I made top 3 you guys!! (Top 3 Nordics)

presheaf 476

This is very nearly a carbon copy of @CritHitD20's Pawnshop Hayley, and you can watch me play it in the top cut here. I wanted the Imp in part for the alt art and in part for the tutorable utility, so I cut a Legwork and a Harbinger for it, freeing up a slot which I used for FTE because I figured unfair suites like all 3-pointers became even more desirable with Mad Dash restricted. I don't think the change was an awful idea, and I did get good use of the Imp on the day, but I found myself missing the Legwork at times too, so I wouldn't really mind undoing it. My Corp was the Canonically Correct CtM from UK Nationals.

I considered not going to Nordics because I had played basically 0 games with the new MWL, and the ones I had were with a bin breaker Geist which seemed great on paper but not like something I'd want to play all day. What convinced me to go was 1) the other Norwegians handling all the practicalities, and 2) seeing the Pawnshop Hayley list, which with the unrestriction of Clone Chip would let me do all the silly Shaper stuff I used to love. On the way to the tournament I strongly considered trying out an Apex with 3x Reboot or the Geist list, but the Shaper power fantasy of SMC+Clone Chip+Hayley fortunately became irresistible.

All in all, I am really glad I went - in part because I did way better than I thought, but mainly because the tournament was incredibly well organized and I had a lot of fun games with nice people on the day. I'd like to in particular thank @CritHitD20 for sharing the deck in the first place and giving me some very useful pointers on the CtM matchup, and Emil and Artturi for some really fun games.

For the CtM matchup, the natural inclination for me was to be afraid of letting them start their snowball. With Team Sponsorship, Calibration Testing and ARES, they can quickly build up a super gnarly board which feels like a lost cause. But this deck has a really good econ engine too and an absolute all star in Misdirection, so if you can settle into a midgame where you sorta alternate turns between one spent setting up 2x Pawnshop triggers, then the next turn spent trashing 2 or 3 things and using Misdirection to clear tags, you can beat it down a lot better than you'd think without caring too much about the tags. Also, with a value Stimhack onto an expensive asset or MVT, you can probably trash a thing and pay the CtM trace too to not take any tags if ARES is not scored, so provided you have a bit of money and the Corp doesn't just chain Beales, a midgame where both sides get a bit set up favors you more than CtM.

So briefly, 1) don't be poor and Misdirection-less so you get blown out by HHN, 2) don't let them get a massive board with TS/Cali chaining points too fast, 3) don't worry too much about ARES. Provided you follow this plan and neither side has exceptional draws, CtM wins this matchup by rushing Beales/GFIs over ARES, and you win this matchup by setting up and dismantling their board safely. That was my understanding of what @CritHitD20 shared, so although he's free to correct me, this understanding as well as good draws served me well enough against CtM that I feel like I can recommend it.

Onto the diary/writeup!

Round 1: vs Daniel (419/Azmari)

As Runner, I get a good setup, and get set up while poking for some cheap single accesses. I see enough cards that I'm convinced this is a standard Azmari 3-pointer glacier deck, and decide to look for my FTE. When there is an IAA I think Stimhack with an SMC or maybe a Compile lets me steal an SSL. From there on I set up some more while poking HQ, and I don't remember much except that when Daniel gets money to score he only has an Echo Chamber, while I snag 2 more 3-pointers without ever finding my FTE for the win.

As CtM, I get a good start too, putting out some helpful assets and making what I'd like to think intelligent choices about what to reveal and what not to, putting a secret ice on HQ to dissuade the DoF. I don't actually think 419 plays this, but I assume 419 is on enough drip that I can't give up too much time before I will lose the board, so an early 10c swing would be really bad, and I have some ice for the remote anyway. I sneak out a naked ARES with TS on the board to bring back a Rashida, and then a turn or two later score a second ARES, IIRC through Calibration Testing.

At this point Daniel surprises me by running HQ, paying the Resistor trace, Inside Jobbing the unrezzed ice on R&D, and then running Archives for the Apocalypse, taking away a fairly nice board of stuff and a big chunk of the ice in my deck. This is super unexpected, but the ARES tags + CtM means he is now tagged, and I think I have Market Forces in hand for a cool Market Forces into HHN to keep him tagged for the remainder of the game. I try to protect HQ and R&D to be safe from Indexing and Embezzle and wait to draw Psychographics and Beale for the win. A really fun game, and I think with a slower start for me with no ARES the Apoc could have been way worse.

Round 2: vs Christofer (MaxX/AgInf)

I start as Runner, again getting a good setup with neither ProCo nor Pawnshop staying away for too long. I think all I missed was the Caches. Some single accesses show me a Gatekeeper and a Divert Power, giving me an idea of what is up. I get a D4v1d online to be able to poke around for some single accesses safely, and need to spend some counters on a Gatekeeper run on HQ but end up snagging 2 points IIRC. When an upgrade (or was it the first Nisei?) hits the remote my lack of SMC/Compile means I can't contest it. His lack of funds let me try without risking much, but I think Thimblerig or Vanilla just stops me, letting Christofer scores a Nisei, which is never something you want to see out of AgInf.

He does need to spend some money to do so, meaning I get some single accesses on R&D which I think net me 2 more points, although he Diverts Power (or just clicks for creds, honestly not sure) to rez an FC3 on R&D. This is not a big problem because I have a lot of money this game, allowing me to use the 25c token I brought, so I think I hard install a Femme to keep single accessing and prevent a second Nisei from hitting the remote. Eventually he Diverts Power to derez the first FC3 for a new one on R&D, which is a lot of fun but not effective because at this point I have Cyber-Cypher and SMC. Sometime around here I think he tries to score a second Nisei with 2x Batty. I contest as best as I can, but lose 2 straight psi games even with him being low on credits, taking him to 2x Nisei tokens.

I don't think I ever find the Indexing, although it would probably have been Nisei'd or AgInf'd, so I try to check R&D while remaining ready to contest an IAA click 1 to avoid being double ETR'd and AgInf'd away. I do find FTE, though, and realize that his suite is probably the standard glacier suite of 2x GFI's and then all 2-pointers. I'd love to say I planned this, but honestly this was just dumb luck. I play it in a turn I plan on checking HQ and R&D, and am rewarded with an agenda off the top for 2+1 more points and the win, which was definitely a bit of luck, but I also felt like I single accessed a lot that game.

As our first game was a bit of a slog, we don't have too much time for our second game. I think I start with Hedge, DBS and some other asset. I pre-rez one to play around Hacktivist, although he then Injects to show he has Hacktivist, letting me pre-rez the second as well. I put stuff out on the table faster than he can really check it, and I think I get some ice on R&D too to dissuade Indexing/Maker's Eye, and eventually I sneak out an agenda to turn off Hacktivist. I honestly don't remember much except that I am eventually able to land a HHN with not too much time left, and I look for Psycho or EoI to finish, as I am behind on points and unlikely to have time for anything else. On the final turn when time is called I forget to rez a Rashida which would've let me draw 3 more cards to dig for an out, and clicking to draw gets me nothing, making this a timed loss for me.

Round 3: vs Emil (Titan/Kim)

I met Emil at Euros, and know he is very nice. This only makes it more important to win. :) I start as Runner, and feel confident knowing Clot is in my deck. I think I mulligan a hand with no great econ and no access to clot, and get one with Pawnshop or ProCo. Early on I just set up, digging for Clot and eventually finding it. When Emil goes for the IA I am short enough on credits that I need to burn a Clone Chip for a Cache to afford the SMC for Clot, but I am rewarded with an Atlas for my trouble. Soon thereafter Emil makes some naked installs I check, and I think I trash an Illegal Arms Factory and then see a CVS to take the Clot away. I don't remember if I had a Clone Chip on the table after that, but in any case Emil Ark Lockdowns the Clot, catching me off guard and turning on all his tools again.

From here on I remember getting out Lady to poke at HQ, at some point Compiling for Brahman to bounce Lady and reset it, and not having Indexing online while Emil Audacities an Atlas, then Biotics (?) out a second one, and eventually scores a Hostile too, putting him at 5p. Earlier in this game he had Fast Tracked a Hostile Takeover and passed turn, meaning my lack of Legwork made me have to bend over a bit as I Compile HQ for an Imp to snipe away a card (I wanna say an FA tool) and then run again to snag the Hostile, which was a fun play. HQ is only defended by the Ice Wall, so after (I think) getting the Imp back into play I single access a 2/5 the win out of HQ the turn before Emil would ReCoCo/Dedication/New Construction for the win. This game was actually incredibly fun, although winning a nailbiter like this is obviously more fun than losing it. A lot of it came down to me getting lucky on accesses and what looked like Emil not having a great draw, but relying on Lady to break the HQ Ice Wall and not having Legwork meant I had to do a bit of fancy Shaper footwork to actually get in without running out of counters.

As CtM, I know to protect HQ vs Kim. I'm not sure what to expect, as I can't see any real reason to want Kim's ID power over pretty much any other Anarch except Reina, but eventually drip starts hitting the table and I realize it's for the link. I suspect this means I will lose the late game. Sadly, my early draw is okay but not amazing, meaning I can't go as fast as I want. Emil checks some assets safely with good use of Dirty Laundry, meaning I can't catch him out either. I don't remember exactly how this one goes - I think I score a 3/1 off the table to turn off EStrike or trigger TS at some point (IIRC QPM), hard score (!) a GFI behind a Tollbooth and something else without really having enough money to safely to so, and then I start putting stuff in the remote. I think Emil checks it at some point, but I'm able to put 2x Cali and 1x GFI in there in what I hope is an inconspicuous way. Start of my turn I remember I'm one or two credits short of the 9 needed to advance x3, rez x2 and score, so I think I just ice something and try to say 'take 2, over to you' as calmly as I can. I am hoping Emil either doesn't think of this out or prefers to set up a bit more drip, as he doesn't have enough to just ignore all my stuff quite yet, and luckily for me he makes some money and installs a Security Nexus and something else instead of Stimhacking the remote, which he after the game reveals he could've done, so I barely win this one as well.

Round 4: vs Artturi (MaxX/CtM)

At this point I am 5-1, which is a way better result than I imagined. I start as Runner vs CtM, and facing a turn of 2 naked installs I think a bit. Just setting up seems unappealing because I have neither ProCo nor Pawnshop in hand, IIRC, but checking is really unsafe if I hit MVT. I do have my singleton Misdirection (or an SMC, not sure) and a Sure Gamble, which means I think I can spend next turn installing Misdirection and clearing tags. I decide to play Sure Gamble and check the first remote, hitting MVT. I then check the second one too, I think, which is IIRC Rashida. I float the tag for next turn, leaving myself with just enough to click for cred, misdirection and clear all 5 tags, as there luckily is only a HHN and no Market Forces. However, this puts me way behind, and although I do eventually get both ProCo and Pawnshop up, Artturi scores 2x ARES and gets some good stuff out, including a surprise Amani Senai which bounces my ProCo the turn after I install it. Oops. I am able to sorta claw my way back into the game, as Misdirection does a ton of work, but I don't really have that many breakers and have a big money deficit from my turn one and the ProCo bounce, so although I try to check everything while clearing tags through Stimhacking, I am eventually forced to leave some things unchecked behind what I think is fairly cheap ice while I am broke.

As CtM, I don't get an amazing start, putting out some Team Sponsorships and DBS. I think I score out a Beale for some TS triggers and a 15 Minutes, but Artturi just gets money and plays well. I don't remember exactly how this game goes, but I felt like I was slightly behind all game, and seeing a Clot means I lost an out I was hoping to lean on, so eventually Artturi gets enough accesses to win, although we could've played on for longer without it changing much for me.

Round 5: vs Tommi (MaxX/CtM)

I am now on 5-3. 6-4 feels way too close to average to be in the cut, so I suspect I need to sweep to have a chance. I start as Runner. After a T1 mulligan results in 3 naked installs, I think for a while. I don't want to repeat last game, but I have a read (meaning I really want it to be true) that the mulligan was not a great one and an agenda is being cheesed out. I think I am able to convince myself I can check it while staying safe from HHN through an SMC for Misdirection, I think through insalling something to be below 5, checking remotes and then making some money? I don't know. Through luck or through planning I in either case snag an ARES and maybe something else off the table while seeing nothing particularly dangerous. I think I am forced to do this again next turn.

I do eventually stop this insanity and start properly setting up. Although I don't remember the details, I think Tommi just has an awful draw, meaning even my poor early econ is enough to keep me safe, and I eventually lock the game down completely, letting me take my time to single access for the win. Tommi seems disheartened at his poor draw and our shared assumption that we'd need to sweep to win, but none of us were expecting the loser to allow an easy sweep, so I'll need to fight for this win too.

This again leaves us with not quite enough time for the second game. I think I am a bit snippy when Tommi plays slower than I'd like, which is unfair because everyone needs to think - I certainly do. I apologize for this afterwards, but Tommi is nice about it. Anyway, I remember having a loot of ageandas early on, although a bit of money as well. So although I have all my GFIs in hand after 2 turns, I am able to put out money assets with a HHN in hand. Tommi overextends while checking stuff fairly early on - I don't remember if I snuck out an ARES beforehand or not, but in any case I HHN for all the tags. I feel fairly comfortable about this, but am having a bit of trouble closing out the game as Tommi just kinda trashes everything while ignoring the tags he takes, so I have no money and have to protect HQ for a bit, as I can't hide agendas on the table because he just checks everything. I bleed points here and there, although am able to stash a GFI through a stone faced discard into next turn Preemptive.

I sit on a Market Forces for a bit too long, I think, as I am hoping he will have a Sure Gamble and want to play it, but Tommi is smart and just doesn't, so I think I just make 3 creds off it. Eventually my clicking for creds bears fruit, and I Psycho out a GFI (considering to save for a Beale, but I think correctly judging I could score that off a Calibraton Testing instead if a Beale appeard, and that clearing HQ would be valuable) but time is close to being called. I think I am forced to make the remote play because EoI is nowhere to be found, and I am behind on points, so instead of defending servers I click for creds some more to afford a Cali Testing to score a Beale. I barely make it, as time is called on Tommi's turn. However, Tommi clicks for creds too to break my R&D ice, and Patchwork lets him play a last ditch Maker's Eye for the win. I am a bit disappointed in this, as I felt I would've stood a better chance with a bit more time, but I have definitely taken my fair share of thinking time this tournament, so on reflection I should not complain.

At 6-4 I assume I'm out of top 8, but luckily most other people on 5-3 ended up splitting too, and as my earler opponents have done really well I have a great strength of schedule, meaning I squeak into the top cut as the only 6-4-er. At this point I feel really good about myself - I didn't really think I'd make the cut. The cut is tomorrow, meaning I can just be happy about life for a while. I know that I will be matched against Artturi tomorrow, and I felt like I played worse as Runner than I did as Corp, so I think he may elect to play Corp against me. So I message @CritHitD20 to thank him for sharing the deck and to ask for advice on the CtM matchup. He is again very nice and shares the pointers I have tried to convey above, which make a lot of sense and make me feel more confident about tomorrow.

During the night, I actually have a bit of trouble sleeping. Part of this is excitement and some dread that I will be made to Corp and not get to try to put the advice into action, and part is some snoring from fellow hostel guests who will remain unnamed. :) In any case, the next day starts with

Top cut round 1: vs Artturi (CtM) (on stream)

Through lock or by correctly judging that I looked worse on Corp than on Runner, I get to run. I think his starting draw is bad, but I now know that I don't really need to force things to happen early, and with a great starting draw of Pawnshop+ProCo by turn 3 or 4 setting up seems very appealing. I make money and trash stuff, trying to not trigger CtM every turn, which saves me quite a bit of money. I think Stimhack with SMC gets me an early agenda while keeping me safe from HHN, and I feel in control for most of this game.

Near the end I am caught out a bit after discarding a Femme to have it Compilable and selling off Brahman to not get a tag from IP Block, as Artturi rezzes a Blacklist. I got out the Brahman to break Rototurret, so this actually leaves me with no way to break the HQ Rototurret. Fortunately the Blacklist is behind a Vanilla, but I don't know that. However, I have 5 points and time is close to being called, so after Artturi hits 4 points with Calibration Testing (as Clot is also in the heap) I don't need to hit R&D with a Shadow Net Indexing to win. I don't think I make any huge mistakes except not playing around the Blacklist/Roto play I did not expect at all (props to Artturi for that tech), and forgetting to use a Paricia credit to trash a Rashida on stream. I think I could've won even a longer game if I took the chance of there being no Rototurret in front of the Blacklist, but I definitely appreciated not having to, leaving me at 1-0.

Top cut round 2: vs Emil (Kim) (on stream)

I get a good to decent start. Knowing his deck I try to accelerate, but it's hard and I click for creds a lot, as he has Employee Strike up for nearly the entire game and can trash stuff with impunity. I am able to bait a stimhack into a MVT+? server defended by an Enigma, letting me HHN although this makes me nearly go broke. He is forced to spend his turn clearing all but 2 tags, giving me the choice of clicking for creds to trash stuff or using the window to put out a 15 Min, giving me a TS/Amani Senai trigger next turn. I end up trashing a Data Folding, which was probably a mistake because he still has enough drip to do better in a low money game. Trashing the Turning Wheel was probably better, but he had another one in hand an a resistor to safely bounce off on R&D, so I think the best choice was just scoring 15 min. With Market Forces I would've been able to gain 4, IIRC (not sure about this), but I don't have my singleton, so I end up just flailing for a bit while Emil maintains his lock. I do get to score an ARES, which only really gives Emil a BP through The Archivist, and eventually a TTW dig wins him the game. This game leaves me pretty certain that my only real out vs his Kim is a good start and some risky play, as with a lot of link, drip and Employee Strike I can't believe I stand a chance if we both get to play our cards. This leaves me at 1-1.

Top cut round 3: vs Benjamin (Geist) (not on stream)

Through judicious use of social media I have convinced some of my friends and family to watch me play on stream, and having them cheer for me while some of them did not actually have a great idea about what is going on was super touching. So although I thought it would be intimidating to be streamed, I am actually somewhat let down to be off stream. Still, having won a game in the cut and put my new matchup knowledge to work I accomplished the goal I set after achieving my original goal of making the cut, so I go into the next game hoping to win but feeling more happy about the day so far than any real pressure, which is a great feeling.

Luckily for me, I am awarded with what I think is a pretty good matchup for me in Geist. I don't know if Benjamin packs any tech in Miss Bones or No One Home, but I feel confident that I can put stuff on the board early without him having strong ways of trashing them. With a T1 start of something amazing like Hedge into CBG or Rashida and something else, all I could've hoped for was a HQ ice to dissuade the Diversion of Funds, but even the 9 cred swing isn't too bad as I get money, put down more stuff and eventually sneak out an ARES when contesting it would be unsafe.

Benjamin is on a Pirate suite and not on UWC+link, which means that although I can't gearcheck him, trashing stuff gets extra rough. Eventually I think he does anyway. After trying a Diversion of Funds on HQ with Maxwell on the table, I go to 0 creds rezzing a Tollbooth, which is an easy break for him but leaves him with way fewer credits than an Enigma would. I think he assumed he could Maxwell it, but sadly he cannot, so the next turn I get some money from the table I think he'd have liked to trash with the DoF money, and HHN him.

From there on all that remains is, again, finishing. I almost flub this as Spycam and single accesses net hiim 4 points, I think, and I am again holding my Market Forces for a big payoff after e.g. a Falsified, but Benjamin is smart and spends his money trashing Calis and Bankers. I probably should've just sucked it up and played the Market Forces earlier, as it would've let me start trashing his resources sooner, but oh well. I eventually do make some money, letting me Psycho to score a GFI and clear out HQ, then score a beale with cali. Overall I think this was just a good matchup for me, and my only really clever play was not leaving a QPM on the table to have him check it, instead opting to use it for 2x TS triggers, and I finish on 2-1.

Top cut Round 4: vs Artturi (CtM) (on stream)

Another rematch! This is third time I run against his CtM. I think none of us have good draws this game, so I let him put out remotes unchecked, again leaning on the advice to let some ARES-es through and set up your engine before starting to disrupt. I have some awkward MU issues, meaning the early Astrolabe is a double godsend. Fortunately for me I don't fall into the trap of discarding breakers to Compile/Clone Chip them back because I've seen Artturi's Blacklist.

Eventually I set up enough money to feel confident, but the final turn is a bit tricky. With a doubly iced remote and me low on money, he installs in it and HHNs. I think pretty hard about the following turn. I know scoring a Beale will put him ahead (or tied with him being higher seed) on points, but I also know that if the install is a Blacklist and the ice is a Rototurret, both of which I again saw our previous game, I cannot break it except through Femme, which I cannot afford as I have no Stimhack or Compile (the Stimhack I discarded early to hold breakers in hand).

I decide that I would prefer to let him score a Beale if he has it, because I think trying to catch up on points through Indexing if needed is better for me than having Blacklist/Roto lock me out with no recourse, as IIRC Brahman + a breaker of his choice would be in the heap. So I plan to run HQ twice and clear tags (in retrospect, I should've cleared tags first in case of QPM, and just accepted that I could not trash an asset which in any case would've been tricky due to my money shortage). I hit the Beale I think he considered installing, and luckily win another tense game, putting me in the top 3, which is again way outperforming my expectations.

Top cut round 5: vs Jakob (Azmari) (on stream)

Jakob needs no introduction, so being matched against him is a bit intimidating. I assume his suite is the standard 3-pointer suite, so I plan on using FTE+Indexing as my finisher. However, this becomes unneccessary when Jakob seems completely flooded. I get proco up and some cheap resources to steal a Degree Mill, which I single access out of HQ, then some more cheap resources which I later use to snag another one. IIRC Jakob pops an NGO to rez an FC3 on HQ, and then later on goes for the IAA in a fairly nice remote, being low enough that it's obviously another NGO. I just ProCo a bit, and put out a D4, so when he next turn advances the NGO 3 more times and scores an SSL I am a bit surprised.

This puts him at only 2 creds, and with a single unrezzed ice on R&D I don't think there's much I have to fear except Vanilla, which I don't know if Azmari actually plays. In any case, I ProCo and play Indexing click 2. In retrospect there had been a lot of agendas so far, so seeing one on R&D was probably a long shot, but with FTE I can use Shadow Net to forfeit a 5/3 and Indexing, play FTE and win if I hit, or alternatively Fan Sites unless Jakob scores Echo Chamber before his last 5/3, meaning another Indexing in me, so I think this was worth the risk. Fortunately for me, the R&D ice is a Wraparound, which I totally planned for breaking with a D4vid counter, so I land my Indexing and have the D4 counters to go back in. But I realize the real agenda was the joy of the game all along, so I concede instead and wish Jakob a better draw in the finals. I feel a bit bad about not doing this for my earlier opponents, but I mainly feel super happy about making top 3 and decide to arrange Nordics next year if nobody else does.

2 comments
3 Sep 2018 dusk_

Our Hailey-AgInf game was incredibly tense and fun. Well played and gratulations on the placement!

9 Sep 2018 presheaf

Yeah, that was a really tense game with several fun moments. Props for making use of Divert Power in a honestly pretty good way and again thanks for the game. :)