Netdecking is the act of finding a deck, list, or army, usually from an online source, and copying it. Typically the player is copying a relatively competitive deck.
In the world of customizable games, the term “Netdeck” gets thrown around like prejudicial slur. I’ll even admit that I have been guilty of that in the past, but I realized something recently that has completely changed the way I think about the issue.
I recently played in a Magic Tournament at The Village Geek and got crushed horribly. I’ll also admit that when I play games I can often be a get a little frustrated when I lose. It’s something that I have tried to work on over the years, because I want my opponent to have a positive play experience and enjoy their win. I wouldn’t say I am a horrible loser, but I want my opponent to thoroughly enjoy their victory, because if I win I would want my opponent to let me relish in it as well. I’m not saying I want to be able to brag, but there’s definitely something special that happens when two people are completely sportsmanlike; be it is the epitome of what makes games great from a social perspective. In this recent Magic Tournament I got absolutely destroyed and for some reason, I had a blast. So then I realized the reason I wasn’t butt hurt or frustrated: I wasn’t playing my own deck. It wasn’t even a deck that I researched and slightly modified. This is an extreme example for sure because I also didn’t even expect to win, but at at very basic level, I think an extremely valid reason to Netdeck is that it levels the play experience on an emotional level.
When you play a list that you didn’t create from the ground up, taking hours upon hours to design and tweak, your highs will likely not be so high. It’s less rewarding to win with a deck/list what already has notoriety, yes, but your lows are also not so low, and not so frustrating. If you lose too much you just scrap it and find another without worrying about spending tons of time.
There are other reasons people Netdeck. Obviously many people want to win, true, but I think for some people it comes down to the amount of time it can take to create a list from scratch and practice with it. Why spend hours of time when someone has already cracked the code?