Variant: DeckBuilding and Solo Play
Solo play really isn’t my thing. While I’ve greatly enjoyed Zulus on the Ramparts (especially on business trips when otherwise I’d be watching the TV in my hotel room), I don’t typically pull out the solo game. And I almost never play a multiplayer game solo even if it has a solo variant. Games should be played in a group and grow from common experience. They should be reflected upon and remember. “Remember when I pulled out that awesome comeback in Hero of Weehawken? No? Oh, that’s right, I played that all by myself.”
But lately, I’ve been getting deep into Netrunner. I’m thinking about different play styles all the time, and I’ve created and torn down numerous decks. As an LCG, I have access to just about all the cards available (the few exceptions being from the core set which had only one or two of some cards). And, I’ve been eagerly anticipating each additional “data pack” full of cards. Each one has helped me to refine my decks and has resulted in swaps of cards.
But, what is this deckbuilding aspect if not solo play? As each new data pack comes out, I thumb through all the cards, dream up ideal scenarios, and spread my cards out on the table. How much ICE do I need? Do I have enough economy cards? What’s the main strategy here? As I think over it, and eventually hem and haw over what to cut to get my deck down to size, it’s all solo play. I do it all alone in preparation for some future confrontation with a real player. In fact, some decks (like my ill-fated Weyland deck) get dissolved before they even get a chance to play a real person.
And, the deckbuilding I do eagerly and enjoy. So why does deckbuilding enthrall while solo play does not? For me, I think it comes down to two things. First, it definitely rekindles some of my Magic: the Gathering nostalgia. I played a lot of Magic and ultimately left because I was sick of constantly buying new cards. That said, I loved the system and the game and have been on the lookout for something that can scratch the same itch. Netrunner is doing that for me and I get to have fun deckbuilding as I used to.
But more importantly, I think deckbuilding is really just facilitated daydreaming. When I deck build, I’m not just looking at cards and counting them up. Instead, I’m trying to imagine what my draw will look like. What do I need to put in to mitigate a bad draw? What happens if my opponent is playing Scorched Earth or Medium? How can I be prepared to counter those? And in so doing, I’m constantly playing out little vignettes of Netrunner in my mind.
I’m not sure if that distinction is the same for most people. What about you? Do you enjoy the deck building aspect of deck building games? And, if so, do you also enjoy solo play games?