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I've got about 8 friends with varying levels of interest in picking up Netrunner. At least 3 folks have spent a lot of money on cards and play in local tournaments. On the other end of the spectrum are friends who don't like the idea of 1) spending a lot of time assembling decks or 2) having to purchase much more than the core deck.

What kind of system/format would be fun for everyone to play together?

Some parameters:

  • Ideally we would stick with the core deck, but an additional cost of ~$15 is doable too
  • Minimal deck pre-assembly - several folks aren't interested in spending their free time doing this
  • Deck tinkering on game night is fine; ideally everyone would spend equal time on deck modification
  • Experienced players should not have a card/asset advantage over new players

I imagine that restricting experienced players to just the core deck might be kind of dull for them, so I'm hoping someone has some ideas of fair ways to spice things up a little for them while keeping the game accessible for new/less dedicated players.

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2 Answers 2

I was waiting to see if anyone would add anything more substantial, but - realistically - the answer to this is either: a) embrace the complexity and stop worrying about pleasing everyone, or b) choose a different game. One of Netrunner's primary strengths is in the synergy between the cards and in the personal choices taken during deck building, which you are amputating in the name of simplicity.

What I would recommend:

1) For the first few sessions, only allow decks built upon the core set.

2) As soon as your group is familiar with the rules, they will know if they are invested in the game - or not. If they are, then you've already got them hooked. At this point, I would open the card pool to all available cards. The nice thing about the LCG format is that there are no real "win more" cards, but just different strategies to win. Some of the most powerful cards in the game are core.

It isn't a game where having all the cards == winning. In fact, the last tournament I went to, a friend of mine - playing with just core cards and A Study in Static - ended up doing better than I did with access to all the available cards!

What opening the card pool also allows is for people to start seeing new cards that might resonate with them. Before my first tournament, I didn't get why Jackson Howard was a big deal. After my first tournament, it was very obvious. When encountering such a card, a new player can then pick that specific pack to add to their collection. There is no real need to buy everything. Plus, if the less dedicated people want to start participating in tournaments, removing the card restriction handicap will make your sessions substantially more realistic in terms of what to expect.

But again, I stress: core decks may be less efficient than a custom build based upon all available cards, but they can still be winnable. As long as everyone is having fun, I would not worry too much about trying to balance everything perfectly.

In order to promote creativity, I would recommend incorporating a Netrunner Achievements thing (maybe with a prize). See this link: Netrunner Achievements

The other option is, after you have done the core set matches, try drafting? That is a bit more expensive but would make for some interesting games.

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These Netrunner Achievements are a neat idea. Perhaps we could set up a night where folks draw 2 achievements out of a hat and have to pick one or something. –  doub1ejack Mar 17 at 17:24
    
So, your idea is people do not come with preconstructed decks? That is how I've played X-Wing with casual friends, but Netrunner decks have so many moving/interlocking parts that I'm not sure this would be the best approach. Maybe everyone draws a couple achievements at random that apply for the next game night? –  Twitch_City Mar 17 at 19:25
    
Not sure; I've only played ~6 games myself. It sounds like the disparity comes from having the time & experience to build a killer deck. So maybe having people construct (or partially construct) decks on the spot would level the playing field a little. –  doub1ejack Mar 17 at 19:36

It's not really clear if you're looking for creative ways to have your friends invest in the game or if you're simply just trying to peak their interest. If you're going for the later, there could potentially be another avenue for playing Netrunner that might be more satisfying for your casual players who are looking to keep costs down and reduce the time spent deckbuilding. It might diverge from what you initially had in mind, but it is still worth considering, even if you just dabble in it to supplement regular play.

You could play online over OCTGN. The instructions to set things up are here.

The pros:

  • It's free
  • If the players are near a computer, it's always accessible.
  • You can play with people besides just your group of friends.
  • All of the released cards are accessible.
  • The 7 core decks are pre-built for you.
  • You can browse and download other decks that people have built from netrunnerdb.com and play them.

The cons:

  • A bit more impersonal
  • Doesn't utilize the physical cards people may have purchased (but the knowledge/experience from playing those cards isn't going anywhere obviously).
  • Doesn't really support your FLGS.

I'd rather play in person using cards, but this option is available.

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