Merric's Musings

Thoughts from an Australian Board Gamer and RPGer
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Netrunner thoughts

Merric Blackman
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Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
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Last Saturday, I played in a small (ok, very small) tournament for Netrunner. Having it on Easter weekend when a few players were away doesn’t make for great numbers. We had four participants! I played a Whizzard deck and a Haas Bioroid: Engineering the Future deck and won all my four games. Yes, we just had the two rounds. The games were great fun to play, and very close at times – Chris hit two early agendas against my Haas Bioroid deck, and given that the deck is entirely 2 and 3 point agendas, this was rather concerning.

Chris then ran into my ICE – Ichi, I think – which destroyed his two breakers, and from there never quite recovered. Quandary – a 0 strength Code Gate with “End the Run” proved extremely effective at keeping him out, as he couldn’t draw a breaker for it. Eventually I was able to advance a Priority Requisition and win the game.

I then demonstrated the power of my Whizzard deck against his NBN, showing that I don’t need to play programs to steal agendas! I tend to do a lot of running early on without playing any cards just to see what defences my opponent has, and Whizzard is able to trash a lot of assets if they’re poorly defended. I actually drew a good hand with two of the icebreakers and a Special Order. I stalled in the middle game – as is expected – and was a bit disconcerted to see an Astroscript Pilot Program come out along with the Sansan City Grid. Luckily, he wasn’t able to chain Astroscripts together, and I was able to break through and trash the City Grid before it did too much trouble for me. From there, I was just able to pull out the win.

Against Josh, I won. It seems that I’m writing this too late to remember that much about the games. I know that an advanced Aggressive Sanctuary managed to destroy none of my programs (because I didn’t have any), but that may well have been against Chris. The games weren’t one-sided, and I was glad to win them, but the details are gone. Curse my poor memory!

I didn’t get to play Glen, which is perhaps just as well, as he was playing a couple of my decks – my NBN deck which had performed so well in the Store Championship, and an Andromeda deck which also played pretty nicely. He went 2-2 for the tournament (compared to my 4-0), which left him in second place. Chris and Josh would have ended up at 1-3 each, having had the misfortune to play me. J

I’m not getting to play as much Netrunner these days as I would like. In the early days, I was able to play a lot of games with Sarah, but our two-player Thursday night sessions are now long-gone: they’re far more likely to be a group of people getting together to play board games. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy at all about all the boardgaming. I’ve had the chance to play a lot of games of Caverna as a result, as well as Russian Railroads, Nations and other titles. (Given how D&D has taken over my Saturday evenings, it’s good to be playing serious boardgames). However, Netrunner and A Game of Thrones are a bit on the backburner. My main opportunity to play them comes at these small store tournaments.

Next month will be particularly interesting, as we’ll be doing drafts of both A Game of Thrones and Netrunner. My experience with the AGoT draft was hugely positive, as it allowed the core of the game to shine, away from all the combos (many broken) that you get in the full joust game. Netrunner draft? Now, that’s going to be a challenge.

Netrunner will actually involve two drafts: one for a corporation deck and one for a runner deck. So, we immediately take an hour of time doing the drafts. And I have no idea what sort of game-play will eventuate.

I played the original Netrunner back in the day – not that much admittedly – and was greatly hampered by the size of the card pool. There were a lot of cards that were simply bad, and building a playable deck based on a starter and just a few boosters was very, very hard. In some ways, drafting Netrunner is going to take me back to those days: attempting to build a deck from a very limited card pool, and hoping it’s even vaguely playable!

However, the existence of the draft starter means that even if I draft 40 completely unplayable cards for either deck, there will be still some playable cards. As a result, the main thing I’ll be looking for in my drafting is efficiency. It’s the core of Netrunner: making every action worth more than those of your opponents. In essence, if you need to spend fewer actions, cards and credits than your opponent, you should win. It will be tricky, though. I’m really not sure what the card pool is like. Yes, I can look at lists, but they’re not really a substitute for actually drafting.

The Netrunner draft is about a month away. It should be fascinating. It may turn out to be a horrible experience, but I’m hoping it proves to provide a new way to experience the game in an enjoyable manner!
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