Lead up to Regional and the beast that is the Adelaide meta
Australia is literally on the other side of the world for many Netrunner players. This hasn’t stopped Australian Netrunner from garnering a global audience, as many tune in to The Winning Agenda Podcast, based out of Melbourne, on a weekly basis.
Australia’s Jesse Marshall also had an excellent showing at Worlds 2014, further cementing Australia’s place as part of the rapidly growing global Netrunner community. That being said, distances between capital cities within Australia mean that Netrunner groups and “metas” differ wildly across the country.
Adelaide is one such meta, and an exciting one at that. A number of players are committed to experimenting with new identities and underplayed cards, resulting in decks such as the original Jinteki Biotech Valley Grid aggro deck by a strong local player Adrian that played a big role in introducing me to Netrunner.
Adelaide is located right between convicts and fires, near the scorching desert. Yep.
I had played Stealth Andy and NEH Fast Advance at both of Adelaide’s Store Championship events, with reasonable success at both. I had played NEARPAD immediately after that, enjoying the shell game style that reminded me of the Cambridge Jinteki PE deck I had played when I had just started out. Mind games are just so much fun, and take the interactions between the Corp and Runner to a whole other level.
Ultimately I settled on sticking to the same decks, albeit making changes over time, betting on the value of familiarity with the decks over significant meta changes as a result of cards such as Clot.
I met up with Ethan, one of Adelaide’s best players, playing with Andy against a variety of Industrial Genomics builds, but more importantly using an assortment of NEH Fast Advance and Butchershop builds against decks like Andy, Leela, MaxX, and Hayley.
I wrote up the lists I had chosen, then promptly lost a game with my Corp, which led me to reconsider and change several cards in my deck the night before the event. Phew. I was as ready as I was ever going to be.
Runner: Stealth for the Dispossessed
Andromeda is super powerful and the stealth deck is just such a joy to play. There’s a sense of inevitability as the deck races to the late game and threatens every server all at once when completely set up.
Cards like Earthrise, Career Fair, and Symmetrical Visage make the deck a little slower against Fast Advance, they also make it more consistent with regard to setting up effectively by the midgame. I decided to cut a Kati Jones for a third security testing and added a John Masanori as I expected a bit of Near-Earth Hub, even if it was mostly going to be Butchershop. A number of IG decks in our meta justified the use of Feedback Filter.
Corp: No Going Off-Script!
What’s that? FastroBiotics is dead? Say it isn’t so! I had not seen much clot in Adelaide and hoped that with many people playing Butchershop or some Near-Earth Hub shell game style deck, I could slip through the cracks unnoticed.
The deck is fun, it’s furious, and it’s consistent. Ichi 1.0 seemed like a solid choice instead of predictable architect, and after removing Cortex Locks that had seemed underwhelming in testing, (despite flat-lining one or two people) I decided to fit a whole set of Eli 1.0 and a lone Lotus Field to increase End The Run ICE in the deck, despite anticipating a good bit of Net-Ready Eyes.
On the day:
Well, I sure as hell did not enjoy coughing all night, that’ll be some shitty rest in preparation for a day of Netrunning. I Can’t wait to see how many Adelaide players will come out to play, and am also pumped to meet the players that have made the trip over from Melbourne, including Brian Holland and Jesse Marshall of The Winning Agenda fame.
We are 25 players for the day, 65 minute rounds, and that’s that. Ethan had brought in a whole set up to record and commentate on games, so hopefully you’ll get to catch some of those games at a later date. And finally we were off!!
Round 1: Bye
By the good graces of the Netrunner gods (Heimdall and co?) I had a bye from one of the store championship events held in Adelaide. Riccardo, (another fantastic Adelaide player who also had a bye from store champs) and I sit around and discuss deck choices in a “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” kind of way, and spend the rest of the time talking about how he should have run Industrial Genomics. Ethan and his friend are also still doing some set up and spend some time with us, just talking trash, which is just the way we like it. The time passes faster than expected, and it’s soon time to prep for round 2.
Current Prestige: 4
Round 2: Industrial Genomics and Sage Andy
Nic is a pretty awesome local player who has, in the lead up to Regionals, been around a bit more. He always has a positive attitude and is just an all-around nice guy, which made me glad to be paired up with him for my first round of actual Netrunner.
I run first, and know this is going to be a grind. We both set up and he gets some early shocks into archives, which is frustrating as I like to keep archives face-up for as long as possible against IG. I run all of his ice with some regularity resulting in him staying fairly low on money, but a melange and caprice behind a lotus field keep him afloat.
I find a two pointer in R&D with an R&D Interface, and then win a psi game after an Account Siphon to steal a Future Perfect. With 5 points I slow down and regroup, at one time confirming that his hand was full of snares when he didn’t have the money to fire them.
With that in mind I focus on R&D, where an increasingly taxing server including a Shinobi, Komainu, Inazuma, Crick, and a fifth ICE start to put pressure on my supply of Ghost Runner credits. Luckily my persistence pays off and I eventually find the winning points.
Game One takes forty minutes. Nic takes one glance at my ID and remarks that this should be a short game. He could not have been more correct, as I mull into a starting 6 cards containing Sweeps Week, Wraparound, Beale, Astro, Biotic, Breaking news.
I score out a naked Beale turn two, Biotic out an Astro turn three, score another Astro turn four, and finishing with a breaking news on turn six. In that time, a turn one R&D Interface had netted Nic five points over the first couple of turns.
We talk about the crazy nature of Near-Earth Hub Fast Advance games, and I have to get up to catch my breath. Nic is as good a sport as anyone could possibly be, and we wish each other good luck for the next round.
Current Prestige: 8
Round 3: Near-Earth Hub Fast Advance and Stealth Kate
Finally I would get to play the Jesse Marshall. There’s nothing better for improving than to play people better than you and I would look to get as much out of this experience as possible. We were on table one so these games were filmed, and also meant that I had to use tokens rather than my dice, which was something I had to get used to (yes I am a filthy dice user, sue me).
Playing as Andy, I mulled into a reasonable opener and found economy as well as an early R&D Interface, with an early one-in-five steal out of HQ and an early agenda out of R&D giving me the breathing room to establish enough of an R&D lock to steal enough agendas before Jesse could score out.
Jesse gets out Kate in all her alt-art glory, (goddamn I love that alt art), and I expect prepaid. Instead I see an early cloak as well as stealth breakers, and unfortunately Jesse nabs my one-in-five HQ Astro after I purge to get rid of an early Clot.
Jesse re-establishes the Clot threat soon after, and whilst I find a window to score a Beale or NAPD, Jesse easily finds his way into R&D for some rewarding accesses. I’m just glad to have gotten away with a split that round.
Current Prestige: 10
Round 4: Near-Earth Hub Fast Advance and Leela Patel
Ahhhh Riccardo, we meet again! By “again” I am referring to the Store Championship he won, where a careless run on my part into an Archer put me on tilt, leaving him to soundly destroy me several times over the course of the day, including in the winners final of the event with some excellent Leela play.
My God, I do not like playing Leela. I blame Riccardo. You should, too, dear reader. He is the devil. Like, he’s really nice and awesome. But yeah. We joke about Intentional and Unintentional Draws, the Tournament Organiser is not amused.
I run first. Early accesses net me agendas, and R&D proves fruitful.
On the other hand Leela performs… Just as expected versus Near-Earth Hub! As I set up to score out an Astro with two ice on R&D, dear Riccardo installs a Sneakdoor Beta, steals my agendas out from under me, and keeps up pressure on R&D until I keel over and die (figuratively speaking). Well played. We are seemingly both happy to come away with a win each. And with both of us at 6/2, we feel pretty good about our chances of the Top Eight.
Current Prestige: 12
Round 5: Near-Earth Hub Butchershop and Prepaid Voicepad (Calimsha) Kate
Tim is another super nice guy and great player who just has the biggest smile and the best attitude.
We haven’t played each other since our local league where we split, and I remember him being the first person I lost to in my first Netrunner event, with me thinking that NEXT ice required NEXT breakers not present in the core set. Silly me. In any case, there really is nothing nicer than to play people who are better than you, or nice/nicer than you, in this case probably both.
He told me he played and split with Jesse as well, so we definitely felt good. We were once again at table one, being filmed, which is always a weird kind of confidence boost. For some reason Tim thought he might not make Top Eight if he lost both games this round, and suggested I take it easy. All about feigning weakness, huh?
I once again ran first, and quickly found that Tim was playing Butchershop. He gets a good economic start. I find my security testing and desperado as well as burst economy, and we both money up quite rapidly.
I steal an early breaking news from R&D but don’t get punished, breathing a sigh of relief. Tim knows he’s on a clock, and tries to cheat out a Beale. Fortunately I stay both diligent and rich, run on it, and get to 3 points. At this stage Tim goes into protection mode, with a tollbooth on R&D draining his credit pool down to the mid 20s, giving me a good lead. I find an NAPD on the table and realise I should be ok to steal it if I know where the last two points are. Jackson Howards are exiled as quickly as they are drawn as discarded agendas get back into the deck, and eventually I break through a data raven to finish the game.
We switch it up, and I see Kate. Presumably we’ll get Prepaid Kate this time, surely! Lo and behold, we see a turn one Prepaid Voice Pad. Unfortunately the Clot comes out to play not long after, and a very slow draw means that I spend some time trying to balance purging and protecting R&D.
A few Maker’s Eye digs net him a number of agendas, and whilst I score out 5 points he continues to put pressure on R&D. A small group starts to gather around us, and soon after time is called. Tim Same Old Things a Maker’s Eye with an R&D Interface on the table, and sees 5 cards, only going up to six. I draw, draw, draw, and pass the turn, and offer him the handshake, as Tim gets a timed win, which will surely carry him into the Top Eight.
Current Prestige: 14
The TO asks us to all come to the other room, Tim and I are taking our time packing up and chatting about our games, we hear the occasional cheers from the other room, and get on over to check up on the commotion.
The TO lists players’ rankings from bottom to top, cheers for everyone, Top 16 sees some players who are super happy, some who hoped to have gotten just that little bit higher, but all around positive vibes.
I don’t hear my name so Top 8 it is, quick handshakes and big smiles all around, I check the standings and I somehow managed first, with Riccardo at second after splitting with Jesse during the last round, who is at third.
Another Melbourne player, Sam, also makes the Top 8. There’s at least one Jinteki Biotech player, which is pretty sweet. All in all I think we had 5 or 6 different Identities on both Corp and Runner sides. We take a quick break before crunch time. The 5th place player needs to leave for work and makes way for 9th place to move up to 8th.
Match 1: Verus Stephen playing Haas-Bioroid: Engineering The Future Control
Stephen started Netrunner a little bit after me, and has been improving super quickly, and, much to my chagrin, regularly beating me. I decide to play Andromeda, as she has been the much stronger deck so far on the day, and should have an okay match-up against what I suspect to be a glacier deck. Also, I didn’t want to face Stephen’s aggressive Edward Kim.
We both set up early, him making a ton of money, me trying to get set up and get my economy going. He goes for what I suspect is a score, and an Ash trace is not enough to keep me out and stop me from stealing the NAPD with the help of stealth credits, though the Ash stays alive.
After that economic slump I take some time to recover and set up a bit of R&D pressure, which forces Stephen to spread ice around. A Crisium Grid is now also on HQ, making it all the harder to threaten Legwork or Account Siphon.
Stephen scores out an Accelerated Beta-Test, firing somewhat successfully, making centrals a bit more taxing to get through. Finally, after a bit of economic wrangling, Stephen goes for a score, in a three ICE server with three cards face down in the remote, one being double advanced.
Sensing an opportunity, I go for it. And he rezzes a Tollbooth. Ergh. Best ice in the game? Definitely taxing. I pass it, and hit an Eli 1.0. Taxing. Right. Far out. I break it, but money is not amazing. Though neither is his! He does not rez the last ICE, but rezzes Caprice to go with the Ash!
Psi game, man. I cannot afford to come back in. This is effectively for all the marbles. We open our hands: Zero each! In we go, oh, Ash, but I can do it! I go poor and beat the trace to steal a Priority Requisition and take a significant lead. The rest of the game I recover economically, eventually put down an R&D Interface, and find an Accelerated Beta-Test for the game on my first run.\
We briefly talk about how the games we play often come down to something like one psi game, as we wait for others to finish. We don’t have to wait long.
Match 2: Versus Adrian playing Leela
Of course I was going to have to face a Leela in elimination. Of course. Ergh.
Adrian is an avid deck-builder, and I love seeing his ideas in theory and practice.
His Leela? Not so much. I’d rather not see that. No way. I vocalize my insecurities before we get going. I don’t remember specifics, but suffice it to say that I scored out a few agendas early to go to four points, giving Leela a window to find 2 points in R&D.
And then things slowed down. Dramatically. Despite a Daily Business Show and some drip economy going for a long time, agendas were not keen to find their way into my hand.
Whilst it was frustrating for me, it must have been more frustrating for Adrian, as every passing turn let me set up further with more ice and money while his ability became less and less relevant. I finally score two more points to go to 6, time is called, he goes for glory with a doomed HQ run, but then passes the turn. I find an NAPD on top, install advance advance, and we shake hands. He apologizes for playing slowly and I apologize for my deck.
The next round is ready to go, as people were waiting on us slowpokes.
Match 3: Versus Jesse playing Near-Earth Hub Fast Advance
Jesse again? Wahh. I said I wanted to play against people better than me. I didn’t mean all day. We are on camera. I get to run. This worked out for me last time, let’s see how we go this time.
I find an early security testing but no Desperado to go with it, leaving me at a slightly poorer economic point than I would have liked. I find an early R&D Interface and steal a Beale and Breaking News from R&D, but Jesse uses a SanSan to score out an Astro.
I try to keep up pressure with several account siphons to keep my money high enough to continue R&D pressure, and am rewarded with another Beale and Breaking news, taking me to six. Meanwhile Jesse Fast Tracks and scores another Astro, and then does so again, as his excessive drip economy and my lack-of stops me from trashing his assets.
I run several more times on R&D, not playing well as I go poor rather than clicking through Eli to save four credits for a potential NAPD. I don’t see one anyway, but Jesse overdraws and finds one, scoring it out the next turn.
Match 4: Versus Tim playing PPVP Kate
No! Not the losers bracket! I am pretty familiar with this place, having been there at both of Adelaide’s Store Championship events. But hey, worst case Top 4. I was pretty happy. Tim and I meet again, as we had in the last round of swiss.
Tim gets to play Kate, which wrecked me last time. Ergh. Fortunately he has a slow start and I have a quick one, and I score two Astros off a SanSan while he sets up. Then the game slows down, and I stack ICE on HQ and R&D, force out Clots by playing assets into the iced SanSan server regularly, and purge a total of four times before finally finding a window to Biotic Labour out a Beale and over-score it with two Astro tokens for the game.
Tim was clearly a bit tired, twice running into code gates that were already rezzed, and for which he had no answer. A crowd has gathered as it’s time to play the finals.
Match 5: v Jesse playing Stealth Kate
And time for another match that did not go my way in Swiss rounds. I have a bit of a whinge about having to Corp first as I have a pretty bad feeling about it. Some players come up to me to wish me well. Jesse won the Adelaide Regional last year before going on to win Nationals and place well at worlds. I was going to have to do this one step at a time.
Fortunately, I again have a fast start, with a SanSan, Hedge Fund, two Astros, shipment from SanSan, and a piece of ICE. I score out an Astro on turn two, he misses my other Astro in hand, I score out my next Astro with another shipment to go further ahead, he misses on R&D, I overdraw to find a Beale to score out of hand to go up to six points. The game slows down a little bit, but it’s not long before I find a window to score an NAPD out of hand.
Final Match: Versus Jesse playing Near-Earth Hub Fast Advance
Here we go again. I feel pretty worried despite some success against this deck earlier in the day, fast advance is never the best match-up for Stealth Andromeda.
I mull into a great opener containing some money and my breakers, as well as a desperado and symmetrical visage that would carry me most of the game. Early on Jesse goes on the offensive by Fast Tracking an Astro to his hand. I run and steal it from one-in-five!
Jesse scores out a couple of Breaking News and trashes some resources, but not the symmetrical visage. I find an R&D Interface, and a Beale in R&D soon after. Finally, I find an NAPD in R&D to go to six points but also go down to zero credits in the process.
A bit of back and forth during which I make a bit of money, at one point force a SanSan rez with an Account Siphon, and then trash the SanSan, bringing Jesse back down to little money, and leaving him in a race against time.
I am digging for Switchblade to be able to regularly break Architect on R&D, as well as Legwork to go look for the win in HQ. I find Legwork, but sit on it for a turn, instead opting for an unfruitful single HQ access. Next turn Jesse scores an Astro out of hand, leaving him at 4 cards. Time for that Legwork. I flip the first card; no. Second card; nope. Third card: Jesse offers the handshake.
Netrunner is special. There’s just something about it. Maybe it’s the power of jank, the awesome flavour, maybe it’s the people. I’m just glad to be playing it right now.
Big shout out to all of the Adelaide Netrunner community: You couldn’t find a nicer group of people if you tried. Special mention to Shannon, who in this report is referred to as the TO, who has been working tirelessly to grow the vibrant Netrunner community. Keep up the good work.
And of course a big kudos to the Melbourne players for coming down and adding that extra energy and excitement to proceedings, as well as contributing to Australian Netrunner on a much grander scale.
If you’re still with me, big thanks for sticking around! Hope you got something out of this report, and if not, then take solace in the fact that it likely took me much longer to write this up than it took you to read it!