Neal's Last Words
by Byron "Neal" Massey
One of the problems with Netrunner has been tournament and league
play. Constructed deck tournaments can quickly degenerate into the
battle between "Power Decks" (called "cheese"
by the "Fun" players) and "Fun Decks" (called
"weak" by the "Power" players). Sealed deck
tournaments can often be decided by the lucky player who pulls a
Newsgroup Filter and a Technician Lover, or some equally powerful
combination of bit-gaining cards and detection. What to do?
If you use some strategy and have decent luck... you can end up
with a strong theme for your decks. That's nice in such a limited
Holding a booster draft is one step in the right direction. Netrunner
pundit Frisco Del Rosario dismissed this idea in a former "Frisky
AI" column, but I'd like to reconsider it now.
Start by getting at least four people in a circle, each with a
starter deck and a v1.0 booster pack. Each person should sort the
Corp cards from the Runner cards and place them in seperate piles.
The Agendas should then be sorted into a seperate pile and taken
When everyone is ready, each person should select one Agenda from
the cards they are holding, then pass the rest to their left. No
one should pass their cards until everyone has selected from the
group they are holding. When you receive the remaining Agendas from
the player on your right, select one and pass the rest to your left.
Keep doing this until all the Agendas have been selected.
Now take the rest of the Corp cards and start the process again.
There should be a fifteen-second time limit on each selection to
keep things moving. When all the Corp cards are selected, switch
over to the Runner cards and repeat. The whole draft should take
about 35 minutes. It may involve some bad choices because of the
time limit, but that's all part of the fun.
After you have selected all your cards, build your decks. You should
have 45 cards left over, Donate 30 of them to the prize fund for
So what makes this form of tournament special?
* The cost is low. A starter is about $11 and a booster about
$2 for purchase on the internet, so each person can join the draft
for around $13. That's darn cheap for 105 cards.
* If you use some strategy and have decent luck with the cards you
are passed, you can end up with a strong theme for your decks. That's
nice in such a limited card environment.
* You get to test your drafting skill AND your playing skill.
* As the cards circulate, you can make guesses about the strategies
other players are building.
* No one wins the tournament because they got a "lucky starter
deck". They might get a single lucky card, but no single card
should allow a player to win in Netrunner.
Try it out and let me know how it goes. If you find yourself sitting
in the circle, looking to your right and wondering what happened
to all the Tagging operations, don't worry.