Cache Refresh: What do players say about it?
John Meunier (aka FightingWalloon)
Earlier this summer, 24 players from across 7 time zones joined an online Netrunner tournament using the Cache Refresh deck building rules. In the end, 22 players completed all six-rounds of a Swiss-style tournament, and a final four competed for top honors. At the end of the tournament, I asked players for some feedback about the tournament and the Cache Refresh deck building restrictions. This article shares some of those responses for others who are curious about Cache Refresh.
Cache Refresh is an officially supported alternative tournament format. During Regionals season, official Cache Refresh events were run during the top cut of several two-day Regionals. The format is designed to be played under those circumstances and has rules that make it possible to play it side-by-side with a traditional top cut. My online tournament, however, ignored those rules. We played Swiss rounds exactly like a traditional tournament with each side playing both Corp and Runner. Our top cut was a best-of-three single elimination. We ignored the official Cache Refresh tournament structure because we were not limited by time. The official rules envision a Cache Refresh tournament running side-by-side with the top cut of a regular tournament, in which players only play one side (either Corp or Runner) rather than playing both as in the Swiss rounds. Since our tournament did not have to fit into the time constraints of a parallel top-cut playoff, we had each player play both sides during each round. This also avoided the bidding system in the official Cache Refresh rules, which would be very hard to implement online.
While the online event ignored the tournament structure rules for Cache Refresh, it embraced the format’s deck building restrictions. In Cache Refresh, each player can build each of their two decks from the following card pool.
1 Core Set
1 Terminal Directive
1 Big Box (may pick a different Big Box for Runner and Corp)
All released datapacks from the current cycle and the cycle immediate prior to it.
For this tournament, players had access to all of Flashpoint and a growing list of Red Sands cards as the tournament progressed. One other feature that made this event different from standard in-person Cache Refresh tournaments was that players could change their decks from week to week, but they could not change their Corp or Runner ID and could not change the Big Box they had selected at the start.
You can see the final results of the tournament and links to several of the deck lists at the Always Be Running listing for the event.
All-in-all, the feedback from the tournament was quite positive and several players from that event signed up for a second version of the tournament starting on July 31. Sign up for the new tournament is open until July 30 at 5 p.m. EDT.
Based on feedback from players in the event, I’d say two things were most appealing about this online Cache Refresh tournament: The limited and constantly changing card pool and the diversity of the meta.
Players appeared to enjoy the challenge of deck building in a limited card pool. One player wrote,”I have a lot more fun playing a tournament when the cardpool is restricted, because it forces people to play other decks than ultra competitive ones. This means I get crushed less and the games are actually close, so I have more fun.”
Another player shared a similar sentiment: “The cache refresh format is great, the relative lack of familiarity and frequently changing card pool makes it harder for people to netdeck the latest and greatest. That makes the format more fun for people who actually want to build their own decks.”
Several players wrote about the way the limited card pool created for them interesting challenges when it came to building their own decks. Here is one example: “You’re always building an idea that’s 75% complete but the last 25% is either in older cycles or the wrong big box.”
Another thing players seemed to enjoy is the lack of degenerate strategies they encountered while playing. Here is what one player wrote: “Give it a try! I made decks that I thought’d be fun and ended up doing very well. Different meta, almost all Fair Netrunner going on, definitely would recommend.”
This is not to say that some strong strategies did not emerge. SYNC kill was very strong throughout the event, which was also reflected in some of the comments from players are the event.
Some were fairly thorough in their analysis: “Yellow kill seems really good. It’s strong in standard play as well, but I think the lack of plascrete (which is going away soon, anyway) makes it tough. The best kill prevention in CR is in the form of resources (aaron, specifically), which are not terribly robust against SYNC and/or 24/7 breaking news.”
But others remarked that they found the meta fairly wide open and quite enjoyed that they had no idea what to expect when they actually started a game. Or as one player put it: “Prepare for anything.”
There is a perception in some quarters that Cache Refresh heavily favors Runners. That feeling was shared by some players in this tournament, but a few of the players in this event wrote that they found their Runner and Corp decks performing equally well and did not feel one side was overly favored. As event organizer, I did notice that we had many Corp splits over the six rounds. I did not keep careful stats on Corp vs. Runner wins, but if Runner was favored, I do not think it was by much.
As a final question, I asked the players for any words they wanted to share with the community about Cache Refresh as a deck building format. Here are a few of their responses.
“I hope these alternative formats become a regular thing people actually play, because it’s easier for casual people like me with no interest in high-level tournament play to participate in them with self-made decks, and not just get crushed all the time.”
“We should play this A LOT more.”
“I can’t celeb gift to show it to you, but there’s a Snare! in my hand.”
“Interesting format that needs some more meat damage protection.”
“The one core limit is actually really cool. It’s how Netrunner should be played (even if you own 3 cores).”
“Cache Refresh was a great idea. It’s a strong format that rewards players for buying the newest packs first. I hope there’s consistent support for it going forward.”
As the organizer of the tournament, I was very pleased with how the event went and happy to see how eager players were to give it a go again. I close this short article with a word of encouragement to others thinking about organizing events either online or in person. Do it.
When the second Cache Refresh tournament begins on July 31, it will be the fifth online event I have run since April. Being able to organize events has increased my enjoyment of the game and also helped me feel like an active contributor to the health of the community. I live in a place where I have to drive more than an hour to find a face-to-face opponent, and I still am not a very good player, but I feel like I’m doing my small part to create spaces in the game where people can have fun and explore new areas. You can do that, too.
Be the meta you want to see.