last update 03.09.2006 12:01
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Frisky's Corner

by Frisco Del Rosario

Selective Service

I participated in an experiment this week where four of us opened a NetRunner booster pack, chose one card, and passed the remaining cards to the player on the right. After we each opened and passed 10 packs, we constructed our decks from the 150 cards we drafted.

The idea is borne of Magic, and it seems that Magic is better suited for it. Magic's element of five "colors" with different characteristics means that the players can strive to develop a deck with a real theme, whereas in the NetRunner booster draft, the goal was to "pass the Rabbit."

Of course, some of the decisions made in the first pack influenced those in the fifth. For instance, I pulled a Team Restructuring early the evening, and was charmed to find a Falsified Transactions Expert passed to me later.

Picking cards from random booster packs resulted in a "starter deck" feel, so I wasn't too surprised to pass Encoder, Inc. -- one of the hottest cards in the constructed deck game -- and have it return.

An odd aspect of the draft stemmed from the fact that we selected cards from 10 booster packs, where the ratio of rare and uncommon to vital and common cards is greater than in starter decks. Agenda, bit operations, and icebreaking programs were in short supply -- I didn't get a pumpable sentry breaker, so I had to choose Clowns to accompany the Codeslinger.

Perhaps it might have resulted in more typical decks for all if we had passed around starter decks, but it seems likely that everyone would've ended up with, well, a starter deck.

Perhaps this NetRunner draft can be thought of as an odd amalgam of constructed and sealed deck play. On one hand, the players can apply their experience in deck architecture to their choices, but on the other, the randomness of the card distribution will probably mean that the player who chooses Access through Alpha and its 9 base link will also be dealt a Rabbit to reduce ice trace strength.

I had fun participating in this NetRunner draft, but I'm reminded that any event where people choose cards (or basketball players) from a diverse pool is never truly equitable. Two nights ago, someone opened the pack with City Surveillance while someone else found Twenty-Four Hour Surveillance. Nor can you improve the conditions by spreading all the available cards face-up on a table -- who goes first? And who goes first in the second round?

Every so often on the Wizards NetRunner listserv, someone asks, what are your favorite and least favorite cards? and which are the best and worst? Such a poll is going on now -- I wonder how a draft atmosphere would affect one's feelings about favorite cards. If the one Joan of Arc were chosen before you, would you take the Bartmoss Memorial Icebreaker?


Frisky's Corner