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Pay-to-Win Challenge

Hello all,

I’m a long time lurker on the forums here, but I’ve been playing a while, and I really enjoy the game. I mostly play amongst a small circle of friends who I started on the game, and a couple of them have recently arrived at a conclusion:

 Netrunner is a game where the more money you put into it, the better your win rate will be. 

I had a rather knee-jerk reaction against that. I challenged them to a game where they could use any currently printed card against me, and I’d only use core. In this way, I hoped to demonstrate the primacy of player skill over card selection. Perhaps this was un-wise, but in preparation for this challenge I’d be glad to hear any thoughts on core vs all, and if any archetypes or old school tech springs to mind as being particularly viable.

As a tangent, does OCTGN data go as granular as to be able to analyze win rates based on pack inclusion? I.E. Would we be able to determine more objectively how much of an impact having a wider variety of cards in your deck affects outcome?


I think this is a difficult topic, because this game was designed from the outset to be expandable, and that it was marketed and presented as such. Meaning that FFG expects you to know that they are trying to get you hooked on the game so that you continue to buy into it as it expands.

It’s really not a casual game, and I think that the vast majority of people are enticed by the fact that the card pool grows and new deck types and styles of play emerge.

That said, the core set is quite powerful, as we know. But the cards that have come out since it’s release certainly augment the play styles considerably. Imagine Shaper without SMC and Clone Chip. Those cards were planned for the faction all along, but we didn’t see them until Creation and Control.

The factions were not really all that balanced out of the box. Jinteki didn’t get serious teeth until Honor and Profit. I think what the growing card pool has done is balance the factions so that they are now more or less all reasonably equal in terms of competitiveness.


Have had a similar topic in my playgroup and while I think I can do pretty well against the more mediocre players with a core-only criminal build, I’m not sure I can manage the same with a core only corp. Corp has come a long way since core and that’s a good thing.

A Weyland based on the supermodernism shell might be the best of the worst.


As opposed to what other competitive card game? Sure, you can’t unlock ‘free’ cards in ANR, like Hearthstone, for example, but, to get every HS card will take a TON of playtime if you’re not spending any money, and it’s still a random chance.

I look at LCGs like you’re paying your monthly subscription fee. They’re not a boardgame, they’re not Ascension, they’re a new take on the CCG model. Of COURSE paying ‘more’, meaning more cards, will help you win more often. The alternative is to draft/cube draft, so everyone is on a level playing field. Can always proxy, or play on OCTGN, instead.


What? Everyone has access to exactly the same set of cards at a fixed price. If you aren’t familiar with non-core-set cards and lines of play then yeah you’re likely to be blindsided or taken by surprise by tactics that didn’t work with just the core.

It’s a game that was designed to be continually expanded, not with more powerful cards and combos but more different powerful cards and combos :). Embrace it or simply play a more limited format (restricted pool constructed / draft), all are great options :).


An alt art Eli ends the run more efficiently than usual Eli.


We only know what pack was available when a game was played, not which packs were used in the decks.

Yeah… I can see their argument, sort of, but only in a vacuum. In comparison to, say, Magic? It’s a great game, don’t get me wrong, but a competitive deck (in pretty much any format) will run you about as much, if not more, than the entire A:NR card pool.

Sure, someone with more cards can do more things. But not to the extent it sounds like they’re implying?

I dunno about core-only taking down complete card pool, add in the rest of Genesis cycle and the odds are better…

But, I mean, how many runner decks are out there – good, solid decks – that don’t use any cards from Lunar cycle, at all? It’s more than just a couple.


I think the main problem with your friends’ conclusion is that you don’t actually have to spend any money to play the game. Octgn and proxies will get you by just fine on a tight budget. When you want to go to tournaments, find a willing card lender. I haven’t yet got to play competitive ANR, but from my experience with Thrones I imagine that so long as you have 1-2 Core sets, the deluxes, and the really clutch Data packs (e.g. the one with Jackson in), you’ll be able to get lends for the rest of your decks at any tournament you go to. Then all you have to pay for is the entry fee :smile:

If you wanna disabuse them of their ideas, just get them to chat to a relatively dedicated Magic player for 5-10 minutes. They’ll quickly feel grateful for the lower spending involved in LCGs.


They are using deceptive terminology and baiting an argument. The most recent example is a news agency simply saying Mike Brown was a young teen who was shot. It doesn’t tell the whole story, but the sentence itself is true.

Saying something is pay-to-win is an insult. People being cynical say it about most current PC games, Hearthstone, and Magic. It’s a fallacy to expect someone with 1x Core set to compete in a vacuum of equal player skill. One core set means I know exactly what ICE you have. Exactly what agendas. Probably your whole deck.

Netrunner expansions increase the options. I don’t know what ICE you have anymore when you own the full set, I can only make meta guesses. I don’t know if you run NAPD or Geothermal, and I won’t know if you are using The Root or Beanstalks.

In short, fuck your friends argument it’s dumb as hell. Yes, you will compete better and have more fun with more cards. Like any gaming hobby.


Of course that will be true, up until you pay the $250-$500 dollars to get every card in the present pool that you want in your decks. Then there’s nothing money can help you with. So your friends are sort of right, but only up to a point - which arguably makes them wrong.

My understanding is that a competitive Magic deck can cost close to the cost of the entire Netrunner card pool, and probably more. I think it’s worth comparing that.


If you do steer the discussion into Magic comparison land, the important difference is this: in an LCG, you know exactly how much a full playset is going to cost you. In Magic, this is variable because of the distribution model and singles market.


Thanks for the replies so far. I think we’re all on the same page, overall. I’m a long time gamer, including significant runs with Magic, so I know the field.

I acknowledge that, in addition to my friends argument being silly, the challenge itself is also silly. The game was never meant to be played this way, and it is right that it is so. In this particular case, not to aggrandize myself in any way, but I’m a significantly stronger player then them. This seemed like the most stark way to juxtapose card selection and player skill.


this is absolutely true. A:NR is “pay-to-win” only in comparison to, say, monopoly or checkers. Compare to other games in this genre and it is a fucking bargain

also: play NBN. freaking astro-biotics can win games with their arms tied behind their backs. splash a biotic labor or two and a few decent ice or econ cards, and you’re set

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Netrunner still requires as much devoting as any CCGs but FFG has been very good about trying to avoid the bad publicity that CCGs get. Only the distribution model is different with LCG/CCG but the bigger picture is still the same. But seeing Netrunner about 15$ per month hobby is still very good if you want very deep and customizable game.

Netrunner can work good as a casual game also if you play only with limited card pool. I don’t think game works so well if you are playing Core set against all allowed because you are playing almost like two different games. I don’t think this is a issue about playing skill because player with more cards will always have the advantage. Of course better skilled player can win with more limited card pool also.

I don’t understand so much the “more money, better winrate” argument because Netrunner is planned to be expandable from the beginning. You should be playing about similar cardpool vs similar cardpool where this issue doesn’t exists. However, new player hardly needs all the cards from the beginning. Netrunner should be seen as “more money, more customization, more options, more strategy, less rare card hunting than any CCG could provide with similar investment”.


Play Gabe.


A sufficiently advanced player with only core set cards will most often beat people who only call the game pay-to-win because they don’t know better, even if they have all the cards.


A sufficiently advanced player with only core set cards will most often beat people who only call the game pay-to-win because they don’t know better, even if they have all the cards.

That’s the hope. :wink:

I’ll prove it on OCTGN if necessary ; )

your win ratio with coreset only decks would be way higher, if opponent wouldnt know u play coreset only. knowledge is huge weapon here.