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What is Netrunner like to play?


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#1 dboeren

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 01:13 PM

I know that there are a lot of people who were fans of the old Netrunner game, but there are also a lot of new gamers who've never played Netrunner but maybe just heard about it and don't really know what it's like.

Anyway, I ended up writing this short description of the important psychological aspect of the game in a thread on BGG in response to someone asking why people kept saying that this game didn't depend on who had the best cards as much as most CCGs do.

 

"One big factor that isn't related to the cards at all is bluffing and second-guessing each other.

When the Corp player puts a card down in his data fort, it could be a valuable agenda worth VPs, or it could be a trap that hurts the Runner.

Say your opponent has two forts, one heavily protected, one not so heavy. He places one card in each. What do you do? Obviously he'd put the valuable one in his well protected fort, but maybe he put it in the other fort to fool you. But then he knows that you'd expect a trick, so maybe he put it in the strong fort after all. Or maybe they're BOTH traps - and he's planning to wear down your life and resources before putting his real agenda into play… Hmm, if he's doing that, then the real agenda might be in his hand, but even if you hack it successfully there's only a 1-in-5 change of grabbing the right card. Would he risk that? Surely he wouldn't put an Agenda in his discard pile with no protection at all - but then again it's the one place you'd never look, and he could have a card to retrieve it. If they're BOTH Agendas, should you get the easy one first or the hard one? There's no way to tell which is more points. Now the last two cards you liberated from the lighter fort were both traps or junk. He might be a conservative and only use that for unimportant stuff, or he might be conditioning you to stay away from it so he can pass an Agenda right under your nose…

So, yeah. Nothing in there really has to do with the cards at all, and it's a major part of the game. There are also a lot of cards that can do similar jobs, with varying degrees of efficiency. For example, most icebreaker programs have a base strength value, a cost to use, and a cost to bump up their strength. One can likely substitute for another in a pinch, but they might have wildly different efficiencies. One might be free to use, but have a limited strength that can't be buffed. It's great if your opponent likes to use lots of cheap ice. Another is costly to install, moderate to use, but can be strengthened for a fairly low cost - it's good against a variety of medium to strong ice. Another one might be sub-par all around, but it breaks TWO kinds of ice where most icebreakers only do one of the three types. That saves memory (you only start with enough memory for 4 programs) meaning you can fit a program to do something else useful like a Stealth program or a Virus that you can use to spy on their data fort after you break in."


If you've got your own thoughts to help new players understand what the game is like, feel free to post them here too.
 

 



#2 Rashley

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 09:58 PM

You have hit the nail right on the head.  This game was always a tight, exciting game of cat and mouse with oodles of bluffing and trap laying.  Still one of my favourite 2 player card games, despite not being able to play it on my own.  Neither player has enough actions (4 each turn) to do everything they would like to do.  The Corporation has to protect their R&D (Deck), HQ (Hand) and eventually their Archives (Discards) from incursions by the Runner as well as set up the outside Data Forts which protect the Agendas as they get Advanced to scoring level.  To this end, there are plenty of Ice cards in 3 basic types.  Sentries, Walls and Codes.  The Runner must find and install the appropriate Program Icebreakers in order to break through these defences.  With limited memory space to hold all these programs, Hardware improvements may be necessary.  Most of the Corporation cards are laid facedown and only activated (rezzed) once when needed.  Thus the chance for plenty of bluffing and trap laying.  As Rezzing costs Bits (the currency in this game) and the Runner will have to constantly pay to run and boost their programs, both players must also find a constant supply of these Bits.

This may seem a complicated game.  However, the mechanics are very simple, but there are so many ways to 'attack' the Corporation.  Both sides must look out for possible 'back door' entries and traps.  The basic winning condition is to get 7 points of Agendas and in a 60 card deck I think there has to be 24-25 points worth in the Corporation deck at the start.  Games normally take 1 hour to play and are tense affairs.  The Corporation can also win by doing enough 'damage' on the Runner that they can't take.  Basically there are 3 types of damage which the Runner can get defences against - more choices - Meat, Net and Brain damage.  All work in the same way by taking a card from the Runners hand.  If the Runner does not have enough cards in hand, they lose.  Normal hand capacity is 5, but this might be increased - more choices - but watch out for Brain damage!  This is permenant!  Not only does it remove 1 card from hand but reduces the Runners hand capacity by 1!  Yech!!  If FFG stay true to the original this will be a great addition to the ccg ranks.  Cheers!



#3 HilariousPete

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 02:00 AM

Thanks for the nice descriptions!



#4 el Igore

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 09:22 AM

If I understand the (classic) rules right, only the Corp player can bluff, since only his cards are played face down. The Runner has to react.

Is that right? If so, then the cards from the Runner have to be stronger - on average - than the ones from the Corp.



#5 dboeren

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 09:39 AM

Well, the Runner still has the cards in his hand hidden.  For instance, the Corp might see that the Runner has no Code Gate icebreakers in play and based on that decide to install Code Gates to protect his agenda.  But, the Runner has been holding that icebreaker until he was ready to make a run.



#6 Buhallin

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 10:28 AM

el Igore said:

If so, then the cards from the Runner have to be stronger - on average - than the ones from the Corp.

"Stronger" is a very difficult thing to judge in an asymmetrical game.  For example, the Corp generally has an easier time making money, while the Runner has more flexibility in reaction and card discovery.  Corp resources also tend to be more vulnerable.  So a card that gave a certain money income for an action might have the exact same mechanics for both players, but would be stronger for the Runner because that's an area they're weaker in.

It's a big part of what made Netrunner such a great game - not just that the gameplay was asymmetrical, but that it did such a great job capturing the feel of the two sides.



#7 Rashley

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 09:16 PM

One of the main 'bluffing' elements of the game not mentioned so far, involves the Corporation trying to 'Trace' the Runner.  Some cards allowed a 'Trace' to be attempted if the Runner made a 'Run' last turn, and some ICE - mainly Sentries - had 'Trace' sub-routines.  This involved an 'In the Hand' bid using Bits (currency).  The Corporation was normally limited up to a maximum, but the Runner needed 'Link' cards in play which allowed anything up to his Bits available.  Just because one side has a limit, doesn't mean it would bid that high.  Since bid Bits are lost anyway, win or lose, an overbid can leave you very short of Bits.  As any player of Netrunner knows, without a good supply of Bits, you are severly hampered.  To sum up Netrunner in 3 words, they would have to be:- Bits  Bluffs  Traps.  Cheers!



#8 dboeren

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 06:49 AM

Flamejuggler had a really good comparison in another thread here:  'Think of the corp as dungeon master, laying traps and hiding their intent, and the runner as the clueless adventurer out looking for booty."

So, it's not actually a fantasy game, but that actually describes it pretty well.

The Runner is the adventurer, roaming around your tunnels looking for your gold and magic items and stuff.  The Corp is the dungeon master.  He's spending his resources summoning monsters (ice) to protect his loot - based on observing the adventurer and gauging what sort of monsters might be able to stop him or at least delay him badly.  It's an arms race between the two, plus bluffing, plus timing when you're going to make your dungeon run or when you're going to add more treasure.

Successfully navigate the dungeon's tricks, traps, and defenders to steal the loot and the Runner wins.  Keep blocking the Runner or sending him home to heal before he can get enough of your treasure and the Corp wins.



#9 Rashley

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 09:54 PM

I have to admit that I had never thought of this game in the light of a Dungeon explorer with a GM as I thought its actual theme was closely followed.  However, it is a pretty good analogy.  I suppose the Runner really is like an explorer gearing up to explore a dungeon to steal its treasures (Agendas).  The Corporation could be compared to the GM trying to stop this happening.  The Runner starts at a low 'level' with only a limited supply of programs (equipment') but can 'level up' by increasing their Hardware which could gain more Memory Units (room for more programs) or increase the 'efficiency' of 'equipment' already obtained.  The numerous ICE cards are the 'tricks', 'blocks', 'puzzles' the Corp uses to hinder the Runner, while the Ambush/Nodes are the dangerous 'traps' they set to 'harm' the Runner.  Whichever way you look at it, it was a great game.  I know that FFG will give it their normal good quality components, but until I can at least see the rules, I won't know how close this will be to the original.  In my opinion, the closer the better.  The only thing I didn't like was that Wizards of the Coast dropped it too quickly.  Obviously Magic was a 'money spinner' and in its way a pretty decent game, but Netrunner was far better and completely unique.  Cheers!



#10 Budbundy

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 07:57 AM

Its funny but it sorta reminded me of the Star Trek tcg. Instead of locations you have servers and the traps attached are similar to what youd expect for exploring in Star Trek. Its a really fun game I just wish they had more copies of it available at Gencon:(



#11 AussieKSU

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 08:16 AM

Great descriptions, cheers. One quick note - not trying to pick nits, but point of information…

 

Rashley said:

To this end, there are plenty of Ice cards in 3 basic types.  Sentries, Walls and Codes. 

 

There are now 4. Trap is a new kind of IC.



#12 radiskull

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 08:39 AM

AussieKSU said:

 

There are now 4. Trap is a new kind of IC.

~Do you have something against Electronics?  Or are you just using mechanical Intrusion Countermeasures?



#13 AussieKSU

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 06:49 PM

radiskull said:

AussieKSU said:

 

 

 

There are now 4. Trap is a new kind of IC.

 

 

 

~Do you have something against Electronics?  Or are you just using mechanical Intrusion Countermeasures?

:). Old shadowrun habbit.



#14 cetiken

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 07:44 PM

 dboeren said:

If you've got your own thoughts to help new players understand what the game is like, feel free to post them here too.

Netrunner is like a glass of ice cold lemonade after mowing the lawn in August. 



#15 Fotonurth

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 08:53 AM

I've noticed that some people I've taught./played with IT experience really caught onto corporation gameplay quickly.  Which I find very interesting. As for the game itself, I adore it. It's a challenge to play and a challenge to build for.






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