About a month ago, I found that my current Netrunner decks were not only doing well when playing against friends, but doing well in a way where I felt surprisingly in control, like I had good options to guide the game in different situations. Still, I was always playing the same people (the same person, to be honest), largely against the same decks, so I didn’t really know how the decks were doing, how I was doing.

I probably should have given the decks a good try on OCTGN, but I just have not stayed in the habit of playing there: I’m not finding the time, and I’m always worried that something is going to go wrong with my networking setup. (Or more likely with Comcast’s.) So I decided to look for local tournaments instead; a local store called Game Kastle has a tournament once a month, it turned out, so I figured I’d give them a try.

Today was tournament day; I went, it was a lot of fun! It went five rounds, with me playing Corp once and Runner once in each round. I split three of them, lost both games in one of them, and won both games in one of them. In the round where I lost both, I was clearly the worse player; in the round where I won both, I was clearly the better player; and for the other three, I felt like I was the worse player but surviving pressure in one of them, and a little more in control against the other two. Which all added up to: I certainly felt like I belonged there, but I also have a lot to learn about the game.

Mechanics wise: it definitely felt a little more pressured than my normal games, but not horribly so? I didn’t go to time in any of my games, and I can’t think offhand of situations where I played the wrong move because of time pressure. I wouldn’t want to play against a clock all of the time, but having to spend an afternoon focusing more than normal was useful practice.

And it helped that people were super nice. (I’ve heard this a lot about Netrunner tournaments.) Basically, we all seemed to be responding to time pressure by helping each other out: people reminded me when I forgot to add virus counters to my Parasite, and I’d remind people to add Datasucker tokens after runs. Also, the tournament organizers were nice and generous, and even though I was in the middle of the pack, I did get an alternate art Aesop’s Pawnshop.

So: good choice! I’ll tentatively plan to go every month; if something else is happening that weekend, no big deal, but it will be there as a default. And now that I’ve tested this deck, try to work on more decks; I’ve bought yet another core set and another deck box so I can keep this deck assembled while trying out more experimental decks. And I definitely need to experiment more: I feel like I have a decent idea about traditional play based on what’s in the core set (and, incidentally, I find it heartening just how playable core set cards continue to be), but I need to get a more visceral feel for other possibilities.

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