“Hey, man. You don't look too good. You alright?”
The bum's kind inquiry brought Ji back to his senses. Using the park bench as a brace to stretch his back and shoulder muscles, he looked at the old vagrant. Smelly, poorly clothed, too thin – this was one of the underclass.
One of the victims.
“I'm doin' OK, my friend,” he said. With a quick, practiced movement, he flicked the OFF switch for the modem installed in his lower neck, connected to his spine. His other hand hid the readouts on his PAD, brought up a more innocent, user friendly display. Couldn't risk the chance that the guy had some knowledge of what Ji was doing, no matter how remote. “Just getting some work done.”
The sun was starting to set over this New Angeles park, but nearby offices continued to buzz. The most prominent of them, the local Weyland Consortium branch, had a steady stream of workers going in and out.
“You don't look like a suit, man. What's your scene?”
Suddenly, the stream of people at the Weyland office turned to a flood. A mass of employees crushed out of the doors, as some kind of siren began to blare from inside. Security shutters began to descend over the doors.
“Nothin' serious, old man. Just making some noise.” With that, Ji stood up and began to walk away, tapping more on his PAD with a smile on his face.
“Just helping out.”
As he left the park, several men in suits began to follow him...
What is Netrunner?
Android: Netrunner is a living card game that came out in late 2012. In it, players will either take the role of a megacorporation, trying to advance their shadowy agendas of financial control and worldly power, or of a runner, an individual trying to steal the Corp’s agendas to either strike a blow for the people, make a profit, or because fuck it, why not?
The original version of this game, simply titled Netrunner, released in the mid 90's, and despite love from the fans, went into hibernation until Fantasy Flight picked it up and gave it a slight retooling.
How do you play?
The best way to learn that is to read the rules
, but the extreme basics are as follows:
The whole game revolves around certain cards the Corp player has, called Agenda cards, with each Agenda being worth a certain number of Agenda Points and having a particular cost. The Corp is looking to play this card, and invest money in it equal to that cost. When they do that, they score the agenda, and get both the Agenda Points, and the usually-sweet benefit associated with it.
The Runner, on the other hand, doesn’t care about building stuff up. They just want to...liberate
it. If a Runner accesses an Agenda, usually through one of their runs, they just outright steal it. They don’t need to pay the cost located on the card. They also don’t get the ability of it, just the points.
The first player to reach 7 Agenda Points wins the game. Each player also has a unique way they can LOSE the game:
For the Corp, business must go on, despite these intrusions. Spending all your resources to keep out one little script kiddy will make your Corp a laughing stock, and you will be dissolved. If the Corp ever has to draw a card, and they have none left to draw, the Corp has lost.
For the Runner, all of your software (and most of your hardware) is plugged into your head somehow. Electricity and internal organs (the brain, most notably) tend to not get along very well at all. If the Runner ever has to lose a card from his hand, and he has nothing left in his hand to lose, the Runner has FLATLINED, and loses.
The Corp protects their agendas with software called “Ice”, designed to keep out intruders or mess with their equipment. The Runner, naturally, can equip certain programs called “Icebreakers” to help them deal with the barriers in their way. Both players need money to get those programs up and running.
There's a number of reasons why A:NR is worth your time and money:
Asymmetrical game play.
The two factions in this game, while utilizing similar resources such as credits and “clicks” (actions), use them in radically different ways. The Corp is desperately trying to keep the Runner out of their systems long enough to bring their agendas to fruition, while not going broke in the process. The Runner is constantly attacking and probing the Corp's network, often toying with firewalls capable of destroying their hardware and melting holes in their brain. The key is that the Corp plays everything face down, with secrecy as their ally. @Rorus Raz
describes it far better than I can:
Excellent usage of theme.
The runner won't know kind of ice there is until they are actually going after something and the corporation pays the money to activate it. Even then, the runner doesn't know WHAT the ice is guarding until he or she reaches it. A savvy corporation may have set up three nasty pieces of ice to guard nothing more than a neural bomb designed specifically to make the runner's head explode. On the other hand, the runner can call the corporation's bluff, and it turns out that the ice they have set up is far too expensive for the corporation to activate, and you run past every piece of ice without any resistance.
I could describe it, but an example works much better:
Let's say that you are representing the Weyland Consortium, and you want your deck to focus not on the protective software to keep your servers secure, but on assets and contacts tailor-made to destroy the Runner and his equipment if you get the slightest whiff of his whereabouts. Well, there's lots of ways you can do that. You can overload his power grid, hoping the surge will fry some of his consoles...
Or perhaps you want to hire a team of professionals to hound him with bullets, making sure he can never rest easy...
Or...you know what? You don't want to think about him today. You're just going to blow up his city block.
Each of the 4 different Corp factions and 3 different Runner factions have loads of different tools and utilities like these. They really make you feel like you are a part of this world, this future.
So you want other people to play this with? Well, aside from this lovely little program called OCTGN
where you can play it online with all of us lovely folks here (ask @Tayrun
for more information), there's a Regional program run by Fantasy Flight, where stores can apply to host a series of tournaments, and which often offer prizes to those that take part. Do well enough in them, and you can get to their World Championship event and get even more cool swag. Or you can just take part because HEART OF THE CARDS, that's fine too.
LCG, not CCG.
What this means is that unlike Magic, in which every booster pack you buy contains random cards, all of Netrunner's “datapack” expansions contain the same cards, in equal numbers of copies. This makes deckbuilding less about the terribly boring “I just spent $TEXAS on this one card that'll make you lose”, and more about the interesting “I'm going to take these cards that everyone knows about and assumes to be terrible, and use them in a way that BLOWS MINDS”. Not only that, but if you aren't interested in doing competitions, then there's loads of variety in cards from just the Core set, and you don't even need
any datapacks. (Although you'll see some of the cards in them and think OH GOD THAT'S COOL AND WOULD WORK REALLY WELL I COULD USE IT IN MY DECK and grab a few of them anyways.)
Be awesome. Play Netrunner.