Episode 6 – Pad Dash: Deep Space

In which we discuss the 21.10 banlist update, where all the existing decks are at now and what we’re looking at going into the month running up to worlds

https://anchor.fm/the-process-anr/episodes/Episode-6—Pad-Dash-Deep-Space-e192kel

As the banlist had only been out for about 36 hours when we recorded this we’re a little bit light on conclusions here, mostly digging into what all the changes potentially mean for the meta and what we’re going to look at first. Hopefully things will clarify a little over the next few weeks and we’ll be updating the blog as and when we start to feel confident about some lists, hopefully with plenty of time to go before lists have to be locked in

Purple. Purple everywhere…

It’s been just over a month since our last episode, and we’re sitting right on the cusp of three weeks of continental tournaments, kicking off with APAC this weekend. Our original plan was to record another episode at this point, briefly wrapping up our experiences with Fite Nite and discussing our thoughts on the competitive scene as we move into Continentals. Unfortunately due to a mixture of busy schedules, the opportunity to get out and enjoy some UK summer weather and some low enthusiasm with the current meta, recording this episode never looked to be on the cards. Hopefully this little article will go someway to making up for this shocking lack of effort on our part.

Fite Nite

Despite our rather lacklustre performance, I think all four of us would agree that we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play and chat together as a team. Getting to connect and talk about Netrunner is something I think we all miss the most about the lack of IRL tournaments at moment. So huge thank you to Vale for organising, NWE and Snarebears for being such great opponents (extra hat tip to Jonas for giving us all a good schooling), and everyone who participated in streaming and supporting this effort. I look forward to this format returning in the future and watching some more teams battle it out.

Continentals

At the time of writing, worldtimebuddy is telling me APAC is due to kick off in about 8 hours. While I won’t be waking in the wee small hours to watch, I will definitely be very curious as to the meta breakdown for this first tournament of the series.

It’s pretty apparent that the meta is still corp favoured, and very heavily stacked towards our purple overlords HB. With all in fast-advance Sportsmetal, rushy skunk void PD both pulling runner in a variety of different directions, and hard hitting Asa as a stalking horse that presents another problem alongside those. What few recent tournament results we have to go on, featured both these corp ID’s in the top 4 so the question for the last month has been how exactly do you combat them both?

To be honest, we don’t know.

The default answer (to most netrunner questions) seems to be 419, and the NYC SC results would go some distance to confirm that hunch – you have early interaction in the form of boomerang, turtle and very solid long term sustain econ from rezekis and bravados which give you some play against PD, and you can slot a mix of tech of your choice to try and make things better. The sports matchup isn’t ideal though, while doof does slow them down a little and turtle cuts through their ice, unless you make some very specific and awkward tech decisions you have essentially no interaction with their path to victory and are just playing vacheron roulette off r&d in the first few turns, same as it ever was with game changer spombo.

On the other hand Antarctic Continentals were incredibly green, with three different Shaper decks making it into the top 4 (Smoke, Apoc Lat, Mayfly Wu), they all give you slightly different approaches to PD while potentially allowing you to play clot or imp and some simulchips to try and get an edge on Sportsmetal.

Overall a pretty mixed bag. Just to further muddy the waters, we’re going to throw our own hat into the runner ring. Initially driven by a real want to not have to play 419 at a competitive event again, and also to actually build a deck for a change rather than discuss the same 4-5 tech slots in crim we’ve ended up on the following [ Mike Note: some of us were relatively happy to just suck it up, play 419 and then complain a lot about sports on the day but John insisted that we should do something more interesting and, for want of any need to actually really build 419, we agreed to give it a shot ]

Maxx

1 MKUltra
3 Sure Gamble
3 Simulchip
3 Liberated Account
1 Misdirection
1 Clot
2 Black Orchestra
3 Overclock
1 Rebirth
2 Paperclip
1 Stargate
2 Apocalypse
3 Fermenter
3 I’ve Had Worse
3 Labor Rights
3 Botulus
3 Cookbook
1 Imp
3 Daily Casts
3 Hippo

If you’ve bumped into myself, Mike or Chris in random jnet lobbies recently, you’ve likely seen us playing some variation of this list. I’ll spend some time discussing some of the decisions that went into this list, but also want to preface this whole section with a fairly large disclaimer.

This list is likely still behind 419 across the board. While it does appear to have a significantly better sports matchup, the PD matchup is only okay, you have to work very hard and tread some very tight lines and that’s before you start to factor in the Crisiums that are popping up in PD now which make your main game plan significantly worse.

At this point we don’t know for sure if any of us will play the list in competition, but we’ve spent a few weeks working on it and in the spirit of project, we present it here warts and all.

Originally designed with the sole objective of crushing Sports the list featured double stargate, double imp, triple wanton, docklands pass and spent the apoc influence on Pennyshaver. This rather ridiculous amount of central pressure, combined with triple chip and reasonable access to clot did probably unsurprisingly work rather well against Sports. Unfortunately beating anything else was a tall order, particularly any corp that was packing HHN. Working back the wantons fell away for more econ in the form of Overclocks, Docklands Pass went out for Misdirection and we shifted around some of the other slots to find room for Hippos. The deck started to feel more solid, and while it did drop a few percentage points against Sports was now not a complete dog to the rest of the field. Ctm and Boom ASA felt approachable, and outside of net damage Jinteki decks a host of other random corp lists proved to be no real problem. Unfortunately none of us could really beat PD, and it was becoming apparent that the influence spend on shavers was likely not correct. Around here we drifted away to other things (Smoke, 419, Wu) until Mike tried swapping in a couple of apocs for the shaver influence and made some other minor tweaks to the econ.

Despite only being able to fit in two copies, the apocs really present you with another avenue of attack that was missing before particularly against PD. After initial early tussles over the remote with Botulus, Overclock, Hippo and the bin breakers. PD often finds a 3rd piece of ice or manages to stick a void/skunk that you just can’t get in to trash without falling in to a huge hole. Pivoting across to an apoc gameplan at this point can sometimes turn the tables in your favour, especially if you can catch PD with an agenda in the remote. Initial testing in this match up proved encouraging, but after a small period of adjustment for the PD player this gap narrowed. Subsequent addition of Crisium or extra Border Controls into the PD list then almost eliminated this gain altogether.

Some recent experimentation has been made swapping out the Hippos for Wildcats but at time of writing this hasn’t really featured in more than a couple of test games, so I can’t really comment either way regarding that change.

Overall, even if it turns out to not be the answer to all our hopes and prayers, it’s an extremely fun deck to play and we’ve had some super interesting conversations during games and afterwards looking at replays to try and figure out the exact optimal lines in different situations. You get elements of the full Hivemind Maxx deck but have a slightly leaner set up and more normal anarch econ which leaves you with quite a few options and opportunities to outplay both the corp and yourself.

What we will actually play at Euros is still up in the air, it could be this, hivemind maxx, 419, some shapoc with clot or something else more off the wall. As always if there are any significant breakthroughs or changes, we’ll put out an update but for now our attention turns to APAC and the hope that someone else has found a runner deck to really shake up the meta

Episode 4 – What is clot anyway?

Mike, John, Chris D and Chris F are back, catching up on another Standard Ban List and discussing the upcoming Fite Nite event we’re playing in against the Snarebears and NWE teams.

Episode 4 – What is clot anyway?

All of our lists, as well as those of the other teams can be found here so you can follow along with the discussion as well as see our incredibly inventive and powerful deck naming techniques on display. As discussed in the episode, all three teams were pulling lists together for the new meta on a fairly short notice so this represents a pretty interesting opportunity into where different testing groups have immediately looked in a fresh meta, and what is leaping off the page immediately. Out of the next few store championships and this match we should hopefully start to get a shape of the meta (although the first SCs last weekend, after this was recorded, do seem to suggest that the future is in fact Purple).

Gateway Meta – Part 3

(Written by Europe & Africa 2020 champion ChrisFerg)

A couple of us will likely be playing in NtscapeNavigator’s Store Champs tomorrow (8th May), but have struggled wildly with settling on lists for it, particularly on the runner side.

Given what seems–even after the VLC ban–to be a strongly corp-favoured meta, and with such a variety of corp wincons to deal with, runners seem to be in a tough spot at the moment. Given the strength of decks such as Red Planet Couriers/Government Takeover BTL and Spombo Lite, both of which seem all but impossible to beat with reg decks, the obvious direction seems to be with some kind of disruptive runner that messes with the corp’s gameplan. At first this pointed to Hivemind Maxx, which is both very powerful and able to disrupt the corp’s HQ with Knobkierie and Imp. However, this deck is a bit of a glass cannon, and it being the obvious choice has led to a truly staggering amount and breadth of hate tech in testing, from Magnets and Macrophages, through Reverse Infection and Ark Lockdown, to just sticking three Snare!s in everything and waiting for Maxx to die.

With this in mind, we have spent most of the last week sticking imps in everything to see if we can find something that is able to disrupt corp gameplans while also being strong enough in more straightforward games like CtM and Palana and fast enough to contend with PD, but without the weaknesses to hate that Maxx has. We tried Imps and Knobkierie in smoke, imps and simulchips in Steve Cambridge (the idea being that imp is way better if you can legwork to use it and find the key piece you’re looking for), before taking the–in retrospect–more obvious choice and looking hard at other anarch options. In this, we started with Limes’ Worlds winning list, which uses Imp with Friday Chip and Consume to build an engine that disrupts the corp while fueling your economy, powered by Patchwork and Paladin Poemu. This felt like a plausible route, but felt a bit slow for the current super-charged corp meta, so we added some Zer0 and made some corresponding tweaks to cut out cards, such as Overclock and Legwork, that need to sit in hand ready for the right moment.

The list we’ve come up with is (for now):

Hoshiko Shiro: Untold Protagonist

45 cards

Influence: 14/15 

Event (10)

3 Dirty Laundry
3 I’ve Had Worse
1 Rebirth ●​
3 Sure Gamble

Hardware (12)

1 Docklands Pass ●​●​
2 Friday Chip
3 Hippo
3 Patchwork
3 Zer0

Program (14)

3 Black Orchestra
2 Consume ●​●​●​●​●​●​●​●​●​●​
3 Imp
2 MKUltra
3 Paperclip
1 Stargate

Resource (9)

2 DreamNet
3 Liberated Account
3 Paladin Poemu
1 The Turning Wheel ●

Not only does this have a floating influence, it could also do with another Stargate (because an early one is likely to get Zer0’d before you want to install it), so last minute tweaks are likely. It is also quite possible that in the morning we might decide to fall back to our backup option of just playing reg 419 and hoping to dodge the BTLs and Spombos, but at this point that sounds like a potentially distressing day of netrunner.

For the corp side, we collectively have played very few test games, focused as we have been on finding a decent runner. We’re pretty spoilt for choice for decent lists, particularly PD, Built to Last, and Spombo, but any of CtM, Asa, Palana, and the Outfit all seem decent too. We will probably fall back on playing Spombo, mostly out of familiarity.

Episode 3 – Truzt the Procezz

Chris, Mike and John return for a whimsically titled third episode in which we talk about our combined experiences at the Chatteris and Stevenage online store championships.

Episode 3 – Truzt the Procezz

After dissecting our deck selection and the respective tournament meta’s, we move onto our reactions to the latest NISEI banlist and the potential effect the loss of VLC will have on ASA, PD and the rest of the corp meta. Finally we take a step through some of the decklists in the meta that have piqued our interest, and look to how we will be spending our time preparing for the next online store championship in early May.

As always you can find the full results from both of the store championships on ABR at the links below.

https://alwaysberunning.net/tournaments/2904/2020-chatteris-store-championship

https://alwaysberunning.net/tournaments/2905/2020-stevenage-store-championship

Lastly, the link below will take you to the next online store championship a few of us will be competing in.

https://alwaysberunning.net/tournaments/2920/ntscapenavigators-online-store-championship

Gateway Meta – Part 2

At the Chatteris store champ last week all four of us (myself, ChrisFerg, Binarydogs and Nemamiah) played the 419 and Void Asa lists that we posted prior to the event. We all ended up doing okay but nothing particularly standout, with both decks going 9-7 over the 4 rounds and 2 of us missing the cut on SoS. In discussion afterwards, both within the group and with others who did well at the event, the themes that seemed to recur were that the Asa list was fine, albeit a little high variance on early accesses and without a great recovery plan if it got behind and that the 419 list felt very average. It won more games than it lost but it didn’t feel massively favoured against anything and every game was hard work.

Out of the end of the weekend’s events the corp meta looks likely to speed up even more, with Palana being potentially pushed aside by NWE’s Hivemind MaxX and both fast Sports and very fast Precision Design putting up good showings. All of that left us digging around for a new runner to take to this weekend’s Stevenage store championship and the place we have ended up is Apoc Tao.

Initially we started with Rotage’s winning list from Chatteris and have incremented from there. As Dave says in his write up the Simulchips are frequently dead, before you land an apoc they don’t really do anything apart from some narrow lines where you reinstall Engolo for a second paint and after you do, when you theoretically want the recursion, you often have no programs to trash. In those slots we’ve opted for 3 Overclocks, which turned out to be pretty excellent both for landing the apoc itself cheaply and for retaining an early pressure on the remote while building up for the apoc economically.

After that, continuing the spirit of thoroughly disregarding good shaper deckbuilding principles, we also decided to throw away all 3 copies of Self-Modifying Code. Those slightly improved your consistency in getting access to breakers to land the apoc but going up to 3 copies of Engolo, 2 Ikas instead of the 1 Na’Not’K and adding a Mayfly, as well as cutting the one Laundry and the one Misdirection (awkward to have to hand at appropriate times even with SMC and almost impossible without it) for 2 additional Compiles feels like a gain in consistency rather than a drop. The Compiles allow you to contest an early remote cheaply much like the Overclock, land an apoc from 0 installed cards and tutor up Mayfly multiple times in a turn if your opponent has set up a central which is awkward for Engolo via application of enough money.

All in all that has left us with a very lean and quite pleasingly consistent apocalypse delivery machine. It’s definitely a slightly one-note list but it can make a lot of money quickly, apply pressure to the opponent’s scoring plan and land apoc sooner and more times than most corps can deal with which is nice in an extremely fast scoring meta.

Looking to the Stevenage SC, I believe all of us who are are playing are going to be on this list, partly out of actual belief that it’s well positioned in the meta that’s likely to emerge and partly for the change from reg crim. On the corp side we’re slightly split and will either be on the previously posted Void Asa list or on SimonMoon’s Best Asa, an alternate build that feels quite a bit faster and more resilient to econ denial although loses quite a bit in apoc resiliency – let’s hope we don’t all get paired against each other.

Gateway Meta – Testing Update

We’re within touching distance of the Chatteris SC now and testing has been bouncing along merrily. Below are presented the two corp lists and a runner list that have constituted the vast majority of our effort since recording the episode on Saturday evening. As expected there are no great surprises here, particularly if you’ve been keeping abreast of the frequent Neurospike chatter in #uk. Of course given the recent influx of new cards and rotation, the meta remains an unpredictable and wild environment. We’re very much taking our best guesses and leaning heavily into our known comfort zones with most of these lists.

Neurospike BTL

3 Hostile Takeover
1 Digital Rights Management
2 Afshar
2 Tithonium
3 Neurospike
1 Archer
3 City Works Project
3 Project Atlas
3 Dedication Ceremony
3 Hortum
3 Rashida Jaheem
3 Mausolus
1 Archived Memories
3 Border Control
1 Vanilla
3 Spin Doctor
3 Hedge Fund
3 Malapert Data Vault

Please direct all grumblings to MikeP for this one. Originally in Jemison this was relatively swiftly moved into BTL solely to take advantage of the 40 card decksize, once it became apparent Jemison rarely fired. For the completely uninitiated here the combo you’re looking to achieve is an un-stealable City Works Project with either two Neurospike in hand, or a single copy and either Malapert in the scoring remote or an Archived Memories in hand. From here it’s a case of score and then Neurospike away until the unfortunate runner keels over with a scrambled brain. The list itself is designed solely to support delivery of this combo in the fastest way possible with Spin Doctor, Rashida and DRM providing some useful draw or tutor options. Dedication Ceremony to setup the CWP and Malapert to tutor for Neurospike. Your ice suite revolves around the threat of an early Tithonium rez off the back of a T1 or T2 Hostile score, just to provide enough breathing room to form the combo.

Needless to say there is definite issues with certain runner tech cards including IHW, Citadel Sanctuary (allowing runner steal of the CWP) and Caldera. This is not counting some ability to potentially disrupt the combo with Class Act drawing the runner up beyond kill range and buying another turn of breathing room. It should be noted that despite some great initial enthusiasm we are cooling on this list now, largely due to problems dealing with the 419 list in this article that slots a copy of Citadel Sanctuary.

Gateway ASA

2 Manegarm Skunkworks
3 Project Vitruvius
2 Slot Machine
3 Gatekeeper
3 Marilyn Campaign
1 Eli 1.0
3 Violet Level Clearance
1 Luminal Transubstantiation
3 Rashida Jaheem
2 Fairchild 3.0
3 Fully Operational
1 Cyberdex Virus Suite
2 Global Food Initiative
3 Hagen
2 Anoetic Void
2 Jeeves Model Bioroids
3 Drafter
3 Spin Doctor
3 Cyberdex Sandbox
1 Biotic Labor
3 Hedge Fund

Kudos to Pat (rotomappliance) and Percomis for supplying the initial lists to which we’ve made some small changes. Although this is in ASA, the decklist itself is a distant cry from the Tablet ASA lists of last year. Carrying a larger ice suite and with the loss of Cybernetics Court the list leans far harder into the rush plan, with the new Void and Skunkworks upgrades providing a solid line for scoring the final few points. Of particular note is the move away from Lakshmi and MCAAP, the former a suffering from the less symmetrical agenda suite now that Luminal makes an appearance. Along with the reduced number of opportunities to obtain counters and the standard 5 hand size, defending agendas in this way proved generally unworkable. MCAAP gets pushed out simply because you can’t afford to spend the time clicking up and defending, when you really should be jamming agendas.

Overall this leaves a deck with a narrower gameplan that loses some of the flexibility from last years Tablet ASA, made up for by proving far more approachable to pilot initially. There is still some debate to be had, particularly over the ice suite, which has shown some fluctuation during testing oscillating between 14 and 15 pieces. Ansel 1.0 and Border Control also made the initial list but were sacrificed to bring in the important 3rd Spin Doctor with the remaining influence going on Slot Machines. At the current time of writing this appears to be the group favourite to play for the Chatteris store champ on Saturday.

Gateway 419

2 Rezeki
2 Miss Bones
3 Sure Gamble
2 Boomerang
3 Deuces Wild
1 Amina
1 Mutual Favor
3 Aumakua
2 The Class Act
3 Diversion of Funds
1 Political Operative
2 Falsified Credentials
3 Bravado
2 Pennyshaver
1 Paperclip
2 Earthrise Hotel
2 The Turning Wheel
3 Dirty Laundry
1 Citadel Sanctuary
1 Bukhgalter
2 Diesel
3 Daily Casts

Little in the way of surprises here, with a Criminal list that is largely unchanged from last year. Originally adapted from Mining Accident 419, the accidents were removed to free up influence for two copies of Diesel. Other additions are the excellent Penny Shaver over Paragon and Mutual Favor for the rotated Special Order. There is little else to debate here other than the selection of tech slots which currently resides at 2 x Bones, 1 x Political Operative and 1 x Citadel Sanctuary. With the likelyhood that Void is going to be seeing a lot of play, some case could be made for finding a 2nd Polop although cuts here are tough to find. The inclusion of Citadel Sanctuary alongside the improved draw from Diesel helped greatly towards making the BTL Neurospike match up workable during testing, and appears to be enough to give you a decent match up here.

Episode 2 – Rotation and Update and Gateway Oh My

So a whole lot’s happened, after a bit of a break post worlds and a long gap since we’ve had some new cards there’s suddenly a ton to talk about. System Update and System Gateway have both been released and the third major rotation of cards has happened, taking out the SanSan Cycle and Honor and Profit.

On this episode Chris, Mike and John talk through what the major changes to the meta mean for each faction and our very first thoughts on what we’ll be looking at this week, prior to the Chatteris and Stevenage store championships in the next couple of weeks.

Episode 2 – Rotation and Update and Gateway Oh My

Please note that for scheduling reasons we recorded this on the evening of Saturday the 27th, after the runner and corp economy articles had been released but before the full spoiler gave us the last handful of cards. None of those really changed anything in our analysis although a couple of them are pretty playable cards (particularly Weyland Restructure and Ansel 1.0) but at the time we didn’t know what they did.

Also, the decks we mention towards the end are very much our first assumptions about the places to be looking as we start testing. Things are churning very quickly as people process the cards and even in the last couple of days we’ve shifted a bit. Asa is stepping right back to the front of the pack with Anoetic Void once we all stopped trying to fit Lakshmi into it and accept that it’s changed a bit, and Neurospike Weyland decks are looking like a tier 1.5 rogue outsider that can’t really be ignored. Crim, as ever, remains the fun police.

Towards the end of this week we’ll throw up some of our lists in their current state and say what we’re going to play for those of us who are playing in the Chatteris Store Champ on Saturday, but given the volatility of the meta there is a fair chance that we won’t have arrived at exactly one list or agree what should go into it so things are going to be a bit rough around the edges – whether that’s confusing and scary or the most exciting time in netrunner depends on your outlook but it likely won’t last super long until the next drop of new cards so we should all relish it.

Lag Time…

Things are all pretty quiet at the moment, so just wanted to check in with a relatively small update to keep track of where we see things moving over the next couple of months.

Further SM Meta Testing

It feels like everyone, tournament organisers included, is awaiting the release of System Update and System Gateway with bated breath so there are, understandably, not a ton of standard events to test for at the moment. As such we’re putting our current testing process on ice a bit until we can see a bit of the shape of the new meta. Part of that is that Geist seems to be solidly the best runner and there is a fair argument that Asa is the best corp, both of which take a big hit in rotation (Geist is leaving entirely and Asa probably undergoes a significant change with the loss of Cybernetics Court). As such we’re saving some energy for that big shakeup and not spending a ton of time on Netrunner for a few weeks.

On the plus side myself and MikeP did get to dip our toes into streaming an evening of testing with Geist, which has now been archived onto YouTube. You can find the video here. We’ll be intending to resurrect these streams in earnest once the season livens up again, and have some initial plans on how we can get everyone more directly involved in the testing process.

We also spent a little more time after this stream was recording continuing to play around with the Geist list we had been using. I’ve placed that list below for reference purposes mainly, the main change being the switch back to Sports Hoppers after finding e3 + Hostage slots simply too durdly. Pinsel kindly dropped in to chat and sold us on the value of them even in the slower matchups.

Geist

2 Gbahali
2 Miss Bones
3 Sure Gamble
3 Grappling Hook
3 Boomerang
2 Prognostic Q-Loop
1 Amina
2 Simulchip
3 Diversion of Funds
3 Bravado
2 Sports Hopper
1 Paperclip
1 Stargate
6 Spy Camera
1 The Back
3 Masterwork (v37)
1 Bukhgalter
3 Tech Trader
3 Street Peddler

Rotation & New Cards

Hopefully we’re not too far away from the start of spoilers season and we can dig into the new cards at full force. The intention at this stage is to produce at least one podcast episode discussing the new cards, rotation and our first guesses at how the meta will develop. This may change depending on how slow/fast the drip feed of spoilers is and how much free time we can negotiate to get together and record. We’ll likely put out another update nearer the time with some more details.

Tournament Schedule

Although currently there’s still nothing on ABR at the moment, we’re already aware of at least two UK based SC’s that are likely to be arriving in the first couple of weeks of April. We’ll be aiming to make an appearance in at least one of these if not both. Hopefully as the new cards start to drop, competitive juices will start flowing again and we’ll see some more previously postponed SC’s showing up during the Spring.

UPDATE 20/02:

Both of the UK based storechamps we mentioned above have confirmed dates for the first weeks in April and will both be operating with the newly released cards. They’re linked below on ABR for reference, don’t miss out!

https://alwaysberunning.net/tournaments/2904/2020-chatteris-store-championship

https://alwaysberunning.net/tournaments/2905/2020-stevenage-store-championship