by Frisco Del Rosario
Discovering World Domination and other memories of Proteus when
it was new
I remember a wonderful, mysterious time last year, right before Proteus
was released. I thought the expansion set might be the shot in the
arm that NetRunner needed to boost itself into its deserved place
as The Collectable Card Game Which Everyone Plays.
Promotional packs of Proteus made their way into the bloodstream.
Card spoilers trickled in to make up much of the listserv content,
which I didn't read because I wanted to discover the card text along
with the card art.
I recall Joe Ganis was planning to bring a Redecorator deck to
the upcoming Pacificon tournament. I had no damn idea what a Redecorator
was -- I could only imagine a brand new card under the control of
the guy who had just won the ManaFest tournament.
On the morning of the first day of Pacificon, I hustled into the
dealers room looking for the Wizards of the Coast table. I was disappointed
to find only the familiar green-and-purple foil packs. "We don't
have any Proteus to sell, but I do have some Proteus cards in my
decks" was the first thing Wizards-netrep-to-be JD Wiker said to
In the middle of a NetRunner demonstration, Wiker then said, "Here's
[a Proteus card] now." He reached into the bank for three bits to
put on a Streetware Distributor. "A Spinn for the runner," I thought.
"C'mon, show me something new." The demonstration game ended with
a fast advancement operation, and I was allowed to sit in.
"Would you like to play for ante?" Wiker asked.
"Ante? I didn't know that was possible," I said.
Wiker explained that all comers were allowed to ante an uncommon
or rare NetRunner card against a booster pack, and lost singles
were to be signed by the defeated for display at the Renton office.
I thought about that for a second -- I stand to gain a potential
Krumz but stand to lose a Newsgroup Taunting which will go up on
their wall with my sorry signature on it.
"No, thanks," I said.
Wiker nodded, and turned to Wizards cyberspace coordinator Charles
Keith Stanley. "The Magic players are always up for that, but the
NetRunner players are usually 'uhhhhnnnhhhhh', " said Wiker.
In those days as a novice, I was playing with Bartmoss Memorial
Icebreaker, the cheesiest icebreaker, and stealth, which showed
mostly to be an inadequate resource (though theory marched onward,
and Mystery Box plus Cloak is a good try). I was Valu-Paking Invisibilities
and Imps to pay for Bartmoss's sorry butt -- I believe that was
the first Imp pyramid designed to be recycled rather than sold.
Early, I made on a run on HQ without Joan of Arc in sight (you've
gotta do it, Bartmossers -- it's the only excitement you'll ever
get from that card), and pulled a card from Wiker's hand -- World
The first thing I noticed about the card with the familiar blue
makeup was its difficulty. "Holy crap," I said, looking up at Stanley
and Wiker. "What the hell is that?"
"That's one of the new agenda," said Wiker.
"Read the agenda bonus text," someone suggested.
"....awards .... four .... additional ... points," I read somewhat
aloud. "Hey! This card wins!"
"Yeah, but how are you gonna score it?" asked Stanley.
"How are you going to score it?" I repeated in my mind,
and a love affair was born.
I found the answer to "how are you going to score World Domination?"
in December. Six months later, the framework is presented in the
June issue of the The Duelist, at game stores and newsstands
Driving across the San Mateo Bridge today, I tried to compare
myself to Ruy Lopez, the 15th-century Spanish priest who first analyzed
chess openings which are played at the highest levels even today.
Can NetRunner possibly grow to such popularity that articles like
mine are remembered? What could I do to promote NetRunner further,
so that another expansion might be released, providing the fuel
for more ideas, and more Duelist articles, and more interest,
and more expansions, and more ideas, ad infinitum?
I briefly pondered a future as a traveling NetRunner salesman,
moving across the country in a 1967 VW Beetle, performing game demonstrations
at collectables shops all over the land, and showing the Magic-sheep
the one true way. "Yes!" the proselytized will cry, "we MUST HAVE
another NetRunner expansion! We must have a million dollar Pro Tour
with spokesmodels drawing the first card from R&D!".
The truck behind me on the bridge blew its horn, breaking the
reverie. I continued on the Armadillo Armored Road Home.