Android: Netrunner

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Android: Netrunner

Post  Lizzy on Wed 18 May 2016, 13:45

Netrunner is a two player asymmetrical card game, which just isn’t like anything you’ve ever played. Innovative, unique and breathtaking - this is a game of enormous depth and complexity that will happlily take over your life if you let it.

Each player comes to the game with a deck of cards taken from the pool of about 700 currently available. One player is tasked with scoring out agendas as one of the four corporations in the game and the other plays the hacker trying to break into the corporation’s servers and steal their agenda cards. The corporation's deck has to contain a certain amount of agenda cards and the rest can be made up from a mix of cards to either defend themselves or attack the runner, depending on what kind of playstyle they're going for. The runner’s deck, on the other hand, is crammed with programs and resources to help them break into the corporation’s servers and stay alive long enough to find those agendas and win the game before the corporation can put their (undoubtedly) evil plan into action.

To score agendas the corporation is forced to put them out in the open by installing them in servers (in practice this means placing them face down alongside their draw and discard piles). Sounds like they would be easy to steal, they're right there, but the corporations can install cards known as ICE protecting these servers that costs the runner both time and money to break through and get to what’s behind. Different programs break different kinds of ICE so the runner needs to spend time building up a complete rig of various programs before they can run without fear of crippling themselves on the corp’s defenses. Even more of a problem is that, since agendas are installed face down, they look like any other kind of card the corporation might have installed in a server. This is where the game really comes alive, as the corporation can build a monstrous server of threatening ICE that the runner uses all their money to get through only to find, not an agenda, but a worthless piece of garbage at the end of it.

There’s a massive amount of bluffing in Netrunner as each player sizes up the other, trying to figure out what they're up to before it’s too late. Is the corp installing their agendas in these remotes or are the precious cards building up in their hand whilst they wait untill the right moment to try and score? Or maybe the corp’s been sneaky and discarded them, hoping the runner won’t think they’re stupid enough to just leave them lying around in the bin. Or maybe the corp actually wants you to steal one of their agendas as they’re secretly plotting to kill you and win the game that way. You can never be too paranoid in the dystopian world of Netrunner.

Each of the corporations available to play has a very different play style that focuses on different aspects of the game. HB is all about making money from their sexy bioroid marketing campaigns and spending it on terrifying robots to defend their servers. Weyland is all about big business and will happily come round your house with guns to kill you and your family if they don’t get their way. NBN is the pervasive news corporation; for them knowledge is power, rarely protecting themselves with much ICE, as they sit there, smugly reminding you that they know where you live. Lastly there’s Jinteki, the creepy Japanese corporation dealing in clones and genetic manipulation. They protect themselves with a veil of fear as messing with them can often result in a sudden stabby death.

The runners have just as much variety and come from three main factions: Shapers (scientists and dreamers who want to understand how the world works), Criminals (who are only in it for the money) and Anarchs (who just want to watch the world burn). Each of the factions comes with numerous individual runners with different play styles and personalities. Noise, one of the anarchs, is a prick. Everyone hates Noise. But his ability to force the corp to trash cards at random into their discard pile is so annoying for the corp it’s hilarious fun. On the other side of the spectrum there’s my favourite runner Kit, the purpled-haired transhuman who can manipulate the corp's ICE. Like all Shapers, once she's set up her rig the corp is forced to think on their feet when they suddenly realise they can't build a server strong enough to keep her out any more. Suckers.

And here’s what I really love about Netrunner - it’s not all about building the best deck and setting it up efficiently. If you ignore what the other side is doing then you’ve already lost. It’s all about reacting to your opponent and making the right calls. Maybe the corp installs a card behind an enormous tower of ICE, but you don't fall for their bluff and instead take some stimulants to give your rig enough juice to break into their hand, where you think they've been building up agenda cards. The stimulants might kill you at the end of the run, but if you find the winning agenda you still win the game in a blaze of death and glory.  

That’s what Netrunner is all about - the stories it generates when it goes down to the wire and each player is desperately trying to find or score that one last agenda to win. I’ve won games by scoring out a juicy agenda I’d convinced my opponent was a trap and had abandoned, unmolested, in a remote server for the better part of the game. On the other hand I’ve lost games I had in the bag by foolishly running my opponent’s hand to find not one, not two, but three Snares! - making me explode in a mess of thorny death. You just never know what might happen. But, so often in this game, whether you win or lose, what happens is both glorious and hilarious.

It may seem daunting, with its fiddly rules, enormous card pool and seemingly pointless jargon, but in reality these things are what make the game the beautiful freak that it is. Its complex rules and cardpool are what give it its depth and longevity; it would take a lifetime to explore all the card combinations and deckbuilds possible, even ignoring the fact that new cards are frequently being released. The jargon seems dumb, but goes a long way to give the game its deep sense of theme. In no time you'll be referring to the runner's discard as their Heap and the corp's as Archives. At first this seems like daft fluff, but it means that the card text is always clear which hand, draw deck or discard pile it's referring to. It's just neat.

Netrunner may be intimidating for new players, but it’s very much worth the time and effort. There’s a lot of cards available, but it’s not necessary to buy them all. You can pick up a few good packs and have a decent deck in no time. There’s none of the random pack madness or power creep that plagues other card games; many of the best cards are from the core set itself. If you want to buy in to it £250ish will get you a second hand set of everything you need to be up to date. So jump in and explore this crazy world of gun-toting bioroids and quantum cats. You'll lose a lot, but when it all clicks into place and you start to win you'll feel like carving your name on the Moon.
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  PaulC on Wed 18 May 2016, 14:14

I played it. I liked it. Beat DaveB twice in my first (and last) two games.

He never asked me to play again.
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  Lizzy on Wed 18 May 2016, 14:29

I'll give you a game Paul!
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  PaulC on Wed 18 May 2016, 14:31

Lizzy wrote:I'll give you a game Paul!

You'll need to teach me again, but I'd be happy to play.
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  Lizzy on Wed 18 May 2016, 14:45

Always happy to teach Netrunner. I can build some straight forward decks.
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  DaveB on Wed 18 May 2016, 15:07

PaulC wrote:I played it. I liked it. Beat DaveB twice in my first (and last) two games.

He never asked me to play again.

I played half a dozen times, never really felt I had a clue what the hell I was doing. Sold it on fairly quickly Smile
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  Lizzy on Wed 18 May 2016, 15:36

I'd never recommend learning how to play Netrunner out of the rulebook incidentally. It's so much better to be taught by someone who knows what they're doing.

The rulebook isn't clear and will only teach you the rules, not how to play.
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  DaveB on Wed 18 May 2016, 15:39

Lizzy wrote:I'd never recommend learning how to play Netrunner out of the rulebook incidentally. It's so much better to be taught by someone who knows what they're doing.

The rulebook isn't clear and will only teach you the rules, not how to play.

That was definitely my impression Smile
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  SamVS on Fri 20 May 2016, 20:16

Man, I love playing Netrunner so much. I just wish it was easier to play casually. Hearthstone makes it so easy to play against rubbish players who don't have all the cards. I can't be bothered to keep an up to date address book of rubbish Netrunner players.

Thankfullly, I already know a lot of rubbish Netrunner players: almost everyone I know. Including you folk. So if anyone ever wants to play some Core Set Netrunner (which, as a slice of an awesome game is still an awesome game, like a slice of an awesome cake is still an awesome cake), I would be very happy to do so.

When it comes to "full game" communities — Wargames Emporium is a nice little place — I would happily come down occasionally and just lose more often than not. But I think at the very least, to make it more fun and less frustrating for both players, I could at least read up a little on the meta and on some of the most popular cards, so at least I am playing something familiar and don't have to ask questions every minute. It wouldn't be necessary — I came down three or four times with my Core Set and had fun without problems —but I think it would be useful.

Great last sentence to end the review, Liz Very Happy
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  Lizzy on Sat 21 May 2016, 08:45

You definitely need to play more Netrunner Sam!

Without knowing the card pool you will lose a lot it's true. There are many traps you can fall in to so, if you don't know they exist, you won't know how to avoid them!

Wargames is a great place to start. I'm there every Thursday from 5-8ish. The guys there are all really nice and haven't been playing that long. About the same as me, but there are a few newer players now. Dave, particularly, is very patient and will happily teach new players.

Obviously, I'm happy to play with people who are learning and will need to read every card. Initially i'd recommend playing just with the core and against people just using core so the cards you'll find are limited. Don't try to learn it all at once.

And thanks! :$
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  Lizzy on Sat 21 May 2016, 08:50

Incidentally, FFG have a nice video explaining how Netrunner works:

https://youtu.be/VAslVfZ9p-Y

And if you want to watch some high level games played i'd recommend the Teamwork Cast videos on YouTube. The commentary is really good and Krystian has the cutest accent.
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  paulyg on Wed 12 Oct 2016, 10:36

Just wanted to add to this thread... I've played Netrunner twice now and absolutely love it. Thanks to Lizzy for being patient and teaching me how to play. I have so much still to learn and there's so much potential in the game! Anyway, if anyone is looking for more terrible opponents to play then count me 100% in.
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  paulyg on Mon 31 Oct 2016, 08:51

I've played a few more times now, and it's fair to say that I'm hooked. I'm trying to stick a couple of decks in my bags on Tuesday nights, so if anyone ever fancies a game (or would like to learn how to play) then just let me know...
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  DaveB on Mon 31 Oct 2016, 08:55

Pretty booked this week but I'd like a tour of the game sometime soon! it never clicked when I tried it but I am guessing that two newbies won't get very far with it!
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  paulyg on Mon 31 Oct 2016, 09:01

DaveB wrote:Pretty booked this week but I'd like a tour of the game sometime soon! it never clicked when I tried it but I am guessing that two newbies won't get very far with it!
Yes, I wouldn't have liked to learn it from the rulebook. It's written as a bit more of a reference, not that friendly for playing a first game. Definitely happy to play some time.
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  Lizzy on Mon 31 Oct 2016, 11:14

I'm so glad you've embraced Netrunner Paul! You won't regret it.

I've been watching through the German National Championships this weekend and I'm still amazed by the variety of decks in play, using cards I've never even considered putting in a deck. Love it. It's the World Championships this Thursday and Friday, which will be well worth watching. I remember watching Worlds last year and having to pause it every few seconds to look up the cards on Netrunner DB! It's a great way to learn though.

Anyone still on the fence should definitely give it a go, like Paul I'm always happy to give demo games
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  paulyg on Mon 31 Oct 2016, 11:19

Ooh yes I shall try to watch a bit of Worlds, even though the couple of online matches I've watched so far have left me a bit baffled due to the pace. Good idea to pause and work out what they're doing.

I love how seeing just one or two cards that you've not thought about before can spark whole ideas about different ways of playing. I'm catching up on the Terminal 7 podcast and practically every card they mention makes me want to go and try to create a strategy around it.
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  Lizzy on Mon 31 Oct 2016, 12:23

Yeah, I'd watch it back later rather than live so you can pause it. They'll happen in the middle of the night anyway with the time difference. If we have some time at pauly2con we could watch some together? Maybe the final? Then I can explain what's happening?

I saw this game recently:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNulQB9sV_I

It's brilliant. You can skip on till minute 13. Up till then it's been a normal game of the corp fast advancing agendas out to get to 6 points whilst the runner just sits there and sets up his rig. But then... Oh my.
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Re: Android: Netrunner

Post  paulyg on Mon 31 Oct 2016, 12:37

Lizzy wrote:Yeah, I'd watch it back later rather than live so you can pause it. They'll happen in the middle of the night anyway with the time difference. If we have some time at pauly2con we could watch some together? Maybe the final? Then I can explain what's happening?

I saw this game recently:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNulQB9sV_I

It's brilliant. You can skip on till minute 13. Up till then it's been a normal game of the corp fast advancing agendas out to get to 6 points whilst the runner just sits there and sets up his rig. But then... Oh my.
This sounds like a perfect pauly2con activity - yes!

And, woah. Just watched the end of that game. That is incredible.
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