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Has Netrunner become "boring"?


#1

A common lament around these parts is that netrunner has become “boring” over the course of this (mumbad) cycle. Regional numbers are heavily down (by 20-40%) in the US. This discussion is to analyse and understand why this is the perception, and whether it is the reality and what can/should be done about it, if at all.

Compiling the corp card pool by cycle there has been a clear uptick in the number of assets printed during both Mumbad & Sansan, with a corresponding decrease in the amount of new ICE.

Set – ID – Agenda – Asset – ICE – Op – Upgrade
Core – 7% – 13% – 15% – 32% – 23% – 10%
1st – 8% – 18% – 18% – 32% – 14% – 11%
2nd – 4% – 17% – 17% – 31% – 24% – 6%
3rd – 7% – 15% – 17% – 33% – 16% – 11%
4th – 8% – 17% – 24% – 27% – 12% – 12%
5th* – 4% – 13% – 39% – 18% – 18% – 9%

  • includes all known and spoiled cards so far

I think most people agree that what stands Netrunner apart from other games, the factor that is the heart and soul of netrunner’s gameplay was/is the ICE/Breaker interaction (the parallel would be pawn play in chess I suppose). Since the release of Faust (backed up by Parasite/D4v1d/Cutlery), the ICE/Breaker interaction has become less relevant. In addition, the increased number of Assets within the cardpool combined with the relative power level of recent releases/cycles vs Genesis / Spin, has led to a proliferation of powerful asset based Corp strategies, and an uptick in the use of IDs which synergise with these strategies (NEH, IG, Gagarin), which in turn this has led to a fundamental shift in the main interaction of the game from ICE/breakers to Assets/trashing (& recursion).

Strategically, the core interaction between ICE/Breakers led to games which split between early (corp has no ICE/money), mid (runner has not all breakers), late (runner has all breakers) and there was a certain ebb and flow inherent between the phases of the game and the strategies both sides employed to extend one or more of the phases where they hold the strategical advantage. With the emphasis shifted to assets the whole concept of early/mid/late game is redefined into a question can the runner prevent a snowballing corp late game (either by trashing/resetting the board) or win before that happens. In other words the game is now split into two phases rather than three, with the mid/late game now belongs with the corp and not the runner, and the corp can consequently employ more turtling strategies to shut down the early game to transition to late game. This is naturally not fun to play against for most runners as the game can feel lost once the transition is complete (whilst previously you knew you could back later on).

Tactically, searching for and finding the right breaker, plus maintaining the economy to fund accesses was previously the key interaction of the game. Increasingly, the Asset/Trashing interaction is becoming the key mechanic and in some senses it is very narrow in that it simply revolves around having enough econ/clicks to dismantle the board state or being able to find a critical mass of silver bullets (apocalypse/astrolabe/scrubber/paricia/imp/bankjob/sectesting/desperado) to effectively counter it. One of the main reason we see Noise/Whiz ahead of the pack right now because they are both able to successful dismantle board states (with in built trashing mechanics in their ID power) and preventing/stalling the corp achieving a late game supremacy in order to win, whilst still maintaining a solid matchup against non-asset spam corp strategies.

It is a living card game, and we should be prepared for the game to evolve and new strategies/tactics to emerge to keep it fresh. However, this fundamental shift (faust engine reducing relevance of ICE/breakers + asset proliferation) helps us to explain/understand the main gripe people seem to have that Netrunner has become more boring of late both strategically and tactically. Personally I enjoy playing the asset spam game, but I do find my runner choice massively restricted these days because of it.

The question is, can we adapt to find more “fun” (or god forbid, new?) strategies that mesh with the ever changing card pool. Is there anything that should be done to redress the imbalance in the force (ban/restriction/new runner counters printed)? Is there any need to - do people need to accept and adapt to change? Is this the main factor for reduced tournament attendance (in the US) or is it related to natural apathy or the release of newer fresher games (e.g. AGOT2.0) that have caused a migration of the player base.


#2

No.


#3

One thing about the Regionals attendance; aren’t there more regionals this yer than previous years? Maybe some people are just waiting for a regional closer to where they live so they don’t have to travel as far.


#4

Overall I’d say no. I think they’ve definitely overshot the mark while trying to make non-money assets an important part of the game, and I don’t really like the competitive meta too much now but I think the game itself is fine. Even if Noise/IG won, I did see plenty of variety at the Durham regional.

I think I fit with a lot of the disgruntled players, I liked the ice/icebreaker economic interactions, (I would have gladly played another year of PPVP kate VS Foodcoats), and its a bit of a shame that’s not a big part of the game right now. I’m not ready to say the sky is falling either though, I think its clear with attendance being down ~20% that a lot of people aren’t thrilled and hopefully some corrective actions are made.


#5

I do think playing whack-a-mole on assets is really boring. But if Whizzard/Noise/Scrubber/Paricia decks are the only answer, I guess that’s what we play.

Then there’s Apocalypse.


#6

Especially consider attendance is up in England.


#7

I hate the online meta, turns out nobody in my recent vicinity enjoys playing Museum/grind decks, so playing offline is still fine. This might change come regionals, when everyone and their dog will play the IG decks that win everything, so I might be forced to play Anarch just for Archives Interface/IHW. Let’s just cross fingers that won’t happen, because I am not looking forward to that.


#8

one could argue that assets as a cardtype within the pool were under-represented previously (remember NEARPAD anyone?). in some ways they have fleshed out the pool in this area to make asset based strategies tournament viable and this an interesting meta-expansion in itself. is it just museum that is the issue in that it changes the balance of the late game and not assets themselves?


#9

[quote=“Labbes, post:7, topic:7300”]
This might change come regionals, when everyone and their dog will play the IG decks that win everything
[/quote]So far IG has won one Regionals out of nearly 10 played, doesn’t look like “everything” :slight_smile:


#10

Not only that, it also deals with the fact that assets that are trashed will come back sooner or later.

Edit:

So far IG has won one Regionals out of nearly 10 played, doesn’t look like “everything”

That might have been a slight overstatement on my part.


#11

Although, probably a lot of fans won’t agree with me, the release schedule and the way the card pool expands is still a huge issue in my book. I like MtG’s system. I like to get 220 cards in one go and work with them for 3-4 months. This means a lot of deck options and a somewhat stable evolving meta.

This sort of drip card pool FFG has, feels just wrong. Balancing the complete cycles and the overall card pool is difficult enough but balancing the meta when you release packs on a monthly basis is just insane.

As a result, you usually get stuff like this:

Get one piece of a new mechanic in pack 1, wait 6 months for pack 6 to get the other piece to make the new mechanic actually viable.


#12

Yes, Museum is clearly a big design mistake.
It encourages extremely slow, grindy and passive Corp playstyle.
And most important, Corp clock was a fundamental part of the game balance, and now it’s broken.

I’m not quite sure how on earth could designers think this card was a good idea… Or was this just an oversight? Not enough playtesting? Or is it that some people just like to watch world burn?


#13

I think Museum has a very negative fun factor for the game, but I’m not sure it’s as deep or complex as you make it out to be. It’s not fun to deal with the physical process of shuffling every turn, and a strategy that keeps incrementally degrading the quality of your random accesses by 2.3% or something instead of trying to deny you accesses is not very fun. Not even satisfying for the Museum player to get to flip up a Sweeps that was shuffled in when you R&D single access, who knows if it was the same Sweeps or not?

This is all before you look at the heavy endgame strategy presented. But maybe that’s equally awful to those basic factors, I’m not sure.


#14

Would a unique museum be a solution to this problem?

As a unique it just allows you to recover from mills and to recycle some stuff.

But taking down one museum and putting it in the ground seems far easier than just recycling them over… and over… and over.

A unique museum solves the grindy state of the asset metagame, keeps the powerful card in the pool and also still keeps the clock on the game. Albeit it is longer than a traditional netrunner game, but not potentially unlimited.

What do you think?


#15

I think that’s probably a good solution and there is precedence for and errata to add uniqueness (?) to a card.


#16

While I think that Museum is less oppressive in an asset spam deck than Wireless Net Pavillion was in DLR MaxX, I do think that it is probably the healthiest decision for the game right now.

Both in terms of the meta-game and in terms of the continued development of the card pool.

It also is less intrusive than making it MWL IMHO. Making it unique seems like the “simple” and most effective solution to me.


#17

Do you mean unique or limit 1 per deck? Because unique means you can only have 1 rezzed at a like (e.g., Jackson Howard, Lily Lockwell, Kati Jones, etc.) but all of them installed. So if the corp is spamming assets, they can keep 1 rezzed and the other(s) hidden on the table. It slows down the recursion but it still allows the corp stall tactics to be effective.


#18

Limit 1 per deck could also work, but I think just by making it unique you will solve a lot of problems of the card.

Spamming assets will keep you afloat for a while, but you would only be able to at the most put one card back a turn + jacksons.

Jackson is rotating out eventually.

Post rotation, putting one card back into the deck won’t be enough to keep the Museums afloat indefinately. Assets you trash will stay dead.


#19

Netrunner isn’t boring.

People complaining about Museum is boring, though.


#20

Making it unique is very helpful for the IG builds we’re currently dealing with, and definitely strikes at what those decks are doing in a fundamental way. But for the Mumbad City Hall decks that loom on the horizon if/when they get additional support, unique Museum could have a good bit of trouble being enough of a restriction. When 1 Museum is trashed, it could shuffle in another Museum, then MCH could go and grab that Museum, locking things in at one Museum shuffle per turn. Which is not as bad as 3 per turn, sure, but either reliably having that effect for the whole game is good for the game or bad for the game, and if it’s good it should be left at 3 and if it’s bad it should be toned all the way down.

Limit one per deck prevents one Museum from targetting another Museum, which requires a Jackson every time Museum is killed, which seems like it accomplishes plenty. Really the card should have a remove-from-game clause like Trope, Levy AR Lab Access, Jackson Howard, and every sane card with this effect has had in the history of ever. But that’s a more cumbersome errata, unless someone has a particularly clever one.