Jordi De Jonghe
There are a few things I'd like to get out of the way before going into the review.
- First of all, this is my first ever review so I don't know if this will be helpful at all. English is also not my native language.
- Secondly, I have been playing Netrunner for 3 years now. I play it on a weekly basis and I play competitively whenever I can. This might have influenced how are campaigns developed.
- Finally, I will not review in depth how the cards complement the existing card pool or just the core set. I will spend a little time on this at the end. The main focus will be the campaign.
Disclaimer regarding spoilers
This review will be spoiler-free with the exception of how many games a campaign took us and the contents of the tournament legal cards and the contents of packs 1. You are instructed to open these packs right away and these start the campaign.
Disclaimer about my love for Netrunner
I have been playing Netrunner for 3 years now on a weekly basis. It should be clear from this that I absolutely love Netrunner (although I'm not so keen on some of the recent design decisions, but I'll keep that to myself for now).
Now let's get this review started.
General information (including our general playthrough info)
Terminal Directive (abbreviated TD in the rest of this review) is a "legacy" campaign game. This means that you will use stickers and tear up cards during a campaign. Therefore one box of TD allows you to play through the campaign only once. No harm is done to the tournament-legal cards in the core and/or TD. The box comes with 4 different IDs, two for the Corp and two for the Runner. At the start of a campaign each players commits to one side and one ID.
Of course I played the campaign twice with an equally skilled (or probably even more skilled) friend of mine (Note: For each campaign played, you will need 1 copy of TD, as is to be expected of a legacy game). During our first campaign I chose the Corp ID Seidr Laboratory and my friend played Runner ID Ayla "Bios" Rahim. In the second campaign I played Ayla "Bios" Rahim and my friend played the other Corp ID Skorpios Defense Systems. I will speak from our experience with these two match-ups. Here it seems appropriate that we both built our own decks from 1 core set and 1 copy of TD. Our Runner decks were vastly different despite the use of the same ID. We played both campaigns in one 8-hour sitting.
Outcome of our campaigns
I won the first campaign after playing 8 games. I won all of them. It goes without further explanation that my friend was very frustrated and I felt bad.
Our second campaign didn't start very differently. The Corp (my friend) won 4 games in a row. He was two games away from winning the campaign. In the very first pack there is an objective that says that if you lose 4 games, you open a new pack. For those who played Pandemic: Legacy S1, it's something like the dreaded box 8. I won't spoil what you find in this pack, but you can already tell that it didn't really help my friend when he got it in our previous campaign. I decided to not use this new pack after opening it.
Since we were both curious about the Runner side of the campaign, he gave me a chance during our fifth game instead of just double Scorching me (Scorched Earth, core set) or icing everything to impenetrability. I won and got to open a pack. Once more I didn't use the optional contents, but the mandatory stuff added to at least some less one-sided and boring games. Luck turned it in my favor and I eventually won the campaign as the Runner (but my friend had to give me a free win for this after 4 losses).
What did TD do right?
Before going into what this legacy game does wrong, I'll discuss the positive things.
- Your choices influence the story.
- The permanent special abilities (in the form of stickers on your PAD = player board, both positive and negative) are impactful and add spice to the game.
- Introducing interesting (if not always powerful) cards that make sense within the story.
- Offering choices in which playstyle you want to continue, i.e. offensive vs defensive.
That's about all I have to say in favor of TD. That doesn't sound to bad now, but here comes the beatdown.
What did TD do wrong?
- Your choices don't influence the story enough.
- The campaign is quite short.
- More stickers than necessary. When you progress the story, you add a sticker to key story cards but they just change a number. There is no need for stickers for that.
- Messy writing in objectives and wrong terminology (e.g. score vs steal).
- There are one time objective/reward things which are kind of meh.
- The fun only starts after the first win (or maybe 2) for each side which is nigh impossible as the Runner with the starting setup.
- The Runner has almost no chance due to Scorch Earth and/or Biotic Labor (both core set cards).
- TD added a lot of Corp economy cards. Where is the Runner economy? How does the Runner win?
- If the Runner doesn't get a win first, the Corp will snowball. And hard. If the Runner does get the win, the Runner will snowball.
- There is no opportunity to progress the story if you don't get that first win. In our first campaign my friend had to sit around while I was reading all these new packs I got to open.
- The "Open if you lose 4 games"-pack (for the Runner) doesn't do anything impactful unless the other player is just plain bad at this game. Also, after 4 losses the other player can be almost at the end of the campaign. That's too late to save anything really.
I'm sure I missed some of my frustrations.
What about the story? (No spoilers)
The story is fed to you in snippets in each pack and depends on your choices. In between your sessions you're reading these, but you're really just skimming them because the other player is waiting for you for the next game since they didn't get anything to read. I reread the story afterwards as a whole and it made more sense but they remain snippets. However overall I enjoyed the story. Of course I read the Runner story out loud because my friend didn't experience anything from it.
However the story was entertaining (but may need a reread afterwards) and funny at times. Not laugh-out-loud funny but more like exhaled-through-my-nose funny. And we got an inside joke out of it which is something.
The launch event kit
Some of you may be aware of this. TD launched with a launch event in many places. This added some extra objectives for the Corp and Runner side. Completing these extra objectives would earn you full art cards from the launch kit. This was okay and gave you something to do while you got whooped. However one thing stood out to me: one of the objectives for the Corp was impossible without the help of the Runner if you chose Seidr Laboratory. Why? WHY?!
I feel like the campaign part of this game was rushed and not properly balanced. Some cards and/or effect are worded badly and up for debate. I feel mixed about how I should rate this because the cards in TD are a very good addition to the card pool and/or a core set. That's why I would still advice this set to people who enjoy Netrunner out of the core set. The cards will add a lot, but the campaign is lackluster.
My star rating will only take the campaign element in consideration.
Despite this low rating I would still advice it for the cards, which makes me feel weird and makes me want to contemplate this hobby again.
Thank you for reading. Feel free to discuss anything I brought up.
tl;dr I would advice this to new players as a first expansion for the cards but not for the campaign. The campaign is playable if you both agree to not take it too seriously and help each other from time to time.
- Last edited Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:58 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Wed Jul 5, 2017 4:57 pm
Fantastic review, and completely mirrors my thoughts on the campaign. What a wasted opportunity. However, some really awesome cards! I'm torn two ways.
Thanks for the review!
This just cements what I already gathered from previous reviews. It's definitely not for me. A wasted opportunity, really.