15 Minutes with… Igor

Hey there! We had a bit of a hiatus with 15 Minutes but we’re back with another postcard from our round-the-world meta-tripping voyage. Today, I am extremely happy to invite you to a chat with Igor from Brazil – the land of tribal metal, endless beaches, deep jungles, most positive people I’ve met so far while travelling, and quite a few other interesting things… Let’s get rolling!

Vesper: Hello, Igor! Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of 15 Minutes. Could you introduce yourself and share with us how you got into Netrunner?

Igor: Hi, there! Thanks for the invitation, and I hope I can somehow contribute to this amazing community of players.

I’m a 34-years-old biologist and a gamer since forever, from role-playing games, to abstract heavy euro games. And, obviously, Android: Netrunner!

I’ve started playing in mid-2013, pretty early in the game. I have played Magic and other collectible games in the past, but that was years ago, I decided they were not worthy of the time and money to keep playing. I was aware of the old Netrunner game, the concept in general, but I haven’t played, so when the new game was a hit, I was very interested, because of the LCG format.

One day I arrived at my (then) FLGS and the owner was learning the game from my good friend Ig Guara (you might know him from comic books from both Marvel and DC). Ig is also a heavy gamer, a very competitive player, and was trying to find people to play with him. I watched a couple matches and when they were over the owner just turned to me and said: “So, if you buy one, I’ll buy one too”, and that was that. He managed to get 5 or so Core Sets and every time somebody came up and found ourselves playing, they would ask about the game and several people bought in.

Ig Guara: Gamer and Comic Artist Extraordinaire

Vesper: Haha, I think someone should be called a Data Dealer here 😉 Quite a tricky manner of getting new players on board, I have to say. So, six years later, any signs of regretting that first step back in the day? What has kept you going for such a long time?

Igor: Definitely, no regrets, no. At least, in regards to the game. We did everything to teach and spread the game back in the day, but it was sad that it never got a national release, and the language barrier kept some players away, for sure. Also, the Brazilian publisher who had partnership with FFG at the time *could* have released a translated version, or at least helped with the distribution of tournament prizes in English, but they never helped in any way. We did manage to get some alternative channels for a couple prize kits, but when the player base fell, that also stopped.

As for what kept us going, I think the game speaks for itself: It’s genius, with so much going on. It forces you to make a hard choice every time, and it has all the twists and turns. I think it’s one of the greatest games ever made, even after thousands of matches.

Vesper: 🙂 So, what can you tell me about the meta in Brazil and South America? It’s a huge continent with many countries – do you usually play on a regional/national level or are people known to travel abroad for Netrunner? What was the biggest continental or national event so far?

Also, does the Brazilian meta have any general qualities you would describe it with? What’s the “kitchen table” meta like, if there is one? And where online can new players interested in the game find their local meta?

Igor: Yes, Brazil is a huge country (almost as big as the USA), my home state is about the size of France. Most players are scattered all around. We never got to build a strong, national, community, only locally. The internet is a great help to keep in touch with people from other states, but we never had a solid meta.

I think we can change that now, with NISEI kits more accessible. Also, game shops are more common than six years ago, and the interest for board games in general is growing. Having a more “static” meta will help, too. Lots of people don’t want to spend too much money to keep playing competitively, but a few releases a year are manageable.

From what I can see, we (in Belo Horizonte) are the most active scene today, but I know there are some people in São Paulo still playing, and I hope we can expand that in the future.

The city of Belo Horizonte. literally “Beautiful Horizon”. Or, as we like to call it, “Uai City Grid”. (Pic taken by Christyam de Lima, and available at his Flickr Gallery. All rights apply)

Vesper: To expand on that last statement, what do you think could be interesting ways of trying to get people involved again (or started from scratch)? Any community plans for 2019 you would like to share with us here or are you going Stealth with it for now? 🙂

Igor: We have to go Amped Up, actually ;D The plan here is to pair up with an awesome store, where we are well received (thanks, TCGeek), and constantly play. By making weekly game nights, Store and Regional Championships, we hope to recruit new players and make some Noise to attract the dormants. Hopefully, we can then call the attention of players in other regions, and encourage them to play as well.

Also, it would be *awesome* if we can see an increase in diversity, specifically among female and queer players.

The local meta: some new players, some veterans and a willingness to go beyond

Vesper: Sounds exciting! But also, the unpreventable brain damage, ouch… So, what would be your “elevator pitch” (imagine you have 60 seconds) to introduce the game to someone who has never heard about it?

Igor: “This is an asymmetrical game, in a futuristic dystopian setting, where one player is the big, bad Corp, aiming for world domination, and the other is a Runner, trying to stop their goals from completing”. It’s simple, but it keeps them interested.

I love the setting of Android, so I try to connect it with the game. I always mention the Beanstalk, the clones’ fight for human rights, etc. I think this creates powerful visions in the minds of new players and it helps them to differentiate Netrunner from a generic cyberpunk theme. If they come from a card game background, I try to point out the differences between the games, and how Netrunner prioritizes skill over luck and/or deckbuilding alone.

Vesper: While the Android universe puts New Angeles in Ecuador, we haven’t had much insight into other South American countries. Our guests from Chile shared some of their observations in that regard quite recently. What do you think would be a good set of ideas or concepts to include in future cards that would come from Brazil?

Igor: I loved that article! And I agree with them on how it would be nice to see some bigger integration on future sets with Latin America, especially Brazil, and the game content. We actually have received some love, in a couple cards.

Of course, the environment comes to mind when we talk about the country with the largest portion of the Amazon Rainforest, and its importance for the balance of the world’s ecosystem. And although the forest is very distant from the major urban centers and agglomerations, it’s still connected to them socially and politically. The states within the borders of the forest are amongst the poorer in the country.

Furthermore, we are in a very weird place right now, with politics. Our new government has taken the side of agribusiness producers, over the poorer inhabitants and the native people of the region. The Agriculture Minister said in a live interview that a famous activist, who was killed defending the workers and the forest was “irrelevant”. He only “forgot” Chico Mendes won several awards for his work, including UN Environmental Programs.

With a government out to get its people, and the increase of religious fanaticism and conservatism, I think there would be plenty to explore in the setting. It’s funny that Worlds of Android mentions the rise to power of the Order of Sol in the country, and that’s also very fitting.

Whoo, I hope the readers don’t get bored with a small politics’ rant, but it had to be said 😉

Also, how amazing is it that we can get into a serious conversation about the state of the world during a talk about our favourite card game?

Chico Mendes: the environmentalist won the U.N Environmental Program Global 500 Roll of Honor Award in 1987, and the National Conservation Achievement Award in 1988. He was killed months after.

Vesper: All good (art and) games could definitely be a great starting point to talk about serious, real life events – and I totally agree, we’re quite well set up for that. That’s an idea for a different series of articles on the site, perhaps ;-D

Now, let’s do a bit of semi-scouting. Imagine we just finished a full round at a tournament – what could I learn about you as a Netrunner player and which factions would I be playing against, most likely?

Igor: As a Runner, I normally play Criminal or Shaper. I feel better when I play more on the safe side and have back-up plans, so a really aggro Anarch like Maxx is something I never got to master. With Corps, I mainly play decks that win by points, either rush or tempo decks, usually HB or NBN, but I had some success with Weyland from time to time.

I’m a very competitive player, and get tense when playing “for real”, but in a good way. Sometimes Netrunner can really get the adrenaline pumping. Also, I like to explore all the ranges the game has to offer. For casual play, I usually test the top decks, just to see what they feel like, and try to learn how to master them, but if we organize a competitive game, I normally go with self-made decks, not only for the element of surprise, but also because I think it’s… fairer, maybe?

At the moment, I’m excited about 419 and The Outfit. Curiously, I assembled the first version of those decks before realising they were top tier, and had to move some pieces around after the new MWL. Also, the Weyland deck is more of a kill deck, so a different playstyle. I’ll be TO on our next Store Tournament in April (NISEI has a nice page with all the dates, folks), so probably they will mainly see play as a practice. But with Downfall here, I’ll probably try to build something with the new pool, too.

Vesper: You’ve said you’re a competitive player. What are your tested and tried methods of dealing with bad fortune during tournaments? Do you use any lucky charms or “special” card sleeves, playmats or tokens for important games? I know this question may sound a bit superstitious, but I used to have a deck box I brought with me to all “serious” events back in the day, until I decided I am just not much of a competitive player myself 😉

Igor: That’s just a boring answer: I don’t. I guess everyone has some quirks, and so do I, but when it comes to playing, I don’t have any charm, ritual or talisman.

But since Netrunner is a game of such tremendous possibilities, I’ve seen some very bad situations turn out ok, sometimes from playing well with what I got, others with more than a bit of luck 😉

Vesper: I see, so there is something, but you’re keeping it a secret. Totally understandable. 😉

Going back to card choices and meta calls – since we’re past the spoiler season and all the cards are out for Downfall – what are your favourite cards from that pack so far and what do you expect to see in Uprising?

Igor: Downfall is full of cards cross-referencing old cards that got rotated, mainly the 3 Connections for the old IDs. I like how they were executed, in general, bringing three lovely characters back to life. Also, lots of Criminal love in the set: Bukhgalter, Flip Switch and Bochkin will probably see lots of play.

For Uprising, I am always curious to see new IDs, since they are so important for gameplay, general strategy and for defining the meta. The Anarch “pokemon trainer” looks awesome, and maybe something to bring NBN back into the game.

Vesper: Well, I guess there will be some more scoopy scoops coming everyone’s way soon, courtesy of the Scoops Department. All I can say is (without spoiling too much)… the “in progress” card art that I get glimpses of keeps getting better 🙂 #nomorehypehere

Let’s have one of the questions deposited in my databanks by our previous guests: if you could immortalise yourself in a card, what faction and what would the card do?

Igor: A Criminal Run/sabotage event card, in which instead of accessing cards from HQ you would remove advancement tokens from a Corp card in exchange for money. Probably needs to be balanced out by removing from the game after playing, and/or spending an extra click, but I think it’s very thematic. Call it “Wiping the Data”, if you will 😉

Vesper: Like a better Queen’s Gambit, I like it! Who knows, maybe that’s what Temüjin Contract could have been from the start, instead of being a legendary “broken” card.

As we’re nearing the end of our chat, what question would you like to me to ask our next guest(s) – and what’s the one question you’re happy that I haven’t asked? 😉

Igor: Well, I’m glad you didn’t ask anything about my taste in music. Of course, I have a great musical taste, but very convoluted, mixed in style and genre and I would not shut up about that.

So, I’ll have to ask our next guest if they could attend any musical concert, from any artist, at any point in time, who would they see?

Once again, this has been a blast, thanks a lot for the invitation!

Vesper: Thank you so much for sharing your slice of the game’s story with us, Igor! I’m also happy to break the “game-only” streak of questions with something more varied ;D Looking forward to more greatness from Brazil and the South American grids in general 🙂

That’s it for today’s 15 Minutes, dear folks! It’s been a bit quiet in my virtual interview booth as non-game life has taken over much of my time and space, but there will be a special interview coming your way soon – thanks for your patience 🙂 If you have comments, tips, suggestions or questions – use the comment section below or our Stimhack thread.