tl;dr: Shutdown Combo is still good if Noise isn’t prevalent. I’d like a second Wall of Static, but the Vipers were great.
Having already won an SC, I decided to play the silliest, least interactive decks I could think of at this one -- Minh Maxx and 7-point Shutdown CI.
I actually brought Fastro with me to this tournament as well, because I hadn’t played Shutdown CI in 6 months and had never played it in a tournament, so I was considering just running Fastro for time and simplicity’s sake – I’ve played a lot of Fastro and won my previous SC with it. But when I asked Lukas which one I should play, he said to go with my gut. Shutdown combo, then! The plan was to drink beer, lose quickly, and go have dinner with my wife, her family, and a visiting friend.
I played a warmup game over a beer with another good local player to see if I could remember the combo after no practice beyond solving combo puzzles in the CI combo puzzle thread on Stimhack. I was able to go off, so I guess I remembered the basics.
Turns out that when you don’t really care about wins or losses and you’ve got a deck that is good in the current meta but is very uncommon, you can win a lot of games.
I was 5-0 in Swiss and 2-1 in the cut with this, getting all the way to a second and deciding game in the Finals before running out of gas mentally and making awful misplays. We’ll get to that, but first, the fun times.
The wins in Swiss were over Leela, Ed Kim Dumblefork, Stealth Kit, Workshop CT, and Blueberry Pancakes MaxX.
In elims, I faced the same Workshop CT, the same Ed Kim Dumblefork, and then finally an Opus CT with 3x Siphon and a Vamp.
Leela in the first round – hard mode already! I weathered a Siphon, but she scored 4 points with HQI. Once I had the pieces, she sat back and waited for a power turn of install double RDI, run R&D, Legwork HQ with the HQI. She was about 50-50 to win on that turn, but she didn’t, so I went off. Remembering the secret to Leela from the puzzle thread, I chained EffCom into EffCom into GFI for the win, never leaving another card on the board when scoring an agenda (well, I did throw a Vitruvius out there with a spare Mirrormorph install, and she bounced it, but it was irrelevant).
Ed Kim is scary for this deck since he can hit the key operations out of HQ if he can get in, and recursion is limited to one Archived and one Reclamation. Fortunately, Viper on R&D was annoying and Turing on HQ was even more annoying. Quandaries ate Parasites and Clone Chips, which meant my HQ Turing lived long enough for me to assemble the pieces. He couldn’t get there with Medium and I went off.
The Stealth game was durdley; we both assembled our pieces, but I got there first and he made a run with RDIs, which I don’t think scored any points. Either way, I went off immediately afterward.
The Workshop CT player got Gordian for my double Viper R&D and had SMC live so I had to respect Clot. However, once he got 2-3 RDI down, he cracked the SMC for Atman 4 with the Clot stranded in his grip, then made an R&D run. I had the pieces, so I punished it by going off for the win.
Against Pancakes MaxX, he got to 4 points with a Legwork on the first pass through the deck, but the Levy was also in heap with one SOT on the board. I don’t think I counted the Dejas, so I wasn’t sure if he needed the SOT for the Levy or not. Given that, and given how ripe HQ was with only a Turing in front and Yog on the table, I was pretty concerned that SOT Legwork would win him the game. Instead, though, he did something else – maybe a Maker’s from hand in preparation for a Levy the following turn? There was definitely a run, so I went off. [Edit: Oh, I remember! Instead of Legworking, he just ran HQ 2 or 3 times, but got 0-2 points.]
In the first round of Elims, I was running and took a game loss ruling when I flipped over a Utopia card and saw it. Whoops. Won’t do that again. That sent me to the lower bracket, where I faced the same Workshop CT deck I’d seen in Swiss.
Shout-out to the meta in Perth, Australia, by the way – that’s where this Workshop CT / PE player was from. Well done to show up to our SC and make the cut!
This time he put Clot on the Workshop, and I think he also had a Clone Chip on the table. Awkward, although you can still combo through double Clot if you have enough credits to make the necessary tempo for the installs. However, he went to 0c on an R&D run with 2-3 RDI on the table, and I exploited that window by going off for the win.
Next up was the Ed Kim Dumblefork from Swiss. I was starting to slow down mentally, and he got Parasite / Datasucker / Medium set up very quickly. I purged with CVS to save my Turing and my R&D, but forgot to Archived the CVS a turn or two later, which meant I then had to Biotic Archived install CVS in order to not lose to Medium dig. He stopped running once I had a critical mass of cards and credits, setting up for a double Medium power turn, but I forced his hand by installing a naked Vitruvius and scoring it when he didn’t run, then installing another one, which he did run, planning to double Medium dig next turn… but it was too late, and I went off. This was the most stressful combo of the tournament even though it was only a five point combo, because THE (former) DESIGNER OF THE FREAKING GAME WAS SITTING NEXT TO ME WATCHING ME GO OFF. I had all three Diagnostics, so I did a three pile combo just to be extra sure.
A MaxX win over Fastro put me in the Finals against @Fictional, one of the best local players. We’ve played quite a bit and have each swept the other more than once, so I’m always happy to take a split against him… except now, when I have to win both games. I win the first game with MaxX, which meant I had to play CI with the entire tournament on the line. No pressure.
At this point, I was mentally exhausted. I’d done a great job of staying fed and hydrated, and ate lots of nuts to keep my brain fed, but after 10 hours of Netrunner without a break for a proper dinner, I was definitely gassed. My runner game in the Finals had been pretty sloppy, but this one was even worse. He was on Opus CT with 3x Siphon, a Vamp, and a Femme. Once he had the hand he wanted, he just sat there taking 8 each turn, and was quickly outpacing my credit total. On top of that, I had all of the combo pieces except one: POWER SHUTDOWN. Kind of relevant. It was here that I made two critical mistakes:
1) I played my Reuse, trashing three ice and a Shipment from SanSan to get 8c. I needed the SfSS out of my grip, but not urgently, and I really needed to hold the Reuse to recover from Siphon / Vamp. I also should have had more than one ice on HQ (I only had one, Wall of Static, unrezzed). I did have Reclamation order in hand, so I was thinking I could get the Reuse back, but then I made the second error.
2) I scored out a 3/2 with Biotic. This put my credit total dangerously low (like, 5c behind his) and opened up the Siphon into Vamp window a few turns sooner than it would have opened otherwise. I also had all three Diagnostics in hand, so I had absolutely no need to spend the Biotic or score a 3/2. I was thinking it would make the combo turn easier, enabling me to score out from fewer credits, and that might have been OK if I’d had the Reuse in hand… but I didn’t.
Next turn, Test Run Femme HQ ice, Siphon, Vamp, Scavenge Femme. I have no credits, not even a Green Level Clearance, and will be able to save at most 3 cards. I just scoop. (Yes, in front of Lukas. It was fine.) We shake hands, and I feel pretty good about taking second place with 7-point Shutdown Combo CI.