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Making Netrunner work for infrequent / lapsed players

One problem that’s caused Netrunner to slowly bleed players over time is that ANR isn’t friendly to lapsed or infrequent players. If someone doesn’t play the game for 3 months and then heads into a game store, they often get their butt kicked by new and powerful cards, decide it’s too much time and money to get back into the game, and quit for good. Magic, on the other hand, has a lot of infrequent players who primarily jump back into the game through drafts and prerelease tournaments. Neither of these formats require excessive knowledge of the latest releases because in draft, anyone can get lucky and draft good cards, and in prerelease, you’re all opening the new card pool at the same time.

Neither format has a perfect analogue in Netrunner: there’s technically a draft format, but it’s too expensive to ever get played by all but the most hardcore fans at conventions. I think creating something like these formats is important to making LCGs a sustainable format though.

  1. Draft: what if FFG sold draft cubes to game stores, and suggested they hold them once a month for $5? Players who played in a cube and had fun might consider getting back into the game.

  2. Prerelease: what if FFG suggested that game stores hold a ‘new cycle only’ night on every pack release day? When a new cycle’s first pack comes out, players would build a core + pack 1 deck, then when the second pack came out, they would build core + pack 1 + 2, etc. This would make each new cycle a jumping on point for lapsed players, rather than cycles not really mattering as they currently do. For at least the first pack of the cycle, they could provide a sheet of objectives that earn you prizes, like they did for the TD release event.

Any thoughts on these? Or other ways FFG could make the game easier to take a break from for a few months?


My thoughts on this

  1. I don’t know if FFG would ever officially sanction this, but the stumhack cube is pretty good and I know a few stores in the area have personal cubes for draft events that get held infrequently. They are fun, but can be just as busted feeling as regular Netrunner at times just depending on how well you draft.

  2. I think this would be a great idea and it’s something that could be done easily enough by the stores and local player base. My finding is that a lot of the events are organized by local groups and facilitated by the stores. This should be very easy to get organized.

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I like that second idea. It could be Cycle Constructed. I think you might have to add the big boxes, too, though? (I’m not sure, though. For instance, Data and Destiny just adds ridiculous NBN cards to the pool, since the mini-factions are nigh-unplayable without econ options from Genesis or other cycles.)

I think with all the big boxes the new cards would be drowned out by the core + deluxe cards. Maybe just TD, or one box of a player’s choice?

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Right, but honestly with just one pack in the Cycle, that’s not a whole lot of cards available; Base Core Set strategies would dominate for the first pack at least, every time?

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I wonder if it would be practical to have a list of allowed cards that would be some subset of the core + deluxes and that would enable working decks while encouraging the use of new cards. Such a list might also be useful for other nonstandard formats with small cardpools.


Seems like some sort of Cache Refresh event in the style of your Prerelease would work, too.

I think any event that had a period of deck building in a large group followed by play would be fun. Since I’m not a player who has quit and come back, I’m not sure if this would appeal to that audience, though.

The Cache Refresh Online Tournament is how I decided to return to A:NR. I knew the limited card pool wouldn’t make competitive decks like the fine tuned machines you would find at SC or Regionals. I think a limited format, wether sancation by FFG or your local meta, is the best way to return.

Cube draft is also a great format but one still needs to know the card pool to make educated decisions. It really falls on the community at large to create new and innovative formats, FFG is not Wizards.


I don’t know, I took 2 months off, due to Terminal Directive Burnout, and I feel this was an uphill battle, getting pumped to play again, but I did something I normally don’t do:

I just net-decked a couple decks off of netrunnerdb.com, went down to my store, purchased a data pack, and now I am right back in the swing of things.

I mean really if you miss 3 months of Magic, you are looking at a minimum of $100, if not another $100 in “power” singles, so a $200 knockback, especially if you just randomly pick a top 8 deck from some tourney to netdeck.

What does netrunner put you back? 3 months = $60? I mean come on!

I stopped playing for a 1.5 years and gobbled up my data packs and that wasn’t too bad, it was rough but I mean it wasn’t $200? or in magic you’re looking at minimum $300 and maybe $250 in singles? ANR was $150?

I mean IDK…


I don’t think the community is capable of creating and promoting alternative formats at a large enough scale to prevent the game from dying. We have a lot of cool ones -, cache refresh, Team Unified, King of Servers style - but none of them have been adopted on a consistent basis across enough stores to bring players back into the fold. I’m trying to brainstorm ways that Netrunner could be saved, as a lot of people are starting to think the LCG model is inherently unsustainable and I like it a lot.

Why do we need consistent, large-scale alternative formats? Unless I’m some kind of globetrotting casual Netrunner player, the effectiveness of cube drafts or events at getting me back into my store isn’t going to depend on what’s happening at all the other stores.

In fact, I’d argue that top-down one-size-fits-all formats are the exact opposite of what we need. In my experience, the biggest growth in any given community has come from organizers who understand the local player base and know what sort of formats or events will work and which one’s won’t. And the best thing to do for that is what we’ve been doing: provide a wide variety of well-supported formats for them to choose from.

Because Netrunner is probably around 1% of the revenue at most game stores. The vast majority of them will never care enough to come up with their own alternative formats, or research which ones are already out there. If FFG provided an official alternate format with data packs or GNK kits, they would run them.

If ‘everyone coming up with their own alt formats’ was working, then Netrunner’s playerbase wouldn’t be rapidly dwindling the last two years. I don’t really see how continuing as is is a viable option for FFG?

Few month ago, I played a Pokemon Pre-Release tournament. I got a box with defined cards and 4 boosters for build my 40 cards deck. And I was thinking afterwards: WOW, that’s exactly the way I would love to play some Netrunner tournaments. Not a long drafting time, no pre-printed decklists.
Sadly, this is something which only works with TCG. LCG is not designed for pre-release tournaments.

I do think it would be good for the game if FFG provided some prize support for more “casual” events, like the TD launch event (I would have loved to attend one, but there wasn’t one where I was), i.e. events that are not just regular tournaments with the full card pool.
So I do think more launch events are a good idea – although I don’t really know how this would work for data packs, since they provide so few cards at once. Maybe once the 3rd pack of a cycle is out, there could be an event where you play just with the core and that half-cycle? Or there could be a “cycle-finale” event when the last pack of the cycle is released, where people play with the core and that entire cycle?

I’m not a returning player, but a casual player, and not interested in hypercompetitive play. At the same time, I do like attending events. If an event comes with prizes, I think the prizing structure should be reasonably flat, so everybody can get something (ideally); that encourages people to come back and keep playing so they can use their new goodies (at least I work that way).

Local groups I’ve been to have had innovative ideas for events and used GNKs for these, which I think is a good way to get people in who only play occasionally or only casually.
These have been:

  • Cube Draft
  • Tournament with fixed decklists, where you were assigned a new random pre-built deck per side each round. These decks were all lists that were popular in tournament play at some stage in the evolution of the game.
  • Tournament with “ingredients” – a list of underplayed cards for each side; you have to include at least one in each of your decks and get extra points for flavour.
  • I participated in FightingWaloon’s Online Cache Refresh tournament, too, and I enjoyed that, but of course it is really still very close to the regular tournament format. Also, I don’t like the bidding, so I’m happy we just played normally, both sides in this tournament.

I’m a casual Magic player too - these days I mainly stop by to play two-headed giant at the pre-releases and the occasional draft with friends.

I like the idea of a prerelease like event - show up on the night, pay entry and get given the latest data pack (the 3rd or 6th in the cycle?) and build a deck from core + the cycle or something like that. The buy-in isn’t too high, and there’s some excitement attached to new and untested cards. Everyone is on a bit more of a level playing field.

This would require a fair bit of innovation from FFG to really push it (optimism level: low) but would be applicable to any of their LCGs.

I recently saw a “learn to play SW: Destiny” at a LGS, would be nice to see the same for ANR.

I wonder if there is room for a limited format based only on The Core Set and Deluxe boxes?

ANR can’t easily do MtG-style limited events because a cycle in ANR does not have the depth of a set in MtG. Because of that, any limited format will always require more than the most recent cards.

If we had common events where the cost of entry was one Core and one Deluxe, would new players find that interesting?

I don’t think you could fill an event with nothing but brand new players, so you’d have to have some way for people who already own a complete collection to participate. And honestly, I’m not sure how much new players want to play in events? I think as a new player, 2 things are helpful:

  1. People willing to lend you cards
  2. People willing to play with the same card pool as you.

The solution to both of those is for vets to carry around teaching decks, and use them when playing with new people. Or better yet, stores could have them. I think FFG did have a program to give teaching decks to stores, but the ones I’ve gone to don’t seem to have them.

I’ve tried to create an event that makes it easier for me players while interesting for regulars.

By having a very limited card pool, Allowing proxies, prices given away internet from position and done fun and other elements.
So far it works out. I have people on the list I have never heard before and regulars too. I hope to have ~15 people at the end


This looks awesome.

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Agreed, love the Egg concept!