Game Length: 45 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 2 players who are willing to do some homework before sitting down to play
Android: Netrunner was released in 2012 by Fantasy Flight Games as a reboot of the 1996 Collectible Card Game Netrunner by Richard Garfield (of Magic: The Gathering fame). It is a two player game set in a dystopian cyberpunk future where megacorporations rule the planet. One player is a computer hacker, or ‘Runner’, who is trying to expose the seedy plans of the corporation player, or ‘Corp’. The first player to score 7 points, either by stealing these agendas or completing them, wins.
The two sides in Android: Netrunner play very differently to each other. Everything the Corporation player puts on the board is placed face down, including his precious Agenda cards. He can protect these with Intrusion Countermeasure Electronics (or ICE) cards, a high-tech protection against hackers. He will need to spend money if he wants to turn anything face up and gain its benefit, and will need to be very careful about where exactly he spends this money.
Meanwhile, the Runner needs to build up a suite of tools that help her break through the Corp’s defenses. The quicker she builds this, the more capabilities she has – or if she’s feeling dangerous, hse can run unprotected into face-down ICE and hope it doesn’t hurt hert too badly if the Corp activates it. Android: Netrunner is a game built on calculated risk, and for that reason both players need to know the game very well for play to be satisfying.
If you are going to get the most out of Android: Netrunner, expect to sink a lot of time into it. You will need to build both a Runner and Corp deck, making sure you include enough of the right cards with the right balance. Fortunately, Android: Netrunner is dripping with flavour, with cards that evoke the cynical consumerism that the cyberpunk genre is known for. There are a number of deckbuilding resources online, the main one being the excellent netrunnerdb.com. As you build your decks, you will find yourself drawn into the compelling Android universe.
Android: Netrunner comes highly recommended but needs two players who are equally dedicated. It is not well suited to casual play, instead demanding that both players have a strong knowledge of the rules and what the cards are capable of.