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GNK's, Competitive or Casual?

Hey all,

Here’s an interesting question. GNK’s are pretty popular events around these parts. Often drawing 15-20 players. In the past we’ve ran only 3 rounds because stores couldn’t stay open long enough for more, leading to lots of tie-breaks for prizes. That’s distasteful but necessary I guess. Now stores around here have wised up and are running their GNK’s on weekend when they can facilitate full 4-5 rounds now. Which raised an interesting question: What level of play is GNK’s supposed to be? Casual or Competitive?

Compare the following:

Casual events emphasize fun and a friendly atmosphere. These events help build local
communities and are a great way for new players to experience their favorite game without
worrying whether they know every little rule. This tier may include leagues, weekly game nights,
and any event using an Android: Netrunner variant.

Competitive events require players to have general knowledge of a game’s rules. While
experienced players will come to these events to compete for prizes, players should not be
punished for their lack of understanding in the finer points of Android: Netrunner rules. Players
can come to these events expecting a consistent experience from store to store. This tier includes
Store Championships and unique, one-off events such as the Chronos Protocol Tour.

I’ve argued this in my head a few times and it kinda goes like this:

GNK’s are not weekly things, they are quarterly at best, so it’s not a ‘weekly game night’ or league level. But they also aren’t Store Championships level either. There are prizes on the line, and the only level that mentions prizes is Competitive. Some areas I know run GNK’s on weeknights knowing they’ll have tie-breaks and that works for them, so that’s ok, but our area seems to gather for bigger tournaments on the weekends as described above.

I’m leaning towards running a GNK here like at Competitive level based on size of player pool, prize availability, and potential for sore feelings if it’s ran with too few rounds leading to ties (yes, amount of rounds aren’t a factor in the guides, but this is a way I can explain why we’ll run 5 rounds instead of 3)

Thoughts? Are GNK’s casual or competitive? Regardless of level, it’s something that should be run with the ‘fun’ coming first of course. I don’t want to make the impression that this is about how hard to come down on rules or not, but about what’s the intent in the guides for GNK’s and how best to explain it to stores that want to run them.

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I think FFG’s language here

is instructive. Left unsaid is that “players cannot come to [GNKs] expecting a consistent experience from store to store”, because FFG wants to leave local communities the freedom to run whatever kind of events they want with those prizes, and they do.

One local store does a league with the GNK as prize support. Another one does a constructed Swiss tournament one week, followed by a draft Swiss tournament the next week, with prizes determined by the total prestige from both. Brand consistency is not the goal of GNKs.

Certainly, there should be Casual GNKs. I’ve run into people at basically every GNK I’ve played in who were participating in their first card game tournament (some of whom play slowly and are basically guaranteed to go to time in their games), and having the event explicitly “Casual” a) welcomes first-timers to the format and b) reminds competitive players not to get too resentful of slow play or an uncertain grasp of the rules.

On the other hand, I don’t see a problem with thriving, competitive communities like (how I imagine) Philly or the British communities having “Competitive” GNKs alongside the more loosey-goosey atmosphere of the “Casual” GNKs.


We’re lucky enough to get several kits at our local store. We try to mix it up, having casual tournaments or restricted deck tournaments, as well as the more competitive type. We simply make sure that we advertise and emphasize exactly what type it is. We’re still always open and friendly to newbies and we usually have a few extra promos if they happen to come to their first tournament when it’s one of the more competitive ones. I think setting everyone’s expectations beforehand is key.

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I’ve run GNK as prizes for league and 3-5 round tournaments. I’ve also attended Pubrunner with GNK as prizes. They’ve all been casual in my book. I can see someone running a competitive GNK tournament, but that should be the exception, not the rule, and explicitly stated. As it’s been discussed here a few weeks ago, there’s not many casual events and GNK are the most basic prize support from FFG.

I try to run a casual event every so often. The last one was using just a big box and core set to help the newer players. BUt as its been stated as long as its clear that its not a regular format then you should be fine. I personally like the odd GNKS where your encouraged to bring jank decks since it leads to odd events such as a str 12 fire wall so so nasir can’t break it with endless hunger, or the corp milling out the runner with underway renovation

Its genrally just 5 rounds if we get enough players with no cut.

Good replies all, thanks.

I’m gathering the best consensus to this is to run a GNK according to how you want that particular event to go. We’ve run things like singleton tournaments, ‘jank’ game nights, cube drafts and other things clearly in the casual end of things, but the rate at which GNK’s show up here we’re often ‘casualed’ out by that point and looking for some more competitive things (though this isn’t universal, I speak only for my impressions of my region and with the only authority of my observations, not with any authority to make it so)

So with that in mind, we’ll probably run the first few in ‘competitive’ mode as they are going to be the best fit for they way the stores have planed them so far. Later events can mix that up.

Thanks for the conversation and ideas.

The first one or two of the season are competitive, the competitive people win their stuff, then people fuck around and play goofy stuff the rest of the season.