Hi all! Last month I had a message from someone on Stimslack, to ask if I'd be interested in an article about teaching this glorious game at a convention. Of course, I naturally snatched his hand off (not literally) so without further ado... over to you, LazyChef13!
We had the opportunity for the second year in a row to represent and introduce Netrunner at the Berlin Brettspiel Con to people walking by. I would like to share my experiences for anyone planning to organise a similar event. I think it is important for us as a community to make it as easy as possible to introduce new players to the game.
This is in no way a strict guide, but only a summary of my experiences introducing the game to players who have never played or heard of it before.
We had two large tables with 12 chairs and enough space to teach 6-8 people at once. We had 2-3 community members available (big thankyou to 5NOOP1 and Quercia) and pretty much taught from 9:30am to 9pm straight on two days. Attendance at the convention was somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 people. Over the two days, around 60 players took a closer look at the game with us.
The most important thing you should do is to make sure that the game is “on show” at all times. If you aren’t introducing somebody to Netrunner, make sure to start a game with one of your fellow teachers with the mindset that you are ready to quit it at any point in time. People are more hesitant to come up to you if you just sit there and stare at people walking by. Just play, have fun and people will come and ask about the game themselves.
Bring your playmats and put up posters if you can. Put a Core Set box on display with a couple of binder sheets depicting different identities, cool-looking cards or cards that make thematic sense and grab people’s interest, like Endless EULA, Pop-Up Window and Sneakdoor Beta. Netrunner is a pretty fancy game. Make use of it.
Give out business cards of the game store or venue of your local meta, together with dates for future Netrunner events. Organise newcomer-friendly evenings and invite the people learning at your table. Try to direct players from other cities to metas near them.
If it is clear you have kitchen table players in front of you, tell them about NISEI and where to get the new cards from.
Don’t give them too much information they don’t need right away. Don’t start with the game being officially canceled, just show them the game. And then talk about NISEI afterwards or respond with NISEI if they mention the “death of the game” themselves.
Netrunner is a pretty great game, it can speak for itself if you just show them how to enjoy it.
If someone is new to the game, usually they don’t think about the whole cardpool, for them it’s enough to grab a Core Set and play the game and this is what you should focus on.
Learning the game was hard for most of us, so keep it simple. Use action as a term instead of clicks, as no card ever says the word click. So just leave that out for now and speak a language the listener can understand right away. Those are just small things, but previous experience teaching people who have never played card games taught me to simplify. Most of the time, you can see how well your explanation is received and how deep you should dive into card interactions with an easy learner. If you want to keep it simple, don’t explain every keyword in the game and skip over tags, purging and traces. No one will be mad if they get hit by a Punitive Counterstrike after 5 minutes – just start another game. It ain't a tournament. People want to see what the game has to offer, and being surprised by a card like Punitive is what makes the game interesting.
After a lot of testing we decided to go for 34-card Corps and 30-card Runners. The games take less time and the interesting important cards show up all the time. You only play up to 6 points. My two recommended decks can be changed to your liking:
What is important is that, when teaching someone their first game, you only really need 9 Corp and 8 Runner cards
- Hedge Fund
- Project Atlas
- Priority Requisition
- Neural Katana
- Wall of Static
- Pad Campaign
- Red Herrings
- Sure Gamble
- Inside Job
- Armitage Codebusting
- Gordian Blade
- Sneakdoor Beta
Have those cards sleeved up in a different color and put them on top of your playing decks. You only need those cards to teach the game, and not having to search through your whole deck for the right cards saves a lot of time and is way more convenient. Then remove the cards when you play the first real game.
This game is intricate enough as it stands, so try to keep it as simple as possible. Use Enigma to explain ice and not Ichi 1.0. Red Herrings does a better job explaining what an upgrade is than Crisium Grid, which still confuses even competitive players.
When teaching, I like to explain the rules to two players at the same time and have them play against each other with open hands. This way new players can understand the typical back and forth of Netrunner, and react to the flow of the game better. If you are only teaching one person, and so playing against them yourself, I would let them run first and also play with open hands for the first impression.
Sometimes it can also be the right choice to have two new players play together against you. Depends on the situation.
Ok, now you have taught Netrunner over a period of 10 hours. Time for the final tip: bring cough drops!
So there you have it, words of wisdom from veteran teacher LazyChef13 - if you find this useful and decide to try your hand at it yourself, let us know how it goes! And if you've got an article idea bubbling away in your head, feel free to reach out; you can find us in #future on Stimslack, @projectnisei on Twitter, by searching for NISEI on Facebook and of course at firstname.lastname@example.org by email. Not to mention I'll be at Worlds and always happy to chat.
We'll be back with you real soon with a whole host of articles and info-drops even before the MWL and Uprising pre-release cards "go live" so until then...