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Subject: A short critical review of Android: Netrunner rss

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sechzger
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Hi fellow gamers,
i am or at least was a magic player. So i decided i had to give Netrunner a try.
I read the rules and thought that there are a some really clever concepts in this game.

Totally different factions and different win conditions were promising a good game.
All my five games are played online so far, but i had a very kind guy helping me through my first two games.

In the first games it was really tough to figure where i should protect as corp.
The runners options are easier to grasp at first.
While playing you are often struggling to have enough money to either rez your ices or to use your icebreaker abilities.
For me as a magic player it felt strange that often it's the best options to just get a dollar for click.
The game often feels like you are doing not much while playing.
Most of the game feels like luring for a good chance to spot either a weakness in the corps defense or as the corp a short time in which you can level up your Agenda and score it.
I really like the tags and traces, because they force you to take lots of things into account.
I think the game transports it's theme pretty good and the artwork is well done, too.

But still i have lots of problems with Netrunner.
Since it's a card game Netrunner will always suffer from bad or good draws. I am aware that over a large sample size luck equals out and that a skilled player would probably still win vs a weaker one, but at times this can be frustrating.
The fact that the cards in Netrunner have very different use enlarges the draw problem.
A hand full of ice won't do anything, because the runner can just develop his board and get his economy going.
On the runners side you could just draw the wrong icebreakers and then you can do nothing but wait.
The game gives you the ability to use your clicks to draw cards, but this will slow down your economy then.
To me the game seems too slow playing. I don't have the feeling of accomplishing a lot while playing it and for that reason i can't enjoy the game a lot.
If you really want to enjoy this game you have to invest time into learning the rules then the cards and then the best way
to use them and your partner has to do the same.
As said i played approximately 5 hours of Netrunner to this point and i am aware that i haven't grasped all concepts and i am probably not yet able to see the importance of the small decisions. But in my oppinion
after 5 hours i should be able to pretty much fully appreciate a game.
If i have to invest more time into a game lots of other players will turn away from the game.

Conclusion after 5games:
Android: Netrunner isn't a game which you can pull out and have a quick session. You need two well informed players for this game.
The rules are pretty intimidating to people who aren't into complex games. Twilight Struggle's rules were more intuitive to me.
Netrunner can offer you some very deep strategic and tactical situations, which can be very satisfying for some people.
The game length of 45-60 minutes seems too long, because lots of options are quite trivial, but still seem unimportant, because they have
pretty much no effect on the game.
The pre-match deck building aspect will offer near infinite replay ability and i am sure that a well tuned deck will perhaps decrease some
of the random effects i mentioned but not all.
For me this game just lacked the fun, which i have while playing magic. Perhaps with more plays this will change.
After 5 games i rate it 6 out of 10.

Conclusion after 10 games:
After getting some more gamse in, building my first own deck and thinking about the second deck i really enjoy the game and see it's depth.
Now the decisions i stated to be trivial are getting interesting too.
As soon as you get used to the "slow" rythm of the game you can really start to enjoy way more.
Still the game can drag to up to 1,5h, which seems too long for it.
Rating after understanding the game, which needed a time span of 5 and half game:
7.5 out of ten

PS: Better Netrunner player as myself responded with some well thought answers in this thread. I am aware that most points they made will be true. But these answers all come from people who invested some time into learning the rules, gameplay and cards.
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Henry Allen
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recallme wrote:
On the runners side you could just draw the wrong icebreakers and then you can do nothing but wait.


Or you can draw like mad! Four draws per turn should get you something before long
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Simon Skov
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I think you make some good closing points, especially aboout the game really needing both players to be well-informed and experienced to get the most exciting plays. But then I guess that is true to some extent of most games.
With regards to the games being too long, with many choices being trivial and unimportant, I must say I don't agree with you. Netrunner always seems very tense with lots of hard decisions to make when I play it!
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Jason Mosley
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Thanks for the review. I feel most of your complains will be fixed with more plays. I never have an action feel trivial or wasted. Bluffing and taking risks are where the fun in in this game.
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Wesley Kinslow
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Thank you for the write up! I'm not at all surprised that many former Magic players won't find bliss in Android: Netrunner.

I am also a former Magic player and I can honestly say that if you're looking for "Magic methadone" as it were you will not find it in Netrunner - It is just too different a game. If you aren't intrigued with the tense economic situations you can find yourself in and appreciate those tight windows of running/advancing opportunity then I'm afraid that most of the game will be lost on you.

Sometimes you just want to set up your cards that combine favorably and watch the fireworks as your cards chain together and make your opponents shuffle up for a new game - and for that there is Magic: Flashy, powerful, dramatic "in your face" plays. Netrunner lends itself to smarter more tactical play than that of Magic I believe... so it isn't for everyone.

Most of the variance issues you experienced can be fixed with better deck building and more experience from the players... which you mention and your'e correct. This game isn't appreciated by people that don't put much into it.
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I appreciate your review.

However, I was bothered by how much you repeatedly thought that there was so little behind each decision. More than any other game I have played, Android: Netrunner causes the player's every action to matter. And even the order.

I recorded some of my plays a few weeks back. In each game, there were multiple points where I could identify poor decisions I made. And I don't mean misinformed decisions- I mean just overlooking what should happen.

I'd recommend playing more. It would seem you haven't fully grasped the game yet, but it's a tough beast to tackle, in my opinion.
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Mathieu B.
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About the poor draw issue, when I was a Magic player, what frustrated me the most about the game was the drawing issue. Drawing no land and being mana short or drawing just land and having no cards to play.
I feel the drawing issue is less problematic in Netrunner because the decks are smaller (45 to 50 cards in most case) and you don't have 1/3 of your deck that is dedicated to your economy (lands).

I also like the Netrunner economy better than the mana of mtg because in Netrunner, you are never 100% stuck, you can always pay 1 click to have 1 credit.

The first couple times I played Netrunner felt weird because my mtg reflexes where useless and the first 2 decks I made where junk because I made them using my mtg reflexes again. I ajusted myself and now I just find to like Netrunner a lot more than I ever liked mtg. But I can clearly understand than you can like mtg better. They are 2 completely different beats that are hard to compair.
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Anon Y. Mous
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wedgeex wrote:
Flashy, powerful, dramatic "in your face" plays.


Though some of these powerful and dramatic plays are from the use of incredibly broken and random cards. I prefer to win through more skillful play, not drawing a $50 card at the right time and nuking the board with no skill.
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Konstantinos Thoukydidis
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recallme wrote:

A hand full of ice won't do anything, because the runner can just develop his board and get his economy going.
On the runners side you could just draw the wrong icebreakers and then you can do nothing but wait.


I think this is a misunderstanding because you haven't yet fully grasped the way the game moves.

A hand full of ICE is pretty sweet at the start. Not as amazing as a hedge fund + 2 ICE, but pretty solid. The reason is that the runner has no idea that your hand is full of ICE! You can just take your time making credits and keeping the R&D secure until you can protect a remote server, while the runner is wasting clicks and creds trying to break over your HQ or R&D for no benefit.

As for drawing the wrong icebreakers, that isn't a problem at all. At the start of the game, you barely even need icebreakers, and by the mid game, you should have at least 1 or 2 that allow you to break into some servers to take a peek. And if the corp happened to draw only the ICE that you can't break, you can still power through your deck to find them. As others said, with 4 cards a turn, you'll have to hit on something, and if not, maybe you should invest in more Special Orders or Crypsis'

Quote:

To me the game seems too slow playing. I don't have the feeling of accomplishing a lot while playing it and
for that reason i can't enjoy the game a lot.
If you really want to enjoy this game you have to invest time into learning the rules then the cards and then the best way
to use them and your partner has to do the same.


Again, I can't agree here. I've had a lot of fun teaching the game to newbies, who took 3-4 games to begin grasping the rules. Trying to make the game suddenly "click" for them and seeing their face light up when they called out my bluffs or feints was quite a lot of fun. There's a lot of enjoyment to be had in simply learning this game, as well as playing it from an experienced perspective.
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Steven Tu
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I totally get what you're saying, and instead of defending Netrunner, which is what I should do,I'm going to say that it's a perception and habitual issue.

Magic players like their SUPER CARDS. It's what they spent $50 a pop on, willingly, and it's what they like to play. Dropping that card and pwning, those "big events", are what makes magic players tingle, both at intermediate and beginner level.

Netrunner games and cards aren't perceived as "POW" because there's no rarity, and cards are more balanced out in terms of cost/benefit/punishment. And there's less chance for cascading combos because you have to pay for things, and paying for things with credits built up over a few turns is not the same as having renewable resources (mana) every turn. When resources carry, your "POW" moments are built up from previous turns, not from drawing that POW card.

So, when magic players try the game and don't do as well they expect, their habitual response is - this game doesn't work. If a magic player has invested nearly half as much into Netrunner as they did into magic they'd understand the nuances of it.

I find that the people who most enjoy Netrunner are ex magic players who've quit magic usually for the same reason: got too expensive. And they all got into Netrunner citing that it is a more exciting game due to the asymmetry and hidden information which was missing from magic. The LCG model also doesn't hurt one bit.

Existing magic players are those who stuck with boosters and drafts and $50 singles, and the lack of those would fail to excite them.

My experience
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Wesley Chan
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You make some good points. A lot of it just stems from inexperience, though, and probably deck composition as well.

As you've already noticed, and others pointed out, both players need to have invested in some knowledge of the game in order for your decisions to be meaningful. Otherwise, it can certainly seem like you're just making trivial decisions in pulling credits.

While clicking for credits is usually not a bad idea as the corp, there are reasons behind doing so (you don't want to fill your hand with agendas you can't reliably score, or even worse, have to discard them to archives because you can't hold any more). It's just a guideline, though, since you'll see fast advance decks drawing for cards because they're looking for agendas.

Other times, you might be drawing enough credits to bluff a facedown piece of ice as something bigger.

Or maybe you don't draw credits, because you're egging the runner to rush your ambush, or you know they can hit HQ with an Account Siphon.
Of course, this is all pointless if one side or the other doesn't understand the meaning behind the actions.

As for bad draws, a lot of it can be fixed with good deck comp. Of course, there are still bad draws, but drawing is a "free" action. That is, you don't need another card or effect to do it, compared to Magic, where card draw is considered a powerful ability. Incidentally, Magic players coming into ANR end up adding the drawing cards into all their decks and end up with some funky stuff. It's not as problematic on the runner side, but there are very few situations you'd do it as a corp.

Just like in Magic, you need a good balance of cards in your deck. Where Magic is about finding the middle between lands, small monsters, big monsters, and other spells, ANR is about balancing economy, ice/breakers, assets/resources, operations/events, and agendas/hardware (although this last pair aren't complementary components like the others). Of course, there's always exceptions, like big monster decks, or counter decks in Magic, and ANR has those, too, in Crypsis decks, or tag-and-bag decks.
For that matter, most of the pre-built decks are not tuned very well, and will often lose to pre-constructed ones provided similar skill levels.

If you can't find someone else who can invest into ANR, then it's probably not a good fit for you. But if you do (or even if you only play online) the gameplay is really quite rewarding.
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Max Maloney
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I know that when I first started playing Magic, I liked it. It took a lot of exposure to understand the nuances enough to really love it (something some haters in this thread never learned, apparently).

The biggest problem facing Netrunner is that facing all CCGs, LCGs and TCGs: because it's not as widely played as Magic, it is more difficult to get the same type of exposure.

Even more than Magic, much of Netrunner feels like it's in the deck-building. This is not a game you can play opening random packs and drafting. It's about developing a concept, building it and testing it on people. The bluff and counter bluff comes from a mutual understanding of game effects and the strategies that evolve from them.

If you can't go to a game store several days out of the week and test your new ideas against other players and their new ideas, the game won't evolve to its full potential.

In the last 20 years, no game other than Magic has fully realized that meta-game potential.
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Ulrik Bøe
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Dormammu wrote:
Even more than Magic, much of Netrunner feels like it's in the deck-building. This is not a game you can play opening random packs and drafting. It's about developing a concept, building it and testing it on people. The bluff and counter bluff comes from a mutual understanding of game effects and the strategies that evolve from them.


Have to disagree here about deckbuilding. So many of the interesting decision in Netrunner happens in the game. A game that is all about deckbuilding would be one where your decisions are made when putting the deck together, and playing is just executing your plan. Netrunner is so very far from that.

Knowledge of the cards is important though. It fuels the bluff part of the game - you can't scare the runner from running on a face down Ice Wall by having a 1 point agenda and 4 credits if he doesn't know about Archer!
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Hugo L
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Thanks for this honest review, nice to have different point of view on this game. I agree with most of your points, but one of them bother me a little bit:

Quote:

Since it's a card game Netrunner will always suffer from bad or good draws. I am aware that over a large
sample size luck equals out and that a skilled player would probably still win vs a weaker one, but at times this can be frustrating.
The fact that the cards in Netrunner have very different use enlarges the draw problem.


As a former Magic player myself, I really feel Netrunner don't suffer much of bad draw. Because for one, the draw pace is more flexible than in other CG (up to 4 draw a turn if needed), and also because the game is not that much about the card themselves. The way you play them is IMO more important than in Magic for instance.

Quote:
A hand full of ice won't do anything, because the runner can just develop his board and get his economy going.


You get a free Mulligan each game if needed to avoid scenario like this (or worse a hand full of agenda).
 
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Patrick Jamet
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recallme wrote:
A hand full of ice won't do anything, because the runner can just develop his board and get his economy going.

This sentence shows that you don't understand this game very well... yet.
Because a corp starting hand full of ices is certainly the best thing you can get.
If you have problem with this kind of starting hands, it's probably because your ices are too expensive. You don't need more than 3-4 monster ice, and half of your ices can be low-cost.

I hope you'll persevere with this game and enjoy it soon.
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sechzger
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I updated this review.
Thanks to all of you who answered. I will play some more games and see where it will get me.
The most important point for me was, that this game is nothing like King of Tokyo or other games. You won't sit down with a newbie and he will immediately have fun with this game. On the other side if both invest time into it this can emerge into a really good game.
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Steven Tu
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recallme wrote:
I updated this review.
Thanks to all of you who answered. I will play some more games and see where it will get me.
The most important point for me was, that this game is nothing like King of Tokyo or other games. You won't sit down with a newbie and he will immediately have fun with this game. On the other side if both invest time into it this can emerge into a really good game.


Seeing as your original comparison is against Magic, I don't see how it's different from Magic... I don't think a complete newbie can take nearly as much enjoyment out of Magic as King Of Tokyo too, but we're really talking about a completely different game here. Chess vs Monopoly, really.

It sounds, as you say, it all comes down to experience with the game.

Hope you stick around, and enjoy whichever game you're playing!
 
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τὰ ὄντα ἰέναι τε πάντα καὶ μένειν οὐδέν
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Between balanced reviews, objective reviews and now critical reviews I think that maybe Android Netrunner has BGG's review scene cornered when it comes to high minded review mentalities.

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Dave Langdon
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The game is too deep in strategy to reflect upon after just one or two plays. What seems like an insurmountable problem after a couple of plays...can be turned on its head when you suddenly realise...Ahhh if I do this!!

It sucks you deep into a vortex of strategy and possibility.
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BT Carpenter
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I am curious about two numbers from the OP:

1) Number of hours dedicated to understanding Magic: The Gathering
2) Number of hours dedicated to understanding Android: Netrunner

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Eric Matthews
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Thanks for your review. (I don't normally comment on reviews)
It was very helpful to someone like me who is considering it, but is running into the hesitation that not only do I need to commit to such depth of understanding, but so does whomever I play against. It does seem the bluffing element, while fantastic, rules out someone building a bunch of decks for more casual friends (which is possible in games like magic).

I don't think it matters how many hours you have dedicated (beyond what you have said in your review). Not everyone needs a thesis on the game, and frankly I think if you had the doctorate in MtG and passed the expert in Android exam that some seem to require for a review, then you would likely not be able to write a review appropriate for those of us who are condisdering buying the game for casual play.
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Napoleon Bonaparte
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byronczimmer wrote:
I am curious about two numbers from the OP:

1) Number of hours dedicated to understanding Magic: The Gathering
2) Number of hours dedicated to understanding Android: Netrunner



Magic - 196 Pages http://media.wizards.com/images/magic/tcg/resources/rules/Ma...

+ a whole page of FAQ's
+ extra rules for specific situations
https://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Article.aspx?x=magic/rules...


A:NR - Core+FAQ+Tournament =36+6+4=46

http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/ffg_content/android-netrun...

And this is just pure difference in pagenumbers. Most of the magic rules are just when to do what because there are much much much more phases where things can happen.
 
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Henry Allen
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Ganybyte wrote:
Thanks for your review. (I don't normally comment on reviews)
It was very helpful to someone like me who is considering it, but is running into the hesitation that not only do I need to commit to such depth of understanding, but so does whomever I play against. It does seem the bluffing element, while fantastic, rules out someone building a bunch of decks for more casual friends (which is possible in games like magic).

I don't think it matters how many hours you have dedicated (beyond what you have said in your review). Not everyone needs a thesis on the game, and frankly I think if you had the doctorate in MtG and passed the expert in Android exam that some seem to require for a review, then you would likely not be able to write a review appropriate for those of us who are condisdering buying the game for casual play.


Actually, though I like Magic better, I'd choose Netrunner first for playing against my own decks or with prebuilt decks. The bluffing isn't ruined by knowing the threats, it is made more effective (you know they have traps in the deck, you just don't know if they just played one). The exception I suppose would be in the case where a novice bluffs at something that isn't possible with this deck which is not likely to happen since they are a novice and don't know it could happen . Anyhow, bluffing aspect aside, the play in Netrunner is so much more important than the deck I'm finding it quite fun just playing with precons. We're finding strengths/weaknesses of each and I'm sure I'll want to tweak them eventually but I'm still likely to just keep playing with (tweaked) prebuilt decks. It is quite an enjoyable game.
 
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General Norris
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NoxMortem wrote:
Most of the magic rules are just when to do what because there are much much much more phases where things can happen.

Actually most of those rules are there to explain what happens when you mix Humilty and Opalescence.

http://draw3cards.com/question/619/opalescence-and-humility/

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Max Maloney
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ulrik wrote:
Dormammu wrote:
Even more than Magic, much of Netrunner feels like it's in the deck-building. This is not a game you can play opening random packs and drafting. It's about developing a concept, building it and testing it on people. The bluff and counter bluff comes from a mutual understanding of game effects and the strategies that evolve from them.


Have to disagree here about deckbuilding. So many of the interesting decision in Netrunner happens in the game. A game that is all about deckbuilding would be one where your decisions are made when putting the deck together, and playing is just executing your plan. Netrunner is so very far from that.

Knowledge of the cards is important though. It fuels the bluff part of the game - you can't scare the runner from running on a face down Ice Wall by having a 1 point agenda and 4 credits if he doesn't know about Archer!

I think you misunderstood me. I did not mean the deck-building is the game and playing is secondary. I simply meant building a deck is important strategically. Many players of Magic build decks from random packs. This wouldn't be as interesting in Netrunner because the strategies are not as basic. The asset for Magic here is only one of accessibility. It's easier to sit down and open packs than to spend time developing a deck.
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