15 Minutes... with Andrew and Cassidy

Welcome back, dear "15 Minutes" fans (wait, do we even have any?). You may be wondering whether this is some sort of time-paradox, since this article has not originally appeared on Wednesday (but now it pretends to have done so), and you'll be right. I will just blame excessive usage of Hyperdrivers and different time zones. Today*, I have the pleasure of sharing my extended online chat with Andrew (@carson on StimSlack) and Cassidy, a pair of players who are quite unique at this stage of the game's undead existence. They fell into a hyperdriver loop as well and are exploring the game chronologically (starting from Core 1.0!), and their meta is their kitchen table... but maybe I should let them tell their own story ;-) Here we go!

Vesper: Hi, Cassidy and Andrew! Your story of getting into the game at this stage is bound to be interesting… How did you discover Netrunner and what made you decide to get into a game on the brink of its official decommission?

Andrew: Well, it wasn’t intentional, that’s for sure. Netrunner had been on our radar for a while. We’ve been into board games for many years, and our favorite YouTubers, Shut Up & Sit Down, have talked about how great it is. But, we assume that there’s a high cost to buy into LCGs and then more cost to keep up as cards are printed. Unless you have a group of friends who’s committed to LCGs or a good game store that focuses on them, they aren’t worth the investment.

With Netrunner, we just got quite lucky. We were gifted a copy of the Core Set and Order and Chaos from a good friend of ours, Alex, who intended to get into the game but never found the time. Without that catalyst, I doubt we would have ever started playing. Thanks, Alex!

Before our first game, I watched the Learn to Play videos by Team Covenant. That was when it clicked for me how perfect a game this was for us as a couple. And, sure enough, after our first game, Cassidy was hooked as well.

I think I was up later that same night looking up decks and cards when I read the news. I walked over to Cassidy and said, “I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that they just discontinued Netrunner. The good news is that they just discontinued Netrunner.” As new players, it was disappointing that this thing we had just started loving had already gotten the axe. But, it did take a lot of pressure off to catch up with the game and meta. We knew what cards were printed and could just build our collection at our own pace.

Vesper: I guess we should all thank Alex for turning his premature retirement from the game into recruiting two new players :-) Thanks, Alex!

You have quite an interesting approach to exploring the game that reminds me of how I treat ongoing TV series - I only try to watch the ones that have truly finished.

Given the theme and setting of Netrunner - are you both fans of sci-fi or is it just something that was thematic enough with a great game hidden underneath that got you going? Does your board game collection include any Android universe titles or other cyberpunk/sci-fi heavy titles?

Andrew: Wow. I’d never seen our little project like that. I guess it is really similar to enjoying a TV show that’s already completed.

Netrunner has been our first experience with the Android universe. And, we really love that the game has an interesting universe already in place. It brings a lot of charm to the gameplay. Both of us have read some sci-fi books that prepared us for Android. For me, it was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Ubik by Philip K. Dick.

Cassidy: I love anything set in an alternative world. The whole experience of creating a reality that doesn’t exist and losing yourself in it is delightfully transcendent. While I have spent more time in games created in medieval fantasy worlds (dwarves, dragons, magic, etc.) my introduction to sci-fi has been through a few fantastic books. The first dystopian future book I read was Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, which started me into the genre. Playing Netrunner has stoked my interest in the cyberpunk genre; I’m currently working on Neuromancer by William Gibson.

Vesper: Hack the Gibson! Solid credentials ;D

You’ve been quite active on the #beginners channel on StimSlack, Andrew. How did you find the Stimhack community and what was your first experience with it? What’s your take on “community supported” Netrunner, especially when it comes to helping new players grow their passion for the game?

Andrew: I’m heavily involved in two Slack communities for my work. So, I jumped at the opportunity to joined one that was just for fun. I’m still a little overwhelmed with the memes. So many memes. But, everyone on Stimhack has been helpful and fun to interact with. It’s been a great resource for figuring out card interactions and having a shoulder to cry on when you lose to a seven-point Maker’s Eye. It’s very common for us to run into a weird interaction during a game, make a judgement call at the table, and I’ll hop on Stimhack when we’re done to see if we ruled it correctly. Even simple insight like that can be really helpful to new players.

Vesper: I definitely concur on the meme density - higher than agenda density in a Haarpsichord deck! Have you got any favourite Netrunner memes you’d like to share?

Also, you’ve probably expected this one - how balanced is your home meta? Who is the more reckless or janky player in the house? Who’s got the better poker face for rusing traps or jamming agendas? Who just can’t be trusted when they say that the double-advanced card is definitely not a Project Junebug? ...and yes, what are your Corp/Runner preferences?

Cassidy: At the start I tended to prefer Corp - I like setting traps and trying to be sneaky. But over time we’ve switched our preferences. I have run the last couple of weeks and Andrew has been Corp. I’ve enjoyed a handful of games with lucky agenda-pulling fingers (I really did pull off a 7-point Maker’s Eye), and Andrew has gleefully laden me full of tags to drain my resources and blow me up (9 tags is his record). One of the fun parts of still being new to the game is that neither of us have settled into habits yet; we enjoy the challenge of building a deck and then playing the strategy that best fits that deck. I’ve enjoyed learning to be a more aggressive runner, which is against my nature as a gamer. I think learning to adapt to each deck or strategy has stretched our tendencies as strategic thinkers and kept each game fresh.

Andrew: Haha. I haven’t touched the memes, yet. One the hardest things to get right when playing as a couple can be finding a game where we’re equally matched in skill and interest. I’d say we’re really close to a 50/50 split in games at this point with no signs of losing any steam in terms of interest. I can’t think of any two-player games that have really stood that test.

I’ve definitely been the more daring player between the two of us. She’s much better at making clean decisions in-game, but I think I have the leg up in terms of deception and playing tricks. ;)

Up to now, playing Corp has been my favorite. The win conditions feel less straightforward, and I enjoyed the challenge of trying sneaking out agendas or finding alternate winning strategies.

Vesper: A 7-point Maker’s Eye, I can relate to that experience! Got one against a very good player who was wielding Jinteki back then like a sword… I was so, so happy I won. Felt a bit like cheating, but not really - that’s card games for you! :D

Glad to hear you’re still finding the game fun. I remember hitting a small wall of frustration in my early days of deckbuilding, when nothing I put together seemed to work. It got better a bit later, especially with the arrival of online tools to easily build, compare, and share decks.

Speaking of which, what are your favourite online resources to expand your experience and enjoyment of the game (apart from #beginners on StimSlack and the Team Covenant videos you’ve mentioned already)? Anything you’d recommend to new players in particular?

Andrew: I’ve used NetrunnerDB to keep track of the decks I build. It’s great and really easy to use. I haven’t gotten to try Jinteki.net quite yet. But, I think there’s very little that helps as much as just trying new things. Find a card you like or think is interesting and build around it. We’re still very new to this game, but neither of us have settled on decks that we love and keep coming back to. They all go back in the back at the end of the day. In that spirit, I would like to thank Ben “Beyoken” Ni. His Successful Demo videos have really helped me think about building around cards and having a strategy for my decks.

Vesper: Ben has definitely been one of the most prolific and daring “Netrunner researchers” out there. I think he has done an amazing job filling the great gap left by Willingdone’s disappearance from the competitive analysis scene.

Speaking of community people - I assume you’re both sticking mostly to the “home meta” - or are you slowly exploring the local Netrunner scene (if there’s actually any…)? If not yet, when do you think you’ll be joining the “offline” competitive scene? And if that’s not the case - would you be up for taking part in a jinteki.net tournament with a limited card pool? You know, just to avoid the type of madness we have recently unleashed with the Eternal tourney.

Andrew: We’re from Miami, Florida, and I think we’re in a bit of a gaming wasteland except for a couple Magic-only shops. So, we’ll have to keep to our home meta for now. A group of players in Orlando have invited us to drive up and play with them which just goes to show how welcoming this community has been. It will take a concerted effort for us to make it up there. We’ll see. ;)

I’d be very interested in playing on and offline tournaments, but I need some help getting into Jinteki.net. It’s a daunting interface to dive into. Cassidy will probably need a lot more convincing.

Vesper: (That’s a great prompt for all your brave content creators there - make online playing more accessible through tutorial videos, just saying).

I hope the Florida meta keeps getting stronger. Maybe the game needs a few more gator-cards, Gbahali alone is not enough. Got any ideas for Florida-themed cards? ;D Also, a bit more seriously - in your joint (or separate) opinion(s) “in 2020, Netrunner will…”?

Andrew: Well, I don’t know the whole card pool, yet. But, I think a Walt-Disney-Worldesque NBN card would be fantastic. That would blend beautifully with other NBN cards around consumerism and would be an awesome nod to our crazy state. I really don’t know what to expect for Netrunner in the future. I’m really looking forward to fan-made cards. Maybe in 2020, I’ll be one of the people designing new cards.

Vesper: I am pretty sure that with your fresh approach you could do a great job at designing cards-yet-to-come.

Looking even further into (a possible?) future: if the two of you could jump into the universe of Android, what would be your dream personas to get into? A Corp CEO? A sensie star? A down & out Runner fighting for survival? Someone else? And, if both of you were to be cards in the game (existing or new ones), what would you go for (and what abilities would you provide to players)?

Cassidy: What a good question! I have always liked the clever rebel archetype. I feel like I’d be an ex-corp turncoat, using my knowledge from my years as a fat-cat understudy against them. Definitely an Anarch identity, and I imagine some sort of ability relating to having contacts on the inside.

Andrew: Ooh. I’d love to be an ex-runner turned corporate hack. Like, Gabriel Santiago after he completely sells out to Weyland. Maybe an upgrade on a central server that has ways of taxing the run. Upgrades are my favorite cards right now. They have such good flavor and gameplay potential around them.

Vesper: Somehow, from these answers, I see you two being on two different sides of the same cyberwall… Must make for some healthy competitive spirit in your home meta :-)

Let’s circle back a bit… We’ve heard about Alex passing the game to you. Have you tried getting new players into the game yourselves? If you were to do so, what would you try or how would you “sell” the idea of playing Netrunner to them? And who would be your most likely target audience for that, given your current meta situation?

Andrew: Oh, we’re preaching the good word of Netrunner to all our friends and family. So far, we’ve only roped in my brother who’s playing a lot of Hearthstone and is deep into eSports.

Cassidy: I have given the Netrunner pitch a few times to our friends who already play games. I noticed that I tend to highlight what I like about the game; the theme, the asymmetrical balance, the fact that it breaks the “pay to win” mold of similar games.

Vesper: Fingers crossed to more people getting on board through your efforts!

If your tag team was to organize a Netrunner-related event (not necessarily a tournament, although that’s the most obvious one coming to mind, I guess), what would you go for and how (if at all) would you try to make it different or unique?

Cassidy: I love bringing people into new games, and I’m a teacher professionally, so I like the idea of hosting a “learn Netrunner” event, where we can introduce players to the game. I think the game is so good that it speaks for itself; people would get into it if they have someone to introduce it to them.

Vesper: I even got a name to suggest already - “LearnRunner” ;D #noregrets

OK, let’s keep the tradition alive and go for a related question from 5N00P1, our previous guest: “What kind of alternative format event would you be interested in attending and why?”

Cassidy: Personally, the idea of a tournament is pretty intimidating to me, especially being so new to the game. I haven’t really gotten the hang of deck building yet, and going up against experienced players would be scary. I would still totally go for it though, if given the chance. Maybe a more casual atmosphere would be more inviting to players like me, or a way to be matched up with players of similar experience levels. I would also LOVE to be taught how to build a deck in person. Andrew is good at learning from videos and online resources, but I am an in-person person. Some sort of deck building workshop would be really fun.

Andrew: I’d love an event that required quick deck-building. Oh! Mystery corp and runner IDs are revealed for each round. Everyone gets 15 minutes to build the deck. See who can come up with the best decks for that ID. That would be awesome!

Vesper: In-person deck building lessons, now that’s a cool idea for a series of classes to offer. And that “mystery” tournament sounds like a great challenge for people who like that kind of thing. I would probably sweat my fingers off trying to optimize. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that 5N00P1, having read these words, is already thinking about making your ideas into real events somewhere in Germany :-).

Sadly, there’s always that moment in each “15 Minutes” where I get to ask you whether there was a question you wish I had asked? Also, is there anything you’d like me to ask the next person or people on “15 Minutes”?

Andrew: This was blast. I can’t think of anything you left out. My favorite moments so far have been when a specific card or combo really clicks in my mind with how I’m going to use it. So, “what is the most memorable time you had an ‘Aha!’ moment with a card that really made reconsider using it or made you want to build around it?”

Vesper: Thank you for the question and the whole interview! Looking forward to seeing both of you on the other side of the playmat at some point - maybe in a 3v1 game :-)

And there you have it! Quite an interesting story of getting into a Living Card Game after its demise “15 Minutes” will be back next week with yet another community interview. In the meantime, remember that you can send us suggestions for people to interview and questions to ask. The comments section below and the Stimhack forums thread are all yours.

 

*for certain values of "today"