Click track confusion

Click track confusion

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Writer_smallerClick track confusion

Those of you that play Netrunner are probably shaking your heads right now, or nodding in sympathy with Aileen. But, honest to God, this gets me every time we play. So you can just imagine how well I handle the actual game itself. I do think I kind of love it though. I think.

Netrunner looks similar enough to an ordinary, garden variety collectible card game. You draw cards every turn, and then play those cards based on the resources you have. You grow stronger each turn as you play cards. This continues until you defeat your opponent. But a closer look shows that while Netrunner appears to be similar, this is merely familiar skin stretched over the exoskeleton of something wholly new, different, and not a little intimidating. It’s a game of careful resource management, planning and strategy – not just in the deckbuilding element, but in the gameplay itself. It’s a game of cat and mouse where the mouse is just as likely to turn on the cat. The gameplay is quite mechanical and rewards cautious thinking. But equally, it relies heavily on bluffing and misdirection. I didn’t know what to make of it when I started, and to a certain extent, I still don’t. The game is utterly unintuitive. It doesn’t ‘click’ halfway through your first game. Not in the least. The elements that make it up don’t necessarily interlock in the manner in which you would expect. Both sides have several paths to victory, and I never have any idea which path to follow. And that’s after more than 10 games.

Of course, that is not to say the game is not well designed. It’s brilliant. It is a compelling and evolving deck builder that is built with scaffolding raised by none other than Richard Garfield, the Father and Founder of Collectible Card Games. And it’s the highest ranked card game on Board Game Geek. It rests just one spot outside the top ten, in fact. Despite its odd form and a learning curve that would make a statistician cry, it gets its hooks into you very quickly. It is puzzling and tense, gripping and dramatic. I am certain its design is brilliant, I just couldn’t explain how.

We keep dipping in and out of it, but never stay long enough to immerse ourselves in it. Always too many other games to play. Also X-Wing. Still so much X-Wing. X-Wing is, in fact, looking to be the game I have played the most of in a long, long time. And despite this eating up time I would love to spend on Netrunner and countless other games, I can’t say I actually mind. Not at all.

24 Comments on Click track confusion
  • Kaminiwa

    I always found the click tracker confusing, despite loving the game and playing it 20+ times. To me, the “obvious” way to do it is to use the marker to represent actions remaining (starts on 3, then 2, 1, removed after final action). My opponent used it the exact opposite way (# of actions taken, so starting off the tracker and ending on 3). *shakes head* I play online now 🙂

    • It’s not just me! I feel so validated right now 🙂 Thanks for joining the conversation and becoming my new bestie 🙂

  • Ben Thorp

    I love the theme of Netrunner, but luckily I managed to resist long enough to realise how much money it was likely to cost, and the limitations of 2-player games in my particular situation. Although it’s been interesting reading/watching the exploits of Quinns from Shut Up & Sit Down at tournaments.

    • SUSD was totally a key factor in us buying into Netrunner. Quinns in particular, obviously. His excitement can be infectious. SUSD was actually a big factor in getting us into games properly, really. Such a fun attitude towards something that so many sites treat so dryly.
      Board games are meant to be FUN!

  • Daniel Newman

    Netrunner intrigued me but I quickly realized that the only people I could play with had been playing a very long time and were very good. It’s a hard thing to get into late.

    • I can understand that. So far myself and Aileen have only ever played each other, and have had a lot of fun playing that way. Kind of like X-Wing. If we played on a serious level we would get blasted like Womp Rats on Tattoine, but we just play amongst a small group of friends we have gotten into the hobby, and enjoy it much more that way. Hopefully Netrunner will continue that trend, if we can find some similar-minded people.
      But you are definitely right, sometimes it can be tough to get into something when you are behind the curve.

  • wr00t

    I always admired Netrunner when watching reviews of it, for its theme, for its asymmetric play, mechanisms. I even don’t mind them giving various parts and phases of the game cyberpunkish names (sounds cool). And i’m sure i will never play it 😀

    • It is a brilliant theme, although when I try and tell friends that it’s a game that does hacking right, they just shake their hands, no doubt with visions of ‘Hackers’ and every other film that has tried and failed to represent hacking on the screen.

      • wr00t

        Actually i liked “Hackers” although i understand mostly it wasn’t realistic, but it was an entertaining movie 🙂

  • raberjr

    so funny. i thought i understood the click tracker…NOW I DON’T! LOL! I love netrunner for sure but it is quite the game to learn and play it well. thanks for another great comic. you guys are ‘best of show’ in comics

    • Thank you so much! And thanks for commenting. We love the converstion in our comments every week.
      While I can say we have learned to play Netrunner, ‘play it well’ is, I think, a very long way away for us.

      • raberjr

        yep, it is a ‘life game’ for sure. and there are only so many games that you can devote that much time to. i played for the 2 years or so and then finally said, ‘enough’. it is my favorite game though and i think the mechanics and the theme seem to work perfectly together. so tense, so thematic. good stuff. but also, it’s very involved (just look at the bgg message boards on rules!!)

        • Yeah, we need to FAQ rules quite a bit. We have most of it down by now, but it’s the timing issues during a run that catch us. So many different activations and types oh boy it’s a lot to get your head around.

  • Matthew Sigal

    Great comic 🙂 As an aside, you don’t actually *have* to use the click tracker – especially if you find it unhelpful. In tournament play, clicks are usually just vocalized (“Click 1: run R&D, click 2: run HQ, …”) if you can keep track of them that way. However, preferably, you have some system that does ‘click’ for you, such as a set of tokens with different coloured front and backs. Then, as you are playing, you can say “Click 1: run R&D” (flip the first token over). Some players even find it useful to actually place the token where they have done something (literally putting the first click token in front of R&D, for example, or by their credit pool if they just took credits). Monitoring clicks is really important (a corp taking 4 clicks by accident is a massive gain), so finding a system that works for you is worthwhile 🙂

    • I see such an incredible variety of custom tokens and trackers and mats online for Netrunner, it’s like a whole sub-industry. You’re right, I should experiment with something different, something I can manage to get my head around. I like the idea of using tokens and literally placing them where you are taking the actions. That’s a nice visual cue that I think would help.

  • Dexter Ó Thuithear

    A few years back, I was resisting getting involved in X-wing (that clearly failed). At the time, Netrunner was just launching. I started looking into that too, and realised I’d end up delving into one or the other. At the same time, a friend of mine was having similar thoughts. Long story short, B-wings and Defenders were announced to be in the next wave, and as an uber fan of the old PC games, I broke and started into X-wing. At pretty much the exact same time, my buddy went the Netrunner route.
    I think we both tried to convince the other to play our chosen poison (come to the dark side, so to speak), but each of them takes so much time to both play and really understand (they both have so many options), I think you can really only play one “seriously”. They’re both so deep, and ever-shifting, it’s hard to keep up with both without suffering in some way (probably your sanity).
    I’d like to dabble in Netrunner, but X-wing has become my jam. I’m heading to a tournament this weekend in Kilkenny for it. I’ve seen a lot of these things either clash with – or coincide with – Netrunner events, so I’ve resolved to stick with my poison. Though it’s fantastic to have the choice of games with such depth. FFG are kind of on fire lately.

    Incidentally, I’ve been resisting Armada in the same way lately, and now my walls are beginning to break down…

    • I presume that’s Black Kat Games? Not our part of the country, but it seems they run a great shop. Good luck in the tournament!
      I was very close to signing up to a tournament a week or two ago, but resisted. I try my best to avoid competitive play. I’m sure I’ll crack with X-Wing eventually, but happy to avoid it for as long as I can. I know what you mean about having to chose a game, though. Playing so much X-Wing is really eating into time for other games for us. Hard to find a balance.

      • Dexter Ó Thuithear

        From what I’ve seen, competitive X-wing is a lot less intense than other games. Not that there’s less going on, but the atmosphere just tends to be a lot more about playing the game, and potentially getting a nifty prize, than having a heart attack over card draws in Netrunner, or facing that one mono blue player in Magic.
        I stayed away from competitive for a long time, too, until I found myself in an X-wing tournament by accident. I thought it was a casual day. Not until I was handed a card as a prize did I realise. Since then, I’ve been going to my local ones in Limerick. Always plenty of banter still happening.
        It’s also a good way of getting new cards. FFG are including 30 copies of an alt-art version of the ridiculously useful C-3PO card in the prize packs for each store soon. The only other place it’s available is in the rather expensive Corvette epic ship. It could be a good reason to break your duck with events!

        • Get behind me, Serpent! Tempter!
          Although Limerick is closer than Kilkenny…

          • Dexter Ó Thuithear

            Come to the dark side. We have cookies. And alternate art cards.

            (Disclaimer: cookies not a guarantee)

          • The cake is a lie!

          • Dexter Ó Thuithear

            But… this was a triumph.

  • The click tracker has never actually helped me track clicks. I’m as likely to forget to move the tracker token as I am to forget how many clicks I’ve had. I’ve found verbalising what I’m doing, “click 1, install a piece of ice”, is the only way I can keep on top of it. Before that, lots of early games where me and my opponent would be questioning what click we were on and whether we’d moved the click tracker enough!

    • So happy this comic has made me realise I’m not alone in this. Someone previously suggested placing tokens next to the action you do, which I think I will try. As in -first click, play a piece of ice, and place the counter next to the ice. I think that will work for me.