In Which I Am Cranky At Netrunner for No Good Reason

I am cranky with Netrunner. I bought it, and now I don’t know if I can play it.

This is not Netrunner’s fault. This is my fault. Netrunner is a living card game, a game which is built around gathering cards in a large pool, and then building decks to face off against others in competitions. Those are its design and production goals. It is not a game which you can play straight out of the box and expect everyone to have a balanced deck to play with. Indeed, the factions are specifically designed to have holes in them that other factions can plug – but rules limitations are placed on how much cross-faction stuff you can use.

This means I am now screwed, because what I really want is a game that I can play out of the box. That, in fact, is the ONLY thing I want.

I figured what I’d do is try and fix this by buying a few booster boxes. Slot in some of the new cards to help cover the weak points in each faction’s deck. Problem is, now I have a bunch of decks which STILL aren’t balanced against each other. They can’t be, without rigorous testing. And I’d have to figure out what level I wanted to balance them at – harshly, demoralisingly brutal lunges for victory, or fun romps for all involved, or wacky experiments in storytelling, or everything in between? And I’d have to rejig those decks depending on which one of those games I’d want to play. Yes, I have the option of rejigging those decks in the first place, but that’s a lot more work than just finding the game that suits the mood and players and pulling it off my shelf.

The only real option is to go for the jugular so you can win, and thus only play in tournaments, because that’s the easiest to calibrate. But I hate going for the jugular, and I hate playing to win. They’re the things I try to minimise as much as posisble in my game-playing and game purchases.

This is not Netrunner’s fault. I had a square hole, it is a round peg. Netrunner is still a beautifully designed game with a sexy setting and seems to be well set up for tournament play and collecting. But this is why I gave up playing Shadowfist, and why I shouldn’t have gotten into Netrunner: it is way too hard to control the experience I have, and turn it into the experience I want. All too often in Shadowfist, I just wanted to have fun, but my opponents had built to crush, and I felt I had to compete with that or have no fun at all – but competing with that killed my fun.

Sigh. Live and don’t learn, I guess. But at least I know more about my tastes now.


2 thoughts on “In Which I Am Cranky At Netrunner for No Good Reason

  1. Maybe I simply haven’t played enough, but I really liked Netrunner out of the box because those deck combinations were roughly on par with each other. Two people can play out of a core box and have a fun game. Picking up expansion packs widens the design possibilities, sure, but I think it also increases the chances of giving one faction or another serious advantage, depending on which packs are chosen.

    Call of Cthulhu, in contrast, is less friendly to out of the box play because the core set uses a “one of everything” distribution. I found Netrunner‘s core decks much more consistent and playable thanks to the distribution pattern.

  2. Pingback: Why I’m Tired of Shadowfist – and what it says about gaming | D-Constructions

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