out two R&D interfaces and pounded R&D as hard as possible. He pushed through a couple Breaking News, and struggled to get more agendas. He played Closed Accounts on my twice.
He scored a PSF with Psychographics. I immediately responded by putting a Plascrete into play, and continued to attack. Without the Plascrete I probably would’ve died to PSF lock, as my R&D runs required me to click through Eli’s and pay money as well. He pinged me some with PSF, I discarded some cards when I didn’t have much of importance, saving the Plascrete counters. He eventually decided that because of my Plascrete I would win the race if he kept going, so he switched back into a normal game. Honestly, that Plascrete saved me.

Eventually I was at 6 points, struggling to get through a growing R&D defense, while he struggled to find an Agenda. I eventually won from the R&D lock.

In game 2, I couldn’t find a SanSan. I needed one badly, as I had a good remote fort, good money, and he was pressuring centrals. I ended up Biotic Laboring through three Agendas (one a false lead). He got to 6 points on my R&D with his R&D interfaces. It was as close as they get.
I still had another agenda in hand, a PSF. He took a couple shots at my hand, 1 in 5 chances, but missed. He took a shot at my deck for 3 cards, but it missed. The Variance was in my favor. I got a SanSan finally, and paid a bunch of money to force through my PSF for the win.

5-1 games, 3-0 matches, 16 prestige.
Getting to 16 Prestige was amazing. With 27 players, I had estimated that 14-15 points would be the cutoff point for top 8. With 16 Prestige and good opponent tiebreaker form my 3-0 match start, I was in. Basically guaranteed.


Round 4 vs. NBN/Noise
Again I played runner first, winning the die rolls all day. I got pretty lucky. Easy Bank Jobs lead to a fast rig and fast R&D interfaces, lead to lucky agendas, right on top. 7 points came very fast, with only an opposing Breaking News to oppose them. I ran into Ghost Branch and cleared the tags, and also inside jobbed for a 2 point agenda, before getting 5 off the deck.

His Noise deck involved Darwin, and I felt that he probably got a poor draw, since no Wyldside came out, no Cyberfeeder to pump the Darwin, and no strong economy. He probably should’ve tried to build up some more, but instead he fed his Darwin and tried to break through things, getting a couple accesses, but no results. I cleared viruses every three turns and each time it left him needing multiple turns before he could break anything.
I got SanSan behind a fort with Tollbooth, and scored four agendas on it. Four agendas on one SanSan. AGAIN. That card is crazy.

Darwin has left me unimpressed, over and over. I felt initially that it was much weaker than Crypsis but still had potential. But I haven’t played it myself. Every time my opponents play it, it feels weak to me.

7-1 games, 4-0 Matches, 22 prestige. #1 Seed Secured.

After four rounds of Swiss, we cut to the top 8. At 22 Prestige I was the #1 seed, giving me tiebreaker advantage. A play mat was secured! At least I could no longer view my day as a failure, even if I lost in the round of 8. But I wouldn’t really consider that a success either.


Round of 8 vs. Jinteki/Andromeda
I played against the Jinteki/Andromeda player I had lost a game to earlier. The guy that Scorched me. A good player, good with his Jinteki, who makes it actually scary.

This time I put a Plascrete in play before my first run. Safety. I could take tags without worry. I would run him with 6 cards in hand and not die.

I damaged his economy a lot with Siphons, and ignored the tags. R&D interface and running with 6 cards netted me points off the deck. He scored two Braintrusts, but I R&D locked him out of more agendas and won 7-4.
At one point during the game I saw Scorched Earth on his deck. It went into his hand. I was so happy to have the Plascrete. Without it things would have been quite difficult for me, and the runs very risky. With it, and making generally safe runs, things worked out well.

I played HB against his Andromeda again, and I got economy and early SanSan. Three agendas were pushed through on the SanSan, before he could afford to deal with it. Yet again, it was a tremendous force. I final Biotic labor finished off the win.

9-1 games, 5-0 matches. Two matches to go.


Round of 4 vs. NBN/Andromeda
All the Andromeda, all day long! I Would play no shapers today. I would play one Noise. I would play many criminals. I still hadn’t seen HB yet, and that was unusual, but other corps were well represented. The corps, I feel, are decently balanced. HB and NBN are definitely the top two, and Jinteki is last, but the gap isn’t really that big. In a tournament setting, with a tricky and unknown Jinteki deck, you’re still not that far behind.

Runners however, are not very balanced. There is a clear advantage of Criminal > Anarch > Shaper. With R&D interface, Criminal has gained a decent lategame. Anarch and Shaper still are weaker early, and if they make sacrifices to improve their early pressure, then their lategame is weakened and isn’t really any better than that of Criminal now.

I was very excited about this match, shaking even. A win meant the Finals, and even better, it meant a full set of the Plastic Identities. The beautiful, amazing, and rare Plastic Identities. The ones people are paying over $200 for on eBay.
I would love to have a set of them, for symbolic reasons. But to buy them would be meaningless. As a trinket, as a symbol of skill, a symbol of having solved the puzzle of good Netrunner play, they must be EARNED. One must pay the Iron Price for such symbolic trophies, not the Gold. (Thank goodness that no true suffering would come to any I must defeat in order to attain them).

The match went about as well as could be possible. For the first time, I played Corp first. Three agendas pushed through a SanSan later, and I was on the verge of winning. My opponent got three agendas off me, but then I sealed it with a Biotic for the 7-6 win.

Switching sides, I knew that a win or at least 6 points would be required to take the match, with the 1st seed advantage. But the game went about as well as possible, turning into a 7-0 victory. (This was the game with the Special Order for Faerie, getting throug hthe Oversighted Flare..

PLASTIC IDENTITIES SECURED!
11-1 Games, 6-0 Matches, On to the finals!



We waited a bit for the final match. Across the room, and epic duel was fought between Nick, a local player who actually lives in the same Portland suburb as me, that I playtested with on Thursday nights, and Riley, a Seattle player who was originally form Portland, who came down to visit friends and play in our regionals. Both good players, and engaged in a hard fought battle, as Riley’s Weyland forfeited agendas and the games went long. Eventually Nick emerged victorious, winning the first game 7-5, and then getting to 6 points in the second.

The Finals vs. HB/Gabe
My first play against either HB or Gabe all day, though I had played against five Andromedas.
Nick and I had played on Thursday, two days before regionals. It was like our final in-person testing, before the tourney, for both of us. I just moved to Portland two months ago, and in fact, to a suburb about 15-20 minutes west of Portland. It’s a bit hard to actually get to the Netrunner events in Portland itself, at least on weekdays. But Nick and I, and a few others, have been playing on Thursdays at a local game store. He is a nice guy, and a good player. One of the strongest I’ve met in the area imo.
He was playing Jinteki when I first met him. But now he was playing HB. He’d started playing it recently, as he came to the same conclusion I had earlier about the strengths of the factions.


The judge asked if we wanted a break, after Nick’s epic match that has just occurred. He replied that no, he’d rather just get it over with.

He scored two points off a Beta Test, decided to activate it, and got nothing. I checked his Archives and got nothing. Fun. Then I ran his deck with R&D interface and got 5 points! Variance! I guess if he hadn’t beta’d, they wouldn’t have been there yet. But still, they would have been stolen soon, as I could easily get into R&D.
R&D lock worked, and the game went well, ending in a 7-2 victory. My only mistake was deciding not to Inside Job through to his Beta Test. At the time, I decided that if it was anything other than a Beta Test, the result would not be worth it, as I was too broke to trash things. I wasn’t sure if it was an agenda or asset.

I went into the last game very confident. Only 3 points were required to win, and 2 would force a final, third game.

“A Dream of Spring”, or, the bittersweet end:
While I have won tournaments before, a number of times, I’ve never actually won any “major” tournaments. Nothing that says “Regionals”, “States”, or “PTQ”. Granted, I’ve probably only played in about 10 of those in my life (Magic: the Gathering Tournaments). In those I have about four top 8s to my name but no wins.

I wanted to win, of course. Wanted it to be “my turn”, though that didn’t really matter. I’ve had “my turns” before. In Netrunner tournament. In other tournaments. Never in a high leverage, “important” tournament, but plenty of times. But I hoped that this time I could take home the glory in the big game, and win the crystal trophy, the everlasting symbol.

Nick proclaimed: “Maybe you’ll just draw a 5 agenda hand and I’ll just win”.
But I had confidence. More confidence at this point that at any time during the entire day.
My first hand contained two agendas and only an Ichi for defense. Ichi is bad early, as it does nothing versus a no-program player. It does nothing to stop a criminal from running all over you.
I mulliganed and got three agendas and no ice. Even worse. Still, I had a SanSan, and if I could get an ice, guard my had play SanSan, and score something on it, then I would force a game 3 no matter what.
I drew and got an Agenda. The fourth. My agendas weren’t even mostly good. It was PSF, PSF, Vitruvius, False Lead. I drew and got an Ichi. I placed SanSan into play and Ichi on HQ and said go.
I guess that was a mistake. Nick ran HQ, I decided not to rez Ichi, and he got Vitruvius. He ran three more times. PSF, then False Lead, then Adonis. 5 points on turn 1.

I couldn’t score my PSF. I drew several cards and said go. Only Ice I drew was a Tollbooth that I couldn’t afford. Sigh. He ran my hand a couple times and didn’t find the remaining PSF. He ran my deck but didn’t get anything.

I drew, got Enigma, and put it on R&D, and got money. I had a chance. If I could draw a 3/2 agenda with $7, I could put it on the SanSan and get two points. That would at least force a game 3.
He ran my Enigma, I rezzed it. He ran my HQ, didn’t get the PSF yet again. I didn’t rez the Ichi, saving money to try to score something.

I took $3 and had at least $7 again, so that I could pay for SanSan and score an agenda if I got one.

He played Special Order for Yog. Yog. Run R&D.
Score Beta Test.

I lost 7-0, and the match.

One more turn, one more draw and I would’ve had the 3/2, and scored it on my SanSan, and tied the game. From there, he would kill my SanSan and I could try to win if I got another agenda, but at least I would play another game. Another game where hopefully the variance wouldn’t be strongly against me.

But it was not to be, because he got the needed agenda.


I was pretty heartbroken, of course, as anyone would be. It was like the Red Wedding had occurred and ripped my heart out. There would be no crystal trophy, no 1st round bye at worlds, if I went. No victory and glory.

But it’s just Netrunner after all. A game. A competition, but for no meaningful consequence.
And I had already achieved and gained much of what could be gained from the day. The plastic identities, a beautiful and rare symbol of Netrunner accomplishment, would still be there. Having paid the Iron Price for them, and won them for myself. I could have truly deserve them, not simply own them as a collector might who bought them.

And Nick proclaimed something like: “When we playtested on Thursday, it really helped me to improve my decks. Maybe I’ll go to worlds now that I have the bye. Maybe I’ll do my best to become REALLY good. We should play more and test”.

And that was the really heart of it all. The bittersweet ending. Were this the Game of Thrones, and created by a mastermind like my favorite author (GRRM), this would be both the agony of defeat but the promise of better days, all at once. And truly, far less heartbreak than we can expect from the end of his novels.

For when we analyze the end result, what do we find?

* My strategies proved themselves effective. SanSan was correct, it was a star all day. Andromeda dominated. Plascrete was critical, and half of my losses were caused by a lack of it, and multiple wins came that would have been very, very hard, or possibly losses without it.
* The strategies I playtested with Nick not only helped me, they helped him as well. Our strategies were similar. I had convinced him of SanSan. He liked Gabe while I liked Andromeda, but both are great. In a way, our testing, our strategies took both 1st and 2nd during the day. Am I just rationalizing at this point? Justifying my failure? Maybe. It’s always hard to know.
* I had exceeded what would be an expected-value result of the day, accounting for variance. There were definitely a number of good Netrunner players there. All my top 8 opponents had done well, though things went my way. And multiple Swiss round matches had been hard fought as well. No one can win them all, and playing 14 games of Netrunner during a day, against decent competition, and winning 12 of them is an accomplishment.
* Due to the result, Nick was now considering going to Worlds. He gained the focus to try to go from good to great, to try and focus on being the best. Would this have occurred if I won? I don’t know. I made a couple strong friendships in the Seattle area based around Netrunner. I still talk to Anthony&Anthony, and play on OCTGN with them as a result, even after moving. Friendships are one of the most important things in life, and I have had a great time in my first two months here in Portland. Making friends with other Netrunner players. Getting to know people. Testing together. In the end, I feel it is fortuitous that the tournament winner is someone that I like, who lives close to me, who now is more motivated than ever to play, test, and get better. A competitor needs strong competition to grow and be their best, and hopefully this will contribute to that, and friendship as well. If this had happened and a made a friend who lived on the other side of Portland, who I could only test with on the weekend, it might not be as significant.

So in the end acceptance came pretty fast for me. To focus on the sweet part of a bittersweet event is best. This is part of the greatness of games. Of being competitive in a situation in which no true damage befalls the loser. This is not the Game of Thrones, the competition of Business, or a battle in real life. This is gaming! Where a fun time can be had by all, and even though all but one player goes home a loser in the end, you only feel bad for a short time, and you gain experience, and better understanding of the game and its strategy from your losses.

There is nothing better than this, in my mind. Nothing greater than the competition of sentient beings, with glory for the winner, but only fleeting pain for the loser. Nothing greater than the pursuit of understanding of a game strategy, not because you HAVE to do it, or that you will suffer as a result of not doing, but because it is what you love, what your passion is. No one is forced to play a game, in the way that we are ‘forced’ to engage in ‘real life’, with its competitiveness, and severe consequences for losing. In a universe with suffering, our civilization has enabled some of us to pursue a dream where we can achieve meaning from competition, without the need for corresponding suffering. Maybe our culture, economy, technology, and civilization will continue to flourish, and provide these benefits to more and more people, until everyone is free to follow their dreams, all the time. This would be a heaven, a utopia, in my mind. The gaming heaven. Where the only pain that anyone would have to suffer, would be the ‘first world problem’ of having lost at a Netrunner tournament.

If you survived all my rambling, and are here, then I am sorry for the Tome, and I thank you for indulging me in my silly tale of running through ICE, enduring the Fire of loss, and enjoying the sweetness of the experience.






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Eliot Hemingway
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I recommend cutting the Dany chapters.
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Owen Compton
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Corbeau wrote:
I recommend cutting the Dany chapters.


I quite enjoyed her sections of the books, better than drab/whiny Sansa sections.

I enjoyed reading your report.

Edit: I did originally follow my praise for the report with a comparison of how I perceive your personality on-line now compared with before. But, even though my analysis had a positive outcome, I felt like there was too much room for it to be interpreted badly so I cut it down to the simple line you see above
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Matthew Gagan
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I appreciate a report of this length and detail. Thank you, Alex, for writing it and congratulations on your fine showing.

Before the tournament someone asked me who would win the whole thing. I said, "Twenty-seven players? It could be a lot of people, but Alex Rockwell has at least a 1 in 3 chance."
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Alejandro G.
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Alex, would it be right to say that you feel better about Eve Campaign now? I know in a thread a month back everyone was discussing about how tricky the card was and what it's exact place for it was.

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Justin Dugger

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Truly an epic finals match! I think we had maybe 2 opponents in common; surprising given where I ended up.

R&D Interface is a really brutal card. I went into Regionals thinking I'd rather have HQ interface since so many criminal push you that direction, but I understand now it's value: R&D Lock and more pressure on a nonstandard central (for criminal). I made so, so many runs on R&D during tournament play, simply because it was less well defended.

On Darwin, I have seen a good Darwin deck, but it's not an Anarch deck. It's a dramatically better card with Replicator and Personal Touch (hardware!). Without two or three points of boost, it's just too easy to wipe, then advance your way to victory before darwin can rebuild. With the boost, you're a sad, sad panda.

It's surprising how many players will let a sansan (or simone) live. It's spendy to get at and sets you back 5 credits for 0 immediate agenda points. But as a runner, I know the alternative is so much worse. Now that I think about it, I'm wondering if perhaps a fast-advance weyland featuring SanSan-Simone could be made viable, given how many cheap agendas they have in faction.
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Alex Rockwell
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Corbeau wrote:
I recommend cutting the Dany chapters.


Nice!
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Alex Rockwell
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mgagan wrote:
I appreciate a report of this length and detail. Thank you, Alex, for writing it and congratulations on your fine showing.

Before the tournament someone asked me who would win the whole thing. I said, "Twenty-seven players? It could be a lot of people, but Alex Rockwell has at least a 1 in 3 chance."


Yeah, I felt that I would probably make top 8, and then there is the task of winning three matches in a row against quality opponents, which is basiclaly a task at which no one is ever favored.

Almost pulled it out, but I'll take the result and the cool plastic identities!
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Alex Rockwell
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xpiredsodapop wrote:
Alex, would it be right to say that you feel better about Eve Campaign now? I know in a thread a month back everyone was discussing about how tricky the card was and what it's exact place for it was.



I initially thought it was good but risky. I still think its good but risky, but my evaluation is a bit higher than before, because I've seen the upside happen a significant portion of the time, and been really fantastic. Also, I came to value the account siphon defense element of it even higher than initially.

One thing about it though is that it basically requires another server in order to work as anything other than a way to drain both player's money. Its not a great late draw. But its SO GOOD early on, in combination with several ice. An eve that last the full 16 is basically like three Melange activations. Thats fantastic.

Adonis is the clear better card though, much lower risk, and faster, but at only modestly reduced payout. Eve makes me want to try to make Encryption Protocol work again.
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Alejandro G.
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Thanks for the thoughts. I'll look at throwing it in.
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Alex Rockwell
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pwnguin wrote:

On Darwin, I have seen a good Darwin deck, but it's not an Anarch deck. It's a dramatically better card with Replicator and Personal Touch (hardware!). Without two or three points of boost, it's just too easy to wipe, then advance your way to victory before darwin can rebuild. With the boost, you're a sad, sad panda.


Yeah, I agree. Anarchs have GOOD BREAKER OPTIONS. No need for it. Play Crypsis and good breakers.

Shaper can use Darwin best I think. Still, I feel that the influence cost is probably too high. I'd rather play a suit of good breakers for that cost. Or just Account Siphon or something.

Quote:

It's surprising how many players will let a sansan (or simone) live. It's spendy to get at and sets you back 5 credits for 0 immediate agenda points. But as a runner, I know the alternative is so much worse. Now that I think about it, I'm wondering if perhaps a fast-advance weyland featuring SanSan-Simone could be made viable, given how many cheap agendas they have in faction.


Yeah. Simone should be killed, but at least you dont risk losing but not doing it, you simply give value.

SanSan FORCES a run. Not juts a run, but a $5 expenditure. It crushes the runner's economic strength. Its like, the Corp equivalent of an Account Siphon almost.

I feel like average players groan at the SanSan and lose to it. Strong players groan at the SanSan and go kill it, but it drains them, and that might be enough to buy you time to win as the corp. Either way its amazing. I feel that it is by FAR the best way to win games as Corp against an average opponent. Even a good opponent. SanSans were everything for my corp deck, all day. Money assets/operations + Ice + SanSans + 3 difficulty agendas is THE winning formula of netrunner right now, imo. It works for HB. It works for NBN. It works for Weyland. (The first overadvanced Atlas tutors up additional Atlases to instant-score on a SanSan drawn later. Or fetches the SanSan).
The fact that Jinteki's agendas dont work quite as well with SanSan because you need to play some 5 difficulty ones is probably the number 1 reason Jinteki is weakest right now. Its not about anything else as much as its about them being the least capable of abusing SanSan, and SanSan being the best card.

NBN is really strong right now too. HB spends influence on SanSan. NBN spends influence on Economy. Both plans work.
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Alex Rockwell
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One thing about Eve, Melange, and SanSan: they all compete to occupy server space.

My preferred solution was to try to put Eve in a second remote and guard it with one ice. If killed, put more assets there to gain value. My goal with a Melange is to use it once, then tax the corp a few bucks to kill it, since people feel it MUST BE KILLED. (When in reality, killing SanSan is more important!)



I've seen other good players adapt to this server space competition by cutting either Eve or cutting Melange. For example, Andrew Veen won regionals in Washington State with a similar deck, but he player 3 Adonis, 3 Eve, and no melange, and added Green Level Clearance.

I feel thats a reasonable choice as well. So is playing no Eves. But I feel the SanSan is so strong that it must be played. I prefer 3, because its just too important. And after you break them with one, following with more is just amazing.
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Bryan Rennekamp
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Alex, please don't stop analyzing. I talked with you briefly at the tourney about how you play, and I appreciate the analysis you put into the game. It's definitely a strength and a talent of yours, and your thoughts are helpful to others.

Thanks for posting this.

Edit: Re-read for clarity!
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Alex Rockwell
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Will never stop analyzing! Analyzing games is the best!
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Jason Yang
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Thank you for the detailed write-up! I've enjoyed your forum posts, articles and analysis and look forward to more.
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Aaron Freeman
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Great write up Alex. I was actually really disappointed that I never got to get in a game against you! Not that time would have allowed me too thanks to prior plans... guess I will have to wait for next year?

But you did great and were a serious contender. I look forward to seeing your performance at next years regionals. The 8 hour drive was totally worth it.
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Lluluien
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Alexfrog wrote:
SanSan FORCES a run. Not juts a run, but a $5 expenditure. It crushes the runner's economic strength. Its like, the Corp equivalent of an Account Siphon almost.


Totally, completely agree with you. I've said it before, and it's worth saying again - Stimhacking to kill a rezzed SanSan is one of the best Runner plays in the current metagame. You simply can't leave it alone.
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Alexander Roberts
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I greatly enjoyed this read. I am glad you're in Portland area because I know it helps make me a better player.

As for me, I decided to take a 54 card HB rush deck. Thinking back, while I've played it a bunch, and even bested you once with it by that one lonely credit. 5/3 agendas make me nervous and if I go back to HB it will be more of HB Fast Advance style.

As for runner. I played your Opus Andromeda. I actually waffled between a Gabe deck and Opus Andromeda the night before regionals.

Out of 4 rounds, the runner deck I played won 3/4 games, the 54 card HB rush won 2/4 games.

A few notes,

Due to variance, I lost the match in round 1 by 1 match point. That made me super sad.

*Always* play your plascrete. I was foolish, and arrogant and should have played it every single game no matter what because you never know who splashes SE. I could have turned round 3 games into 2-4, or even 4-2 if I played it. That's a pretty big maybe but it was possible.

Overall there was a three way tie in Prestige to get into #8 seed so that meant it was determined by Strength of Schedule and #9 and #10 (myself) were must closer compared to #8.

Overall I feel I'm a strong player, but I only get better as time goes by.
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Frederic Bush
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2 agendas, one late-game ICE -- interesting question what your expectation is here vs criminal. Obviously if it were the first game of the match you would mulligan, but needing only 3 points, hmm.
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Great post and tournament review, Alex!

I love the in-depth strategic treatment you give to not only your decks, but also your mentality going through the tourney.

I'll also say that taking the link+UC out of my Andromeda deck for more aggression has been a breath of fresh air. She'd be my choice at the moment, too. I'm pretty excited for more Event: run cards like Dirty Laundry: http://netrunnercards.info/card/03052 .

I just can't quit NBN, even though I think you're right on the money about SanSan in an HB deck. My BGG OCTGN tourney decks were Weyland-SanSan, which isn't strong anymore (thanks, Plascrete! thanks, useless expansion ICE!). It's a classic fork card: expensive to deal with but too good to ignore.

Congrats on the 2nd place! I've yet to make it beyond the initial cut to finals. Hopefully I've just been "saving" it for nationals and season two regionals, right? .
 
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Ulrik Bøe
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To go totally off-topic...

Alex, I really agree with your thoughts about competition. I don't dislike tournaments for the high variance, but I prefer them to be "win a little, lose nothing" rather than "win big or die".

Taking it into the real world, a dutch researcher called Norway one of the most "feminine" countries in the world, partly because we prefer cooperation over competition in most areas. Competitive people still have plenty of outlets, mainly in sports (there's nothing we love more than seeing a Norwegian win a gold medal, preferably in the olympic winter games). And that's the key here - real life doesn't have to be a competition where life or death is on the line, or even riches or poverty. That dutch dude called it "masculine" or "feminine" societies, but I prefer another metaphor - The Jungle or The Village. In a Jungle, you have to be the best to get at the top, and if you fail you lose your house, your friends and have to go work double shifts to pay for your lousy one-room flat in a rundown block. In a Village, you do your best because you're all in this together, and after work you are free to compete for glory as much as you like, without putting it all on the line.

Hmm, hope this isn't too political.
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ulrik wrote:
To go totally off-topic...

Alex, I really agree with your thoughts about competition. I don't dislike tournaments for the high variance, but I prefer them to be "win a little, lose nothing" rather than "win big or die".

Taking it into the real world, a dutch researcher called Norway one of the most "feminine" countries in the world, partly because we prefer cooperation over competition in most areas. Competitive people still have plenty of outlets, mainly in sports (there's nothing we love more than seeing a Norwegian win a gold medal, preferably in the olympic winter games). And that's the key here - real life doesn't have to be a competition where life or death is on the line, or even riches or poverty. That dutch dude called it "masculine" or "feminine" societies, but I prefer another metaphor - The Jungle or The Village. In a Jungle, you have to be the best to get at the top, and if you fail you lose your house, your friends and have to go work double shifts to pay for your lousy one-room flat in a rundown block. In a Village, you do your best because you're all in this together, and after work you are free to compete for glory as much as you like, without putting it all on the line.

Hmm, hope this isn't too political.


I like both Alex' and your thoughts on this. I think it's a pretty admirable way to live, myself.
 
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Steven Tu
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ulrik wrote:
To go totally off-topic...

Alex, I really agree with your thoughts about competition. I don't dislike tournaments for the high variance, but I prefer them to be "win a little, lose nothing" rather than "win big or die".

Taking it into the real world, a dutch researcher called Norway one of the most "feminine" countries in the world, partly because we prefer cooperation over competition in most areas. Competitive people still have plenty of outlets, mainly in sports (there's nothing we love more than seeing a Norwegian win a gold medal, preferably in the olympic winter games). And that's the key here - real life doesn't have to be a competition where life or death is on the line, or even riches or poverty. That dutch dude called it "masculine" or "feminine" societies, but I prefer another metaphor - The Jungle or The Village. In a Jungle, you have to be the best to get at the top, and if you fail you lose your house, your friends and have to go work double shifts to pay for your lousy one-room flat in a rundown block. In a Village, you do your best because you're all in this together, and after work you are free to compete for glory as much as you like, without putting it all on the line.

Hmm, hope this isn't too political.


How do I immigrate to Norway? (not entirely jokingly)
 
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Nick Patron
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Alex Thanks for the interesting read. I agree with a lot of your deckbuilding decisions.

Pop-ups are backbreaking against criminal, since they can't keep you poor, and a rich corp can require more work than the criminal can sustain.

San-san is way too good for 3 influence, unless you are against whizzard it's puts a hefty strain on the runner, trash this really expensive thing, or let me get 2 points later and you will have to trash it immediately after or I might get more.

I ended up going with the 2 pri-reqs since I didn't think rezzing sansan just for a false lead was often worth it, and I wanted to have a lower agenda count, but I guess if you treat it like a 3/2 then it makes a bit more sense.

Datasuckers are fantastic, even with a sneakdoor, it's often a cheaply defended server for a while, I ended up splashing for a mimic and really found it super valuable. mimic makes me feel safe running into anything (except archer) especially against Jinteki.

Truly an epic finals match! I had basically assumed I was in trouble once I drew 2 agendas as my 1st and 2nd draws (as corp), so I went for the risky beta test assuming that if I didn't try, I had no chance of getting anything anyways, (both in playing it there, and in running the ABT).

Playing Gabe definetely paid off in the finals match, It made me run your hand, which seems good. There was another agenda in your hand? I didn't play a card until turn 3 which was hard to resist, but more reasonable since I didn't have 9 cards.

pwnguin wrote:

R&D Interface is a really brutal card. I went into Regionals thinking I'd rather have HQ interface since so many criminal push you that direction, but I understand now it's value: R&D Lock and more pressure on a nonstandard central (for criminal). I made so, so many runs on R&D during tournament play, simply because it was less well defended.


I like it in Gabe since he already threatens your Archives and HQ with his printed ability and sneakdoor, and people will often spend a lot trying to keep you out of their hands (which is still often impossible) allowing you to unexpectedly drop the R&D interface and run the R&D putting them in a truly terrible position.
 
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Justin
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If I'm sure it's massively Criminal, I lean SanSan/Pop. Assuming at least moderate runner diversity, I lean Trick/Shadow. I think both are great.
 
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