The other day I got involved in a discussion on a Game of Thrones Facebook group (I know, that was my first mistake) in which somebody was saying that Netrunner had too much variance. But he didn’t mean agenda flood or random accesses - he said that there was too much variance because ice is played face down and that it was therefore down to luck whether or not that screwed you.
The reaction you’re having to reading that sentence is the same reaction I’m having to most of the Doomtown criticism here
I won’t argue about a certain lack of elegance and it not being very intuitive, though. The unintuitive nature of it only really bothers me insofar as it is off-putting for new players. I don’t really care otherwise - it’s just part of a very steep learning curve that hides a very deep and satisfying game. Just like Netrunner, you’re largely aiming to either reduce variance (e.g. making sure you’ve got a lot of stud bullets in a shootout, preferably with some redundancy in case you get hit by bullet reduction) or avoid situations where variance will screw you (e.g. by not getting into shootouts where you have more or lose than your opponent, or by doing a risk/reward analysis in a very similar way to running an advanced card in a scoring server). Sometimes your draws will screw you anyway, though, because it’s a card game. You build and play to minimise it, just like any other card game.
I think the Grifter comments are a bit overblown. You’re not heavily punished by having to boot your Grifter (e.g. Travis, Gina) because they don’t have influence so won’t be contesting deeds anyway. It’s nowhere near as harsh as losing a click on your first turn.