“I think eot_factorfiction correctly identifies a core asymmetry in Netrunner, but is wrong about the Corp Cards that break this asymmetry are inherently a negative player experience.”
I appreciate the thought and explanation that follow, but I feel like it starts off on the wrong foot and proceeds from there. There’s been a ton of argument about what constitutes “real Netrunner” and whether it’s “right” to enjoy certain types of decks or cards. I don’t want to just descend back into that, but I’ll point out that it’s worth considering that the parts of Netrunner we should nurture and grow are the parts that make Netrunner different from other games.
Rather than “why should I play Mumbad Cycle Netrunner instead of Core Set era Netrunner?”, ask yourself “why should I play Netrunner rather than MTG or Game of Thrones or some other competitive card game?”
I believe the two most fascinating and unique aspects of Netrunner are the asymmetry and the hidden information. Playing as Corp should feel fundamentally different than playing as Runner. It shouldn’t feel like “two players just build up board states that attack each other.” One side should be building a labyrinth or fortress or pit of vipers and daring the opponent to come navigate it successfully.
Yes, the Runner has the control over whether to run or not, but that doesn’t imbalance the game and give them more power. The Corp has the secrets. That facedown card they just put in the scoring server could be a 3/2 agenda, or a CVS, or a Snare. That single ICE they put on HQ could be a Cortex Lock (install Desperado, run, die) or a Pop Up Window (Account Siphon is a go).
It’s true this advantage is diminished when the vast majority of players settle in on a small handful of decks they agree are worth playing, so sitting down across from CTM or ETF you immediately know every card in their deck. But it’s still not eliminated (even if you know that ICE could be either Eli or Architect, the decision whether to run it naked hinges on which).
TL;DR - I wouldn’t go so far as to call “the Corp breaks the asymmetry and proactively attacks a non-running Runner” a “negative player experience”, but I do feel it diminishes the structure which makes Netrunner unique. Thrones has more ways to kill dudes than Netrunner has to kill ICE, but just having more varied threats doesn’t make a game inherently more interesting.