I’ve been playing Android: Netrunner at work over lunch maybe a couple of times a week for over a year now; three of us have been fairly devoted to the game, there’s one other person who plays occasionally, and one person has recently joined the cult as well. I like the game a lot: there’s so much to think about, and, as Nels said on his podcast, the game is really interesting and fun even if you lose, which is always a good sign. (And lose I do fairly frequently!)
In fact, even though I’ve been playing the game for over a year, I’m more interested in it now than I’ve ever been; so not only have I been listening to Nels’s Terminal7 podcast, I’m also listening to the Agenda7 podcast, and I went through all of the articles in the Stimhack blog. (Most of which were fairly plain, but a couple were eye opening.) There’s so much to explore in the game, and every month brings a new set of cards that open up new possibilities.
Unfortunately, I don’t get to actually explore those possibilities: many months I don’t build a new deck, either because I don’t find the time to do that (my cards are at work, and I’d rather spend lunches playing than building!) or because I don’t feel I’ve explored the possibility of whatever deck I’ve been playing. So I barely get to try out new cards, and, even worse, I don’t get to go back and try new approaches to cards that have been around for a while.
I only have so much time, and I’m very deliberate of how I spend it, so for a while I was happy enough with the status quo. Especially give that, over the last year, I’ve felt like I don’t have enough time as-is to play games: looking back, I’ve actually played a decent number of games over the last year, but they lean heavily towards the short/quirky, and Rocksmith is going to take a sizeable chunk of my playing time for the indefinite future. Also, the only way to play Netrunner online is through Octgn; that requires Windows (though I should at least give it a try on Wine, I suppose), I hadn’t even had Windows installed anywhere for a while, and when I did have it installed, it was on the upstairs computer, which I find isolating.
Still: Netrunner. I cannot honestly say that I don’t think I should spend a fair amount of my game time playing it: it’s an amazing game, and a rewarding one. (And it’s wonderful watching it spread: Nels is probably the person whom I follow on Twitter who talks about it the most, but every month it seems like somebody else starts playing. I was super amused by the fact that Jorge not only couldn’t resist mentioning it on his Games of the Year podcast, he also mentioned it on his Not Quite Games of the Year podcast, even though both were ostensibly about video games that were released in 2013, not card games that were released in 2012!) So I should play it more; if that means that I have even less time to play “regular” video games, then so be it. And, honestly, I think I can play Netrunner online one evening a week and still have time for blogging, one TV show, and one other non-Rocksmith game.
So: I’ve reinstalled a Windows virtual machine on the upstairs computer; and while I was worried that the downstairs laptop might not be up for running a VM (it’s old, has a slow/dodgy hard drive, and literally held together by duct tape right now), I’m close enough to my 3-year anniversary at work that I can get a new laptop there and bring my previous work laptop home, which I can either run VirtualBox on or see if Octgn works on Wine.
Nels was kind enough to run me through the Octgn interface last week, so I’m all set on that front. (If anybody reading this wants me to do a teaching game on Octgn, I’d be happy to pay that learning forward.) And I built a couple of new decks, and twice over the last week I’ve spent a couple of hours playing against random people.
And I had a great time doing that: a very friendly community. But also, an experience that confirmed my decision in other ways. Because building those decks was like pulling teeth: I wanted to include everything! Which you can’t do, and the only reason why I felt tense about that was because I’m not used to constantly building decks; if I were building a new deck every two weeks, I’d be happy to experiment more.
Sure enough, my new decks sucked (especially the corp one, I still haven’t won with it); but getting a chance to play them made the tradeoffs so much more concrete. I don’t have quite enough economy in the deck, and I was wishy-washy over whether I wanted to explore bad publicity or whether I wanted to focus on tagging and meat damage. I’ve already tweaked it a bit to add more economy; I’ll probably tweak it further with an eye towards whether or not adding more tagging is possible, and then after another week or two, I’ll move on to build another one. And that sort of systems feel is exactly what I wanted to get out of this.
2014 is going to be a good year.
This post has not been revised since publication.