How will I run and score? - Gencon Netrunner Preparation

I just wanted to start this post by saying thanks!  Thanks to everyone for their feedback on the last post - I know that most of you were in the “tl;dr: Chiraneau/Fel” camp, but I felt that while the end result might be something dull, the process by which I got to that point was interesting.  It wasn’t just about the bandwagon, I tried to figure out what was best for me and happened upon something common.  With that out of the way - It is time to look at my preparation for Netrunner.

As you are reading this, I am eleven days out from leaving for Indianapolis in advance of Gencon.  My car pool leaves Fredericton on Friday evening, July 24th, arriving in Indy Sunday morning after spending some time at Gettysburg.   Due to the number of people in the car (and the length of the trip at ten days), we are very limited on the amount of luggage each of us are allowed to bring.

My father is one of the premier level DMs for Dungeons and Dragons over the weekend, so a large portion of the trunk space will be taken up by plastic cases with D&D terrain and models representing the monsters and villains he will be presenting to his players.  This means that there isn't room for a 4000 count box of Neturnner cards.

Before I leave for work on Friday the 24th, I need to know not only what my decks will be in Netrunner but I need to know the exact makeup of them to a very large degree.  I will be able to spot room for a dozen or so extra cards in my deck box; but I'll need to have 90% of my stuff decided and practiced before I leave a week before the events are set to occur!

This has left me more than a little anxious as it relates to my options.  In Netrunner I've always been drawn between Anarch and Criminal as their aggressive styles really compliment my skills as a control player.  I feel as though the balance between aggression and control which is so vital to success as a runner is best demonstrated when I play one of those two factions.

And I like Criminal cards best.  So I'll play Criminal.

I've been testing Leela since Regionals, and I'm pretty happy with how she plays - sort of a more aggressive (if not specifically more powerful) Andromeda whose ability is more tempo-based than merely being a front-loaded grinder.  Leela sounds good, and Underway just came out, so maybe there is a synergy with she and the Muertos Gang Member!

But I'm not at all confident in what I'll choose for my Corp-side deck.  In the 18 months I've been playing Netrunner, I've spent most of that playing NBN and Jinteki - specifically having strong runs with RP and NEH.  I've played some Weyland and never been able to trick the opponent into killing themselves (because I'm nowhere near good enough to manipulate the game in order to force the kill), and I've recently begun trying out HB.  

I'm not playing a brand new corp, especially not one which has been near the bottom of the standings 'barrell' over the last few months.  I'm not going to be strong enough to overcome the inherent weaknesses in the faction (which is to say its lack of identity).  That scraps HB.

I really like, conceptually, the mind games Weyland has access to with the recent releases of the 'public' agenda suite.  They really let you play an aggressive game while also putting the runner on notice - either your 1-pointer threatens to burn out the runner's stack, or your 2 pointer threatens to operate as a very tempting Magnum Opus.  If the corp is able to get ahead on money, they can leverage that money in order to put the runner in deadly situations.  

But Weyland is pretty much defined by Blue Sun Tag-n-Bag, which is a deck that is very common in the metagame, and is a known entity.  People aren't surprised by Midseasons Replacements, SEA Source, Scorched Earth, or Traffic Accident anymore.  Thanks NEH!

If I decide to go with Weyland (against my personal better judgment), I would need to find a way to win the game without being dependent on the obvious tricks.  The issue with playing the deck I would like to is that I don't have enough time to know if it is any good, or just a gimmick that isn't going anywhere.  I know I can build a serviceable RP deck ,or an NEH deck that can win at least a game or two... but they Weyland deck I'm thinking of is a completely different archetype from what I'm used to - I wouldn't even know what the right identity is for it.

Let's assume Blue Sun - since that is the current 'established top' Weyland ID.  It has the ability to generate big cash in the early game thanks to the synergy between the ID and Oversight AI - and it generally leverages that monetary advantage into opening scoring windows while the runner is afraid to run.  I wonder if there is a way of building a blue sun deck with the same financial leverage without necessarily being beholden to the meat-damage kill.  

But is Gagarin a better option for my deck? The general theme is to tax the runner for being impertinent enough to run on my public agendas - should taxing the access be a part of that?  Or are the glacial opportunities offered by Blue Sun be stronger in terms of using those public agendas longer into the game?  

If we think of Netrunner as a 3-phase game (which, let's be honest, nearly everything in human experience is a three part something), we know that generally the Runner is advantaged in the early game while the Corp struggles to set up their defenses, then the corp has the advantage in the middle of the game once they have ice up, and before the runner gets their rig built, then the game switches back to the runner side where they have the ability to access (in theory) any single card they would like.

The trick to Blue Sun is that it is able to manipulate those phases in order to slow down the runner in the early game by accelerating its defenses (through either OAI, or simply pulling ICE back in order to use that cash somewhere else on another turn).  This makes Blue Sun probably one of the better choices for a rush deck (excepting, of course the fact that Weyland has no ability to rush out agendas without dipping hard into out-of-faction cards), which makes me wonder if there is room for a pure glacial control deck in the identity - if the ID is developed around the concept of rushing towards victory (either through burn or some other means), is my plan of stalling the runner out with a combination of public agendas and other control mechanisms (Blacklist - Closed Accounts, etc)  simply misinterpreting the role of the card?

Is this X-Wing all over again?  I'm at a loss, which makes me think that as fun as the Weyland idea might be, it is almost certainly incorrect for actual competitive play.  Perhaps I would be better served playing an archetype I understand and can build more instinctually than this brand new something.  An RP deck is by its very nature a glacial style deck - it seeks to slow the game down by taxing the runner's ability to access cards.  Forcing them to use their clicks inefficiently, and force them to spend cards and credits on effects that individually feel very insignificant but add up to a large swing in tempo by the end of the game.

NEH is generally accepted to be a Fast Advance ID - though the release of clot a few months ago has led NEH to adopt a more rush strategy, using its inherent card draw to build a porous defense that entices the runner to break their necks running on an endless stream of aggressive and economically efficient assets; all the while setting up a kill box from which the runner should theoretically find no escape.  

I've actually never played the Butcher Shop style of NEH, having retired my Astrobiotics deck when Clot came out.  I took that as my cue to try something new and expand my horizons (that is when I started experimenting with Atlas and Titan, netting me a SC top 4 in the process).  Earlier this week, I asked the Netrunner reddit community their advice on the subject, and got two rather conflicting responses - either "don't play" or "play Butcher Shop" were the two options that were presented to me.

Removing "dont play" from the list of viable options leaves me contemplating butcher Shop NEH.  I'll put it together this weekend and try it out a few times to see if I like the feel of it.  I know it is a powerful deck, but I also know that its ubiquity has led to a resurgence in Plascrete Carapace in the wider metagame.  Failing that, I'll be continuing to try out my fun glacial BS, and I'll start looking at builds of RP just to Hedge my bets in case neither of the new decks appeal to me.

What would you suggest?  

Would you play the 'better' decks like RP and NEH, knowing that I am unable to advance beyond the swiss rounds even if I were to do well, or would you bring something off the wall and just try and make the most of the experience without paying attention to the standings at the end of the day?

Later this week, I am going to discuss how I've been thinking about Game of Thrones in advance of the 2ed Kingslayer event!