It’s something that bugged me about Netrunner that there is a lot of inconsistency in how much knowledge players have about what’s in the other player’s deck. The amount of advantage you can gain from knowing or not knowing your opponent’s list ranges from minor, clicking to draw instead of playing IHW until you’re sure an NEH isn’t on Scorch, to massive, running last click or not running last click against an off-theme snare that tags you and trashes your proco. Or install advance advancing a 5/3 in a naked remote in deck that doesn’t actually have a single ambush.
The view suggested by designers and most players is that you shouldn’t know what’s in your opponent’s deck. It creates an interesting dimension where runners can run HQ, R&D, hell, -even Archives-, for information rather than points, credits, or card draw. It rewards players for putting unusual and creative includes into their deck since they are less likely to be expected: surprised the viper remote wasn’t really secure because i’m running Gingerbread Man? Thought I would need credits to rez anything that’d stop this Maker’s Eye run, but I’m playing Special Offer in Blue Sun? Whatever it is.
I don’t really disagree with those virtues, but I am bothered by the inconsistency with which it is possible to ensure that players don’t have knowledge of their opponent’s decklist. By the time someone gets to World’s grand finals, it is impossible for them to not have an awful lot of information about what the other finalist has in their deck, and that’s the absolute highest tier of play. But in the first round of a regional, a stranger has no idea what I’m playing. It takes away some of the uniformity that makes a larger community and larger play experience beautiful. I can’t beat that stranger by hiding a GFI on the table as though it was a Breaker Bay Grid like I saw Hoyland do at worlds, I can only hide a GFI on the table that might be a BBG or maybe a random Snare on the table. My opponent has a different level of knowledge at the different level of play. I can’t play the same game these other people played. But I want everyone to play the same game.
Tournaments have rules against scouting, but it’s not super clear what scouting is. What if my game finishes early and I want to watch a friend’s game? What if I feel pretty certain he’s got a game ending R&D lock and feel more interested in another friend’s game? At what point is it scouting? If I leave to go get a snack instead of spectating at least one game or having a private conversation with someone else about what someone else brought, I might actually be behind.
I feel like it would be more consistent if everyone’s decklist was printed, public, and presented before the game. The consistency and logistical issues seem to outweigh the benefits, that I acknowledge, to secret decklists.
If the benefits are really so critical, I wish things would at least swing harder in the opposite direction: really clear rules about how deck knowledge is handled, or the ability for players to change their deck between games to combat deck knowledge, or some other thing I haven’t thought of.