Android: Netrunner-Tabletop Corner

Competitive card games have always been a favorite of mine and for the past two months I have been introduced to one that has changed my mind on card games. The game is called Android: Netrunner and I find it to be a lot of fun. Android: Netrunner created by Fantasy Flight Games is a 2-player card game were the first player to score 7 points wins. The thing that separates Netrunner from games like Magic: The Gathering, is it is a Living Card Game. According to Fantasy Flight, a Living Card Game is a game that can be fully played with a core set and by expanding the game with expansions and other add-ons to increase the experience. Another thing that is cool about this game that it is part of universe that Fantasy Flight has built.

The Android Universe is a Dystopian Future where the Moon and Mars have been colonized and androids are part of daily life. Computers have advance most of civilization to the point that Elite users can jack their brains into the computer directly. Netrunner focuses on the cyber struggles between Runners and Corporations as both try to complete their own agendas. A game of Netrunner with have 1 player take the role of a Runner and the other as a Corporation. There are three runner factions: Anarch, this groups focuses on doing as much damage to a corporation as it can; Criminal, a group that cares about how much money they can make; and Shapers, tinkers that love to test their limits. The Corporation players has four factions to choose from: Haas-Bioroid, android focus company; Jinteki, focuses on developing clones; NBN, media kings of the world; and Weyland Consortium, holder of many construction contracts. The goal of the game is to score 7 points, but how does one do that?

In Netrunner, the first player to score 7 points wins. Points are determined by Agenda Cards. Agenda Cards are held by the Corporate player only and vary in value. For the Corp to score an agenda they must install it on a server and place the required number of advancement tokens. Corps can protect servers by using software called Ice. Ice vary strength and abilities to make it harder to be accessed by unwanted guess.  Runners have to steal agendas from the corps’ server. They can build a Rig by playing hardware cards, which will give them abilities and more resources, they can use programs to earn money and make moving through Ice a bit easier. However, Corporations have another way to win, if the Runner flatlines, or is forced to discard a card but don’t have enough cards or has an empty hand, the Corp will win the game. The goals are pretty simple, but it’s the means to reach these goals that make the game interesting.

Gameplay wise Corps and Runners play very differently. I like to think that in Netrunner one player will play mostly offense and the other will play mostly defense. The Corporation player focuses more protecting their servers by using Ice to make it harder to get into servers, assets and operations to gain resources, do damage to the runner or set traps. Runners must arm themselves to access servers and hope that they can find and steal agendas from their opponent. However, the game does allow players to expand on their strategy. For example, when I play Corporation, I play a Jinteki deck that focuses more on doing damage to the runner. I can do damage by using cards that almost punishes runners for taking my agendas, for making a run on a server and trap card that if the runner accesses it allows me to do damage for a price. For the runner side, I play a shaper deck, that focuses on accessing cards from the corporation’s R&D server, or the corporations deck, to hopefully steal an agenda before they can draw it. Now I would go into more game mechanics, but that maybe its own article.

The final question to answer, why do I love this game. Android: Netrunner, for me, is more accessible, is more about deckbuilding vs. deckbuilding and most of all, more financial sound. Accessibility and cost go hand in hand. As stated before, as a living card game, it is meant to be fully playable with just the core set. When you get the core set for Netrunner, you are given 7 starting decks, one for each faction in the game. It is a great start as you can a game as get faction to get an understanding of their different play styles before expanded out and buying more cards for the game. Which is another nice part of it, Netrunner collection is regularly expanded with new sets. However, unlike other collective card games where you buy 1 pack to get 10 different cards from a 110 set and more than often you get the same cards over and over again. In Netrunner, when you buy an expansion pack, you get all 60 cards (usually 20 different cards and 3 copies of each) that are in that set. So, if you are looking for certain cards to match your play style there isn’t blind grab that you have to buy multiply packs and hope you get what you want. So, money wise, how does it play out. The core set of Android: Netrunner will run you about $40 USD but that includes 7 starter decks and all the tokens and pieces needed to play the game. The Data Packs, or booster packs, are 60 cards for about $15 USD. You can pick up Deluxe Expansions for $30 USD and you get 165 cards. Also, these prices are from the site itself, it may change depending on where you buy it but as you can see there is bang for your buck here. And finally, in the 3 months that I have played this game on a weekly basis, I have start to notice that it’s definitely more using your deck building skills since the playing field is even since players do have actually access to the same cards. So as a Corp you have an idea of what a runner has access to and vice-versa, meaning it comes down to who can build a better deck to handle most situations. This game has introduced me to a new style of board games and hopefully I can get into more Living Card Games.

Of course, what makes board games great is having a group of people to play with. So hopefully if you find this game interesting based on this article or by checking out Fantasy Flight website,, you have a good group of friend to play it with.

Thank you so much for reading this. If you like this article hopefully you will read some of the other pieces on the site.

Until next time, have fun and keep gaming.

-Mike Rambulla

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