Old school allowance style Netrunner and the Hyper-Local Meta

Doug Wilson (@doougle) has been asking me to write this up for months now so I figured I’d take a stab at it.

My wife Amy and I totally love Netrunner, enough so that we bought all the cards up through Order and Chaos, and went to a bunch of local meetups. Amy even went to a tournament or two. The problem is we’re incredibly busy people and because of that we never really got deep into the meta, which is where I always really wanted to be. On top of that, the sets have been coming out so fast and furious that by the time the SanSan Cycle hit we’d been totally left in the dust. With our cards literally left in the dust on the shelves we sort of fell off the train.

When I first heard about Netrunner being a Living Card Game I was really excited about the idea of not having to spend tons of money on rare cards to build a solid deck and compete with pro players, but as the game has evolved I’ve realized that what LCGs lack in expense, they make up for in time investment — In Magic you only have to deal with one set a year*, and that gives you plenty of time to learn the cards, vs. Netrunner’s 20 new cards a month, minimum. On top of that, I’ve realized I really miss the feeling of opening packs.

Really, what I’ve come to realize is that I miss being in elementary school, spending all my allowence on a pack or two of magic cards each week, and building decks to compete with my friends. Back then we didn’t have the means to buy all the cards we wanted, and there was a nice spikeyness to play. Inevitably someone would get an incredible card and then be dominant for a few weeks while the rest of us figured out how to deal with it. It was a hyper-local meta, limited just to my group of friends and the cards we had and I fucking loved it.

So, I came up with a way to do that in Netrunner, and that’s basically the only way Amy and I play the game anymore. Here’s how to do it:

  • Buy a core set for each person in your hyper-local meta.
  • Buy at least an entire cycle and a large expansion, the more the better.
  • Shuffle up all of the cards (including the identities!) from your cycle(s) and expansion(s) together.
  • For the first week deal out 20 corp cards and 20 runner cards to each player in your meta.
  • Each following week deal out 10 corp cards and 10 runner cards to each player in your meta.

It’s definitely a different kind of game. The super decks that execute perfect strategies are totally gone, and instead you have to get pretty creative in your play and construction. Single cards can become very powerful and interesting, and building decks to try to deal with whatever your opponents have done in previous weeks is fantastic. On top of that, because identities are being doled out randomly, you never know when you’re about to hit a huge meta-switch.

Best of all, new players can enter right into the game without having to learn a thousand-thousand cards.

Of course, you might also want to play with your non-hyper-local friends, so for that I built this handy website that will deal out random 20 card sets from the non-core cycles — http://stfj.net/misc/thehyperlocalmeta/

I cribbed 99% of the code from here http://stuhlman.net/netrunner_deckgen.html

Just have your friends build decks with a single core set + whatever they pull from the generator, and have them run it as many times as they need to get enough cards to match the number you’ve pulled over the weeks. It’s not perfect, but it works.

So there you go.

Oh and if you ever run out of cards, just pick up all the sets that have come out while you’ve been playing and shuffle them up. Or just re-sort the cards and start over.

Also, you won’t believe how much more fun things get when every corp doesn’t have 3 Jackson Howards in it.

*Apparently this is horrifically not true anymore. Now Magic releases hundreds of cards a year. How terrifying. Thanks for the heads up @wobbles