This report comes to us from Shaun “basic.channel” Connor, who’s been playing Netrunner for a comparatively short 8 months but has been grinding JNet into little pieces. As a result of all that practice, here’s his top 8 Nationals report – enjoy.
A quick word on deck choices. I packed Andromeda because I thought she was the Criminal with the best chance against Controlling the Message, which predictably was everywhere on the day. Drawing a sweet Andromeda hand and bursting up to twelve credits also feels amazing. Criminal has always been my favourite, and I genuinely struggle to play decks without Account Siphon. I picked Jammy HB because it’s super fun to play and doesn’t instalose to a Valencia playing Rumor Mill.
—- Round 1 —-
Round one I was up against a player from Hobart, who was extremely friendly. First round jitters are an absolutely real thing so it’s always nice to play someone chill. Netrunner can be such an intensely adversarial game, so I always try to be friendly because we are playing a silly hacking card game after all. Big shout outs to this player for letting me trash two of my programs after I realized I was massively over MU. Exciting to play players from everywhere!
(Corp) Engineering The Future vs. Andromeda
Slammed out an early GFI over several awkward turns which the runner could have broken himself to steal, but chose not to. Tarmar did good work against early siphons but my opponent finds an Employee Strike and siphons me to zero. Snuck out a Vitruvius by putting it into the remote right after being siphoned to zero and clicking to two credits. Probably my favourite and funniest play of the day. I remember my opponent looking at the remote, looking at my credit count and coming to the clear conclusion that only a madman would put an agenda into the remote without being able to score it the next turn. I slowly recover and score it a few turns later and I suddenly feel great about bringing a fun deck that allows for plays based on misdirection and reading tendencies. I jammed a GFI into the remote and clicked to four credits, which made the runner click through the Turing to score it so I could Lateral Growth/Biotic out for the next turn. Powerful.
(Runner) Andromeda vs. Engineering The Future (Jammy HB)
I see my opponent is on a jammy build too, so I run around and do Andromeda things, scrambling to find my breakers, making a bunch of ice invalid after the Yog.0 drop. Four sucker tokens to get through a double Turing remote feels good. I never find Desperado so I have to ditch Paperclip to drop Medium. Risky move when I know Chronos is in the game. Security Testing money and a few Temujins is enough money for me to get the win by attacking centrals. After I go to seven my opponent reveals his secret tech, a Lotus Field on the remote that I would have had no answer for!
Great mutually enjoyable games with a friendly opponent. We’re both happy our day started with “Real Netrunner”.
—- Round 2 —-
Second round I was up against a very handsome player from Canberra with a cool fancy haircut. Canberra seems to have quite an active meta, with ten or so players travelling down for nationals. I got blown up in casuals a few days before before by a Canberra player called Ben in some fun games against his Spycam Hayley and his spicy EtF. Nothing better and funnier than getting off Chronos fires against Shaper!
(Runner) Andromeda vs. Industrial Geonomics
49 card IG is a powerful deck. A lot of people hate this match up: I find it incredibly challenging and super scary, but I also think it’s some of the headiest and intense Netrunner out there. I like the fact that this game can be unforgiving and brutal. I think even with the best understanding of this match you can hit a Psychic Field and die, but I felt vaguely okay going into this after some games against my friend Michael’s 49 card IG a month or so before the tournament. While I never drilled this match up, getting totally blown up in those two games definitely gave me an interest in this deck and was the reason I started playing Sports Hopper.
My immediate focus is not dying, so I find an early Temujin and start contesting the remotes very carefully. The game started with an open RnD, so I start hammering it and see an early Fetal AI. Any economic advantage I have goes down the toilet when I pay nine credits to trash a Hiro off RnD. Eventually I find two Sports Hoppers, putting the game in a weird lock where I know he has the kill pieces on board, but he has no way to pull it off with the hoppers in play. The Pavillion gets rezzed and I pop a Hopper and break myself to deal with it, taking damage from the two Hostiles living on the board now that archives is loaded. He gets a Bio-Ethics to stick on the board with a loaded and Shock! riddled Archives. With my second hopper out, I know that I’m safe from kill, at least for now. I Inside Job Archives long after the third Jackson has been popped hoping to see a Future Perfect, but instead I just see a Fetal AI. Getting from four to seven is such a fight against this deck. My opponent puts a Hiro behind two pieces of ice and I’ve spent so much time drawing up and dealing with kill pieces that I have literally no breakers on board bar a paperclip in the bin. I’m slowly getting milled out by the one Bio-Ethics and Hiro living on the board and it feels terrible. I’m down to two cards left in my stack, three in hand and I have to play to my outs. At this point my only board is pretty much a Desperado and Passport which I never used, feels terrible.
I drop a Mongoose, click to six credits and run HQ, knowing that if it’s a vanilla, I’ll be able to fetch clippy and get it. Crick fire doesn’t matter, and Mongoose will deal with a Cortex Lock while still leaving me on two credits to play for a Future Perfect or Fetal. At this point centrals have to be loaded, my opponent is nearly decked. I see a Fetal AI and Desperado credit is what lets me steal it for the game. My opponent installed a Philotic on the board last turn – I was dead next turn or the turn afterwards. Clutch.
(Corp) Engineering The Future vs. Andromeda
I basically just jam stuff in the remote before my opponent could find breakers. It is what it is.
—- Round 3 —-
Intentional draw with my friend JZ. We both agreed that eating lunch is much more important than playing the hacking card game. We went and got burritos, bringing some back for the others. We’re both at table one and very excited, and I yammer on about Street Fighter for a while. The Burrito was delicious and intentionally drawing feels dirtier than playing any “degenerate” deck.
—- Round 4 —-
In round 4 I was up against a local player called David Lynch, who I had watched play online a few times as TheLyncha. At this point the pressure of just being at the top tables felt huge and David did his best to diffuse it and have some chill games. Nonstop shoutouts.
(Corp) Engineering the Future vs Leela
I don’t remeber much about this game apart from being totally mollywhopped. I rushed to three, then made a huge misplay by IAAing a GFI without thinking about Leela bounce while my opponent had a loaded Medium. However, by this point David was in complete control and I felt like i just needed to do something, anything to bring me closer to victory. He scores off RnD going to six, bounces the GFI before running through an Ichi to snipe it for the game a few turns later. Extremely clean Leela play from my opponent which makes me want to spend more time with the ID for sure.
(Runner) Andromeda vs. NEH
I see a Breaking News get scored from hand which makes me immediately suspect kill. Disregarding this completely because I am a totally dunce, I slam into two Explode-a-Paloozas which allows my opponent to land the Midseasons trace. I lucksack into three points in one turn when my opponent had the kill in hand, when I should have siphoned to at least live one more turn. Wins like this are gross but they will always happen in a high variance game like Netrunner. I feel like the drama that wins like this cause is a huge part of the appeal for me, and if I wanted something that was a 100% fair, 100% skill determined game I could just go play some abstract strategy game like Chess or something. Props to David for being a good sport about this, and I was really happy to play him in the cut afterwards.
—- Round 5 —-
My opponent was a player from Brisbane called Joshua Lomas, who ended up taking the SANSAN Circuit Finals the next day. This might end up sounding repetitive but I really can’t stress how much I appreciate people being friendly in tournament. Joshua was immediately very accommidating, and with myself being an intensely anxious person (like, diagnosed panic disorder) at times the kind of attitude that serves as a reminder that we were playing a game that was meant to be fun was a huge relief.
(Runner) Andromeda vs. Controlling the Message
Here’s how I approach the Andromeda/CTM matchup, in handy dot point form. I hear too many people complaining about CTM’s dominance, so I’m just gonna spew out a bunch of thoughts on the match up and how I think it should be played. I think this match favours Andromeda. I asked TheBigBoy who he thinks the match favours, and he thinks it’s Criminal too. I was playing a lot of CTM online, and I chose not to bring it because the Criminal match up is so miserable to play. I don’t think it’s 8/2 Criminal or anything like that, I mean it’s just a long, boring and grindy match that I didn’t want to have to play over and over. This is how we do it.
1 – Control.
Get the money lead and trash their shit. You have to be relentless with this – Sensie fires are what will allow CTM to gain mad tempo, if you can get money and control their shit for the beginning of the game you’ll be in a good position. A live Sensie is what’s going to allow those nasty turns of “Lol I’m gonna install three must-trash assets gl”. Sensies die on sight. Bankers groups die on sight, especially off the top of RnD. Pads can die too, when you’re ready. Siphon when you can. Be vigilant with Jacksons – they don’t live on the board for too long, and if you can afford it they get trashed from centrals. Draw is what will allow the CTM asset spam to spiral out of control. If you need to pay the whole trace to trash something on last click, do it. Try to stay out of Hard-Hitting News range, but if you can make the corp break themselves to land a Hard-Hitting News trace, the four tags are not game ending, even if they set up the nasty Hard-Hitting News/Breaking News fork. Of course, It’s better to avoid taking the Hard-Hitting News all together and focus on out moneying the corporation, even if it means you’re quite passive with central pressure. You can afford to be lazy with early central pressure.
2 – Lock the remote.
If you see something go behind a ice on a remote, you have to assume it’s a Breaking News which is just waiting to be fired off into an impactful Closed Accounts. I have played a lot of games as CTM where I’ve thrown an early Breaking News behind a cheap gearcheck, and left it on the board for many turns before finally firing it off for a game-changing Closed Accounts. If you have the chance to spend clicks drawing, do it, because you need to find your breakers asap to stop the SanSan’d/never advanced Breaking News from happening. If you see it coming and can’t avoid it, it might be worth dumping your money into breakers or whatever you can before the tag punishment happens. Planning for tag punishment can get you out of some tricky spots in this match – holding on to stuff like Dirty Laundries and maybe a Gamble and Temujin is a good way to recover from zero. It’s also a good way to obfuscate the amount of money you have on hand.
3 – U GOOD FAM
At this point your goal is to stay rich while still controlling board state. Hopefully you find some multi access. and at this point centrals should be extremely juicy as nobody has been scoring, so chill out and make a few runs. If everything has gone right by this point this match up feels genuinely awful to play as CTM, especially if your only tagging mechanisms are Breaking News and Hard-Hitting News.
4 – Sometimes you just gotta go tag-me
If you’ve just gotten hit with Hard-Hitting News, take a good long look at their ice spread and current amount of credits. Maybe landing a few siphons and going tag-me is a good idea. This is of course board-state dependent, but often the ice spread is going to suddenly turn into hot garbage now that you don’t care about tags and you can dig hard with Medium. Two Data Ravens on RnD suddenly become meaningless. I have won a lot of games against tag-punishment decks after this point, and it can really mess around with ice spreads and take Corp out of their comfort zone. Once again, this is very game state dependent, but if you can smell the win off RnD, sometimes you just have to go for it.
This is boring and extremely grindy, but this is how I usually try to play this match-up. Not very exciting, but if you find a money advantage, and keep pressing it while denying economy, there’s very little CTM can do. I think the move to more rushy builds is a thing we will see in the future, as one of the hardest things to do in this match up is establish remote lock before Corp gets their rocks off with a Breaking News play.
On to the actual game:
I trashed his assets and got money for a good fifteen turns or so. Eventually end up at five, by scoring off centrals, finding a naked Breaking News and blowing up a rush play. Eventually i saw a card go into the remote that I couldn’t access behind a Tollbooth I couldn’t get through. I had Yog.0 out with no sucker support, so I bounced off the Tollbooth which left Corp at two credits. The card in the remote was then double advanced which made me think it was going to be a Breaking News into three clicks of tag punishment (gross!). I dumped all my money into a Medium dig which won me the game, where Josh then revealed it was a GFI in the remote. I had controlled the game long enough that all of the important CTM pieces were in the bin leaving very few options for my opponent.
(Corp) Engineering the Future – MaxX DLR
People complain about DLR being non interactive, but I think the opposite is true. While it’s not “Traditional Netrunner” based on remote plays, there is a really interesting economic dance you have to play as corp and terrifying threats you have to respond to. How are you going to establish a remote when siphon locked? Are you going to be able to deal with trashing the DLR pieces without breaking yourself? Hard questions that demand tight play and foresight from the Corp player.
I owe this win again to a bunch of testing games I played online against Michael, the same player who worded me up about 49 card IG. I saw an early double Turing on HQ and an early Targeted Marketing which turned off Siphon. First Agenda I got on the table was a double advanced Vitruvius, which I was planning to use for emergency money or to just deny the winning agenda. My opponent sets up his board state, finds Paparazzi and starts to mill, but at this point the only ice I’ve had to rez is an Architect on RnD and a Turing on HQ. It’s rough and I nearly break myself by trashing the DLR pieces, but it’s worth it. I get a GFI out by defending it with a Vanilla and later I use a Vitruvius Counter to Tarmar again for DLR, knowing that siphons are not very appealing as I’m super poor and have a Crisium on HQ anyway. Eventually my opponent caves, drops a DLR, milling an ABT which I get back with Vitruvius for a Biotic win which I can now afford with all my Tarmar money. A super tight game where I had to pick my times to score, or die to DLR. My opponent was playing the US Nationals list verbatim, while my friend changed this list to include Paperclip and Rumor Mill, both extremely strong includes in this kind of deck.
— Round 6 —
Intentional Draw with previous National Champion, Jesse Marshall. I went and got a Burrito alone and decompressed talking to my friend Allison for a little bit. With me and my friend Rob making the cut, we were both praying we’d play each other just to have a relaxing game between friends at this point. Six rounds of Swiss felt like an eternity even with the intentional draws.
— Game 1 —
This first game was against reigning champion, Jesse Marshall. Terrifying.
(Runner) Andromeda vs Sync
I see an absolutely bonkers opening hand here – Networking, Career Fair, Temujin, Desperado, Datasucker, maybe even a Special Order and Yog.O. I see all my pieces early and start going to town, establishing a huge credit lead , setting up my breakers and running wild. Even though I’m in a pretty good position, I’m intensely nervous, missing triggers and forgetting to remove tag tokens after using Networking. I think once I even paid to break a subroutine with Yog.0. I see a Breaking News get scored out of hand twice, and I’m suddenly preparing myself for kill. Miles has said before that I’m an extremely careful runner, and thinking back on this game, the fact that I was playing around Snare! and TGBT totally confirms this. My memory is blurry but I definitely thought I was looking at a Prisec in the remote at one point. You never know.
I have to choose if I wanted to Femme the Data Raven on HQ or the one that’s bound to pop up on RnD. I choose HQ because it sets up two easy turns of Account Siphon, leaving my opponent in a dire financial position. I keep running around, get to absurd credits off Desperado and the cheap accesses I’m getting through a million sucker tokens, eventually bringing myself to five points with a loaded Turning Wheel and a Legwork in hand. I’m ready to dig RnD hard next turn for the probable win until I see a 24/7 off the top and everything falls apart.
My opponent’s next turn is 24/7 to resolve Breaking News, All-Seeing I, Closed Accounts, and I’m suddenly left scrambling for money. I’m still feeling okay as I’ve kept a contingency plan in hand – a Dirty Laundry, a Sure Gamble, and a Temujin Contract to get my back on my feet. The next few turns are a total scramble, and as I struggle to regain board state, Jesse scores a Breaking News off a SanSan to EoI bringing the score to 4-4. Oof. Sync comeback factor is insane. As I’m recovering and getting ready to threaten the remote for another few turns before the Legwork/Medium drop, the game goes to time and we tie.
I think 24/7 is a really amazing include in a tag punishment deck like this, and it was something I haven’t encountered before. There would have been no way that he could have snuck out a Breaking News to get the punishment off, and I think 24/7 is a great solution to this problem. Powerful stuff.
— Game 2 —
(Corp) Engineering The Future – Leela Patel: Trained Pragmatist
I was facing David Lynch again, with both of us happy to see a now familiar face in the cut. Now that he knew I was playing a rushy deck, he immediately Special Ordered for a Passport. Strange, but I think he wanted to set up potential Leela bounce plays to disrupt my scoring. My favourite play of the day – I Install-Advanced an ABT in the remote to play around Leela bounce, firing the ABT after I scored it. I hit no ice and another ABT. David bounced the Vanilla I had on archives to hand letting me install an Architect there. The Architect fire next turn let me slot the ABT into the remote as well as an Advanced Assembly Lines onto the board to bring myself to four. Sneaky. Jammy HB really has a lot of action off-turn, which I think can be incredibly powerful. During this game David installed a Temujin Contract pointed at RnD before asking for actions – it was a Jackson Howard in the remote, but an would have been so perfect! In this game I just went fast, going to six and installing a Chronos Project in the remote for the game before my opponent could find his Paperclip. It happens.
— Game 3 —
(Corp) Engineering The Future – Leela Patel: Trained Pragmatist
I mulligan a bad hand start the game pretty flooded – seeing two ABTs and Chronos Projects in the first ten cards or so. No matter, this is Jammy HB! I start slamming stuff into the remote and score an ABT in an awkward position, mainly to get the agenda out of my hand and also to establish to my opponent that I don’t care – I am completely willing to put an agenda in the remote while you can still get in there. I feel like when playing Jammy HB this is the kind of mind game you have to establish, to make the runner always want to check the remote. Leela bounce opens up archives and Andrew sees two Chronos Projects by spending Turning Wheel counters – great game sense and the perfect line of Leela play. I sneak out another ABT, fire it bleeding a few points, and eventually Biotic something else to bring myself to six. I’m praying at this point, because I have another Biotic and Lateral Growth in hand, but Andrew makes a difficult call and breaks himself to see two cards off RnD, knowing that my out is top decking an agenda at this point. Great game sense and super clean Leela play. He sees the winning agenda from the Turning Wheel dig and it’s Good Games, with me finally being relieved to be out of the tournament.
I went downstairs, necked a beer and hit a joint my friend Eric rolled. Magic. I knew Eric was a really Official Dude when he put on his bicycle helmet and sunglasses for that terrifying Poker player steez when I went to my first tournament. Eric told me while I was on tour with my stupid band stupid band that if I kept playing like I was I would make top 16, maybe even top 8 at Nationals and as a result I played like crazy on tour and kept it up when I got home. So, if you really want the secret to tournament success, disregard important aspects of your life and go on Jinteki.net for a good six to eight hours a day. Do it to the point where you go out and find it hard to relate to your non-gaming friends. Fall asleep and think about Andromeda hands. Wake your girlfriend up every second night by sleep-talking turns.
I play Netrunner because it’s a fun game that rewards analytical thinking, but it also allows for hilarious interactions between cards and hilarious interaction between players. I don’t think I ever want to play as much Netrunner as I have been lately ever again, as I’ve definitely been using it as a crutch to not deal with real and immediate life problems. I keep thinking about an old friend I knew from Fighting Games who was at the time the strongest Skullgirls player in Australia, arguably the world. He came over for some games of Street Fighter Alpha 2 (best street fighter?) and asked if I even wanted to get better at fighting games after a few matches of me getting bored and sandbagging. I thought about it for a second and answered – “Not really. The most important thing for me is to be able to play and like, speak the language, to have access to the kind of mindgames fighting games can offer you. I don’t really care too much about winning or getting better”. My friend looked emotionally distraught, like my attitude was a total affront to everything he believed in. Disregarding the long list of problems I have with the Fighting Game Community, after that day I felt Fighting Games were this scary rabbit hole and I worried about my friend for weeks. I stopped playing immediately. Getting good at a game only makes you good at said game. I play them because they’re fun and offer you this strange and rich way to communicate and connect with people. I’m so glad to have met the friends I have, both online and offline through this silly hacking game. Catch me playing jank for the next few months, smashing Mopus until I Vamp you to zero because it’s funny.