I said it half-jokingly a few months ago, but as the time got nearer it seemed more and more like a good idea. Worlds baby. With the current UK Champ going over and the previous one waxing lyrical about it, quite a few of the UK scene got the bug. I’d booked up tickets anyway, but then a jolly to take the Viking Nationals got my flights reimbursed (thanks Bergsala Enigma Danmark) and it seemed an even better idea. About a Baker’s Dozen of Team GB (or Team UK depending on who you talk to) headed over to the Colonies and it was Netz on a Plane all the way there.
So much theory crafting and actual testing and chopping and changing had gone in in the weeks leading up to the event (would we even get Data and Destiny?) that by the time we were on the plane, things had got feverish. We got it in our heads that the Haarpsichord 24/7 kill deck was “The Nutz”. Cue live testing on airplane fold-down trays and WiFi Hotspots being set up so we could OCTGN, and 72 games later we knew how to reliably beat 24/7 with Kate. In the space of a working day we went from all thinking about Harp to virtually none of us. Games continued at the hotel, in Costa, by the pool… frankly, anywhere there was a flat surface the Brits were smashing out game after game of Netrunner and testing everthing from Valencia DLR through Kate via Leela and NEH to HB Foodcoats by way of HB fast advance. So okay, Corp was more limited, but we got games in.
Early days also featured catching up with people, making new acquaintances, drafting, and going to Basketball so that I can go home and say I did something other than play cards to the norms at work etc. It was great to see Ze Germans – although they totally cornered the market on NAPD promos, and while I couldn’t seem to get any spares, they had a dozen each at least. I joined them Friday, which was the ANRPC side event held at a Veteran club (think Working Man’s club) organised by Spags from the Stimhack forums. Awesome event – although a little cramped – Team We’ve Had Wurst didn’t do too well, but the UK A-Team Turing Test (Zach, Laurie, Dave H and Alex) smashed it taking the top spot. All was looking promising for Saturday.
THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Everyone was hyped for the event and we had some awesome T-shirts to go all uniformed up. The Colonials had been getting nervy with all the hype and we got our game faces on.
Round 1: National Champion Bye
I alongside fellow National Champions Alex and Laurie retired to the Champagne lounge and played some Winner Stays On to get warmed up. Calimsha and other Bye holders came round to tell us what we we’re doing wrong, foolishly giving away their thought processes pre-game. The champagne was good, but the Claret merely palatable. Not partaking of the free hotel or minibus from FFG is possibly why I felt a but unloved by FFG, but that was my own fault for doing my own thing probably! To me the trip was a big thing, but I imagine to people at the game centre it was just another day of nerds turning up playing geeky games. 😀 The atmosphere was great though, and FFG seemed to have sorted out the spacing issues I’d be warned of from last year.
W-2 L-0 (4 prestige)
Round 2: The awesomely-named Nicholas Vanderslice was a really nice guy and we settled down for his second (and my first) game.
[Corp] He was playing Kate versus my recently updated HB Food (thanks to the UK National Champ) and the super server kept him away from enough points for me to score out. For those not in the know, Caprice does work. She is, as her name suggests, a capricious mistress, but the taxing cost of having to get down the scoring server more than once, especially for the sniper moves Kate plays can be crushing.
[Runner] My aggressive Valencia proved, as Mr Vanderslice said, to be as “brutal” as it had been in testing. If people don’t shore up HQ (and NEH Fastro has precious little to do this with) then they will get Siphoned into the ground by my Valencia. Opponents were generally expecting set-up time for the typical Val DLR deck, but my style denies them this luxury and the result was telling. So far, the game plan is on point.
W-4 L-0 (8 prestige)
Round 3: Daryl Russell from Oz…
I was catapulted to Table 1 and playing the Australian National Champion. Blimey. I started off with my Valenica versus PE. Seemed like a dream match up and I took all his money and started trahsing things for fun off R&D. A Chronos Protocol went via Mushin and another card came down by the same route. Now. The previous day Zach had been rocking a Blue Sun kill deck with Junebug he’d got off some random guy we met at breakfast the same day. We’d had loads of awesome banter about Junebug all day Friday on the back of Zach’s massive kill ratio. For some reason though, with I’ve Had Worse in hand and all the clicks in the world I run a tripple-advanced Jinteki card when he has money and I’ve got not enough cards in hand. That’ll be me dead then. Silly sausage.
Reverse match and now I’m having to try and pick myself up from stupidity and get a win on the board to stay in contention. Daryl is playing Whizzard and has some efficient breakers, Medium and other goodies and I’m starting to leak points. Ultimately I purge and have a tripple-Turing remote to keep him out of the scoring server – D4vid and tripple-clicks meant two weren’t enough! I find enough agendas to score out before I lose any more points.
W-5 L-1 (10 prestige)
Round 4: Robby Fry rocking a Kit Stimhack big breaker and brave CI
Robby is another super-nice guy from California region I think – and with some interesting decks to boot. Yay! First up, he bangs out Torch with a Stimhack and as a Kit player, that’s bad for the home team, especially as first turn was a Magnum Opus and money is no object. Fortunately the Super Twins in the remote save me from getting totally steamrollered and I get away with the game, although I was somewhat concerned. The reverse is good for me. Cerebral Imaging. Corp’s hand size is equal to credit total, and Robbie grabs money and cards. I double-siphon and so it begins… at one point the Corp concentrates more on money than getting card pool up, and so I Wanton Destruction before going on the Siphon game again. Val does her thing again and I get the win.
W-7 L-1 (14 prestige)
Round 5: Chris Dyer from Team GB with HB and Kate
It was going to happen sooner or later, several of the Brits are flying high, and straight from facing Baldy Tim, Chris and I meet up in the next round. We nervously make small talk and I give the top table some banter about not being pretty enough for the live stream, clearly my time will come. I get an early ABT with HB, but I’m low on credits, Chris doesn’t mess about and uses Kate to Legwork and Maker’s Eye, scoring four points. That plan didn’t work then. Back to tried and trusted Psi games. Although he sticks to main Kate plan and pilots well, I can keep him out of the remote and score through. On the flip side I’m in trouble, whereas my aggression catches a lot of people out, with a fellow Brit he knew exactly what was going down and shored up HQ to prevent siphonage, along with a Freelancer for hate against the taggy DLR decks. Chris wins that round and we’re both relieved to simultaneously get points and not trash each other.
W-8 L-2 (16 prestige)
Round 6: Peter Hernandez (Yoshi) with classic Kate and HB
Back down the table a bit further I face off against Yoshi from Sweden, who immediately declares this as an opportunity to get revenge for my stealing the Nordic Championship from the Vikings. He starts with Kate, and gets an agenda with a Stimhack, plus one Brain Damage I land elsewhere by bluffing NAPD in HQ raising the trace enough to take him to 3 creds, which he lets fire and loses an RDI from hand. Although I lose some points, Yoshi is on three hand size and has had to ditch a lot of cards. I feel I can win this, but can’t find an agenda to save my live though (or the game) and so while we both dig away, it’s Yoshi that gets the better of me and I lose game one.
We switch round and he leaves HQ open, which would be great, but I can’t find my Account Siphon or Planned Assault. Three or four turns later I finally get one and go to town, staying on top of the economy he hasn’t really got a chance and I ensure Team Sponsorship suffers a messy death to prevent any recoveries. I was surprised my game plan worked quite as well as it did. Yoshi seemed to go for a secure remote rather than the centrals once I brought the rain, and he was by no means unique in this. Loads of aggression on HQ meant even the odd agenda slipping through didn’t spoil my victory plans.
W-9 L-3 (18 prestige)
Round 7: I go find Baldy Tim and he’s on 10-3, Tagore from London is also on 9-3 and it’s high-fives all round. Dark Lord Hoyland is making a comeback after a dodgy start, and Chris, Alex and Zach are looking in with a shout of the top 16, so the inevitable happens and I have to play another Brit – me and Tagore on the live stream.
Tagore is a larger-than-life character and is full of beans, we’re told table talk is encouraged on camera so I start with the classic Bantz and Tagore tells me to shut up a lot. We get Lukas Litzinger as personal judge – here’s alternate commentary but the FFG stream is out there somewhere too if you want it. Tagore starts with Weyland and I know he’s packing murder and looking to kill me. My Val goes tag-me early and often, so I’m packing 3x I’ve Had Worse and 2x Plascrete so I’m not feeling too worried. I hit a couple of early agendas and play it a bit safe with tags – one IHW in hand and keeping to five cards keeps me fairly safe, although the kill might be on. Tagore has blasted out an Atlas with counter, but doesn’t need it and lands the SEA / Scorch / Scorch – my protection saves me and I live to carry on. I get fruity with Account Siphon and keep some tags for a mill – the Corp Jackson’s in the Scorched and I start to regret my life choices, but still have another IHW, albeit with only four cards in hand – double Scorch will do it. That doesn’t happen and I have to clear tags while another Atlas sneaks out. Corp goes for Oaktown, and with a token on Atlas it could be Hostile for the win. I hit Archives and score Food, IHW for cards getting a blackmail and score the Oaktown for game. Hair-raising game from my point of view.
Over on the Corp side it’s yet another Kate and while I go low on credits to get an agenda, the usual happens and I lose four points to aggressive running, Really must learn from this at some point. I’ve got the super-twins in a remote behind an Ichi and Tagore fancies R&D more for the win. He’s using HQ as a Dirty Laundry target and at one point misses a 50/50 for the win, seeing a Jackson, but crucially not trashing it. I have an agenda in hand, but draw anyway and see another one. Balls. Nothing for it now, I install in the one-ICE remote for the win and cross my fingers. Tagore hits R&D hard, but thankfully my over-draw means the agenda is already gone. Convinced that HQ is clear now the Runner uses his last click for a card rather than checking my two-card hand and I breath a sigh of relied and score the win. Great to get a sweep, awful to have to do it to a fellow Brit doing so well.
W-11 L-3 (22 prestige)
Round 8: Minh Tran playing Minh-MaxX and the ubiquitous HB.
Last round and the word on the street is that 12 wins is needed for a place in the Top 16, with _maybe_ an 11-5 or two squeaking in. I’ve got Minh Tran from Belgium and having played him on home turf and knowing his placing last year, I know it’s going to be tough. He starts on MaxX (if his deck isn’t called Minh-MaxX, there is no justice in the world) DLR. My mistake was going for the Biotic ABT as this brought me low enough on credits to make it worth Minh’s time Siphoning me. My own deck was brutal, but this was equally so and I didn’t really recover. Well played by Minh, I don’t think he lost with his Runner deck all day. The other way round and Minh gets a taste of his own medicine. He tries to save assets and use Team Sponsorship, but Val is too much. There’s an awkward tussle in the last couple of turns over clicking for enough credits and being able to get in Archives to steal the winning NAPD which Minh is hanging onto like a dog with a bone, but ultimately I snatch it and secure my place in the top 16.
W-12 L-4 (24 prestige)
Baldy Tim is in, Dark Lord Hoyland bossed it with four clean sweeps in the afternoon session to get in and Zach’s extra timed win puts him at the top of the 11-5’s to sneak through too. Chis, Alex and others are one game or decision away from getting in the cut, but still, four Brits and four other Europeans in the finals – half the places in a 260-person tournament from a maybe 10% reperesentation. You’ve got to be pleased with that.
Tea and cakes all round.
Double elimination didn’t got well for me on the Sunday. One by one the Brits got eliminated, with Dave going out third through a top-decked agenda, with the winning Food on the table (and in fact had been there for many turns!). Can’t complain though, I got with past and future World Champion Dan D’argenio for my first game and while other players over the weekend fell foul of not protecting HQ enough, Dan was all over Val like a rash (playing it himself) and so I was poor most of the game and despite geting four points, couldn’t get any more. Dan got all his economy and knew to Turing the centrals, so it was a loss straight away despite a brave fight from myself. Second game I played the No 1 seed from the Swiss and his Val DLR was played expertly, crushing my HB’s economy in a withering war of attrition (three lots of six credits just to clear the Fall Guys is sickening).
Top 16 player in the World though. Feels good, alongside Dave H, Baldy Tim and Zach. Britain takes the ANRPC King of Servers event. Surely UK is on the map now? We’ve got an awesome scene going and lots of great players. The support and camaraderie from the UK guys was great as always, lots of testing, advice and deck lists being swapped, alongside plenty of laughs and banter. Minh’s face when Zack ripped off his shirt sleeves was priceless – although i don’t think Lukas knew what to do with himself.
With any luck I’ll make it with a Bye again next year, and we’ll take an even bigger posse! Team GB!
Thanks to all of Team UK / Team GB – Alex, Laruie, Chris, Don, Tim, Andy, Dave H, David, Other Alex, Mark, Zach, Tagore – and the others we met along the way. Great banter, testing, theory crafting and support all round.
Danke schön to all of Team We’ve Had Wurst, my Teutonic brothers – although our King of Servers bid didn’t go well, I had a blast and it was great to see you all.
Spags – the enfant terrible of Stimhack forums who sorted out all kinds of extra activities from American Netball to King of Servers so that visitors had tons of stuff to do too.
FFG staff and colleagues – great run events, good support and really great time all aided by your tireless work!
Minh Tran for getting kidnapped by us on the last night and still maintaining his cool.