Andoid Netrunner is a living card game (LCG) based on the original collectible card game (CCG) just called Netrunner. For those who don’t know the difference, CCGs are games like Magic The Gathering where you must collect more and more cards to improve your deck to keep up with everyone else doing the same (it’s an endless and expensive mission); a LCG is more of a pre-designed deck (sometimes allowing for limited modifications). That means that when you play a LCG, you can be fairly sure that your opponent will have a somewhat similarly powered deck and winning might actually rely on skill! …and some luck. Expansion sets to the LCG have already been released and more are scheduled.
Netrunner was based on the rpg, Cyberpunk 2020 (ok, it’s a running theme with me). The original card game was put out in 1996 by Wizards of the Coast and, even though I loved it, it quickly became dated. It was a complete surprise to me that Fantasy Flight Games remade it in 2012. I quickly bought a set later that day.
Here’s the premise: In a near dystopian future, the mega-corporations (corps) rule. Only those hackers (netrunners) savvy enough have a chance to fight back… or at least steal enough of the corporation’s agendas to make a quick buck.
The original Netrunner was a unique concept in that each of the two players is doing completely different things; one side plays the generic corp and the other, the generic netrunner. The corp’s goals are to implement agendas while the netrunner tries to steal the agendas. Android Netrunner continued this model with some improvements. In the Android Netrunner starters set, one player chooses between four corp identities; the other person chooses one of three netrunner identities. Each identity has specialized cards associated with them which can be modified to a limited degree. Also, some generic corp or netrunner cards are mixed into the identity’s decks. In other words, if you want to play a corporation, you choose one (like the Net Broadcasting Network), mix in some all-purpose cards, and the opponent will choose a netrunner (like Kate “Mac” McCaffrey, Digital Tinker) and do the same with the netrunner cards. This creates 12 possible battle scenarios in just the starter set alone.
.As a mega-corporation, you must set up remote servers, implement assets and agendas, conduct operations, and defend your servers, headquarters and research and development with protection software (ice). Mostly you want to kill pesky netrunners.
The netrunner, on the other hand, builds his computer hardware (rig), gathers resources and contacts, and collects powerful hacker software (ice breakers) to make “runs” on the corp’s servers and establishment. Hopefully in the end the netrunner will get rich, revenge, and not die… or worse, brain-damaged.
It’s a fun game. I love the addition of the identity cards which seriously changes the game play dynamics. Right now, I actually enjoy playing the evil corporations. It’s so satisfying getting a trace on the hacker and then sending black ops teams to his apartment to shoot him in the back. All set for another day impressing the share holders, work well done.
Android Netrunner does have a few problems though. First off, the cards are way too cluttered with technical information and complex border designs. For instance, each netrunner identity has a border color associated with them, but it is often difficult to see the color as the border designs change with the various card types (programs, resources, etc.). Logos are also associated with each identity but they are way too small to check quickly and even switch sides depending on card types!
Adding gray-bordered generic cards into each identity’s deck is an interesting idea, but once the game is over, you need to flip back through the deck and take them out one by one to mix into another identity’s’ deck for next time. It’s a pain but not a big problem. Actually, a bigger complaint is that I found myself getting tired of seeing the same generic cards show up in each match; there should be a larger variety of cards instead of repeats (identical cards). Hopefully this is remedied with expansion sets.
Anyway, play this game so that I have more people to play against. All starter sets are identical as are the expansions decks so please just get the expansions. I didn’t get them yet.