Matt Tonks
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Introduction

Firstly, let me make it absolutely clear that when CCG’s first started flooding out in the 90’s I never got involved in them; not even M:TG, although I had heard of it at the time. I was still at school & just going onto University. Even once I finished & began earning a steady income, I still not get involved due to hearing of the gigantic amounts of money some people were spending on CCG’s. I simply refused the lure. So the golden age of CCG’s passed me by happily.

Once we began to see Race For The Galaxy & Dominion (plus the expansions) published, I fell in love with those as each new set came out; seeing as I earn more now than I did as a fresh-face graduate & being more involved with the gaming hobby, my mind occasionally drifted back to temptation in CCG’s. Cue Fantasy Flight’s LCG format – I am really enjoying Warhammer:Invasion & I also like Call Of Cthulhu to a lesser degree. This pretty much ended any lingering interest I may have had in dipping my toes in CCG’s.

Until a regular gaming buddy of mine who used to play several CCG’s a lot in their heyday started mentioning Netrunner. I didn’t see any harm in giving it a go & so borrowed a starter set. I have since played it 2 or 3 times, both times switching sides.

Components & theme

Unsurprisingly, 99% of the components are cards. These could be bought in 60-card starter packs & 15-card boosters, but unfortunately Netrunner is now OOP so the only way of getting these are either buying off someone else who already has the cards and/or via specialist sellers. You also need beads or some kind of tokens to track various things happening via the cards & perhaps a couple of die.

I’ll be honest here; when I first looked at the artwork, my first thought was ‘These sure are ugly cards!’ & from that point on prior to playing, my expectations dropped dramatically. For some reason, I didn’t like the majority of the illustrations – particularly the 3D rendered graphics – at first, but they seem to have grown on me & I realise they really do add to the theme of a futuristic, seedy world of hackers & large corporations doing their damned best to keep the hackers out of their data. You only have to go to the gallery on BGG just to see some examples.

A bit of trivial opinion – I particularly like the artwork on Japanese Water Torture anyone else got any particular favourites?

Rules & game-play

There are 9 types of cards; the Corporation player will use Agendas, Operations, Ice, Upgrades & Nodes. The Runner player will use Programs, Resources, Hardware & Prep.

I won’t go into the full rules, but the aim for both players is to score Agendas; usually 7 points of Agendas will win you the game, plus a bonus 10 for the win. Then both players switch sides for another game & an aggregate score is made to determine the overall winner. Both players begin with 5 cards & 5 bits (money).

Game-play is very simple; the Corporation player always begins the game & his turns begin by drawing a card from his stack (also known as R&D) before taking 3 actions. These can involve drawing a card, taking a bit, installing a card face-down on or in one of their data forts (on – Ice, in – Nodes, Upgrades & Agendas), adding an activation marker to a card installed inside a data fort or using an action on a card they have in play (usually activated Agendas/Nodes or Operations). By installing Ice in various places such as Archives (trash piles), HQ (the Corp’s hand), R&D (the Corp’s stack) & other subsidiary data forts, the Corp can place defences against the Runner attempting to break into their systems to find Agendas in any of those 4 locations to score (know as a Run) as each Agenda has a certain number of points on the card. Ice cards have a strength that the Runner need to match/equal to pass & may also have subroutines to be bypassed before the Runner can move onto the next piece of Ice. If no Ice remains to be bypassed in the data fort, the Runner has succeeded & gets any Agendas from the card(s) he is allowed to reveal. Generally, Operations, Upgrades & Nodes all serve to give the Corp more bits, cards & other benefits such as doing damage in some form to the Runner.

On the Runner’s turn, he does not get a card to draw but instead gets 4 actions. These include; taking a bit or a card, using a card’s action (Resource, Prep, Hardware) or making a run. Runs are perhaps the most crucial element of the game; this is where the Runner nominates one of the Corp’s data forts to attempt accessing to potentially getting an Agenda – or several in some cases! If the first Ice in that data fort is face-down, it gets revealed to show what kind of Ice it is; such as Wall, Code Gate, Sentry or a more obscure type like AP & Hellhound. If it’s face-up, it just means either it has been revealed by an action or a previous run. Usually the Corp will try to ‘rezz’ (pay the cost to activate it) the Ice so as to force the Runner to have to bypass & beat it. The Runner should have several programs at his disposal with various strengths to beat the Ice & abilities to bypass the subrountines. Usually, this will involve the Runner paying bits to do so.

The Runner may also have other type of programs in play that do not enable him to break Ice, but they do other useful stuff such as revealing the first piece of Ice. The Runner is limited to 4 MIU for these programs (most of them are 1 MIU, some are 2 MIU) but there are certain Hardware cards that allows you to increase your MIU capacity & thus install more programs. Prep cards are like the equivalence of the Corporation’s Operations cards & involve mostly a one-off benefit before the card is discarded.

There are other little rules involved such as certain cards that use special tokens & also damage that can be inflicted on the Runner by certain Ice cards, but these have not really come up enough for me to feel confident of commenting on them, so I will leave these out for now.

Impressions

In case you haven’t already guessed, I absolutely love Netrunner already & am hooked. There are a ton of strategies that derive from the cards can be pursued by both players; some of them will be quite specific & others quite general. There is so much interaction going on as the Corp does everything he can to prevent the Runner gaining access to any Agendas & the Runner trying to do so. Despite so much complexity, the game is very simple to play & this is where the beauty of the cards lies. The rules are also very clear in aspect.

I bought a barely-used start set from someone else in my weekly group & was also lucky enough to get the chance to buy a massive set from an old Netrunner player in the UK. This means I pretty much have more than I need to play Netrunner on a regular basis. In some ways, Netrunner being OOP is both a blessing & a curse with anyone trying to buy the cards; it’s a blessing because it’s no longer being produced so there are no more cards being produced (unlike Magic) so you don’t have the same feeling of having to keep up. If you’re unlucky, buying starter sets & other cards could be hard to find & expensive at the same time.

In summary:-

A fantastic game from the same designer of M:TG & one that I’m glad to have given a chance. Even though it’s over 10 years since Netrunner first came out, it beats the living daylights out of many of today’s best games!

An easy 9 out of 10 in my book – who needs M:TG, huh?!

Pros

Amazing game-play with tonnes of interaction
Completely assymetrical feel due to the different aims, cards & actions of both sides
Complex game, yet very streamlined to play
Some very nice artwork

Cons

OOP & hard to find so could be expensive
Perhaps a lack of players still involved or would be willing to play
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Davido
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Really a set of starters has plenty of replay value. If that starts to lag, then getting a set of commons/uncommons/vitals for basic and/or Proteus will give you TONS of variation without going the 'chase rare' route.
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Simon Johnston
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Quote:
was also lucky enough to get the chance to buy a massive set from an old Netrunner player in the UK

Hey - not so much of the 'old' - I shall have to come to Milton Keynes to show you how Netrunner should be played sometime!

Thanks for the review - it's good to see your enthusiasm in print.

(One very minor quibble - the actual scoring system is loser scores the number of agenda points actually scored, the winner scores 10 points.)

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Jens Kreutzer
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Quote:
If the first Ice in that data fort is face-down, it gets revealed to show what kind of Ice it is; such as Wall, Code Gate, Sentry or a more obscure type like AP & Hellhound.


Congratulations on discovering Netrunner! Still my favourite, too.
Just to make sure: Ice does not necessarily get revealed when the Runner approaches it during a run. It only gets revealed if the Corp rezzes it (or if the Runner has some kind of detection).

Quote:
If it’s face-up, it just means either it has been revealed by an action or a previous run. Usually the Corp will try to ‘rezz’ (pay the cost to activate it) the Ice so as to force the Runner to have to bypass & beat it.


Again, just to make sure: The Corp only has to pay once to rez ice; it is then active for all subsequent runs.

Keep running and enjoy!
 
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Matt Tonks
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Simon J wrote:
Quote:
was also lucky enough to get the chance to buy a massive set from an old Netrunner player in the UK

Hey - not so much of the 'old' - I shall have to come to Milton Keynes to show you how Netrunner should be played sometime!


Ha! I meant 'old' as in you played it years ago

Simon J wrote:

(One very minor quibble - the actual scoring system is loser scores the number of agenda points actually scored, the winner scores 10 points.)


Thanks for pointing that out - perhaps my regular gaming buddy remembered that bit slightly wrong. He only started playing again with me & the previous time was some 5 years ago or so...
 
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Dan Scott
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Great review for this great game.. glad to see it get a little attention these days. As mentioned earlier, a starter deck is all you need and I've seen some of those go for 20-30 bucks on ebay.
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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Netrunner was both a very good game and also died an early death for pretty much the same reason - it was a collectable card game that allowed you to play well pretty much regardless of the cards that you had, and where bluff and finesse had more to do with the end result than the number of rare cards that you could afford - in fact most of the rares were pretty situation-specific, and the game played just as well with a bunch of starters and/or commons than the suitcase of rares that broke many a Magic player's bank. Great for players, lousy for a company who just wantsto print dollar bills.
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David Chapman
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The market having moved on and developed new models since Netrunner's initial release, it might be worth sticking an oar in to WOTC suggesting that the game be re-released as an LCG. 52-card decks for Corp and Runner, potentially up to three sales per deck per buyer, and they already have a base game plus four expansions designed. I think it would sell.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Lots of luck that. WOTC doesn't own the rights to the Netrunner setting. R Talsorian does. WOTC owns the CCG rules. Talsorian owns the Cyberpunk 2020 setting Netrunner is, er, set in... You'd have to get *both* companies to agree to a reprint. WOTC cannot do jack with Netrunner without Talsorians permission. They could re-theme the rules. But then it certainly wouldn't be Netrunner.


Jedit wrote:
The market having moved on and developed new models since Netrunner's initial release, it might be worth sticking an oar in to WOTC suggesting that the game be re-released as an LCG. 52-card decks for Corp and Runner, potentially up to three sales per deck per buyer, and they already have a base game plus four expansions designed. I think it would sell.
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Pete Martyn
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kihu wrote:
If they could have figured out how to make this a multiplayer game I think it would have had a much longer life. I'm not sure how they would have gone about doing it but that's what killed this game prematurely in my opinion.


If you have the players, check out this unofficial multiplayer option. I haven't had a chance to try it, but if I ever manage to get three other players together, I'm giving it a shot for sure.
 
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John Brownsill
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tonksey wrote:
Simon J wrote:

(One very minor quibble - the actual scoring system is loser scores the number of agenda points actually scored, the winner scores 10 points.)


Thanks for pointing that out - perhaps my regular gaming buddy remembered that bit slightly wrong. He only started playing again with me & the previous time was some 5 years ago or so...


No your gaming buddy didn't get it wrong, you got it wrong you muppet

We've been playing it as per the rules i.e. 10 points for a win and the number of agenda points scored for the loser.

I have a new Corp and Runner deck ready, so prepare to be hacked and scored tonight devil
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Matt Tonks
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Pogle wrote:

No your gaming buddy didn't get it wrong, you got it wrong you muppet

We've been playing it as per the rules i.e. 10 points for a win and the number of agenda points scored for the loser.


Well, d'uh! That's me told... clearly my newbish memory has let me down on that !!!

Pogle wrote:

I have a new Corp and Runner deck ready, so prepare to be hacked and scored tonight devil


We shall see !
 
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John Brownsill
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tonksey wrote:
Pogle wrote:

I have a new Corp and Runner deck ready, so prepare to be hacked and scored tonight devil


We shall see !


Indeed we did see whistle

Very close game with my Runner deck, till I discovered a hidden agenda in the archives to clinch it

But my Corp deck.....muahahaha crushed you in double quick time laugh
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Matt Tonks
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Pogle wrote:

Indeed we did see whistle

Very close game with my Runner deck, till I discovered a hidden agenda in the archives to clinch it


You just fluked it whistle

Pogle wrote:

But my Corp deck.....muahahaha crushed you in double quick time laugh


You certainly did hand me my nuts on a plate

Great fun though
 
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Andy M
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Jedit wrote:
The market having moved on and developed new models since Netrunner's initial release, it might be worth sticking an oar in to WOTC suggesting that the game be re-released as an LCG. 52-card decks for Corp and Runner, potentially up to three sales per deck per buyer, and they already have a base game plus four expansions designed. I think it would sell.

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Andy M
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Omega2064 wrote:
Lots of luck that. WOTC doesn't own the rights to the Netrunner setting. R Talsorian does. WOTC owns the CCG rules. Talsorian owns the Cyberpunk 2020 setting Netrunner is, er, set in... You'd have to get *both* companies to agree to a reprint. WOTC cannot do jack with Netrunner without Talsorians permission. They could re-theme the rules. But then it certainly wouldn't be Netrunner.


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John "Omega" Williams
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moss_icon wrote:
Omega2064 wrote:
Lots of luck that. WOTC doesn't own the rights to the Netrunner setting. R Talsorian does. WOTC owns the CCG rules. Talsorian owns the Cyberpunk 2020 setting Netrunner is, er, set in... You'd have to get *both* companies to agree to a reprint. WOTC cannot do jack with Netrunner without Talsorians permission. They could re-theme the rules. But then it certainly wouldn't be Netrunner.




Nice try junior.

Except WOTC sold NR off to another company and did indeed strip out the Netrunner background and re-theme the game and did indeed cut out Talsorian so the current game isn't a reprint anymore of the original. Its got new mechanics and isnt compatible with the original without some tinkering. YMMV of course.

 
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