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Cardboard Crack: Netrunner: Spring Double

Clayton Lin: Weighing In

Cardboard Crack: Netrunner: Spring Double

Andrew Ryan

Android: Netrunner is a game I'm still trying to master- on a competitive level, and I believe there's still a long way to go for me. I did compete at the Regionals last time around though, straight into the deep end, and somehow managed to come away with at least one victory and a playmat.

Deckbuilding in Netrunner is deeper than the other game I play, Magic: The Gathering, where at high levels, the deck you bring does most of the work. With Netrunner, deeper understanding is required when building a deck- in Magic, all you have to consider is the concept of curve, and maybe having the right amount of lands in your deck and you're fine. With Netrunner- you have to think about a lot of things, usually at the same time- like how much economy it can generate, how many things my deck can do in a single turn, what lines of play can I do to put pressure so and so for.

So off I went, sat down, jacked myself on the internet, searching for top tier decks, and playtesting it on a browser based app. Upon the first playtest with the brews I already had, it virtually confirmed that they sucked, for both corp and runner side of the tracks. It was back to the Personal Workshop (where I can be safe from this dreaded winter), with the Chop-Bot 3000s hard at work, dismembering failed brews so that better ones (cue that ironborn saying) could come up. It took me one week, 100 games, and hard data apparently stating that I was amongst the most frequent players on the app.

For the Corporation side, I will always be loyal to the one true Megacorp- Jinteki Corporation, producer of clones, master of psychological games, and whose idea of server protection is a virtual samurai sword, ideally cutting through a Runner, either over and over again, or in one fell swoop worthy of Toshiro Mifune. Concrete, consistent strategies are for the weak. Real men play the high-stakes game. A friend of mine introduced me to a particular deck build, that he used to beat me with, and then I instantly fell in love with what is popularly known as the Cambridge Jinteki, named after the location in which a legendary player bluffed his way to victory at a tournament held in Cambridge, MA. It is a young man's deck- where you risk safety, consistency and defensive measures- virtually everything, for the quick kill.

Finding a Runner however proved to be a puzzle I couldn't crack in time, so in the end, I stuck to what I was familiar with, running a relatively balanced Criminal deck that is best at applying pressure at the early stages of the game, amass what credits I can, and make calculated runs and hoping for the best.

Before anything else though, woke up in the morning and went to the nearby high school to exercise my democratic right to choose the government I'd like to see. Did not exercise my right, nor the desire to acquire a democratic snag.

For the first round, I was up against a relatively new player. My Jinteki: Personal Evolution faced off against Kate MacCaffrey, Digital Tinker- a digital artist that was intent on proving her latest creation on the corporation's servers. Carelessly running into a trap, followed by an attack from a piece of ICE, and unluckily stealing an Agenda card from the top of my R&D stack ended her forays into cyberspace. Second game, I switched over to the runner side, with my Silhouette: Stealth Operative being hired by an unknown 3rd party to find out the media conglomerate NBN's latest plans. Planned, early assaults and consistent raiding ensured a drip of all the valuable agendas early on, and then all I did was simply maintained the pressure, set up a very bare rig (but with just enough tools to get the job done) to steal the last one. 4-0 to me.

Second round, was not going to be an easy time as the first, as I ended up facing Nicholas Grando, who was a store champion at a nerd store in Cannington. First game, Jinteki: Personal Evolution vs Noise: Hacker Extraordinaire. Noise, as usual was always eager to attack the corporation he had been pushed to rise high in his youth, and so the battle began to establish dominance. I scored an early agenda but Noise got his rig set up quickly enough to land an Account Siphon- which translated to me losing money and him getting lots of it, and was playing cautiously enough to stay out of kill range- the usual measure that Runners do when facing this Japanese zaibatsu. The second game was against Haas Bioroid: Engineering The Future, one of the most consistently powerful decks from the very start of the game's lifecycle, which had an ability where it gained money whilst installing. An early attack from me actually netted me some agenda points, and surprisingly my deck's economy didn't falter (it was a completely different story on the internet) despite the solid defences that the corporation put up. In the end, I couldn't find the right program to break a very specific ICE, and that costed me the game, having lost despite an early lead.

Third round, was against the tournament organizer himself, bringing a very mean Industrial Genomics (Jinteki faction- a different flavour of the one I play) deck that was built around flaying the Runner slowly but surely, like a certain house from a certain TV series. My Silhouette stood no chance, as the Industrial Genomics sets up its combo. For the second game, it was my turn to try and bluff my way to victory with Personal Evolution against another Kate Mac. I picked up an early lead by quickly advancing an agenda through a card that allowed to bring one into play already half-advanced, and when it comes to Jinteki, things that come out of the blue, ready to be scored, can pass as a trap- and if the Runner guesses incorrectly, it can lead to very heavy damage. Usually most leave that for a while, better to be safe than sorry, which was the case throughout this game, staying out of kill range, and guessing correctly on runs at some of my nine or so remote servers (he guessed based on my play pattern), and eventually scored his way to 7 points.

The fourth and final round, was against someone who I've played against a number of times, and was very familiar with his deck inside and out, as he was with mine. I won the roll-off once again, to start on the Runner side. My opponent was quite unlucky to have his hand flooded with agendas, of which some of I stole from his hand, and using my Runner ID's ability to expose his hidden defenses (uncovering information that I wouldn't normally access to), and kept getting lucky, stealing the last agenda required by barely just breaking through the layer of ICE, with 1 credit to spare. Switching over to the corp side for the second game, against yet another Kate Mac deck, this game ended with the Kate running into a thick layer of ICE, installed a program that broke the first half, but was unable to find one to break the second, due to me having attacked his hand earlier coincidentally removing one of the icebreakers that could. The Kate suffered a lot of damage, enough damage for me to set up a combo kill that ended the game before the Kate got her rig fully setup.

After the results were tallied, with me winning and losing exactly half my games each, exact mid-table position was the only thing I could expect. Coming 5th out of 10th and not far off between 3rd and 4th, and for a prize, got two alternate art cards. Not bad.