This is the Freedom I piloted to 10th place at Worlds 2020, going 5-0 in Swiss, developed by the Snarebears. I have to give a huge shoutout to NISEI for keeping the greatest game alive and cultivating an amazing community to support it.
Europe would have you believe that Geist is the savior of the mid-range, able to tech for any matchup and somehow trigger his way to victory at the altar of value.
Don't believe their lies.
North America knows that games of Netrunner are not won with efficiency, but with sheer power. This is where the Antigeist shines with true central pressure, something missing from the game since First Rotation and the (un)holy trinity of Account Siphon, Indexing, and Medium.
In recent competitive play the Snarebears had a lot of success (including @Whiteblade's top finish at APAC Continentials) with !raffle Freedom, a glass cannon of a deck that eschews massive amounts of virus counters for a considerably more reg Anarch experience. This was intended to target combo decks and FA decks, but the meta changed slightly with the transition to the latest MWL. After the excommunication of SSL Endorsement, and Gold Farmer, glacier GameNET: Where Dreams are Real fell off the competitive radar, along with most flavors of tag-centric lists. The banning of PAD Tap and the rise of Leela Patel: Trained Pragmatist left an opening for mid-range Jinteki decks who were functionally immune to Diversion of Funds and filled with ICE that was designed to humiliate bin breakers... Sounds bad for Freedom, right?
Some discussions with future worlds runner-up, @tf34, the Larry Bird of Netrunner, led us to test Engolo, and it was love at first paint. We didn't need to change !raffle too much, but I suggested instead of the second Engolo, we dodge the rigshooter MU and get a SMC instead to save an influence and capitalize on insane Stimhack synergy.
We were so confident with the glacier matchup that we dropped Boomerang the night of deck submission to get more Deuces Wild to smooth out the draw engine.
In most matchups, you should mulligan for draw (Zer0 or Earthrise Hotel) or a rush solution (Engolo/Self-modifying Code/Stimhack) with a healthy amount of money, but being able to throw down a virus program and threaten to exorcise the corp's economic engine and combo tools is amazing in a field of Asa and Titan. Since Freedom's ability is once per turn, you should often go for one high-powered single-access each turn with some virus counters available, preferably getting even more value through a Dirty Laundry or The Turning Wheel. You should also aim to Zer0 once per turn as you set up your drip economy with Daily Casts and Paladin Poemu.
In this sense, early turns are somewhat straightforward: two clicks to maximize value from installs, one to run, and one to Zer0. That being said, you need to not be afraid to barrel into some ICE to force rezzes. This is the way you creep toward runner inevitability, the hallmark of this meta. It's totally fine to face check an Engram Flush on the remote to stop that turn 1 Rashida Jaheem... and sometimes it may just be an agenda. Every turn the corp spends recovering, you spend dripping toward salvation.
Once you've found Engolo or Self-modifying Code (preferably the latter with a Stimhack), it's time to bait. Here, you tempt the sinful corps to rush out, thinking they have a scoring window behind a two-ICE remote. Then you smite them with pseudo-AI.
If you're concerned your economy can't keep up with them, you may want to slam one of those green cards on the table to show them what's up. That may slow their scoring plan enough for you to get your economy going. In this case, you need to find Hippo as fast as possible, because you're allowing the corp to move from rush to glacier, which is historically bad for Freedom. Unless you can drill into R&D (in a glacier deck) or HQ (in a combo deck), you should save the Hippo for the highest value ICE you can find.
Your multi-access is quite weak without Stargate, so you must start pressuring centrals with The Turning Wheel as soon as possible. Luckily Freedom's "pseudo-multi-access" of trashing almost every single-access card he sees can make up for that deficit in a big way. As powerful as Engolo is, it is usually not good enough for a total Shaper remote-camping strategy, so pick a central and punish it with TTW to close out.
Unfortunately, my first pairing was against the venerable @solemnstorm, a fellow Boswasher. I had a sense that this would be combo or tablet based on the popularity of metamate @ysengrin’s efforts, so I ran pretty aggressively early on. An early Datasucker helped me pressure centrals and get enough counters to clear assets for a while, but that kept us both incredibly poor. My play was probably a bit too aggressive, as a Stimhack ended up trashing the Zer0 I was going to rely on for draw. I eventually got The Turning Wheel and Aumakua out, so many turns were clicking for credits and crashing into R&D to see a couple cards.
After sneaking out a few agendas, it was game point for both of us. I had stolen a Project Vacheron that now had only one counter left. @solemnstorm Had a Red Level Clearance to dig for the combo, and was able to even get out a a Reconstruction Contract and Dedication Ceremony it twice… but he lacked the final click to install the Vacheron from hand. Scrappy Netrunner at its finest.
I started this match pretty aggressively, contesting a remote that Deuces revealed to be Border Control, only to find a La Costa. After a second ICE was put on top and something shoved in the server, I pulled out the Engolo and Stimhacked in for a Sandbox.
With the Engolo out, and nervous about AgInfusion setting up a boop trap, I held a Hippo in hand and ran an Anansi on HQ off a Deuce expose to force the rez. Ag’s credits were low enough that I was able to Hippo the Anansi the next turn, eliminating their boop threat.
The ICE never really solidified, and I accumulated enough virus counters and TTW counters that I could basically lock the top two of R&D, disincentivizing the use of a Bio Vault on the remote. Without a strong early score, the corp struggled to catch up economically.
This was quite similar to the previous round in that early Freedom aggression nabbed a bunch of agendas from centrals, and a Hippoed Anansi really depleted the corp’s economy. I didn’t take as many notes on this game, so I’m just writing some stuff here so I don’t look as lazy.
This was a different kind of classic Freedom matchup. Mulling for turn 1 Yusuf, I was able to contest the board almost every single turn, even once centrals were ICEd. Sniping an early Sting! And Viral Weaponization did a lot to slow the corp down, although ElusiveSchemer made some good bluffs along the way.
The biggest was scoring an agenda (Philotic? Sting?) that knocked my Engolo out of hand… That was terrifying and ultimately fine because I was able to support my Yusuf with Aumakua and Datasucker.
In order to keep the virus engine going, I had to eat most of a Saisentan on archives. I’ve Had Worse gave me the hutzpah to continue crashing into remotes, and a perfectly timed Hippo allowed me to exact revenge on the archives Saisentan, clearing a path to counters.
Once I stabilized and it was clear that I controlled the board, I earned the concession and we went to lunch.
@whiteblade and I decided to move from 1x Keiko 1x Turntable to 2x Turntable because Freegolo was really suffering against Titan in a way that !raffle didn’t. Boy were we glad we did.
This game had an atrociously slow start. I did manage a Yusuf to start trashing pieces, but it was through Mausolus, trashing my whole life and my precious Zer0 I was expecting to provide all my draw for the game. Earthrise had to rise to the occasion and give me cards clicklessly so I could use almost every click to attack or clear a Maus tag. I was broke as a joke.
Soon two Atlases and a Hostile were scored and it was looking like the end of the road. Then Earthrise delivered the Turntable. I slammed it down and ran R&D, nabbing a New Construction and swapping it for the Atlas with counter. Just one round earlier, @whiteblade also turntabled an Atlas with counter when the corp was at five points.
I regained control of the matchup, swapping a Hostile for the first Atlas. I wasn’t out of the woods because the game went pretty long and a FA 5/3 was certainly brewing. So, once I finally found the Engolo, I Hippoed a Hortum on an HQ run, but with only one TTW counter, I jacked out and re-ran to see two, which included the final GFI.
CUT ROUND 1
I woke up shocked to be part of the top cut. As sixth seed, I was able to choose a favorable matchup, one that basically inspired my selection for Freedom in the first place: Tablet Asa. This game went very much the way my first game on day one could have went against @solemnstorm. I kept grinding away at their deck, never rising about three or four credits, but trashing everything in sight with Yusuf. I didn't see too many agendas, but an early TTW kept allowing me to soft-lock R&D.
Of course, Asa can break the lock rather easily, and started to accrue cards in HQ. Asa sneakily scored a Vitruvius installed naked, bringing them down to credits. I took the opportunity to clean up the board state, trashing the second Lakshmi and recovering myself. I would discover later that after that score, Asa was on 0 credits and 4 agendas in HQ.
My abundance of safety ended up being my downfall, and I lost my first Freedom game of the tournament.
CUT ROUND 3
I began and ended against a fellow #boswash player, and I was glad to lose to Toby. I played very well for the first 75% of the game, keeping out of Hard-Hitting News range, eating an HHN and clearing tags, dodging Malia Z0L0K4 triggers with backup econ cards in hand just in case. I was even able to manage the board for a while, trashing key pieces.
However, the board spiraled out of control, and even though I was on game point from calling Toby's bluff on a naked Remastered Edition (a trick that would help save him in the next round!), I made the poor decision to go tag me and take my chances on R&D since 2x DBS fired so frequently. I Hippoed the IP Block there which tagged me due to Aumakua, and whiffed.
On my last turn, I did find a Bellona on top of R&D for the win, but with only two credits to my name. I ran to trash the Malia Z0L0K4 that was holding my Liberated Account hostage, but then Toby cruelly rezzed another. I still had a click to I've Had Worse to find my last Stimhack to steal it and win... but the Stimhack was two cards down.
There are a lot of people to thank and credit for my performance this year. First of all, testing with @CritHitD20, @groenkaaf, @kysra, @osclate, @rongydoge, @skry, @thebigunit3000, and especially @whiteblade111 helped develop my skills and optimize our lists. It was a rollercoaster ride of finding decks, falling in love with them, and then hating them and throwing them away.
Thanks to #boswash and #nyc for the tremendous support you gave throughout the tournament. I'm sad that we haven't felt like a cohesive meta throughout quarantine, and I look forward to eventually hanging out and jamming games and beers at Uncommons and making more big drives up and down the coast.
And once again thanks NISEI for keeping this game alive through every imaginable obstacle! Worlds is over but I'm already hype for [[REDACTED]].
12 Oct 2020 Longi
12 Oct 2020 tf34
12 Oct 2020 Watzlav
12 Oct 2020 Havvy
12 Dec 2020 CryOfFrustration