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Ethics versus Morality in Netrunner

Ye, I saw matches ending up badly on Jnet, so I decided to keep an excel file with my personal blacklist. Still this is very silly, what’s the motivation for throat-cutting and rule lawyering in casual games? It must be a way of living.


Regarding “call a judge culture” in MtG, the entire point of judges is to be impartial. Bear in mind that calling a judge doesn’t mean I’m seeking a penalty for my opponent. If I tell my opponent “hey you shouldn’t shuffle like that”, although I may be giving them genuine advice they are in a competition against me and that is always going to imply a level of bias. Having a judge on hand means that my opponent gets to hear an explanation from someone who isn’t invested in that particular game. I consider myself to have a pretty decent level of rules knowledge for both MtG and Netrunner, but if my opponent in a game has a query I will tend to call a judge even if I know the answer.


I don’t mean to be rude, but this sounds crazy to me. I don’t see where my bias as your opponent comes into the matter at all when I say “please don’t shuffle faceup, it lets you see my cards.” This is what I’m talking about. I don’t know what else to do but repeat myself: I resist the idea that every single interaction between opponents must be filtered through a duly-appointed official or the rules framework of the game (if not both). I resist the idea that I have to question my opponent constantly because of his or her bias, that I shouldn’t take anyone at their word, give anyone the benefit of the doubt, or believe they’re acting in any kind of good faith. That seems crazy. I’m all for calling a judge if you have a question, or if you believe your opponent might be mistaken about something; I’m not saying judges are bad and we shouldn’t have them. I just think that the default assumption that my opponent is trying to deceive or swindle me is a harmful one, and I do not want to see it propagate at Netrunner tournaments.

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That specific scenario is crazy. The sentiment is not.

Edit; I mean the sentiment that calling a judge to provide clarity or impartiality, not the sentiment that we should want a judge for every single interaction, obviously.


Edit: I didn’t mean to say that calling for a judge to be impartial was wrong; I tried to make that clear. The part that seems crazy to me is assuming that my opponent must constantly be trying to get one over on me, and so I need to call an impartial judge because I can’t trust anything my opponent might tell me. Maybe that’s not what @echo meant, but that’s how it sounded, and I have seen that sentiment expressed before at MtG tournaments enough times that I’m pretty well sick of it.

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I don’t see how it’s productive for discussion to bring in an example involving a 12 year old, and conflate that with the discussion presented by the other complex issues with rules lawyering versus takebacks versus speed of play and such. Whether any particular competitor is 12 years old or not and needs to be treated differently as a deviation from the desirable standard is irrelevant from deciding on what that desirable standard is.

Personally I loved competing like an adult when I was much younger, and I played chess with men 5 times my age who refused me takebacks (or let me deny them from myself, either one, don’t recall), even though I was younger. I got to make the same moves as an adult. But if you want very young players to be allowed to play the game, but with a different treatment that eschews some consistency in favor of inclusivity, that’s not a crazy or unreasonable notion at all, that’s cool. It’s a totally separate, separate conversation though.


Sure, that’s fair. So, ignoring everything about a younger kid participating, my main objection to MtG tournament culture is its rigidity (as @V01d noted). I also object to the idea that I must default to suspicion about my opponent’s motives, which I saw constantly when I played MtG. Those are things that I think would diminish our community.

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When do you play? I’ve never had a game worse than someone simply saying gg and leaving immediately without a chance to respond, but I respect other people’s time as well. As a matter of fact the vast majority of games I’ve had, the other player has been incredibly patient and accommodating. On a recent trip to Japan, I had a really crappy connection that would timeout fairly often. I never had an opponent complain or leave. And when I obviously screw up, there hasn’t been a single opponent that hasn’t allowed me to take it back (though there are times when I refused the takeback for myself). But then, I usually play 9pm+ on the West Coast, and only 3-5 games a night…


There are so many things wrong-headed here that pointing all of them out would completely derail the topic. Instead, have this nugget of truth: Calling a judge does not mean you are trying to penalize your opponent. When it comes to Netrunner, I would love to see a community that doesn’t believe calling a Judge is a bad thing.

Well it’s a good thing no one is saying this. But when something goes wrong, instead of being the antagonist or enemy of my opponent and telling them they’re wrong, even if they are, I’d rather get an impartial observer to do so instead. Worst case, now they’re the enemy/antagonist and my opponent is angry at the judge and not me. Best case, the judge who spends his free time reading and explaining rules probably explains the situation better than I can and everyone’s happy and enriched.

I’ll repeat for emphasis: Calling a judge is never a bad thing. (Barring calling one over every five seconds, but come on, common sense.)

??? Are… are you saying that playing to win and having fun are mutually exclusive?


Of course not, sorry if what I wrote was not clear.
I was trying to point out the difference in attitude between players that enter a competition with the purpose of winning at any cost and those who instead take part because of the high-level games and the nice experience that the competition offers. Of course all the players try to win, however the attitude is different and you can feel that difference in a match.

To make an example, if I was playing to win at all costs I would not allow for any take-back and I would even try to act quickly to leave you the minimum reaction time that I regard as fair in order to minimise your chance of reacting. This way of playing complies with the rules and can win games (scenarios like 1) credit 2) hades shard), but playing against people like this is in my opinion frustrating. This is the kind of players that “play to win, trying to have fun”, mentioned also in previous posts by @gumOnShoe


I much prefer opponents that make you play the game at your best, granting your reaction time not by their clocks and allowing you to correct misplays in cases where no information was revealed on their side. When you play people like this the competition is much more healthy and your are more likely to leave the table with some satisfaction, independently of the outcome of the game. This is the kind of players that “play to have fun, trying to win”.


I don’t see a quote feature one here, but I want to pick out a piece here:

“and I would even try to act quickly to leave you the minimum reaction time that I regard as fair in order to minimise your chance of reacting.”

Netrunner actually doesn’t work like this at all, even at (or rather, especially at) the highest level of rules emphasis and enforcement. If you pass priority to someone between clicks, they can hold that priority for as long as they want to, until they’ve decided what abilities they want to activate or that they don’t want to activate any abilities. The only limit to how long you can spend thinking about it is if you call a judge for “slow play” because you think the right is being abused.

I’ve heard stories where people have tried this “you didn’t yell UNO in time” at worlds, and whenever a judge was called they confirmed that you can’t assume priority was passed because there were a few seconds of silence.

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And yet explicitly passing priority back and forth in Netrunner games - even in games featuring Clot/Hades/Utopia - is rarely done.

In fact, here’s a quote from earlier discussion of timing windows:

And because context is sometimes important:

There are implications here as to how competitive and formalised the rules of the game can really be. We’re a long way from chess clocks.


Whether a game action is done through explicit or implicit communication is irrelevant. If my turn starts as PE and I have a Gila scored and a draw a card, look at it, and dump 4 credits from the bank on my ID and say “pass turn” no one has a problem with it. That doesn’t mean I can’t explicitly use the ability instead, or that there’s a special timer on how long I can decide whether to spend two clicks on the ability. Just because implicit communication is used doesn’t mean that a rule isn’t 100%, precisely defined. Activated ability passes are 100%, precisely defined.

Floor rules already address the situation. The only reason you would think they don’t address the situation is if you for some reason thought abilities were magical and special and spending clicks were not. They are both times when exactly one player is 100% in the driver’s seat of the game until they select an action (-no action- just happens to be an option for activated abilities, but it is by no means a default). You have unlimited time to agonize over a decision when you have that driver’s seat, and if you get caught abusing that time, the channel of recourse is for a judge to be called for slow play and assess that the amount of time you’re stalling doesn’t match the significance of the play or the number of choices available.

Quoting the Floor rules here, the very first two examples regarding Slow Play mix and swap between spending click and activating abilities. It’s abundantly clear that they are both considered equivalent, and both fall under the Slow Play infraction:

"1. The Runner makes a run on a server with all ice rezzed and takes multiple minutes to
think before encountering each piece of ice.
2. The Corporation starts the turn with no cards in HQ. After the mandatory draw, the
Corporation takes several minutes to think before spending any clicks. "

For both of these, the JUDGE is supposed to determine that too much time was taken and warn for slow play. Even when the slow play has definitely occured in the judge’s assessment, the judge is not instructed to force a player to pass priority with no action. He is just supposed to warn. (in an extreme situation where the slow play repeatedly occured right in front of the judge, the warnings would stack and get upgraded to game losses and match losses. Yet there would never be a point where the judge says “things keep happening because no one yelled UNO in time”)

For a player to make an assessment of slow play on his own and assign the penalty of controlling his opponent’s game actions to be “no action” is absurd in my opinion, but more importantly not supported by any of the documents FFG has written up.

I agree it shouldn’t be played like that and I am happy to hear that judges punished this behaviours. On the other hand, as remarked by @Dragar, I have never seen either on OCTGN, Jnet or IRL somebody consistently asking “any reaction?” after taking a click. This would solve most of the problems, but the game would probably be bogged down.

As the rules do not state explicitly the duration of such windows, it is not unconceivable that a player who wants to win at all costs might try to take advantage from this ambiguous ‘reaction window’ definition. Furthermore, even without any ill intention, if you are a fast player you might regard as ‘healthy’ or ‘reasonable’ a window that is far too narrow for your opponent.

This being said, to me it really boils down to a matter of mentality: even if take-backs where allowed by the rules, corp players could still rush to rez their ICE to commit the runner to fatal runs.


The only ambiguity in the floor rules is how to handle a player that disregards the priority window of their opponent, with or without ill intention. It’s not ambiguous that players do have as much time as they want to think and consider how they use their priority windows, and the abundance of 1 millisecond mutually understood implicit priority passes doesn’t mean the priority windows don’t exist.

Most players in my playgroup, and myself when I play on jinteki even with randoms, ask “any reaction?” when there is the possibility of a meaningful activated ability, be that Paparazzi under a Street Peddler after a Sea Source, Clot underneath Clone Chip, or anything else. You can skip asking “any reaction” when no meaningful abilities are available and finish a game just fine.

Do you mean you’ve never seen someone asking “any reaction” after every click, or after some clicks where it matters? If it’s the former, I agree, and I understand the usefulness of the thought exercise about why implicit priority passes are needed. If it’s the latter, you’re mistaken: I guarantee you you’ve at least faced Jnet players that ask whether they can fire subroutines on their ICE or whether you still want to activate some abilities that might break the ICE: That is them asking if you’re going to pass priority with no reaction instead of activating abilities on your SMC or Icebreaker. Clone chip and Clot are activated abilities too, but some players treat the priority passes on that differently than priority passes on an ICE encounter for reasons I can’t quite understand.

I meant after every click, yes.

I also agree with you that people are more keen on asking “fire?” than “any reaction?”, perhaps some sort of reaction is expected during a run much more than in other stages of the turn?

Magic workstation, back in the days, had a sort of progress bar that would track where the game was in the turn sequence. Perhaps if something like that was implemented in OCTGN or Jnet players could pass each other the priority simply by pushing spacebar or something.

I think that’s actually rather on-topic, actually, because you’re touching on how physical signifiers of priority passes can be more clear to people than one’s talked about in the rules with no physical representation. If we had a token called “the priority con token”, and players passed it back and forth after each step, and that token represented your priority to activate abilities, then players would be more likely to understand that’s an actual turnbased process and not a window of N seconds where N is nebulous. And they’d probably still understand that even when they stopped physically moving the token a lot of the time to save time. The same way people understand the click tracker card represents an opponent’s control over their clicks, and if they go into the tank on how to spend a click, you can’t reach over and push their click tracker chip and hand them a credit.

If the core set contained clot, we probably would have more in the way of physical artifacts or symbology to represent priority, but it wasn’t initially such a big part of the game, as was the case with Magic’s core set (both mostly used prevention windows, which don’t actually use priority)

Just highlight the quote you want and an option is displayed:


Today, in another example of Why You Should Call A Judge When Your Opponent Does Something You Feel Is Fishy:

No, it doesn’t comply with the rules, as said later by @popsofctown.

Netrunner is not a ‘Gotcha!’ game where you can claim your opponent intentionally did nothing just by waiting in silence. (And neither is MtG…) And in fact! If you’re playing against someone like this, you should call a judge so that they stop playing like this. You’re not the bad guy for calling a judge when someone is trying to rules lawyer you. You’re getting the ACTUAL Rules Lawyer to get to whatever is supposed to happen.


Later on in that discussion, it was brought up that it’s in the shortcut section:

Shortcuts and Out of Order Sequencing:

Some players will take an action with a shorter method than the game rules allow or take multiple actions in the incorrect order. Oftentimes, this is merely a method of playing the game in the fastest way possible or to avoid forgetting a trigger that would resolve after a number of other effects. Shortcuts are allowed as long as players have agreed upon the shortcut and the end result is the same as if each action were taken individually. Out of order sequencing is highly discouraged, but it is legal as long as the player performing the out of order actions explains the actions before he or she performs them and the end result is the same as if the actions were performed in order.

(p. 25)

Moral of the story is communicate before you use them. Otherwise, a proper judge, which I don’t believe there are any yet (besides Lukas), will try their best to rewind the action and likely rule against the person that used a shortcut without consent.