I’m new to Netrunner, but I’ve read enough and listened to enough podcasts to pick up that there is some discussion in the community about the challenges the game has in attracting new players. Here are a couple ideas from my first month or so in the game as a newbie.
1) Play the game by the rules
Experienced players tend to develop a shorthand and fast play style that assumes both players know what is happening and how the rules work. So, for instance, a player might say they are going to run a remote with three ICE on it, toss 6 credits from their pile, and ask to see the card. This works because they have counted all the costs and know what it will cost to break everything. For a new player, though, this is mystifying and also frustrating. You do not learn how various cards interact with your ICE or how you might build better servers.
A related issue is to actually play through the timing structure. I’ve already gotten some push back on this idea, but think about this from the point-of-view of a player learning the game. It takes very little effort during the game turn to articulate clearly what point of the timing structure you are in at any moment and whether, for instance, you are using or passing on a paid ability window. A simple “No action. Do you have one?” will do it. This helps teach new player how the game actually works and how interactions happen.
I would add that it would also help more experienced players. I’ve already had the experience as a new player of having to explain to a veteran that there is, in fact, a paid ability window (1.1) that is in my turn but before “when your turn begins” effects happen (1.2). I think this is because some people play the game without actually using the timing structure.
2) Explain why you won
As a new player, I don’t have fun being crushed by Tier 1 decks, but I hope one day to beat them, so it is good to see how they work. Keep playing those decks. What I would like, though, is after you crush me for you help me see the key points in the game where you locked in the win. This is usually before the game actually ends. There are usually key decisions made in the game along the way that open the door for you to win. It would be great if you could point those things out after the fact. Most newbies don’t mind losing, but it can be frustrating to have no idea why you lost or what decisions you might have made that would have helped.
I’ve found most people I play on Jinteki to be friendly when they know I’m new at the game. (There have been a couple exceptions.) I’ve found my face-to-face games at my friendly not-so-local gaming store to be fun and the people there to be very welcoming. That said, I think there are ways the experienced player community can make the game experience more inviting to new players.
Thanks you to the community for making my first month in Netrunner a good one. I look forward to much more. I hope one day I’ll be in a position to invite other newbies into the game.