Neal's Last Words
by Byron "Neal" Massey
DCI Field Reporter
Today the Duelists' Convocation International announced official
sanctioning of Netrunner tournaments. The DCI is the organization
that oversees the rules and procedures for Magic and Battletech
"I would be surprised if their stamp of approval means much
to anyone considering taking up the game. It may well serve as a
deterrent to experienced Magic players who are fed up with their
heavy-handed and irrational rulings."
Their history goes back to the Unlimited Edition of Magic, when
they published the first issue of The Duelist, the WotC house magazine.
The DCI became important to tournament Magic players when they
first published the Banned/Restricted list for tournaments. It instantly
set some standards that eliminated instant-win decks. It also started
down the slippery slope of selling cards (WotC) that were illegal
to use in tournaments (DCI).
The elimination of ante was a sad change from Richard Garfield's
intention for Magic. Ante is a stake each player puts up before
a game begins. The loser gives his stake to the winner. The DCI
ruled that no tournament game could be played for ante. This decision,
more than any other, created the secondary card market that values
a Black Lotus at $200.00 US even today.
The DCI introduced the Banned list to eliminate cards that required
ante wagers or affected them. They soon banned cards that required
too much time for a game. Then they banned cards that were too hard
to adjudicate, followed by cards that were really powerful.
It got really silly when they started banning cards that players
on the Pro Tour didn't like. And ban them they did, the list was
almost unbelievably long.
In the early days of Magic, you could call a number and ask a rules
question. You would always get an answer, half the time a correct
one. Correct is somewhat subjective in this case, though. The DCI
has been known to reverse the same ruling three or more times over
the space of a few months.
Soon, as single-card sales threatened to crush the market for new
booster packs, the DCI made a fateful (and horrible) decision: There
would be two types of tournaments. Type I would be business as usual.
Type II would only allow recently printed cards to be used. Guess
which type is no longer played in tournaments?
I hung around the Type II scene for several months, even placing
in the top 25 at a regional qualifier in Seattle (out of some 400).
I wasn't happy, though. I had to be honest with myself and admit
that my very large collection of mostly illegal cards was bothering
For a short time, the DCI decided that they would only allow the
last two expansion sets (for NR players who don't know what an expansion
set is, I am sorry). The outcry was so loud that the DCI changed
its collective mind and went back to allowing all cards that were
less then two years old (or something like that).
Does Netrunner need the DCI? Absolutely not. This is the latest
effort by WotC to support a their twice-duped (Magic and Netrunner)
customers without spending any money. Can the DCI do anything for
Netrunner? I doubt it. I would be surprised if their stamp of approval
means much to anyone considering taking up the game. It may well
serve as a deterrent to experienced Magic players who are fed up
with their heavy-handed and irrational rulings.
The DCI will recognize fan-extrordinaire Skipper Pickle as the
official rules czar for Netrunner. This underscores the rubber-stamp
effort being made by WotC. Although I disagree with a majority of
Skipper's rulings, I am glad that the DCI is not taking a more active
I am also glad that prize support will continue. The announcement
makes it sound like prize support is a new bonus, but it has been
offered by WotC since the beginning of Netrunner.
I won't know more until the details of sanctioning become available.
Today, I see a dark cloud moving over the bright SVGA fields of
Netspace. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?