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Netrunner in France

by Eric Platel

Two short keywords about summed it up for the French Netrunner playing scene for a long time: "Paris" and the "1-in-15" format. Despite some success in areas like Bordeaux, Amiens and Lyon after the release of the Proteus expansion, our favorite game was actively played only in the capital until recently - the lost players having deserted mainly to Magic or Legend of the Five Rings. Paris now hosts three different playing locations (one didn't survive into Y2K: farewell Phenomene J), all connected to one game shop. In spite of being so centralized, the French players-to-population ratio is probably one of the highest in the world, a ranking we certainly share with our German friends.

It was quite obvious that Netrunner could have a good commercial success in France if somebody had enough goodwill to start something in the provinces. After all, the Classic prerealease tournament attracted 30 players, not to mention the 36 Runners who tried for the French Open trophy. On the other hand, talking with the average French Netrunner player about tournament formats is something akin to walking on eggs. It's no secret that the Unlimited format was rejected both by the players and TRC France almost from the beginning, giving way for our well-known 1-in-15 French variant, which allows one copy of each card for every 15 cards in your deck. This amounts to three of any card in the standard 45-card deck.

The idea was not so bad at first glance: Instead of forcing them to buy tons of cards, this format was giving beginners a real chance to participate successfully in top level tournaments, sending to the trash "cheesy" decks full of Top Runners' Conference, City Surveillance, and so forth. Without the support of Wizards of the Coast, the real drawback of the format was a lack of possibility for original deck design. Well-liked deck concepts like Golden Loop (with 18 difficulty-reducing agendas) or Rent-to-Own were made unplayable in the 1-in-15 format.

At last, we managed to find a solution to the two problem items mentioned at the beginning: Netrunner France. Led by Emmanuel Estournet (former DCI project leader and avid 1-in-15 fan) and Gwenael Tranvouez (last director of TRC France and strong Revised defender), this new focus of player activity may be the solution. The two main founders were chosen for a reason: They commanded respect from and inspired confidence in players from both factions and are well know by our beloved Jen. Supported and sponsored by French CCG magazines and WotC France, Netrunner France's objectives are to change our state of isolation from other countries and to develop the games in our "lost provinces", helping tournaments organizers by providing them with prize material and publicity through the Internet, and letting the players access useful goodies in their mother tongue from our website. Communication through the new technologies is our second focus, offering a distribution list and links to all gaming locations. I've heard that the Brittany City Grid recently gained a new player who came across our site while surfing around... maybe others will follow suit.

So what has Netrunner France done for the players so far? We hosted a Corporate War tournament, which is close to the OMNI League in its rules, but the concept of which has its origin in Magic's Arena League, an ongoing competition with all the games recorded and the rankings updated on the corresponding website. We'll change the playing format each trimester, starting off with Sealed and following up with Revised.

Fourty-four players are flocking around the tables, and the last word has not been spoken yet. You may well be impressed by these numbers. And what a wonderful feeling it is to shake off the pressure of work by playing Netrunner for one or two hours every day!

We also have plenty of other projects on our shelves: sponsoring a tournament in Amiens, creating a new 1-in-10 format and a French variant of Bartmoss "errata" (making it Noisy), adding articles and decks to the website, and hopefully setting strong links to other francophone Grids.

Visit us at and feel free to send your comments.

Eric Platel, Netrunner France Webmaster

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TRQ #24
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