last update 03.09.2006 12:01
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Neal's Last Words


Neal's Last Words

by Byron "Neal" Massey

Umbrella Policy

It's been more than a year since I put my Last Words on the web. After thinking that Black Ops magazine would keep its word and actually pay me for writing about Netrunner, I couldn't see the point of writing for free anymore. Three issues, a broken contract, and many broken promises later, I'm back here, for free, handing out Netrunner bits for use and abuse. Enjoy!

Grudge Match

After a few heated emails and a private message gone public, Sean Harvey and I have scheduled an IRC match to settle grudges. The first match will be held at 5:00 PM Pacific time on January 3rd on Undernet, channel #netrunner. Many gracious readers of the Netrunner mailing list have agreed to judge the matches, so drop in if you want to see some really bad blood spilled across Netspace.

Classic Arrives!

After more than three years, a new Netrunner expansion has arrived! It's only 52 cards, but any breath of life for this game is a welcome one. Of course, thanks go to our Paladin at WotC, Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, whose tireless campaigning for the game made it all possible. The Top Runners' Conference (this site is really out-of-date) also did critical work on bringing the new cards to press. Thanks!

I also fufilled a year-old promise and joined the TRC when the new cards came out. I don't have a Tag yet, but I did get some free boosters from TRC chairman Doug Kaufmann. Thanks Doug!

Rules Gurus Wanted

The TRC is also looking for someone to be the official rules Czar for Netrunner. After losing Skipper Pickle, the errata and rulings for the game have been on Ice. With the new cards and new players, we all recognize the need to streamline and harmonize the five years of old rulings into a coherent and fun standard for tournament play. It's going to take someone with good diplomacy, nerves of steel, and a vast knowledge of the game to make it work. Great men have been crushed by this job in the past...

Content? You wanted Content?

Okay. I am slowly working my way throuth the fifty-plus old columns from Neal's Last Words, editing them and trying to decide which are worth reposting. The game has changed a lot in the last year, and I hope to revise the best columns and let the rest go. My old URL is completely gone, after squatting the webspace for more than a year, my old ISP (another crooked outfit) finally wiped me out. Expect updates of old columns, or at least a new column each week. The new cards in Classic change everything, so it's a bit of work to make the old stuff relevant.

I always appreciate email about topics you want to see on this page. I'm running a game store now (if you are here, you knew that) so my writing time is more limited. Just let me know what you want to see, and I will work it in as best I can.

The Best and Brightest

We're all still digesting the results of the Netrunner World Championships that concluded last month. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun for me to list the players and deck designers I fear most.

Erwin Wagner is probably the best deck designer on the planet right now. I still fear the San Francisco duo of Nat Johnson and David Lui, but they appear to have retired to meatspace. Erwin consistently comes up with completely original designs that can beat the best decks in tournaments. He also helped me a lot with the design for my Preying Mantis/Emergency Self-Construct stack that was the most popular in the World Championships this year.

Byron Bailey is the World Champion for a good reason. He finished second in Sealed and first in Constructed play against Earth's best. He also beat me in a head-to-head, best of three matches contest in the regionals. He has good skills in Constructed, but I fear him the most in Sealed play. His unerring instincts and flawless deduction carry him even without the best cards. Of course, he gets to hone his skills against Charles Gordon, Robert Kleeman, and Eric Kennedy, which is a world-class training ground.

It's only fair to mention that Ocke Roerdon finished first in Sealed in the World Championships. He also gets to practice against Europe's finest, including Holger Janssen and Daniel Schneider. After battling them for years, he came out on top in this year's finals.

Constructed play is a little harder to evaluate. There are dozens of players out there who can take an Artificial Security Directors/Corporate War deck to victory. Unfortunately, creativity is not really a hallmark of Constructed play. Watching trends online is not a Netrunner skill per se, but its necessary. Players like Richard Cripe deserve respect for years of success without any letdowns.

That's hardly a comprehensive list, but it should tell you some of the players I fear the most in competition. Please don't be offended if I didn't mention your name, Netspace is hard to monitor and new AIs are constantly rising to the top.