Neal's Last Words
by Byron "Neal" Massey
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!
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.
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The Top Runners' Conference (this site is really out-of-date) also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.