As part of my quest to explore many different areas on the fun spectrum, yesterday I attended my first game tournament. I’ll be reviewing the day shortly, but before that I’m gonna talk about some of what led me there.
Long time readers may remember that I attributed my drop-off in output in summer 2015 (yes, yes, one of many) to discovering the game Netrunner. I bought it as an ‘appropriate’ present for my friend who works in cyber security. I tried to learn the rules in advance of delivery so that I could be the teacher as well as gifter. But whilst I was getting very confused by both the manual and video explanations I stumbled across jinteki.net, still in its early days, an online simulator of the game. There I learned the rules and got quite obsessed with playing for a while. Unfortunately my friend wasn’t bitten by the Burke Bug, so as rugby season started again I largely forgot about it.
Fast forward to this (so-called) summer, and when faced with all the free time that not being in rugby season presents, my mind wandered back to New Angeles. I revisited jinteki (to find it a lovely, automated, ever-improving site now) and fell back in love with the game. But as a proponent of having fun in real life rather than in front of a screen I decided to take the plunge and buy a set of cards to allow for encounters in meat space.
I found the local Facebook group and headed to a Wednesday night meet up. There were three other people there (three playing Netrunner; others playing Magic and Game of Thrones) so we played musical chairs for six games in total. They were very welcoming and gave me pointers on how to do things when really playing (no computer to count for you), and even let me win a game (just one mind).
Surprisingly when you first hear it, but not at all when you think about it just like anything else competitive, Netrunner (and many games like it) has seasons. At the start of the year there are ‘GNKs’, very loosely defined tournaments, aimed to get people back playing after Christmas. In spring it moves into Store Championships, hosted at many game stores across the country, and effectively determining ‘best in town’. In early summer it cranks up to Regional Championships, before Nationals in late summer and Worlds in autumn. I’d inadvertently stumbled in the week before the local Regional (Stockport), while people were looking to fine tune their decks, but they didn’t mind. While the idea of playing in a tournament of any nature, never mind a Regional, seemed ridiculous to me, they suggested it would be a good experience and at least be chance to get more games under my best. Alas I already had plans for that weekend, but discovered that the Huddersfield event was taking place a couple of weeks hence.
I tentatively put a note in my calendar and went back to the real world. I got chance to play a couple more times in the weeks that followed and even won a couple of games. I had no delusions of grandeur, but felt comfortable that I wouldn’t completely embarrass myself with the serious players, so changed that pencil to ink on my schedule, and made plans to get to Huddersfield early on a Saturday morning. Operation (or should I say Event) Exploratory Romp was a go!