Last Store Championship of the season for me (I think), and so time for a jolly to Huddersfield – The Land of Speed Cameras. I thought about taking two completely new decks, but bottled it and just took one, an Edward Kim made more or less on the spur of the moment. Aside from that I took Foundry again, although after getting lots of Hot MaxX Action the previous week I took out NEXT Ice and played Architects and Wall of Static to keep my defences more robust against Parasite.
Huddersfield is a curious place, lots of great old sandstone buildings interspersed with grotty bits. Your usual high street chains liberally distributed – but with side streets holding excellent independent coffee shops and such like. The IQ Games Centre takes advantage of architecture in a large, spacious building with good sized tables covered in clean table cloths and other good, roomy facilities. We played upstairs, holding 19 players more than easily, with lots of natural light and the only pointer to visitors being perhaps bring a jumper – as the consequence of a massive space and original sash windows is a drop in temperature. Being from the North West originally I was fine, but you know, other people might struggle…
Round 1: Todd – a relatively new player who lives out in the wilds so plays most of his games via OCTGN. He was packing Argus and Andromeda.
[Runner] The Argus was one of cheap ETR Ice, but that wasn’t going to cut it against a swift set up from me, including a Corroder in hand to steal an early rush attempt on an Atlas. With a full breaker suite up early Todd struggled for answers and I kept the pressure on, running early to then be able to shirk Data Raven and scoring tags.
[Corp] In a similar start to the previous game Todd had an early Corroder and used it to attack – he was the first of many this day to say “This is where I find out it’s an Aggressive Secretary” before hitting an Aggressive Secretary. He couldn’t get back up to speed with the key breaker gone and Wall of Static and Eli 1.0 everywhere, so I managed to close out a comfortable win in the end thanks to Agatha. Criminals can do well with early pressure – but killing their programs really hurts them.
Always good to see new players coming out of the woodwork and making into meatspace. I regaled him with tales of Armoured Fridge and other old man stories of “back in the day”.
W-2 L-0 (4 prestige)
Round 2: Ben, one of two brothers I was pitted against, using the despicable NEH and Leela.
[Corp] Leela is getting more and more popular, and is a bit of a problem for my deck. I get loads of Ice anyway (as long as I start with some, and get to rez it), so an ID that chucks more back in my hand really limits my options. That wasn’t too much of a problem this game though, with a mulligan showing me 4 agendas, Wormhole and Peak Efficiency. First click draw, Agenda. Initially Ben hit R&D after plucking out an interface, so I managed to sneak out the odd agenda naked, but that just returned any ice I got to my hand and defeat was inevitable.
[Runner] I face down my bitter foe, but this time armed with a new Runner. Kim can kill Biotic and Fast Track dead and I’ve packed the deck full of burst economy. First turn I cash up and grab an early NAPD. Ben tries to sneak an Astro behind a Wraparound, but I’ve got Corroder in hand and nail it, scoring another from centrals. I avoid the Snares in HQ, but I’ve Had Worse anyway (goes unused). From this point I only need to hit one more agenda so I keep knocking on the door until the winner shows up. Huzzah.
Both games took all of ten minutes so I went for an early lunch to kill best part of an hour!
W-3 L-1 (6 prestige)
Round 3: The Other Gary packing Replicating Perfection
[Runner] I’ve not got a bad match up against RP really, but Gary’s legendary “magic fingers” prove too much. I think we did net damage versus I’ve Had Worse incorrectly at least once losing a key corroder, but then even when we were on-message he managed to get rid of Mimic and some key Parasites. I pushed on regardless against the Grail, but I couldn’t find my tutoring to get the necessary breakers or indeed draw them despite going through most of my deck. G-Unit wins, I resolve to find a way of getting more card draw in the deck – good learning experience.
[Corp] I’m agenda flooded and things don’t go well from there. I stabilise somewhat but then I get Legworked with three agendas in a four card hand. Gazatollah plucks all three, but thankfully can’t pay for all of the NAPDs so only scores four points. I keep battling on but it’s no use. Putting an extra piece of ICE in the deck appears not to have helped…
We’ve finished quite quickly, so I head off to one of the couple of independent coffee shops down the road and have a read of my Kindle for half an hour in an armchair with a massive latte and piece of Millionaire’s shortbread the size of Nebraska. Very civilised.
W-3 L-3 (6 prestige)
Round 4: Sam, Ben’s younger brother stinging from fraternal beatings and looking hungrily for a win. NBN and stealth Chaos Theory.
[Runner] Sam elects to corp first, and I launch myself against his NBN hitting an early Checkpoint – but I’ve got my I’ve Had Worse so I persist in going in and getting free cards for my troubles. I snatch the odd agenda and kill a SanSan, but there’s another turns up and fast advance is proving to fast for me to keep up with, now needing to draw cards for protection and also to use for economy. Perhaps went too aggressive too early and ultimately I’m outpaced.
[Corp] I manage to lure Sam into eating an early Aggressive Secretary and ponder killing Switchblade or Refractor. As no code gate breaker would keep him out of several servers, whereas he can click through most of my sentries I kill the latter – against my better judgement. Switchblade is more expensive and costs influence so is less likely to have a replacement in deck. My choice is confirmed as poor when Sam drops another Refractor from hand next turn. I struggle on and bait runs into remotes with asset economy to try and burn up Ghost Runner and other resources, but the hardware is starting to appear and I’m struggling to keep my head above water. I manage to catch Sam with a Wormhole he can’t afford to break and again make what turns out to be a bad choice – I could copy a trash program and kill a key breaker – but then Sam will be in and two of my three cards in hand would be a winning agenda for him. So I pick End the Run. As it happens when he cashes up and comes in HQ (now suspecting something must be there) he misses the agendas anyway. Killing switchblade there might have save it for me, but after that I’m done for – I could have maybe used a scored ABT to risk getting some ice, but there were only 3-4 pieces left in R&D – but thinking about it I was doomed anyway and should have taken the gamble. The game certainly wouldn’t have ended up any worse!
W-3 L-5 (6 prestige)
Round 5: Dean who was not feeling the tournament by this point, playing Tennin and Andromeda.
[Runner] Dean gets cracking building some severs, but I’ve got all my breakers early and Parasite HQ defences to death so he has to spend half the game on no cards in HQ, as any that stay there I go and get. Dean is not happy with his deck today, and I close out the win as quickly as I can thereafter.
[Corp] Andromeda is packing all the big breakers and once she’s up and running with economy to boot I’m starting to get a bit twitchy. I’ve got plenty of Ice and not too bad for cash, but I can’t keep pace with Kati / Oracle May / Tri Maf. Fortunately there’s time to sucker in one more run on Agatha and Dean loses his Morning Star so I can close out the scoring while Dean searches in vain for his R&D interfaces and plays Aurora for comedy value. He was a bit unlucky here, in that I was bluffing waiting for an agenda to turn up so I could score it, when in fact I had all the agendas and was waiting for the Fast Advance cards.
W-5 L-5 (10 prestige)
I reckoned this wasn’t quite enough to get top 8 – although maybe some mathematically anomaly might get me through. It wasn’t to be however and I placed tenth – exactly half way out of nineteen players and with five win and losses, that seemed entirely reasonable.
My meta call of not using NEXT Ice didn’t really come off here, as there was little to no MaxX and the suite is more taxing for your blue and green decks. Cj from York was playing a more classic version of the deck and get grand success. Just goes to show that you can’t take lessons learned from one tournament to another necessarily. It has me concerned that at a big event like Nationals where you can’t afford to lose games really, a lot will come down to how lucky you are on match ups along with all the other factors normally affecting play!
Edward Kim was quite good – although a couple of times I struggled to find the last piece of the puzzle, or a bad bit of net damage or something would set me that little bit outside the winning position. There’s the core of a decent deck there though. I might try some Earthrise or other tweaks and see what shakes out. Also beat NEH. Well pleased. 🙂
Good day out at IQ Games Centre as always – they have a really good (if a bit nippy) space and the staff are always happy helpful. In a good improvement from last year when I was there, they’d started using computer software to help with pairing so that was a lot quicker. This was especially helpful when there was confusion over Garys and drunken bums turned up hungover to join in after the first round had started.
On to Regionals next I believe. With any luck there’ll be some other warm up events to check out new deck construction. If you’re not sick of hearing about Foundry by now, I’m getting get up of writing about it… 😉