Android: Netrunner - Board Game Box Shot

Android: Netrunner

| Published: 2012
Android: Netrunner LCG title

Monolithic megacorps and individualistic netrunners collide in a dystopian future. Set in the gritty, cyberpunk future of Android, Android: Netrunner is a two-player Living Card Game™ that rewards skill, strategy, and just the right amount of calculated risk.

In a world where corporations can scan the human mind and interface it directly with electronic data, more data moves every second than was ever processed in the first five-thousand years of written language. The network is omnipresent, the crux of modern human civilization, and while visionary corporations seek to secure their most valuable data on the network, the elite hackers known as netrunners seek to steal it.

Android: Netrunner LCG cards 1 Android: Netrunner LCG cards 2
images © Fantasy Flight Games

This asymmetrical card game resurrects the mechanics of the original Netrunner, designed by Richard Garfield, and updates them to increase clarity and promote a more dynamic play environment.

The Android: Netrunner Core Set features 252 cards, including seven unique identity cards.

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Pet Lover
Treasure Chest
The Gold Heart
48 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“Anybody bring an ice pick?”

In a world… where money and power rule, net warriors look to take down the governing forces suppressing their lifestyles, general wellness and ruining their overall day. Hack the planet, boot up or shut up! Sorry, Hackers the movie gets stuck in my head whenever I think of this game. If it could have been be a board game or card game this would likely be it. Though much as I enjoyed what is pretty much an awful movie this is far far from an awful game!!

Set in the Android universe, Netrunner seeks to give the players a chance to either score agendas or steal them away by playing from the perspective of the corporations trying to set forth their agendas or from that of the runner attempting to sabotage their servers and steal those very agendas so they just can’t happen.

As one of of the four corporations it is your job to protect your servers with ice and upgrades, while advancing your agendas and trying to stop the netrunner from getting at them. As one of the three types of netrunner you are trying to build a rig full of icebreakers, hardware and resources good enough to break on through and ****** them away before they can be scored. Both sides need to balance their income in order to purchase gear for the runner, or rez things for the corp and keep the other from getting to that almighty 7 agenda points to win the game.

With the massive amount of data packs this game already has out and the others still to come there is a lot of value and replay here. In my opinion if you are a fan of deck builders and LCGs at all this is a no brainer to get. One of my fave games of all time.

Final thoughts:
Great two player game with a totally different experience on either side leaves this one having a lot of legs. Thematics that just work with the mechanics so seamlessly that one really couldn’t go without the other here. A different coat of paint/theme just wouldn’t be the same at all.
What I like: There are such a vast array of cards even just out of the core set that it makes for lots of fun once you start fine tuning and trying out new strategies.
What I dislike: The terminology, while thematic and all, does make it a little difficult for teaching new players and honestly some old players to the hobby as well with things being different on both sides, ie: Discard Pile = Heap for Runner or Archives for Corp. But that is only a minor gripe
Who it’s ultimately for: Fans of Cyber-punk, Richard Garfield, card drafting, CCG/LCGs and anyone with a soul.. just kidding, everyone knows corp players have no soul, right? RIGHT?!!
Who it’s ultimately not for: Non LCG/CCG fans, people who need to have every card in existence (okay, maybe it’s okay for them too but can get costly, though no where near as bad as CCG’s) and those looking for group games… this is two-player only folks.

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Mantis Clan - Legend of the Five Rings Beta 1.0 Tester
Went to Gen Con 2012
153 of 157 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“The triumphant return of one of the greatest CCGs ever made.”

Upon its initial release in 1996 by Wizards of the Coast, the gaming press lauded Netrunner as a brilliant, innovative, highly interactive, cerebral, and rewarding card game. Unfortunately, its only expansion took a full year to be released, by which time the game’s momentum had died out. Now, Fantasy Flight has brought it back from the dead, and it’s even better than it was before.

In “Android Netrunner”, players take on the goal of either a large, shadowy megacorporation from FFG’s cyberpunk “Android” universe, or a computer hacker trying to take them down. This is the first brilliant part of the game: the Corporation and the Runner are different decks, and they play completely differently past the most basic game structures — there’s only one card type that works the same for the Runner and Corporation. The Corporation is big and playing defense, installing agendas on remote servers and trying to advance them enough to complete them, and putting protective ICE around them to keep the Runner out. Most everything the Corporation plays is face-down until activated, making ability to bluff and provoke your opponent into traps very important. The Runner uses programs and hardware to hack into the Corporation’s servers (and not just ones where Agendas are installed — you can hack into the Corp’s hand, deck, or discard pile!), trying to break past the ICE and get access to the Agendas to steal them. Nothing they play is facedown, but they have more flexibility with their abilities and the initiative of choosing when to attack.

The game ends when someone scores 7 Agenda points, either by the corporation keeping them protected long enough to advance and score them, or the Runner successfully getting in to steal them. That’s right, the game is so asymmetrical, the Runner’s deck doesn’t even contain its own means to win the game. Playing the Corp requires ability to plan, and ability to bluff — once the Runner starts a run, you won’t be able to use anything in your hand, just things you have in play. You need to set traps for your opponent and keep them away from your valuable Agendas. The Runner needs to be able to read the Corp to avoid traps and ambushes, and properly manage risk and reward to get access to their Agendas without overextending yourself or taking too much damage.

The core gameplay is incredibly flexible and makes every decision meaningful — instead of having a bunch of defined phases wherein you draw cards, recover resources, play as many cards as you can afford, then attack, turns are made up of four “clicks”. Each click is used to draw a card, gain 1 credit from the bank, play a card, make a run, advance an Agenda, or activate one of your in-play cards that use up clicks (as well as a few other actions that are more specific, like getting rid of “tags” or using them to destroy the Runner’s resources.) The Corp’s first click for the turn is always used to draw a card, so they only get 3 clicks to spend, but other than that your turns are wide open. Card drawing is not the bottleneck it is in other games; players can draw 4 cards per turn if they want without using any dedicated draw cards. It’s an amazing, fluid system that manages to keep players feeling like they always have options, and keeps every credit and card valuable.

Android: Netrunner actually improves on the classic 1996 Netrunner in several notable areas, to boot. There are now factions for both Corp and Runner, and factions have different specialties and weaknesses to focus on, rather than every card being playable in every deck for the appropriate side. Corp factions are four different megacorporations the player can represent: Jinteki has the best ambushes and deals net damage to the Runner, Haas-Bioroid uses recursion and ICE that is staggeringly powerful but includes built-in ways to bypass it, NBN is unparalleled at tracing the Runner to “tag” them and use that information to screw with them by destroying resources/closing bank accounts/et cetera, and Weyland Consortium is big, ugly, has tons of money, and no sense of ethics whatsoever. Runner “factions” are more like philosophies: Shapers are in it to prove their skill and creativity, and have some of the best custom hardware and icebreakers; Criminals are in it to enrich themselves and get the most money and several tricks to gain easier access, and Anarchs just want to watch the world burn and focus on Viruses that weaken the Corp’s ability to fight back. Every faction has a character or corp card with a special ability and deckbuilding restrictions on it; in the core set, every deck must have a minimum of 45 cards and a maximum of 15 “dots” of out-of-faction cards; faction-aligned cards have one to five dots in the corner indicating how easy they are to splash into other decks. This gives players ability to customize, but still keeps them roughly sticking to their faction of choice.

The only problems with the game are very, very minor. There’s an ambiguity in the rulebook about if the Corp’s fixed card draw counts as an action or not (which is relevant a few times given that certain things can be used after actions but not before them), the special names given to the Runner’s hand and discard pile (“grip” and “heap”) are silly, and there’s one Corp card, Scorched Earth, that kind of forces Runners to always play as if their opponent had it in hand because it will kill them immediately if they leave themselves open. And… that’s pretty much it. Everything else about the game is pure genius from top to bottom and a shining example of everything a card game can and should be. Buy it. You won’t regret it.

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Miniature Painter
Expert Advisor
Advanced Reviewer
112 of 116 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Asymmetrical Living Card Game Featuring Critical Timing and Bluffing”

Overview: Android: Netrunner is a Living Card Game for two players depicting a cyber-battle between a mega corporation and a shrewd hacker set in a dark future.

Gameplay: The corporation player wins by scoring seven points worth of “agenda” cards. He must use resources to “advance” them before the runner can steal them from him. The runner’s deck contains no agendas. He wins by stealing seven points worth of agenda cards directly from the “corp”. This can be achieved by making successful “runs” on the corp’s “servers”, including his draw deck, discard pile and even his hand. The corp also loses if they can no longer draw a card from their deck. The runner can lose if he is forced to discard more cards than he has in his hand.

To protect his agendas, the corp plays defensive cards, called “Ice”, face down in a line in front of his servers. These create obstacles which stop the runner or cause damage to his hand or cards in play when he encounters them. In turn, the runner can play “icebreakers” which allow him to spend “credits” to cancel the effects of the Ice. The corp can also play cards that can be advanced and appear to be agendas but are actually dangerous traps set to harm the runner.

Each player, on his turn, has a limited number of actions to take. They include drawing cards, playing cards, gaining credits, advancing cards (corp) and making runs (runner). The player is free to choose which ones he performs and in what order. What ensues is a race involving action and economy management that includes careful timing and bluffing.

Players can custom build their own decks, selecting cards that fit their preferred strategies. The game offers four different corporations and three runner factions each offering a unique play style. Factions can be combined, but is limited by an “influence” system. This assigns a cost to individual cards when used out of their primary faction and caps the amount that can be incorporated. The base game provides 252 cards to explore deck-building but new cards will be introduced gradually over the year through mini-expansions called “data packs”.

– Every card has its own illustration depicting an element from the game’s cyberpunk setting.
– Replay value is incredibly high with all the customization offered by LCG format.
– Open but limited choices combined with the corp’s deceptive card placements create an anxious race between players.
– Gameplay is fast and two-game matches can be completed in 90 – 120 minutes.

– The game utilizes cyberpunk jargon to name many game elements, building theme but confusing new players and raising the learning curve.
– While not as bad as a traditional trading card game, the monthly expansions can squeeze a game budget maybe too often.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: William Gibson

Android: Netrunner is a brilliant card game requiring critical timing and bluffing. It successfully achieves what its designer Richard Garfield intended it to be: “With Magic, often the cards played you. In Netrunner, I wanted a game where you played the cards.”

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I play red
The Gold Heart
32 of 33 gamers found this helpful
“Proving that Internet is serious business”

As a former Magic The Gathering player, I knew I could trust Richard Garfield with his new deck building game, but I wasn’t expecting such phenomenal experience. If you never felt the tension of hacking/being hacked before, Android Netrunner is here to show you that internet is, in fact, serious business.

One of the players will be assuming the role of a Runner (a hacker) and the other will be a Corporation (a company that holds important information). There are 3 different decks of runners and 4 of corporations, which gives this game great replay value.

The objective of the game is to achieve and “perform” one specific type of card: the “Agendas”. Agendas are like really important information located in the Corp’s Research and Development Server (aka the corporation’s deck). Following the same concept, the corp. player’s hand is also a server, as well as his discard pile.

The runner must access all these servers by spending one of his actions in order to steal the agenda cards. Each agenda has a specific value, and whoever score 7 Agenda points first wins the game.

Sounds simple right? Well actually the Corporation can create new servers by placing cards faced down on the table, this cards can be agendas or traps, so if the runner try to access these new servers, he may score points or suffer the consequences of encountering a trap. So expect A LOT of bluffing when playing Android Netrunner! Really cool mechanic!

Also, the Corp. may install defenses in its servers, preventing the runner to a gain access of the cards or even tracking him down and punishing him. And the runner of course may install programs, hardware, software and everything he can that may disable the Corp’s defenses.

The quality of the components are marvelous! Even the box feels prettier than other games I own! I know this is the quality expected from Fantasy Flight Games, but everything in this game was really well made. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Bottom line is… the theme of Android Netrunner is brilliant! It makes you really feel as a hacker or some big fat corporation struggling to keep its servers secured! Every gamer should play this game and feel this experience.

If you are not familiar with deck-building games, don’t worry! All decks in the base game come ready to play! Also, Fantasy Flight Games has an AWESOME tutorial video on its website, teaching every step of the game! The manual itself is pretty good too!

So, the only reason I didn’t give my first 10 grade ever to this game is because it is a 2 player game only, and I wish there was a variant for 4 or more players. That’s the only reason! I loved this game and I thought I wouldn’t play deck building games so soon. But this one is a “must play”.

– Original mechanics
– Incredible theme
– Challenging
– Good mixture of strategy and bluffing
– Excellent components
– Good replay value

– It’s a 2 players game only :(

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Tasty Minstrel Games Fan
Eminent Domain Fan
30 of 31 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Asymmetry, Strategy, Bluffing--Endless Cyberpunk Possibilities”

I was hugely into trading card games as a kid. Pokemon, YuGiOh, Magic: The Gathering, and a myriad of others that never really took off, I was into all of them. But as I grew older, as I started to understand more the concept of money, I felt like I was being wasteful. How much money had I spent on all those booster packs looking for one card and getting a bunch of copies of cards I already had? How many did I throw away in my ignorant youth?

Now, I’m not disparaging those that still enjoy those games. Money means different things to different people, and if someone finds joy in TCGs, no harm done to me. But if you are like me, and you want something to scratch that TCG itch without the large monetary investment, I highly recommend Android: Netrunner.

Unlike most TCGs, Netrunner plays asymmetrically. One player takes the role of the Corporation, a financial organization with its own unique ideals and agendas. Their opponent is the Runner–the easiest way to describe this person is as a criminal hacker. Both sides have roughly the same goals: the Corporation must advance its Agendas, and the Runner must steal them from the Corp. As soon as one player reaches seven Agenda points, they win and the game is over. In order to achieve this goal, the Runner installs Programs, Hardware, Resources, and Events which help them break through the Corp’s defensive firewalls, known as ICE, to reach and access their servers and rob them of their Agendas. Besides ICE, the Corp also can make use of Assets, Upgrades, and Operations in order to protect their Agendas or kill (“flatline”) the Runner.

In many ways, Netrunner plays very similarly to most other TCGs. Players can use one of the starter decks provided in the Core Set (there are seven), but are also encouraged to build their own custom decks and come up with their own strategies. With the rise of tournaments, this introduced a meta element to deckbuilding that many TCG players will also find familiar. For someone with a history with card games, it’ll be pretty easy to get into.

However, Netrunner also stands out in many ways from standard TCGs. What drew me to it were primarily two things: its asymmetricality and its Living Card Game structure. Technically, all you will ever need to play is one Core Set. If you want more cards, Fantasy Flight Games–the publisher–releases a Data Pack once a month, each containing a fixed set of 60 cards. So all you need to do then is see what cards are in which Data Pack, decide what Pack fits your needs best, and get that Pack. I personally appreciate this structure a lot more as I don’t have a lot of money to spend on card games, and don’t want to be burdened with a bunch of cards I don’t want.

The other aspect is its asymmetrical structure. The Corp and the Runner play in very different ways, which makes for way more deckbuilding fun and a huge variety of strategies. This structure also strengthens the thematic element of the game. Netrunner is super tied into cyberpunk and sci-fi lore, with tons of references to ideas familiar to fans of those genres. The flavor text and the way so many cards play is hugely satisfying to me as someone who really likes a strong theme tying together everything in a game. It’s incredibly fun and easy to get into the role of the rebel, underground Runner trying to take down a corrupt Corporation, or in the mindset of a multi-billion dollar Corp trying to spread its ideologies and get rid of those pesky hackers, even if it means killing them.

Now, some people think the game favors either the Corp or Runner. Personally, I don’t think that’s the case. I’ve played as both sides, and find it’s largely the strategy I use and the amount of bluffing and mind games I take advantage of, with a small dash of luck on top, that determines who wins. I’ve gotten tons of enjoyment out of both kinds of decks, ****, even when I’m losing. It’s a solid, well balanced game that doesn’t get old even after marathon sessions. With tons of different internal factions, it feels like there’s an endless amount of analyzing and strategizing to be done, and if you’re into that, Android: Netrunner is an obvious choice.

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42 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“Deception, bluff, strategy. It's not in the cards, though, it's in the player.”

I wasn’t able to play Netrunner when it came out in the nineties, so I could miss the opportunity to play it now that Fantasy Flight republishes it.

The Living Card Format makes it more appealing to those who don’t like or will not spend tons of money for a collectible card game anymore (I used to, for Magic and others). It also means that with every expansion you’ll get all the copies of the cards you need.
There are monthly expansions, called Data Packs, with 20 new cards for every faction, and the so called Deluxe Expansions coming out every 6 months or so, which include cards for 2 of the game’s factions plus some neutrals.

The main difference with the old game would probably be the introduction of 7 different factions. Being an asymmetric game, there’s 3 Runner factions and 4 Corporations.

Since it is an asymmetric game, you will have to learn and come to understand two very different play styles. The rulebook, however, is well made and that helps a lot.
Despite it being a Fantasy Flight LCG game, unlike others of its kind, the rules don’t need much in the way of further clarifications. A Game of Thrones, for example, is nowadays a nightmare to learn for a new player, with all the entries in the relative FAQ.

So how does the game play?

Well, imagine you’re a Runner, an hacker of a dystopic future, not necessarily fighting for what’s right, but still roaming the net with the precise intent of attacking the Corporation’s strongholds.
To do that you’ll need cunning and bravery, to force the Corp’s hand into a direction of your choosing. You’ll need experience and knowledge, because when facing the unknown they’ll be your main weapons. Finally, you’ll need a strategy, and that can only be devised by you.

Will it be the Runner, or will it be the Corp to shape the match?

Remember: in Android: Netrunner the cards may form the game, but don’t really decide the match. Players truly make the difference. It’s your actions, you choices, your strategy that will get you a victory.

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Book Lover
Video Game Fan
90 of 96 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“Running Has Never Been So Fun”

Android: Netrunner is a revival of the mid-90s CCG Netrunner, originally designed by Magic: the Gathering creator Richard Garfield. This incarnation has been liscensed by Fantasy Flight from Wizards of the Coast and is a part of their Living Card Game (LCG) line of products. The game throws players into a dystopian, cyberpunk setting (think a heavy helping of Neuromancer with a dash of Snow Crash liberally sprinkled in) with one player representing a Runner (i.e. hacker) and the other playing as a megacorporation defending its servers. Gameplay is asymmetrical with both players pursuing the same basic objective (gaining 7 agenda points) through drastically different methods.

The initial setup can be quite lengthy. As with most every Fantasy Flight LCG, there are some tokens to be punched out and such, but the majority of the initial setup time comes from the rulebook. The rulebook is pretty heft compared to most other card games, largely due to the asymmetrical nature of the game. This means that you’re largely learning two different sets of rules for one game: one set for the runner and nother set for the corp. The rule book discusses many of the rules well, but the FAQ on Fantasy Flight’s website is pretty necessary to fill in some of the gaps, which was frustrating initially. I would suggest watching a video tutorial to help the rules make sense more easily. The tutorial on FF’s website is about 20 minutes, but isn’t as helpful as some YouTube video walkthroughs, many of which clock in near 45 minutes. At any rate, there is a somewhat significant time investment prior to the first game if you’re self-teaching.

After that, it’s just a matter of shuffling decks. Once you have the hang of it, you can either continue playing the precon decks or, particularly with the addition of expansions, invest a potentially significant amount of time into a deep deckbuilding system.

Much like M:tG, Netrunner can be a complicated game to explain in all of its nuances, so I won’t attempt that in this review. Instead, I’ll just stick to the basics. One side is the Corp player, who attempts to advance “agendas” in order to score points while protecting their servers with ICE (intrusion countermeasure electronics, for those not hip to the cyberpunk vernacular) in order to keep the Runner from stealing the agendas for him/herself before they can be scored. There are four different Corps to choose from, and each plays significantly differently from the rest, from Haas-Bioroid’s beefy security programs to Jinteki’s deceptions and ambushes to NBN’s and Weyland’s significantly different approaches to the “tag and bag” style of play. The wide range of mechanics and emphases will accommodate most play styles in some way right out of the box and can be expanded in many directions with additional expansions.

Each turn, the Corp player draws a card and gets three “clicks” to use for taking actions. There are many actions available, including gaining a credit or drawing a card, playing “Operations” (which give some one-time effect upon resolving) by using a click and paying the appropriate number of credits as printed on the card, or “installing” cards by playing them facedown on the table in columns called “servers.” Cards that can be installed include ICE, Agendas, Assets, and Upgrades. A server can have an unlimited number of pieces of ICE protecting it and an unlimited number of upgrades, but only one asset or agenda behind the server’s ICE. As long as they are face down, Corp cards are inactive and grant no effects. In order to turn them faceup, the player must “rez” them by paying credits equal to the card’s “rez cost” printed in the corner. When turned faceup, assets generally provide some sort of resource benefits, upgrades (obviously) modify the cards in that server somehow, and ICE protects a server. Agendas are the exception to the rule, and though placed facedown, they can’t be rezed like other cards. Instead, Corp players can use a click and a credit to “advance” an agenda. Once it has the number of advancement tokens on it equal to or greater than the number printed on it, it can be scored, netting the Corp player a certain number of “agenda points,” which are used to win the game.

There are other cards that are advanceable, though, including assets, which gives the impression to the runner that this server contains an agenda. Some of these assets are even “ambushes” that cause damage or other negative effects when the runner accesses them. These ambushes (and some other card effects) often cause damage to the runner. There are three types of damage in the game: net damage, meat damage, and brain damage. Net and meat damage both cause the runner to discard a number of cards equal to the damage taken. They only differ in effects that can prevent one and not the other, and in the flavor of the damage source (net damage is, thematically, damage dealt by the Corp’s security systems while the Runner is jacked into their system, while meat damage is physical damage cause by real-world retaliation, such as sending goons to break the runner’s legs or something similar). Brain damage requires the discarding of cards, as well, but it also reduces the Runner’s maximum hand size by one for the rest of the game.

The Corp player wins by scoring at least seven agenda points or “flatlining” the runner (i.e. making them discard more cards than they have or reducing their hand size to below zero). As you can see, the Corp player is generally focused on building up defenses, managing resources, and bluffing the runner.

There are only three Runner factions (Anarchs, Criminals, and Shapers), but there is just as much variety available as with the four Corporate factions. The Runner, unlike the Corp, doesn’t get to automatically draw a card each turn, but they get four clicks per turn, instead of the Corp’s three. Runners can use clicks to draw cards, gain credits, play “events” (the runner equivalent of “operations”), and install cards. The Runner installs all cards faceup and has to pay the install cost in credits in addition to the click. Runner cards include Resources (generally generating credits or allowing card draws), programs (most commonly ICEbreakers, used to, ahem, break through ICE), and hardware (allowing more programs to be installed or boosting their effectiveness, generally). The Runner can also “make a run” on any of the corporation’s servers. If the server has ICE protecting it, the Corp can rez it and force the Runner to interact with it. The Runner uses ICEbreakers to interact with ICE, but only if the breaker’s strength is equal or greater than the ICE’s strength. Most ICE has multiple “subroutines” that the breaker must break in order to prevent them from triggering. This is done by triggering abilities on the breaker that generally cost credits to trigger, though some have alternative costs, such as clicks. If a Runner makes it through all ICE protecting a server without triggering an “end the run” subroutine, they get to access the cards within the server. If they access an agenda, they steal it and claim the agenda points for themselves. If it isn’t an agenda, they may have the option to pay a certain number of credits to make the Corp player discard the card, though some cards to not offer this opportunity.

The Runner wins the game by stealing at least seven agenda points or if the Corp player must draw a card from his/her deck but has no cards left to draw. The Runner primarily focuses on managing resources, building up strong ICEbreakers, and reading their opponent.

The deckbuilding is satisfying and somewhat different from card games that rely on an M:tG-style resource matching to play cards. Since all cards are played with clicks and credits, the faction-specific cards all have an “influence value” between 1 and 5. Depending on the identity you choose, your deck has a maximum of out-of-faction influence (most identities have a max of 15). This makes it easier to splash cards from another faction without worrying about being unable to pay to play them.

Learning Curve
There is a somewhat significant learning curve for the initial game for each side. There is a lot of terminology to get a handle on, which can be confusing to people who aren’t cyberpunk fans or are new to gaming. It doesn’t help that the same components for the Corp and Runner have different names. For instance, the Runner’s hand is called the “grip,” while the Corp’s hand is “HQ.” The player’s decks are the “stack” and “R&D,” respectively. The names are all highly thematic and make sense within that theme, but can seem unnecessarily complicated to some people.

The asymmetrical nature of the game also increases the time it takes to learn, since the rules are fairly different for each side. It’s similar to learning two separate but related games at once, which can be overwhelming or confusing for some people, as well.

Beyond those concerns, it’s simply a matter of learning the timing structure and when a player has priority to play abilities, which will simply take a few playthroughs. The priority system is relatively simple, though, which certainly helps speed this up. All told, within a couple of games, you should have the basics down, and from there it’s a matter of figuring out the optimal card interactions and how to read/bluff your opponent.

As with most Fantasy Flight games, the tokens and counters are nice and thick, and the cards are of a good weight of cardstock and have a nice coating on them. The art is very evocative of the cyberpunk setting, but it is somewhat inconsistent. Some cards are phenomenal, while others seem a little weak. It also doesn’t help that the artistic styles of many of the artists vary widely, which keeps the game from establishing a cohesive feeling for the world. This may not be an issue for people who have played the other games set in this shared world (Android and Infiltration), but it kind of bothers me since I haven’t played those games. All in all, though, it’s a high-quality set of materials.

Overall Judgment/TL;DR Takeaway
I’ve played a lot of CCGs/LCGs in my time, and Android: Netrunner is the best of them, hands down. The gameplay is deeply strategic, and since it largely depends on bluffing/reading your opponent, simply changing opponents can drastically alter how you play. The variety of factions also keeps things fresh, as there are multiple themes within each one that players can gravitate toward as their playstyle may lead them to. The game is also incredibly well-balanced. While it may sometimes seem like one side is at an advantage, there are almost always ways to bring things back into balance. This really puts the emphasis on player skill rather than one side’s or faction’s dominance.

It’s also worth noting that, while two core sets are recommended as with most LCGs, this game plays better with a single copy than most of the other ones. There are certainly cards that you’ll want more than a single copy of down the line, but to start with, you get a lot of variety and decks that run reasonably well, which is more than can be said for a lot of the game’s LCG brethren.

In the end, if you even slightly enjoy card games, you should give Android: Netrunner a try. Its bluffing and getting into your opponent’s head, all while building your arsenal and managing your funds, makes for a commbination unlike any other game in an often too-familiar genre. If you’re a fan of the original Netrunner, you’ll notice some differences (most notably the Runner and Corp factions and identities), but it’s still the same great game it always was at its core and, if anything, the changes enhance the experience. If you missed out on the original, there’s no better time than the present to jack in to a great game.

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Gamer - Level 6
108 of 117 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“How Netrunner has replaced all my other LCGs”

Is Netrunner all its cracked up to be, I mean how has it locked down the hotness section on Board Game Geek since its release basically never losing a top 3 position? Well I am here to help you make that decision for yourself. First I will give a brief overview of how the game is played, then I will compare it to the other LCGs I have played.

To read the review complete with full sized images go to


Players take on the roll of either a Corporation or a Hacker (Runner) and their goal is to either advance your own goals/agendas (Corporation) or sabotage corporate plans and steal their valuable information (Runners).

Each turn players get a limited amount of “clicks” which serve as your ‘actions’ for the turn. There are predetermined actions you can take or playing cards from your hand (Installing Cards) or activating abilities on cards in play requires ‘clicks’ as well.

The Corporation player must ‘install’ agendas and place enough advancement counters on them to score the agenda points. In order to stop the Runner from stealing their ‘Agendas’ the Corporation player must install ‘Ice’ and ‘Upgrades’ in order to protect their Assets and Agendas.

The Runner must steal agendas from the Corporation player, this is initiated by ‘starting a run’. During a ‘run’ the hacker will need to bypass the corporate security measures using ‘programs’ and ‘hardware’. If the Runner successfully makes it to the agenda and steals it, the Runner instead scores the agenda points.

Corporations will also play ‘Asset’ cards to both help them achieve victory faster and mislead the Runner.

The Corporation player will ‘install’ ice in order to protect their Agendas from being stolen by the Runners.

In order to get past the Corporate defenses and protect themselves the Runners will need to utilize ‘Programs’ and ‘Hardware’.

Program: Icebreaker are the programs Runners will play to combat the Corporation’s defences, each Icebreaker is broken
into a subcategory that specializes in breaking certain types of ice.

Now that you have a basic idea of the types of cards I will demonstrate a hypothetical run.


Here are the different types of servers the Runner can hack:
Central Servers:
R&D – corporation card draw pile
HQ – Corporation Player’s Hand
Archives – Corporation trash / discard pile

The Corporation player may also have multiple ‘Remote Servers’ where cards can be installed.

My favourite thing about Netrunner by far is the huge community behind it, you will have no problems finding someone to play with and there are so many extra materials available online, here are some of the ones I found useful:

Complete Tutorial
Solo Variant
Deck Builder
Full Card List & FAQ
Awesome Looking Player Mats

My Thoughts:

There is a lot of terminology and since both players have different rules the learning curve for Netrunner is quite high. That is not to say that it is higher than other LCGs, if I were to rank it in difficulty out of the LCGs I have played, I would say it is the 2nd hardest to learn.

In terms of the LCG matching its universe/theme, I think that Netrunner does better than all of the other LCGs out there. They did a really good job keep the ambiguity of each faction making sure to emphasize that there is no real ‘hero’, only lesser evils. The Game of Thrones multiplayer does a fantastic job capturing the treachery and backstabbing from the books, but I feel like the 2 player game lacks, so Netrunner has replaced Game of Thrones in this aspect for me.

Until playing Netrunner, the Warhammer Invasion LCG was my go to 2 player competitive game. Although they play totally differently, they both feel very me vs. you and sometimes you need a game like that. Netrunner has replaced Warhammer for me though because the real world is becoming more and more like a science fiction movie each day and if you keep up with the latest technologies and research…cyber crime is already a issue and as someone who is anti corporation in real life, it feels nice to make their plans crumble around them.

Netrunner almost feels like an evolved, better Call of Cthulhu, players compete over the same victory points and try to cripple their opponents enough that scoring the points is easy. I found that CoC had a run away leader problem and Netrunner did not, Netrunner is also just more fun.

Who Would Like Netrunner?

Casual Gamers: I think that LCGs make great games for casual gamers because they leave the option to expand and get more into the game without draining the wallet and more importantly without you burning out from the game itself. The advantage LCGs have with casuals is you can play it right out of the box but you can also make the experience what you want based on who you are playing with. Being able to appeal to different groups and ranges of gamers is important in casual friendly games.

Gamer Gamers: This is where I think Netrunner shines. Because of the deckbuilding component LCGs do really well with Gamer Gamers, there is room to bend the games rules and really make your own strategy. The only thing that hinders Netrunner is its 2 player limit, but tons of choices, additional content, great gameplay, new mechanics and a large following makes Netrunner great for all avid gamers.

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“A Great LCG”

While I love truly balanced games, asymmetrical games can be very fun as well (not that they have to be exclusive), and that’s what Netrunner is. One player plays a megacorporation trying to score agenda points and/or kill the pesky runner, played by the other player, who is trying to hack into the corporation’s servers and cause as much damage as he can while attempting to steal corp agenda. This game is strictly limited to TWO players as a result. The rulebook does a fairly good job of explaining things (one of FFG’s better rulebooks I’d say), and includes a helpful flow of play diagram on the back which you will probably want to leave face up the first couple of times you play. The quality of components is high as well; sleeves will likely be required if you care about keeping the cards in good condition, but this is true of most any card game. The tokens are made of very thick cardstock and will keep for a long time. Also, if you like to punch things out, congrats, you’re in luck when opening this box! While there are enough baggies included to both sequester all of the tokens, and initially separate the corp/runner cards, you will probably want to invest in something else to store the cards. This is doubly true if you are interested in building different decks. That being said, the box is more than large enough to both accommodate not only the included cards, but also cards you may purchase in the future. You will just probably need to get a little creative as the included cardboard support can probably only hold about double the cards you’re initially supplied with (if you removed it you could fit about 5 times that many, but they’d be free to fly around inside).

A quick note: For those unaware what an LCG is, it is a format that Fantasy Flight has chosen to move to for their card games. Instead of booster packs containing a random assortment of cards from an expansion (sorted by rarity that give the cards differing collectible and monetary value), they release new material in 20 card increments, in packs that contain a fixed list of cards, with 3 copies of each (3 being the maximum number of copies you are allowed to include of any one card in a deck). This allows the game to grow and the environment to change without requiring you to spend a fortune to keep up (like with Magic: The Gathering). The expansion packs still have a MSRP of $15, however, so it isn’t exactly cheap either.

To return to gameplay: the runner and corporation are governed by similar but differing rules. For example, the corporation can perform 3 actions per turn, but always draws a card each turn. The runner can perform 4 actions but doesn’t draw a card unless he uses an action to do so (this is a nice bit of theme attached to an interesting decision – I can totally see a hacker exclaiming ‘I don’t have time for this!’ while staying up all night to complete a run). The runner attempts to access corporation servers which include the corp’s hand, draw deck, and discard pile, as well as any additional server they create in order to try to score agenda points or host valuable resources. The corporation guards these servers with ICE, which have a wide range of effects that the runner must use certain installed programs to defeat. What becomes interesting is that while the runner plays their cards face up, the corporation plays their cards face DOWN, so what is on their side of the board is a mystery. The corporation can and often will attempt to bluff the runner into believing one type of card is another, and since running can be expensive, in theory this can force some tough decisions. After playing for some time, in practice many times it can be obvious for the runner what is going on, but that kind of metagame depends some on who you play with and your local scene.

There are three different runner factions, and 4 different corporation factions. They all have a unique feel, and they are all adequately represented in the base set, which gives it a good degree of replayability. I will say that the base decks as they are suggested in the rule book (i.e. including only the cards of one faction and the neutral cards) will result in some matches being completely one sided. You will want to tinker with and substitute some cards (after reading the deckbuilding guide if you are new to this kind of game) in order to improve the quality of the gaming experience. Even after doing so, some of the corporation builds can feel woefully slow, it’s frustrating to be a supposed megacorporation and feel like you have absolutely no money! I’d say at this point the metagame highly favors the runner, but if you’re just looking for something to play with friends and don’t have interest in the game being absolutely balanced, this is definitely worth picking up, even if you don’t have any intention of purchasing any of the additional expansions.
(xpost from my amazon review)

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“Android Netrunner: A Difficult Card Game That's Worth Your Time”

Whether playing as a scion of regimented order or of creative anarchy, the dichotomy proposed by Android Netrunner offers intriguing possibilities.

Android Netrunner is a two-player asymmetrical attack-defense game. Like many asymmetrical games, the learning curve is steep, and feels somewhat isolating, because there is little to no visual feedback occurring while watching the other player in action. Your success and learning process, unless aided by someone who already knows how to play, will be determined entirely by your own ability to read, synthesize, and utilize the rulebook.

Speaking of the rulebook, it is relatively lengthy and fairly detailed. I got the feeling the designers organized it as best they could, but was still left frustrated at times as I tried to figure out what the heck was going on.

And this really leads to the primary criticism of the game—it is pretty brutally difficult to learn. If at all possible, I highly recommend having someone who knows how to play give some instruction the first couple times you play. However, once you conquer the initial, treacherous ascent, you are greeted by a surprisingly intricate, balanced, and fun game.

In other words, it’s worth the challenge.

Because the game is asymmetrical, I think it’s worth it to discuss the separate player roles in to establish the gameplay foundation. The two roles are that of the Corporation, controlled by one player, and that of the Runner, controlled by their opponent.

The Corporation: The player chooses a single corporation from among four options. Each of the corporations has a distinct tactical ability and advantage, which in turn lead to distinct play styles and strategies. The Corporation may win in one of two ways: first, they may utilize agenda cards, which must be placed in the playing field, and “advanced” (a game term meaning that money and actions must be spent building up the card until it matures) the designated number of times in order for the card to activate, thereby giving the Corporate player points. Alternatively, the tricky Corporation (some are better at this than others) can actually damage the Runner, and if sufficient damage is dealt, the Runner is defeated and the Corporation wins.

The Runners: The running player chooses a faction from among three available running styles—the anarchist, the criminal, or the shaper. Runners win the game by stealing agenda cards that have not yet been fully activated. Alternatively, the Runner wins if they outlast the Corporation—meaning that if the corporation’s draw pile runs out of cards, the Runner wins.

In order for Corporations to keep Runners from stealing everything, Corporations use cards called “Ice”, which protect corporate assets, such as agendas. In turn, Runners build up gear, programs to break through ice, and stockpile assets to help them get through the Corporation’s defenses and steal the assets.

The game is entirely asymmetrical—the player’s have very different strategies, roles, and cards. Key to understanding how this works together is the idea of hidden information because at its heart, Netrunner is at least as much about reading the other player as it is about the cards in your hand.

Corporations are not required to play their cards face up when placing them on the board—in fact if they were to do so, they’d probably lose every game. Instead, many of the Corporations cards, such as Agenda and Ice cards, are played face down.

(Sample of the Corporation play: The three Ice cards are protecting two asset cards. Each Ice card only protects the column to which it is attached, so in this case, the Discard and Draw Pile are unprotected, the first asset card is protected by two Ice cards, and the second asset card is protected by one Ice)

Now Ice cards are always positioned perpendicular to the cards they are protecting, so the Runner knows it is an Ice card, and that some sort of (hopefully) asset is behind it, but the Runner does not know: how strong the Ice card is, what is required to pass it, or what will happen if they fail. Only when the Runner makes the run are the Ice cards revealed as they are encountered (assuming the Corporation doesn’t just let the Runner through). Similarly, the cards protected by Ice may be Agendas or other Assets, but some Corporations also have Ambush cards, so the Runner attempts to steal it, breaks through all the Ice, and then has the Ambush card blow up in his or her face instead.

Reading the other player is therefore just as critical as knowing the cards. For instance, if you know the player chose a Corporation full of ambush cards, then you need to be more careful. Similarly, if you, as the Corporate player have many ambush cards, its best to spread them widely, protecting each of them (and your Agenda cards) with minimal Ice. The game then becomes a shell-game of each player trying to game the other.
It’s both challenging and engaging.

There are many other rules we could spend time talking about, but honestly I think they are more peripheral issues than essential ones.
At its core, this game is worth the time and the investment. The initial learning curve is steep, but once you’ve conquered it, the game mellows a fair bit. Lest you think that the magic is then gone, however, it is important to note that this is a deck-builder, and that once you’ve gotten a feel for the game, you may find yourself editing your decks a bit to polish the razor edge of your play style.

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9 of 9 gamers found this helpful
“You Best Start Running”

A game of territory, of secrecy, and of many cat and mouse chases. There really is no other way to describe Android: Netrunner, as both players will be playing a game of territory with each other, with one player hiding his cards while the other tries to capture them. In Netrunner, one player plays a futuristic corporation trying to protect themselves against a group of people called Runners, while the other player plays as the Runner, trying to hack their way through to stop the corporation. Netrunner makes for a great game to play over and over because it is asymmetric: the Runner plays by different rules than the corporation, but I will talk about that later.

Netrunner takes place in a futuristic society ruled by various corporations and technology. Seeing the effect computer technology has had on our society, transforming it in various ways, really makes Netrunner seem plausible. The game originally came out in 1996 as Netrunner (not Android: Netrunner), designed by Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: the Gathering. It was a time before computer technology really took its grasp on society, before social media and smart phones, so for Garfield to have created this world full of technology taking over people’s lives really was an incredible vision. Eventually the game was picked up by Fantasy Flight, and added to their Android universe. In addition, the game went from being a traditional trading card game, where the player had to buy packs of cards to build their deck, to simply a card game, creating a set that had all of the base cards in it with multiple factions to play as for each side.
Both players can choose a faction from four Corporation factions and three Runner factions. Each faction has their own specific cards and special abilities. Once the player chooses which faction they want to play as, they can start building their deck. For beginners, it’s probably a good idea to simply use your faction’s cards and the miscellaneous cards that every faction can use. Learning the game will take a few plays as there are a good number of rules; it can be confusing and overwhelming at first. Don’t let that stop you as the game is fun once you get the hang of it.
Each player has a certain number of clicks, which are like moves in a turn. What the Corporation can do using their clicks is a little different than what the Runner does. The Corporation needs to focus on a more defensive battle. Use Ice (defensive cards) to protect your R&D, Headquarters, and Archives (deck, hand, and discard pile respectively). You also need to build remote servers and protect them. The Runner’s job is to make runs on the Corporation’s servers, whether they are remote servers or Central servers (R&D, HQ, and Archives). Think of runs like hacking a system. The game is literally about computer and software hacking.
The goal of the game is to score Agendas. How you go about doing that is where the game gets interesting. The Corporation installs Agendas in remote servers and spends turns advancing them. If he advances them enough, he gains that Agenda (such as a private security force). The Runner can score Agendas by making successful runs on a remote server where an Agenda is installed.

A Game of Strategy
This is where the cat and mouse games come in. Throughout the game, the Runner needs to constantly be thinking about the next run, trying to make sure it is as successful as possible. He needs to install Icebreakers to break through the Corporation’s defenses. He needs to install protection to make sure he doesn’t get hurt if he does. He needs to gain money to help pay for breaking through everything.
Meanwhile the Corporation has a little bit more on his mind. He needs to plan ahead so that when he installs an Agenda, it doesn’t get run on and stolen. He needs to plan his defenses. The Corporation gets fewer clicks per turn than the Runner, so he needs to use his time wisely. He needs money to pay for defenses and Agendas. He needs to install and protect his assets so that the Runner doesn’t destroy them.
I called the game a game of territory at one point, and playing through, it’s easy to see so. The Corporation creates all of these servers with various protections. The Corporation is playing a very defensive game of King of the Hill, trying to make sure the Runner never gets through his defenses and onto his servers. At the same time, the Runner is playing Capture the Flag, trying to get the assets and Agendas installed on the servers.
The strategies each player employs really comes through with their decks. Some Corporation factions are more geared toward running the Runner dry, keeping his money low, having him struggling to build. Other factions are geared toward trickery, laying down traps in their servers. The Runner can try to brute force his way through the servers early or try to wait until late in the game, if he can survive that long.
There are many different ways of playing, depending on the deck you build, letting the player coming back, trying to new strategies against even the same opponent. It makes the replayability very high.

This is definitely a must-have game if you like strategy games. Fantasy Flight does a fantastic job at creating this universe and immersing the player. There is tons of reason to keep playing the game, even if you only play against one person as you both can keep changing things up, building new decks, employing new strategies. Plus, it’s always fun to try and get into another person’s head.

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9 of 9 gamers found this helpful
“Hard start, Great rewards afterward”

Android: Netrunner is a living card game which set its background in a cyberpunk future. Where giant corporations dominate the major interests of human race like the technologies, resources, and media. And there are these rogue IT geniuses, trying to break into the corporations’ security system and steal intellectual properties for their own purposes, some want to make a profit from it, some want to do damage on these “evil” corporations, and some, just want to see what they are capable of.

This game is played by two players, one as the Corporation, trying his best to advance his hidden agendas while using upgrades and ices to protect his system against his opponent, or take an aggressive strategy, using traps and other tools to destroy the Runners who dare attempt to infiltrate his system. And the other player plays as the Runner, installing programs, hardwares and resources his has at disposal to try to break through the Corporation’s defenses and gain access to the hidden agendas while trying to avoid traps and leaving traces at the same time. Once either side gain certain amount of agenda point through fully advancing an agenda (corporation) or gaining access to agenda cards (runner), that side wins. Corporation could also win by dealing damage higher than the runner’s number of cards at hand and the Runner could win by exhausting the Corporation’s R&D section (deck).

As mentioned above, Android: Netrunner is an asymmetrical card game, mechanics of different roles are completely different. Corporation players need to protect their serves with barriers called Ices to prevent Runners from getting access to their cards in those servers, and try to score an agenda by fully advancing it before their opponent manages to bypass their defenses and reach that card. Since all cards of Corporation is installed facing down until being accessed or activated, Corporation players can also install assets like traps and ambushes at their remote servers where agendas are installed and advancing them to try to create an illusion that these are agendas to lure the Runners to these servers and then deal damages to the Runners or trace them.

As for the Runners, it is a completely different story, all cards of Runners are played facing up, so the Corporations always know what they are up to. But this game did an amazing job on balancing the power between the Corporations and the Runners so neither side is overpowered. Besides having the ability to take one more action than the Corporation at each turn, there are many useful cards in the Runners’ deck to help even the odd. The Runners’ main goal is, by all means, trying to gather as much information as possible, locate the hidden agendas and then bypass all the defenses and get access to them before Corporation players score them by fully advancing those agendas.

Both Corporations and Runners have two main resource, namely the Clicks (actions that can be taken per turn) and the Credits (major tokens needed for most the actions). Resources management is crucial part of the gameplay, for example, a Corporation player has managed to install multiple layers of Ices above his servers, but if he does not have the required credits to activate those Ices when a Runner approach them, those Ices have no effect and mean nothing to him, or if a Runner player spends all his click on launching runs towards his opponent’s servers without drawing any cards, he may gain some agenda points, but he may also be left vulnerable against Corporation player’s attack when there are very little cards remain on his hand.

Both Corporations and Runners have different factions among them. In the basic deck included in the Android: Netrunner package, there are 4 Corporations and 3 Runners where there are more available in expansion packs. Every faction has its own play style, some are better at gathering resources, some are stronger at attacking their opponents, players can also modify their decks by mixing cards from different factions to suit their own play styles. And again, this game did an excellent job on balancing, there are “Influence Points”(IP) which are basically “costs” on different cards, if players are introducing cards from different factions into their deck, they have to make sure the total IP of those cards does not exceed certain amount, so they cannot just gather all the most powerful cards, which usually has the highest IP into their decks. All these mechanics add a lot of depth to this game and each playthrough gives a very different experiences because of all those possible combinations.

To be honest, I am not a big fan of card games myself, I only get to learn and play Android: Netrunner because it is a school assignment. And at the beginning, all those specific terms like “R&D” (drawing deck of the Corporation), “Stack” (drawing deck of the Runner) and rules are really confusing to a card game newbie like me. But after a few playthroughs, once I get used to its terms and rules, I start to enjoy it, those terms which once bother me a lot now play a supportive role helping me immerse into the underlying stories, and when you successfully lure a runner into your trap and deal the killing blow on him, when you take a leap of faith and run into a server you know nothing about and turn out it is a agenda with high score on it, those feeling of accomplishment are priceless.

Final Thought:
Android: Netrunner, despite its terms and rules are quite complicated and confusing to new players, is a well-done game. The artwork on the cards looks cool, the background stories are compelling, the gameplay is well-balanced, the mechanics has depths and huge potential of further development. I would like to explore more in this game.

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Followed my first game
9 of 9 gamers found this helpful
“An essential cyberpunk card game emphasizing bluffing and timing more than mindless monster battles”

Run Your ICE Off
by Nick Burnham

I have played Magic: the Gathering for most of my life, so I’m excited to play any game created by one of my all-time idols, Richard Garfield, especially a game so different from Magic you would hardly believe it came from the mind of the same person. Despite Netrunner’s inherent differences from Magic (or maybe because of them), it did not gain much popularity when it originally released in 1996, although it did find a cult following. Fast forward to now, and the game has become an undoubted success thanks mostly to Fantasy Flight Games and their seemingly endlessly-repeatable Living Card Game formula. Since FFG put out Netrunner under their Android brand in 2012, they’ve released a core set, three cycles of Data Packs with more cards, three deluxe expansions with even more cards, and even a special draft variant line. And I really hope they continue to produce more cards with more expansions, because Netrunner deserves a place in the pantheon as one of the best trading card games ever.

The game centers around an instantly recognizable struggle: one player plays the role of an evil, future corporation bent on controlling the world and seizing profits through any means necessary, while the other plays the runner (hacker) character who will do anything to bring the corporation down. This all takes place in a cyberpunk world based on the Android universe, a world littered with conspicuous characters with devious regimes. To win, the hacker must make “runs” on the corporation’s servers to attempt to find and steal the hidden Agendas. The corp’s hand, deck, discard pile, and other installed cards represent their servers, and the Agendas might be hidden in any one of them. The corporation must obstruct the runner’s efforts with Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics, or ICE, by placing them in front of their servers and attempt to advance their own Agendas enough to score them before the runner finally breaks through. Runners can get around ICE with the help of Icebreakers – powerful programs that can disable the subroutines of ICE or destroy them outright. A player wins after they score seven Agenda points, but both sides have a very hard road ahead of them full of tricks and deception.

Several factions exist as options for both the runner and the corporation, and all of them play very differently. My favorite corporation, Haas-Bioroid, develops androids for cheap labor and defends itself with some of the toughest and meanest ICE in the game, while the massive news conglomerate NBN relies on performing traces to find the runner and win through powerful combo pieces. If you want to play the runner, you might pick the idealistic Anarchs, who use viruses to whittle away the corp’s cards, or the scarily intelligent Shapers, with the unique power to change the very attributes of many card types. All the factions have well-defined personalities and playstyles, forcing you to think very carefully about the potential of your opponent during every game.

While no two factions play the same, you do have the option of adopting a certain number of cards outside your own faction to fill in some of the gaps in your deck, and the deckbuilding aspect of Netrunner makes it extremely addicting. You can search tirelessly for the best ratio of ICE, Agendas, money-making cards, and other operations, but you will never find a strategy that beats every other deck all of the time. Fantasy Flight hasn’t created a perfectly balanced game, but they have come close enough that a player can win a game with any faction if they have a solid deck and a little bit of luck on their side. Luck plays a large part in decision-making, but reading your opponent perhaps makes the biggest difference between winning the game and running into a nasty trap disguised as an Agenda. The ability to bluff early and often in Netrunner further separates it from the likes of Magic and its imitators and makes the game so much more compelling than a typical CCG where two players simply run their big, bad monsters into each other over and over until someone dies. As a runner, you will never know exactly what the corporation has up their sleeve, and this makes the game very tense from turn one. Sometimes you will run on R&D (the corp’s deck) three times in one turn and hit nothing but junk, while other times you’ll call the corp’s bluff and make a great score at practically no cost.

Android: Netrunner’s greatest aspects come from much older card games, aspects that Richard Garfield believes let you play the cards rather than having the cards play you, and the game succeeds extremely well in that regard. Similar to Magic, new players may think the game feels clunky and foreign at first, but all the cyberpunk terms and unusual mechanics solidify into a cohesive whole after just a handful of games. Fantasy Flight has really excelled at the presentation of the game as well, as the new art makes the 1996 game look dull by comparison, and you can identify what most cards do and where they belong at a glance. The core set works great on its own, but players will quickly want to spice up their decks with some of the many published Data Packs. For at least the foreseeable future, it seems that FFG plans on supporting Netrunner, an absolutely necessary act for a new card game that differs so greatly from everything else on the market. The asymmetric gameplay, the futuristic setting, the deckbuilding potential, and the great community make Netrunner a game that no one should pass up the chance to learn and love. If you want a game that feels totally new and will challenge your perceptions of what collectible card games can be, I highly encourage you to make a run on Netrunner; you might just discover some hidden agendas of your own.

Score: 9/10

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“Hard to Get Into, Impossible to Get Out”

Immersion—In a Card Game?

Overall, Android: Netrunner surpasses every other tabletop game I’ve played in one aspect in particular: immersion. Immersion is a word thrown around much more often in the videogame space than in tabletop gaming because most people find that 3D graphics and real-time action lend themselves much better to diving into a game’s fantasy than cardboard and dense rulebooks. However, Netrunner surpasses even most video games I’ve played in terms of immersion in the sense that it connects me fully with the fantasy it wants me to inherit and makes me feel exactly the rush of emotions the character they’ve given me would be feeling as the action unfolds. To accomplish this, Netrunner remains deeply dedicated to its theming on every level of the game experience, a play by the designers that brings Netrunner both its greatest and its worst attributes.

Future Poker

The core gameplay of Android: Netrunner is really one of the oldest of all games: cat and mouse. The Corp, the player representing the future megacorporation with all kinds of resources at their disposal, attempts to play agenda cards secretly face down and upgrade them enough to score their points and gain their bonuses. Meanwhile, the Runner, the player representing the eccentric individual hacker trying to take on the whole corporation on their own with clever hacks and limited resources, has to read the Corp player’s every move and guess where his or her agenda cards lie, because the Runner player is never going to have enough time and resources to look at all the Corp’s cards. The Runner goes fishing by making “runs”—attempts to hack through the Corp’s defenses (known as “ice”) and access cards within a “server” so they can find, steal, and score the Corp’s agenda cards. With the success or failure of the Corp’s bluffs and the Runners reads comes victory to the first player to score seven points.

I Don’t Understand What the Kids Are Saying These Days

While this core cat and mouse bluffing mechanic makes for intense gameplay that and great social fun trying to read and learn all you can about your opponent, we also arrive here at Netrunner’s greatest hurdle—it’s dense vocabulary. Netrunner is, like I said, a highly immersive experience, but at the cost of a high barrier of entry as everything that can be themed, is themed, which can and will cause confusion for new players. Even the most basic of card game mechanics and elements are renamed to fit within the universe of the game. For instance, in Netrunner, players don’t play cards, they “install” them. To make it even worse, due to the asymmetrical nature of the game, both players really have to learn two sets of vocabulary, as the same game element is given different names on both sides of the board, such as the Corp deck being named “R&D” and the Runner deck being his or her “Stack.” This is true for the respective players’ hands, discard piles, and played card areas as well. Usually, players would just ignore these specialized names and use whatever vocabulary they’re comfortable with, but individual cards constantly refer to the stack, the heap, archives, the rig, and others, forcing players to keep within the game’s lexicon. Especially in the early games, this actually works against the game’s deep immersion as inexperienced players are constantly pulled out of the game itself and back into the rule book to look up specific vocabulary words. Fantasy Flight seems to recognize this issue, however, as the rule book has an “Important Vocabulary” section in the beginning as well as diagram labelling everything and a full glossary in the back. Again, I think the tradeoff of immersion for high knowledge barrier of entry was a deliberate choice by the designers, and it has its pros and cons.

Living In Every Sense

Android: Netrunner is a Living Card Game, meaning basically that it’s a collectible card game without the randomized booster packs and instead you know exactly what you’re getting when you buy each monthly expansion. Like the game itself, the rules for customizing decks aren’t as straightforward as other games and take a while to get a handle of, but in general the game is flexible and customizable such that not only is it endlessly replayable, it’s robust enough that you can feel like you’ve really created a deck all your own. But the life in this game goes much beyond monthly expansions—it’s an immersive, thrilling experience every time that truly takes on a life of its own as Runner and Corp battle it out again and again. And they surely will battle again and again, because while getting into Netrunner may be difficult, getting out is nearly impossible. It’s a thrilling game where your luck can change in an instant and the first thing you want to do when it’s over—win or lose—is dive right back in again.

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“Why I became a hacker on steroids and loved it.”

I’m not really into CCG or LCG. I don’t really like the idea of spending and spending and spending money to buy cards to be “better” player. But I do love everything that is somehow connected with cyberpunk theme. As there are very few board games (or RPG or even video games) set in cyberpunk-ish world, I decided to give Netrunner a try.

I don’t really care about card trading, deck buidling and playing tournaments. I am what you may call a “casual” card gamer. And I must say that Netrunner is perfect for me. It’s assymetrical so depending on which say you choose, you get totally different goals and mechanics. The core set includes 4 corp factions and 3 runners factions, which is enough to have at least a dozen of different gameplays. When you add the possibility of deckbuilding – changing cards, mixing factions – you get a game that has the highest repleyabillity I have ever seen in CCG or LCG. And it’s all there in the core set. If you want to continue your hobby and collect expansions – go ahead, but if you don’t feel like it – you can still enjoy game after game after game and never get bored.

What I really like about Netrunner is the way the game mechanics fit with all the “fluff”. It’s not like M:tG “OH BOY I CAST SUPER SPELL AND IT HAS THIS AWESOME EFFECT. IT DOESN’T REALLY MAKE SENSE BUT MAGIC DOESN’T HAVE TO MAKE SENSE”. In Netrunner, pretty much every card effect can be explained. When you do Stimhack you get hacking boost but – guess what? – steroids are bad for health and you get a brain damage after that. You want to weaken server’s firewall? You use a virus on a piece of ICE protecting it. The runner wasn’t careful enought and the corp traced him? Now he is tagged and can lose all of his precious resources (or can even get killed as corporation set fire to his apartment with Scorched Earth). To sum up – Netrunner designers did a great job putting fluff in nearly every game rule.

Last but not least – game looks simply beautiful. If you watch Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell over and over again, or can’t stop playing Deus Ex or System Shock – you will love Netrunner’s art and design.


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