Monday, 1 June 2015

UK Nationals 2015 - Results Summary

The UK National Championships were this weekend (I think the first Nationals of 2015?) and the results are in - congratulations to Alex White who will be flying the UK flag at Worlds!
As a 150+ player tournament the Nationals are a big tournament to evaluate the meta at the moment.  I'm going to throw some tables on here right now and then come back and add in some notes and observerations later.
Corporation Identities
Overperformance of Blue Sun (highest % of players in Top 16)
Blue Sun was only 10% of Corp decks but made up 25% of the decks in the Top 16.  It's also unique in that it has a top-heavy distribution of performance (more people did well with the deck than did badly).  Although Replicating Perfection took up more slots in the Top 16, and ultimately Alex White's winning deck was Replicating Perfection, the strongest performance appears to have come from Weyland.
Some example Blue Sun decks from UK Nationals...
And the Sunday of UK Nationals also saw another big tournament (70+ players), which was won by Blue Sun...
Weakness of Haas-Bioroid (lowest % of players in Top 6 despite good representation)
Although none of the big four identities did badly Engineering The Future was clearly the worst of the bunch, collecting players in the 33-64 bracket more often than its peers.  That's only a win or two away from the top of the tournament and I suspect that many of the elite players had avoided Engineering The Future so there may be some selection bias creeping into this evaluation.  Nevertheless, right now HB is clearly the runt of the Corporation litter as the other HB identities also performed (marginally) the worst outside the big four.

The Desert of Alternatives

If you're not playing the big four identities (and arguably even if you're playing Engineering The Future) then you're doing it wrong.  80% of all players who played any other identity finishing outside the Top 64, and only two players made it within the Top 32!
The strong Corp decks are the strong Corp decks.

The New Face of Supermodernism

The one Identity that really bucked the trend was Gagarin Deep Space, which was played by one player and was strong enough to take 100% of that one player into the Top 8!  That player was the well known Quintin Smith, who has managed to get Netrunner into actual real print in a real newspaper recently.

I know a lot of people have been trying to get a Gagarin deck to work but it was Quintin who had the courage enough in his convictions to actually take the deck to Nationals and go on to great things with it.

I won't do a full breakdown of his Gagarin deck but I can summarise by saying that I think it's actually an elegant evolution of the Supermodernism deck style.  Gagarin decks have tended to go really heavy on Asset economy to tax that 1 credit for accessing cards but there's only a few Assets in Quintin's deck, instead he's playing a more subtle blend of Asset and Operation economy cards to support an Ice mix that's actually quite aggressive at throwing ETR routines at the runner.  Ice Wall, Enigma and Caduceus are the hallmarks of a deck trying to rush Agenda scores in the early game, and it still packs the SEA Source/Scorched Earth threat from Supermodernism to trip the unwary runner.  What's absent from Supermodernism is the Archers and the Hostile Takeovers that powered him, but there's still threatening Ice here and the Gagarin's ability stretches the runner's early economy just enough to force Agendas through.

In short I like the deck a lot, and I think it could provide an alternative Weyland route to Blue Sun.  A lot of players have suggested that Weyland is on the wane, but Blue Sun and this deck suggest we shouldn't be waving goodbye to the bad guys just yet.

Runner Identities
Kate McCaffrey was utterly dominant
The most popular runner by far, Kate McCaffrey also outperformed the rest of the pack comfortably - 33% of players used her and she was 56% of the Top 16 and another 42% of the decks that finished 17-64th.
There's a discussion to be had about whether it's Kate winning games or just Shaper cards, and Kate is just that much better than any of the specialist Shaper IDs and so takes all the glory.  I would lean towards Kate's ability actually being a key part of her success as on top of the near-guaranteed 1c discount per turn I think she combos through quite well with the key cards Clone Chip and Self-Modifying Code to generate even more value.  The economic power of Prepaid Voice Pad is also much greater in Kate as she buys her Pads at a 50% discount.
In the end more players chose Kate than any other runner, and they were right to do so.  Among those players were the eventual winner, Alex White...
And, because I didn't list it above, his Replicating Perfection deck that was paired with Kate.
Are Anarch's hard to play or just inconsistent?
The big problem that Anarchs always faced is that they wind up clicking to draw cards while Shapers and Criminals enjoy searching through their decks for the cards they want with Special Order, Hostage, Test Run, Diesel, Self-Modifying Code etc.  They've been given a helping hand in that respect with Inject and I've Had Worse but perhaps it's not been enough.
What we see in these results is a really clear break in the results of both Reina and Noise - a few players did very well but the majority did very badly, with Anarch's having the highest likelihood of finishing outside the Top 64 of any of the main IDs.

Were just a few players doing it right and everyone else playing Anarch was making mistakes?  Well my personal anecdotal experience with MaxX is that I think she is quite unforgiving to mistakes, but underlying all that I think one of the main reasons that's the case is because even MaxX, with her free drawing ability, is only on the borderline of being good enough to win the tough games.  I fear Anarchs still need some love.

Andromeda is still (just) the Queen of Crime 
There was close competition from Leela but Andromeda did just enough to edge the young pretender into second place.  Although they were both played the same number of people, and both took the same number of Top 16 slots, Andromeda's consistency saw very few Andromeda players fall outside the Top 64.  The pattern of Andromeda players ranking's was actually quite strong (only 36% outside Top 64) and although many fell just outside the Top 16 it could be that the 'Stealth Andy' deck remains the best Criminal structure.
Izzy Whizzy, let's get busy?
Much like Gagarin for the Corp there was a runner anomaly, with two Whizzard decks placing strongly - Marc Valles taking it to the Top 16 while Joey McMillan was only one win away from joining him.
I haven't seen decklists for either of the Whizzard decks yet but it's easy to see how his Asset-trashing ability is well-positioned against the metagame.  I'll look out for those decks and add them here once they crop up.
Chaos Disproves The Theory?
If I argued that Kate is good because she's Kate not just because she's a Shaper (as I did above) then Chaos Theory is doing her best to disprove that hypothesis.  She was only played by 9 players but her distribution through the field is quite similar to Kate's.  This has often been the play-off between Kate and Chaos Theory - is it better to have Kate's money or Chaos' consistency?

It appears as though simply playing Shaper cards is a good start, and the argument pro-con Kate McCaffrey being a key part of Shaper success will continue, I feel.
In Summary: Play Green Cards.

Play Green cards.  Less than 50% OF ALL PLAYERS TO PLAY ANY SHAPER ID finished outside the Top 64.  70% of Anarch did, and 62% of Criminals.

Play Green cards.