Saturday, 19 April 2014

“I’m Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today!” – Part One

“Didn’t you quit?”

“Are you having second thoughts, then?”

"What are you doing here?"

“I thought you’d stopped playing”

Word travels quickly around the Netrunner grapevine and it seemed every round I had to explain what I was doing playing in another Netrunner tournament.   It’s a fair question and my answer was the oft-quoted line from the movie Clerks:

“I'm not even supposed to be here today!”

In my defence, I hadn’t lied.  I am quitting Netrunner.  In fact I had already quit - my decks were disassembled and my cards were packed away for shipping.  Then my girlfriend told me she was going down to London for the weekend to see family and I was left with a long Easter weekend on my own with no plans.  And a Chronos Protocol tournament scheduled.   In my home town.
I guess some greater power obviously has plans for me that don’t involve quitting Netrunner, so I spent last night hastily building some decks back up.

This is what I played at the Chronos Protocol Tour:


Andromeda Dispossessed Ristie

Event (20)
3x Account Siphon
3x Dirty Laundry
3x Forged Activation Orders
2x Hostage
3x Inside Job
3x Special Order
3x Sure Gamble

Hardware (8)
3x Desperado
1x e3 Feedback Implants
2x Plascrete Carapace
2x R&D Interface ••••

Resource (5)
2x Bank Job
1x John Masanori
1x Kati Jones
1x Professional Contacts ••

Icebreaker (9)
2x Corroder ••••
1x Crypsis
3x Faerie
1x Femme Fatale
1x Mimic •
1x Yog.0 •

Program (3)
3x Datasucker ••• 

See this deck at NetrunnerDB

This is the latest iteration of my hugely successful Andromeda deck.  I’ve never really laboured the point so let me make it now, seeing as I'm leaving.

Andromeda.  Is.  Nuts.

This deck began life as the World Champion deck from November and throughout virtually the whole of Spin Cycle I haven’t had to change a single card.  I found room for a 3rd Faerie, partly to protect against Power Shutdown and partly because Faerie is just really good.  The final changes were to drop the Emergency Shutdowns and Easy Marks to play an E3 Feedback Implants and Bank Jobs – this is a direct response to the rise of Bioroid glacier decks, both in HB and Jinteki:Replicating Perfection.  

E3 Feedback Implants should really have been mentioned in my list of cards that have got better since Caprice Nisei and NAPD Contract arrived, simply because Eli and Heimdall decks are going to proliferate.  When you use E3 Feedback Implants to break Heimdall 1.0 instead of Corroder you spend a click and 2 credits instead of 7 credits, meaning that click you spent saved you 5 credits!  5 credits for a click is a CRAZY payback (3 credits for clicking past Eli).  Bank Job replaced Easy Mark because the number of economy assets gives you that many more targets for your heist, and because it helps you fight the economic taxation twice as well as Easy Mark does.

How good is this deck?  Through five Store Championships and then this Chronos Protocol tournament today I have played 30 rounds of Swiss with Andromeda and won 25 of them – an 83% win rate at the sharp end of some very competitive tournaments.

Andromeda.  Is.  Nuts. 

Throughout Spin Cycle I have remained absolutely convinced that Andromeda was the best Runner by a considerable margin.  When you switch from playing any other Runner to playing Andromeda (and playing her well) the step up in power level is simply absurd.  But as much as I’m a devout Andromeda fan I’m prepared to finally accept that Gabriel Santiago is now right on her shoulder in terms of power level, and maybe even slightly ahead because he copes with the new taxation decks much better.  Gabe’s HQ-running ability helps fight off the tax and Sneakdoor Beta spreads their central defences 50% thinner, making it much harder for the taxation Corps to fight Gabe to a standstill.  Andromeda can certainly adapt to win those matches but Gabe is naturally superior in them, much the same way Andromeda’s consistency makes her naturally superior against the rush/Fast Advance decks.

The Four Horsemen

NBN Making News

Agenda (11)
3x AstroScript Pilot Program
2x Breaking News
3x NAPD Contract
3x Project Beale

Asset (5)
3x Jackson Howard
2x Melange Mining Corp.

Upgrade (4)
1x Caprice Nisei ••••
1x Red Herrings
2x SanSan City Grid

Operation (11)
3x Hedge Fund
1x Interns
2x Restructure
2x Subliminal Messaging
3x Sweeps Week

Barrier (6)
3x Eli 1.0 •••
3x Wraparound

Code Gate (7)
3x Pop-up Window
2x Quandary
1x Tollbooth

Sentry (5)
2x Dracō
1x Ichi 2.0 •••
1x Shinobi •••
1x Tsurugi ••

See this deck at NetrunnerDB

Halfway a theme deck, this list came about from my wanting to use Shinobi in NBN: Making News and really not taking the tournament at all seriously so being prepared to simply try stuff out for a lark.  Although I made this on the night of the Chronos Protocol (so had 0 testing) I had spent the Store Champs playing NBN in various guises so I was comfortable that my deck wasn’t going to be completely awful.  

The theme is The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, with four big pieces of Ice headlining my defences and catching out unwary runners:

Famine (Tollbooth)
A staple in NBN for good reason, Tollbooth represents Famine as it keeps the Runner poor and unable to pay for food.

Pestilence (Ichi 2.0)
Ichi 2.0 is an excellent card to splash into NBN: Making News because you get to benefit from that trace to both tag the runner and deal a Brain damage.  I played Ichi as my 13th-15th Influence in a deck with 3x Scorched Earth and he won me a game when a runner faceplanted into him on R&D, so I was happy with his inclusion in this deck.

War (Tsurigi)
Tsurigi was the last addition to the deck, with those final two influence points wavering between Archer and Heimdall 1.0.  I felt that Heimdall would give me too many expensive pieces of Ice and Eli was already covering Barriers off, while although Archer was a great card I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to rez it.  I had two Breaking News to RFG for Archer, but even if I had a 1pt Agenda to lose the fact that everything else in my deck was worth 2 pts meant I would probably be condemining myself to needing 8 points to win because I was unlikely to ever get to 7.  Tsurigi offered a middle ground – a reasonable cost, a piece of ETR Ice I would be happy to rez and which had an impact and which offered good taxation even after an Icebreaker was around.  There were two other factors which I specifically liked about Tsurigi – if anybody was deliberately running low on cards to avoid Sweeps Week they could easily get flatlined by unexpected Net damage, and I really felt like Tsurigi was good Faerie-bait, leaving them defenceless for a more painful Ichi or Shinobi hit later on.

Death (Shinobi)
A one-card kill if you can pull it off, and the Trace works with NBN: Making News, but the downsides are that you need a LOT of money to kill a runner with Shinobi (unless they run blindly into it) and the Bad Publicity doesn’t really work with the rest of the deck – either the taxation plan or the NAPD Contracts.  But what if it worked?  What if?  With dreams of killing the runner on their first turn as they stumble onto R&D with their last click and no credits... I had to give it a try!

And because you simply can’t have an apocalypse with an Antichrist:

The Antichrist (Caprice Nisei)
Yeah, she may look innocent, pruning her little bonsai tree over there.  Doing the gardening.  How adorable.  Don’t be fooled, she’s the devil incarnate.  Kill her.  KILL HER WITH FIRE!

Outside of that my deck is pretty standard NBN fare, I think, but I made sure I was playing A LOT of economy to be able to rez my big ice and win Shinobi credit wars.  The one random-ish card is Interns, which I really like because it’s so flexible in this deck, with several distinct modes: recur SanSan to push for the win, recur Caprice Nisei to maximise taxation, recur Melange Mining Corp to build cash, or simply use it to install a 3rd or 4th layer of Ice while keeping credits open to rez it.  There’s some taxation, some fast advance, and some threats of random big Ice killing the runner if they screw up.  Somewhere between those three points I felt like I would be able to win some games, and maybe even win a couple in a cool way.

So those were the decks I played, and in Part Two I'll give you a tournament report of how they fared for me as I embarked on the Chronos Protocol Tour for what was Absolutely Definitely Probably Maybe My Last Ever Netrunner Tournament Ever!!!