A beer with friends while watching a sporting event is a pleasant thing. Slamming 10 shots of Tequila in two hours is a near-death experience.
[Insert joke about your favorite drunken Netrunner player here.]
Something taken to excess changes the nature of the thing.
Recently, Abram Jopp has stirred up and become mired in a contentious discussion about whether Mushin No Shin takes the idea of hidden information so far that it breaks the core game. (This is far from the only point in the article, so please read the whole thing. It is really interesting and makes a great contribution to community conversation about the meta game right now.)
Everyone agrees that hidden information is part of the game. When I put a card in my scoring server, the Runner does not know if it is an agenda or some other card that I’m hoping will bait a credit-draining run. If I am on 5 points, solving that puzzle could well decide the game.
Jopp writes this about the role of high-impact hidden information:
Players should be able to use hidden information to create advantages, but a single piece of hidden information should be limited in its impact, especially if high impact instances can be created frequently. (emphasis added)
In my example above, putting a card in a server while sitting on five points is a case where hidden information can have a high impact. But, to Jopp’s point, I can’t create this kind of high-impact situation very frequently and it takes lots of set up to get to this point.
His problem with Mushin, as I understand it, is that it creates very high-impact situations around hidden information early and often with little cost to the Corp, which in his view leads to decks that can be unhealthy for the meta and the game overall.
I’ve seen lots of commentary on his article and on this issue in particular that does not appear to really engage with what he is writing. I was hoping to generate some discussion on this one point of his article here. (Please read the whole post. It is really good and thoughtful.)
For my two cents, I will just say that having played against and with Mushin, I see Jopp’s point about such decks making the game not fun. In a meet up not long ago, I ran a Mushin-spam Cybernetics Division deck that was fun for me to play, but very frustrating for my opponent. I don’t think it felt very much like Netrunner for my opponent who was faced with a series of life-or-death choices over the game that required very little set-up on my part.
At the same time, I don’t think Mushin-centric decks are terribly competitive, so they do not run the risk of dominating the meta the way some other “spicy” decks do. In a sense, I think Mushin decks do what Jopp says such decks should do. It is a fringe deck that adds spice to the game but does not overwhelm it.