last update 03.09.2006 12:01
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Neal's Last Words


Neal's Last Words

by Byron "Neal" Massey

You're Drafted

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 environment.

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 in hand.

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 the tournament.

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.