How do we save Netrunner?

Yes, the thread title is a bit hyperbolic, but I’m not sure how much.

I started playing Netrunner in October 2016. Over that time, I’ve seen the game shrink quite a bit in terms of active player base in store-level and more competitive events.

What can players do at a local level to help reverse this trend?

(I’m aware that FFG is the entity that can have the most positive impact, but since FFG does not comment on this forum I am leaving it out of the topic.)

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Be active in building your community. Organize a lot of interesting, non-FFG tournament events, make word of mouth recommendations to people you know, learn to teach it quickly and without overwhelming the player.


I’m not 100% sold on this FFG has the biggest impact.
What can they do? They can create a healthy game, but can they create a local community? Nice events? Nice people?

I think it’s on us and on the shops.

We are not MtG so they player base will always be small and more fragile.

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They could stop cannibalizing the playerbase with new LCGs every other year.


The thing I am most surprised about is that there is no intro version of the game.

Netrunner is most fun when played with cool decks that match against each other well. If FF released two cheap constructed decks that that matched up pretty well and contained cards that avoided stuff like trace and bad pub, you would have a 15 dollar product that you could give to a magic player and in no time they would be hooked. Beyoken’s dueling decks are really inspired options to consider for something like this.

When I started ANR, I played tried to make decks out of the core set and I didn’t know how to make a great deck so the matches were lopsided or dull till we went online and had to figured out how to construct decent decks, which was an involved process. It took me a few days of messing about to even be able to play a decent match. And even after that, we all kind of know that core netrunner isn’t nearly as fun as playing with top tier decks. It wasn’t till I got onto jnet and started playing good netdecks did I really fall in love with the game myself. I was willing to go through all that for my own reasons but I can’t imagine the average potencial new player going through all that.

My main point is that deck building for a game like this out of the box just isn’t a fun place to start. Once you understand the game it’s a lot of fun but the fact that there isn’t a simpler, pre-constructed intro to the game that I can recommend someone without explaining that they need to go online and look up decklists etc just doesn’t give me the tools I need to hook a new player. If there was a legitimately fun pair of dueling decks that I could give to a couple of curious magic players at around 10 bucks, there would be a massive flood of new players.

I realize that the previous Worlds decks are basically this. However, luck of the draw has meant that the world champ decks are just not the best ID’s to start a new player on. I can’t imagine a worse ID to start a new player on than CI, which should be ban. [pardon the editorial sidenote but they just should]

I’ve bumped into Magic players at events and they are frequently intrigued and interested but the decks I had with me happened to be bad intro-decks and I wasn’t about to buy a full core of the shelf and spend however long trying to construct an interesting deck to teach them from. If I could drop 10 bucks on “Netrunner Basic” to throw down an Alice vs PE slugfest and get them ambushing and outguessing each other, I am confident that a lot of them would dig it. But that wasn’t an option so I just told them they were missing out and moved on.

Honestly, I’d sell “ANR Basic” it at or below cost too. If you want to addict people to something expensive, always make the first hit free and easy.


Speaking of which, over in AGOT they literally JUST announced intro decks for all eight factions. They’re full 69-card (nice) decks, 60 deck, 7 plot, faction card, agenda card.


I know A LOT people who would finally dare a leap of faith into ANR territory with those intro decks.

We have community intro decks. More than one set. Beyoken, TheBigBoy, and Spags all tried their hand at it. For the most part, all the dex are good and balanced. FFG making them official, off the shelf product would be aces.

Really though, the best answer was already given: Organized new and interesting events. Get people to show for weekly game nights. Talk to new prospects and teach them fast. There is no magic solution beyond these.

[EDIT] I do have one idea: You could proxy up all the teaching dex to have them on hand for new people. Hand them out, loan them out, whatever. I’m sure some paper and sleeves wouldn’t be too expensive.

Can you point me to the Spags intro decks?
I probably wasn’t playing ANR yet when he released them.

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Oh, they are just the ones Team Covenent use in their intro vids. I think they have decklist links in the descriptions. Just look for Team Covenant on the YouTubes and find their ANR vids.

It’s not about giving people some decks to learn with, it’s also about letting them buy sets of cards that they can then play with.

Give people practice games all you want, it’s them being able to actually buy a deck that’s the difference. I bought a collection and built meta decks out of them, but plenty of people want to buy pre-con theme decks. “Trace n Trash” with a bunch of absolutely terrible NBN Tracer ICE that sees zero play, Sea Source, and Closed Accounts, Vs “Counter Surveillance”, a Crim deck with a bunch of stuff with the word “Expose” on it. That’s going to get way more people into the game than proxies.

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I don’t think comparing the game to MtG is overly productive. They target different gamers. Netrunner has a more nuanced lore, it’s asymmetrical, it’s not blind-buy, rotation is slower, draft isn’t overly doable, and cards don’t have any real value (and thus cannot be traded). MtG attracts a younger player base because it’s cheap to start playing and has dead simple rules.

I think someone else nailed it, they’re constantly cannibalizing their player base for a new game every year. What happened to ANR players? Conquest, Destiny, GoT, L5R, and AH all released after and slowly chip away at NRs player base.


There have been a couple of similarly-premised “what is to be done” threads recently, so I’ll address them collectively.

Firstly, I think it’s wrong to attribute the entirety of a complicated physical card game’s health, in 2018, to the number of humans who provide a data point based on some predefined weekly real world meet-up at a game stores or in similar environments.

These meet-ups are notoriously inconvenient and inflexible. Players who would otherwise respond affirmatively to “game health” cannot because they have to perform some other activity such as work or child care at the appointed time. To invert the question, can those players respond that they think the “game is healthy” if they can never seem to play it?

Similarly, using a vertical slice from the highly infrequent but high-stakes tournaments is not helpful. These are daytime weekend events which don’t work for everyone either. This time, the players who must perform work or child care on weekends are excluded instead of those who perform work or child care on weeknight evenings. Average weekly turnouts look low, isn’t it! What about that guy who comes once every two months? Do we disregard his data point because he isn’t there every week, or do we look at the fact that he does show up every two months as the more valuable data point?

I think the better metric of “health” is to try to establish engagement versus disengagement instead of just a numbers-based in-person participation.

How frequently did the player interact with the community on forums? How often did they report feeling happy about Netrunner? How much community-generated content was viewed/listened to/read? What is the total Patreon value of Netrunner? How many fan alt-arts were circulated? How many native languages do Netrunner players count? How many fan-organized tournaments were participated in? How many countries were the participants from? Did participants who participated in a fan-organized Cache Refresh tournament report higher overall satisfaction or engagement with the game?

We don’t need to “save” Netrunner. We need have a better conversation about “health” that isn’t some 1940s box factory with an absenteeism problem mentality.

In any company I’ve worked for, having a low-thousands group of insanely fanatical, ludicrously engaged users and a longer tail of several thousand engaged but ultimately passive users would be considered a fucking goldmine. Stop thinking of health in whatever way you’re thinking of it.


Although the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of the Intro decks possibly being a replacement to the whole gotta-3-core concept. If they can fill out a faction with one of these so new players no longer have to buy multiple of the same thing, that could be quite handy.

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Decklist links near the bottom of this post:

I haven’t watched the vids, so I didn’t realize they were all decks—that’s quite nice.


Do you all really think that the core set is somehow too big an investment?

I mean, I guess I mainly come into contact with other boardgamers interested in Netrunner, and they’re happy to buy a box (which is not particularly expensive either) that is a complete out-of-the-box experience. They’d probably think single decks are bad value.

I guess having both options available would be sort of neat just to cover all bases, and maybe the starting decks could complement the Revised Core a bit to make a good cardpool together (but buying doubled-up cards would probably still grate for a lot of players, if there is overlap between the starter decks and cards in other sets).

Otherwise, in how far does Netrunner need saving right now? It seems like there are a fair number of people getting into the game with Revised Core, no? Of course that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make an effort to get new people in, but the thread title does not seem fitting.

As I write in the OP, the thread title is intentionally hyperbolic, and yet I have had people say in jest and not so much in jest the game is dead or dying or that we better enjoy it now because it won’t be with us a lot longer, etc.

So from some of the established player base, there is a sense that the game is at least stagnating or in danger of slipping into serious decline if not heading for death.

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I picked up an extra, very cheap Core 1.0 prior to rotation off of a /r/boardgameexchange and keep it with me for teaching people the game. I’ve broken it out a few times and have found it to be very handy. I may end up picking up a Core 2.0 now for this purpose just so it’s a bit more balance across the board so new players can try a more diverse intro to Netrunner. I haven’t tried the Core 2.0 starting decks, but it seems like they’re more viable across the board.

Sleeved, the entire core set fits into a deck box you can win from a tournament so it’s easy to toss in a bag with your standard netrunner decks.

I personally like using the core as opposed to something like TBB’s teaching decks because when a new player buys in that’s all they’ll have to start most times. It’s nice giving them the base, and if they buy into that then expanding becomes much easier.


I’d agree that the core set experience is quiet good, but for a magic player or the like to make a jump they’re going to be very frustrated playing with just core set cards. Having some starter decks that come with things like Daily Casts, Dirty Laundry, IPO, etc. is a great way to get a higher level starting deck, and also isn’t a total waste of investment as many players like having multiple play sets of these strong cards.

It’s even more important to have these intro decks in AGOT, because the core set there is all 1 ofs, so the single core experience is not good. Trying the game out through these intro decks should be much better.