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Teaching Netrunner: Part 2

Originally published at: http://stimhack.com/teaching-netrunner-part-2/

Teaching Netrunner: Part 2      This is part two of an article focused on helping experienced Android: Netrunner players teach the game to new players. You can find part one here: http://stimhack.com/teaching-netrunner-part-1/      This part is written just prior to the release of the True Colors datapack in the Spin Cycle. In this part of the article, I will give two teaching decklists–one for each side–that I recommend playing with when introducing a new player. When creating a deck to teach Netrunner, we should keep deck goals in mind. Unlike with most other Netrunner decks, the goal of…

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Thanks for another great article! I did have a few questions,though.

  1. Why include non-core set cards? A big complaint from people I was teaching was that they had to buy several datapacks in order to play with the deck they were learning with. Most of them already had a core set and they wanted to use their own cards instead of using mine with several cards from outside the base box. Do you have a suggestion for a decklist that uses only core cards?
  2. Why Borrowed Satellite? I have one friend that plays with these and Underworld Contacts in his deck. He swears by this strategy even though he has only one a few games with it. Just wondering your thoughts on why this was included.
  3. Why Elizabeth Mills? I understand the benefit of being able to get rid of bad-pub to a new player, but wouldn’t a more powerful asset be of use here? Maybe Private Contracts or find influence for Jackson Howard (you really don’t even have to explain the RfG effect until later, but you can’t get much more simple than Click->Draw Draw)
  4. I’m not sure I agree with leaving Upgrades out of the game for a new player. Like it or not, they are a substantial part of the game and should not be overlooked for the sake of simplicity. The unfortunate thing about it is that all of Weyland’s upgrades are either Terrible (Research Station) or far too complex (Off the Grid) for a beginner.

Just my 4 cents.

Now if you excuse me, I’m going to go Off the Grid from the people who will inevitibly attack me for calling Research Station terrible. (Get it, Off The Grid?, sigh I slay me…)


I’m glad you liked the article!
To answer your questions:

  1. I included non-core cards simply because they enabled better teaching decks. Since the article was targeted at experienced players trying to teach new players rather than the new players themselves, having most of the datapacks is not unreasonable. I would make decklists with only core cards, but it wouldn’t involve much deckbuilding because of the lack of options. I might write an article targeted towards new players themselves and how to learn the game, but even then I would probably advise them to build their own decks.
  2. It’s a simple card that helps make the corp less dangerous and running less risky. I don’t think it’s a great card, but it is good for a learning deck.
  3. I stayed away from Jackson for the reason you described. Private Contracts would be good, but I would switch it out for Melange if anything. I included Elizabeth Mills to make bad publicity more relevant so players didn’t spend entire games ignoring it.
  4. I agree that upgrades are a substantial part of the game, but there are a lot of other things for new players to learn, especially if they aren’t coming from a gaming background. You have to know your audience and tailor accordingly.

Thanks for the questions!

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I see, thank you for your great insights.

I was thinking that maybe it might be a good idea to actually have 2 teaching deck lists. One to play a few games with to get the basics down. Then, assuming time and interest, you can take the decks apart, show them the deck-building rules, and maybe then start to include some of the more advanced stuff like Howard or Upgrades. I think that once you have them at this point, they should be pretty well sold on the game.

I guess my only other question is: Do you have any tips for what I described above? (A new player comes to me with only a core set, still in the shrink, and asks me if I can teach them how to play.) Obviously they want to use their own cards…

That’s a lot of decks! I would only make that many if you have extra Core Sets.

As for a new player with just core, the core game has tons of great cards, I would recommend playing with the same factions (Weyland and Kate) rather than the recommended Jinteki as Jinteki is very difficult to play. Don’t forget to add neutral cards and feel free to splash in interesting cards that aid in learning the game.

Good article!

RE: Core set cards only in teaching decks. I don’t know about others, but my game store has a copy of the core set in their board gaming library that is available for people to play with. Thus teaching decks made with only core cards would be something we could make pretty easily. In addition, if I ever buy core set #3 I would almost certainly have enough core cards to possibly bring pre-constructed teaching decks to our weekly board gaming/netrunner night. On the other hand I’m hardly ever(possibly never) going to buy multiple data packs or deluxe expansions so anything that includes those cards means I might have to take my own decks apart to be able to teach somebody… which might make me reluctant to do it.

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Great article! I absolutely love the thought and structure you put into these decks. Quick question, but why no traps in the Weyland build?

I feel that those are a pretty integral part of Netrunner as well, and having some advancement traps will help the new runner to understand that not everything with counters on it is an agenda. It can also help them to see how infiltration can help get them the info the need before they accidentally run the wrong server and die. Maybe a Junebug or a few Aggressive Secretaries? There’s obviously plenty of influence for either/both.

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That’s a great point; basically, these decks are for the first couple plays to learn how the game works. After they understand the game, they can understand how traps change it. The second reason is because new runners faceplanting into Junebug–a card which they didn’t even know existed–could easily be put off the game. Usually, stories I hear from people who tried Netrunner and didn’t like it revolve around this kind of interaction. Damage is a secondary mechanic in the game and I feel it’s best to learn the “base” game before changing the way things “normally” work.

Feel free to add in traps if you are playing against an experienced card gamer and you explain them beforehand. Usually, I find it’s best to leave them out for the first learning game. I did add x2 Rototurret just to show that not everything is safe for the runner however, as that’s an important lesson. Getting a program trashed isn’t as big of a deal though, especially for this runner deck.

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Excellent point! I think I was thinking that the new player would play the corp first per your other article, so they would be able to see the Junebug they were planting before they hit them themselves hit one when the decks changed hands. Honestly, I would want traps in there because if I knew there weren’t any traps, my competitive spirit would take over and I would run everything with counters since I knew it was safe.

Usually, the people I’ve taught Netrunner to really stick to their first real success, so pulling off a good bluff and sticking a Rototurret or Junebug to someone makes them feel proud enough to want to play more. Traps are an easy opportunity for a corp player to really pull off something cool, even when they’re still hazy on all the rules.

Just curious, but have you had the chance to play out these decks in real life? I’m curious as to the win rate of this matchup so I can set expectations for someone learning with me. I would assume the runner deck is stronger because of the consistency, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Weyland can pull it out with its money forts.


Traps are much better for a first game if the new player is playing the corp, although you would still have to explain them as a different kind of card (compared to operations, assets, agendas, etc.)

I’ve played initial versions of these starter decks with new players and have made a few improvements since then. They seem pretty even assuming the corp seizes opportunities to advance their agendas.

I was trying to put together these two training decks on the off chance I was at a gaming night and someone wanted to learn how to play Netrunner. Even with having two cores, I find that I don’t quite have enough cards for these decks and my main decks.

For the Runner I need replacements for Corroder, Dirty Laundry, and Daily Casts

For the Corp I only need replacements for Bastion and Pop-up Window. Although these are easier to figure out, I can replace Bastion with Wall of Static and Pop-up Window with Himitsu Bako or Paper Wall

Any suggestions would be welcome.

The easiest replacement for Corroder is Battering Ram and you could replace the economy with Kati Jones.

I am usually teaching or playing competitively though, so I don’t have all my decks made at any given time.

As it happens, I just wrote about Core set only teaching decks over at BGG. Here’s the link:


@Zebediah Thanks for the article. I’m finding that trying to teach the game (without being really qualified to) is a further step in learning it.

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