The UK Nationals is held at UK Games Expo, a great weekend out if you like your geekery, and going from strength to strength – expanding beyond the Hilton Metropole next year and expecting 10-15k attendees. The Netrunner event was held in a marquee, and had sold out with 170 tickets plus Regional byes – and could have sold more had space not been limited by Expo itself.
Expo wanted the space back for open gaming by 7pm, so the organisers had to aim for a 9am start, although as always these things slip, and of course there were some people that didn’t turn up, but within an hour we were underway. 8 rounds of Swiss has become 7 rounds due to time pressure, and then it’s a top 16 cut. [Addendum – I’ve been informed there was no guidance given on number of rounds and the 7pm hard limit didn’t happen on the day, so the call on number of rounds was TO fiat]
For a short write up on decks and the lists follow the linkage:
I played another six round tournament the day after this, so my game memory may be somewhat lacking…
Round 1: My first opponent, Mike, had brought the decks I expected to see most – Kate and RP.
[Runner] I resolved to go early on the offensive as RP is impenetrable late game. I piled on the Account Siphons and checked everything and Mike just couldn’t get any money together to keep me out.
[Corp] Good start with Weyland, scoring four points fairly quickly and then the assets ran out. I kept digging for more and sprung an Aggressive Secretary at one point I think, but could get to more to score out without them getting sniped. I think I ended on six points in the end but late game Kate got the win.
W-1 L-1 (2 prestige)
Round 2: I’m feeling okay about things, a first round split puts me mid pack and not necessarily playing the top dogs just yet. Nick has brought NBN and the ubiquitous Kate.
[Runner] I don’t see an Account Siphon to keep him poor and don’t go full throttle because I’m half expecting a Butcher’s Shop type deck. Nick just chains out the Astros and wins while I look on sorrowfully.
[Corp] Kate is building and I’m scoring some points, but sense that the other win condition is in the air. Nick gets comfy with his breaker suite and making lots of runs, until I have a word with the boys in the “Gas Leak” department and put an end to the game. A Shattered Remains or two in my deck and I reckon more games would have ended this way.
W-2 L-2 (4 prestige)
Round 3: Two split games now and while not disastrous, it’s not looking amazing for top 16. Most people are saying 10-4 could get you through, but we’re all feeling 11-3 as the necessary. Stephen is playing Leela and despicable NEH.
[Corp] We’ve played each other before in the Manchester Regional and Stephen is still rueing the day he jacked out of a server fearing a trap instead of going for the agenda that was actually there. I play on this unmercifully and make no decisions easy even getting him to eat a Snare before closing out the win.
[Runner] I’ve made a note or two about this game, but can’t even read my own handwriting. The keyword seems to be “Legwork” though. I think this was a Butcher Shop variant and so I had to play canny without any Plascrete, but ultimately scored the win.
W-4 L-2 (8 prestige)
Round 4: Luke is packing NEXT and Kate. I’m interested in how the corp side fairs as I’d used Foundry for ages and thought that superior to the NEXT ID.
[Runner] Although saying his ID had let him down the first three rounds, it helped him this time and he scored three ICE before taking his mandatory draw. The trouble with having all the ICE though, is you’ve got a lot of expense if you want to rez it all. If I recall correctly, I could keep hitting the Account Siphons and managed to score at least one 5/3 before going on to claim victory.
[Corp] Luke’s gone for Baby Pro Co (Symmetrical Visage) and I go for a risky strategy of SEA Source to land a tag and kill the baby. This turns into multiple infanticide as I’m forced to kill more throughout the game… The risk turns out to be very risky as leaving R&D open means I give up four points from the top and start to feel worried. Thankfully I recover and due to messing with his economy I stretch ahead and score out for the win.
W-6 L-2 (12 prestige)
Round 5: The infamous Ian Reid I’ve heard so much about – a man of no mean reputation down south, so I need to get my game face on. He’s packing a Blue Sun and Andromeda.
[Runner] Ian is cashing up and has moderate defences, but I’m not doing bad for money either and dive in for a 5/3 and consider myself lucky. Them realise that it’s not just Scorched I have to worry about because Punitive is on the table too. Fortunately with my one link I avoid the double hit and live to fight on. Card up and score another 5/3 and see Scorched in hand making things worrying. Fortunately I hit the Government Takeover next and win with 12 Agenda points.
[Corp] Ian was giving me much breathing room, but I was doing a reasonable job of shutting him down. I was only seeing the big ice though and really needed some mid level stuff to keep him out and allow me to build up without having to keep rezzing Curtain Wall. I left HQ open too often as a bluff and he plucked both agendas there over successive turns – and I’d forgotten an already scored Atlas giving away the win when more sensible play and patience would have served me a lot better.
W-7 L-3 (14 prestige)
Round 6: Ian and I both discuss how realistically its double wins in both of our next games or we’re hoping to scrape in with maybe one more game loss. Dan is up next with RP and Valencia.
[Runner] I remember both of these games being extremely hard fought, and this one in particular being winnable if one of my Account Siphons had shown up (two were literally the bottom two cards of my deck). In the end the game went the usual way – despite my constant pressure I was stuck on two agendas for ages and couldn’t get the last one before Dan won out.
[Corp] This game was even more stressful and bitterly contested. Blackmail was a constant threat and my Weyland bleeds Bad Publicity like a stuck pig. One Elizabeth Mills wasn’t going to cut it. The fierce battle went down to the wire – at one point I was virtually decked out and had to Jackson so that I had an R&D and didn’t lose by default. I think the final play was a Wanton Destruction to take two cards out of hand then hit Archives (or maybe it was Utopia Shard?). I had two agendas in a hand of four cards – so a 25% chance of winning if Dan missed – but unfortunately he sniped one of them and got in for the win on his last turn of the game. Well play and hard fought, but this ultimately put me out of the top cut for sure.
W-7 L-5 (14 prestige)
Round 7: Mike from the Emerald Isle. Mike organises a lot of the tournaments in his part of the world apparently and had made his decks on the flight over having had a brainwave. This attributed to him being down with me for the final game apparently! HB Ending the Fun and Andromeda. I can’t really remember which of these games I won, so apologies to Mike if I’ve got this wrong – but spoiler alert – we split the round.
[Runner] I’d imagined based on Store Champs and Regionals NEXT ICE wouldn’t be as widely used, but apparently Mike didn’t get the memo. As a results I was effectively taxed out, but did score two 5/3’s and maybe an ABT to win – more likely I think this was a loss because I couldn’t find the last agenda?
[Corp] I seem to remember this was more likely the one I achieved victory, because the play I sort of recall is killing Refractor with Nebula and/or Aggressive Secretary. As all the ICE I was seeing was Lotus Field, Checkpoint, Datapike etc. on Codegate breaker effectively locked the runner out while I could score with impunity.
W-8 L-6 (16 prestige)
Final placing: 47 / 153
I hung around and watched some of the top 16, and have to admit with all the people watching and whispering to each other, the fading light outside, beers flowing and cameras keeping a beady NBN eye on proceedings, there was a real electric atmosphere about them. Lord knows what it was like for the players as every move is scrutinised and forgotten token or credit pointed out without pause.
Alex (vinegary mink) is ultimately victorious, but I get that news via social media have retired by the time it got to top 4. Fair play to everyone in the cut for keeping going – I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open just watching, never mind playing!
Excellent atmosphere and well run for the most part, all my opponents were civil and mostly friendly and very competitive. The only rough spots were some mis-pairings in the second round which needs some thought about how to avoid next time, and I believe one particularly salty and surly player had to be asked to leave, but that aside everything went swimmingly.
Looking forward to all the fan-created tournaments the UK is mobilizing in order to keep competitive play alive after the Nationals are (for us) already over. Maybe I should crowd-fund a trip for myself over to worlds? My card art reviews are that good right? Right? Oh…
Who knows. I may even have a trip over anyway.