Want it More – Winner Interviews: Aaryn Byrne

“Want It More” is a series of post-event chats with the people who wanted it just that little bit more and managed to climb to the top of the field during a given event. We’re asking about impressions, strategies, good (and not so good) plays, and more.

This time we’re speaking to the freshly crowned European Continental Champion for 2019.

Name (or username): Aaryn Byrne (or Drago on all good Netrunner platforms)
Personal flavour text: 60% of the time; 80% complete!
If you had an intro song: Tool – Ænema
EventEuropean Continental Championship
Placement in Swiss: 13th

3N1GM4: Massive congrats on the win! How does it feel to be the NISEI European Champion?

Aaryn: It’s still a touch surreal to say the least! Being politely heckled with “champion!” while roaming the expo on Sunday was both weird and hilarious.

3N1GM4: Well, I guess that’s one of the better things to be heckled with! How did you prepare for the event?

Aaryn: I have to admit, quite poorly this year!

The perfect storm of changing job, focusing on helping my partner run her stall at the Expo and then a devastating shot from left field; a fox got to our pet indian runner ducks the Friday before, meaning there was more theory than actual practice.

Fortunately Ian (Algebraic) had been working hard on Blue Sun. We both felt it was in a good place and, more importantly, fun to play. There were a few last minute changes (ice and currents) which didn’t factor in to my games but worked out for Ian.

Runner was trickier; I expected more Crisium Grid and SDS Drone Deployment out of Weyland than I saw, which pushed me off my preference for Leela. I liked the idea of the baked-in disruption Freedom provides against kill decks and thought you couldn’t go too wrong with good Anarch cards.

With a few chats in Bristol and a rough feel for the meta I stayed firmly on the “play what you know” train rather than overthinking it.

3N1GM4: Getting your decks sorted with a little help from your friends, love it. What was the most exciting play (or plays) of the event for you?

Aaryn: It feels like a bit of a cop out, but the entire Freedom versus Argus finals game with Chris Dyer was amazing! My default plan of liberating large piles of credits didn’t come to fruition, but I couldn’t know Chris had drawn every copy of Global Food Initiative. It felt like edge of your seat Netrunner at its best, emphasised by odd lines like running through a Data Raven last click, floating tags against kill, and a slow-rolled GFI – it was exhausting to play!

If I was to call out another moment, it would have to be the end of my Blue Sun versus Leela game against Cahuita. Saying I was up against it is an understatement; few credits, fewer options – Blue Sun had been cut off at the start and was failing to recover.

Cahuita ended her turn with a 3-point agenda steal and 4 credits versus my 6; I’d greedily held on to double punitive as my only possible out and rngesus smiled on me!

3N1GM4: It’s a great feeling when things work out like that. On the other end of the scale though, do you have any misplays or mistakes from the event that you’d like to share?

Aaryn: There were definitely a few, but the most egregious I recall was against Patrick in the cut. 

I was on game point as the Runner and he had an advanced card in an Eli 1.0, IP Block, Enigma remote. 

My primary concern was running out of Yusuf tokens on subsequent turns, as he’d just installed ice on HQ, sealing off all centrals, and the remote needed five tokens to get in.

Click 1: poke HQ. Eli 1.0, opt to bounce.

Click 2: run archives, break ice, access. Virus purge from the CVS I had trashed in the early turns of the game…

Clicks 3 & 4: figure out how to get out of the hole I just threw myself in!

3N1GM4: Haha, I think we all know the feeling of running Archives and then suddenly remembering what’s in there! What was the most fun deck to play against?

Aaryn: I get the most enjoyment out of the games where you really have to think your way around the puzzle your opponent presents. Playing against Angedelo’s Fancy Goldberg Hayley was definitely that. Trying to find scoring windows against a deck that generates so much tempo as it builds while functionally neutralising your kill win-con was a challenge which I only just survived.

3N1GM4: Sounds taxing for sure! What do you think is the best thing about the meta right now?

Aaryn: It feels reasonably open which is great; a wide range of factions and IDs made the qualifier and cut. I like being able to, within reason, play what I know rather than feeling like I have to play the peak meta decks to compete.

3N1GM4: Well it certainly worked out for you this time! Where are you going to keep the trophy? Have you had any ideas yet about what card you might design?

Aaryn: The trophy is currently enjoying some time with the chrome dinosaur and unicorn on my hearth – looks great there! It’ll likely migrate into our grandly titled “reading room” (aka the box room with all the bookcases and card games) where I try to keep deckbuilding contained so cards don’t overrun the house.

I’ve had a few loose ideas for my card. I’m currently leaning towards something for Corps as right now it feels they could do with a small boost. I’m playing with the idea of reimagining some of my favourite rotated cards or interactions in a new way for Standard. 

3N1GM4: I’m certainly excited to see what you come up with. What would you consider a good way to get into competitive Netrunner? 

Aaryn: While it may seem trite, I strongly believe in finding a set of decks you understand and enjoy, then diving straight in. You’ll learn lots in a single tournament as you get so much Netrunner in a small amount of time. Experience shouldn’t be a concern as I’ve always found the community to be fantastic; open and accommodating to all skill levels at any competition. 

3N1GM4: 100% agree, we have such a great community. Have you had any notable competitive success in the past? What result(s) are you most proud of? 

Aaryn: While I haven’t had any noteworthy wins, I was honoured to give Andromeda an appropriate send-off by making the 2017 UK Nationals top 8. Aaron Marrón, Account Siphon, Bloo Moose, Temüjin Contract and Inversificator legal in one deck ever so briefly – good times!

3N1GM4: Phew, that’s some spice right there! Do you prefer online or offline events? For what reasons? 

Aaryn: I’ve not yet tried any online events but I suspect I’d prefer offline; I’ve found I can be more invested and focused on my games in person.

I do think having the option is really important though. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a local GNK scene or able to travel for tournaments.

3N1GM4: You reach the top cut and you get to choose your side: Corp or Runner? 

Aaryn: Right now; definitely Runner. Closing a game as Corp just feels a bit harder at the moment.

3N1GM4: You made the cut at Euros through a tiebreaker round and had some real nail-biting games throughout, especially in the grand final. How do you handle the pressure and make the best decisions you can in those circumstances? 

Aaryn: Having a gameplan for the matchup is really important for my focus, otherwise I find myself dithering away clicks. At the start of the game I like to run a mental checklist: opponent’s ID, their likely strategy, their key cards – it helps me avoid obvious mistakes like forgetting Hard-Hitting News exists or that Archer is a thing.

3N1GM4: I know all too well the joys of forgetting that HHN exists! Any lucky charms or superstitions about the game itself you’d like to share with us? 

Aaryn: Ha – none at all! I kind of go out of my way to not accidentally develop any either.

3N1GM4: Any format or card pool you’d like to see an event for? 

Aaryn: I’m a bit of a slave to Standard but I have enjoyed the odd limited card pool events. Maybe something using only System Core and Ashes cards could be interesting and accessible to those without the back catalogue. I won’t pretend to have considered balance though, so… maybe not?

3N1GM4: Any other games or hobbies you’re partaking in on a competitive level? 

Aaryn: I play a few other things. Day to day Hearthstone scratches the card game itch well enough, and we have a small group of Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn players who gather for casual tournaments.

Those aside I’m planning to get back into a very long-term project of becoming not dreadful at competitive fighting games. Learning BlazBlue and Dragonball FighterZ should keep me busy for a while!

3N1GM4: Thank you for answering our questions and all the best in your future tournaments!