Cards in hand? (6th @ US Nationals)

Ajar 1543

"Cards in hand?" ... "Two. Am I dead?" ... "Yep."

I tested many variations on Palana for US Nationals, starting with the Worlds second place deck. I leaned heavily on Scarcity, which astute readers will already have noticed is absent from this list. After reflecting on conversations with @bblum and @jdeng at and after Worlds, and testing with numerous folks in the test group I joined, I concluded that a cheaper ice suite and a bit of disincentive to hammer centrals was worth the sacrifice of potential tempo from a turn one Scarcity.

That choice was one hundred percent correct. If I were competing again tomorrow, it would be tough to convince me to change anything about this list. A DRM would be wonderful, but that's a meta call for a world where you don't need two Crisiums and two IP Blocks to handle Aumakua decks generally, and Liza decks specifically. You could maybe swap Archived for Preemptive, slot a DRM, and trade Macrophage for the third IP Block. That's about the extent to which I would consider changing anything. Aiki is bananapants, don't cut it.

I also had a bye, which gave me the luxury of a bye-sweep-sweep-split-ID-ID day 1, sending me into the cut in 5th on breakers.

The end of the first game is linked above. I rushed to 5 points, got my Nisei turntabled after playing the odds on R&D, then once I noticed @cranked playing around the Palana ID to deny me credits, I Archived a La Costa and put it in my remote with another card.

The second game was an Anansi flatline after rushing to 5 points forced a desperation Khusyuk with one fewer credit than necessary to break.

The third game vs @greyfield was closer, with Wanton and Doof slowing me down considerably, but once I saw there was no AI solution in the deck, I waited for Levy and IAA'd the winning Obokata from 5 credits, a Nisei token, and a rezzed Excalibur.

In the cut, I ran twice, going 1-1 and putting me into an elimination game vs Robby on stealth Wu. I'm going to go deep on this game, so people who aren't interested, stop reading now! :)

I looked at his deck list and noticed BlacKat, which is pretty effective against my barrier-heavy ice suite. We took turns going in the tank in this game, and I honestly think that if the game had been untimed, it would have been the best game of the entire tournament for me. Unfortunately, we got a 5 minute warning when I was up 5-0 with a Nisei token and 2 Border Controls on my remote. I tried to speed up my play in order to avoid seeming like I was intentionally slow rolling to win on time, and that ended up costing me heavily. A stretch of dud draws gave me relatively few good options, and Robby got to 5 as time was called, giving him the timed win as the higher seed and knocking me out of the tournament.

I spent a while reflecting on what I could have done differently, given the cards as they came up, and two days later I think I figured out the right line. When we got the 5-minute warning, I had two Kakugos and Aiki on R&D, nothing on HQ, and two Border Controls and Thimblerig on my remote, with an unadvanced Bio Vault installed in it. I had two useless Crisium Grids in hand. Robby's rig was BlacKat, Refractor, Cloak, and a Clone Chip with access to Pelangi and SMC. Low real credits, but plenty of stealth, a freshly installed Turning Wheel, and a Film Critic.

Without time as a consideration, the plan had been to draw for an ice that would tax (Anansi, Excalibur, the third Border Control), install it on HQ, then swap it to the remote to score and win.

What actually happened: I drew a Nisei on the first click after time was called. I immediately IA'd it, then trashed everything defending it, even though I knew Robby would be able to get it. I was hoping he would use up enough resources that I would be able to defend R&D and HQ, or maybe score something else if I drew a better ice. But I hadn't taken the time to do the math on the stealth credits, and it cost him relatively little while costing me all of my future flexibility. Over the next couple of turns, I drew into Obokata, a useless Celebrity Gift, and Anansi, so I just IA'd the Obokata and extended the hand when he ran it and broke Anansi.

What I should have done: NA the Nisei to bluff it as a Snare, and give it up without using my token or Border Controls if he ran it. Swap Thimblerig to R&D for a couple of turns just to threaten swapping Border Control over to deny deep Turning Wheel digs. Then I could have stuck to my original plan of installing the next useful ice I drew (Anansi in this case) on HQ to swap out later. Swap Thimblerig to the remote -- which might have triggered an HQ run / dig, but I had the credits to rez Anansi to make it expensive -- and AA the Bio Vault if I still had it. After that, if I still had the Obo and the Vault, I would win. If not, well, at least this line was better odds than what I did!

Big points to Robby for being a gracious, thoughtful, and very challenging opponent. I'd love to play again in the future, and hopefully get some revenge for being knocked out.

Thanks to Anti for testing extensively with me and beating this deck over and over as I refined it, and for giving me pep talks and matchup advice whenever I needed it. You know who you are. <3

I stuck with it in part because of its power against non-Liza runners and in part because I was tired of playing Outfit and didn't trust the Liza matchup even with tech. Palana has tons of high-level lines to find, between Runner turn Thimblerig swaps and NA / IA / IAA choices. If you can put two cards facedown in your remote, you can bluff almost anything as almost anything else.

I had a ton of fun at US Nationals. I'll be back.

4 comments
6 Nov 2019 cranked

i feel attacked by this deck name

6 Nov 2019 CryptoGraham

Amazing match, truly one of the most intense and interesting matches I've seen in ages! Kudos on a fantastic record and placement!

6 Nov 2019 Ajar

@cranked you were far from the only opponent I asked that question, just the unfortunate victim of the most relevant instance.

At minimum, I ask every single time someone lets me fire the Aiki psi game.

7 Nov 2019 yucaBEAN

"If you can put two cards facedown in your remote, you can bluff almost anything as almost anything else."

100%, I love this aspect of the deck. I like a lot of the choices here -- IP, Crisium, Macrophage are great against all the turtle, doof, apoc, stargate, etc. Aiki is nasty and good synergy with the ID. That snare remote bluff on the stream was sick. Well done!