With the Scorched Earth of Store Championships behind us in the ashen wastes and the Symmetrical Visage of Nationals like a shining beacon only a month away, the UK’s bizarre tournament schedule continues apace with Regionals – and this week Manchester. Timo played a bait and switch by pretending he was going to drive and then claiming his car was in for a service this weekend and making me drive instead. With four other Team Chimera players taking Pete’s Beach Party Fun Bus, I fired up the Cruise Beast and we hit the somewhat fragrant Fan Boy 3.
It was going to be a tough day. Lured there by promises of Goodie Bags (not appearing in this film) and getting a dedicated table front of house and not having to suffer the authentic representation of a Bangkok sweat shop that is the rear of the store, 12 (count them) Store Champions had rocked up along with the National Champion and other known names from the Netrunner circuit. While the rest of the team headed in for the first round of Swiss (7 in total and then top 8 cut), Dylan and I relaxed in the Executive Lounge with the rest of the Champions. The champagne ran dry quickly but we slummed it with a ’93 Château Lafite, which was passable.
I was packing HB: ETF with a splash for Power Shutdown – no one seems to be playing it these days and I thought it might do some work alongside Aggressive Secretary to create scoring windows and / or make people slightly more nervous about running. I also had 3x Blue and Green Level, because I struggle to draw enough as Corp and these would force me into it. For Runner I went Pre-Paid Kate in the end. I’d dallied with Leela for a while but I’ve not had the practice and some OCTGN the night before showed I wasn’t up to taking it to a big tournament. I’d dearly love to go Noise again, but with so much RP about I wasn’t confident in that either.
Round 1: Super Bye
W-2 L-0 (4 prestige)
Round 2: With the super bye in the bag for a bunch of Champs, it was obvious some of us would have to play each other. Just my luck I got Neil from Birmingham, who’s a great player and the person I had to face first round in Nationals the year previously.
[Runner] I was facing RP and got in early for some points despite being a bit short of economy, eventually building up to six, but then things slowed and I couldn’t find that last agenda or enough money to steal the ones that showed up.
[Corp] PPD Kate was the return journey and I was getting off to a good start. Then I made an error. I was bluffing that there was nothing in HQ by keeping it lightly defended and I had a rezzed Jackson on the table, but in fact I had four agendas in hand. The sensible play would be to overdraw and ditch some agendas, then Jackson them away as necessary, but I got greedy. I’d played an Adonis in a remote hoping to lure a run, but on his side of the table Neil assumed that was an Ash and it was his last chance to check HQ quick, so a Legwork claimed a lot of points and I was kicking myself for being a jackass in my first game. Ultimately he took the win.
W-2 L-2 (4 prestige)
Round 3: Stephen with a “p” from the Huddersfield Posse, another Store Champion. He’d brought Leela and Blue Sun.
[Corp] Leela can be quite tricky to play around with her ability but I’ve had some practice with Timo and so have a fair idea what I’m doing. I’d scored up to four points, but Stephen had got his act together and was starting to get in places, picking up one agenda. I tried to lure him into a double-advanced Agg Sec, but he was going R&DI crazy and I needed to make a move. Trashed the Agg Sec, stuck down Hades Shard, double advance. Poker face. After some prep work he goes for the remote – I stare down at the table and play it straight, he dutifully breaks everything, I don’t rez the last ICE and when I see he’s watching my expression with my peripheral vision I give a little smirk before looking up straight-faced and asking if he was to access. Stephen thinks for the longest time, but ultimately thinks he’s lost the game if he loses his rig and jacks out. I score the 5/3 and win. Now that’s a real Psi game, and proper Netrunner right there.
[Runner] I can’t really remember the return trip, except it was another close one. I got suckered into a double advanced Agg Sec after getting through an Archer, so it became clear neither of us could be trusted. Stephen went on to win although it was never cut and dried.
W-3 L-3 (6 prestige)
Round 4: Matt with the day-glo playmat. Matt had brought Valencia and Titan. Valencia was probably bad for me, Titan I was more keen on. There’s been a move in some quarters to remove Plascrete, but I felt happy I’d left mine in. Last time I went to Manchester I went without and got burned out of double elim.
[Corp] I start strong – risking the expensive rezzing of a Tollbooth on R&D to crimp the early turns of the runner and Biotic out an ABT which nets a Changeling and Tollbooth – both go straight into building a scoring remote. From there with R&D and a safe place to score locked out early, I don’t even paused for breath and push through two more agendas for the win while Matt is still digging for economy and getting set up.
[Runner] I’d got the Plascrete down for safety and them started running havoc. I don’t think Matt’s heart was in it by this point, but regardless with Shaper and no real punishing ICE, I could get in wherever I wanted and it was a matter of time before I scored the points. We discussed after an both agreed that Weyland is still lacking decent in-faction ICE, especially something that’s a cost like Tollbooth – there’s Archer, but it’s so easy to play round these days and costs you an agenda. As much as I’d like to go back to Weyland, it still annoys me that you have to use precious influence to get some decent ICE. Blue Sun has options, but that’s normally because you can use the ICE in a fire and forget way, taking the money back when the defence is no use any longer.
W-5 L-3 (10 prestige)
Round 5: Ben who’s going all left field with Iain Stirling and Industrial Genomics. Also, sporting a new hair cut. I think he’d possibly won an SC also, certainly I’ve seen him in double elim before now.
[Corp] Not sure what the play was here, but I was half expecting to see Sage at some point. I was a bit wobbly at first, but seeing Garrotte turn up gave me an option and I lured him into an Agg Sec to kill it. With that expensive bad boy out of the way I could start forging the win, laying down taxing ICE and drawing up. Ben was swimming in money, but struggling to find a way in, having to use Overmind but burning counters like crazy just to look at one card from R&D. I closed out the win, but it took what seemed like an excessively long time.
[Runner] Again, wasn’t sure what to do with IG, but played it fairly aggressively. I got hold of my Deus Ex and some Clone Chips and made sure to check most things. There were a couple of Shock in Archives, but I hit it every time it got to 4-5 face down cards to ensure I could still trash things and nothing got too ridiculous, although I did have to pay 4 creds for a Snare at one point. Ben was aiming for the Punitive win, but had miscalculated the number of Agendas he was cycling through and I repeatedly hit Shocks until I won the Psi game for a Future Perfect and the win.
W-7 L-3 (14 prestige)
Round 6: Alex, yet another Champ and another excellent player. Alex recently got in the top cut at the Stimhack Store Champion Invitational and probably under-rates himself. I wasn’t optimistic against Valencia and RP always comes down to seeing agendas and winning Psi games.
[Corp] I wasn’t doing too bad coming out of the blocks and scored four points early. Valencia then started gaining traction and my credits and ICE began disappearing. With most of Alex’s resources in the bin I figured if I could hold on I might yet get the victory – but as per the last time we met (Birmingham SC when he went through MaxX’s deck twice) I just couldn’t quite manage it. The agendas have to be somewhere and in a long game it’s increasingly obvious where that might be!
[Runner] I’ll be honest and say I can’t really remember this – all my RP games blur into one. If I had to guess I’d say I got four or five points, but couldn’t get the last agenda to win. Alex knows what he’s doing and RP is solid. This may have been a game where I didn’t see any multi-access cards. I remember thinking a couple of times throughout the day that this was the thing the really made the difference – either that or there were Crisium Grids everywhere in other cases. Mutli-access is king.
W-7 L-5 (14 prestige)
Round 7: Adam “Agent 7” – somehow I misheard his name as Tanum on the day – and on reflection we’ve played each other before, so I probably came across as a buffoon, but its Round 7 of Swiss and everyone is losing their shizzle. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Wiser heads than mine reckoned it’d probably be 20 prestige for top 8, maybe 18 if you were lucky so I was still hoping for a double win to be in with a chance. Adam was playing Exile and Blue Sun.
[Corp] Adam was rocking the Exile Cache / Workshop combo deck and while he merrily cycled through cards and generated cash, picking an NAPD and Vitruvius along the way, I worked on building up resources and squeezing out a couple of agendas of my own. The game then started to drag – Adam had used Medium to good effect but then I’d loaded up R&D with multiple barriers including NEXT and Eli so multiple runs with Cerberus become untenable. He switched to Nerve Agent, but I kept my hand clear and taxed him there too, before he switched up to keep checking the scoring remote. Eventually Adam was telling me to just win as I was on six points, but regrettably I was only drawing 5/3 agendas and if I messed it up he’d snatch the victory. Finally I got a remote with Tollbooth and surprise NEXT Gold and played the winning agenda. Timing it right and D4v1d being not good enough in this case, he didn’t have enough credits to both save all his programs and pay the Tollbooth tax so I could push out the win.
[Runner] This left us 13 minutes to play the reverse side – a long day meant 55 minute rounds and we’d burned most of that already. Flinging our others decks to one side and whipping out the next set we launched into it with a mulligan feeling like a wasteful use of precious seconds, but Adam declared there was no way he could keep his opening hand. No complaints here. He ended up OAI a Fire Wall as his best option (I’m not so sure), so I SMC’d the D4v1d and got to work. Second turn he drew aggressively and played a face down card but no HQ ICE. I cashed up, hit HQ for a 5/3 and with Adam glancing down at the spare card occasionally figured it had to be something juicy. Turns out it was a Government Takeover and the win. Boom. Apparently it was a 1-in-5 to get the other Agenda from HQ, but you play those big agendas in your deck and you’ve got to expect them to get pulled from time to time – Punatives in hand are not!
W-9 L-5 (18 prestige)
Time for the double elimination. Timo from our team had smashed the Swiss on 24 prestige, Andy H was on 21 prestige and then eight people were on 20 – meaning two wouldn’t get top 8. Harsh. That put Dylan and I in the top 16 but not quite good enough for the big boy’s table. Good day out – I could have done better in a couple of games, a couple more were close, one or two I didn’t really get a look in. Starting the field with the Bye was good, but then it means you’re playing all the hard core players straight out of the gate. Such is the point of Swiss however!
Timo had been getting all giddy fanboi about our National Champ Dave Hoyland being there – as he was playing roughly the same decks. Oh how we joked about how he’d have to play him and then teach the Champ how to play his own decks for the Lolz. During Swiss they’d met a split – Timo was like a puppy with a new chew toy and thoroughly excited bless him. They then met again first round of double elim and Timo managed to beat Dave with Leela – he was going to get Dave to sign his ID but the champ was out in the following round and thus we didn’t get chance! Bless.
Great fun day at Fanboy 3. Store champions got free entry on the day if they used their bye, which was cool and also a dedicated table at the front of house so we didn’t have to suffer the sweat shop in the back. We were promised goodie bags too, but these never materialised. Given the other bonuses I can’t really complain, but still feel if you offer support it should be provided – alternatively don’t advertise it. That aside though, another well-run event and great to see lots of new and old faces there; from teasing our National Champion, to catching up with Todd who only gets to play on OCTGN as he lives in the middle of nowhere, and all the folk from Netrunners.co.uk, other stores and the rest, we’ve got a great community building here in the UK.
Next stop Sheffield Regionals, and the strength of field there doesn’t look any less intimidating.
Top three for IDs I would say was (Corp) Replicating Perfection, HB Ending The Fun, Blue Sun and (Runner) Pre-Paid Kate, Leela, Valencia – although a Noise / NEH made it to third place, so who knows! 😉