NBN Financial Services Division (7-2 @ Worlds, 11th place)

Ajar 1605

Here at NBN, we pride ourselves on offering a wide range of financial services, from financial management by our commercial banking group, a stake in the NASX, venture capital for startups, and hedge fund management, all the way to consumer advice delivered via our daily business shows and PAD marketing campaigns. Be warned, though, that if we find your financial practices wanting...

YOU WILL BE JUDGED.

I'll be writing a tournament report for Stimhack, so I'm not going to recap the tournament in any detail here. I'll just say that I started out 0-4 because I was in a bad headspace, and once I got myself together emotionally, I didn't drop another Corp game for the rest of the tournament. I believe that 7-2 could easily have been 8-1, and maybe even 9-0, if my head was in a better place to start things out.

My Runner was @theBigBoy's Valencia deck, which I'm sure he'll post soon. It was fine, but I was eliminated from the cut on 2 Runner losses. My Corp was definitely the star of the show.

The other piece of information that's relevant here is that of the 7 wins, Zealous Judge was directly responsible for 6.

Now, the background.

A couple of months before Worlds, my KoS team determined that I was the most likely choice to play yellow. The team composition later changed, but my position as the yellow player didn't. I experimented with a few IDs, but decided that CtM would be my best option. So I started talking to other people who I knew were into CtM, and looking for other sources of information. I talked to @mediohxcore, @spags, @theBigBoy, and others; I watched the Top Deck Monthly Cup and paid particular attention to @jdeng's CtM build and playstyle, and over a period of 6-8 weeks I played an absurd number of games with many different incarnations of CtM. I also hung out with @aandries and @leburgan the night before Worlds, and watched @aandries test his SEA CtM vs Misdirection Hayley in addition to talking about CtM lists, ice, and strategy.

Since I talked to so many people, I know that other groups tried Judge but moved away from it. I started out on @mediohxcore's BOOM! CtM, then tested: Judge, Marilyns, Architect, SEA, Closed, and various combinations of tutoring / no tutoring... notably, all with 3x AR Enhanced Security.

What I found was that it was virtually impossible to get past 5 or 6 points versus Misdirection Shapers, even with multiple scored ARs and / or SEA / Closed tech. BOOM! worked against them occasionally, but was inconsistent, and since I expected a fair amount of Show of Force at worlds, I thought BOOM! would suffer from meat damage hate like Spoofing and Mercs. (I'll admit that I didn't consider the Heartbeat threat.)

The only card that truly changed the Misdirection Hayley matchup for me was Zealous Judge. What I found was that Judge doesn't require the Runner to make a mistake -- you can put them in a lose/lose situation even if they play 100% correctly. That was exactly what I needed, and despite @theBigBoy's exhortations, I stuck to my guns.

The strategy for playing this deck is dead simple. Each turn, look at your hand and the board state. Then make the following evaluation:

What sequence of in-game actions can I take this turn that will annoy the Runner as much as possible?

You don't need to do any metagaming, nor be rude to your opponent. Your deck will do plenty of that for you. Your job is to be as annoying as possible for as long as possible exclusively via in-game actions. More often than not, that will result in you eventually winning the game.

Classic tempo CtM is kind of a rushy deck that uses valuable assets to gain a tempo advantage on the Runner and open up scoring windows. Later, it can drag the Runner through remote bait over and over to open up further scoring windows, closing the game via remote bait (if the Runner spends time and money staying tag-free) or EoI / Psycho (if the tags eventually stick).

This CtM has some similarities, particularly around rushing early where that's possible, but much less remote bluffing is needed than in the tempo version. The "scoring" remote is really a remote you rush in while building it until it's time for it to assume its true identity as the Judge remote. You usually don't care if they run the remote or not; the main time you sweat is when you get Indexed after they go tag-me the turn before you're going to win with EoI, Psycho, or an agenda in a remote.

...which is why I switched from 3/1 AR/QPM to the reverse at the last minute -- literally marking up my decklist and swapping the cards after arriving at the venue on day 1. This makes you MUCH more resilient to Indexing, which is how you lose after sticking tags... so despite the phenomenal power of AR, I made the switch after talking to @theBigBoy and hearing that @nemamiah had done the same thing. I think it was the right call. It's also why there are three Resistors (annoying after going tag-me) but also three Ravens + Turnpike (annoying before going tag-me).

I faced several Misdirection Hayleys on the day and only lost to one: my very first game, with my head off in bizarroland, I still managed to get Hayley in tag hell, with double DBS + Bankers running, before literally (figuratively) throwing the game away for no reason.

In fact, I still believe that Judge CtM is the best CtM in the current meta, even though @theBigBoy and @vinegarymink made it one win further in the cut than I did. I put it down to both of them being better with the Val deck than I was, and also better players generally, albeit by a much narrower gap than this time last year when I missed day 2 entirely. @spags was also only one win behind me on his team's SEA CtM, and he's no slouch either! Still, if we re-ran Worlds tomorrow, I'd bring exactly the same CtM list, and even if every opponent knew it card for card, I think I'd still have a good chance to perform just as well.

Finally, I have to give a huge thanks to @fictional, my KoS teammate for two years running, most frequent testing partner by far, and longtime top Minnesota player. He jammed countless games against all of my various incarnations of this list and gave me great feedback on what worked and what didn't. I regret that we got paired when both at 4-4 on day 1 and I had to beat his Misdirection Hayley with this deck; he's just as strong a player as me if not better, and just needs that one good run some year to be in the Worlds cut. Cheers, man.

Lastly, thanks to all for reading, and hope to see you at Worlds 2018!

Edit: According to ABR, I was 11th, not 12th. Fixed.

4 comments
6 Nov 2017 spags

Great job!

I think the Judge is fantastic. I'll post my list later. You know I love ARES, and think it's the tagstorm initiator and game-winner v. those that trash your stuff.

We went the other route with SEA and EOI to beat Misdirection Shaper, and it works really well.

Fantastic job and write up!

6 Nov 2017 Ajar

That reminds me that I need to shout out to @aandries and @leburgan, who let me hang out with them, spectate SEA CtM vs Hayley and other matchups, and talk some shop about CtM lists, ice choices, strategy, etc. I've added that in now. Gave you some additional deserved props as well.

Glad we never had to face off this weekend. :D

6 Nov 2017 Dr_Feelgood

Good job on such perfomance! Die hard NBN fan here. I was playing CTM with judge on our nationals (only one NBN amingst 22 players), and it perfomed well, but not perfect. I've sloted in BOOM! for flashy wins. Should've gone with bankers instead. And 3 MVT (I was only on two) now I believe a right call, cause you need it in your scoring remote. And it is sick when you can bluff the second MVT as a Beale. Was Tech Startup useful for you to find Judge in right time? And have you considered Shannon Clare as Indexing protection? And what do you think about Best defence?

6 Nov 2017 Ajar

Thanks! I tested Shannon, and I also kept an eye out during all of my testing for scenarios where Best Def would really help.

Re: Shannon, I found that I was generally installing her in an open remote, vs installing EBC in my scoring / Judge remote, and that made Shannon less impactful vs EBC since the Runner would generally know she was there & be able to trash in advance. She's great with Whampoa, but that's a 2-card combo that costs 2 inf and doesn't work if the Runner is trashing everything, which is exactly when you want your recursion. So I went with Preemptives instead.

Re: Best Def, in all of my testing, I didn't find myself in a scenario where I thought "Best Def is exactly what I need right now." Clicking to trash resources after sticking tags was always sufficient. Once I stuck enough tags to be able to Best Def something expensive like a Maw or a breaker, I was already winning with the cards I had in the deck.

Re: tutors, I found 3 tutors for Judge was the sweet spot. I previously had 3 Startups, but with the floating influence and 3 Bankers already, I didn't think I needed a Marilyn for additional money. Also, Marilyn is better in the remote bait variants than in the Judge version. I generally use the Startups for Bankers or DBS (in that order, depending on which one I don't already have), or if I have both, save them for Judge... whereas I save EBC for Judge most of the time. I almost never use the rez ability on EBC for value, either. If I could have 3 tutors and the Marilyn, that would be great, but there isn't space.