MWL Tree - 5th at Worlds 2018

RotomAppliance 1091

This was the corp I took to Worlds 2018, securing 5th place overall, and King of Swiss. It went 9-1, and was the stronger of my two decks.

With Clan Vengeance out of the meta, Mti Mwekundu can really shine. For those not familiar with it, I believe it compares favourably to Palana Foods (already a very strong ID). Broadly speaking there are three main points:

1) Economic benefits: Unlikely the tricky Aginfusion, this ID saves money, rather than encouraging you to spend it by stacking ice then trashing it to redirect the runner. Every ice installed using the ID saves a click, and since you install ice at the base of the server, you save on paying the install costs. This can frequently add up to 10+ credits and ~5 clicks saved over the course of the game, giving a comparable benefit to Palana, albeit with the runner having more control over when you get it. It naturally lends itself to a glaciery ice-stacking style of play, in order to get full benefit out of the ID.

2) The ability to bounce in whatever ice is the most inconvenient to the runner has the potential to seriously mess with the runner's maths when judging their runs. There is a certain comfort as the runner in being able to accurately calculate the cost of a run on a server full of rezzed ice: you know for sure you can get into R&D again if indexing sees an agenda, or into the remote again if their upgrade forces you to do so. Having to factor in the worst case scenario on every run is actually extremely taxing, sometimes deterring the runner from making the optimal play when they had no need to avoid it.

3) Early game threat. This is really no more than an extension to point 2, but bears hammering in. If the runner runs an undefended server and Mti bounces an ice into play, the runner has no opportunity to jack out, leaving the corp free to rez their nastiest piece of ice available. In the early game this is especially scary, as the runner usually has no means of dealing with ice, and the corp has available several painful options that don't even cost a lot of money (most notably cortex lock emptying the runners starting hand). This fear factor allows Mti to install and fire Rashida unprotected, or even occasionally to push out an early Nisei that the runner assumes is an NGO front and doesn't want to facecheck. Once again, the ID places a kind of virtual tax on the runner, forces them to slow down and play around the worst case scenario, even if that case doesn't exist. A bad mull for the corp can potentially be played confidently (Hedge, install, advance Nisei), in a way that doesn't work with any other ID.

So onto the deck itself, which isn't hugely different to the Palana list I took to Euros. Some thoughts on the most relevant card choices:

Agenda suite: Same one I took to Euros, and I'm sure the merits of Obokata don't need repeating here, even in a deck that doesn't overly try to abuse it. Other valid options are Global Food Initiative, forcing the runner to steal 4 agendas to win, and potentially even an agenda suite using The Future Perfect and/or SSL Endorsement to leave the restricted slot free for Surveyor. My decision to settle on Obokata came down to lack of time to practice as much as anything else - I don't know yet whether it is better or worse than the other options. This agenda suite maximises deck slots as far as possible, and provides defensive abilities on half of your agendas, but has the downside of the Nisei being the only agenda you're actually happy scoring first.

Upgrades: Once again, I stuck with my Euros list. I tested a bit with Mumbad City Grid, which I found to be sometimes very impressive, sometimes completely useless. I think if going that route, using ice that abuse it a bit more is a good idea, such as Komainu and Surveyor.

Scarcity of Resources: Still played as a 3x in many lists, and near madantory in Mti to fight against Employee Strike, the biggest enemy of the deck. Very potent if played early against a runner who can't put it out.

Ice: This is where most of my testing went, and where a lot of Mti's influence is usually spent. Jinteki's spiky ice already go very well with the ability to jump an ice in anywhere, so your splashes can be made to patch up whatever holes you think exist. IP Block is still my favourite ice in the game, providing cheap tax on the runner and hating on the non-trivial amount of Turtle in the meta (more than one runner was persuaded to overwrite their Turtle when two of these were rezzed on the board). Fairchild 3.0 was recently unrestricted and is still excellent, giving an ETR sub for Batty to fire, and being a suitably painful facecheck. News Hound is still there to take advantage of the current war that occurs in most games, and allows you to defend even when low on credits. Endless EULA was a late addition the night before after testing a few games against German Nats Smoke; it is the best means of taxing the stealth rig, while being a consistent performer against Anarchs - unlike F3 and news hound, the 6 credit tax cannot be reduced by things like Ice Carver, Datasucker or D4vid. There are cards that break Endless EULA cheaply, but none that see much play in the meta, and I was very happy with this include. The rest of the ice is normal Jinteki fare, with the addition of the new Thimblerig - a card that is more useful than it looks on paper. With Turtle being pretty common I went with 2 Thimblerig 2 Enigma so as not to provide too an easy a way for the runner to get back in, and that balance felt about right. Himitsu Bako doesn't see much play, but came in so as to provide at least one hard ETR barrier that would force the runner to install a fracter. Kakugo and Envelope are also valid options, but rather expensive.

Mini tournament report, which may or may not contain glaring innaccuracies:

Round 1: Straightforward, as I had a Euros bye.

Round 2: Paired up against Maxx, by coincidence agaist the player with whom I spent my round 1 time playing a couple of casual games. Fairly close game that I don't remember a great deal about, but I believe a Nisei score into an Obokata behind Excalibur push secured me the win.

Round 3: Against Maxx again. Tough game where I remember commenting a lot on how rich the runner was. I was given no easy windows, but eventually pushed out the winning Obokata after my opponent rebirthed into Omar (losing their Maxx draw), went into R&D and stole Obokata, going down to zero cards in hand. They had enough money, but not the cards/clicks to take the Obokata out of my remote, instead hail marying into HQ and then R&D. They got a Nisei out of R&D, but luckily missed the 1/5 on HQ to find another Nisei, which would have stolen the win.

Round 4: Against Tagme Liza. At the time I was playing carefully around Apocalypse, assuming Counter Surveillance to be off the table following the Mars for Martians ban. It turned out my opponent was on neither, and was simply playing Reg Tagme Crim. I managed to ice up centrals pretty securely and limited his Liza/bankroll triggers, scoring in a remote made up of News Hound and IP Blocks.

Round 5: Against an interesting Patchwork Ayla deck. I managed to rush to 5 points quickly while he was setting up, but I'd scored the worst possible agendas (Obokata and Philotic), leaving me with no Nisei token and no never advance threat to keep the runner guessing. Ayla was on Lady and Two CyberCyphers, making it extremely difficult to tax their money. I remember getting flooded following a Rashida fire and having to get a bit creative, installing two agendas in two seperate remotes with codegates on, to try and stretch his CyCys thin. Amusingly the agendas sat there for a while until after he levied, at which point I advanced both hoping to tax his clicks and Scavenges. He got into my main remote to steal Nisei, then scavenged CyCy to the other remote to steal Obokata, but left an opening where the first remote was difficult to get into due to Lady counters running out. I managed to squeak out the win in that remote, surviving his last R&D access, but this game was very close and could easily have gone the other way.

Round 6: I took an ID. Then I chatted to several people and realised that I needed another sweep to make it into the top 16. Might not have IDed if I'd fully grasped that before, but I don't think this was too horrible a decision in any case.

Round 7: Against Maxx. I had a decent enough draw, but the Maxx monied up quickly and had all breakers in the bin, ensuring no easy points. I managed to score a Nisei by first install single advancing an NGO Front and baiting a stimhack, leaving me space to score afterwards. I can't honestly remember how the other points were scored, but I think it was two Obokatas. One of the more tense games of the tournament for me, despite my fuzzy memory, as I'd just lost badly to his Corp and didn't want to go into Sunday needing two sweeps.

Round 8: Once again I lost as runner first, leaving this game as a must win if I wanted to stay in the tournament. Once again I was against Liza, and drew enough ice to limit their accesses on centrals, though the agendas were piling up in HQ a bit. I believe the scoring route was Philotic>>Nisei>>Obokata, with the last two being relatively straightforward as he had exhausted himself on running centrals.

Round 9: A game against Karbonesa Wu (later rebirthing into Smoke), which I needed to win in order to make the cut. I got a good draw, with enough money and ice, and slowed him down with an early scarcity which he was unable to clear. He installed Net Mercur the hard way and managed to get Refractor and Switchblade down, while I was busy scoring a 3 pointer. He made a last click run on 7ish credits and no fracter, which I was able to exploit by bouncing in IP Block and using some of my large bank to boost the trace, leaving him tagged and trashing Net Mercur. I establish an OK remote with a Batty in, and draw a Nisei at a good time to jam in there. He still doesn't have his fracter installed, but sadly I don't have a barrier to defend my remote with, so I rely on Excalibur into winning the Batty psi game to push out the Nisei. We both knew the psi game would be a game defining moment and agonised long and hard, before both bidding zero. I thought my chances of making the cut had evaporated there and then, but I was granted another opportunity to score a Nisei a few turns later, as he still didn't have his fracter. I had an IP Block to bounce in and some money, but I knew when pushing it that he could still get in if he had Cold Read to help him beat the trace. Fortunately he took a turn of mostly drawing, either because he didn't have the Cold Read or didn't believe it was an agenda, which gave me the vital Nisei token I needed. From there the last agenda was fairly trivial, as he didn't have an Excalibur solution, and had no way to contest the Obokata I jammed in the remote. This was a very enjoyable and tense game, where I hugely appreciated the addition of Endless EULA and my IP Blocks. Had I just drawn codegates and sentries, I would have had no hope of taxing him out of any server.

Cut game, round 3: At this point I've registered a win and a loss with Hayley, which means I'm out if I lose. I was up against Dien on Valencia, and was fortunate enough to get a god tier draw, finding plenty of money and a variety of ice, with the agendas dribbling in at exactly the right time. Dien mulled and seemed to have a slow start, so I pushed Philotic uncontested, and soon after jammed a Nisei behind Fairchild 3 and Batty. He did run first click to contest it, but fortunately this time my psi game skills did not let me down, and I was able to keep him out and score the Nisei. He hit R&D a few time for singles but got nothing, as two Obokatas had found their way into hand, very invitingly tempting me to jam one. I do so in the kniowledge he could probably get it, but not the second one,. which is pretty much what happened. He exhausted himself getting the first and I quickly jam the second one, which is impossible for him to steal with the Nisei token in play. His only hope was two lucky R&D pulls which he does not get, giving me a nice quick win.

Cut game, round 4: Up against Dan D'Argenio playing the same Val list I've just faced. This was a much more fraught game that went to time in the end, with me once again getting an excellent draw, this time on the mull. I managed to push an Obokata easily but that was the end of my grace period, as Dan started hitting centrals hard and forcing me to spend large sums of money on rezzing ice. He indexed and Saw Future Perfect, which he allowed me to draw, since HQ was pretty soft and he could repeatedly go there. The fact that I already had an Obokata in hand didn't help - so I played Celebrity Gift to bounce back financially, and put the Obokata into the remote, hoping he believes it's the Batty I've just shown him. He goes for a 3 card Turning Wheel access on hq, trashing the Batty and whiffing a psi game on TFP, where I satisfyingly bid zero and let him spend money. The Obokata sat in the remote a few turns before I tried to score it, dragging him into the remote to steal it, using what I believe was his final stimhack. He takes it and levels the score at 3-3, but is now short of money and can't really contest my EULA/F3/Enigma/Thimblerig remote, even with 2 bad pub. I draw a Nisei and install advance it in the safe remote, but am forced to spend money on a TFP psi game, leaving me unable to score it next turn. What followed were some of the most entertaining turns I've ever had in a game, largely made up for me clicking for 3 credits and Dan farming Wheel counters and playing TFP psi games with me, becoming increasingly frustrated at being unable to steal it. I believe I held him off 5 times, eventually scoring the Nisei in the remote and moving to 5-3. Time started to become a big factor - I was the higher seed, and would win in the case of a tie, but if he had taken TFP, he would have been 6-5 up. On my penultimate turn, my plan was just to put TFP in the remote out of harms way and get a timed win, but amusingly I drew the Philotic, in time to jam it and take 2 credits, leaving me on 3. He hit HQ on his final turn and missed, leaving me to score the Philotic on my last turn. Had he hit TFP, I could have bid zero in any case and still scored out. This was the most tense and interesting game of the tournament for me, and I think was relatively well played on both sides.

Cut game, round 5: Against Josh on the same Val as Dien and Dan. This game I didn't really get anything going, drawing all of the agendas I didn't want, with no clear opportunity to jam anything. I don't think Josh got a god draw, but rather just played well, playing aggressively when needed, and passively when needed. I made a rather basic error in this game, firing a Batty on an IP Block trace and pumping it, hallucinating that if he took a tag, IP Block would end the run, forgetting that Batty was only firing one sub. I don't know if it made any difference to the outcome, as Josh stole the Obokata I was trying to score, and soon after Indexing me and seeing 5 points. He had to wait a couple of turns to steal the Obokata, but he left it in the right position on R&D, and stimhacked in to pick up the win. Well played by Josh, I wasn't at all disappointed to go out to him.

Hugely enjoyable experience overall, and thanks to everyone for making it so. The meta felt really good, leading to a lot of interesting games. I found Mti very rewarding and skill testing to play - powerful in a way that doesn't feel over the top. I hope other players on Mti enjoyed it as much as I did, and welcome any comments on the list.

16 Sep 2018 mrmoody

Regretting that your game with Dan was off-stream, but what a treat to have caught it tableside. Great deck, and thanks for the memories.

27 Sep 2018 presheaf

Minor correction: the fact that the Mti install is free has nothing to do with the ice going in the innermost position. Ordinarily, installing a piece of ice costs a credit for each ice already protecting the server, regardless of which position it is installed in. If the Mti ID ability had not said "ignoring all costs", using it on a server where there were 3 ice already would cost 3 credits.

Apart from that, congrats!