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Ready Player New: A Primer on How to Build a Netrunner Community


#1

I have a goal. It’s rather simple in concept, but difficult to implement. How do I get people to play Netrunner?

I realize this is a rather broad concept, but I’d love to hear other’s success stories. Topics I envision (but not limited to):

  • How do I find new players?
  • If you have one minute to sell a player on netrunner, how would you do so?
  • Not all players enjoy playing games the same way. How do I identify what type of player I’m talking to and how do I respect their play style?
  • What beginner decks would you suggest to teach new players the rules of the game? Should I be concerned about cards that need to be “played around” like SEA source/scorch/scorch?
  • What sort of lore can I use to get players excited about the game. Sure, Ready Player One, Snow Crash, and Neuromancer are great books, but is there anything else out there? What about TV shows or computer games?
  • I just converted a new player, now what?
  • What methods can I take to introduce a new player to the local netrunner community?
  • If you have a limited budget, in what order should you purchase netrunner sets?
  • How can I introduce a player to OCTGN?
  • Tournaments are scary, how can I get players to attend a tournament?
  • How do I keep existing players?
  • Tournaments. What does a local store need to do to participate in a game day kit? How can I help advertise a netrunner tournament?
  • League nights. What is the benefit? How can I track them? What can I give as rewards?
  • Deck building challenges. Ok it was pretty fun making a profressor deck, but what other challenges exist that allow a player to be creative without restricting everyone to playing the same deck?

#2

there is an awesome article on stimhack about how to grow netrunner community. Here is the link http://stimhack.com/meet-lonely-runners-in-your-area/
It almost covered everything.
The “Explorers should be Given a Card before they Leave” is really great. People in my hometown are actually doing that right now. They are giving away those extra Andy/Maxx/NEH/BlueSun as a gift to those who are interested in this game :wink:

EDIT: and by saying hometown, I don’t mean DC… no free ID in DC


#3

someone already linked the above article, which is a good place to start, but I thought I’d touch on a few things:

[quote=“Sheshonk, post:1, topic:4202”]
What beginner decks would you suggest to teach new players the rules of the game? Should I be concerned about cards that need to be “played around” like SEA source/scorch/scorch?
[/quote]stimhack also has some great articles about starter decks - these are great places to start as they avoid many of the less explicit parts of play like playing around scorch, worrying about astro counters, etc.

[quote=“Sheshonk, post:1, topic:4202”]
What sort of lore can I use to get players excited about the game. Sure, Ready Player One, Snow Crash, and Neuromancer are great books, but is there anything else out there? What about TV shows or computer games?
[/quote] in my experience it doesn’t need to be hacking themed necessarily - blade runner, ghost in the shell, even something like minority report can be a good window into what cyberpunk is all about.

[quote=“Sheshonk, post:1, topic:4202”]
If you have a limited budget, in what order should you purchase netrunner sets?
[/quote]this is the subject of much debate, and it’s complicated by the fact that the most important packs are becoming hard to find (as they have yet to be reprinted). I’m encouraging new players to sit on their core sets for a while, maybe borrow some “current” decks to try, and If they really want to get into the game, save up for a large ebay lot- at any given time there are one or two people selling their entire collections for a fraction of retail. I realize that a couple hundred dollars isn’t “limited budget” territory for a lot of people, but it adds up to a lot less that picking and choosing packs one at a time for full retail.

[quote=“Sheshonk, post:1, topic:4202”]
Tournaments are scary, how can I get players to attend a tournament?
[/quote]This is easier if you are organizing, and if it’s a relatively small event like a GNK or small store champs. contact people you’d like to attend one-on-one; emphasise that everyone will get prizes, and that it will be swiss only, so it’s really just a matter of showing up to have a few fun games and collecting swag; there’s no such thing as “pro” netrunner players, so the types of scaries you see at MtG tourneys won’t be around.

[quote=“Sheshonk, post:1, topic:4202”]
League nights. What is the benefit? How can I track them? What can I give as rewards?
Deck building challenges. Ok it was pretty fun making a profressor deck, but what other challenges exist that allow a player to be creative without restricting everyone to playing the same deck?
[/quote] League nights get people to make netrunner a regular part of their schedule, which is awesome. at our store, every other GNK gets split up amongst league participants every few months. In terms of deckbuilding challenges, you don’t have to get too fancy. our league offers points for each new ID you play in a league game - it gets people trying things they wouldn’t otherwise but doesn’t force people off their favorite decks if they don’t care much about prizes.


#4

really can’t recommend recommending @Nagnazul’s Why I Run enough. it’s such a great way to introduce players to the basic mechanics (even after you’ve taught them the game), while also exposing them to ANR’s setting/themes.


#5

Transmetropolitan is a classic cyberpunk graphic novel. I’m not an expert (although I hope to be soon, I just got the huge compilation that just came out) but it is less about hacking and more about near future society. Great for an aspiring NBN / anarch / criminal.

Also, with the recent influx of chrome, I thought I’d mention the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Lots of hacking, augments, and secret corporate agendas.


#6

one thing I touched on above but my brain just keeps coming back to is making personal, one-on-one contact with players/potential players. Not to be pushy, or to hassle them, but I think people are a lot more likely to get involved with something if they have a personal connection rather than just like “yeah, I show up to that sometimes.” Basically don’t be afraid to make friends over netrunner!


#7

I’d also strongly recommend some of the early Terminal 7 episodes in which they profile each of the factions. I know my card retention improved vastly listening to those podcasts, and I find that Term7 is the most immediately accessible in tone. Great for getting your new players thinking about Netrunner when you’re not around!


#8

EVERY Netrunner player should read Transmetropolitan, although the atmosphere is probably a bit closer to ONR’s. Old-school 2000 A.D./Judge Dredd can be fun, although it gets a bit too grimdark at times. Chew isn’t exactly cyberpunk, but it deals with some similar themes and is a heck of a lot of fun.

For video games, I’d also recommend any of the Deus Ex games if you’re looking for some good cyberpunk feel. The second one gets crapped on a lot for some unfortunate gameplay decisions and turn-of-the-century console hardware limitations, but it definitely nailed the atmosphere. Depending on your mark’s gaming tastes, the newer Shadowrun games might be worth a look too. I’ve heard nothing but good about them since the first one’s lukewarm initial reception.

If you don’t mind anime, definitely check out Akira and the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series. The original movie might also be worth a watch if only just for historical significance, but it honestly doesn’t hold up very well today, especially when compared to the series.

Also there’s the obvious western films like Robocop, Blade Runner, Strange Days, and Johnny Mnemonic. All of those but Johnny Mnemonic are excellent and worth a watch on their own merits. Johnny Mnemonic is honestly a terrible movie, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun if you dig mid-90s cyberpunk aesthetic.


#9

Ressurecting this thread because the general topic of how to encourage new players to participate in Netrunner communities keeps coming up in the increasing diversity thread, where it’s a bit off topic, and Discourse always says I shouldn’t make new threads when ancient threads on the same topic exist.

I wonder if a bring-a-friend tournament using a variation on the King of Servers format might work. Each team of two would have to include at least one player who doesn’t regularly attend, and teams would be paired against other teams by their total prestige, so that you would always be sitting next to your teammate. You could discuss your games with your teammate as much as you like.

I think some deckbuilding restrictions would also be needed - maybe Cache Refresh so the card pool isn’t super huge, and something like Magic’s unified deckbuilding rules so teams aren’t disadvantaged if they share a collection or only one of them has a collection.

Other possible elements: door prize draw just for the new players; longer than usual time limits since new players tend to play slow, and maybe single-game rounds to offset that; a decidedly flat prize structure; an actual planned-and-scheduled lunch break.


#10

Wow, I appreciate you resurrecting this failure of a thread. Two years old, how the time flies.

Through the work of myself and other committed individuals, my meta has remained at a stable count (with some different faces) since the time of my original post. Due to the games decline in popularity, I view this as a success story. I can contribute that to a few things:

  • A single person is not a community. A community leader’s goal should be to create an environment where other players can get excited about the game, have fun in their own way, and spread the word. One person can only do so much.
  • Weekly (or more) meetups. If people want to play Netrunner, give them as many opportunities to play Netrunner as you can! You don’t need to be there for every meetup, see the above point. Just ask people to open up their invite to others.
  • Netrunner is a face to face board game, not a faceless online game. Take an opportunity to get to know the person you are playing. Make friendships. Invite your new friends to do other things you are both passionate about. As a person who used to be thoroughly addicted to WoW, I can’t say enough how awesome it is to actually hang out with people you meet through board games.
  • Talk with your local gaming stores, they are surprisingly helpful. Explain to them why the game is fun and ask them to advertise your meetup group if anyone shows interest in the game (or game similar).
  • Community leaders should always have a pair of teaching decks with them for new players. Deck building is a difficult concept and should come after learning the fundamentals of the game.
  • To get player’s hooked who don’t own the complete set, host cube drafts. New players don’t need to own any cards and as an added bonus experienced players enjoy a change in pace.
  • For player’s that get hooked, but are still learning the fundamentals. Make sure to have a few recent videos with commentary to help them move to intermediate level.
  • For intermediate players, introduce them jnet to and netrunnerdb

Lessons Learned:

  • The buy in cost to the game is prohibitive. You need to hook a player in without forcing them to purchase an entire set of cards. Once a beginner player learns the style they like, this buyer’s guide has been rather helpful.
  • Restricted formats like 1-1-1-1 and Cache Refresh are a nice way to expose new players to a larger card pool. Unfortunately, those formats are unbalanced at a competitive level and do not get your veteran player base excited.
  • Not all people will be welcoming to new players. Once you walk through that competitive door, its difficult to play against “jank” decks without feeling like its a waste of time. Create introductions to accommodating players as necessary. It’s important to get new players, but it’s also important to maintain your existing player base.
  • Not all players you teach will go to a tournament and that’s okay. Tracking win/loss, playing timed games, or going to a game store is not for everyone. Enjoy the game for what it is, if someone understands why you enjoy tournaments but still doesn’t come out, that’s okay. Have fun with them in an environment they feel comfortable in and they might one day decide to venture outside their comfort zone.
  • Achievements don’t work. If you have Johnny players, they want to play their own “jank” not prescribed “jank.”

I’m really excited to see how rotation pans out. It’s a big opportunity to get new players involved with a game we all enjoy.


#11

Am very glad to hear this, as someone who’s been too lazy to run an achievements league :smiley:

Though I think perhaps part of the theory of achievements is to get the Spikes on the same page as the Johnnies temporarily? I will assume you found that they didn’t do that, either.

It was a pretty good thread!

I might suggest a title tweak, though: maybe “Ready Player New: Building Netrunner Communities” might be a more accurate reflection of the thread contents?


#12

I like the cube draft idea. We have a few lapsed players that might be into coming out for cube drafts. I’ve also started to allow proxies for lapsed players at tourneys. I’ll see how that goes.