Does OP support scrubs?

From an article and a source that is probably more familiar to those of you who have been doing this competitive card game thing longer than I have been doing it:

The first step in becoming a top player is the realization that playing to win means doing whatever most increases your chances of winning. That is true by definition of playing to win. The game knows no rules of “honor” or of “cheapness.” The game only knows winning and losing.

This strikes me as a good description of what it takes to become a top player.

Is there room within Organized Play for people who do not share this mindset? Or should scrubs just stick to kitchen table games and causal nights at the FLGS?

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As much as i respect Sirlin’s designs and design philosophy i have some issues with his view on competitive gaming. As a matter-of-factly statement yes he is right, to be 100% ompetitive his view is valid, but he is kind of a douchebag in putting a lot of value-judgement into the categories.

He also categorizes ‘Scubs’ as complaining, whining children while there are many valid reasons not to play in the 100% competitive way and not be unsatisfied or complain about others doing it.

To actually answer your question however, i think very few people actually will be placed in his definition of ‘competitive’ as most of us are at least partly scrub (as in we enjoy other aspects of the game). I try to touch on this in one of my articles. This would mean that there is no need for a space exlusively for those players, since they are so few, and if there is one it is likely here at Stimhack.


The Terminal Directive event, which rewards players for “Achievements” other than winning games, and the highest-placing-in-faction awards at Worlds are examples of Organized Play supporting players for something other than just winning the most games.

(I don’t want to insinuate, though, that @crfluency, @Tundinator, and others who’ve performed well with underpowered factions are “scrubs”.)


Scrubs, theoretically, need less support from Organized Play, since hopefully whatever they are sacrificing that is bringing their win percentage down is bringing their fun up.

Non-scrubs need a trophy or whatever to compete for. They probably appreciate more than anyone symbols of their victory.

That said, tournament attendance is down and anecdotally, I think it is the scrubs who are disproportionally not showing up. Do they need a bigger carrot to entice them to show up? Possible.

It does seem kind of weird to see something like an alt-Nero as prize support for the winner of a tournament. The card certainly has a lot more appeal to me, a scrub, than anyone else.

So yeah, I think it makes sense that scrubs get less love from OP, but maybe that’s something that could change and I like how Terminal Directive does it differently.


Same. I’m not interested in competitive play if it means what Sirlin says it means. The game should (and can) know more than just winning and losing.


The problem I’ve always had with that article (or perspective) is that it assumes one of two things: (1) at that ultra-competitive level the game is enjoyable or (2) the player gets 100% of his/her enjoyment from the act of winning.

I think that the first assumption is inaccurate when applied to most games - a game that is fun and deep at the highest level is a design ideal rarely achieved.

The second assumption is inapplicable to nearly everyone. Even top-tier fighting games rely on narrative and graphics to bring in players (strip them out completely - just show position and move indicators on the screen - and see how many people play…). For card games like Netrunner, it’s a crazy assumption for its player base.

What is important to me is that folks know the rules and, “If you show up to a competitive tournament, don’t bitch if you’re handicapping yourself based on your own idea of fun.” But complaining about certain game strategies, outside of the tournament environment, isn’t necessarily being a scrub who needs to get over their own mental deficiencies. It may be that the two previously mentioned assumptions aren’t applicable.

“Scrubs” is a term often used sneeringly: I’m disappointed when I see it, and it’s definitely discouraging to some players. I’m happy that it’s largely kept out of Netrunner so far, and think it’s important that we use other terms for players who don’t want to win at all costs. (Indeed, I’d suggest “win at all costs” players are in the minority, so it makes no sense to assume that they’re the baseline from which everyone else should be differentiated.)

I know you didn’t mean any harm here, but language is important and I’d rather we didn’t end up as one of those communities.


I see it so rarely here (thankfully) that I honestly expected this tread to be about Scrubber

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In my (relatively short) time in the game I’ve gone from hearing—and subsequently repeating myself—how great and different the Netrunner community is to realizing that it attracted that reputation almost by accident: a curious mixture of appealing theme, comparatively progressive representation on card art, and Goldbergian mechanics generated interest among game hipsters, and voila. In a bubble, this was an amazing place to be for a while.

I guess my point is that Netrunner probably always already was one of those communities. As the hipsters get turned away by the skeezy l33t gamer mentality and high school-level social drama (e.g. arguing with Damon on Facebook then high-fiving each other), you’ll just see more of that core that’s probably at the heart of any competitive gamer community. Shrug. Personally I am just trying to ignore it.

I don’t quite know what to say to this. There is a very clear difference between the real life communities of ANR and stimhack, simply because stimhack was made by spikes for spikes. There is even a very clear difference between the atmosphere of reddit and stimhack, as online communities unsurprisingly are not all the same.

I’m not sure why you feel the need to antagonize huge parts of the community with your posts, but I don’t think it is useful for either side. If you don’t like stimhack, that is absolutely okay. I know plenty of people who don’t, and there are other ANR online communities. But saying you don’t like drama while stirring up drama every few days on here makes me think you should reflect on the hypocrisy of your statement.


No, you’re absolutely right. What I meant was “Personally I am just trying to ignore it from now on.” I was getting in way too many spats and trying to provoke reactions with inflammatory posts. Turning off Slack was a good move for me, when I’m surrounded by snark I tend to get snarky too.


Personally, I love drama. Some people like noted netrunner persona and editor of, @eric_c hate it.

As for to the original​ question, I think ffg does not provide enough support for non-spike players (which is what I interpret the question as meaning). Terminal directive and the launch events seem like excellent structures for events. In general the best thing that can be done is providing spaces where jank is encouraged, so jank can play against jank which is fun for everyone. I think ffg should do something like have an official achievement league that’s suggested for their basic kits. As this format encourages you to play weirder stuff while still basically letting everyone play what they want and not having an extra overhead for new players, and keeps the power level lower.


Sirlin’s essays have been around since the turn of the century, and they’re a great read if you want to understand the nature of competition. Although his background is in fighting games, it is equally applicable to anything that has some sort of competition to it. I never bothered buying the book, but I remember reading the essays as he posted them, and having long discussions about them.

The type of person his writing targets is very specific. I am one of those people. It doesn’t matter if I am playing a game, or a sport, or playing an instrument. I will use everything available to me to be the best I can be at any given time. When I used to do sudokus, I would write my time down on the page. Now I have a digital one that keeps track for me. I love playing solitaire on my laptop during TV commercials to see if I can beat my previous record. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I will try to give a better idea of the mind of an ultra-competitive person.

I believe so, but if you bring a knife to a gunfight, don’t complain when you get shot. Certain types of competition may be better suited to your style of play, or in giving you whatever fulfillment you are seeking. Unfortunately, any type of competition, regardless of the rule set, is seen as a challenge to a competitive person, so there is no way I can think of to actively discourage us. If you make a custom MWL or ban list, it’s just a different framework for me to prove that I am the best. Same with Personally I would prefer no MWL, rotation or errata (other than corrections to cards that don’t work). I see this as the greatest challenge available as it is hard to predict and control card interactions from cycles spread far apart. It’s why I am probably attracted to playing the Vintage format in MtG. Even outside of Vintage, I will still try to build the best Commander or Pauper deck in order to be the best player I can be in a competition. You may play the odd game here and there, but I am watching multiple games on Jinteki, streams on youtube, reading every article I can and looking at decks every day on NRDB to see what trends are available for me to work with and/or exploit.

His statements are factually correct for the audience he is writing for. If you don’t find it relatable or applicable, you aren’t his target audience. A true competitive player does not care about what his opponent’s motivations for competing are. If their choices limit their chances of victory, that is their own decision. The only way it affects a competitive player is that by limiting their own chance of winning, they are limiting the competitive player’s challenge to victory and the chance to prove themselves the best in that competition. I don’t like tabling my opponent as that probably means it wasn’t a challenge for me, and I likely wasn’t given the chance to test my abilities and learn more about the game and my abilities.

His use of the term “scrub” has always been a problem for me due to the already negative connotation it has. He should have just chosen a different term for his interpretation, or created one himself.

The excuses he has given are all things I have heard Netrunner players say when complaining about matches. They complain about cheap cards, types of decks their opponents play, and about their pet decks not being competitive.

He never refers to them as children. He does point excuses often used and why they are unacceptable.

It is foolish to limit yourself with the use of additional personal rules to limit your chances of victory in a competition. If you don’t want to play in the 100% competitive way, that’s your prerogative, but you can’t complain when others do in a competition.

Blaming someone else for your loss (they’re cheap, theyre just a newb, etc) instead of using it as a chance to reevaluate and retrain is a failure as well.

Tilting before or during a match is self-fulfilling and deprives your opponent of a fair competition. As I said before, I want an opponent who is a challenge. Telling me you suck (and meaning it, not just trying to jedi-mind trick me) and then just going through the motions is a waste of both our time.

Are you allowed to get frustrated and have reasons for not enjoying yourself? Of course. But going to a competition and complaining about competitive players is like going to the movies and complaining about the price of popcorn. You really have no excuse unless it’s your first time going.

Coming from MtG and other CCGs, I would agree that many Netrunner players are not what I would define as competitive. I’m not sure why the game doesn’t attract as many true competitive players. I don’t think it’s FFG’s limited prize support as a competitive player is driven by the win, not the prize. I would love for someone to look into it to see why this has happened.

I would actually say it’s the opposite. Scrubs are the ones whom the prizes are more likely to appeal to. Things like alternate arts and playmats fill out their experiences. Competitive players only care about the competition and improving. While prize support can be cool, some of the best competitions I have been to had little prize support for the winner. Give me a plaque, and give the rest of the stuff out as door prizes so everyone has a shot at them. The only reason I have for wanting prizes for winning is so that I can convert them into cash to help subsidize any expenses the competition requires.

  1. The game is irrelevant. It could be rock scissor paper, pogs, or mancala. The act of competition and proving you are the best is what is enjoyable.

  2. For a competitive player, It is a double-edged sword. A win proves you are the best, but that also means that the competition is over. I have just as much fun during the game if it is a challenge. The essays are targeted at competitive players. He doesn’t care how other types of players get enjoyment.

Some players will play a single game because they like it, but other players play multiple fighting games because they like the competition, and the games are interchangeable. Going back to MtG, the majority of paper Vintage tournaments allow proxy (playtest) cards. Some limit them, but others have a no proxy limit. Many of us don’t care if you bring a bunch of pokemon cards sharpied to be MtG cards, as long as it is clear what they are. If you whole deck is proxied, you can use slips of paper. We just want the competition, and we don’t want money to be an excuse as to why you can’t build the best deck possible. Us owning our cards is a matter of pride and status, but that is something I see totally separate from the competition.

Dicks can be part of any group. I’ve met just as many dick casual gamers as “competitive” ones. I put that in quotes because very rarely do I meet a true competitive gamer who is a dick. Usually it’s someone who thinks there are one, but they aren’t. A competition is there to test your mettle, and there will always be winners and losers. A loss is a valuable experience because it gives you a chance to reevaluate your abilities and improve. A truly competitive player would see that.

The scrubs article is probably one of my least favorite in the series. I would highly recommend also reading the one on sportsmanship. There is a proper way to conduct yourself in victory and defeat.


There is and should be plenty of room in OP for “scrubs”! GNKs, and Store Champs are both relatively low-stakes events such that everyone should be accommodating and welcoming, all they really require is that a player can finish two matches in ~65 minutes. Even at higher level events all players are and should be welcome. I heartily invite all scrubs out to Worlds. There’s a small chance one might be paired against a really dick-ish competitive player in the first few rounds, but that should not be the case the longer the rounds go on (thanks to the Swiss system).


Overall a quality post there.

This is the difference in philosophy lying at the core of, at least my, disagreement with this view. I find some competitions more interesting to compete in. Others less so. The ones i find more interesting are well designed competitions.
While you with this mentality would compete in a Netrunner where FFG decided to reprint cards with higher numbers on them, i would leave. I also, like you, find my greatest enjoyment out of mastery and out of good opposition but i do not want to either win with or be beaten by something like Dyper or Blackmail-recursion where skill is such a small factor compared to the alternatives. Then i could just go watch TV or roll some dice.

I find players getting high on wins without bothering to consider the design and balance of the game to focus on the wrong things (for me). That is not mastery. If you played a whole game that by matchup decided that your opponent could not make relevant decisions you have not beaten anyone but an RNG generator.

To me these things matter a great deal.


For me, part of the process is figuring out how to beat those decks. Is there something I can put in my deck to give me a better chance? In doing so, am I weakening my deck against others? Is my increased win % against those decks worth the decrease in others? Is it better to tech against decks designed to beat those, accept that i will lose to those decks but win the long game? Metagaming is an integral part of the game.

Playing autopilot decks can be dangerous. Many players end up losing because they become over confident, or they simply go through the motions and end up making mistakes because they incorrectly evaluated a decision due to habit or confirmation bias.

Are you referring to combos and/or prison archetypes? I don’t mind combo decks myself if they are built well, but I often find them too fragile to rely on. Prison decks on the other hand I love. For me, a prison deck is a slow, methodical process of cutting off your opponent’s outs until defeat is inevitable. It’s like wrestling or jiu jitsu. If you aren’t careful, your whole plan can fall apart and you are vulnerable. You have to carefully determine what your opponent’s goal(s) are are the best way for you to stop them first without putting yourself at a disadvantage.

If you are instead referring to non-interactive decks, they are good as well. A good NI deck will force your opponent to interact with you, pulling them off balance and giving you control. The most important part is knowing what your perceived and real weaknesses are, and having either answers or plans for when your opponent tries to go on the attack.

And that is perfectly fine. You should aim to enjoy yourself, but you also should accept that by putting restraints on yourself that others’ can ignore, you are choosing to compete with a handicap. The best solution is to surround yourself with other players who share this rule, thereby applying the handicap to everyone and therefore eliminating it as a factor in competition. You may choose to ban certain cards, but a competitive person will still try to find the best tools available to them within the framework you enjoy.

This is the problem with ban/restricted lists. Once you start, you have to keep doing it because eliminated tools are replaced by new tools.


I live in LA, so I compete against top tier players pretty frequently. They bring janky decks to tournaments all the time. Are you seriously going to say that people who have made top 16s at Worlds and Gencon should create their own meta to play jank, rather than just allowing people to bring whatever they want to a tournament? This seems crazy to me. There is no need to self sort between janky players and competitive players, because 1) Most people aren’t 100% one of the other and 2) the Swiss system ensures that if you’re both a great player and have a great deck, you’ll be facing top competition at the end of a tournament.


Insert obligatory “Sirlin is a hack” here.

Anyway, I think there’s a fine line between “playing to win” and “playing like a dickhead.”

Like, yeah, you should play the good cards to win a tournament… but sometimes you have to remember that there’s a person across the table from you. It’s possible to still play good cards and win without making games that make them feel like they should’ve stayed home instead of playing. Prison decks definitely feel like they’re towing that line, especially early Bio-Ethics decks or the new combos with Load Testing.

And nothing shreds the size of a playgroup than people feeling helpless when they play.


I do think you are reading good bit more into my statements here than there is. I play the game as it stands, or i quit. Really this is the only game (that i did not actively balance or design) where i put this much effort into actually shaping the game itself. Likely since it’s such a darn good game and I have a hard time giving in to disillusionment.

What i mean with that you are reading in a bit more than there is is that I’m right up there with you with deciphering the code to monostrats and taking their plans apart when new such strategies appear, and I do not join in the chorus of players not liking to adapt. I see it all as a puzzle, especially the new archetypes that develop. Most often when wolf is cried, people are wrong. Statistically no opinion that ‘this thing is broken’ should ever be listened to. However, there are wolves.

When i react is when there is no puzzle left, when it is solved and all that remains is playing out a scripted sequence of events to the tune of the game’s RNG. If this happens, and decks are still very powerful, then i consider it a problem. Also if too much of the counterplay is in deck-construction and not actual gameplay.

Personally I find most combodecks to be boring to play and play against once you know the script, once the puzzle is solved. That’s fine however as long as those decks are not overbearlingly strong. I’m all for forcing interaction however.


Not at all. What I meant by that statement was that if you are the type of player who plays with a series of personal rules outside of the rules of the game and are becoming frustrated competing against players and decks because of their play style or path to victory, you should consider splitting off to your own meta in order to better achieve satisfaction in playing. If you are fine with the fact that in many cases, such a deck choice will limit your success, then bring it. As well, sometimes jank is actually the best call for a particular meta if it is crafted well to exploit a particular meta’s weaknesses.

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