I don’t think it is quite fair to blame j-net for this. They are an incredible labor of love and as someone who has been looking in vein for people to play Netrunner with for literally 20+ years, I will not hear a bad word said about such a fantastic website. If someone made a website like this for the 1979 version of Avalon Hill’s Dune board game, I would literally die of lifelong nerd-wishing gamergasm overload.
I don’t think my problem is that the ‘play goals’ aren’t being met, i.e. I am not looking for less competitive players. I really think it is the nature of the game itself that any 2 decks are supposedly meant to be played against each other. Maybe the rock/paper/scissors element of it is a fascinating meta-concept for some, but I have been trying to teach my enthusiastic wife and brother the game and they are both into it but with just 2 core-sets and a Terminal Directives Expansion, I haven’t been able to provide them the quality of experience that has hooked me through Jinteki. Having spent over 100 dollars, our games are mostly the runner just drawing for a missing breaker the whole game or something equally less engaging compared to the fascinating depth of play I get on J-net with netrunnerdb decks.
My options are spend a significant sum of money (which I am not ready to do on players who still might play it a few times and get bored) or give up on live play. Maybe core 2.0 will address this but, and I am probably droning into broken record territory, why not just release a solid, well-crafted smoke deck and a solid Jinteki deck that match up pretty well so I can jump my friends and family into a game that I know will be a challenging, fair game. As player base dwindles, this would be especially key as I can’t be the only person who wants to play with a couple of friends as opposed to spending a few hundred dollars and going to meet-ups or whatever.
This is actually what killed the original netrunner as the starter decks were only borderline playable and with the random distribution of cards, it costs even more money just opening pack after pack hoping for another Sure Gamble or Hedge Fund. WotC netrunner cost a lot of money and then involved a lot of deck building homework and only after a few dozen hours, a lot of bad games and a few hundred bucks could a player have an enjoyable game. It was the recipe for total game failure.
FFG has significantly addressed this flaw with datapacks and a more thought-out core set, thank god, but I feel like the closer you get to new players having competitive-level decks, the better the game does, period. Many of my old-fogie, friends that I have been raving about the new Netrunner to on facebook chat all said they bought a core set, didn’t have good games and put it aside. On J-net you can jump in with the most recent tournament winners and it solves the biggest problem.
One more defense of Jinteki v. IRL play, I vastly prefer J-net myself. “rage quits” have never bothered me (and I actually have always held the unpopular opinion that the whole ‘typing gg’ thing was rather corny). Not everyone, but quite a few people who play games IRL have body odor and social issues and the convenience, comfort and pleasure of my own home, not to mention the ability to build decks without spending 100’s of dollars is superior is almost every way. To each their own, of course, but to clarify, my problem is 100% not with J-net and 100% just wishing I had 2 fun decks that match-up well against each other to hook new players with.
My only gripe wit J-net is that it is so much better that I really don’t enjoy live play anymore, as I have now put in so many hours that I am way ahead of my wife and brother and find their inexperience combined with our more restricted deck options to be slow and boring.