Netrunner Regionals Recap - Doin' it the hard way!

Well, that was certainly an event!  26 players arrived at the Comic Hunter in Moncton, NB for what I believe is the largest single event in Maritimes Netrunner History; and The NGN crew was among them!

You've heard last week on the Tag Me podcast what decks everyone was playing, but Rob, Sean, Kevin, Alex and I all piled into Kevin's car and took the 90 minute drive east to the Hub city and towards what felt to some of us like destiny beckoning.

I wasn't one of the ones who felt destiny.  I felt like I was probably going to go 2-8 and wind up at the bottom of the standings due to my failure to adequately prepare and the lack of confidence that inspired in me.  So I kept a positive attitude in the car and as we got to the venue I ignored the sense of foreboding knocking at my subconscious' door.

As I said before, 26 players gathered at the store and in our little secluded gaming room, five players submitted Super Bye cards and the rest of us got started.  Alex got the bye in the first round and I was playing a Haligonian I hadn't before met.

Tammy was a really nice girl, but she was very nervous about appearing on camera for the first round in her first major event.  I didn't know she was as new as she was when we sat down, and had I know I might have put someone else on Camera for the first round, but as the heavy hitters were all sitting out for the opener; my options were limited.There was a very tense moment in our first game where I was running as Kate and stole a Government Takeover off a Legwork and the other two cards I accessed were SEA Source with Scorched Earth...

She opens her next turn by returning her Orion to hand for 15 credits and lays SEA Source on the table. She boosts the trace to five, and I spend four of my ten credits to avoid the tag.  This is where I begin thinking there is more to this than a simple SEA-Double-Scorch; and she lays down a Punitive Counterstrike.  She boosts the trace to eight which is just above my six credit limit (leaving her with six credits for the second punitive if she has it ftw).

I take four counters off my (lucky 46th card) Plascrete Carapace and take two meat damage out of my four-card hand.  I sit there very nervous for about ten seconds until she replaces her ICE over HQ and I feel like I got away with highway robbery!I might have gotten lucky there, but I also feel like I had put myself in a position to avoid the tag-n-bag that is so ubiquitous in Blue Sun.  Lucky for me that wasn't a Midseasons Replacement!

In round two I faced off against Matt with The Professor and Nisei Division.  You might look at that previous line and scoff to yourself, but this guy is a master of making the jank do his bidding!  Nisei Division crushed my poor Kate deck, no matter where I looked there was a psi game waiting for me, and the math was so weird with his ID ability that I think I only won about 20%.  

The Professor was a competitive game which boiled down mainly to a series of 6,7,8 deep medium runs which ultimately found a Future Perfect.  We Psi Gamed for it twice on his last two clicks of the game which I managed to win in order to secure a timed win for RP.  I felt very lucky to get out of that one with a point - though I also felt like it may have been the drop that breaks the dam.

In round 3 I faced off against Mark H who has been a long time rival of mine through my days playing Game of Thrones and now Netrunner. We always have fun games and we always match up very well with one another. Mark was on Whizzard (waaaaaaaaaaaat a bad matchup!) and Replicating Perfection, which managed to get going despite my aggressive econ denial strategy.

After getting wrecked in the third round and being 2-3-1 and pretty much out of the running already - I just started looking at ways to make the day more fun.  So I ate a cookie and sat down for my fourth match agaisnt another very familiar face.

Sean was in the car with us on the way down to Moncton, and he was very confident walking into the venue; since he had spent the past eight weeks prepping and participating in various regionals around the GTA, that was no surprise.  I knew that I had a mediocre matchup against his Hayley deck, my only real hope was to pile ICE up on R&D and hope that I could tax him of stealth credits sufficiently that he wouldn't be able to progress into the late-game as far ahead as he might.

Things don't always go according to plan.  I found some ice early on, but unfortuantely I also found a lot of Agendas with no way of protecting them.  I fell behind early, and only came back to make it a game when I was down 5-4.  I had a lucky break when Sean Makers  my R&D on last click and hit my singleton Snare.  He then proceeded to not trash it, and subsequently run it again the next turn.

Unfortunately, I'm an idiot.  I trash two of his resources (Aesop's Pawnshop and Ghost Runner, for the record) and keep two credits behind in order to have four when he takes his next turn - however, I forget that the next R&D access is the Snare he saw the previous turn, and rez the Eli 1.0 I had on top of my R&D tower, putting me below the threshold needed to pay for the snare and kill him.We get down to a rush situation where I'm trying to tax him out and score my TFP, and he is trying to find any agenda anywhere.  I put him to the last turn with a double advanced TFP in a strong scoring remote, but he manages to find the copy I had left in my archives earlier in the game.  With no way of channeling it out of archive the game boils down to a trio of psi games which I win 2-1.  Just awesome enough for me to lose that game.

His ETF deck is very straight forward and does its job fine.  I feel like I'm gaining on him when he scores an Accelerated Beta Test, triggering it and getting three ICE for the cost - securing his R&D, HQ and scoring remote all in one fell swoop.  The game quickly fell out of my favour at that moment, and at a score of 2-0 I knew I was falling to 2-5-1.

In round five, I had an outside chance at hitting the top 16 if I could win both games and manage to have all of my previous opponents win as well.  I was going up against another player in a similarly poor situation; Craig, who was piloting Silhouette and Industrial Genomics.I manage to stall out the Silhouette deck long enough to get my economy going, and rush out a few agendas before he really gets going.  The second game was much tougher despite my preparedness in general against the IG archetype.

Craig has three face-down cards in archives so I run it feeling pretty good about my chances - triple shock.  Of course it is triple shock.  I drop most of my hand and trash his econ before drawing back up. I slowly managed to grind him down and somehow I came out on top of the grind without accessing archives again after that one bad experience. Lucky!

So I sit down and wait for the final swiss results to get announced and my 4-5-1 was exactly enough to find myself in 17th place after the cut.  Womp Womp.

The event wasn't a failure, though, as I did learn quite a bit - I learned that no matter how much you may or may not know your deck, you can't beat bad matchups; and when there are as many Whizzard decks in the metagame as there are Criminal decks generally, an RP might have a tough time avoiding the worst of matchups.

I also learned that Kate, no matter how great her other matchups might be, is at a severe disadvantage (without proper practice) against Jinteki of most varieties - most notably RP.  

I think that had I taken more time to prepare against the most common matchups, I might have stood a better chance in one of the losses I suffered.  I made a few miscalculations in gameplay, and I made at least one outright mistake (by rezzing the Eli).

The best thing I did, was putting in the Comet over Astrolabe.  So many turns I was able to use that click compression to give me so much value over the course of the game.  I never found I was worried about affording it, nor did I find I was really missing out on the additional card draw the Labe can offer.  I wouldn't say it was "better" than Labe might have been, but it was the very definition of 'awesome'!

Now the question is what do I do now?  I have tickets for Gencon Netrunner and X-Wing championships, but I'm not sure what I will want to be playing by then.  I officially have six weeks to learn to play these two games!

Thanks for reading, until next time, always be gaming!