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How do we save Netrunner?


I, personally, disagree. I bought core sets and deluxe and found the game unbalanced and especially difficult to construct decks with. Playing game after game where one player just didn’t draw a breaker or something turned my group off to it and trying to google starter decks online to even be able try to have a balanced game was a drag.

Only when I found jnet and played with some netrunnerdb decks did I have that moment where I thought “oh wow, this game is really fun and interesting.”

The game really is a lot more fun with a cool deck and deck building is a very daunting process at the beginning, especially for corp.

Personally, I prefer jnet in almost every way. It’s more convenient, faster, easier to try new decks with, full of kind people, I don’t have to leave my house and it’s 700 dollars cheaper. I find it almost surprising that anyone buys the cards when they can have such a better experience online (heresy to admit, I know).

Also, and this is maybe off-topic or incidental, but paying for cards is always disappointing when so many of the cards you pay for are jank. Many packs (like the new one for example) have maybe 3 cards you actually want and a bunch of stuff to put in box forever. It feel organized to make it hard to just buy what you want. I wanted to build an anarch deck and it’s such a turn-off to learn that Paperclip, MK Ultra and Black Orchestra are in different packs, to choose one example. On J-Net, a glut of jank is more interesting than expensively irritating.

One thing I wish players could buy, if we are dreaming, is just a set of “all the good cards people actually like to use.” There is a pool of about 100 or so basic cards that aren’t in the core-set but everyone wants and if there was a box that was just full of HHN, Stinton, Mining Accident, Amakua, Paperclip etc that one could purchase once, it would be the ultimate dream in terms of accessible, useful, fun playability. If the hundreds of janky, specific cards were then sold as a “jank-box” that would also be a more fun and honest thing to feel good about buying. The current system feels very implicately “If you want these 2 fun cards we make you buy these 10 almost-pointless cards.”

My point is that better decks = a much more fun experience and anything that puts fun decks full of fun cards in players hands easily in a good thing. Anything that forced a new player to have to construct a deck when they barely get the rules yet is a bad/unnecessary player experience.


This is a really good point.

Starter decks indicate they are (obviously) for folks who are just starting but have yet to purchase the core set. A first purchase, perhaps.

A Faction Deck would (possibly) be a product for folks who own the core set, but aren’t sure/don’t know which data packs to buy and would just like something more “complete” that they could use. This would be, I guess, a third purchase? (starter deck —> core set —> Faction Deck)

Which, upon typing, starts to sound like World Champion Decks.


It’s not obvious to me that this is predictable from FFG’s side. The Run Last Click podcast had a recent-ish episode with Chris Dyer–former world champ–talking about card design (which was excellent!). One of the points Chris made is that, during playtesting, the playtesters are doing their best to figure out what the best decks are, given the card pool, but they can easily go wide of the mark. The imagined metas during playtesting might never actually materialize…or maybe it doesn’t materialize until some time down the road, when completely different cards are available.

So from FFG’s perspective, you’re trying to balance all these cards, and you’re printing data packs, and you’re also trying to figure out which ones are “good enough” that you want to assemble into a “best of” pack. Given the above testimony of Chris, what’s probably going to happen is that you are going to print duds in your “best of” pack, and people are going to be after you complaining that you have no idea how to evaluate cards. (Actually, people already complain about that in some cases, so maybe that’s not a good example :wink: ).

And if “best of” boxes are printed, people are going to complain about the data packs: why even bother printing data packs if you can get all the “best cards” in this alternate format. Or cards that are only available in (different) data packs turn out to be really important in the meta, so people complain about that too. So then FFG ditches data packs and goes with big boxes, only to arrive at the situation where cards in the big box have unequal power levels, and people complain that they’re buying all these cards only to get a couple good ones.

Now we’re right back where we started.

See also When Cards Go Bad and When Cards Go Bad Revisited for a similar discussion of the issues from the Magic side of things.


I think we are talking about slightly different things here.

You seem to me to be talking from the perspective of someone who wants to make a considerable investment (buying all the deluxe boxes) and spending effort deck building. I’m targetting those entry level consumers who enjoy board games/card games and haven’t played a CCG or LCG before, and just want a simple way to keep enjoying the game if they enjoyed the core set.

Preconstructed decks let people pick up a new deck or two, and just start playing away. They don’t need to know about NRDB, or Jnet. A new community of players can emerge that are purely “social” or “casual” players. That’s the end of their time investment into the game.

If they decide to go further, because it’s such a great game, they can hop on NRDB and Jnet and get cracking.

The stuff about perceived card quality, and cost and all that are a very seperate issue. Releasing beginner decks though does essentially nullify that for those casual kitchen table players.


My first purchase after the core set was the 2015 Worlds decks (Foodcoats ETF vs. Blackmail DLR Val).

Once we figured out how the runner deck worked we were able to get by with minimal rules.


When I say dueling decks, I mean two decks in a box, where each deck has a strong theme/mechanical flavour and are balanced against each other. This should be better for the board gamers that want to test the game as well as those that are looking for a new life style game. The world decks are more complicated than they need to be, and are not balanced.

And ffs, release a tournament pack with the one/two-ofs. It is far easier to tell someone they need to buy $39 + $15 instead of $39*3. If you hook people, you will earn more money on the monthly packs. One is an ordinary board game price, the other is slightly shy of twilight imperium.


No doubt. That type of thinking is dangerous, though. It’s the difference between making more money with a shortsighted decision and possibly hooking a customer for the lifespan of the game.


Yeah, I’ve thought before too and assume it’s just a hassle for FFG to implement. Pretty much everyone who buys their 2nd or 3rd Core Set is doing so just to complete the card collection, so why not give them exactly what they want and save money on giving them more rule books, tokens and extra duplicates of cards they probably don’t want.

If I could buy a Revised Core for like £35 and then a “Completion Box” which gives me everything I need to have 3 of every card for like £15 more, I would 100% have done this by now. However, as it stands, I stick with my Original Core cards as I don’t want to spend over £100 just to have playsets of cards I already own, but with new art.


I think the best form for “best of” packs would be if they covered two cycles that were going to rotate together, and were released 6-12 months before that rotation was expected. For example, a “best of Lunar and SanSan” pack released right around now. Those cards have been out long enough that most of the good cards could probably be identified, and cycles that are rotating soon are probably the product new players would most like to avoid buying all of.

There’s still probably not enough of a business case for it, though.


FFG did spend quite a bit on a machine to be able to print on demand. Perhaps people could order up a kit of cards they’d want on demand, for a steeper price.


What do you think that price would be? Would something like $1.50 per playset of a card (+ some S&H) be too expensive for players? Asking because that is double what the set would cost from a data pack.

On the other hand, wouldn’t something like that really impact datapack sales?


Re: “Best of packs”

As far as concepts that target new players, cheap dueling-decks are always going to be the no-brainer, obviously great idea.

As far as printing best-of packs, I don’t think that only targets players who want to make a big investment. I think it is just more fun to play the game with the cards that experience has proven to be the best and most fun cards and making these cards more easily available can only be good for the game.

Right now there is a huge step from being a kitchen table player to a competitive player. In a way, it’s almost like “I like this 50 dollar game, should I spent 650 dollars more to play the full version?”

A ‘best-of box’ gives a very easy next purchase after you are hooked on the game but aren’t ready to ask your boss for overtime just to play it.

Because aside from the discussion of sales that we seem to be focusing on, I think the fundamental point that I want to make central to the larger question of “how do we hook new people and keep it fun for people who are hooked” is that the game is just a lot more fun with better decks. Giving people the core cards needed to make really fun decks is fundamental.

As to the point that people would complain that they paid for their cards as they came out and newer players had the option of buying a ‘best-of’ I don’t know what to say to that point other than worrying about what CCG players may or may not complain about will drive you crazy and some people will always be complaining about anything. If this ‘best of box’ brought a ton of new players to the game and helped every game of netrunner be that much more fun, that’s worth it.

Again, maybe the ‘best of box’ has problems from a financial POV for FFG. I’d have to see their books to really advise them. Speaking as an avid player who is often trying to bring new people in, what I would need to start really converting people would be 2 well designed dueling decks at a stupidly low price-point (to hook people on something addictive the first hit should always be free). Those decks should be well designed and Beyoken’s dueling decks are already designed and basically perfect.

The second thing would just be a reasonably priced set of all the cards that the meta has found to be essential, because mining accident, Stinton and Paperclip all make the game more fun. More fun = most important.

If I can hook them with a dueling deck then give them a pile of cards that are all usable, not-jank to start tweaking with, you have a long-term addict on board to start being comfortable buying the newest pack everytime it comes out etc.

I should get a commission for this knowledge.


$0.50/card seems legit. The real problem would be FFG having Stuart Wilson, already wearing too many hats, be pushed onto this project, for ALL their LCGs.


Do they, though? They make you slightly less likely to get stomped by someone who has them, and I guess there’s fun in that, but those are three boring-ass power cards. (MA’s not bad I guess.)

I also want to resist the idea that the “full version” costs $650. That’s the full version in the way that a complete set of every Magic card (or Destiny die, or, perhaps most analogously, Dominion card) is the full version. As far as I’m concerned, you have the full version if you can build all the decks you want. “Every currently legal card” is the Ridiculous Completists with More Money Than Sense version (of whom, yes, I am a member).


But that is just my point. To be able to build the decks you want, you need these staple cards and a ‘best of box’ would be only providing the basic cards you need to have a reasonable, standard deck. Your point that a player doesn’t need every card ever printed to have a good experience is also my point. One doesn’t need every card, but showing up at game night and getting thrashed because you don’t have the staple cards everyone else has is just a drag. Let’s make it so everyone has fun and doesn’t feel like it’s a game of who can spend the most.

I don’t think it is very useful to compare Netrunner to Magic or other games in this case as the “Living Cards Game” vs the randomized Magic model is significant here. How Netrunner is like and not like other CCG’s is an interesting new thread though.

I feel like a frustrating part of this discussion from my POV is that many of the people participating in have been playing from the beginning and have been able to spend 15 bucks a month here and there and don’t fully respect what it is like to come into a game where the vast majority of the player base they are interacting with really does have ever card ever printed. And also how significant it is about just how much more fun Netrunner is to play with a well put-together deck vs the kind of deck that is frequently losing because it doesn’t draw breakers, doesn’t have good econ, etc etc.

Not having the staple cards can feel like trying to play chess against someone where you are starting without a rook. It’s simple enough to just release a box of 100 cards or so, it let’s new players an easier entry point to the next level of the game, it would be nice for experienced players to have the option of more staple cards to share between decks, it makes FFG money as it would be a hot seller, it doesn’t cost FFG anything as they already paid for the art and development, the pro’s are many. If the only con is that a group of people might complain, that doesn’t seem like a major con.


That’s true, but I think that feeling is more a matter of perception than reality. You don’t actually need all that many Top 100 cards to build “reasonable, standard” decks…
A new player can easily feel overwhelmed and outmatched the first time they go up against unfamiliar and apparently powerful cards (hell, I had that feeling the first few times I got Midseasoned, and that was back in Genesis). And high-level players don’t help with that perception either, obsessed as they are with squeezing out every last drop of deck advantage. But between those two ends of the bell curve are a whole lot of players whose gameplay experience isn’t at all diminished for not having bought The Source for Earthrise Hotel and 19 bad-to-mediocre cards.


Playing JNet really helps with that. I find it really hard not to play the exact list I wanted to play. If I have to cut just that last card of the playset for something else, I feel awful when I draw it, and like I’ve wasted the whole game because now I’ve lost because I didn’t get that last card before the game. With JNet I know I’ve got everything I need, and I just need to play better/build better decks.


I guess we agree to disagree on that point because in my experience it seems like every meet-up where I have been trying to bring in a new player, they enjoy the game a lot more when I let them play with one of my decks vs. the one they brought they always seem to have a lot more fun.

There is something so nice about giving a new player a solid deck and seeing that satisfying Netrunner smile when they land their very first HHN/Boom.


I think that’s because Netrunner is incredibly hard, and when you play against your friends you build decks that aren’t as good as against a wider field of players. I learned that the hard way, too.


How pricey is it to have a competitive deck, from nothing, in any non-digital card game?