Breaking News (sob) as Cry of Frustration Holdings Consolidated acquire ludicrous amount of Bad Publicity (not the podcast, sadly, can’t afford them). After asserting, on every online forum far and wide, from Reddit to Twitter and far beyond, in postings far too embarrassing to link to, that the talk of the imminent announcement of a revised Core Set for Netrunner were nothing but rumours concocted by paranoid nuts and disseminated by irresponsible trolls who were discouraging beginners from buying into the game, and that no such product exists, staking every last shred of our publication’s online reputation on there being no such thing as Core 2.0, our institution was forced to eat crow when, in a surprise turn of events, Core 2.0 was suddenly announced…
This is basically an apology to all the people I’ve dismissed and offended who turned out to be right. Moreover, an even bigger mea culpa is due to every beginner who heard me denounce Core 2.0 online and bought 3 x Core 1.0 (OrigiCore? Ur-Runner? Core Prime?) because of it. I can’t undo the damage done to your wallets, and I hope it hasn’t put you off the game.
Although His Holiness Spags I. has issued a Papal Memedulgence pardoning all members of my heretical sect, I still feel the need to atone for my mistakes.
But, for everyone feeling burned, it might help you to know that my own devious plans have also gone awry due to this surprise announcement. I’ve been lazily writing a Buying Guide, since rotation has made most of the good ones obsolete, and, of course, the new Core Set has made every single one of its 3,000+ words completely obsolete. As a form of penance, I hereby present an exclusive excerpt from this great unpublished opus, which I have instructed my literary executors to lock in a lead box, wrap it with silver chains, and commit it to the ocean’s deepest deeps, where it shall lie until the end of time alongside all the bodies Ibrahim Salem dumped.
Even worse than the wasted writing is the fact that Bad Publicity (now ACTUALLY the podcast) stole the pun I planned for the title of this article! Well, stole only in the sense I thought of it before their video went live, although they might have thought of it even earlier than me! I’m not implying that they’re actually snooping on my R&D. BRB, I need to check under my desk. Oh wait, I forgot, that’s rotating. But I’m not changing my title. I’m sorry, Bad Publicity. I’ve lost too much this week. FAR, FAR TOO MUCH!
Which brings me to my final point, which is a couple of thoughts about the changes themselves. In the past week, there’ve been plenty of good posts analysing the effect rotation and the new core will have on the metagame. I just want to say something about how this changes the feel of the game.
Netrunner has always felt special because the cards in the Core were truly CORE to each faction’s feel and strategy. They were defining and flavourful, and you expected to see certain Core cards in every deck of certain factions (just look at the stats for Siphon, for instance). The fact that core set cards made a substantial part of so many decks made it feel like the game has not strayed too far from its origins. It made it feasible to argue that power creep was not a huge problem. And, even though I buy every pack, it created the impression that Netrunner was not as much of a money-grab as other card games, since you could build a tournament winning deck from a core set and a handful of expansions rather than always needing the latest hotness.
Now that feeling is gone. FFG have heavily implied that cards hit by rotation (including, I assume, some of the iconic cards of Core Prime that are not present in Core Evolved) will have replacements printed for them in the upcoming cycle, but these strategies are no longer represented in the Core Set itself, and beginners are not exposed to some of the most fun and exciting aspects of each faction. Sure, maybe a replacement for Account Siphon that costs 5 influence and is therefore harder to import into tag-me anarch decks with their superior recursion would be a good idea (although arguably the removal of Déjà Vu has addressed this), but does it really feel like you’re playing Criminal in a core set without that most quintessential of criminal cards? And maybe a version of Parasite that removes itself from the game when it trashes a piece of ICE would be less damaging to the viability of glacier archetypes than the original (although, again, Déjà Vu is gone), but destroying ICE was intrinsic to the feel of playing Anarch, and now you won’t experience it when playing Core-only! Same with NBN and their fast advance tools (and it rankles even more that both Jinteki and HB are keeping theirs, when, thematically, NBN had always been the fast advance faction).
Not to mention the card which I don’t actually believe they’ll be printing a replacement for, Breaking News, which I fear has fallen victim to the universal loathing directed at 24/7 for being a reliably tag-enabler with little counterplay. Breaking News itself has never been a problem before 24/7 was printed, and, as SimonMoon has argued, it was actually a healthy deterrent to linear runner strategies by offering the corp a way to proactively threaten the runner and force them to run. It is puzzling that they would remove Breaking News instead of restricting 24/7, particularly when Breaking News on its own was neutered by Aaron. It may be they’ll print something similar, but no beginner will ever again bite their lip in consternation when the corp installs and advances a card behind a Tollbooth, and the runner is forced to wonder, Can I let them have this, or are they holding double Scorch already?
These experiences were defining to the feel of the game. Some of us originally fell in love with this game by seeing these cards in action. They were iconic, flavourful, and impactful, and I feel that it’s a shame that beginners starting out with Core Evolved won’t have them.
Yes, similar cards to these (except, probably, Breaking News and Astroscript Pilot Program) will almost certainly be printed. But this changes Netrunner fundamentally, from a card game where the Core Set was genuinely CORE, to one where you need the latest packs to play strategies intrinsic to each faction. And while Core Evolved is a more balanced box, and has excised a lot of the most useless original cards for staples from Spin and Genesis that would have rotated, I don’t feel it’s as well placed as Core Prime to get beginners hooked to this game like the original could, with so many of the most flavourful cards and most exciting strategies removed from it. Do you expect a beginner to buy the upcoming Kitara Cycle to get a true feel for the game? Without the hooks of those missing cards, it may be that fewer of them will choose to do so.
For us, who are already invested, the game will be improved by the new Core set, especially when the cards that we are missing from it are replaced by new cards in Kitara. But I feel that the beginner, Core-only experience is now somewhat diminished, as some of the most exciting parts of the original Core set are gone.
Finally, I offer these words as consolation to those who recently bought Core Sets: your binders may be full of cards that you soon can’t play at tournaments, but you can still play them with friends around the kitchen table, and you will have a lot more fun with them than with the efficient but less flavourful cards replacing them in Core Evolved. (And yes, I’m sticking with that term, and will keep repeating it until others start to use it!)
Now, off to revise that buying guide…