Hello, blog. It's been a while. What have I been up to, you ask? Well, for the past six months or so, Fentonizer and I have been spending time training ourselves as elite cyber-hackers, breaking into the servers of mega-corporations - in the dystopian, cyber-punk world of Android Netrunner. Netrunner is a card game with an excellent theme and fun gameplay, with lots of room for creativity in terms of the identities you play and the decks you can build.
If you know me, you'll know videogames are my thang, and perhaps that I've never been hugely competitive. More somebody who likes to sit in their room alone slaying dragons, or hunting vaults, finding loot and discovering secrets of lost civilizations. So it surprised me that I might get into a card game to the point where I actually wanted to enter tournaments and play games with random REAL LIFE people! I've tried my hand at Magic the Gathering in the past, but by that I mean one or two games.. nothing has really hooked me in as much as Netrunner has. I collected Pokemon cards for the art, but never got the desire to play the game. Four months ago was the first time I attempted to build my own "deck" (set of ~45-49 cards) to play with, and since then it's surprised me that I haven't got tired of this game, and I've only got increasingly interested in the possibilities, nuances, and creativity that a new matchup or a new deck brings.
My partner and I must have played each other like fifty times - I knew his ice too well, and he knew I was terrible at bluffing that Aggressive Secretary to be an agenda. I started going along to the Oxford Netrunners night a few times, since I live nearby, and whilst I met some great people and had some fun matches there, it felt a little like I was starting too late for the meta. So, realising we wanted to expand our horizons and spread the word of Netrunner, Fentonizer and I started a group in Milton Keynes with some friends who also just got into the game. Starting at the same kind of point was nice, as we learnt together, even restricting our cards to Core Set for a few weeks to let people catch up with buying datapacks.
The meets had been going well, and Fentonizer and I continued to try out different match-ups on each other, and watch TeamworkCast videos at most available opportunities. I found that I enjoyed getting better, and learning how to win, or at least how to do well in different situations. I had a few of those times - like the times that Leigh Alexander excellently wrote about - where I wanted to stomp out the room or cry because I'd done something stupid, or I just hadn't quite understood what was going on and felt like "I can't do this. I'm not competitive." Every time that happened, I found myself wanting to run again, wanting to come back another day, try that match-up I did badly with, learn how to improve.
The thought of entering a tournament still made me nervous, but when a nearby local store announced a friendly debut store tournament happening, Fentonizer signed up, and I thought "what the hell, I want to play too." That tournament was the Northampton Wargames Workshop debut tournament, Guardians of Tyr, and we attended today, along with other pals from our MK group.
So I guess the whole reason I made this post was to do a little tournament report to look back on and record how the games went for me, but before I detail them below, I just want to say that I had such a fun day today. I am really glad I went and took part. I still don't really feel like a "competitive" person, but.. I just feel like Android Netrunner is such an amazing world to be a part of, such a fun game, and the players of it - that I have met to date - have been such friendly people. It feels like everybody is having fun, enjoying the game for the brilliant design and theme, and that people commend each other when they do well. I mean.. I was a little salty when I got double-scorched, but who isn't? ;) Mostly I found myself proud and humble for the games I did win, and admirable of those I lost against.
So, I want to say thank you to the Netrunner community for being awesome and welcoming, thanks to Daniel for running the tournament today, thanks again to Cerberus/Dave who let me choose his deckbox prize and keep it, along with the alternate art Plascrete.. :3 and of course, thanks to Fantasy Flight Games for making such a brilliantly designed game that I want to just keep on playing.
Guardians of Tyr - the pandalion games!
Game 1: Whizzard [Panda] vs. HB. Cybernetics Division [Ben]
Score:   Whizzard
Boy, did my hand size go down quickly in this game. XD HB's ID meant we both had a 4-card hand size, and after Ben scored two Self-Destruct Chips, I was down to a 2-card hand size. Luckily, the Snare I hit happened before those agendas were scored. I lived to tell the tale, but it made me play incredibly carefully for the rest of the game. I didn't get much in the way of ice-breakers out, thanks to a combination of the snare losing me some and just not drawing much economy to set up the rest. But, Whizzard likes to be aggressive [pah, who needs breakers!], and when he found he could get into HQ, albeit by costly clicks through an Eli, he did so. Trying to draw up to four to not get Snared, but also have enough clicks to break the Eli when having to start every turn with 2 cards was.. tricky, to say the least. I was lucky when Ben seemed to get a bit poor, and only have 2 or 3 credits on a few turns, I could run without fear of a Snare. I got a Legwork in at a good moment, and Same Old Thing'ed it out again a little later, sniping at least 3 agendas from HQ.
I was really happy with how this game went. Getting my hand-size lowered so quickly and knowing there were at least one or two snares about after that was scary. I think I did the best I could, tried to be careful but took my opportunities, and they paid off for the Master Gamer :)
Game 2: Kit [Ben] vs. HB. Engineering the Future [Panda]
Score:   Kit
My Enhanced Login Protocols were typically annoying in this game and I think I managed to tax Kit quite well. However Ben had some stealth breakers that made my usually scary Tollbooth not so bad to get through. In the end it was close, but as it often does, my HB deck felt a little slow, and Kit had the most points when we went to time. Money was great for me though, I had Adonis' tag-teaming in and out, and think I reached around 30 credits at one point. Kind of started wishing my whole deck was fast-advance, as the Biotics were great when I was seeing them.
Game 1: Whizzard [Panda] vs. Jinteki. Replicating Perfection [Jim]
Score:   Whizzard
This was a very close game, as far as I remember. Whizzard loves RP because he loves to run a lot, and he uses Doppelganger so he can get into the remotes that bit easier. An Excalibur on R'n'D left him sad-faced. But he managed to bounce a successful run off Archives for a lot of the game and then get into assets and trash the Sundews, Jacksons and whatnot. RP's HQ must have had some kind of security breach at some point because it wasn't iced, and Whizzard ran and ran, trying to keep the corporation poor, whilst also stacking up a few Medium tokens running R'n'D also. Whizzard won in the end after some HQ sniping and a run with around 4 Medium accesses. Again, I was happy with how that game went, but I think Jim might be wishing he purged the Medium a little earlier!
Game 2: Quetzal [Jim] vs. HB. Engineering the Future [Panda]
Score:   Quetzal
This was another close game with Jim. Again, I had ELPs and Adonis' for days, and start to mid-game I felt pretty strong. I had a lot of money, and built up a pretty good scoring server consisting of Tollbooth, Lotus Field, Ichi.. something else. I scored out of hand fairly early with Biotic, but by the time I was ready to score in my remote, Quetzal suddenly got her plan set up, with a Wyldside and Faust combo that really came together. Suddenly my massive scoring remote seemed much more penetrable, when Quetzal happily chucked away programs, resources and events, just to break through the ice. I think Jim had a good income set up too, with Daily Casts and whatnot, so I couldn't keep him poor. I did something I like to do every so often, and put a lowly PAD campaign in my big remote, only to see the runner's face when they have got all the way through four pieces of ice.. to see a PAD. That was worth it for the lols. XD It still wasn't enough though as his cards and economy seemed to recover to quickly, I couldn't score out the one more agenda that I needed before the time was up, and Quetzal walked (fausted?) away with the win.
Game 1: Quetzal [Dave/Cerberus] vs. HB. Engineering the Future [Panda]
Score:   Quetzal
Oh man, this game. XD When Dave first sat down I was like.. "I'm sure I recognise you from YouTube. Are you famous?" I realised later he was.. a pretty high-class player, having come 8th in Worlds. WORLDS. Anyway.. I'm not making excuses, but I don't know what hit me. He had cute Pinkie Pie card sleeves as well! And a nice hat. And he wasn't a criminal. How bad could this be? And then.. the Account Siphon.. and the next Account Siphon.. and the next.. and the next... how.. HOOOOW.. but but you're Quetzal. Being Quetzal also meant that those nice cheap early barrier breakers were.. pretty useless. XD Each time Quetzal siphoned me, I struggled my way back up to 3 or 4 credits to try and protect HQ, until it was triple-iced, me with just enough credits to rez an Enigma. Dave trashed all my economy cards too - and I think some runners can underestimate how important it is to do that. Before I knew it, Dave had some kind of relentless rig out and was still Siphoning. Where did they all come from?? I don't know. I was barely paying enough attention as I frantically tried to keep HQ safe, drawing more agendas and having nowhere to score them. It started feeling so futile, I was almost ready to surrender, but I soldiered on. Finally, finally, Dave took the pressure away from HQ.. only to Clone Chip out 2 RnD interfaces (if I remember rightly), and make a last run on RnD to secure the win. I was.. sort of glad it was over. XD Luckily he was such a nice chap, I didn't feel too bad losing so horribly to him :D I'm not sure what I could have done differently here to be honest. Good deck, good player!
Game 2: Whizzard [Panda] vs. Jinteki. Replicating Perfection [Dave/Cerberus]
Score:   Jinteki. RP
Whizzard put up a good fight in this game, I think. I can't remember it so well because I was still in a state of "wtf happened there" about the previous game. XD I got into HQ, and sometimes RnD. Mostly I saw giraffes. Giraffes all over the place! There was a psi game for a Future Perfect, which I lost and.. I think I managed to steal 1 Nisei before the game was out, maybe something else too, but it wasn't enough, and Jinteki took the win. I can't really think of anything I would have done differently here. Psi games are fun anyways. I definitely want to try a Jinteki deck again sometime soon.
Game 1: Whizzard [Panda] vs. Weyland. Blue Sun [Moody]
Score:   Weyland. Blue Sun
I feel a little disappointed about this game, because I did a silly thing. I was on 5 points, Blue Sun hadn't managed to get anything massive like a Curtain Wall out.. I was getting in pretty consistently, and remembering to keep my hand size at 5, too. I KNEW Moody had Scorched, not only from him scorching me just a few days ago, but seeing it in HQ during this game also. And yet, FOR SOME REASON, when I had an "I've had worse" in my hand, I decide to play it and draw 3 cards. Whhhhy.. Why did I play it! D: I got sea sourced, and Whizzard the poor student gamer is never gonna plan to pay that trace off, so the double scorched happened. Had I kept hold of the IHW, and he'd grabbed it.. I should have still been alive. Well, shoulda woulda coulda, as I say to any player. I didn't, and that was my bad. If it wasn't a lesson enough Wednesday, then this hopefully was. All I can say is, at least the fact that I keep getting scorched is going to drill it into me to KEEP THAT I'VE HAD WORSE DEAR GOD.
Game 2: Andromeda [Moody] vs. HB. Engineering the Future [Panda]
Score:   Andromeda
My last game of the day. The only benefit of being scorched on the previous game within the first 15 minutes, was that I had a bit longer to play my Corp game. I felt fairly confident about this one for quite a while. Stealth Andy took a while for Moody to get set up, and whilst I bioticed one agenda, and scored another, getting that last one or two out was just too slow for me again. Suddenly I had a big server and couldn't get something scored in it. May have played my "pad campaign in a massive scoring remote" trick again. Not sure.. anyway a last minute RnD run with some multi-access, and the runner stole the game. Good job, Moody. :)
As mentioned above, I was slightly disappointed after those four losses in a row, though looking back at them, my biggest mistake was losing the I've had worse. I was never confident that my corp deck would do as well as Whizzard, and though it managed to prove taxing for the runner, and very rich for me at times, it never quite managed to get the agendas scored to win before the runner trounced through all the ice. Hey, maybe *I* should consider a scorching deck... ;)
Oh and, as shown above, the Silhouette deck box, and beautiful alternative art Plascrete and Aesops softened the blow. :) Whilst I still don't think I'll make competitive Netrunning a day job, I definitely want to attend more tournaments in the future. :D Till then, jacking out!
Edit: I forgot to publish my decklists, so here they are. :)