Quinns’ review of Terminal Directive is a wonderful homage to the game Netrunner once was and the game he once experienced in his greener days.
It includes the following description of the game from those days:
I don’t want to get too technical here, but the reason Netrunner is so good is the foundation designed by Richard Garfield. It’s a deadly game of bluffs, with the Corporation player managing a wealth of secret information and the Runner trying to figure out when and where they should probe those secrets. If you choose right, you can turn the corporation from a cat into a mouse. If you choose wrong? You might be dead. But every turn players are drawing new cards from their deck, as if they were pulling the lever on a tiny slot machine, constantly changing the game state. There is always hope!
He goes on to observe that the game has evolved to one where the point of the competitive meta is to squash that hope and remove as much uncertainty as possible from the game.
I’m sure players with more experience are better placed than I am to respond to his review and his critique of the current state of the game. His observations about the loss of innocence that comes with becoming a good player and never being able to go back to the fun of the early game is interesting to me.
But the review resonated with me on a certain level. Last night at my FLGS, I played 5 games of Netrunner – 3 using constructed decks and the entire card pool and 2 using draft decks. By far, the more enjoyable games were the ones with my draft decks. Reading the review this morning – and the part I quoted above in particular – I can see that it was largely because the games played with my draft decks were very much in the spirit of the game Quinns loved. The constructed decks were more efficient, powerful, and elegant in every way compared to my draft decks, but I had more fun playing the draft decks by a wide margin. (For the record, I was 2-1 with the constructed decks and 1-1 with draft. I would have been 0-2 with the draft decks if I had not won to Batty psi games.)
I don’t know if it is that “fair” Netrunner is more fun or that draft removes most of the ridiculously powered cards from the game, but I sure enjoyed it a lot and I think I understand some of what Quinns was writing about.