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From good to great

So interesting. I have been thinking about this lately myself. Always wondering why I make it to 9th place (just missing top cut) or getting 4th/3rd place in casual tournaments. I’ve been asking advice from some of the real good players and in the end, I have a lot of personal mental road blocks. I tend to make “rules” for myself in the game or get attached to certain plays or cards that make me predictable.

I stick to the meta and follow the advice of players who have done the work on SH or NetrunnerDB. But that’s the thing… I’m just trusting the advice of the top tier players (which gets you far) but I forget that Netrunner really requires some focus and thinking out of the box… who woulda thought. I realize it now, but I go into an “autopilot” play mode with those rules I have in place for myself. For me personally, I’m working on controlling the “flow” of the game and being less predictable while keeping lots of options open to myself (thanks to my local meta players, @mediohxcore, and @NyanPudge for lots of advice).

Of course, I love seeing what all the top winners think make the difference between the “good” and “great” players.


I’ve been reading the responses so far with great interest. Thanks a lot for all of the great insight and ideas! I have a few thoughts, and will keep thinking on this as the conversation continues. It’s also nice to hear from people who are in the same boat.

I think this is accurate. I understand in a general sense how to play my decks and what my preferred avenues of attack are in most matchups, but I’ve noticed that I can struggle when facing something new, which is a problem in a tournament setting if I face something I haven’t seen.

I think this is also accurate. It works well for the most part, except for those less frequent times where my initial instinct is wrong. I mean, I’ve been playing Prepaid Kate since before it was a thing, so in general I know what I’m trying to do in a given window of 2-3 turns, but I’ve noticed that I’m a little too willing to make greedy aggressive plays, and it’s cost me in more than one tournament. I try to take a step back if I notice that instinct pushing me too far, but I don’t always succeed.

I did read The Inner Sherlock, and liked it quite a bit.

I need to do this. I dislike playing decks that I don’t play well, which is one reason I almost never play Andy anymore. But that doesn’t help me get better at playing against those decks.

[quote=“kiv, post:4, topic:3879”]
A good exercise is also to keep weak hands and try to win with them. An issue with playing top tier decks is that with a strong draw, you’re likely to win even with average play just because your deck is so strong that most reasonable lines succeed.
[/quote]I also need to do this! I’ve noticed that I can flounder as Runner if the cards I want aren’t coming. In Prepaid Kate I generally just try to draw through it, but that isn’t always right and I have a hard time detecting when it isn’t.

I actually do this, with the exception I mentioned above (that I avoid decks I’m weak with). I’ve played most of the decks you mention, and my best tournament run (that 1st seed one) was with Bootcamp Glacier (and Prepaid Kate, of course). I also went 16-0 with RegMax in league nights and at an FFG monthly before losing with it at their SC.

This is something I haven’t been doing lately, apart from that experiment with Comet in Kate. I spent a lot of time on TWIY* Astrobiotics and various incarnations of Kate with Lysander last year, to the point that I’d show up at tournaments and other locals would be running my lists poached from NRDB. Then I worked for a couple of months on a Noise list with my Worlds testing group that ended up flopping, although I still think it was pretty good. Since then I’ve been either other people’s decks or Prepaid Kate.

I guess I did test Comet in Kate. But I haven’t built anything from scratch in a long time. Point taken.

I think this is the single biggest thing I need, so I’ll 100% be taking you up on it if I catch you on OCTGN.

I’ve gone out of my way to watch this stuff when it comes out. I’d love to see @spags do commentary on the VODs from Wausau, and I say that as someone who’s been playing various iterations of that deck on and off for a year.

I like to review my games, especially when I made a critical decision that resulted in a loss. But it’s a lot harder to pick up on the minor sloppy things you do throughout each game, which is where I think the latter part of this comment comes in. I definitely think that’s something that would benefit me.

I’m pretty good on this stuff, and reasonable on the next tier. But I want to get better than reasonable at the next tier.

Another area you mentioned where I think I really fall down is anticipating the meta. I switched from Prepaid Kate to Opus Kate at GenCon last year because I was concerned about the RP matchup… and then I go 6-1 with RP, 2-5 with Opus Kate, miss the cut, and watch Prepaid Kate win the tournament. I won a lot of games with Bootcamp Glacier in my first two SCs this year, then lost in SC#3 because everyone was teched against it.

On the one hand, I don’t want to outsmart myself yet again. On the other, I’ll be in Madison in two weeks, WI is a hotbed of Prepaid Kate, and Bootcamp Glacier just does not like that matchup. But everyone will also be expecting RP, which is the other Corp deck I’m good with. (Well, that and NEH, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.)

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I play a lot of games, not just netrunner.

I think preparation for a tournament is super important, and is one of the things that helps me the most personally. Try to prepare well for tournaments. This includes testing against the 2-3 most expected decks for each side you might play.

Sometimes when I do to much of something, or practice really hard, I can feel like I’m not seeing improvement at the level that I would like. I usually need to take a step back, and breathe, relax, do something else. Maybe skip the GNK netrunner and play a different game just for fun this week/

Then when I come back, I maybe try a slightly different approach and can think of things in a slightly different way.

This works for me when i’m feeling like I’m not making improvement, your miles may vary.


This advice is all good, but what you can really do to improve your game is to put on a cool-guy persona and be aggressively confident about your skills and your decks. Wear a leather jacket and sunglasses while you play. Laugh at card choices other players make. You can put sensitive gamer types on tilt by forcing them to confront your shameless and overtly masculine bravado.


I wasn’t planning to post, since I don’t have much to contribute; but I want to say that, although I’m a lower skill level than you, I feel much the same as you do - I seem to be stuck at “average” or whatever the hell I’m at, and I can’t seem to break through to “good”. Excuse me while I allow my vanity to show through. :smile:

I personally feel a bit of a disconnect between the individual things I know that are important - lots of little things like drawing early in a turn, baiting out Blackmails, accounting for the range of possible actions, “tempo” hits, etc - and meshing everything together into a big cohesive whole that allows me to win games. While not playing enough is definitely contributing to it, I also feel there’s a personal mental “block” I cannot seem to get around. It’s personally a bit distressing that I might never get past it and remain stuck in the tiers of average forever. And then guys come along that have played for a month and are already clearly superior. Quite distressing.

I (used to) participate in historical fencing (work has prevented me from doing it nowadays), and earlier on I had a similar phenomenon I was suffering from where I just couldn’t parry properly. I could do the motion, turn the wrist properly, try to push the blade to the outside, but it just wouldn’t take, and I would get stabbed every time. One day, for me, it just clicked. While sparring with someone, I threw a parry like I always did and for some reason it worked perfectly. My strong on his weak, hand turned properly, pushing the tip of the blade so that it just slides right past me. I literally stopped and said out loud “Oh, I get it!” It’s never been an issue for me since, and I’m quite proud at my parrying ability today; I’ve pulled off some crazy parries in some really bad spots a few times that usually impresses whomever I’m fighting.

Personally, when it comes to the one or two things in life I think I’m really good at and can perform at a very high level even against good competition (typically video games), I run a lot on instinct. My best plays in Netrunner seem to be the same. When I wrote up a two-game report with @steve_houston’s Valencia deck, I mentioned in one game how I could “feel” the agendas in HQ. I didn’t run odds, or count cards, or do percentages. I just knew there was an agenda in there with my name on it. So I ran in and got it.

It seems like that play - a great occurrence for me that makes me quite proud - is now your standard, and you’re looking for that true line that only that masters seem to see. Being an inferior player, I doubt anything I can say can be helpful, but hopefully my rambling will give you something to think about. If you take the time to watch games, I like @Kiv’s Youtube videos - frequent uploads, good commentary, and a wide range of decks and players. @dodgepong does the same and sometimes features commentaries from the players themselves. Both are very nice resources.

Best of luck, brother. :smile:


Great thread, I agree with most of the points raised here, but I am missing the single thing that I believe helped me improve the most in Netrunner (and continues to help me improve). That thing is being extremely critical about your plays.

I very often see people complaining about bad luck/draws/accesses and I tend to do that as well. The thing is that it is very easy to blame NEH for drawing a Biotic or Kate from pulling off a 4/5 point Makers’s Eye. Still I strongly encourage you not to do that. Focus on your plays and think what you could have done better on either deckbuilding or piloting level. I assure you that more often than not there was a play that could have made that would’ve got you a better shot at victory, whether it’s by 2% or 100%.

I’ll give you an example. I had a heartbreaking loss vs TWIY Fastrobiotics at Regionals last year, which ended up costing me my first ever plastic ID. I was seeing every card off R&D and kept Siphoning my opponent to keep him below Biotic range. I missed a single R&D access after stealing NAPD, which happenned to be a game-winning Beale that he scored with a Shipment off 0 credits. The game haunted me for a few days until I realized that I would have almost certainly won, had I kept the NAPD in R&D.

Whenever I lose a game I ask myself the question “why have I lost”? I encourage you to do the same and it will greatly help you to become a better player as long as you only blame yourself or the deck, never the luck. If the answer to the question is “I haven’t drawn my Corroder” you should not be thinking “yeah, 3 Special Orders in the deck and I have only seen one of them in 30 cards, unwinnable”, but rather “perhaps I should include a second copy of the breaker to be less reliant on SO” or “perhaps I should have drawn cards instead of going for R&D accesses”. Just remember not to overdo it: if there happenned to be an agenda on top of R&D, it does not matter that the best play was to run it.

I want to be great at Netrunner and I’m still getting there, but I think the way to go is aiming to win every game and analyzing the cases where you failed to do so.


I think this is super important advice. It can be easy to get into the mindset of “ah well I guess I got unlucky, otherwise I’d totally beat this scrub” but being more critical of yourself can be hugely helpful. I actually sit there at the end of a loss thinking about what I could have and likely should have done differently, to the point where people think I’m just sulking, when that’s not what’s going on. Self reflection is hugely important in this game. That being said I still have a long way to go but then I’ve only played for 6 months or so


I’m grunching this thread pretty hard, but besides play a lot, the single best piece of advice you can take is lose the ego, and when you lose be HONEST about why you lost, both to yourself and your opponent. Ending the game with “man if I had just…” doesn’t help.

A better player (if they beat you they might just be better) is more willing to talk about what you might improve on if you talk about what worked well for them. Don’t lie to yourself and say “if I had just drawn my ice…” Honestly evaluate, did you keep a shitty hand because it had econ? Did you not draw and discard econ while stabilizing if you mulled into trash?

Only through self criticism can you truly get better.


For what it’s worth, there has been a lot of Anarch at league nights in Madison in the last month or so. Not sure if that is what people are going to bring to the regional, but it’s a bit of inside info for you.

I’m bringing Leela, though, so maybe i just don’t want you to tech against Criminal :slight_smile:

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Here is my recommendation – state of mind
Anytime I won ANR tournament or finished in very satisfying place it wasn’t about hardcore preparation with months of training etc. It was always because I felt relaxed, happy, well fed and comfortable. Seriously.
I can tell you it’s a big thing and for me it is difference between average and great in matter of tournament result.
ANR is not my only game I am used to play and I am experiencing the same with all of them. Anytime I am happy and enjoying playing it, I have amazing results. When you don’t care about the result and just play for the joy, you have open mind and better focus. All the numbers and odds are easier to count in your mind. Being nervous or anxious is not helpful at all.
Vice versa – although I end up in previous tournaments in top 3 in a row, that time I had some hard times with moving to new place and other difficulties in personal life… that tournament end up very very horrible. After three turns I had zero points, fourth round bye, so I rather dropped and went home finish the moving and other things. After this experience I am easily willing to skip whole tournament if I don’t feel very well and I am still working on to bring such state of mind as often as possible.


I believe this is important. Ask @aandries or @Paranoid how chill and resigned I was headed into Worlds. Not taking it terribly seriously is a big help to me, who used to be more nervous in such situations. A past version of me would’ve been quaking with 40+ watching my final Swiss games v. Mihn. Instead, I felt pretty calm and dialed in on the game at hand, and my opponent. Maybe it’s my old age or ‘give a shit’ attitude.

I know that’s not really sound advice, but it may help. I find that seeing what your opponent is doing with their deck, and immediately asking what your deck can/will do to defeat it, is key. That can be tough in the moment, and preparation and practice can help.

Finally, try to avoid the tilt, or see if you can push your opponent onto it. Getting down early in a game isn’t a deth knell, and I’ve fought back from many dire circumstances, through luck, skill, and sheer will.

Not sure what to recommend. I’ve played card games competitively off and on for 20 years now, so maybe it’s just time and experience. I have seen my play and finishes improve as I’ve played, but will still see some stumbling and regression occasionally. Not everyone can be @mediohxcore.


They can if Jinteki has their way. He should make himself a clone for his World’s card :smiley:


I think getting old is good advice. It gives all of us that are old already a nice edge. :stuck_out_tongue:



“You’ll get good. Just wait 5-8 years.”


Luckily one can get older and at the same time better at CCGs and other related games, unlike at junk like Smash Bros and Starcraft, which you have to be a lousy teen with fast brains and hands to play really well.

:shakes fist:


I can attest to this one. I dropped 1 game first round of swiss this past weekend at my regional in a match I thought was pretty much me vs jank that happened to work well for the match up (hats off to my opponent for making it work). Then dropped 2 more next round and tilted hard my 3rd round and got swept once again.

I was trapped in the dregs of the tournament (low tables) where you’re matched up against crazy off the wall decks that blindside you. Turn 1 running through a hunter paying the 3 trace to duck the tag, then plowing into a snare! losing 3 cards and 5 credits in the first 2 clicks severely backfooted my noise and tilted me pretty hard, leading to piss-poor play for the remainder of the 2 matches.

I didn’t focus on the fact that my opponent had spent 5 credits, but rather how hamstrung I was. I lost aesop’s and cache, because I didn’t just play them out. It was totally my fault for losing the good cards. I’m typically a very laid back player, but between the long trip and the odd pairings, the tilt was real.

Fortunately the break after that round helped me square my head and I came back and swept my remaining matches to post a fair showing considering how serious I was taking the event…


Things always get weird down on the low tables. When NEH was absolutely crushing (as opposed to just mostly crushing now), I used to show up with glacier type decks. This would be great at the top tables, where everyone was geared to run at you like a crazy thing. On the bottom tables, you’d run into some of the worst and weirdest matchups - all the anti-glacier tech was down there.

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red herrings, encryption protocol, mandatory upgrades. Noise just can’t get in fast enough to stop that kind of start unless you get the right draw. A corp with 4 clicks is a fucking nightmare.


Don’t play too hard into the anti-metagame tech without a first round bye