The King is dead, long live the King.
It was time to return to Nordic Nationals and defend my crown from unruly locals wanting to take back control of their country. Ingrates. A couple of people from last time came along and a bunch of others made the effort so we had nine or ten Brits in the longboat. After some shenanigans, we were though the nicest passport control I’ve ever experienced and on bus, train and tram to the other side of Stockholm for our Air B’n’B experience – and so the Party House was born.
Cue late night drinking and a lot of Netrunner. The lads came up with the perfect CtM deck around 1-2am and crashed out. I was feeling a bit lonely as the only ETF player. Waking up a few hours later and a bunch of people were back on ETF and I was more confident in my decision. We headed over for the tournament and were told we might only get five rounds due to the number of people, but in end managed six. Caught up with a few people from around Europe and made our preparations by playing “Mulligans”.
My Corp deck was ETF – I wasn’t convinced it was the best choice, but in trying to find a build that worked over the preceding month it was all I’d really practiced. The lads gave me some good ideas on swapping the agenda suite round (no Food, moar NAPD) and I jiggled the ICE suite, but it was predominantly NEXT with lots of sentries for good measure. Runner side was Temujin Whizz, which I considered a superior build to plain old Dumbles. I’d taken out Street Peddler having had some traumatic games mid-week with my testing group but that was a mistake for sure. It’s an odd strategy having both Inject and Peddler as you always lose either programs or economy, but you definitely find Slums quicker and with lots of CtM, that’s boss.
Jonas was full of a cold (and a little behind in data packs it turned out), so I definitely had an edge in my first game. First up he played NBN Making News and while I concentrated on centrals, he built a tasty remote and started installing and advancing. I was suspecting some kind of Prisec or kill plan, but by the time he had scored a couple of agendas including Food, I had no choice but to go for the next advanced card – which would have been an over-scored Beale and the win. From here I dismantled the remote and medium dug for the win. Reverse match up was MaxX DLR. Jonas seemed quite new to the deck, and ETF explodes out early with Ice and econ when using operation economy so this wasn’t as traumatic as it can be. With Turing and Swordsman on centrals and covering Ice to protect against DDoS, I got a scoring remote and pushed through the win just before time was called.
Harald was sporting Kate with Magnum Opus and cloud breakers to get round the memory issues that can cause (Shrike/Zu.13). That turns out to be super good news from me as a build a remote of two Turings that costs 10 to break. Throw an Ichi 1.0 on top and Harald had to spend 15 credits to check the remote and I kept putting stuff in there as Clot was limiting the fast advance option. On reflection it was pointed out the Atman 5 he eventually used to get through the remote shouldn’t have been breaking my Turing (funny what you miss at the time), but as I won anyway, we’ll gloss over that. I enjoy reprising my Biotic pre-installed NAPD for the win as I did in the finals of the previous year’s event. Russian NEH was the Corp I faced, but with stacks of cash from Temujin and Whizzard credits, no assets lasted more than a turn or two, and Slums removed key pieces from the game. Harald got some points, as NEH is wont to do, but ultimately with no board state and Medium out I could take the win.
Anton was next up and I faced the inevitable CtM. I made sure I got a Slums and kept up on economy. The spice in the deck was Ichi, which covered R&D, but that aside the central wasn’t too heavily defended. With a couple of Breaking News already on the table and a Mimic / Datasucker combo on the go, it was time to deep-dig R&D and take a victory. I had to face Whizzard on the reverse match up and could only open with one Architect over HQ for defence, with three agendas in hand. It got face checked, but R&D only showed be three more agendas, a CVS and one more Architect, so I built a new remote out of an agenda from hand and the new ICE. That remote got run and so I had to take the CVS from the Architect fire to over-write the agenda I’d just played (trashing it) and put out another agenda from hand in yet another remote to score next turn… Long story short, I had to bleed some agendas early, but with the help of Daft Punk (Blue Level Clearance) I managed to dig myself out of a hole and biotic a couple of agendas to win. If Anton had seen an early Mimic I think that game was dead in the water, as it was I finished round 3 on six wins, no loss.
I sat down at Table 1 and straight offered my opponent an ID. It was a no brainer for me as I’m 6-0, but I’m the only person on that score and it’s not a Sure Gamble for anyone else to ID at this point, but a look at standings and Tommy decides to accept the offer. I suggested some games for fun, but he’d rather relax, so we take a lunch break.
I’m no joined by Rasmus who is the only other player besides me on 7-1 so we make the obvious decision and ID.
There was some odd decisions on IDing in the tournament – including one player who’s currently in ninth, but decides to offer it anyway. I face Jafet, but an ID gets us both into the cut guaranteed. We celebrate our respective victories.
I played a game against the lovely Josephine who was assisting the TO to get some fun games in and was nearly defeated by my own decks, which could have been embarrassing, but managed to scrape a victory before she scored out the following turn. It was cool to play some Netrunner against someone using my deck and seeing how the strategy varied from my own with the same cards. Quick deck checks and that was the end of the Swiss round.
IDing. It’s stupid. There were some really hard-fought games going on and they were super interesting to watch, but really I should be playing Netrunner. I’m not going to go over all the well-trodden arguments again, but suffice to say that I know of no one in the UK now (after UK Nationals) that things IDs are a positive for the game and many people who are of the opinion that they detract more than they add. I’m one of them. Obviously if they are a legitimate part of the tournament structure, people should take advantage of them – you’d be daft not too – assuming you want to make the cut. However there needs to be a better solution to this (more rounds, tighter cut, less points for an ID win, whatever). We discussed this later and are considering getting a quorum of UK players from among our best and brightest to publically state and agree to not IDing next year – but this may be a pie in the sky dream, or FFG may announce something else, but if feels like something should happen to remove this barrier to Netrunner games getting played.
With myself and two other Brits in the cut, we prepared for the final by drinking lots of gin and playing Monikers. On reflection, there may have been a better strategy. Rather squiffy, we played through the CtM match up in the wee hours anyway, just to feel like we’d at least prepared a bit.
Double elimination – Round 1
I’m paired with Gabriel and get to pick side. Not wanting to deal with the vagaries of CtM first thing in the morning, I opt to Corp. He’s on Temujin Whizz, so my NEXT Ice isn’t feeling strong, but I figure it’s the better match up and if I’m fortunate I might avoid CtM altogether depending on how other rounds go. I suffer a bad start with only an Ichi for defence and end up losing an agenda trying to rush out and seeing if Gabriel has any pieces. I start a recovery, but the power of Temujin money and regular breakers plus Datasucker starts to tell, but I get off a Chronos and another Biotic or two to take me to five points, but bleed some more agendas, putting us both on match point. I think the misplay (IIRC) here was I managed to land a tag at one point and instead of destroying Temujin (with eight credits one), I forget about the tag. I think this little bit of extra econ made the difference. I have R&D locked now with 2x Ichi and 2x Architect, plus Crisium so Gabriel can only get one more access before I’m in the winning position (two Biotic in hand, just need a to click for some creds), but with three brain damage to save money, his final single access scores the win off the top of R&D. Sad face.
Double elimination – Round 2
Sadly all the Brits have lost their first match and I’m paired against David Culeman. I don’t Mulligan and hope that his Sol deck doesn’t have a Targeted Marketing opener. Regrettably Dave top decks it and knows what my Whizzard is more or less card for card, so names Temujin. I don’t want to give him an early payday, so refuse to play it and try to find breakers and hit R&D. Unfortunately, Dave had a single newshound that can keep me out of the remote and he pushes out a Beale and Food with a rezzed SanSan. I can’t find a way in and it’s game over pretty quickly.
After this I joined Jafet to do some commentary on stream, which was good fun. Of particular note was Sam playing PE and Leela in the top cut. At one point his psi game beat not only his opponent, but both myself and my fellow commentator – proving just how good his psi games are! Good to see some interesting IDs in the mix – it was also nice to see a Sunny go undefeated during the Swiss – although sadly I didn’t catch the name of the player who was piloting it.
Congratulations to Gabriel (gejben) on taking my crown, I have already told him that he has to top 16 Worlds and follow in my footsteps, but I’m not sure how seriously he’s taking that. Many thanks to all my other opponents too, the TOs, and everyone else that was hanging around. A great bunch of people and just as welcoming and friendly as the Germans were. Good to see some familiar faces including Jacob (terrificy) from Denmark who managed second place and Yoshi who acted as our guide on the final night showing us some places to eat and drink in the evening.
Sweden is a great place, although let’s be clear, it’s expensive! However, everything was of really good quality, the people both in the tournament and generally around Stockholm were superb. Definitely recommend a visit and if the Nordics are there again next year, I’m convinced I shall be back.
Big shout out to my fellow British contingent who were on top form as always, and thanks to them my HB was probably a lot stronger than it had been previously due to me getting agenda-blind. Good advice, great games and plenty of laughs along the way – many more of them narrowly missed the cut and without IDs, who knows what might have happened?
“You’re drinking faster than I am, which is a pathway to despair” – Tim
“I’m a pint and three quarters in. It’s eyebrow city” – Alex
“ETF’s problem is that it’s an entirely fair deck” – Chris
“Game?” – Laurie, when near any flat surface
“It took 11 hours to get here. My train was delayed because it hit a moose” #SwedishProblems