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On getting better


#1

I know that playing a ton of games is the way to go. My question is which is the most efficient way to spread these games:

(1) Pick a solid runner and corp ID that I like the feel of (e.g. Gabe and RP for me) and play them till I have mastered them (while tweaking the deck as I go obviously), or

(2) play many different competitively viable IDs (e.g. Kate/Ct/Gabe/Andy/Noise - RP/PE/BS/EtF/NEH) evenly spread.

I can see pros and cons for both scenarios, but I was wondering what people would recommend and why.

Thanks guys!

PS. I put up the same question on netrunner geeks on FB, but I know the two groups do not overlap perfectly and would really like any insights the Stimhack community would have to offer.


#2

First stick with one deck, you’ll know you’re ready to move on when your games take half as long as they used to.

Don’t take something to a tournament you haven’t played at least 5 times.

After 30+ games with a deck you could probably learn more by throwing together the tournament deck you know the least about and playing that for a little while.


#3

Play for a bunch to master one deck (let’s say runner; this goes for both sides of course). Then when there’s one matchup you just can’t solve, switch your corp side to that deck. Figure out what the corp your runner can’t beat is afraid of, in its other matchups, then switch to playing the runner deck that does something your first runner deck couldn’t. Then figure out how to change your first runner deck to shore up that weakness.


#4

I would think a bit of both but definitely more of (1).

With (1) you’ll make fewer mistakes the more you play something and you’ll be ready for match-ups the more you face them. You’ll also play faster, which people love.

I would also add a (3), watch people who are better than you and listen to their advice. Pay close attention to their mulligans, and try to think about what you would do in certain situations. I feel like this helped me a lot when I first started playing. I specifically remember learning a lot about how people play Jackson Howard, and how I was often playing him wrong (playing at the wrong time, or not taking full advantage of him). Also don’t be afraid to pause and try to think something through if you get confused by a certain play. I think this could even substitute in for (2) if you are just looking to get more information on different strategies.

Always remember it’s a game and should be fun! If you want to play a deck at a tournament and you just got 1 or 2 games in who cares bring it? Expect to lose but also hopefully learn a lot for the next one.


#5

I agree with the previous three commentators- stick to one deck per side and practice with it repeatedly. Also, I’d add that after every 6-7 games, you should sit back and think about card choices, and try swapping out 3-4 cards from your deck. Swap out too many cards at once and its hard to see what made the difference, but switching just a few cards at a time will let you assess the impact of each change. This will give you a sense of how the deck plays, what cards it needs, what effects a bit more or less ice or econ have, and so on, and it will let you build a deck that fits your play style.


#6

This was also certainly one of the cards that I certainly remember learning how to play better by watching others.

I’ve generally played a wide spread of decks; however, I certainly see the benefit of playing only one or two decks per side for awhile. I just don’t have the desire to play one deck multiple times in a week unless something big is coming up.


#7

I think playing a lot of games is key - but not necessarily ‘the way to go’ IMHO. Firstly, it’s really important who these games are against. Ideally you’d be playing someone who’s slightly better than you. This way, you’ll lose most of the time but probably be able to see small steps you could have taken to change the losses into wins.

Make sure to play a variety of people. If local playgroups aren’t so big, join OCTGN. The Stimhack leagues are, on the whole, fantastic places to play and improve.

Finally, I’d recommend watching youtube videos in addition to playing. It can be difficult to vouch for the quality, but things like top-16 at Worlds have their own in-built guarantee. I definitely have had moments when watching people play that I’m like ‘oh shit, that’s nothing LIKE what I would do’. These moments can be a great spur to development.

Anyway, have fun and good luck at the tables!


#8

Not completely sure about this: my sister has done pretty well (better than me) in tournaments with decks I just physically built the day before. I think bringing a good deck to a tournament matters more than practicing with it. (I did like 30 games with my weyland one before worlds, and it failed horribly)


#9

I’m a little surprised by how many people chose #1. I vote for #2. I play tons of different kinds of decks, really getting a feel for the entire card-set, which is no small task at this point in the game’s development.

More generally speaking, research show that it takes lots of practice to get good at anything, so repetition will aid growth in any subject. Natural talent/skill can reduce the total amount of time it takes, but you still just have to play a lot. Some of the best players in my local area have been playing card games for years, and all of that practice promotes better play regardless of the game.

Other things that have helped: playing against people who are better than me, and picking up on the tricks that they use or moves that they make, watching videos on youtube of people playing, and to a lesser extent reading about it on forums such as stimhack.

Edit: I would also suggest skipping deck building to start with. Deck building is, imho, the hardest part of the game, and it’s easier to start with a deck that someone else has shown works well and simply practicing with that first, learning why it works, before then applying those principles yourself. In a similar fashion, deck-building is like learning to cook. Nobody starts off cooking like Gordon Ramsey. You start by following a recipe in a book, step-by-step. Once you get the basics down, you move on to step two by following a recipe but adding in your own spices/ingredients to make the dish suit your personal tastes. Once you mastered that you move to step three, which is creating a recipe yourself from your accumulated knowledge/experience. There aren’t hard lines between the steps, you just gradually get better until one day you find yourself saying “Honey, how about duck tonight with plum sauce and some nice spring vegetables?”


#10

I actually agree with you, with the caveat that you still probably won’t SEE the benefits of this without a practiced deck to rely on. In tournaments, you don’t want to be learning your deck for the first time, it’s just not an efficient use of your brain, you want to be analyzing what’s happening on the table, not in your stack.

For me, I tend to so most of my rapid iterating in the net on octgn, because I don’t have to constantly sleeve new cards, and tend to have one fun and one for keeps deck sleeved up for playing 20th meat people


#11

I like (2), but not necessarily competitively. When @aandries and I test, we will each bring 4-7 dex each, and knock out as many games as possible in 4-6 hour window. At the speed we play, that can be 12-15 games. It is good to not only play with, but play against, a lot of popular dex. Really gives you an idea of what you will see in a tournament, and how to combat that.

When you do want to play something competitively (see: tournaments), I would settle on one or two IDs for each side, and really work with them until you decide what you’re most comfortable with. Playing a number of dex will allow for you to gain insight to what fits your playstyle best. Then, take your best and go.

tl; dr - you should be using a mix of (1) and (2)


#12

I said the same on Facebook, but I’ll say it here as well. I like @mediohxcore’s approach: play the same deck until someone beats you, then take their deck:


#13

I like this approach a lot. I’m very partial to playing a few games each with a wide variety of decks, then choosing the ones that work best for my current playstyle and refining them to maximize their effectiveness against the expected field.

My biggest problem is almost always finding time to get enough reps in once I’ve chosen decks.


#14

I think restricting yourself in deck choice will negatively impact you. By all means, have a favourite, but learning how an ID plays is really important when you’re trying to beat it.

My vote’s for #2 with a side order of #1. Have a favourite deck you play a lot, but don’t be afraid to try out NEH/ETF/PE to see how it feels behind the driver’s seat. I’m not a huge fan of playing PE/NEH for example, but knowing how they play/win really helps counterplay.

The take-home really is that everyone will have a favourite ID. Play it, improve your list, etc. Still, if you don’t experiment you’ll limit yourself. Playing one game as Noise will improve play more than the 101st game as Gabe.


#15

I think that when you start out, there is no substitute for playing a lot, regardless of what you play with. I would start out by grinding it out with a couple of decks that you feel like you can win with and improve with (Gabe/RP in your case). Once you start to feel like you’re pretty good, then start playing with other decks. At a certain point, you get to a place where you’ll improve more by learning how other decks work, even if you don’t play those decks in a tournament. Eventually, you will be competent with enough decks that you’ll be able to comfortably switch to something else for a tournament if you favorite decks aren’t good in the current meta.


#16

I would use a three phase approach, first play one runner and one corp until you fee you have a mastery of the core mechanics, second play a wide range of decks to learn how they function and how to adapt, finally pick one runner and corp that are suited to your tastes and skills to polish to perfection.

You will rinse and repeat phases 2 and 3 probably once per cycle at least.


#17

Some really insightful answers here; people have thought about this a lot. Thanks so much guys! The majority of people recommend acquiring “depth” first and then “breadth”. (check out the FB version of this topic: https://www.facebook.com/groups/netrunnergeeks/).

To summarize (stealing ideas from many different people from both groups here):

Netdeck something that is good and suits you. Play these decks ad nauseam changing small things gradually along the way. Learn the game, get better, get faster (faster= more games and more fun for your opponents). Your deck is good; you are not. Focus on learning how to adapt your strategy to different matchups. If a particular matchup is problematic, see how other people deal with that. Play a bit with (not just against) your nemesis to figure out their weaknesses.

When you get good, try out different decks. Now you have something you can take to a tournament, while also building up your knowledge of other decks. At this level, your gains as a player come from learning how other decks work, even if it is just for the sake of playing against them. If big meta changes take place, or you run into something awesome, you are positioned so you can switch relatively easily.


#18

Leaving this group is the best thing that will ever happen to your facebook


#19

Lol! If you don’t mind me asking, why you think so? No worries if you would rather not elaborate.


#20

Agreed. Left during the netrunnerdb fiasco and have never looked back!