I Like to play bad runners and bad corps, I like to play non-meta because it makes me feel like Rocky Balboa when I win. That makes me a hipster, and it has made it difficult for me to get good at netrunner.
The fruits of my labors were on NetrunnerDB and people loved my strange engines. I had success on OCTGN and in person. However, the win ratio was not good, not when you considered how many games I had played. It was puzzling to me and I dismissed it as net decking and people being under-creative and over-competitive.
About two months ago after finishing 29th out of 120 at regionals I realized what was holding me back. It wasn’t that I played strange decks or that other people played broken decks, it was that a tier one deck had never been made using my cards. So regardless of what deck was sitting in front of me, I couldn’t make the right choices, I couldn’t win.
In order to play my strange decks and have them work I needed to understand the established engines and learn why they worked. Jumping from learning how to add and then attempting calculus instead of learning my times tables in between. Reading your opponents or identifying scoring windows becomes impossible when you don’t know how people think when they play Andromeda or NBN.
I know what you are thinking, Code, this is all obvious, you should play the good decks if you wanna get good at netrunner. However, that’s not the only lesson here. A few weeks after playing NBN FA and Andromeda, I started to win, a lot, I started to build my strange decks again and they won, most of the time.
It was the engines that were missing, the skeletons of good decks made it possible for me to play competitively and understand what my opponents were thinking. Understanding the core mechanics of netrunner is easiest when you look at tier one decks which tend to focus on brutal economic efficiency.
If you never learn how to cook properly you can’t effectively improvise a recipe and while self taught people may become successful, fundamentals in any field are important to reach the highest levels. Netrunner is no exception.