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How do we save Netrunner?


Perhaps a healthy way to expose more people to the game would be to create (title) and reward a person who:

Creates an organized event at a FLGS; Could be a friendly or a tournament
Creates a number of decks; This number of decks defines the number of slots in your friendly
Has newcomers draft those decks
Manages play

The above (title) is rewarded with swag (at least) equal to what you would earn if you won a notable tournament.

Prized/rewards for participants could vary but I like store credit if possible

The theory is that if the above actions required are equal to, or less than the amount of effort put into trying to actually win a tournament the result would be willing volunteers.

I feel that beginner decks could (and would) be designed swiftly if the question were merely posed on this outlet.


Side note, Core 2 reprints upgraded to “on the boat” today… so at least new players will have someplace to start. Finding Core’s has been nigh impossible for the past 4 months.


healthy for the competitive scene, sure, but Mumbad was one of the worst cycles for the competitive scene that sold waaay more than SanSan, so kitchen-table players were just fine with it

i think they have a new problem now with players who have left the game who are unable to return because the breadth of relearning is enormous. ‘what does this card do again?’ having to think about things like NGO now is huge for returning players.

there’s only so much you could challenge it though. they went through all the steps and produced them, so even if they didn’t pan out and will eventually stop doing them (or have stopped already), they thought they were worth their time enough to try in the first place


Tabletop gaming overall experienced a renaissance between 2012–2015. Netrunner’s arguable peak during this era—perhaps correlated to increased prominence of tabletop blogs, review sites, YouTube channels etc., and this is supported by the Google Trends data btw—has nothing to do with the design of the cycles or whether it was better or worse for which elements of the Netrunner player base. FFG, to paraphrase Zuckerberg, is a clown car that fell into a gold mine. Hipsters were all of a sudden playing boardgames, there was an article in the Guardian, and maybe people of a certain age were feeling nostalgic (either for cyberpunk, for card games, or who knows). It was an accident, and one FFG had no idea how to manage.

Anyway, in 2018 I think anyone who might be interested is not joining for hype and is fully aware of what they’re really getting into: Netrunner is a third-party developed online simulator of a first-party card game plus some community features (also third-party): real-time chat via Slack, YouTube channels, podcasts, and a subreddit. It just so happens you can also buy the first-party developed physical cards if you want and participate in a perfunctory first-party “competitive play” structure that’s tough to get excited about unless you’re already deeply invested in the third-party community features of the game.

But Netrunner itself is amazing and produces moments unlike any other game I’ve played. In fact it’s better than it’s ever been and, on a strict playability level, I wish to hell I was joining in 2018 rather than during Mumbad. The art is wonderful, the theme is interesting, the mechanics are top notch. There are new cards frequently, they’re fun to play with, and they smell fantastic. There’s nothing like unwrapping and sniffing Netrunner cards. I also think FFG are finally understanding some of the mechanics (influence, for example) they set out in 2012. These things take time. The game is great, I play every day and it’s still the best game I’ve ever played.


No, I think you have this wrong, because again you’re only looking at what you do.

While the highly competitive seen is probably sustained by Jinteki.net, there are tons and tons of people who play this game with their cards at home and never play online – nor are they in Stimslack or active on Reddit.
Even most people who do play on Jinteki (at least everybody I know) says that they wouldn’t play if they couldn’t also play in person, because it’s that much better in person.

We have to stop pretending that the people who talk about Netrunner online for hours are the bulk of the people who play Netrunner. They’re (we’re) not! This is the extreme end of the bell curve.

(I talk online about Netrunner, but I don’t actually play on Jinteki much. Only sometimes against my husband, because he lives in a different country and it’s a fun couple thing to do when you can’t see each other in person.)


Well that’s a depressing way to look at it, and what’s worse is that I think you’re right. Which implies that Netrunner will never again achieve the heights of popularity it had in 2014-15.


One interesting phenomenon, to me, is that there is substantial interest in streaming random “pro-tier”/“engaging” players and tons of attention given to live feeds and details of “top-tier” tournaments, etc. for Other Big Card Games even amongst those who aren’t at the “Stimhack” tier of participation in those respective competitive scenes. It certainly felt like we were making big progress through 2015 on that front, between the fan-created tournament leagues and streaming interest on the rise.

So for my $0.02, the Big Question is whether FFG can—or has any interest in trying to—produce or support that sort of scene not by accident, or if they are simply interested in continuing to feed the quiet “kitchen table” meta that is often talked about here and elsewhere until they invent something new to sell to it. I certainly believe that it is possible to do; the thing I don’t know is whether FFG is ambitious enough to even try.


I know you’re asking what the community can do to boost popularity but in my opinion, the major barriers are on FFG’s side.

The barrier to entry is too high. Adding a rotation was good but didn’t go far enough. I don’t think there should be more than four cycles. As one cycle enters, another leaves. I think big box expansions should rotate, too. Deluxe expansions should be smaller (more like a data pack), released before every new cycle, and include cards to balance the game for each faction in light of the oldest cycle rotating out and the newest cycle coming in.

The reason is it’s a hard sell to talk someone into playing the game when they see the overabundance of cards to buy. I know someone will say, “You don’t have to buy everything to play.” However, that’s part of the draw to playing an LCG in the first place. You don’t have to collect cards. You just buy these expansions and get everything you need to play. When the game was smaller, I could talk people into playing. Now, their eyes glaze over as we look at the Netrunner aisle at the LGS. At retail, two core sets (it’s stupid that you have to buy multiple core sets for a playset) and four cycles of cards is $440 minus tax. We’re going on, what, the sixth cycle in this rotation right now? Additionally, there are 5-6 deluxe expansions. At that price, you may as well play Magic. Shortening rotation doesn’t cost them any sales but it makes getting into the game more accessible. Legacy and Vintage are practically dead formats in Magic because of the cost of entry. FFG needs to recognize that and drop the cost of entry if they want to grow the game.

As far as community, I think the the current community has been doing a pretty good job, especially www.netrunnerdb.com. After you have your cards, you need to know what to do with them. Having netrunnerdb as a resource is absolutely invaluable to maintaining and growing the community.

Other peripheral issues, like game cannibalization, are really just due to the cost of entry. If entry were lower, players could play multiple games.


I am in total agreement with you. Earlier on in this thread I argued that, in part due to the absence of publicly available sales data, and in part due to the unsoundness of measuring game health solely through attendance at a specific type of regular meet-up that doesn’t suit everybody, we need to look at other ways to measure whether a physical card game is “healthy” in 2018. This was derided on Slack. It seems some people only want one thing: more people to show up at their GNKs, SCs, and regionals. (But not too many, presumably, and only a certain kind of player.)

Sadly, the alleged silent majority of Netrunner players who subsidize the game with their kitchen table play so that the minority can continue to enjoy Nationals-level play, inconvenient regular meet-ups at game stores, and 24-hour Adderall binges on Jinteki.net cannot be measured, represented, or proven to exist.

Maybe us kitchen-table players should unionize. The Adult, General, or Infrequent Players Union. AGINFUnion for short.

I’ll get my coat.


What does it mean for a game to be dead?
It means that if you go to your local watering hole, game store, convention, game night, etc. you consistently can’t find anyone to play the game with. Does this rely on measures that assume that people who infrequently and secretly play the game don’t exist? Absolutely. Because I can’t play with those people. You can’t play with those people. For the purpose of all actual measurement other than sales (which is a number that is exclusively important to FFG) this is a useless data point.

Let’s examine what you’re saying we shouldn’t pay attention to:
We shouldn’t pay attention to Nationals, Regionals, SC, or GNK attendance.
We shouldn’t pay attention to regular meet up attendance.
We shouldn’t pay attention to jinteki.net activity.

I think you’ve inoculated yourself from opposing arguments by excluding any measurable method of identifying how many Netrunner players there are. Your only basis for measurable assessment of the health of this game is sales figures but those don’t represent people playing the game, only those collecting the game.


I don’t walk into watering holes expecting to play a card game. I’ve never been to a game convention. If I want to play a game I play a game, and I know who to call. This means you can’t consistently find anyone to play the game with. I’m doing just fine thx.

I can play Netrunner with lots of people. In fact, my opportunities to play Netrunner actually outweigh the amount of time I have available to play Netrunner on a weekly basis. I’m sure you play plenty of Netrunner too. Would we both like to be social and play Netrunner and have fun all together? Yeah, I get it. I wish I could have like… 25% more Netrunner friends. But I guess, if you analyze it, is really what you’re looking for more Netrunner?

I’m not saying “No, but” I’m saying “Yes, and.” Everything you’re saying is good. I like all those metrics and I hope and assume people will play Netrunner and do those things. I attend as many of those things as I possibly can. I’m just saying “Yes, let’s measure it that way AND let’s include the possibility that there are people we’re missing.”

This is the part where I do really think we’re actually agreeing with each other but my weird way of phrasing things gets in the way. YES, let’s try to measure how many Netrunner players there are. That’s EXACTLY what I’m saying, I’m just saying it’s more complicated than concluding that because someone “did not attend weekly meetup therefore will be deleted from player database.” I attend as many tournaments as I can, I buy all the packs, I play online every day, I play casually with friends. Sorry, what am I missing here? Just because someone skips a pack or can’t make it to the thing, who gives a fuck? It’s not a competition. This is why I side with the kitchen table players, because the other side hasn’t presented a coherent argument yet.


Do we have data that there are massive numbers of “kitchen table players” who only buy a core set and play in small groups? Or is this just an assumption? Are there so many more that the fact that these casuals are just buying core sets while ‘competitive players’ are buying every single box and pack all year outweigh their demographic’s profitability?

Speculating as to a business model we don’t know anything about seems like a bunch of unfounded assumptions being thrown back and forth pointlessly without that data.

If, as you suppose, a game designer has to choose between either making something fun for a broad ‘kitchen table’ audience or a dedicated core audience that is less profitable, what an awful either/or to operate from. I would think the healthier goal would be to support both audiences and gently convert players who don’t buy a lot of cards into the kind of players who do buy a lot of cards.

Some commenters seem to have an active disdain for the idea that buying more cards to play the game with adds more fun to the experience for players. These are self-hating Netrunner players and wouldn’t last a minute on Billions.

I just don’t think it’s that weird, even to these theoretical kitchen table casuals, to suggest that having more cards makes the game more fun. Honestly, if buying new cards didn’t make the game more fun, why would any of us have ever bought them? If we love the game enough to buy all the cards, why is there this attitude that more casual players wouldn’t get as much out of the expanded purchases as we all evidently do?

Make buying a set of all the playable cards not cost the equivalent of two months rent and the line between casual and competitive becomes less of a thing anyway.


They do support both. As Horkeimer and Adorno put it in The Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944), “Something is provided for all so that none may escape.” FFG actually does a really good job of catering to different types of players. I’m not saying they always get it right once they’ve acquired their target, but their games usually seem relatively well-made, good enough art, and fun to play. I won’t massively invest in their ecosystem but if I’m bored and drinking beers, FFG can pretty much always come through with a fun game overall.





Hi everyone! Hope we’re all having a fun chat.

I think we get into this interesting cycle on this topic because we’re missing several things. Unless I missed it, do we have an operational definition of what it means to “Save Netrunner?” If we’re talking about increasing player attendance at GNKs, well, let’s spotlight that. If we’re talking about it from the framework of: We want FFG to produce content for the game we love (i.e., don’t kill netrunner), then we let’s talk about that.

There is DEFINITELY overlap between the two definitions (and there maybe more definitions of “save” that have been in the chat); however, we could argue that building a local base of players is connected to someone “carrying the banner” of the game and consistently having meet-ups.

Let’s say not another card was produced. In theory, that shouldn’t stop people from coming out to play the game (actually, if the game got killed right now, I’d say it would end in a pretty decent place, except for Dyper Oragami Wu. Eff that deck.)

On the other hand, let’s say there was not a single other meet-up, but FFG kept producing content for the kitchen tables around the world. That also would mean the game is still alive.

waves hand to indicate transition

I think if we had a few data points (as posted above. And above above.), we could get closer to a formal answer for whichever question of whichever definition we are asking.

Even more, let’s say Boggs hopped onto this thread this afternoon and said, “Hey folks. The game’s good. We sell 5000 global data packs on average per data pack release. And on average, there’s between 12 to 30 players at events based on the event type. Except in England. Holy crow, you English love some Netrunner. We’ve also got the next six cycles of data packs queued up for initial playtesting.”

I wonder if that would satisfy. My hunch is no because we think in terms of our own playing wants and needs. For those who want a bigger play group at a local game store, then I’m not sure if those metrics matter. Especially if our impression of what “good turnout” means is something like 16 to 18 players. Or some other number that we place in our mind under the category of “good.”

A friend of mine (@Waltzard–I think that’s his name on here? If I @ed the wrong person, sorry) once pointed out a while back: If we have a meetup with four people, then we’re good. Giving each of the possible pairs an hour per match, it’s not like we’re going to spend more than 3 hours on a Tuesday night at the game store. I always thought that was a reasonable thought.

That said, emotionally, it feels good to see your favorite indie band be successful. And it feels good to see your favorite game get 10 to 12 people together for a game night on Thursday evening.


i’m honestly not sure why you quoted me, or maybe i don’t exactly understand your point?

SanSan released from April - September 2015, during the height of ANR competitive attendance at store champs, regionals, nationals, and weeklies. also this hipster interest in tabletop that you mentioned

Mumbad released January - June 2016, which coincided with a drastically noticeable lack of SC/regional/weekly/national attendance worldwide. but Damon has gone on the record as saying that it sold ‘way more than SanSan’

so from our perspective as players of the game who actually have discussions like this, the game seemed like it was dying. from FFG’s point of view, it’s doing just fine in sales, low OP attendance, and most of the players of the game probably have no concept of ‘a netrunner player’ as someone who plays it competitvely or whatever. they probably just bought the game and just play with friends at home like any other tabletop game (or don’t play it, as is often the case with tabletop games <_<)


Unfortunately, as much as we’d all love to see the data, FFG does not release it as far as I’ve heard. The closest they come is to compare their products; like 3-4 years back they’ve said that Netrunner is their most popular LCG. But, in early 2017 (after the conclusion of Mumbad and Flashpoint), then Lead Designer, Damon, said on the Run Last Click podcast that the casual playerbase is greater than 90%. I believe that was in to response to the competitive scene dwindling in many areas around the world. I think this is the episode:

Not sure how that figure was calculated, but, if anything, a company should be able to model their broad customer categories. My guess is probably something like the Core set sales is more than 10X the average sales of any data pack.


Ben and I were driving to Gen Con and we came up with an interesting question, that I wonder about folk’s reaction to:

“What percentage of all Netrunner games are played on Jinteki?”


Oooh, interesting question. Maybe 50% 60%? I have no idea. I play on Jinteki nearly every night, but can only get to events (these days especially) every so often.

Even when I was “carrying the banner” over at Raven’s Nest, that’s still only 3 to 5 games a week in person. If playing against fast players on Jnet and I don’t have any connectivity issues, I could do 3 to 5 games in an hour and a half, I’d bet.

My reaction to it though is: I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, but I’m glad it’s there. Many of us are in a particular bandwidth of age that makes time a greater commodity than anything else.

Further, as long as I play, I’ve promised myself to buy the data packs–even if I can’t use them as much as the digital cards that are “free”

(please support the Jnet team! Give 'em some cash for their time and effort!).


It is a super hard question. Like, if we took your experiences as typical we’d say Jinteki > 90%. It certainly is for me. But if there are, in fact, ‘kitchen table netrunners’ out there, they may not even know that Jinteki is a thing. They’d be 100~ not on it.

It came up in the context of 'to what degree is FF in charge of their customer’s experience, if we accept that they don’t own the platform that the (vast?) majority of it is played on.

Phrased dif, could the teki mods have ‘saved’ netrunner by unilaterally hitting mumbad cards with the nerf bat till they stopped twitching? They presumably have a much better data pool than anything FF has access to.