“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
Is the unexamined Netrunner game not worth playing?
I’m not sure I’m willing to go that far with it but taking the time to look back on a game or a tournament experience can be immensely valuable if we are going to win a tournament.
One of my readers, @NerdimusPrime, had a store championship in Michigan last weekend. As he started tweeting about it, I thought I would “interview” him afterwards to see how he did and what he learned. I’ve taken the liberty to italicize the sections where he says something we all ought to pay attention to. I’ll throw in a bit of commentary below.
If you want to read his full tournament report, he posted it on his blog.
Tell us a little about your history with the game and where you play. What was the tournament you played in last weekend?
At the risk of dating myself, I played the original Netrunner briefly in the ‘90s. I really liked it, but all of my friends were more interested in Magic: the Gathering at the time, so I forgot about it. A little over a year ago, I ran across some article in my newsfeed that brought A:NR to my attention. Nostalgia prompted me to pick up a core set, and I was instantly hooked. After a month or so of playing with a couple of friends, I found the Metro Detroit Netrunners group on Facebook, and went to their Monday casual night at Get Your Game On in Ann Arbor. They’re a great bunch of guys who have been endlessly patient, calm, and eager to teach. They’re also very good tournament players, and I’ve learned a lot from them. This past weekend I played in my first store championship, at Eternal Games in Warren, MI. Before that, I’d only played in some GNKs and a couple of Pubrunner events.
I received the following tweet from you after your first round.
@PdxBenjen Got swept in my first round. I’m already fighting the tilt. Any suggestions for resetting?
— Nerdimus (@NerdimusPrime) January 30, 2016
What did you do to try and recover from your tilt?
My first round was against a player from my meta, who I’d played against in a GNK in September. In that matchup, we took turns flatlining each other in less than ten minutes. This time, however, he swept me with Noise and pre-MWL Foodcoats. The tilt started because it was clear that he had improved immensely since then, and I hadn’t. He went on to make the top 8. After that round, he and a couple of his friends were talking about how, as college students, they spent a lot of time sitting around testing decks against each other. Hearing that helped take some pressure off myself, because of course they’re going to get better with that much practice, and that kind of situation just isn’t possible for me. By then I’d also gotten past my “first tournament nerves”.
Did you make any conscious changes to your mindset or gameplay?
There were two things I tried to force myself to keep in mind:
- “I’m here because I love this game, and I get to play with new people and decks.” I have a tendency to take losses too personally, as if they’re proof that I’m just stupid or incompetent in general. That kind of thinking is extremely toxic, and I had to shut that crap down immediately in favor of something positive rather than negative, or I was going to have a miserable time.
- “Every game is the first game.” I tried, with varying degrees of success, to pretend that each game was the first game of the day, because I couldn’t be tilted by a previous loss if that loss never happened. It could also (in theory) help keep me from getting sloppy or overconfident if I was riding the high of a previous win. That part was a lot harder.
How did it affect the rest of the tournament?
Well, I didn’t get swept again. LOL I was able to relax and keep my expectations reasonable, instead of trying to prove something to myself. My next four rounds were split, with two 1-1s, one timed win, and one timed draw. I finished 26th of 34, meeting my goal of “don’t finish dead last”. I had a couple of great last-minute wins, made some stupid mistakes, and, most importantly, had a lot of fun.
As you reflect on your tournament experience, what are a few lessons you learned?
The importance of practice. I didn’t practice nearly enough because I’ve shied away from http://Jinteki.net (which is going to change), and one or two casual nights per week is not nearly enough to get tournament-ready. Play strong decks, either your own or net decks, but make sure you also *enjoy* playing them. I couldn’t decide on a post-MWL runner deck that interested me, so on a whim I went with MaxX Keyhole. It’s a very strong deck in the right hands, but mine are not the right hands. I hated it. I even pulled off two fairly epic last-minute wins with it, and I still hated it.
I’d add a couple more minor things to the lessons learned answer: print or fill out your deck list ahead of time, so you’re not doing it right before the event starts. Bring a couple of pens to fill out your results slips and/or deck list (if you didn’t do it ahead of time), and to share, because there are never enough to go around.
What are you going to try next to improve your game?
Practice. A lot. Memorize every card in my decks to the point where I can name them all from memory, their costs, and exactly what they do. Pick a new runner deck. Goodbye MaxX, hello Jesminder? Maybe? LOL
Thank you, Nerdimus for sharing your experience. I have a feeling a whole lot of us out there can relate.
Each of these sentences can and should be turned into an entire post, and I may do that at some point. In the meantime, let’s just marinate on these saucy nuggets of wisdom.
- The tilt started because it was clear that he had improved immensely since then, and I hadn’t. Comparing ourselves to others. While we can certainly aspire to play or Deck-build as well as our Netrunner heroes, we can’t beat ourselves up over the fact that we aren’t them. Each of us has our own journey to take at our own pace.
- I have a tendency to take losses too personally, as if they’re proof that I’m just stupid or incompetent in general. That’s a pretty vulnerable thing to share. At best, this feeling can be turned into acknowledgment that you have some habits that need changing. But often for us gamers, losing becomes an indicator that we just suck at life. That’s a lie from the pit. Be gone, Satan!
- I didn’t practice nearly enough. Not much more to say about this. The best players practice against the best players with the best decks. We have to start doing that as much as we can if we want to win.
Well, that’s all for this week. Again, big thanks to Nerdimus for letting me pick his brain. I hope it was as helpful for you as it was for me.
Stay tuned for next week where I talk about fighting for the win when all hope seems lost.