Netrunner Dutch Nationals 2017 Report
This is an Android: Netrunner related article. Specifically a report about my journey to Enschede, Netherlands for the Dutch National Championship of 2017 on the 12th of August.
Dutch Nationals are basically one of the events I look forward to going to all year long since it is the largest Netrunner event we get here in the Netherlands. I organized and judged the last three years of Dutch Nationals but this time, I actually got to play instead since my good friend Elwin organized them instead. I am so happy I did and I will explain why when we get to the Nationals day part of the report.
It was going to be a full 3-day Netrunner-themed holiday though, with tons of games and conversations over the game for sure. So what do you do when you have something like that coming up? You team up of course. So me and my friend David decided to take the train from Amsterdam together and book an AirBnB place together as well. Not only was he the best company I could have on a Netrunner trip like this, but I honestly do not think I would have survived the fatigue of the last three days if it wasn’t for him and his at-all-times cheery attitude to keep me going. You are the MVP here David and I thank you for that.
I also met a lot of people up close for the first time. Tolaasin, Rotage and Pumego were just a few among those and I am very happy to have both talked to them and played some of them too. It was a great pleasure to have met you guys and gal and I look forward to our next meeting and game of Netrunner again!
More thanks will be given at the end of the report of course but before that, I have tons to say and show you, so let’s get this thing started!
Friday 11th – Burgers / Netrunner Charades
We took the train in the afternoon and after about three hours of travelling, we arrived at Comicasa (the main board game store of Enschede). Enschede, for anyone that does not know about it, is at the far east of the Netherlands, which is also known as “the other side of the world.” It is so far away, that not many people have heard of it or have ever been there. People also joke that if you take one more step once you are there, you are suddenly in Germany. So yeah, all things considered, we traveled quite a lot from the Netherlands to the Netherlands to compete at our own Dutch Nationals.
We arrived at a pretty good time and as soon as everyone else was there too, we all went together for burgers. We were about 20 people present for the community dinner and it was honestly a good start to the whole Netrunner weekend, since we got to chat about Netrunner and also catch up with what everyone else was doing (since we haven’t seen some people in a while). Oh and, of course, the burgers were really good so well done on the choice of the burger place.
After a couple hours, we all moved back to Comicasa to play the Netrunner Quiz that Elwin (the main TO for the weekend) had prepared for us. But, there was a plot twist. The Netrunner Quiz was not a quiz, but a game of charades! After a few casual games of Netrunner here and there, we quickly made 3 teams of 6 and started playing Netrunner Charades.
We very quickly realized that the team with the Swedes and the British was going to wreck us, but nonetheless, just like a good game of competitive Netrunner, we knew a win was not impossible so we kept trying as hard as we could to get more and more points as rounds went on and on. We did a bunch of rounds of what Elwin called “easy cards.” Mind you, Elwin explained the “easy cards” as much played or well known cards, but I am not sure how played Isabel McGuire or Warroid Tracker are. Damn it Elwin! Either way, we then moved on to some harder cards which we ended up nailing one by one and thus getting as many points as we could in those rounds.
So, despite some very big balancing issues (for example with ID cards being too easy to guess, which we only got one of ourselves) we ended up winning with a one point difference. Two of three highlights are most definitely the time that Walter explained Upayoga and TL;DR and I found them right away. Biggest highlight is forever going to be when Giovanni walked over super confused and disappointed for having drawn a specific card out of the pool, trying to explain it and me yelling after 2 seconds “CLAIRVOYANT MONITOR,” only to be followed by people yelling in surprise “HOW?!?!??!” There was one guy from the other team that yelled “of course HE fuckin’ knows that!!!”
I honestly loved it. I would do Netrunner charades any day, any time again. Oh and as a hint, you should have Rotage on your team, because that guy is a beast at charades apparently.
A couple beers and a walk back to our AirBnB in the middle of the night with David closed the night for us. Worth noting that the place we were staying at was an artist’s (who goes by the name Bibichini) house that was called the “Fluffy House.” It was very clean and tidy even though it looked extremely weird and creepy in many ways because of all the half-body mannequins in every room. Would recommend it to anyone visiting Enschede since it was both cheap and very comfortable.
Saturday 12th – Dutch Nationals
The day had arrived and I was feeling less ready than I had ever felt before. Not only had I not practiced since the Spanish Nationals a couple months ago, but I also hadn’t changed my decks at all. I usually make a few changes in between tournaments, but for the first time in my Netrunner competitive career, I went to three major tournaments with the same decks (except the runner deck which changed just a bit after Euros for Spain and the Netherlands).
The venue was at a big hall of a huge conservatory-music-hall-kind-of-thing and it was amazing. It was spacious, it had big doors for clean air to come in and despite the fact that there was only one toilet, 56 people managed to have tons of fun there. Elwin also provided everyone with a pack of stroopwafels and a bottle of water at the start of the tournament, so we were good to go Dutch-style! I of course ended up giving my stroopwafels to my friend Leon, because I had a full year of eating stroopwafels and I simply cannot consume them any more.
Elwin allowed me to have my own little table in the corner of the hall, so that I can have my camera set up there all the time. So for that reason, I was able to relax and know that my stuff will always be set up there instead of having to move it around all the time, which is something I am sure a lot of players would appreciate and I just had that because of the camera. So, a huge thanks for that to the organization, I really do appreciate you allowing me to do this.
First and most importantly though, before I go on to explain anything else, a huge congratulations to Pieter from Belgium who made 1st place. Having seen a couple of your games afterwards as well, it was pretty clear that you played extremely well and thus fully deserved that spot!
I personally made 7th/8th place, since I made the top 8 cut and then lost both games. However, top 8 cut for me was already more than satisfying and almost a dream, since as I said, this was the first time I competed in the Dutch Nationals. As I explained in my Facebook post as well, I really love the game and how personal it can feel sometimes because of how it works both in the deckbuilding part of it as well as while playing it. I build my decks entirely on my own and I also configure my playstyle for them by testing them myself instead of going with guidelines from other players, so it is always a huge feat for me to make a top cut in a big competitive event. Knowing that most other players are playing extremely competitive decks that crush the meta if played well, I always end up being surprised that I made a top cut. Also, huge congrats to all the other top cut players who despite whatever decks they played, all proved to be really good players and I can only feel proud to even be among them in the end of the day.
7.1% of the participants played Ele “Smoke” Scovak (4 people) and 1.1% played Palana Foods (1 person).
Runner Deck: Hyper Light Smoke
Corp Deck: Poisonous Herbs Garden
I went into the tournament knowing that the current meta isn’t great for my decks, so I tried to play them to my best ability despite whatever the odds were at any particular moment. Deckbuilding-wise, I already explained a lot about it in my European Championship 2017 report and my Spanish Nationals 2017 report but other than that, I thought I should add a few more points here as well.
- It is extremely important to note that the Palana deck is not just a mind-games deck, but also requires really good piloting skills in order to get you wins. It is important to know all the lines of play all competitive runner IDs can have as well as all the lines of play a Jinteki deck can have. I say that about Jinteki because, despite whatever cards you may be running, you need to know what your opponent might be expecting as well, thus anticipating moves that would make sense in other situations (where you would be glacier for example). I killed a bunch of runners just because I specifically played that way and not because they just did not know I run SEA Source, Scorch, Scorch.
- I read on the stream chat that someone said “the only way to tag is Snare!” and this is exactly what this deck does. Your opponent thinks they know you. You cannot imagine how many times people installed Plascrete Carapace because they just knew my previous decks. Also, you cannot imagine how many people “assume” things in my deck for all sorts of reasons. When that person said the thing about the tag through Snare!, I was literally just waiting for a SEA Source in order to Neural into SEA Source – Scorch since I had the credits advantage at that point and my opponent kept himself at four cards during many of his turns.
- Very much like the previous point and I keep stressing it in every single article I make, is the fact that you should play 2s and 3s of certain cards. I played only one Fetal AI and for that reason, many of my opponents spent so much time digging through their deck in order to find their Film Critic. Or, for the same reason, they ran R&D with a lot of cards in hand so that they can take damage from Fetal AI or a potential Obokata Protocol and then end their turn with a high amount of cards. What happened instead is that they ended up trashing cards at the end of their turn just because they were over maximum hand size. That is basically milling without me having to pay any money. Also, Palana makes money when they draw cards, so even more synergy.
- Both decks, despite being competitive, do not run many power cards. If anything, I would say that Temujin is the only card that I run and consider a “power card” at the same time. This is very crucial since against many decks that run “power cards,” my decks end up falling behind in tempo and thus losing the game unless they can pull out a win out of luck. For example, against mooninites, if the HB player has x2 Estelle Moon in the first 5 turns, then I am definitely going to end up losing that match unless I get lucky enough with draw and centrals pressure (find their GFIs, since that is the last one they usually score, or find other agendas fast).
- Net Celebrity might be going out of the deck since I am not seeing many currents being played from corps at the moment.
Before I continue to the rounds, I have to say that I realized I forgot my recording camera at home and David went back to get it for me after the 2nd round, so I do not have video for the first two rounds. That is very unfortunate of course, since both of those rounds had really nice games which I won’t be able to show anyone. So here goes!
Round 1 – Heinzel – Replicating Perfection / Whizzard
Heinzel is the former German National champion and I know plays a very mean Replicating Perfection glacier game. Knowing that, I tried to set up as much as I could and in the end, despite him having scored a Nisei MKII, I forced the use of the “End the run” token and then ran on his Caprice server to win the psi game and take a very important agenda. His glacier playstyle is very conservative and that is the reason why I think I had enough time to set up and actually take the win in the end off R&D.
We then played the Palana match-up which he, just like many other people, did not expect to be that way. He thought of glacier but half-way through, realized that it was not glacier, but net damage. He saw the Scorched Earth but that did not really matter since he was playing very carefully. In the end, I got his entire stack in the bin and his hand had zero cards as well. He ran for a medium dig of 6 and instead of any Shock!s or Snare!s, saw the last Global Food Initiative for the win.
Heinzel played very carefully and it was most definitely an amazing start to the tournament, because those games got me really deep into the competitive mood really fast. Thank you for the awesome games Heinzel and I am glad I had the chance to play against you.
Round 2 – Eric “Vet” – Engineering the Future / Andromeda
Eric “Vet” is a Dutch player and thus I already knew him. However, we had never played each other before so I did not know what to expect. Thankfully, his HB deck was not mooninites so I had to play a standard glacier game while at the same time trying not to allow him to fast advance through Clot / SacCon lock. The game was on both sides until the end where I did a Maker’s Eye for the win. The Palana game ended up with me scoring out by faking various agendas through Mushin No Shin, so that game, fortunately went by without too much trouble
Eric was really fun to play against because I felt poor the entire time against him. He made tons of credits with both of his decks (early Breaker Bay Grid and Temujins) but I fortunately managed to keep up with him despite all the huge ICE or the amount of access he had to all my servers. Well played Eric and see you at the next big Dutch tournament!
Note: Eric told me that “Vet” stands for “Veterinarian” (which is his profession) and not for “fat” as it directly translates from Dutch.
Round 3 – Leon “No Pants” – Argus Security / Leela Patel
Right after the 30 minutes break, David returned on time with my camera in hand, so I was able to record my games from that time onward. Leon is yet another Dutch player who I was very happy to see at the same points as me, but we both knew it could only go either way full sweep or a split and thus mess up each other’s standings. We obviously did not discuss about that though. We did what we always do instead, which is to just talk shit to each other non-stop while laughing it out non-stop.
This is what happens when you put two good friends to play a game on a high competitive level tournament. It was glorious.
I killed him super fast (around 3 minutes game) with my Palana through a Neural EMP – Ronin kill after faceplanting into a Chiyashi and then we went for his corp game. He scored out fast because I could not find my breakers but soon enough I started running an unprotected R&D with Equivocation. I started racking up points without ever even using Film Critic and then ended up winning through a Maker’s Eye. Yet another sweep and all I needed from there on was two more wins for a sure top 8 cut.
Leon is a really good Weyland player and one of those people that I can’t call their bluffs, so every time he put something on the table, I was thinking it was just another Snare!. I only wish I had played Melvin too in the tournament, then the circle would have been complete.
Round 4 – Christopher – Industrial Genomics / Whizzard
“How happy am I supposed to look after getting swept?!?!” said Christopher while I was taking his picture after I swept him in the fourth round.
Industrial Genomics is by far one of those decks that I fear the most, because I feel a bit helpless at times. If they put down the three Bio-Ethics Associations and have the Neurals in hand, then it is more or less impossible to beat their speed since you cannot draw fast enough to run and steal through Kakugos. Film Critic did help a lot in that match-up but it is still a very hard match-up. Even more so, I was afraid of it because it cost me top 16 during Euros when I lost against an IG that I was at 6 points and just did not run Levy to have enough steam to run just a little bit more. This time though, I packed Levy and it gave me enough card-health to run a couple more times and close the game. There were two turns though, where if he had x2 Neural EMP in his hand, he would have killed me.
The Whizzard game was something I was also afraid of and at the same time hoping it ends fast. Thankfully, Christopher knew nothing of me, my playstyle or any of my deckbuilding choices and he thus decided to Siphon click 3 and then Dirty Laundry my R&D on click 4, leaving himself at 3 cards. Still tagged and low on card-health, I just did mandatory draw and then Scorched Earth for the win. A four minutes game that I was very glad was over, since Christopher could have destroyed me with his Whizzard siphon deck if he played it safe from early game. I am just glad he saw none of the kill pieces before that.
Round 5 – Round 6
Both of those rounds I IDed. Once against Matthew and once against Nico “Guybrush” who I ended up playing on camera for fun anyway since we were on the top table. Only reason why I was ok with playing Nico on camera instead of waiting it out for the top 8 cut was because Nico is the only person on Jinteki.net that I practiced my decks against, so he knew more or less what was in my decks. He knew about the SEA Source – Scorch and generally about the fact that my Palana was full of death instead of glacier-y stuff. The Smoke on the other hand did not really matter, since he was playing SYNC, so the game is always 50/50 no matter what. It all depends on who draws the right cards first in that case and in our casual game he drew into his good cards way faster than me.
So in the meantime, I just goofed around, played some casual games with Bryan (with a funky Jemison and Au Revoir Andy deck I had with me) and then just waited until round 6 finished to see the final results.
Top 8 Cut
So the dream came true. I went there expecting to do really bad, because I knew what the current meta is like. So knowing what my decks are like, I expected them to do really bad, but instead I managed to get some very fast wins and some other very clutch ones. Either way, I am extremely proud of yet another top 8 cut with personal and off-meta decks in a very competitive environment. Even more so, the fact that this was my first Dutch Nationals where I also did well was something very awesome for me since I love the Dutch Netrunner community and I always wanted to play in the largest event that takes place in the country I’ve been playing most Netrunner in.
After a small break, we all came back and started playing the top 8 cut games. My first game was going to be against Matthew.
1st Top 8 Cut game – Matthew – Palana against Whizzard
Matthew proved to be a very careful and generally smart player from the very first few turns of the game. He played safely and even installed a Plascrete Carapace very early. I asked him “why would you do that?” and he replied “well, I know your Nisei Decks, so that Palana can’t be anything straight-forward glacier for sure.” Well called my friend, you guessed it right when about 20 other people in Euros and two Nationals did not. That of course did not keep him safe, since I ended up doing so much damage that he went down to 4 cards in hand and 0 in stack. He kept digging with Medium and the agendas were unfortunately above the x2 Shock! and x2 Snare! that were left in the deck. It also really mattered that he played Sifr, since if he did not, he would run out of credits and cards way faster and wouldn’t be able to keep up with the tempo that Chiyashi allows me to have. I have said it before and I will say it again, Sifr is my most hated card, since it breaks one of the core mechanics in the game (first reason why I do not play Nisei at the moment).
Either way, Sifr or not, luck or not on R&D, Matthew did play awesomely from the very start as I said and that allowed him to have those few extra cards to stay alive in the end and take the victory from the jaws of death. Well played Matthew and I hope we meet again one day for more Netrunner!
2nd Top 8 Cut game – Alex “ff0x” – Smoke against Engineering the Future
I have played Alex quite a few times before, both in Swiss and in a Top Cut. What I like about him is that he is a really nice guy. What I do not like about him and I have told him before, is that he talks a lot during the game. If he is winning, he makes a lot of little jokes which are not annoying on their own, but when put all together end up making the game frustrating. If he is losing, he will nag about every single unlucky thing that has happened to him. Either way, I did not say anything as I did not want to make a big deal out of it and as I said, I know him and how nice he generally is, so I know he means well at all times. Plus it was my very last few games for the day, so I was not going to start making a fuss when I’ve had so much fun the entire day. I just played the game and tried my best at it. I just wanted you to know for next time Alex, because this is important when you play against anyone, not just me. Also, not everyone knows you as well as I do.
His corp deck was Mooninites all the way and I thankfully had a Beth and an Astrolabe in my first hand, so I kept. Little did I know that he was going to have all three of his Estelle Moons, plus Friends in High Places, plus Advanced Assembly Lines in just 5 turns. Alex is a really good player, so his good piloting skills in combination with the broken-utter-bullshit card that is Estelle Moon (salty much?) gave him so much speed that I was literally helpless against him. He was doing things so well that he even managed to keep himself below 5 credits at the end of his turn so that Beth does not fire. Then on his turn, he magically had 12 credits out of nowhere again to do anything he pleased.
I did a Maker’s Eye to find two 2-pointers and then I was always really low on credits. I was lucky that he only had x2 Architect on R&D and a Quandary on HQ, so I ran a few times trying to find just one more 2-pointer. My semi-last turn was basically Same Old Thing – Maker’s Eye just in case I find one more 2-pointer, so that I can run with 2 credits on the next turn, break Quandary, run Archives, run R&D, let Architects fire and use Notoriety with my last credit. Despite him digging through his entire deck with 3 Moons though and me going into HQ about 4 to 5 times, there were no agendas to be found and I therefore lost the game to a popped Moon for Efficiency Committee clicks, Shipment from Sansan-ed Global Food Initiative the next turn.
This is exactly what I feared coming to this tournament and this is exactly the reason why I did not expect to do well. Call it salt or whatever you want, but the game is unplayable for me in cases like this. If you are not on a competitive deck with extreme power cards then there is not much you can do. Well played Alex and congrats on your placement too!
Full results on AlwaysBeRunning.net through this link.
So this was my run and honestly, I am very happy with it, however sad the top 8 cut games may have made me. As I said already, I am happy to even be among those players and those decks. I do feel I played my best despite not having had much practice (other than in the train) so better luck next time. It was awesome watching some of Bryan’s games after my losses and the grand final was an amazing game too. That prison escape is such a nice way to go out of the tournament victorious so congrats yet again Pieter!
I was very happy to see Bryan get 2nd place as well since a lot of people give him a lot of shit for playing Dyper. Knowing him for the last couple of years, I have seen him play quite a few obscure decks very expertly and even though those decks are considered somewhat unfair (keyhole, prison, etc.), Bryan always proves that the way he plays those decks is unique, even though those decks have very specific lines of play. During his game against Matthew’s SYNC, he expertly piloted his deck into a victory even though for about 6 turns, it felt as if he was going to just die miserably. Well played man, was really happy to see you again.
Sunday 13th – Cache Refresh Side Event
You can find the full video coverage of the top table for the first 3 rounds through this link on YouTube. (Unfortunately, my camera was acting up and for some reason I do not have the final 2 rounds on camera…sorry everyone.)
We arrived at Comicasa about 30 minutes before the Cache Refresh event started and we were thankful we did so, because all of a sudden the sun just went away and it started raining so hard that people just came in the store fully drenched. I would sit down and write about each and every round of the Cache Refresh event but I would rather keep this report focused on the Nationals instead. it was a very fun event though and it showed me yet again how tired one can be and still enjoy Netrunner. I managed to beat a mooninites and an Apex (kudos to Pumego for having the guts to come with Apex to an event filled with PE,SYNC and Mooninites) so I am more than happy with how the day went.
I played against, Tolaasin, Pumego, Dominic, David and Michiel, and I can honestly say that all of my matches were really fun. Even the ones against Dominic where I just got destroyed.
I personally made 7th place by playing my classic Staple Smoke (the updated one) and my Personal Refresh (Jinteki Personal Evolution) deck. Even with a Net Shield inclusion, it was very hard to win a couple games against Personal Evolution, since without a Film Critic, it is extremely difficult to keep up with Kakugo, Ben Musashi, Obokata, PriSec. There is neither enough speed or card draw in the format so you can only rely on luck of finding stuff before they find all their protections pieces and score out. Dominic Milinski took 1st place with a Smoke and a Personal Evolution in the end of the day, congrats man!
This is the part where I say all my thank yous basically and where all the people come to check if their name is down too. I am not going to list every single one of you guys but I am sure you know I love you all the same and maybe even more than you think. I freakin’ love the Netrunner community and I mean the entirety of it. People came from other countries to play in our humble flatlands and I was so happy to see that everyone enjoyed themselves so much. A huge thank you goes out to Elwin for organizing the main event so well, as well as all the other stuff on Friday and Sunday, making it a weekend to be remembered. Also, a huge thanks to Gereon (Spacehonk) for judging the main event and being as vigilant as ever. I never had to call a judge but it still nice to know that he is watching over our games.
I am very glad I got to see all of the people that were there (even the ones I hadn’t met before) and I am looking forward to the next time we meet already. A huge thank you to David once again for his company and to all the Dutch community players too, who all came to me to congratulate me and tell me that they are supporting me and want me to see me do well in the top 8 cut (sorry for failing you folks!)
Here’s to next time everyone and till then…
Keep runnin’ non-stop!
-Constantine “Kelfecil” Christakis