by Terence Jason Dorman
Today's article will likely feel like a follow-up to my article from months ago titled Get Weird!, and it sort of is a spiritual brother to that article. It also isn't an article about the card Research Investment, although I have to admit I may have used that title as a way to lure in some readers.
Instead, I want to briefly explain to you all why I think Spoils players (and card gamers in general) should do their very best to avoid net-decking at all costs.
I could probably write an entire book about the merits and and flaws of net-decking in card gaming culture, but since this is a simple article for a website, I'm going to focus on just one of the merits of avoiding net-decking.
That merit, in my personal opinion, is that avoiding net-decking will make you a better player.
Maximize Your Potential
There is no doubt that showing up to a tournament with the hottest new list may snag you some wins or a tournament victory that may not have come otherwise. I can't argue against that as there are plenty of players who have won events with decks that they will admit were created by someone else.
Does this make those net-deckers bad players? Absolutely not. After all, they had to pilot the deck through the tournament to earn the win. With the exception of some very bad games or poorly designed metas, decks cannot play themselves and need someone behind them to make them work.
But did that player put in his best effort? If you asked me, I would say he didn't. Sure, he won the tournament and may be a Seasonal or National Champion, but I wouldn't say that player played to the best of his ability. If anything, I think he hindered himself.
Practice Makes Perfect
There is a certain kind of knowledge that a player acquires when building and playing his own deck. Sure, a net-decker can read a deck list that comes with strategy tips from his creator, but even that will not provide the kind of knowledge I am referring to.
A perfect example I can think of is friend and fellow Team Hopper member Dan Sotelo and his now-famous Barney deck. Dan is an extremely good player, possibly the best in Spoils (behind me, of course), and the Barney list is terrifyingly strong. This doesn't mean that Dan plays it perfectly every time, though, and even he frequently says “I'm still not sure what the best way to play the deck is.”
Despite playing hundreds of games with the deck, Dan is still looking for more knowledge of how the deck works in particular situations. I'm sure he has tons of data already (the kind that net-deckers don't have access to by just reading a list) and he is STILL looking for more. It is the kind of data that only comes through experience and can NEVER be found by simply sleeving up someone else's list.
Knowledge is Power
I am not trying to knock net-deckers or say that you (if you happen to be one) are a bad player. Instead, what I am trying to say is that building your own decks and playing them, good or bad, provides you with an extra level of knowledge that you will never get by net-decking. This lack of knowledge increases exponentially if you are the kind of net-decker that switches with each new meta-shift.
Personally, I try to be as knowledgeable about the games and decks I am playing as I can. This usually means I'll suffer through strings of losses while trying to tinker a deck to perfection, but those strings of losses provide me with an incredible amount of knowledge that I will put to good use later.
If I were to equate this argument to sports, it would be like comparing a rookie off an extremely hot season (net-deck) to a veteran player (build your own). If age weren't an issue (as it usually is with sports), the veteran would likely be the top pick every time. This is because the veteran has put in the time and effort, and paid his dues, to build his talent and craft his game. A rookie is merely riding a wave of good fortune, one that will eventually fade and require a new rookie to take his place.
Feel Free to Disagree
I am not telling you to stop net-decking. If it works for you and you are happy with the results then kudos to you, keep at it. If you use net-decks to playtest the meta or learn about what other parts of the world are doing, awesome. But if you want to bring out the best of your abilities, to be the best card gamer you possibly can be. I urge you to Invest in the Research required to build your own decks and play them to perfection.
Of course, I could be wrong and way off base with my assessment of net-decking. Discuss!