Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Android: Netrunner - My Journey in a Dystopian Future - Part 7: Patriot Games

I was buying my first data pack for Android: Netrunner when the guy behind the counter told me about the Regionals tournament being held there the following month.
I told him I was just starting out and didn’t feel I was quite there enough yet to be entering tournaments. He said: “We’ve all got to start somewhere.”

As I left the store I got thinking about my tendency to not put myself forward for things such as this. In this instance I knew why. While I wasn’t bothered about losing, I didn’t want my lack of knowledge on the game to be an embarrassment and to affect the experience of the day and for other players.

But the more I thought about it the more I realised how foolish this was and how great an opportunity the tournament presented. The times I get to meet up with a friend to play Netrunner is sporadic at best, so here was a chance to get more games under my belt and learn from more experienced players. And besides, so what if I didn’t know absolutely everything about the game? I knew the core mechanics and I knew the cards in my decks and that would be enough.

So I decided to go for it and on Saturday 8th June, entered the Fantasy Flight Games 2013 Regional at Patriot Games in Sheffield.
To my shame, I only discovered Patriot Games this year, but it's better late than never as this place is brilliant. Here's what they have to say from their website:

"Patriot Games has been based in Sheffield for over 18 years. Originally a market stall, we moved into a permanent store about 11 years ago and into our current premises 6 years ago. As a specialist 'hobby store' we cover Roleplay, Board Games, War Games, Card and Collectible Card Games. 
Much of our space is dedicated to Organized Play. We run regular in store events, open in the evenings for play groups and travel to host and help run National Events.
In December 2007 we began a new chapter in Patriot Games' history by opening our second store in Huddersfield. Our third store opend in Leeds in 2011. Based on the model of the first store we hope to provide more gamers with the opportunity of Organized Play."

For anyone looking to enter a tournament for Netrunner, or even if you're a veteran of these things, I recommend this article from the Team Covenant website, giving tips and advice on competitive play.

Right, onto the tournament.....

Match One
We had 70 minutes to complete 2 games of Netrunner. My first match finished in about 15 minutes! I was up against a guy called James who was incredibly knowledgable on the game and was clearly in the tournament to win it (He would ultimately place 2nd).
I managed to score one Agenda as the Runner, but other than that was just destroyed in both games. Not a great start to the day and I feared the rest of the tournament would go much the same way. But James gave me some tips and off I went into the next match. 

Match Two
Time-wise, this went in completely the other direction, we went to the allotted time and the second game had to be stopped. In the first I scored 6 points of Agendas, but just lost out in the end. A long game as the Corp followed where it took us ages to score anything. Ultimately I lost 5-2.
All in all, I felt much better about my performance and met my third opponent with renewed enthusiasm. 

Match Three
I was the Runner for the first game and managed to steal 2 points worth, but in the second game I managed to get my first win of the day with my HB deck.
I lost the match as a whole, but I didn’t care, I’d won a game in my first tournament.

Match Four
My fourth match of the day would be my best of the tournament. My opponent was clearly having problems drawing Ice and the Ice he had protecting his R&D I just broke through with Crypsis or bypassed with Inside Job. In the end, I drew all the Agendas out of their, winning the game 10-6.
In the next game, my opponent was again having problems, this time in not finding the right Icebreaker programs to get through my defences. This gave me the time to advance and score my agendas and, despite a lucrative run on my archives at the end, I still managed to win 10-6. I'd won a match! 

Match Five
My final match of the day began with another win as the Corporation, but as the Runner – although managing to to score another 2 points – I wound up getting flatlined by the overkill move of THREE Scorched Earths!

I expected to finish last in this tournament, but I placed 16th out of 20 and was very pleased. I’d had a great, if exhausting, time and I will definitely be back for more.

If Android: Netrunner was a fun past-time before, it's an obsession now.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Xbox One / PS4 - The Decision

For those of you who read my E3 2013 post, will know that my console allegiance was in turmoil following the event. It wasn’t that Microsoft had had a bad conference, but Sony had hit all the right buttons and said everything we wanted to hear.
So in the days that followed I took it upon myself to try and get excited about a console I’d not even considered getting. I started to watch videos for PS4 exclusives and read articles about its features. And to be honest, as conflicted as I was, I think I was getting there.
But then I had a change of heart. I re-read articles about the Xbox One’s features and I watched videos on games coming exclusively to the platform. I realised that all Sony had done was give us a few nice soundbytes, aimed directly at snatching those early adopters from Microsoft. What they hadn’t done was show me how good their console is. I feared with the PS4 that I’d be getting a PS3 with slightly prettier graphics. Where’s the innovation?
The Xbox One on the other hand are using Kinect, instant switching, the Cloud, streaming, tv, the whole ball of wax.
So I decided I would continue to back them.
And then, just a week or so after E3, Microsoft made a massive u-turn on their policies – now allowing trade-ins, lending and sharing as is the case now with current consoles and the Xbox One will no longer require an Internet connection beyond a one-time connection at set up.
And that sealed the deal for me. While I was concerned that it might be a step back technology-wise just to appease gamers who have become increasingly entitled Internet haters of late, I was pleased to have the restrictions lifted.
In the end, it’s about the games and Xbox One has the best exclusives along with the best controller, the best-looking of the two consoles and Kinect.
Bring on November.