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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
@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
@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
@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.
6 Nov 2017 spags
6 Nov 2017 Ajar
6 Nov 2017 Dr_Feelgood
6 Nov 2017 Ajar