January 23, 2015 4:06 PM   Subscribe

You probably know Richard Garfield as the creator of Magic: The Gathering. But his favorite creation is actually Netrunner, intended to be a "richer game" with bluffing and skill "more like Poker." Android: Netrunner is an asymmetrical Living Card Game based on the original Netrunner (which still has its fans). Set in a cyberpunk future, you play a megacorp using "ICE" to protect servers hiding company agendas (like The Future Perfect and Hostile Takeover) or the hacker "runner" trying to steal them. Chose from five megacorps and three runner factions and get started with a few data packs, important jargon, and deck-building. For the initiated, prepare for this year's regional championships and read up on quantitative analyses of cards, runner economies, corporation economies, ICE and icebreakers, opening moves, studies in variance, and the ever-changing metagame. Still not sure? Watch the Worlds 2014 Final (or read the champ's recap) and practice online using OCTGN or newcomer, a browser-based version in development by World Champion finalist Minh Tran. And as always, beware Scorched Earth.
posted by Soup (28 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
You probably know Richard Garfield as the creator of Magic: The Gathering.

If I had been guessing I would have gone with 'the obese ginger cat who's a bit of a dick'.
posted by biffa at 4:11 PM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

I have a copy of Netrunner, bought late last year, and I haven't gotten a chance to get into it yet. It was this Leigh Alexander article that made me want to try it.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:23 PM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

My kids haven't been interested, and I can't get out to the local game shop's Netrunner night. So I have everything so far, and zero skills...
posted by Windopaene at 4:43 PM on January 23, 2015

Now I want to try it, eyeballkid.
posted by Songdog at 4:45 PM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

I still have my Netrunner cards from the '90s someplace. I've wanted to try the new game, but since I have a stack of games that don't get played already, I couldn't justify it to myself. Maybe I can talk my D&D people into it.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:50 PM on January 23, 2015

It doesn't chap Gibson's ass anywhere near as much as Shadowrun, so it's got that going for it, which is nice. (And the best '90s CCG game people just won't let go of? Far and away Star Trek. OMG, so incredibly fun, with well designed cards. I mean, people give lip service to Illuminati and Vampire:TES, but they weren't... you know... fun.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:32 PM on January 23, 2015

It's one of those things where there's enough buzz around it that I'm sure there's an interesting game there, maybe a very interesting one, I recognize that as a game designer.

But as a game player.... the theme is so deadly generic and boring that I have never had much of an impulse to try it. Ascension is exactly the same way for me, just trade Generic Cyber-Dystopia for Generic Dark Fantasy. Meanwhile I've played hundreds of games of Dominion, which despite the name has theme and flavor text that is deft and light.
posted by JHarris at 5:48 PM on January 23, 2015

Slap*Happy, the Star Trek CCG has basically been the My Little Pony CCG.
posted by persona at 5:54 PM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

Ooh. Very curious about; OCTGN is useful but a bit... unpolished, not to say unpredictably buggy. I've gotten some local friends into the game recently, but the game nights in my area currently feature pretty high-level play that I can't match yet, so being able to screw around online with other friends of my approximate skill is great.

(Annoying Pedant Mode on: There are only 4 corp factions, not 5.)
posted by dorque at 6:01 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

So about half of those links were already clicked for me. To it's credit, it's not a CCG, you cannot buy your way to victory (the initial outlay is a bit, but after that the cost of staying up to date is about $15 every month and a half).

Also, I feel I should mention the deckbuilding utilities- netrunnerdb (a couple of the links above go there) and (my favorite) meteor. They both allow you to double check that you haven't taken too much influence, and if you are playing as the corporation, that you have the correct ratio of agendas to other cards in the deck. They both also allow you to import directly into OCTGN and

I actually opened up a Reddit account for this game. I am subscribed to only one subreddit, the netrunner one, so I only need to take two extra showers on the days I go take a look.
posted by Hactar at 6:09 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

My favorite Richard Garfield game is still Roborally.

*does the robot dance*
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:21 PM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

ursus_comiter: Garfield is on BGG saying he's got ideas to update Roborally and is hoping to make that happen.
posted by papercake at 6:27 PM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Aw yiss!
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:40 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have quite a few of the expansions, and participated in the last two regionals. I really wish the competitive scene was bigger, but it just doesn't yet have the player base of Magic, Pokemon, or even Yugioh, to the point where I can reliably get a group of players for a tiny 8 person tournament in my middling population college town.

Worse, MtG turned comic book stores into crack houses. Non-functioning bathrooms and moldy walls don't seem to deter MtG players from their crack cocaine cards. And the local stores appear to pay employees in merchandise at rates below minimum wage. Apply that model to an LCG where players can buy full playsets of expansions for 10 bucks online, and a player base that skews older and more employed doesn't look nearly as profitable to them. Like, if you win a tournament, what do you get? Some alt-art cards, a play mat, and maybe store credit with which to buy.. the cards you already have everything of?

But really, the killer is probably just that MtG takes experienced players about 15 minutes to play a best of 3 match, and it takes A:NR players 60 to play a two game match. That's bad for tournaments, but it's also bad for pickup games in the school library etc.

Ooh. Very curious about;

Keep in mind it was taken offline for quite a while via cease & desist order. During a due diligence purge before FFG entered into a merger.
posted by pwnguin at 6:47 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I mean, people give lip service to Illuminati and Vampire:TES, but they weren't... you know... fun.)

I never cared for VTES, but it did last for fucking ever before giving up the ghost.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:52 PM on January 23, 2015

But really, the killer is probably just that MtG takes experienced players about 15 minutes to play a best of 3 match

Allow me to introduce to you my maxed-out Red/Blue steal-your-mana-and-pump-it-into-giant-creatures deck. One game out of three, I would drag the pros over the coals for a half hour or more. Glorious!

(The other two, done in less than five, still! There is such a thing as a moral victory.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:14 PM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Huge fan. I've been playing for almost exactly a year now (sold a bunch of Magic cards last February to buy the starter set and got hooked) and I still find new things to appreciate about the game's design. There's just so many interconnected qualities to the game - it boggles the mind that it didn't just emerge organically from the ground, because it's so freaking perfect.
posted by LSK at 8:49 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, Jinteki. Put up as much Ice as you want baby. Won't make aaaaaaaany difference.
posted by triage_lazarus at 8:56 PM on January 23, 2015

Love love Netrunner. Although, I'd like to give a shout out to Filthy Rich, another awesome Richard Garfield game that deserves way more love.
posted by triage_lazarus at 8:58 PM on January 23, 2015

My girlfriend and I have a copy of the base game, and for the life of us we can't work out how to play. We both play MtG (her quite seriously) but netrunner has us scratching ouour heads. Any suggestions for how to play guides that might help?
posted by Braeburn at 4:17 AM on January 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

so when's the online / iPad version coming out...?
posted by Bwithh at 5:33 AM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I started playing Netrunner this May and I was instantly hooked. A lot of people complain that the cyber-punky game terminology (like stack and grip for the runner's deck and hand vs R&D and HQ for the corp) make the game arcane and hard to learn, but I have consumed way too much cyber punk and so for me the theme made the mechanics click really fast. And once you get into the game, the theme and mechanics are still wedded so nicely that the group I play with is still not bored of making up stories about what is going on in our games. One guy in particular is fond of scoring Domestic Sleepers and warning his opponent that their robot butlers are planning their demise.

One of the great thing about Netrunner, and the other reason I got into it as quickly and as seriously as I did, is that it's a fun game to lose. Games have a decent amount of back and forth because scoring on either side usually requires both building up a board position and then committing a turn or several worth or resources to the task. If you overcommit to one score, like spending all your money to rez ICE on a remote server, then your opponent gets a chance to go and score somewhere else, like by playing Indexing and Maker's Eye and taking 5 points out of R&D. Also, the click to draw and click to take a credit basic actions mean that you never feel totally out of options, even when your hand is unplayable.

My girlfriend and I have a copy of the base game, and for the life of us we can't work out how to play. We both play MtG (her quite seriously) but netrunner has us scratching ouour heads. Any suggestions for how to play guides that might help?

The wiki from the Netrunner subreddit is pretty good and the people there are pretty nice about answering beginner questions (much nicer than the people on boardgame geek). The videos from Team Covenant have really good commentary and although they are targeted at people who already know the game, they should help you pick up on some of the basic mechanics and plays. The teaching decklists from the Stimhack series on teaching Netrunner are probably better to play with than the core decks (use proxies as necessary).
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 8:43 AM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

martinX's bellbottoms: "A lot of people complain that the cyber-punky game terminology (like stack and grip for the runner's deck and hand vs R&D and HQ for the corp) make the game arcane and hard to learn"

I agree that jargon can really put off new players. It's unfortunate, but my technical writing teacher used to say something like "the highest purpose of jargon is to convey a concept succinctly and unambiguously." There is limited space on cards, and 'stack' does nicely for the concept of 'runners draw deck.' Given the source material for the original NR used deck to mean 'console,' NOT using some sort of jargon might have been a problem. The jargon for corp makes a whole lot of sense: R&D contains a whole lot of ideas, and they send the ones they come up with to the executives in HQ. The problem is the runner jargon is by no means intuitive -- they're loosely based the names computer science gave to data structures.

If I could add one more bit of jargon, it would be a symbol for conditional abilities. The rules point out that they are a thing, but use plain English to convey them to players. "Trigger conditions commonly use the terms 'When' or 'Whenever' in their card text." Even the rules realize conditional ability ambiguity is going to occur. And they do. For example, does Daily Casts have one conditional ability or two? Because if there's two, that means there's a window where you can take the last two credits off, and then sell the daily casts to Aesop. One simple symbol could have formalized both the number of conditional abilities and what their specific triggering events are.
posted by pwnguin at 10:21 AM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love Netrunner. I still have my old batch of cards, and I missed picking up the new game when it was released at GenCon because it sold out in, if memory serves me correctly, 45 minutes. I am way behind on the expansions, but I appreciate its current incarnation as a deck-building game. My wife enjoys playing the game, but not so much the assembling-a-deck-from-booster-packs aspect, so using the default decks is a perfect median for us.
posted by Gelatin at 6:37 AM on January 26, 2015

I can't be the only one who only knew Netrunner as a BBS door game...
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:43 AM on January 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Pssh... I've been playing Netrunner since it was in DOS...
posted by daHIFI at 3:02 PM on January 27, 2015

I've been playing Netrunner for a few months now, my only problem is finding people to play with. I've only got one core set and recently picked up the Honor and Profit expansion from a friend for Christmas. I've managed to teach a few friends how to play but while the game is fairly easy to explain from a mechanics standpoint, there's still that glazed look in their eyes for the first game or two while they try to figure out what they're supposed to do.

OCTGN is good for finding a game, once you figure out how to operate the damn thing, but then I run into the problem where there are so many card packs at this point that I spend half the game just trying to familiarize myself with the opponent's cards and referring to CardGameDB to figure out the whaa? points of some of the cards.

I've actually spent more time recently playing Warhammer 40K: Conquest, which is FFG's most recent LCG. It's only been out for 2-3 months and is only up to the 2nd war pack at this point, so I feel like I can actually keep up with the game rather than feel like I'll have to drop $200-300 just to catch up on A:NR.
posted by daHIFI at 3:17 PM on January 27, 2015

Naomi Clark has been producing ambititous retheme of the game:

Instead of mega-corps using Intrusion Countermeasure Electronics (ICE) to keep runners out of their servers, Naomi is transforming Netrunner into a game about wealthy houses who use nobles to defend their various estates against riff-raff looking to disrupt the aristocrat’s schemes. The same mechanics apply to both versions of the game, a robust frame that is set up precisely to compare the cyclical nature of history in both near-future dystopia and not-so-distant-past class struggle.

The article author hopes it will attract a set of players put off by computers and cyberpunk, but I suspect the game is no less confusing when the rules and card text are written in archaic language. But it works well as social commentary.
posted by pwnguin at 9:51 PM on February 7, 2015

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