Gregory Pettigrew (etherial) wrote,
Gregory Pettigrew
etherial

Netrunner

Character death was not the only big thing to go on during my weekend. Sunday was the Boston Netrunner Regional Tournament. Netrunner was originally released as an Asymmetrical Collectible Card Game back in 1996. The "Asymmetrical" part comes from the fact that there are two players: The Corporation and the Netrunner. The Runner is trying to break into the Corp's servers and steal the plans to their secret projects. The Corp is trying to keep the Runner out long enough to launch their secret projects. It was rereleased last year as a Living Card Game, which is basically the same thing only the distribution model is a little kinder to players.

I had mixed feelings going into this tournament. Most of the times I played this game, my gameplay blew up rather spectacularly during the first game, which can be pretty lethal in a tournament. I was also unsure of how many people were going to be there. The Game Nights at Pandemonium tended to cap out at 7 people, and had seemed to be petering out. Meanwhile, the stresses of my commute have been getting to me and I had not spent much time deckbuilding, nor had I played any online matches since March.

The Tournament Organizer himself wasn't sure who was showing up, and said he'd be happy if we were able to break even on the prize support ($20/person for 16 people or $10/person for 32 or more). We had 47. Pandemonium, normally largely occupied by Magic: The Gathering players, was packed with Netrunners, some of which I knew, many of which I had at least met, but many of whom were brand new to me (One of my opponents had come all the way up from Long Island).

Most of my games are a blur at this point - Netrunner is a game of bluffing, misdirection, and information control, and there are a number of strong deck archetypes that I saw repeatedly throughout the day. One thing that is not a blur, though, was that I was doing well. With 47 people, we had six Swiss Seeding rounds before a cut to the top 8 for a Single Elimination bracket to determine the overall winner. In the first five rounds, my worst score was a draw.

One of the quirks of the Swiss Tournament format is that, in the last round, you can reach a situation where actually playing the game hurts your standing. If my sixth round opponent and I came to a draw, we were both in the top 8. If one of us was badly beaten by the other, he could get knocked out, and the winner would have had only a minor advancement in place to compensate for it. The risk (and more importantly the stress) wasn't worth the effort, so we declared an Intentional Draw.

Sadly, in my first elimination round, I was quickly trounced and out of the tournament, but I walked away with some nifty prizes and the realization that yes, I am rather good at this game and had not been wasting my time (completely) and that I'm getting much better about controlling myself when profoundly nervous (the secret is Ginger Ale).
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