Huddersfield Store Championships 2015

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SurveillanceLast Store Championship of the season for me (I think), and so time for a jolly to Huddersfield – The Land of Speed Cameras. I thought about taking two completely new decks, but bottled it and just took one, an Edward Kim made more or less on the spur of the moment. Aside from that I took Foundry again, although after getting lots of Hot MaxX Action the previous week I took out NEXT Ice and played Architects and Wall of Static to keep my defences more robust against Parasite.
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Birmingham Store Championships 2015

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Having won a Store Championship already my trip down to Birmingham was a mere vanity project and for the love of the game rather than anything else, but who doesn’t want moar Netrunner? The aptly titled (almost) Wayland’s Forge has been relocated since I last visited and is now in The Custard Factory, which is quite nice actually and there’s a good cafe with nice coffee, decent breakfasts and tasty paninis. All good. Anyhoo – 32 places all booked out, but there was a Bye and I think we were on 29 people on the day. The tables were well spread and spacious, spilling out of the store and into the sculpture-laden atrium. Nice.
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Northampton Store Championships 2015

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WargamesWorkshopLast minute advertising revealed the Northampton Sore Championship to me, and is it was a little over an hour’s drive away and there’s free parking next door, I put off household chores to go do some Running. I think we got to 11 people in the end, with various casualties due to working late the previous day etc. I don’t know if that was code for being too hung over, but regardless the TO decided on four rounds of Swiss, as any less didn’t seem like much of a tournament. There was a general feeling in the room of “no Double Elimination please” so this format suited everyone.

Round 1: James playing Quetzal and Replicating Perfection

QuetzalEli[Corp] James is taking his time getting set up, building some economy, but now seeing a massive amount and setting up rig and ancillary cards. I sneak out a couple of agendas in remotes before he gets wise and takes one back. I’ve been building up taxing ice though and saving my fast advance for later so it’s fairly straightforward to close out the win when agendas show up.

[Runner] Replicating Perfection is a reasonable match up for me these days, it’s just a matter of having some cash and an SMC to make sure I don’t get Merlin’d to death early on if it’s a Grail version and I can merrily start tapping away. With R&D Interfaces and I’ve Had Worse / Deus Ex for protection, I’ll happily go digging and can usually get into remotes if I need to. My fast start and constant pressure proved enough to get the win.

Round 2: Hamish with Leela and Titan. Hamish was organiser and player-TO for this event and a great sport and welcoming host. A couple of times he didn’t so much let me take something back, as positively insist that I do – I doubt I’d have been so forgiving, so he definitely gets the Sportsmanship Award for the day.

[Corp] I see an early Eater from the other side of the table, but presume this is one of those decks that uses it for Account Siphon and other things rather than being full on R&D attack. Because its Leela, I build up first before scoring out an ABT and dropping another ice. Hamish is mildly concerned at this, but Mr Li finds his Keyhole and suddenly I’m on the back foot. I’d been concerned with preventing the Siphon and so R&D is fairly lightly protected. He runs riot and grabs a fistful of agendas and between Leela’s ability and Cresentus I can’t recover enough to generate economy and keep effective Ice in play and so perish under the onslaught.

HostileRetire[Runner] Weyland has me playing more defensively than I should initially so Hamish gets chance to score a couple of agendas while I build up. It becomes apparent that this is a vegetarian build though and I stop worrying about the Scorch to hit R&D and score agendas. It’s a taxing build though, so even with Magnum Opus clocking overtime, I’m struggling to keep up. Hamish miscounts his agendas scored when on five points and uses Atlas to get a Hostile (thinking he’s on six and will win next turn). He only realises as he scores it and hastily tries to shore up R&D. I’ve got all my pieces in play now though and although it’s expensive can get into R&D most turns. Despite his attempts to overdraw and get the final agenda, I see one first and pinch a win.

Lunch Break: Everyone decamps to the Subway round the corner for cheap food and swapping of war stories. Everyone at the Northampton store was very friendly and affable and you can tell they’re all in it for the fun. Which is nice.

Round 3: Ben fielding Replicating Perfection and

WhizzardFat[Corp] Facing down Whizzard wasn’t a thing I was expecting. He makes short work of my assets I’d normally throw down just to keep the Runner interested and using clicks and credits, like a busy person might throw a kitten a ball of string. This cat just wants to claw its way through to the good stuff though. I just don’t think Whizzard has got the pace though – compared to the Leela and MaxX builds he’s not in the same league. As a result I work through a steady victory as there’s a dearth of Account Siphons and Vamp would beggar the runner too.

[Runner] It’s a spiky Grail RP, so I have to play around it a lot. Ben is protecting Sundew with Chimera, so I keep running that to force the rez and effectively make it a zero sum game. We both score a couple of agendas, and I see the winning one, but lose the Psi Game and instead it goes to hand for Ben. A timely Enhanced Login Protocol means I can’t play my last breaker and get enough money to run a central (2 clicks) plus the remote he then installs into with a double advance. I misplay and use two clicks to run HQ, when I should have used Same Old Thing -> Legwork for the same click cost, as there was a second FP in HQ. As a result I miss it and Ben can score out for the win in his turn. I’d still have needed to win the psi-game to win if I’d seen it, but better use of clicks earlier would have helped (especially letting him have more Sundew money and getting my rig set up instead of wasting clicks running to keep him poor).

Round 4: Andy with Leela and NEH

[Corp] Leela is proving to be a bugbear for my deck, but this build of my Foundry has Executive Boot Camp, so I can get some ice up and running. Andy sees the danger and burns them whenever they appear, alongside Adonis, but that’s sapping resources away from making runs. He’s convinced of agendas in HQ – of which there was frequently one – but often his runs prove fruitless. A Legwork breaks the deadlock, but I soon score Accelerated Beta Test and get more ice out to make things even more expensive. I refuse to play remotes and so Security Testing isn’t viable and with the cost of running centrals high I effectively tax Andy out of the game while I score out my remaining agendas for the win.

NEH Eyes[Runner] Usual story against stoopid NEH. I run early and get a couple of agendas. Burn SanSan and Daily Business Show whenever I see them, try to hit R&D and check HQ occasionally. Andy gets out an Astro at one point and then Tollbooth taxes me out of a sever so he can get an NAPD scored. After that he waits until another 3/2 turns up and its Fast Track for Breaking News and the win. Boo.

Results
: Ultimately it was a close run thing. Lots of split games and only Swiss rounds meant the final standings were on Strength of Schedule in many cases. I managed second, which was cool and groovy. One Psi game away from to prize ultimately – but I’ve already got me plaque and Regional bye, so that was fine by me.

Fun crowd and well worth a visit to Wargames Workshop if you’re in the locale.

Sheffield Store Championships 2015

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ShefGamesShopsThis was the weekend of Sheffield.  Two tournaments in two days.  The Nottingham Posse were feeling it, time to head up the motorway and claim some glory.  The day of Patriot Games store championship arrives and sickness strikes so in the end only four of us make it.  Still, not a bad number and with a team from York in their special hoodies and lots of locals I think we got up to the 19/20 mark for the day.  Patriot is always a good event, although this number was a little low I can see Regionals being massive if last year’s Chronos Protocol is anything to go by.
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Worcester Store Championships 2015

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With the Nottingham Massive busy preparing for the Chimera tournament the following day, I had to fly solo to the Manaleak Worcester Store Championships. My satnav got upset by the Labyrinthine Servers surrounding Birmingham and was sending me back up and down two roundabouts on the M40 (or somewhere) until I banked into a business park and did Purge Viruses. I obviously didn’t get them all, as the strange female voice was all like “keep right” “keep right” “keep right” “TURN LEFT NOW” as I passed the Worcester exit. Not enough change for the car park, so I had to phone it in and then the shop itself didn’t appear to exist and instead of being an hour early, I’m three minutes from the start and don’t even know what’s happening.
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Manchester Store Championships 2015

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As a grand kick off for the tournament season it was off to my ancestral stomping ground of the North West to the Manchester Store Championship at FanBoy3.

Plenty of parking and food places around, easy enough to get to and a decent amount of space for the tournament.  Registration was slightly delayed while we awaited late comers, but by half ten we were on with the games:

Round 1:  Some jackass called Dylan cheated his way to a win and called my Corp deck a rude word several times.  More seriously, I was dismayed to be playing a fellow Nottingham gamer in the first round (I wasn’t the only one), but Dylan proved his worth by winning the whole tournament ultimately, so I can’t be too disheartened.

[Corp] I was a turn from winning.  Out of two choices he’d be left destitute, so a lot of thought went into it.  If I’d managed to lure him down a remote, I’d have snatched a biotic win.  He spent ages deliberating, but ultimately went for R&D and got the winning agenda.  Darn.

[Runner] RP got the right cards and my slow-out-of-the-blocks Noise just couldn’t keep up.  I saw a couple of Future Perfects, but didn’t win the Psi games.  Things weren’t looking good.

W-0 L-2 (0 prestige)

Round 2: Henry playing Quetzal and E3, which I was delighted about as I was playing bioroid ICE.  Oh no, wait…  Polite and affable bloke as you’d expect from the Netrunner scene.

[Corp] Was surprised by my opponent setting Atman at Str 3 as I’d got an Ichi 1.0 showing and was running Eli 1.0 too – managed to trash it at one point though and a Yog at another.  In a final glory run he managed to Brain damage himself to death in order to hit Aggressive Secretary thinking it was an NAPD.  Good finish.

[Runner] I think Henry was playing Jinteki?  We went to time as I played cautiously and got up to six points and near a mill finish, snatching victory right at the end.

W-2 L-2 (4 prestige)

Round 3: Hadyn who’ve I seen around the scene in last year’s tournaments and is always good for a bit of banter at the table.  Was good to feel a bit more relaxed and enjoy a games.

[Corp] Hadyn was playing stealth Chaos Theory which I was worried about as I thought I’d have trouble keeping him out in the economy stakes.  A timely Accelerated Beta Test enabled me to stack up ICE on R&D and prevent the lockout.  It was just a matter of seeing the agenda to win with a biotic in hand.  I had a cold sweat at I realised if I drew an NAPD I was crewed as I couldn’t fast advance that and he was checking HQ regularly, but fortunately a Vitruvius came through and I secured the win.

[Runner] Much more stable game playing Jinteki.  Steady milling and cash generation, with the constant stream of card draw from Wyldside made it a relatively safe win.

W-4 L-2 (8 prestige)

Round 4: Sam playing Ken with an aggressive streak and NBN.  At this stage we were on the Top 8 table and things were getting a bit more serious.

[Corp] Foolishly I forgot Account Siphon was a thing and rushed to score out an agenda, leaving only one clickable ICE in defence of HQ.  I fought on bravely, but after being cash drained all I could do was click for credits – rez ice, click for more credits etc. and could never get back into the game.  Sad face.

[Runner] Got in quick and stole an Astroscript which made me happy.  Sam was struggling for ICE, although he’d shored up HQ and a scoring remote with rezzed SanSan.  The race was on and I hammered R&D choosing to ignore the SanSan and grabbing a second and third Astro.  The feeling of having 3 scored Astros on the [i]Runner[/i] side of the table is immensely pleasing.  Sam was kicking himself after rezzing an Archer to try and keep me out of R&D – he had to sacrifice a Breaking News (going from 5 to 4 scored points) – but I’d got a clone chip to recover a Parasite, and with the help of Datasucker ate the ICE instantly.  He scored another agenda from hand (which would have been the win if not for Archer) and the next turn I hit R&D to claim victory.

W-5 L-3 (10 prestige)

Round 5: Vik from the Nottingham store and a match-up neither of us wanted.  Recently Vik’s NEH has been unbeatable for my Noise builds and he knew my deck and play style so the corp game wasn’t looking favourable either.  On the other hand, he knows I’m a “playa” within the local meta and had already played two others from Nottingham.  At this stage there were four out of eight from Nottingham on the top table, so these matchups were inevitable.

[Corp] Although super aggressive at running as Vik was, I was doing well as Corp.  I leveraged my knowledge of him Vik expected me to play and managed to score two agendas out of remotes without fast advance.  I was really struggling for Biotics (on deck inspection I later found all three together near the bottom of the deck).  An unfortunate ABT dropped two agendas into unprotected archives (one ICE was all I needed to use Foundry’s ability to shuffle them away, but didn’t see it) and from that point I went from being comfortably in the lead, to dangerously close to losing.  Due to fetching lots of ICE from R&D with my ability, the agenda density was relatively high and although I was going to get a scoring window after a big R&D run by Vik, the run produced two agendas and gave him the win.  Boo.

[Runner] I was not happy about having to go against the reliable NEH Astro-train as I hadn’t been beating it, but this time proved different.  I got the right bits to deal with the ICE (D4v1d for Wraparound / Grim / Tollbooth, and Parasite for Quandary / Pop up) and a Medium on the table started scoring.  Vik was slightly unlucking in how I scored the winning agenda – I was going to play an Aesop’s, but had spent my cash claiming an NAPD – so with nothing better to do I ran Archives just in case and scored the winning agenda.  His next card on R&D was a Jackson…

Overall though I think a fair result as we’re reasonably well matched players and it was good both of us got some points.  Unfortunately Vik met another Nottingham player in the shape of Timo next round and got a double loss – ultimately placing him 9th, on strength of schedule, just outside the Top 8.  Sad panda.

W-6 L-4 (12 Prestige)

Round 6 – Adam was a friendly guy and happy to be up at the Top 8 table, where I was clinging on with my fingertips, after splitting the last game.  He was running a vegetarian Weyland and baddass breaker Shaper (Torch, Garrotte…).

[Corp] Adam got his Magnum down first turn and was quickly assembling his rig.  I wasn’t convinced my taxing ICE was going to do well against highly efficient breakers and MO.  Fortunately I managed to fast advance a good few points and Reclaim 3x Biotic so it was just a matter of waiting for the agenda.  I’d stacked up R&D half way onto his play mat, so he couldn’t make a run every turn, even with MO, and alongside luring him into cheaper runs into HQ where he was convinced there was an agenda, this was enough to get me a win.

[Runner] I had to play cautiously here as I was without Plascretes and big money Weyland could be a real issue.  A few rounds in I’d clocked that the Scorch probably wasn’t going to happen and I’d scored a 5/3 agenda from HQ.  I kept the pressure on all three centrals and Adam was struggling to get enough ICE, as the pieces that weren’t milled I was eating with Parasite or blasting through with D4v1d.  I scored again, but just through shear aggression of drawing and playing I could see the mill was a possibility and less dangerous than hitting an unexpected Snare or struggling with remotes.  As a result I milled like crazy and despite Adam using all three Jacksons, I emptied his R&D before he could score out the winning Agenda.

W-8 L-4 (16 Prestige)

And so on to the double elimination as 5th seed.  There were two other Nottingham players in the Top 8 and three more in the next four postitions, meaning half the top 12 were from Nottingham.  Big up junglist massive to my fellow players from Chimera, some of whom hadn’t been to a big tournament before – or even played outside of the city.

Double Elimination Round 1

Played the very pleasant Tom M and his Leela deck.  I didn’t respect the power of Leela and although I scored out three points, this left me fighting for credits and ICE in the face of an economy machine I couldn’t hope to keep up with.  I was still fighting vailantly on, hoping to repeat my Aggressive Secretary manoeuvres or bluffed naked agenda tricks I’d got away with earlier in the swiss, but couldn’t get the break I needed.  I managed at one point to drain Tom with an expensive run on a remote guarded by four unrezzed code gates, completely emptying his Cerberus but draining me of all but a couple of credits.  Kati racked up about 42 credits or something ridiculous while I was trying to recover by clicking for money and crossing fingers for the right Agenda, but as time was called Tom was rich enough to do whatever he wanted and with his very last run of the match, snatched a winning agenda.

Tom was very nice about it and mentioned his luck etc., but he played well and deserved the win, especially as I hadn’t given enough thought to the cost of scoring early agendas when playing Leela.

Double Elimination Round 2

Tom C this time, in the loser’s bracket.  I tried to be light-hearted but it was all serious business down that end as one of us was going out as a result of this game.  Tom was packing both Scorched and Punative and I’d left my Plascrete at home, so it wasn’t looking good from the start – this was my nightmare matchup.  Early accesses revealed the kill cards, and playing against Blue Sun even if I hadn’t been struggling for economy (which I was a little) I couldn’t keep up with Weyland anyway.

A double-advanced card left me few options.  If I stole a 5/3, chances were I’d get double punative’d – in fact if I even ran anywhere there was real danger of Sea Source / Scorched as I knew he had at least one of those cards in hand.  If it was an Atlas about to be scored, then I was in real trouble.  I decided to not extend the torment and instead go for a Death or Glory approach.

I thought there must be agendas in hand and figured with three-pointers and such there, who knows, maybe I might even survive this run and be one agenda away from victory?

Play Nerve Agent, empty Incubator onto it, play Parasite on the defending ICE and last click run, datasucker the ICE to death, see five cards.

“Its death not the glory I’m afraid”, HQ was full of nothing but Sea Source and kill cards.  Not one agenda.

I was on one credit and three cards in hand.  The fat lady started singing and it was adios muchachos.

Great event and a lot of fun.  I thought my HB deck had done well, but looking back at the Swiss it was 3-3, so I need to revisit why I think it was better than it actually was – probably the close games.  I was more frowny about my Noise deck, but actually that was 5-1 in Swiss, with the only loss to the guy who eventually became champion.  Go figure.

The Manchester crew had their act together and big thanks to Coop for running the event quickly.  Shame to be late starting and having people trying to join half an hour or more late, but once underway the turnaround was lightning fast and it was all done by about nine, half nine.

The venue could do with a bit of a clean up to be honest.  The card room had a (as Rob’s wife put it) “Funky smell, and I don’t mean in a 70s disco way”.  That was before anyone had turned up.  The floor needed a vacuum (credit counters become hairy if you dropped them) and although game store toilets are never the height of cleanliness, these ones were particularly poor.  I feel a bit mean reporting this after such a good event, but the venue does really need some feedback on that if anyone has the ear of management and a more tactful manner than me.

Good to see some familiar faces from Preston, Stoke and perhaps other places.  After the lack of tournaments for a few months I’ve forgotten some names and were people are from, but it does feel like we’ve got a good community building up.

Great representation from the Chimera crowd – seven of us made it up I think, with six in the top 12, which is fantastic work from the guys, especially those who hadn’t played anywhere but the shop before now.

Look forward to more road trips and games soon, and seeing some familiar faces and making some more connections in the UK community!