Some BGG users may have seen this already, so don’t mind the cross-post if so. In many ways y’all have been more welcome and receptive than the Geek, so I figured I’d share this in its own topic over here too.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife Katie and I made our second consecutive annual trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for TetonCon. It’s a board gaming vacation run by Icarus Tours. In-between a large selection of outdoor adventures, there’s a conference room dedicated to open board gaming that’s open all afternoon and evening. The staff is all very friendly, there’s always a great group of people there, and it’s a great environment to learn and be introduced to new games.
Last year was a special treat in particular for us, as (prior to an official draft format ever being hinted at) the company owner (a big Netrunner fan himself) divided up his own Netrunner collection into booster packs and put together a draft with his own custom rules. It was my first experience drafting and roped me into the format for good. It came down to Katie and myself in the finals and I beat her, but that’s a different story that already has its own write up here.
Needless to say, Katie and I were the first to sign up when they announced they’d be running a draft under the official format with the brand new Overdrive packs this year.
We raced back from our whitewater rafting excursion just in time for the draft with four other players. Katie and myself play quite frequently (uh, we are up to 1,176 combined logged plays). Our opposition was Brian, Craig, Jesse, and Michael.
Brian and Jesse each play periodically and each have around a couple dozen plays under their belt. I believe Brian keeps up with all the latest packs, while Jesse primarily has just the core set. Craig, also a repeat guest from TetonCon '13, enjoys Netrunner but I don’t believe he had played since the standard constructed tournament at TetonCon last year. Michael had the most experience of the four, with his own small local playgroup and a good deal of plays.
Experience aside, draft play has an interesting way of leveling the playing field… this would be my fourth Netrunner draft and Katie’s third. Despite winning the TetonCon draft last year, I’ve finished in the bottom half of the draft pods in the two draft tournaments since then (which included the inaugural draft tournament at Worlds last year). Meanwhile, Katie has finished 2nd place in her two prior drafts.
This would be everyone’s first play with the Overdrive packs, and for most of us it was the very first time seeing these cards spoiled. Drafting unknown and unfamiliar cards certainly brings an interesting element to the event.
Other than seeing some of the spoiled Lunar Cycle cards, I had no clue what the rest of the draft pool included, which was rather unnerving as we started the draft. Your starter pack includes five 3-point agendas (2 Executive Retreats and one-each of the three Shard agendas) and two Hedge Funds. Right off the bat I knew that I wanted to draft a good deal of agendas so I didn’t get stuck with the 3-pointers, I needed some sustainable economy, and of course, some decent ice.
I didn’t record my Corp deck list for the draft, but I’ll do my best to give you a feel for what I had in my deck anyway. I do not feel that I did a good job of adapting to the cards I saw on the Corp side for this draft. There were three very clear things that stood out to me in regards to ice as the cards were passed around the table. There was a lot of NEXT ice flying around. There was a lot of Grail ice flying around. And I’d argue that 3 out of every 4 ice I saw was a code gate. There were at least 4-5 Tollbooths in the draft, and I also saw Enigma, Inazuma, Datapike, Gyri Labyrinth, and RSVP. In conjunction with the prominence of code gates were quite a few Encrypted Portals agendas. Had I been more adaptive to the cards in the draft, I probably would have picked a few of those up. It turns out that Katie picked up a ton of code gates, 3 Encrypted Portals, and a bunch of other 2/1s and 3/1s to create a nasty little draft-style Never Advance deck.
What I did end up with was 3 NEXT Bronze, 3 NEXT Silver, and a decent splash of other ice to include Rainbow, Pup, Bastion, Tsurugi, and Mother Goddess. I wasn’t too confident in the ability to keep folks out of my servers, but I felt like I had a great deal of taxing ice, particularly if I got a few copies of the NEXT ice rezzed.
I was less successful on the economy side, ending up with singleton economy cards that included Celebrity Gift, Restructure, Paywall Implementation, and Successful Demonstration. I passed up Private Contracts on two occasions and deeply regretted it by the end of the day.
On the agendas, I ended up with three 3/2s and an Efficiency Committee that I snagged to run four 2-pointers and two 3-pointers. So I ran a 34-card deck with 6 agendas and 14 ice. I ended up with 3(!) Manhunts thanks to people passing them to me at the end of the draft rounds, in addition to a The Cleaners agenda that nobody wanted. So when a Scorched Earth showed up, I grabbed it in a heartbeat! I didn’t expect I would get an opportunity to use it, but it meant one less thing I had to worry about on the Runner side (and I did have some utility for it w/the Manhunts and Cleaners). The only other notable cards I recall ending up with were two Snares and a Closed Accounts.
Onto the games! I had two absolutely brutal games that stood out on the Corp side. In my first round I was paired up against Michael. Two turns in, I had an unrezzed NEXT Silver on R&D, and a secure remote with a couple of ICE he couldn’t get through which I installed a Project Vitruvius behind. On my next turn, I spent three credits to score Vitruvius, putting me ahead 2-0… my fatal flaw was dropping to 2 credits when NEXT Silver costs 3 to rez. Michael ran R&D four times in a row, trashing one card and pulling three agendas to win the game. >_< That means that four of the six agendas in my deck were in the first eleven of thirty-four cards… doh! That loss hurt, but sometimes the odds just don’t work out in your favor. One of the reasons I love Netrunner so much is the ability to overcome card variance via your skill and play. By not paying attention and dropping down to two credits, I left myself wide open to the R&D lock and getting hosed by the agenda cluster in R&D.
Moving on! My second round Corp game was against Jesse. I had a good bit of confidence knowing that Jesse was a relatively inexperienced player, but you could tell Jesse plays a lot of card games - he had a great deal of skill, despite being a newer Netrunner player. He was rightfully aggressive in the early game and jumped out to a 4-0 lead as I took time building my servers and clicking for credits. With Overmind as his primary breaker, I was keeping him out of my remote and R&D via a combination of 3 NEXT Bronze and 2 NEXT Silver. For the record, Overmind does not like NEXT Silver with 5 rezzed NEXT ice on the table! While I was stacking my NEXT walls of doom though, Jesse was maintaining constant pressure and forcing me to rez ice via a combination of runs and Forged Activation Orders. I had a 3-pointer with 1 advancement counter on it installed in the secure remote and a meager pile of credits, then I drew another 3-pointer and knew I had an issue. Knowing he just needed one more agenda to win the game, Jesse was doing an all-out blitz on the Pup-guarded HQ (the only server he could consistently get into now). With a five card hand that included one Snare and one 3-pointer, I decided to gamble, click for a credit, and advance the 3-pointer in the remote twice. If he didn’t pull the 3-pointer out of HQ, I would have 3 points next turn with another 3-pointer in a secure remote and be a couple short turns from victory. Out of sheer desperation, Jesse runs HQ with no credits and eats the Pup net damage to drop down to 1 card. With a 1-in-5 shot of hitting Snare! and losing, and a 1-in-5 shot of hitting the 3-pointer and winning… he grabs the agenda! Dangnabbit!
So, alas, my Corp put on a pitiful showing and I lost every game with it this draft. But, let us move on to brighter subjects…
Cutting to the chase, here’s the deck that I drafted and built…
The Masque: Cyber General (Special)
2x Déjà Vu (Core Set) ••••
1x Net Celebrity (The Spaces Between) •
2x Scavenge (Creation and Control) ••••
1x Scrubbed (The Spaces Between) ••
2x Sure Gamble (Core Set)
1x Akamatsu Mem Chip (Core Set) •
1x R&D Interface (Future Proof) ••
3x Silencer (Double Time) ••••• ••••
2x Aesop’s Pawnshop (Core Set) ••••
1x Daily Casts (Creation and Control)
2x Ghost Runner (The Spaces Between)
1x Wyldside (Core Set) •••
1x Zona Sul Shipping (All That Remains) •
1x Breach (Honor and Profit) ••
1x Cerberus “Lady” H1 (All That Remains) •••
3x Cerberus “Rex” H2 (All That Remains) ••••• ••••
2x Overmind (Honor and Profit)
3x Switchblade (Up and Over) ••••• •
51 influence spent (max ∞)
30 cards (min 30)
Cards up to All That Remains
I believe I drafted every Runner economy card that I saw… there were slim pickings all around. I was relying on Silencers and Switchblade for breaking sentries, with the limited-use Cerberus breakers as my primary means for getting through barriers and code gates. Remember all the code gates I saw on the Corp side? Yep, that’s why we have 3 copies of Rex in the deck here. With Overmind included, this made for an interesting little deck that could snipe any one server when I needed to, but could not consistently maintain pressure on any server with more than a single sentry.
Alright, let’s talk about some of the other card choices here. R&D Interface was the only multi-access card I recall seeing the whole draft, I picked it up immediately. Scavenges worked well to replenish the limited-use breakers. In a pinch, I could Aesop’s them and Deja Vu a program back, but that was rather costly in regards to credits and clicks. I included Net Celebrity and Scrubbed simply to counter the Corp currents that I saw on that side of the draft. Scrubbed ended up being useless in this deck, while Net Celebrity more than pulled its weight. Akamatsu was Aesop’s food, never needed the memory. Wyldside was the only form of card draw I saw in the draft and also paired well with Aesop’s. Zona Sul Shipping ended up doing all the heavy lifting in my economy as a mini-Kati Jones, but it was fairly slow and still left me clicking for credits constantly. I’m not a big fan of Daily Casts in regular play, but beggars can’t be choosers with economy in draft play. The Aesop’s helped out a bit there as well. Ghost Runners were probably the MVP of the deck, allowing Switchblade to get through multi-sentry servers where the Silencers alone simply would not do. Along with seemingly everything else in the deck, they too served as Aesop’s food once I got down to a credit left on them and I had enough Silencers to which I felt the 1 Ghost Runners credit was not necessary.
I ended up running the table and going undefeated with the Runner. My closest match was against Katie and her deck of undying encrypted portal code gates. She got an early 4-0 lead and I face-planted into an Archer before the tables turned in my favor. Getting through Archer for free (via Switchblade and two recurring Silencer credits) does have that effect though. Eventually, she couldn’t keep me out, and I caught up and won after establishing an R&D lock with my R&D Interface singleton. I also had a very close game against Craig’s corp. He played with more of a horizontal server shell-game-esque strategy with several cheap sentries, that played right into my hand once I had the Switchblade/Silencer set-up. I was able to keep constant pressure and kept him low on credits throughout to pull away with the win.
Michael ended up winning, Katie finished 2nd (as usual!), and I finished 4th (bottom half, as usual!). Clearly drafting is not my strong suit when it comes to Netrunner, hah! All in all it was a great experience and one that I thoroughly enjoyed despite getting my tail handed to me a few times.
For anyone interested in the vacation as a whole, Icarus Tours is running similar gaming vacations to TetonCon later this year in Las Vegas (a long weekend in October) and the Adirondacks (a weekend in September). I will be attending Vegas Con, where they will be running both a standard Netrunner tournament and another draft event like this one. If you’re at all interested in tagging along or finding out more details, check out their website or send me a private message. Thanks for taking the time to read, and hopefully you enjoyed reading about my drafting blunders as much as I enjoyed the experience of making them!