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On competition, card games, and Netrunner in particular

I’ve started playing Netrunner again. This time, rather than the CCG that I played with Kurt back in our ancient college days, it’s Android: Netrunner, made by Fantasy Flight Games (who I freakin’ love), and it’s a living card game.  Which in essence means that it’s a lot cheaper, and easier to keep up. As per usual, I’ve jumped in with both feet and an arm.

And that leads me to the first part of this discussion: Competition.

I don’t think of myself as a competitive person. I imagine myself to be some what of a loner, a CRPG player at heart, someone that would rather build spreadsheets full of optimal builds than play *with* people, much less against them.

And yet, when I look at my collection of board games, the list of my most recent played games on Xbox/PC, or my addictions, I find that I play a *lot* of competitive games.  My board game collection currently has a large number of co-op games (typically because those can be played solo as well) like Shadowrun: Crossfire or X-Com or Legendary or Mice & Mystics or Arkham Horror.  But pretty much all the games that *aren’t* co-op games are aggressively competitive games like Nexus Ops or Blood Bowl: Team Manager or Resistance or Coup or Horus Heresey or Eclipse – games where you are not just working to score high but games where you are directly competing against the other players, and, often, have to destroy some of them to win.

And when I looked at my “games played” list there are all the expected games – Wasteland 2, Shadowrun Returns, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Witcher III (Okay, not yet, but I’m hoping soon), Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Neverwinter, etc.  CRPGs, deep story, huge characters, etc and MMOs. But then I look at the rest of the games.  League of Legends. Smite. Infinite Crisis. Battlefield. Titanfall. Call of Duty whatever. Again, games where you are directly fighting against other players (and even when bots are an option, I almost never choose that mode). Competitive. Games with winners and losers and KDA and the like.  Hell, even when I play Neverwinter, 95% of the time I’m jumping in to PvP.  So despite what I feel about myself, I spend a *lot* of time trying to murder other people.

Which leads me around to Netrunner. Almost all card games are directly competitive – you’re trying to kill the other player, take all their stuff, etc. And Netrunner is no exception. It’s a game where you’re either trying to shutdown an evil corporation or steal all their research (or just straight up murder the other player).  It can’t be played without an opponent (which means people, which I typically don’t like). And I’m really hoping to be able to make it to a Regional tournament, to try to play (and lose) Netrunner against massive badasses (a lot of the best players in the US are in the Midwest for some reason).  And I’m bloody addicted. I’m part of 3 different forums dedicated to Netrunner. I’m in 2 Facebook Netrunner groups. I listen to 4 different Netrunner podcasts.  I have my decks in my work laptop bag, just in case someone wants to play Netrunner over lunch, or at work, or whatever. I’m deep in it. And to try to get better, I’m mostly trying to learn how to be a competitor – how to think like my opponents, how to read them, how to play the meta.  Which feels really odd….

And, gods willing, it’s going to drive me to write articles about my thoughts on how to win games….

 

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