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Subject: Growing the player population. rss

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Zach Mckinney
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I leave in a small city with an above average friendly local game store, but of all the cards games they run there I seem to be one of the two people playing netrunner. While this is something I can work on at my store. I was thinking of sending an email to FFG with some ideas to bring more people into this game at a wider level and before I sent this email I figured I would workshop here a bit and get some ideas from the netrunner player base. So here is a rough draft of the email and its ideas.

Things Netrunner needs to do as a game in order to attract more people:

1. A decent line of starter decks, the championship packs was a good well thought out idea. Or a modified starter pack that gives basic tokens, two decks, and basic rules summary, something that still keeps the core set important, but allows new players a lower cost to jump in.

2. Some more formats like the drafting one, such as, a netunner verison of two headed giant, like a joint venture deal, where the two corps are trying to score agendas together and a runner team is trying to stop them. And a EDH like group format I am calling NAPDR, in which both the runner and Corp player have twice the influence to work with and need twice the agenda points, the runner can have two different consoles in play, and the Corp builds his identity limit without agendas, then he builds an agenda deck with the proper number shuffles it (playtesting will adjust this number), looks at the top two agendas. From here the Corp as a free action can put the top agenda in his hand or spend spend a click to install it like normal. Once an agenda leaves it's agenda deck it functions as normal. The corp must complete the agendas in order and may only draw or install the top agenda if they have none in hand installed or scored, the Corp may also spend two clicks to shuffle the agenda deck. should the runner make a number of successful runs equal to that of agenda points on the top card of the agenda deck the runner gets the agenda. I think this would be a fun format, but further testing will see that out.

3. This is one is more of question do hobby and game shop do weekly netrunner events like FNM? I know mine does not. If not a majority of case this should be looked into.
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Count Ringworm
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4. never release a cycle like Mumbad again. This has actually caused a large drop in our local game store's netrunner gaming popuplation.
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Brodie
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Ringworm wrote:
4. never release a cycle like Mumbad again. This has actually caused a large drop in our local game store's netrunner gaming popuplation.


Mumbad killed our store's scene. We went from about 20 active players to about 2, with 2-4 more that play sometimes, in a "sure why not" mode. It remains to be seen if we'll even have enough participation for Store Championships next year.
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Brodie
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mcloud357 wrote:
1. A decent line of starter decks, the championship packs was a good well thought out idea. Or a modified starter pack that gives basic tokens, two decks, and basic rules summary, something that still keeps the core set important, but allows new players a lower cost to jump in.


I don't think FFG want anything but the Core Set to be the entry point for new players, but I do think that adding one or two more starter deck options would allow players more ways to overcome the perceived barrier to entry. As it is now, new players get a Core Set and say, "what do I buy next?" The only real answers right now are "the deluxe set of whatever factions you like to play, and go from there" or "all the things, all of them." But for players who want to build something tournament-capable, the former won't really get them there, and the latter is prohibitively expensive. Products like the World Champion decks just released give players a way to "buy in" not to a faction, but to an archetype or deck style, which I think would be a welcome third option for new players expanding their collections.

Quote:
2. Some more formats like the drafting one, such as...


This, to me, is the big one. A running theme in my post is "we could really use a third option," and this is another instance where I think it would help the game. Right now, you either play in tournaments -- GNK/tournament kit -> Store Champ -> Regionals -> ... -- or you play casually, kitchen-table style. Those are both excellent options, but I feel like having a third mode of play could only help players who want to play against more than just their spouse or partner or bestie or whoever, but aren't interested in super srs tournament competition. I hate to reference Magic, because Magic is a very different beast than Netrunner in many ways, but I notice how some players exclusively play Limited, some play EDH, some play Modern, some play Standard, and lots more play many of those. I don't think Netrunner needs an EDH equivalent, or a draft format, or a 2HG format, but I do think it needs something to broaden the play experiences possible. If there was another format, some of the players in my area might stay in the game just to play that. I don't think I have any concrete suggestions on what it should look like -- many Netrunner players have had excellent ideas to date, and any of them could work -- but something, anything, to offer a change of pace from "Netrunner as usual" would be helpful, I think.
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Tim Vaduva
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Here's a couple of ideas that I think would help:

1. Drop the price of the core set from $40 to $30 USD. And release a completion set for $10 that includes the rest of the 1-of, 2-of cards, so that they can have a playset of each card from the core set. Or make a slightly bigger core set at the same price that includes 3 of every card.

2. Shorten the rotation cycle from rotation starts with 8th cycle, to it starting with the 6th. And release whole cycles of data packs in one box for discounted price instead of $90 total for 6 data packs, it's $70. They can probably package up all the big box expansions and sell it for $100.

So with the first two suggestions, someone can get up to date with all cards that are legal for:

$30 + $10 + 5 * $70 + $100 = $490 at full retail (instead of $870 if you want to buy into all expansions for the 7 full legal cycles of a rotation)

3. "Find a Player" resource + community engagement. Netrunner has several "find a player" resources (BGG, Reddit, Stimhack, CorpDraw, Facebook), but that actually makes it a bit tougher since a lot of players don't know about all of them or may be using a few of them, but not finding any in the area, because their local players are using another. But if FFG makes a great tool and promotes it on these platforms, then hopefully everyone uses it and can easily find other players. (I'm not saying that FFG should try to push players to their own forums instead of these platforms, because that's a bad idea and won't work).

4. Refresh and revamp the game's rules. There's so many obscure card interactions and rules that most people have to memorize, that it's hard to play a game completely correct. They need to build and document the game framework. They should also have a rules reference and a separate learn to play document. Also, start using consistent card text templates so that it's clear where it the framework the card interacts.
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Zach Mckinney
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All good points so far. I cannot attest to the negative impact of the Mumbad cycle at my shop cause the like I said it's only like me and one other that plays.

I think some starter decks is the way to go.

I don't think it has to be the two ideas that I posted for alternate formats but something.

The core set can be easily found for $25 and $30 dollars. Also minus releasing a whole new core set, I do not think FFG is going to change it.

So what I'm hearing is more formats and lowering the barrier for entry.
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Hedyn Brand
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I've also wanted intro decks for LCGs. You need some tokens though, so they'd have to include a decent pile of credits and varying numbers of other tokens. Corp decks would include advancement tokens, runner decks other types depending on archetype.

So, the Magic comparison: Wizards have been making intro packs for a few years now, with constantly changing overall composition, but the general idea is always to have a ready to play deck for some archetype at a relatively low price.

The other less randomised packs, the toolkits, include 185 fixed cards and a semi-randomised set of 40 cards (4 of several sets of 10), plus a few deck lists to try with these. Add those up, and you'll get to a number pretty close to the number of cards in an LCG core. Are tokens really that expensive?

They're cheap starter sets, giving new players a running start. Competitive LCGs could really benefit from something similar.
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Zach Mckinney
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If I recall and it has been a couple of years the magic intro decks include a full deck and custom life die, and rules reference. Make a credit die, include a couple of tags and advancement tokens, it still keeps the core set valuable and let's some one try the game and maybe get into it. Or just do what magic also did with the duel decks and do one corp one runner with tokens $25. And you do $25 because it is difficult to find a core set with shipping much cheaper than that.
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Jeff Coon
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Agent Archer wrote:
Ringworm wrote:
4. never release a cycle like Mumbad again. This has actually caused a large drop in our local game store's netrunner gaming popuplation.


Mumbad killed our store's scene. We went from about 20 active players to about 2, with 2-4 more that play sometimes, in a "sure why not" mode. It remains to be seen if we'll even have enough participation for Store Championships next year.


Wow. I lost track with the Netrunner cycles a while ago. What was the deal with Mumbad?
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Zach Mckinney
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Not being able to speak on why it cause people to leave, but looking at the set as a whole for the Corp there are two ok ice, one neutral agenda, one useful character and three assets one of which has already been nerfed. For the runner they have one program, one event and one piece of hardware I would use. All the other cards are meh or worse. I think the other thing that bothered people was these cards you could have six of, none were very good and since they gave you six you could have gotten two different cards instead of that. The next cycle is looking better in everyway. So yeah looking on the cycle overall I can see why people checked out.
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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It is a very hard game, and, contrary to a popular belief, luck doesn't play that significant role in it, compared to skill. It's always hard to attract people to hard things. You can come up with various ideas, but you're still not changing the game. No amount of starter decks would change that. People can always buy the coreset and have some cool decks with it. It's neither a cost or availability barrier. It's just the level gap and involvement needed. About the only thing you can do is keep playing and showing it to other people, teaching them. They will either get it and like it, or not.

For now, I think that it's not starter packs, formats or anything like that, that truly lowers the entrance barrier. It's jinteki.net.
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Tim Vaduva
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mcloud357 wrote:
The core set can be easily found for $25 and $30 dollars. Also minus releasing a whole new core set, I do not think FFG is going to change it.


I know you can get the Core set on the cheap and I don't think $30 is the magical price point for the Core set. But, if they do decrease the retail price to $30, you will have the Amazons and the CSI's of the world selling it for less than $20, which should get more people tossing it in their shopping cart on a whim (to get to free shipping or something like that). The more people that try it, the better chance to you have to getting a new dedicated player that falls in love with the game.

It would be a good business decision for FFG to lower the price, but sometimes I'm not sure if FFG willing to make some good business decisions. Netrunner is FFG's most successful LCG and surprisingly so. They've already made more profit on it than they expect. So, now what they need to do is prolong the longevity of it. Companies (like Blizzard) regularly discount the price of the base set of a game when they release new expansions. It's seems like a solid strategy to get more customer in the $15/month category than making a few bucks on the sale of a base set.
 
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Lieven De Puysseleir
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What could possibly work for me is a decent (linux friendly) pc/tablet adaptation.

But I must admit I dropped out because of the lack of time to play and the sheer amount of other boardgames I've got to play. whistle

Didn't even pickup any of the mumbad expansions, own everything just before.
They announced some kind of re-booth from that cycle on and that killed it for me, I don't even know if they went through with that?

but honestly, the lack of time is the main killer I think.
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Tim Vaduva
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lievendp wrote:
What could possibly work for me is a decent (linux friendly) pc/tablet adaptation.


Does Jinteki.net not work on your Linux PC? There are some people that even have success with the site on tablets, but it still needs a bit more work to say it's good. But not bad for a fan created adaptation.

lievendp wrote:
They announced some kind of re-booth from that cycle on and that killed it for me, I don't even know if they went through with that?


Are you talking about the rotation policy they announced in 2014? If so, they only remove the earliest two cycles when there are 8 cycle available (we're currently in the middle of the 6th cycle). It doesn't really have to do with the Mumbad cycle and it only affects the cycles of data packs (not core set or big box expansions).
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Lieven De Puysseleir
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tvaduva wrote:

Does Jinteki.net not work on your Linux PC? There are some people that even have success with the site on tablets, but it still needs a bit more work to say it's good. But not bad for a fan created adaptation.


completely forgot about that one. though I was there some time ago, never actually played. should soon make some time I will.
thanks for the reminder.

tvaduva wrote:

Are you talking about the rotation policy they announced in 2014? If so, they only remove the earliest two cycles when there are 8 cycle available (we're currently in the middle of the 6th cycle). It doesn't really have to do with the Mumbad cycle and it only affects the cycles of data packs (not core set or big box expansions.


Yes, that's what I was referring too indeed.
I guess it'd still be possible to play everything up until excluding mumbad? (on jinteki.net that is)
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River Lethe
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If you look around, it seems to be the community that can address this better than FFG. It takes knowledgeable "mentors" some time and devotion to reach out to new players to make this really complicated game more feasible for newbies.

Here are some examples:

Stimhack.com is made up of primarily competitive players, but they have a mentoring program sign-up available for new players to be paired with seasoned players, usually over Jinteki.net, but also via Skype or other platforms. They also have some good articles on how to teach it to new people.

Run Last Click's latest podcast is devoted to helping new players make decent and fun decks with only a core set, and either a deluxe box and two data packs, or with four data packs. Howard Jackson and Plascrete Carapace can be proxied.

And TheBigBoy's last post on his blog (https://runthenet.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/recommended-teach...) is another great place for new players to start.

Unfortunately, unless FFG is willing to support the game by releasing cards in a different way (like these kinds of "duel" decks), it's going to have to be other dedicated players to expand the base. I am in a similar situation to the OP, in that my local scene has no meta. And my local stores do not support ANR, instead spending their support resources on CCG, Heroclix and Warhammer. They don't even stock ANR products any more. I don't have the time (and don't feel knowledgeable enough myself) to organize and TO events. I've even had a hard time trying to introduce the game to my gaming group, mainly due to the complexity and the fact that it's a two player game.

But I love the game, and I plan to use the kind of info I listed above as a way for me to better teach the game to my friends.
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Clyde W
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mcloud357 wrote:
Not being able to speak on why it cause people to leave, but looking at the set as a whole for the Corp there are two ok ice, one neutral agenda, one useful character and three assets one of which has already been nerfed. For the runner they have one program, one event and one piece of hardware I would use. All the other cards are meh or worse. I think the other thing that bothered people was these cards you could have six of, none were very good and since they gave you six you could have gotten two different cards instead of that. The next cycle is looking better in everyway. So yeah looking on the cycle overall I can see why people checked out.
Disagree that there are "meh" cards. There's a lot of super powerful cards, a few of which are annoying to play against. That isn't the fault of the entire cycle.
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Tim Vaduva
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Great! Try jinteki.net again. Most people that tried it years ago are pleasantly surprised at how much it has improved. It has basically become the only online platform (OCTGN now has single-digit games per month of Netrunner, down from tens of thousands).

lievendp wrote:
Yes, that's what I was referring too indeed.
I guess it'd still be possible to play everything up until excluding mumbad? (on jinteki.net that is)


I'm not sure exactly what you're asking. But, I take a stab. Yes, you can build your decks any way you want to (exclude any cycles if you want or limiting yourself to whatever packs you own, although you have access to all cards). Your opponent may not follow the same restriction unless you arrange it ahead of time.
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Zach Mckinney
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I talked to my local store owner and I am going to try teaching ANR during game night, hopefully it will go well, I am pretty good at teaching games, there is no lcg or expandable card scene at all here so I guess that I can hope that ANR sticks.
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Brodie
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Jeff wrote:
Wow. I lost track with the Netrunner cycles a while ago. What was the deal with Mumbad?


A plethora of very strong assets encouraged "asset spam" archetypes, which, it turns out, basically nobody in my area found very fun to play against. As they became more and more prevalent, many players decided they'd simply rather not play than play against them.
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Zach Mckinney
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To be fair every pack in this new cycle is amazing so far.
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Josh Aitken
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mcloud357 wrote:
To be fair every pack in this new cycle is amazing so far.


Really? What Mumbad was to Runners Flashpoint is to Corp. Rumor Mill and Interdiction are going to be the new Mumba Temple and City Hall. RM is already all over Jinteki. The only saving grace is that they are both currents so only 1 can be in play at a time.
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Zach Mckinney
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Have you seen temujin contract or the new character Beth or the new stealth runner, not mention boom and these new terminal events, there is something for everyone.
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