I did Belgium, why not Nordics? I like the Northern Europeans as a whole and this was a good opportunity to make an extended weekend of it in Copenhagen and have a good break. Flights with SAS were cheap enough and decent, I picked a good hotel and worked out trains, and all was well with the world.
After a day to myself exploring on Friday, I with the rest of Team GB convened upon Ballerup for the Nordic Netrunner Championship. It wasn’t long before we were in the swing of things. Between us (five players) and the Scots (four players if you include their native Norwegian), we made up 14% of the field (63 players). I don’t know what the Scots had their own code and not counted as part of the UK, but obviously someone didn’t get the memo about the referendum. Six rounds of Swiss, then cut to Top 8 for Double Elimination the following day. Rumours are with German Nationals being a closed event and people disgruntled we may see some of our Teutonic cousins.
Round 1: Hannes (Sweden) playing HB ETF and Net-Ready Valencia
[Runner] My first Runner game was fairly comfortable, as Noise happily milled away incidentally and I poked around for agendas. The old problem against more glacier builds was not being able to get into a server when you needed to, but Faust has really helped with that now, in combination with Parasite and D4v1d, you can always look somewhere if you really want to. As this was the first game in a long weekend, you’ll have to forgive my lack of detail…
[Corp] Valencia was potentially going to be an issue as the rush HB deck wants to push some agendas out the old-fashioned way and often Blackmail stops this happening. I could occasionally Fast Advance something and used Adonis and other things to bluff and get the Blackmail spent which helped. I’m hazy on the details, but I think the Runner managed to lose his Net Ready Eyes at one point, but regardless, I did enough early damage to put me within the match point, and by keeping enough upgrades hanging round to stop Medium and other big threats I could be patient and score out with Biotic and such as needed.
W-2 L-0 (4 prestige)
Round 2: Viktor (Sweden) was rocking Headlock Reina and core Weyland.
[Runner] I suspected Scorch (as you do) but didn’t have real protection from that threat. I was unlikely to out-money Weyland and with the burst economy of BABW I could never be sure if I was safe even if I did credit-up. As a result the only thing to do was be aggressive. Viktor was pushing out agendas fast so there was a suspicion he might just be trying to win old fashioned style. I hit a Scorched in HQ and Imped that bad boy and started running havoc on centrals. Viktor was applying loads of pressure with his agenda scoring, but slapping down Faust and D4v1d I got into a remote with Caprice and Oaktown and won the Psi game to stop the Corp in its tracks. From that point on I kept recurring the Imps and keep Viktor’s hand empty and scored out the win.
[Corp] One of those times you think “Oh I’ll risk it” and you draw an Agenda and realise you should have Mulliganed. I’ve got hastily scribbled notes about an NAPD in hand and three of something else, so I imagine I got myself flooded. I managed to score some points, and the HB deck is fairly good at recovering money even when Vamped or Siphoned, but I couldn’t do enough to hold back the tide. My only loss with the Corp all weekend – well played Viktor.
W-3 L-1 (6 prestige)
Round 3: Even (Norway / Scotland) the Norwegian living in Edinburgh had brought despised NEH Astrobananas and Whizzard too.
[Runner] I had a decent start but even so, NEH did its thing and Even scored a Beale from behind a solitary piece of ICE and was slapping down remotes. He was saving up a Breaking News to try and capture Aesops but I grabbed that from hand. A single Architect on HQ was a pain, but it was just a matter of continually applying pressure and getting those Imps in action destroying SanSan and other juicy targets – Even couldn’t get a window to score and I was delighted to beat NEH. Hate the deck, not the player.
[Corp] I’m not sure what the plan was with Whizzard, as I didn’t hang about to find out. Quickly I got the remote set up and started pushing things out, Even couldn’t find the economy to deal with breaking in and all the defensive Upgrades and we quickly got to a point where we were battling over an NAPD in a remote for several turns – however while the Runner was getting poorer and not developing board state, I was getting more options every turn. Eventually Even took the NAPD, but that just gave me the opportunity to follow it up with the winning agenda. Having started the game by saying “May the best Nordic win”, I can only assume Even has been in Scotland too long and become naturalised. 😉
W-5 L-1 (10 prestige)
Round 4: Marius (Norway) was playing so-called Janky decks in his estimation. Leela and a spiky RP.
[Corp] Criminal are definitely the underdogs in the current environment, although Leela has the potential to do well if she can score an early agenda. Being well aware of this and having played against Timo in Nottingham many times, I’m fairly comfortable with how to defend against her. There were the usual tricks with Inside Job, Gang Sign, Sneakdoor etc. but I got everything double ICE’d and bated out some remote runs with my various Upgrades and Assets. With nothing to stop fast advance either I could leverage Biotic to score with impunity when I saw them. I feel for Criminal at the minute. They need some burst money making option or something. I don’t know. Answers on a post card.
[Runner] I have a good record against RP with my Noise, but this deck soon turned out to be more spiky than most builds. Even so I had killed Tsurugi with Parasite and feeling okay about things, then I made a clinical school boy error and ran an un-rezzed ICE without Clone Chip on the board. Komainu results in me losing all my Fausts and two Déjà vu. With other loses to Snare and some other things, I found no way to get back my key breaker and Lotus field could shut me out of servers. In a last ditch attempt for glory I grabbed 5 points out of Archives, but it was not enough for a win. Well played by my opponent, but entirely my own fault that I didn’t do better.
W-6 L-2 (12 prestige)
Round 5: Jakob (Denmark) was playing HB and Aesop’s Kate.
[Runner] I played a lot of Foundry in the Store Championships and tried a variety of ICE suites. The two main ones both suffer to Parasite (NEXT or Grail) and in an Anarch-heavy meta this is a strong flaw. Really good against Kate for taxing dog counters, not so good against Parasite, Jakob managed an early defence of HQ and R&D with silvers, but as soon as my virus turned up I could eat through his defences and start applying pressure. He dug for more ICE, but I was milling some and starting to build up on Datasucker tokens and had my breakers ready to go, closing out the win.
[Corp] There was popularity for Cache/Aesops style Kate at the Nordics, but I think possibly pre-paid is better. Nevertheless, Jakob had all the usual good stuff in in terms of breakers and ways to find them, with plenty of money. I think I managed to get away with my speed though. Most people expect a more glacier style and/or look to stop fast advance, but the rush deck just cracks on with the scoring and so it was here.
W-8 L-2 (16 prestige)
Round 6: Hendrick (Germany) was maximum punk rocking MaxX and RP.
[Corp] MaxX is always a worry. Is it Account Siphon? Eater / Keyhole? Faust? RegAss? All of the above? I’d drawn a Chronos Project in my opening hand, but just hung on to it for dear life, while I gamely protected as many things as possible, spreading ICE and Upgrades around and pushing through expensive to steal NAPDs and things as they arrived. Finally I saw my chance and scored out the CP to take two thirds of the Runner’s deck and severely hamper his game. I hadn’t realised at the time, but I also removed any way of Hendrick getting his Levy back and so a few turns later when MaxX’s ability trashed it from his stack, it was effectively game over.
[Runner] As I’ve said before, RP isn’t a bad match up in general, but I struggled this time. Hendrick slapped down two Sundews straight away and I elected not to kill them as it would have bankrupted me and I had no money or cheap things in hand. Regrettably he then played another the next turn and I was behind the curve severely, digging for Aesops and Cache. Enhanced Login Protocol had been showing up a lot on the continent and it reared its head here too. It not a nice combination with Wyldside… but I’d not seen it in so long I had taken out my Hacktavist that would normally deal with it (and also punish RP more). I gamely carried on, but with all the money and a Caprice-stuffed remote I couldn’t stop him winning – the scored Hades Fragment being the final nail in the coffin.
W-9 L-3 (18 prestige)
End Day One
After the Swiss I was nervous as you tend to be, as someone was saying it was 20 points to make the top 8, which seemed high, but in the end it was 17 needed – with Sam from the UK squeaking in on a timed win and lots of people on 16 points (that can sometimes get a spot) being disappointed. John, also from Team GB made it in at seventh place and I was a comfortable third place.
The double elimination wasn’t until the next day, so we got together with one or two others and drank some beers and played One Night Werewolf. “Just one more game” everyone said and it was the wee hours when I managed to head off back to my hotel and get some shut-eye ready for the finals on Sunday.
Battle lines were drawn. Two Danes were in the final, and faced each other first match. I was paired against Hendrick, one of my toughest opponents from the previous day and facing a tough decision. As higher seed I could select which side to play. Normally I’d go for Noise versus RP every time, but I’d lost to it the previous day and it was undefeated in Swiss. The alternative was HB against MaxX – a MaxX ready for Chronos Project and maybe seeing the Account Siphon or Wanton Destruction earlier.
DE Round 1: Noise versus RP. I had asked Team GB what they thought, but they were mostly uncommitted – understandably – I’m about to play in the finals. Who wants to be responsible for giving me advice on the “wrong” deck type!? I went with my gut – I know this is a decent match up and I had something to prove to myself after the defeat in Swiss. Hendrick starts in a similar fashion, with Sundew and this time I kill it. Play a Datasucker and mill a Future Perfect off the top of R&D but don’t win the Psi game. Over the next couple of turns I keep poking it and betting zero credits to take money off the Corp, before eventually winning the agenda. I mill an NAPD at one point, but it can stay there, I’ve got time.
A surprise Crick over HQ catches me off guard and the Sundew is back in play. The Corp Celebrity Gifts revealing Nisei Division in hand and some ICE and now has the credits to back it up. New Noise can get in anywhere is he wants to though and I hit HQ hard to steal the Nisei. With that it’s a simple matter of hoping Jackson doesn’t turn up and then heading over to Archives next turn for the win.
DE Round 2: Noise versus NEH. You fly all the way to Denmark… and play a fellow Englishman. All the Team GB players in the cut have won their first game, so it’s inevitable two of us would be facing each other. We dice off for which side to play and I’m running. John manages an early Astro behind what I assume is a Wraparound. Even though I had D4v1d in hand, I’ve also got Wyldside, Aesops, Adjusted Chronotype and also other stuff I need to get cooking so I go for board state over an early score. I drop Street Peddler and start pushing the Clone Chips on to the plate. John tries to smoke out another agenda the hard way, so I drop a breaker and hit the remote encountering… Pop Up. “That’s not the ICE I was expecting” John exclaims, “Me either” I replay. We both look at R&D and have a pretty good idea where the Wraparound is.
The Corp is struggling now – I can breach servers, have my full suite of resources and hardware assembled and the only thing stopping me going totally crazy is the Cyberdex in Archives. I see the second one hit Archives and know that Fast Advance can now be stopped by Clot. John checks my heap and is soon firing up Fast Track for the second Astro. Biotic Labour, Advance – and here comes Street Peddler… “There’s no way you’ve got Clot under there!” the Corp cries as I pull out the Clot and leave a poor Astro half-advanced on the table top. With that it’s a mopping up exercise and I progress to round 3 of the Winner’s bracket.
DE Round 3: HB ETF versus Hayley, piloted by Sam (Team GB). Sam is well known for his meticulously designed and unusual deck construction. Having had various discussions over the weekend I have some idea of what to expect, but I’ve never seen it in action, whereas my HB is fairly standard fare. At least I’m not facing his deadly Weyland deck with no Plascrete or I’ve Had Worse in my Noise! (Sam’s previous two games finished in under ten minutes as he murdered the Runners…)
His deck takes some set up time and in the intervening minutes I score up some agendas. Out of nowhere a Quest Completed steals my Chronos Project, which has me scratching my head as to what’s going on. Happy it’s only a one pointer, but disappointed I couldn’t remove a load of Caches from the game, and Sam’s economy along with it. He has other funky moves like SMC for a Mimic to allow him to Hayley out the code gate breaker he needs from – or when I think R&D is safe enough on single accesses, he fires out double R&D interface for one click and goes to town.
The game progresses until we’re on six points each. Sam was unlucky to hit both Chronos, so although he’s stolen four agendas and should by rights have won; he needs a fifth to clinch it. I don’t want to be in late game with my deck, but that’s where we are, and I’ve got R&D stacked with Ichi / Architect / Ichi / Architect. Sam save up for runs and sees three cards, I cross my fingers and then draw like crazy between runs as he builds up for the next one. We go to time and I’m going to win as the higher seed. Sam gears up for the final Hail Mary run and works out which of the subroutines he can afford to let fire, which traces to let run, what to click through and what to spend credits on. He blazes down the four-deep server and hits R&D for the top three cards… one, two, NAPD. He looks down at his credit pile. Three credits remaining. Only now at the end does he remember the Clone Chip that could have got a Cache before accessing and he’d have won the game. So close, yet so far, Sam goes to the loser’s bracket one credit short of a place in the final, having held the winning agenda in his grasp…
DE Round 4 – The Final: HB ETF versus Cache Kate. Jens, bloody and scarred from his battles has defeated his fellow Dane, lost to Sam of Team GB, defeated the No 1 seed Niclas, had his revenge on Sam, and now stand before as the last, great hope of the Nordic peoples against this interloper from across the narrow sea. Those not in the side-tournament gather round to watch and we set out playmats down two-deep on the table. Jens made a joke earlier that after the first round of elimination it was the people with the Project Beale playmat that got through and now in the final, both of us are far too superstitious to not have ours insulating our cards.
In another superstitious move Jens “shakes” my deck after shuffling, like he’s making a cocktail and we both half-laugh at this manoeuvre as he declares it’s worked so far in disrupting his opponent’s decks. No one believes it really does right? We half-laugh again. I look at my cards. Three agendas, Turing and an event. Time for a Mulligan, Jens is looking very happy with his opening hand. I draw back up. Three agendas, no ICE but a Jackson. Opening move – Jackson, use Jackson – the tool delivers me another NAPD and Caprice. Jackson again, ditch three of the agendas. No ICE, five credits, come at me bro.
Come at me he does, but thankfully exiling Jackson and the 1-in-5 shot at HQ keep me safe. Jens has used his first turn running and so if I can get a good turn I’m not that far behind. Blue Level into ICE and install, gaining a credit. Next turn, more draws, more ICE. I start to build and Jens tones down the aggression to build board state, using Cache / Aesops to get rolling and he’s ready for my two-deep remote when I go for a score, but his code gate breaker is Study Guide and Tollbooth stops him cold. He gets a Datasucker online and an R&D interface and starts looking for a lock, but I’ve accumulated more agendas in hand and push out to five points while he only scores two.
I play a face down card in the remote and he gets in using all his Datasuckers to find an asset. I go for another card in the remote next turn and pass the play. Jens looks me in the eye and I give a thin, almost apologetic smile and shrug. He tries to get in and can’t make it past both the Tollbooth and an unexpected Spiderweb. He passes the turn back and holds out his hand to congratulate me on the win and I tell him it’s not over yet. I Hedge and take money, and he starts to look for openings again, still in the game.
A couple of turns pass, I take money, make a pretence of looking for something in R&D. Next turn I strike. Biotic Labour. Almost on instinct Jens goes for his Clot play, but then he realises I’m not scoring a card from hand. I’m advancing that card in the remote server. The one he thought had lost him the game a few turns earlier – and when I’d not scored it – it must be an Ash right, or another upgrade? But with four clicks available to me, I could advance the NAPD I’d hidden there to fruition and score out for the Championship title. I really felt for Jens, a great guy, who’d come third last year and fought his way tooth and nail this year all the way to the final. Next year surely, he will take the crown.
Shortly after my win, Laurie also from Team GB went undefeated in the side event to win that, making it a good weekend for us (1st, 3rd and 5th in the main event, 1st in the Sunday tournament).
The venue was pretty decent – hot as you can imagine in August, and apparently the accommodation was very basic, but most of us stopped in a hotel so that didn’t matter. There were lots of good facilities for sustenance nearby, and the bar was selling beer at 20 Crowns (two quid), which was great. It was fairly easy getting in and out of Copenhagen, even with engineering works on the train line (meant one change rather than a direct route) and no hassle.
Thanks to Vince and team for great efforts throughout (and before and after) the event to get it all running smoothly. There wasn’t just Netrunner, but Conquest and various Star Wars tournaments (X-Wing had three Team GB out of four in the semis and won the final). Things seemed a little hectic in advance, but questions got answered eventually and on the day it was flawless.
Special shout out to Sonny who ran the Netrunner specifically. Very clear and organised event, no problems with judges calls or understanding of the rules or any of that and I would definitely recommend going to his premier events in future.
Big thanks to all the Nordic peoples too! Everyone in Denmark was very friendly and helpful – and the Netrunner community was welcoming, personable and showed good sportsmanship, understanding and importantly a sense of humour when it mattered. Great to play against Danes, Swedes, Norwegians and of course the odd German and Briton too!
Thanks to Bergsala Enigma Danmark for their excellent prize support too (which they are trying to sort, if only I hadn’t been awkward and already paid for a flight to Worlds myself some weeks ago!), which shows their commitment to promoting the hobby in the Nordics.
Finally of course, massive thanks to Team GB for the support (and UK National Champion Alex for his HB deck inspiration) and all my opponents and other competitors for the good times.
Holiday allowance and budget allowing, I look forward to a return trip next year – whether it be back in Denmark, or in Sweden or wherever. I find the Scandinavians to be a great set of people and as I live in the area of England that was settled by the Vikings (Danelaw as it was known), consider us to be siblings.
Next stop Holland?