So you want to play one of the most interesting and unique trading card games that ever saw the light? Well, you certainly found the right page! 1996 was the year Richard Garfield and Wizards of the Coast brought us Netrunner, a trading card game for two players. The most interesting part about it is probably that it's an asymmetric game, meaning that both player fulfill a different role within the match. One player will be the Runner and the other player will incarnate the Corp. The original collectable card game (CCG) is long since inactive and WotC has stopped printing cards for it.
Fantasy Flight Games has rebooted the game under the name Android: Netrunner. The FFG game is no longer collectable. The game is being released in the Living Card Game (LCG) format. This means the base game and all expansions will have a defined set of cards, instead of a random pull of common vs rare cards. The game has also been rethemed to fit into Fantasy Flight's CyberPunk universe Android. Android borrows heavily from the works of Philip K Dick and William Gibson.
Goal of the Game
In the near future everything is digitized. Big corporations rule the world and guide the people through their life. Or maybe they oppress the population into doing their shady business. No one knows for sure. But the Runners, internet jockeys that use their brain as a computer are all about unveiling the truth. The corporations don't take lightly on this behaviour and try to wring these data-terrorists out of existence.
The game is won by collecting agenda-points or lost by matching a few conditions. Agendas are projects the corp works on and each has a value displayed in the lower right corner of the card. The Corp has to install agendas and advance on them until the conditions on the card are met. It then scores the agenda, sets it aside and has as many points as depicted on the card. The Runner has to uncover/steal the agendas from the corp. You can make runs on everything the Corp has: Their hand (aka HQ), their deck (aka R&D), their discard pile (aka Archives) or data forts. When a runner finds an agenda somewhere he just scores it and scores the points on depicted on the card. Effects on the cards generally don't affect the runner.
Whoever amasses 7 points or more in a game, wins.
Ways to lose
You can however also lose the game, in which case your opponent wins by default. The Corp can run out of cards to draw from R&D. If you are forced to draw a card from R&D, but can't because the stack is empty, you lose. The Runner has to look out to not get his brain fried. If the runner sustains enough brain damage to reduce his maximum hand size from 5 to 0 he is brain dead and loses the game. If he has at any point no cards in his hand an is forced to play or discard one he is flatlined and loses the game.
For a full game you will need at least one Runner deck and one Corporate deck. Those decks can contain up to 60 cards each. While the Runner can assemble his Deck any way he likes the Corp has to have a specific amount of agenda cards, the bigger their deck is. More on that later Also get a ton of tokens. 40 tokens for both player are generally enough. Also, some cards may need a die so set one aside. You'll need table space for each player to have about a dozen cards, maybe a little more.
How to Play
Beginning of the Game
Now this shit gets interesting. Decide who plays their Corp deck and who plays their Runner deck. Shuffle each deck and draw 5 cards each. Five is also the maximum hand size for both players. Both players also get 5 Bits, which represent the currency in this game, but more on that later. Each player's turn is measured in Actions. Both players get 4 Actions, but the Corp must always use their first action to draw a card. Corp always gets the first turn.
What "Actions" can be used for
When it's your turn you can spend your four Actions however you want (except for Corp's first action, which is forced to be "Draw a card"). The options are as follows:
Both players use an action to:
- Draw a Card: Take a card from your face-down deck/R&D and add it to your hand/HQ.
- Get a Bit: Add a token to a pool in front of the player, used to represent money or liquid assets. Each bit of money for the Corporate player is obviously orders of magnitude larger than Runner bits, but Corporations need to move oil-tankers and fund rock stars, while the Runner can live on ramen and coffee.
The Corporate player may use an action to:
- Install an Agenda or Node in a Subsidiary Datafort: We start a new pile in front of us by placing an Agenda face-down on the table. Leaving a sole Agenda in a Datafort is ill-advised.
- Install an ICE on a Datafort: We add an ICE card face-down and "tapped" to one of our Datafort piles on the table. ICE can only be placed on top of a Datafort, never in the middle. Runners always encounter ICE from top-to-bottom, so the card installed inside the Datafort is always last. The first ICE on a Datafort comes at no cost to install. For another ICE on a Datafort that already has one we have to pay a Bit. The next one costs 2 Bits and so on.
- Install Upgrades: Upgrades are put face-down behind a Datafort and generally support something inside the Datafort when rezzed. There are also Regions which are Upgrades that have to be rezzed as soon as they are installed. An Upgrade is accessed by a Runner when he reaches the card installed inside a Datafort, for example an Agenda.
- Do Operations: Operation cards are non permanent cards. We pay for them, play them, follow their effect and store them in the archives.
- Advance a Project: Agendas, some Nodes and even some Upgrades can be advanced. For each Advancement we use an Action, pay a bit and put a token on the card in question, usually the very bit we just payed. If the card is face down and the cards says nothing about revealing it upon advancement it stays face down.
- To score an Agenda we need to have as many Advancements on the Agenda as printed in the upper right corner. We can then score it at the beginning of our turn or after one of our Actions (usually right after we payed the final Advancement), taking the Advancement counters from the card, putting them in the pool and setting the Agenda aside. This does not require an Action! We now have as many victory points as indicated in the bottom left corner of the card.
- Make the Runner pay for keeping Tags: Tags, if we can give them to the Runner, are good for us. We can taken an action, pay 2 Bits and trash one of the Runners Resources at will if he has one.
The Runner may use an action to:
- Make a run on the Corp: explained later.
- Install Cards: If you have any Programs, Hardware or Resources in your Hand you can install these by paying their cost in bits and setting them down in front of you face up (or face down if it's something hidden).
- Use Preparations: Preparation cards are non permanent cards. Pay for them, play them, follow their effect, put them in your trashpile.
- Lose a Tag: Tags are trouble! If you have one a desperate Corp can steer you into a world of hurt. For an Action and 2 Bits you can lose a Tag.
Keeping track of the play-area
We already told you this is an asymmetric game. That means that both players fulfill different roles during play. Their playfields also differ greatly. While the Runner lays nearly everything open in front of him, the Corp initially sets down everything face down. Look at the pictures on the right. We've photographed two simple setups that show a bit of both playfields. Looks quite complicated eh? Well it's not, fuck you.
Below are each player's layouts with explanations.
Making a Run
As a Runner, you get your victory points by liberating Agendas from the Corp. You do this by making Runs on a Data Fort of the Corp. Everything on the Corp side is a Datafort: Their Hand (HQ), their Deck (R&D), their Trashpile (Archives), their searched Trashpile (Old Archives) and of course their Subsidiary Dataforts.
In your turn you can use an Action to declare you make a Run on a Fort. You then specify which Fort.
The Runner always encounters our Fort from the furthest ICE on the Datafort. If he manages to pass all ICE and access our installed project, he may score it (Agenda) or trash it (Other projects). If we spiked our R&D with virus cards we can even punish the Runner if he is foolish enough to access the card.
After declaring your run you encounter the outmost ICE on that Fort. If it is unrezzed the Corp may now decide to rez it. If it doesn't you pass that ICE automatically and may decide to end the Run before encountering the next one. If you keep on running you encounter the next ICE.
We may look at all our installed Cards on a Fort at all times. If we decide to rez an ICE we pay the rez costs in it's upper right corner in bits and turn it face up. The value in the lower right corner has to face the Runner side of the table. A rezzed ICE stays rezzed.
If you encounter a rezzed ICE you have to break it's subroutines or accept some of them. To break subroutines you need a matching ICE-Breaker. Walls need Wall-Breakers, Codegates need Codegate-Breakers, Sentries need Sentry-Killers.
Let's say we have a Liche Black-ICE sentry unrezzed installed in front of our R&D and the Runner decides to make a run on that Fort. He ecnounters the ICE and we are now able to rez it if we want and have enough Bits. In this case we do not have enough bits. The Runner passes the ICE and is now accessing the R&D.
You can now access the R&D. Take the card from the top and look at it. Depending on what kind of card it is you take action. Is it an Agenda? Score it! Is it a Node? You can trash it for a fee. Is it a Virus? You get the Virus in the face. Some cards you can't touch, like Operations. Afterwards your Run ends.
We start the same example again, this time we have 17 Bits though. The Runner starts his run on our R&D and we are now allowed to rez our ICE. We do so and the Runner now has to surpass a Liche. We put a copy of the ICE on the right side.
Ok fuck, this is gonna hurt, you don't have any Sentrykiller programs and are about to get all subroutines full in the face. As you can break no subroutines in this example you will have to go through all of them. You take brain damage 3 times, so at each time you will have to discard one of your handcards and reduce your hand size by one. And then it ends your run. You are nearly dead now.
Great, this time we could inflict some damage. In our next example we are also able to rez the liche but the Runner has a Matador Sentrykiller program that could bypass our subroutines, at a price.
Your Matador will be a great help
A normal game of Netrunner
In this part I will lay out an example game of Netrunner for you to follow.
The Corp and the Runner both have a deck of 60 cards. After shuffling they draw 5 starting cards and take 5 Bits from their Bit pool. Corp always gets first turn.
|1. Turn Corp||Our first goal should be to secure our vulnerable assets, as in our HQ and our R&D to prevent easy access for the runner. The best would be a cheap ICE-Code Gate or ICE-Wall. Let's see what we have in our starting HQ.
OK we got a few ICE, but both Sentries. Though they are good, especially in the beginning, they are also very expensive to rez. But maybe we are getting cheaper ICE-Code Gate or an ICE-Wall. So we use our first Action to draw from R&D like we are obligated to every turn. We Draw:
Great, just what we needed, a cheap ICE-Code Gate. We use our second Action to install the Quandary in front of our HQ. To do so, we set the Quandary card face down, a bit to the left of us and declare that this is the column that protects our HQ.
We use our third Action to play Efficiency Experts to get 3 Bits without paying any. We show it to the Runner and then it is stored in our Archives, face down next to our R&D.
Our fourth and last Action is used to install Ice Pick Willie in front of our R&D. Though it would be painful to rez it now, it will hopefully scare away the Runner for a bit.
Our turn is now over and we have 3 Cards in our HQ and 8 Bits. The Runners turn begins.
|1. Turn Runner||Ok, Corpboy got pretty defensive, but that is just the usual. I think I should get in some early runs, just for some tension.
My starting hand consists off:
Alright, alright. This got potential. Luckily I'm not bound to draw a card with my first action, so I have a bit more room to play on my turn. Let's think of the future and play Rigged Investments with my first Action. I have to pay 4 Bits for it, but it will provide me with more in the future, so it's a good investment. I don't even need actions to get more Bits out of it. So I lay it face up in front of me in my Resources Row, put 12 Bits from the pool on it and wait for the beginning of the next turn.
Hmm... I guess I should scrap the idea of early runs with just a wall breaker and no Bits to spend but one. So let's get a bit of support up right now. For my second Action I play Dermatech Bodyplating, costing me 0 Bits and netting me protection from real life dangers, usually brought to me in meat damage. I put the card face up in my Hardware Row.
My third Action will be playing my Green Knight Surge Buffers, laying it face up in my Hardware Row. It will protect me from any hazards of the web, trying to fry my brain.
And last but not least I use my fourth and final Action this turn to play Executive File Clerk. I put it face down in my Resources Row. There are only hidden Resources in the game so I don't need a separate "Hidden Row" for hidden Cards. I will only reveal this card to the Corp when I finally use it or the Corp is allowed somehow to see it.
My turn is now over. I still have the Hammer card in my Hand and 1 Bit in my pockets. Next turn, there will be some runnin' to do!
|2. Turn Corp||Great, the Runner did not attempt any attacks on us. As usual we use our first Action to draw a card from R&D.
We have to watch out. It is getting cowded with Agendas in HQ and the chances are high the Runner would draw one of them if he attempted a Run on HQ. But we still have the Data Naga. If we use Data Fort Remapping to make a subsidiary Data Fort and protect it with the Naga, we may pull through. We have 8 Bits. Paying to rez the Naga costs us 9 Bits. We decide to use this idea.
Our second Action is to lay Data Fort Remapping face down in our Data Fort row, creating a new Data Fort with that Agenda in it.
Our third Action is to install Data Naga face down and tapped in front of the freshly created Data Fort.
And our fourth and final Action is then used to get a single Bit from our Bit pool.
At the end of our turn we have 2 Cards in HQ, 9 Bits and an Agenda in a Data Fort that is protected with an affordable ICE Sentry. If the Runner tries to access it he will have a little surprise.
|2. Turn Runner||Whow, there we go. Corp just shoved a Data Fort in our face. The big question: Is an Agenda inside? Is the Corp using Virus cards that damage me upon access... Is it a harmless node? Well we will never find out until we run it or we get a lookup card.
But first let's get some cards to protect me from flatlining. I use my first Action to draw a card.
Hmm this is a good one. If I find a Sentry or something in my face as the ICE Crop installed on the Fort, I will be albe to get some Sentry-Killers with Mantis. But let's draw another one with our second Action, shall we?
This may be useful later.... But for now let's just risk a run. Maybe I'm lucky. I declare a Run on the Subsidiary Data Fort the Corp layed down last turn as my third Action.
Phew, a Data Naga... luckily I had no programms out yet so it didn't do any damage other then ending my Run. But the corp is now all out of Bits so It won't be able to rez any other ICE defences on the other Forts.
So I risk another Run on the HQ this time as my fourth and final Action.
SCORE! 2 Agenda Points are mine and I'm one step closer to winning! I end my turn with 3 Cards in Hand and 1 Bit on my Account.
Will be continued - --Kajotex 13:24, 8. June 2012 (UTC)
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