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Tips for improving from casual to minor competitive player


When it comes to games in general, I think I follow a pretty general guideline if I want to, as they say, “Git Gud.”

First, I’d try to play against people that are better than me. They do interesting things that, after a few games into playing Netrunner, I’d assume are counter productive. But then, once you see the results of these plays, you might determine that in fact, these plays are ultimately how they won the game.

For instance, playing criminal against AGinfusion, you might play an Account Siphon so that it gets bounced, all so you can land the Legwork you wanted. “Wasting” cards is fine, after all, if it leads to a board state in which you are winning.

Second, when I get “rekt,” then I try to figure out what I could have done differently. Sure, you could ask your opponent, and it’s helpful, and if you’re new and want to get better, asking is great, but I think you’ll eventually reach a cap where what they say to help is only marginally helpful. Instead, if you try to figure out a solution yourself, you develop a habit of thinking about problems relevant to Netrunner that you might be able to use in a game, without the benefit of hindsight.

Third, I like to keep in mind that no matter how good a player I might like to think I am, I will lose, and sometimes, I will be absolutely destroyed. And there will be very little I can do about it. If you’re thinking about entering bigger tournaments someday, knowing how to deal with tilt is important. (Keep in mind that I know nothing of your prior tournament experience with other games, so this is pretty general.)

Finally, no matter what, make gutsy plays. Calculation is all well and good, but sometimes you still have to bluff, and the fact that they can work is part of what keeps me playing.


I probably lost 70% of my first 300 to 400 games of Netrunner, playing on OCTGN back in the day. Call me a slow learner. Honestly I just banged out enough games to learn the card pool and the rhythm of the game. I’m a very intuitive player, though; I rarely math things out or agonize over anything more than a few clicks a game. The only thing required to become a world-class player in this game is experience, IMO. Don’t get discouraged by losing!


Sure, I have definitely experienced this playing against my housemate (with whom I’ve played probably 90% of my netrunner games) - we’re pretty evenly matched, but sometimes I take a complete whooping and have to be able to handle that. As I mentioned briefly above, I’ve played poker for over 10 years (and have played at almost all levels, right up to 4-figure buyins at the World Series), so I’m familiar with having to “ride the variance train” as we call it in poker. :slight_smile: However, in poker it’s a lot easier to know when you were unlucky and when you made a mistake, so that’s what I need to concentrate on in netrunner I think - identifying my mistakes (while playing loads of games it seems).


Yeah, I expect my winrate is probably no better than that, although not sure how many games I’ve played total so far. That’s how it feels though, like I’m a slow learner, so I guess I’ll just smash out the volume and hopefully see improvements eventually!


I’m playing since almost 2 years now and still have the feeling I have to learn a lot. And while you would tell me I know the cards as I have started much earlier, I still have the feeling this advantages goes to the people that started earlier :wink:
My goal for this year was to end in a top cut at Regionals (or another tournament above GNK level), so you have a feeling, but I was not playing similar card games before.
I only agree partially that topic of play more games. It helps, but the questions is how to learn new things or how to improve beyond by the amount of games, when you can find a faster way, you will get an advantage :wink: but it hards to find content with this direction.
I would love to discuss Netrunner more with my mates, but this is actually not happening enough for me.
What I found helpful:
Mulll or Keep a nice series of articles
Skills of Netrunner a nice series of articles
Where the wild Agendas are
and I like the discussion on this podcast very much
with Dan D’Argenio
They helped me change my thoughts, but no idea if they are already to advanced for you.
Next thing I have a feeling would be helpful (on my level):

  • Which turn is it? Usually I only have a feeling
  • How many cards left in R&D?
  • What was the last card seen with Medium, R&D Interface & Indexing?
  • Which cards have I seen with Architect?


I want to second this one real quick.

As someone that streams casually and infrequently, I find that talking to myself about my plays helps me a lot in understanding what I’m doing and why. (And the reasons can change depending on matchup.)

Other than that, I can almost always point to a single decision, or group of decisions, that led to me losing a game. (I shouldn’t have rezzed that ICE. I focused too much attention on R&D Lock and let him build an unassailable remote because I was spending too many resources to maintain a lock.) As long as you can identify what went wrong, you can learn and improve.

The last thing is that I like to consume content. And form my own opinions on it. Like… I guess the Mull or Keep series, I have my own opinions on whether those are worth keeping or not. I’ll watch Bad Publicity livestream the card tier lists for each pack and agree/disagree card by card, with reasons.


For me, the biggest thing that helped me improve was watching @josh01 and @mediohxcore stream. Their casual observations and deductions about what their opponent is doing, or is about to do taught me to better pay attention to small details and make these deductions myself.

For example, the runner has seen the last few cards on top of R&D, when a new piece of ICE goes onto a remote, the runner can guess that it is the enigma they saw 2 turns ago. Install a decoder and run that server. There is a lot of observation that goes into that deduction, and seeing Josh and/or Dan walk through how they deduce it is very helpful.

I found watching streams of very high level players to be very helpful for me improving my play.


My advice is a bit more specific and one that I have seen players that have been playing for a while do. As a general rule of thumb, try to stay at or above 5 credits. It is a bad feeling when you draw your Sure Gamble or Hedge Fund, have to click for a couple of credits and then play it. In that scenario it is two wasted clicks compared to already being above 5 credits.

It can be the difference of being able to make that run and steal the agenda or drawing more cards to find your key pieces. Or it can be your opponent not trying to score that agenda which means the start to build up in their hand. A click or two saved in the early game can turn into you being a turn or two ahead by mid-late game.

Of course there are times when you have to break this rule but generally speaking, it is something I try to stick to.


Content consumption is key for me. I think more than anything else this will help make the jump from a decent player to a moderately good player. Watching higher level players play their decks will give you insights on how to pilot them. It also allows you the opportunity to study presumably good play and try and analyze why they make certain decisions. Watching videos with good insightful commentary helps too because it can point out nuanced plays.

Last year at regional’s one of the keys that won me a few games was understanding timing windows for Caprice and PolOp. Similarly if you had a Faust you could boost strength outside of a run to put specific cards in the bin. This could help you get a paperclip in the bin allowing you to install it for a run without spending a click. Understanding timing windows and the nuanced plays you can make within them will help you develop as a player and may not always be beneficial, but will open you up to lines of play you didn’t know otherwise.


I think you can alternatively elucidate that as ‘Watch better people play, or play against better people.’

I do like hearing people’s thought processes as they play.


To add on what I’ve listed, I see many people (including myself) fail on answering the question: “What is the plan of the deck and how to win this game (in this particular matchup)?”


Yes, I really like this too - the streamed BBTL2 cut games were super informative and I love Ben Ni’s stuff too for this reason.


Yeah, that’s a really good shout I think - sometimes I do struggle to even answer those questions, so something I definitely need to work on!


I’ve been liking this thread. I think it’s great when the OP responds to the discussion, it makes it worthwhile to contribute. I’ve see plenty of threads elsewhere and someone asks for help, and you don’t hear from them again.

There’s been some good suggestions so far in general. But, I like to analyze and break things down, and maybe come up with a good individualized plan. So let’s maybe look for a small places to improve:

  • You said you’re pretty even against your housemate, but it sounds like you were not satisfied with your performances at GNK’s. How were the games in the BBTL’s? If you’ve done reasonably well in the BBTL’s, then maybe your on the verge of having solid gameplay fundamentals, and just need to learn cards. If not, definitely join the next one and focus on keeping your ELO above 1525. If you just need to learn cards and the meta, then the advice that others have given you to try all the varied current top decks is a good plan.

  • How much do you enjoy deck-building? If it’s not one of the biggest factors to enjoy the game, then take a break from it for a while and focus on understanding the meta and making good plays with established decks. But, if it’s the thing that keeps you playing this game, that’s a different path. (I’m not a huge deck builder myself, so others can chime in, but maybe get on the different archetype forums here and start discussing and testing different builds with other like-minded players and gaining experience that way.) Netrunner is too complex to be able to try to improve deck-building skills and playing skills at the same time.

  • How’s your local community? If it’s friendly enough, maybe you can go to one of the best players there and see if they’ll mentor you? If you’ve been on these forums for a while, you may know that it’s something that not too uncommon. It’s been inactive for a while, but we even have a mentor/mentee thread:

May not be able to find a mentor there, but it does have some good guidelines and discussion on how such a relationship could function if you can find a mentor.

If you haven’t joined a regular local netrunner group (and it sounds like you do have one because there’s GNK’s), then please go and make sure you attend regularly. It’s a great way to find more experienced players consistently and even form teams for testing for big events.

That’s it for now, I’ll see if I can give you more suggestions after

P. S. - You’ve probably read this already, but just in case, here is the great article on getting better and note-taking:



Thanks, and you’re welcome. I think it’s important if you ask for help that you respond to and interact with the people offering to help you!

I had a .500 record in the last BBTL(2) over about 50 games, although I was a bit above that until the last day, when I crammed games trying to push for the cut and missed in explosive style! :slight_smile: I’m playing BBTL3 and so far also have a .500 record over 14 games. My goal is anything over a .500 record and playing more games than I did last time.

In all honesty, deckbuilding is not my favourite part of the game - I struggle with it and get easily overwhelmed. My housemate has played MtG a lot before and has taken to the deckbuilding side a lot more than me - contributing several of the decks we now play at home, while my contributions have been more netdecking and then adapting to our meta of 2 people.

[quote=“tvaduva, post:30, topic:9101, full:true”]How’s your local community? If it’s friendly enough, maybe you can go to one of the best players there and see if they’ll mentor you?

If you haven’t joined a regular local netrunner group (and it sounds like you do have one because there’s GNK’s), then please go and make sure you attend regularly. It’s a great way to find more experienced players consistently and even form teams for testing for big events.[/quote]

I live about 30-40 mins from my “local” meta (I’m in Weston-Super-Mare and travel to Bristol for GNKs), so it’s a little tricky to attend a lot, but I’ve made both of the GNKs they’ve run since I started being interested in OP. There is a Wednesday night for Netrunner at the store, which I’m going to try and attend (and ideally bring one or two people along to try and help build the player pool, which I think is super important from what I understand about the current state of the Netrunner scene).

[quote=“tvaduva, post:30, topic:9101, full:true”]If you’ve been on these forums for a while, you may know that it’s something that not too uncommon. It’s been inactive for a while, but we even have a mentor/mentee thread:

May not be able to find a mentor there, but it does have some good guidelines and discussion on how such a relationship could function if you can find a mentor.[/quote]

I did not know about that thread, but I will be posting there immediately to see if I can find anyone, thanks you for pointing that out!

[quote=“tvaduva, post:30, topic:9101, full:true”]You’ve probably read this already, but just in case, here is the great article on getting better and note-taking:


No, I have not read that, but it’s the next thing on my to-do list now! Thanks for that.

Thanks so much for taking the time to write up such a detailed and helpful reply - I really appreciate it!


Great, it looks like you have some solid next steps on your journey. Let us know how things are going.

You’re probably in the best countries for Netrunner. By all accounts, the UK has some of the best and most friendly Netrunner players (or maybe you all sound so polite because of your accent to us Americans). The UK already has the most famous example of a mentor relationship between @Cerberus and Mark:

So best of luck on finding a mentor.

Try all the BB teaching decks (if you haven’t already) and see if some of the decks’ style fit with how you like the play the game. Since you don’t need to deck-build, you can just play the decks that seem to being doing well this regional season to better learn the most common cards. Although the cardpool is ~1000 cards, only a few hundreds are common enough to see much competitive play.

And, by all means attend the weekly meet-up. These people will likely become your friends and sparring partners in no time. If you’ve taken to Netrunner as a lifestyle hobby like it sounds, then 30-40 one-way commute once a week doesn’t sound too bad, especially if you’re bring a few friends as well that you can talk Netrunner on the way and back.


Thanks for tagging me in this hadn’t read it.

@3N1GM4 I’m happy to help out and do some mentoring if you’d like? I’m Cheltenham based and often make Bristol GNKs so should be viable to do face to face.


That would be amazing, thanks so much for the kind offer. @Rotage has also kindly got in touch via the mentoring thread and we’ve been chatting a bit on Slack with the intention of working on my game too, so I’m aware that I don’t want to take on more mentoring than I can handle, or be ungrateful of anyone’s offers to help, but I feel the more of a network I can build of better players than me, the more likely I am to be able to improve more quickly! :slight_smile:


One of the primary analysis lines during a game is “what is the worst case consequence of this action?” This is especially true of bold moves as a Runner. Are you prepared for that worst case? What does recovery look like? How likely is that worst case?

In general, if you have a chance for a bold calculated risk, take it. If it fails, remember why and factor that in for the future. Sometimes the best play comes up short, but remains the best play in that scenario. When you succeed, remember why. Sometimes you luck into a win on a bad play. Knowing the difference between high variance and properly weighted probability is important (something as a poker player I’m sure you understand).

Something that hasn’t been mentioned here is really understanding and knowing your deck.The array of decision making gets cut down significantly when you have a solid grasp on your tools and how your deck flows and can concentrate on how that interacts with the possibly unfamiliar things your opponent is doing.


Thanks, this seems like really solid advice - I’ve certainly started to see some of the parallels between Netrunner and poker (along with the many differences of course!), but it’s helpful to have someone else confirm that.

I’m definitely working on my own deck familiarity - which playing the BBTL is helping with a lot - so I’ll continue to do that as I move towards playing decks from the whole card pool.