Android: Netrunner rules released, I take a look
I have previously expressed my excitement about the upcoming reboot of the original Netrunner collectible card game under the name Android: Netrunner from Fantasy Flight Games and the rules were finally released yesterday. Although I remember seeing the double starter deck packs out and about years ago, I never picked up the game, which is largely heralded as one of the best CCGs to ever hit market, and sometimes suggested as being unsuccessful in part because the two starter decks were so fun to play that people didn’t need to expand their collection in order to have a fun, complete game. But fun, complete games are the order of the day now. While CCGs may still be around in some measure, that part of the market now seems to be occupied by what Fantasy Flight Games has dubbed ‘Living Card Games’, card games that contain pre-constructed decks that are expandable by scheduled expansions with set contents (no random packs). It’s a much more palatable way to get to play these games, giving you the customization without (as much of) a money sink.
Android: Netrunner (like its predecessor) is an asymmetrical game, where each side has a different set of cards with different abilities and, in this case, different end goals. In this case, the two sides are the Corps (giant megacorporations that control everything) and Runners (those working to take down the Corps). The Core Set for Android: Netrunner will contain 248 cards (134 Corp cards, 114 Runner cards which can be made into four Corp and three Runner starter decks, giving you a lot of variation without any deck building).
One each turn of Android: Netrunner, the Corp player gets three actions (called ‘Clicks’) and the Runner gets four and each player starts with five Credits. It seems like the game uses a fair amount of cyberpunk style jargon like Clicks (an action), Rez (flipping a card face up to show it is active), and Install (playing a card on the table) – among several others – make the game sound a little more complicated than it is. It is something that I imagine most players will get used to quickly, but it does take a second initially to say ‘Okay, how do I ‘Rez’ a card’ and I imagine my wife will be at least slightly more reticent to play the game because of it.
Players have a lot of choices for actions in Android: Netrunner as well. The Corporation player has eight different actions to spend Clicks on (ranging from drawing extra cards or playing a card for one Click to purging Virus counters for three Clicks). The Corporation’s cards come into play face down, so there’s a nice bit of hidden information in there as well, as the Runner does not initially know what the Corporation has played until it is activated or the Runner learns through card usage. The Runner’s turn plays out much like the Corporation’s turn, except that the Runner can make a run. A run in Android: Netrunner involves trying to get past all of the defense cards (“Ice”) in front of a server through spending Credits and playing cards to get past the strength of each piece of Ice. The Corporation also has some cards allowing him to do damage to the Runner (there are three kinds of damage in Android: Netrunner, which have slightly different effects). The game ends when a player has seven or more Agenda points (Agenda cards are played into the Server area and the Corporation must spend Credits and Clicks in order to Advance them). Runners score Agenda points by getting past all of the Ice protecting an Agenda and the Corporation scores by fully Advancing the Agenda prior to the Runner being able to do so. The game can also end if the Corporation runs out of cards or the Runner takes too much damage.
Even just looking over the Android: Netrunner rules, I can see what all the fuss is about. There is definitely an extra layer of strategy in the game that is not present in many other trading card games. The trade-off, of course, is an increase in complexity from the norm, but it is still far from a heavy-weight game. After reading the Android: Netrunner rules, I am more excited about this game than ever. Android: Netrunner is scheduled for a Gen Con: Indy release. You can check out the official Fantasy Flight Games page, the Board Game Geek page, the core rules, and the tournament rules for more information.
This and Mice and Mystics are my two highest anticipated games right now. What’re yours? Anyone else miss this one the first time? Or catch it and have thoughts on the reboot? Talk about it below!