German Nationals were held near the headquarters of the distributor in the beautiful countryside of Wälldurn. This is unfortunately in the middle of nowhere, so you need a car to get there really. The Berlin team said it would be 11 hours on the train for them, so you can imagine the difficulties foreign johnnies would have. Frankfurt is only an hour away by car though, and Stuttgart was 1.5 hours and half the price for flights.
I had recruited German-born wingman Timo to do the driving on the wrong side of the road and ad hoc translations, and with decks packed we headed off to the Fatherland for a great weekend break. I’ll not bore you all with the logistics in detail, suffice it to say the game venue was a large set of halls in a small town. The organisers did a good job of setting everything out and providing plenty of space, and the Netrunner TOs ran a very tight and well-ordered event, with clear instructions and timings. Well done to everyone involved! It would be nice to have the Swiss rounds on maybe Friday to help with travel etc., but it was fine if you’ve got time for a mini-holiday.
The other players were very welcoming and friendly, even to the extent of looking for “Gary Friendly Games” after the Netrunner that didn’t rely on German language skills, and making sure that Timo and I were included in lots of other ad hoc games.
Shamefully, I didn’t take any notes during the matches, so I’ll try to cobble together some notes from what I remember.
Matthias was playing a PE deck, but to be fair with 3x I’ve Had Worse, Slums, Employee Strike and Levy, it was just a matter of being careful and slogging out the win. There has been some success with Biotech Division in the UK, be interesting to see if DNA Tracker and other cards help? On the reverse match up against Criminal things were a bit shaky after losing some early points, but a well-executed Aggressive Secretary trashed the Runner’s rig and he was having to let Architect fire to see anything on R&D and I would have won if we’d had another turn or two. As it was I had to settle for a timed draw.
Hayley with Game Day and Beach Party had a strong attack with RDI + Makers hammering R&D. I killed another program or two with Agg Sec and landed four brain damage so my opponent’s hand size was down to a manageable six, just as well as he had Faust. Ultimately the sheer cost of stacked bioroids proved too much for Hayley and I snagged victory. On the return trip I was facing off against SYNC, which got to four points relatively easily while I was trying to play around HHN and other trouble. The Corp used Salem’s to make sure he cleared IHW, and I ended up having to let some tags stick at one point and a Scorch-Archived-Scorch finished me off. Kill SYNC proved to be in large numbers, and even the Germans were not expecting this.
I can’t remember the specifics aside from Daniel saying I was the worst person he’d ever met in his entire life (after Aggressive Secretary smashed two of his programs)! It was all in good fun though. We played Anarch vs HB on both sides and ended up splitting. I seem to remember I didn’t capitalise enough on the HB game, being too cautious but details are hazy… I played a lot of HB decks though – I thought I was making a good meta call, and it appears I wasn’t alone in my thoughts. Anarch is still popular, and cards like Fairchild 2.0 take advantage of this, but Yog is coming back on the horizon…
After lunch I faced Anton, who’d gone to the top cut at UK Nationals, so I was expecting a strong showing. He was on MaxX DLR, which I was also nervous about, but thankfully I was on 2x Crisium and with Turing and fast economy gain early I managed to triple ICE HQ and a remote get scoring. Desperate for economy at one stage, Anton tried a Queen’s Gambit that let me score a Food and from there it was just a matter of accumulating enough credits to Biotic out the win. On the reverse game against HB, I scored the “Rumour Mill after Jackson” dream and gathered six point from Archives. However, I then made mistake after mistake – at one point a simple check of Archives would have won me the game – but as it was Anton managed to claw back a win with repeated Biotics as I couldn’t find the one extra point I needed to win.
Playing another Englander, Matthew, who lived in Germany. A brave ABT from my opponent (“I’m not going to make the cut anyway”) secured a double Turing server that secured him an easy win as I dug for Spooned, another D4v1d, etc. On the reverse I got a similarly good start and despite a decent breaker set and Temujin money, HB did its thing.
This game with Marc was now purely for funsies. As Corp I’d got to a controlling state with 2x Biotic and just needing to see a non-food agenda, but couldn’t get to it. I’d wrecked my opponent’s board, but a last ditch desperate run on R&D got the winning agenda before I could see it. On the reverse I must have hit R&D for 20 cards but couldn’t find any agendas, due to time constraints I had to make a risky play when time was called and couldn’t grab the NAPD I got to – so it was a timed win for my opponent. If I’d had a couple more turns I’d have seen the rest of R&D, which was something like 50% agendas by this point!
As previously advertised, everyone at the event was top banana, helpful, polite, eager to help out the Inselaffe. Too many people to shout out to, but Jurgen, Alex, Anton, Marcel, Patrick, Frederick, and many more were all more than welcoming and great to spend a geeky weekend with. The event went very smoothly, and the finals had the ever-professional Krystian from TeamWorkCast following the action with special guest commentators. You can check out his stream here. If you get the Twitch stream you may even hear my dulcet tones in the losers final!
There were a total of 66 players, which is about the size of a mid-large British Regional, hopefully with a more open policy this will have chance to grow next year. A more public-transport friendly venue would be nice, but I understand the distributor wanting to keep it close to home (as per FFG and Worlds).
Of the deck choices, I saw a lot of CtM (not surprisingly), but also a fair amount of HB, the surprisingly popular murder-SYNC (plus Butchershop) and a smattering of others – notably Marsellus on his Year of Playing Titan. Runner side Andromeda was popular, both with Yog and more traditional types. Temujin and Paperclip are cards. Most of the rest of the field was Anarch as you’d expect. Whizzard and Val featuring heavily, from Dumble to Reg Ass, Axul was running an (almost) breakerless DDoS False Echo and there was some Minh MaxX style action too.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a fly in the ointment, which caused a stir on Slack when I brought it up, so it bears repeating. There were a couple of unusual tournament decisions (given the state of play at GenCon). Firstly, announced up front at the briefing, Salsette Slums doesn’t count as the first trash of an asset as far as CtM is concerned – which flied in the face of what Damon had said – but in the TO’s defence he had mailed FFG OP and they told him that wasn’t an official rule. The second that occurred in-game was that as Mumba Virtual Tour says you “must trash” it, the Runner can’t use Salsette to remove it instead. I’m not really on board with that decision as it cost my wingman a crucial game (effectively). It was quickly apparent why some decks were playing MVT!
It was a bit irritating, but rather than criticise the TOs, I guess what needs to happen is FFG sort out a proper and regular route for rules updates so all major tournaments operate under the same rules. As I understand things, FFG work quite closely with Jakodrako, but the rules he is given aren’t technically official so we have great resources like ANCUR and UFAQ, that are not used in tournaments necessarily. A monthly FAQ update or endorsing these resources as fully official for tournaments seems a better situation than the one we’re in now, where different national tournaments have different rulings.
Most of the Germans I spoke to didn’t mind which way the rulings went as long as we had some clarity on what the rule is and an official route for declaring it. Either that or we need a Damon at each major event… 😉
To be fair to the TO, I think he was operating as “officially” as he could, using FFG’s own OP department to get info on current rulings. What the game really needs is a more steady and well-documented form of ensuring the rules from FFG are published? I’ve seen some off-colour remarks about the TOs online from people who weren’t there (stupid internet), suffice it to say I have every confidence all the guys involved were trying their utmost to run an efficient and correct tournament as they understood it to be. They did a fantastic job on the day. Thanks again to those guys!
We had an excellent time all told, trips to the local festival with Bavarian beer tent, random mystery tours due to sat nav malfunction (or user error – pick one), more sausage than it is sensible to consume in one go, the Mercedes Museum, a great hunting lodge for digs and excellent company. Assuming the stars align and the distributor is open to the idea of foreign nationals taking part again, we’ll be back next year!