It's not so much a question of trying to avoid deck-building because it's hard. I have been playing CCG's for nearly 20 years, and are quite used to building decks. The things I'm trying to avoid are:
1. The decks being MY decks. I don't mind playing with a deck I designed myself. But my opponents (my wife and friends) are not going to play with decks they build themselves. I want to give them a chance to play with (or against) THE Shaper deck instead of MY Shaper deck. Having build both decks myself gives me an unfair advantage.
2. I don't want to use out-of-faction cards. Mostly due to concerns about theme, but also because I don't want to use the other decks for spare parts. I like having 7 fully functional decks.
3. The starter decks seems somewhat balanced against one another. I don't want to ruin that by rebuilding the decks.
I get where you're coming from, particularly with point #1. As the only LCG/CCG player in my local player pool, I've had to struggle with this. Here's how I overcome it.
1. Expand your card pool so you can experiment. The 7 starter decks are satisfying you and your play group? Perfect - keep them as they are, and get a second core set. That, along with some expansions, will set you up to experiment.
2. To experiment with the expansions, take a starter deck from your second set, and remove a set of cards from it. That could be 1 card (Wyldside, perhaps), or 3 cards (Hedge Funds) - whatever. Replace those cards with an equal number of cards from the expansion. i.e. if the card you took out had two copies, you remove them both and you put back two copies from the expansion.
3. Be sure to stay like-for-like with regards to Faction. If you remove neutral, replace with neutral. If you remove Jinteki, replace with Jinteki etc.
I reckon that'll meet your gamer needs for new toys, will give your players the opportunity to see new cards, and won't throw the game balance out of whack, nor will it kill the themes. It'll let you tweak, but it's nowhere near the realms of full-blown deck construction.
It's cheating. He should just play normally and learn cards from experience firsthand.
At least among the VTES tournament scene, it's not cheating, though it certainly is grounds for the TO to issue you a warning for stalling if you spend too much time looking at it.
If you're not going to do any deckbuilding then I don't suggest getting any expansions, or only getting a couple of them. If you just add the new cards into the starter decks you're slowly going to bloat the decks to the point where they no longer function well.
Imagine Magic (you said you played magic) where you have your tuned RG destruction deck. It's quick and works well and almost every card you draw is valuable and helps you win the game because it's a part of your deck's theme / stucture. Then a new expack comes out and you take 10 new green cards and 10 new red cards and just add them in. Now your deck is bloated by 20 cards and those cards may not actually work in the deck properly because they may use different themes and have no synergy with the rest of the deck. Then another expac comes out and you add another 10 & 10…. now when you draw a card there's a 40% chance that the card isn't "in tune" with the deck and the game becomes slower and less focused.
Same thing with netrunner if you don't want to do any deckbuilding.
Perhaps you should slowly introduce the other players to deckbuilding and have everyone work together on making a new "default" deck with each expansion? Then you get to include new cards and everyone is still happy playing a known deck.
I think you can do a reasonably good job of random deck construction. This is how I'd do it:
For your corp:
- All the Hedge Fund, Melange Mining Corp, and PADs (8 cards)
- 10 Random Agendas
- 20 Random ICEs
- 10 Random Upgrades/ICEs/Operations
For your runner:
- All the Armitage Codebusting, Cyrpsis, and Sure Gambles (9 cards)
- 40 other cards
Now it's very important that neither player look at their deck or the remainder before play; A large part of what gives the better deck the advantage is the strategy to play it.
This will not nessisarly produce tournament legal decks, nor will it produce very good decks. However, it should create decks that are perfectly playable and roughly balanced for casual play. Certianly, if you switch decks and play a second game you should have a balanced set.
Note about the Agendas. Right now the minimum number of Agenda points in 10 cards is 15 for Weyland. The game should still function if this number doesn't fall below 14. So, if they publish more 1 point agendas for Weyland, this system may need some adjustment.
If you don't want to build decks, Netrunner is probably not the best game for you and your friends. I would highly recommend Sentinels of the Multiverse (SotM). SotM is cooperative not competive, and it is set in a comic book hero universe not a distopian future. Otherwise, the game sounds like it would fit your group much better.
SotM is fun, easy to learn, and comes with many different prebuilt, heavily themed decks.The theme for each deck is AWESOME! Each player plays as a different comic book hero against a villian deck. Every deck comes prebuilt. Each expansion adds more prebuilt decks, both hero and villian. It can be played two player but goes up to a maximum of five. The difficultly scales roughly with the number of players. If you are having trouble in a two player game though, I suggest each person play two heroes.
If you are set on Netrunner, you will have to do some editing for each deck to include the expansions. You could probably does this and keep the decks somewhat balanced. I recommend you check out SotM for a much easier solution.
To the original poster, honestly if you don't want to deckbuild I feel like the Star Wars game migth be more up your alley with how decks are built in that game you just need to make 5 choices and grab two of each of those 5 and you are done. This is with 2 core sets. If you have one then just pick 10 sets and you are done.
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Well the Star wars is a little bit easier to deckbuilding allthoug a good deck is very hard to do because you have to make compromises. But it should be reasonable easy just to put 10 pod together and only using one faction and neatrals, so it should work allmost every time… It is hard to make a deck that would be a total disaster in SW lcg! With Netrunner it is possible to make a deck that just don't work at all and deckbuiding is much harder. But there are some consepts that make Netrunner deckbuiding much easier. (20 agenpoints + 20-25 ice, gredit producing cards and anything you just like would make playable deck as long as you stay in 49 cards for corps. For runner 2-3 of each ice braker type, gredit cards and anything you like to have and stay in 45 cards… But it means deckbuilding…
But Star Wars lcg is much easier game in anyaway and not so fun as netrunner IMHO. I am a big fan of "original" Desipher Star Wars ccg, but this new one has it merits. It is very fast and easy to teach. If you not take deckbuilding very seriously and just trust your feelings, it is allso very fast and easy to build gaming decks!