The community tries its ass off with new championships, store champs, beginner deck builds, Discord and Slack channels, active forums like this one, etc. the vibrant and passionate community is a real strong point to Netrunner, and it is really fantastic in lowering the barrier to potential new players.
As many have mentioned above, I feel like FFG need to deliberately release product that is targeted squarely at new comers. The core box is something, and it’s helpful. For beginners to stay invested though, they really need to buy up the data packs, and big boxes, and start deck building. That is a daunting task, because as boardgamegeeks complexity rating shows, Netrunner is a complicated game. It’s also hugely fun and rewarding, and so working through its plunging depths is certainly worth it.
However, one thing I’d point out is that community run events, championships and custom built decks on NRDB require a time investment from people to actually peel back layers and actively investigate the various sources of information that contain these decks and events. That’s all well and good, if someone is inclined that way. But many people like pick up and play games, and the core set is designed firstly as a tutorial of sorts, but then as a door to what we know of Netrunner now; deck building and expansion purchases.
If you continue to give people products which keep stripping back the level of effort, while increasing the fun factor, I’d imagine you’ll end up with two camps of people.
- Those who just enjoy having a dabble with a few beginner decks and don’t take things any further
- Those who the game engages with them, and they stay engaged either with continued purchases of entry products which don’t require a huge investment, or actually become competitive.
I think Netrunner biggest issue right now is that the game is dominated by depth and complexity, a reliance on using NRDB as a source it make viable decks to play on Jnet; and in fact Jnet. Jnet is wonderful, and I love playing on it, but it’s not an entry level tool. It is reasonably intimidating for new comers, and people again have to dig deeper, talk to the community, make an account, get shown by experienced players how to use it, etc. that is all really great, if you can be bothered with that time and effort investment.
For beginners they need a casual option. Hell I’d love a casual preconstructed option. I’d play it, and I’ve played Netrunner on and off for two years. I’m not that competitive, but I dabble just because I really like the game. I’d play it more, if I knew I could join a group who were as casual as me. I find those left at the FLGS are actually hardcore (albeit friendly and very helpful) players who play in store champs and REALLY know the game well.
We need to find a way to create a casual community within Netrunner, and I think a pre constructed product, that could be supported through a beginners social comp would be a wonderful start to that.