|A Life of Crime
Explore the Struggles of Android: Netrunner from the Runner's Point-of-View
|Android: Netrunner The Card Game | Published 03 August 2012|
“I guess you could say I suffer from a Houdini complex, except that I don’t really bother trying to get out of things. I prefer to see how long it takes me to get into them.”
–Wyld Chyld 2.0
In our last preview of Android: Netrunner The Card Game, we looked at how Corporations must install layers of ice to gain protection from Runner’ raids on their servers. If a Corporation can protect its agendas long enough to score seven points, it wins. But in the asymmetrical gameplay of Android: Netrunner, half the game is dedicated to tearing down the Corporation’s defenses and stealing its agendas.
Today, we look at that subversive other half of the game. After all, the game wouldn’t be called “Android: Netrunner” if it didn’t feature Runners and their efforts to hack into Corporate files!
What’s Yours Is Mine
Each turn as the Runner, you get four clicks (units of time and work) with which you can take actions. We’ll look more at the full range of actions available to Runners in a future preview, but for now it’s enough to point out that it takes you one click to initiate a run against a Corporate server.
“Running” is the heart of Android: Netrunner and the bread and butter of every Runner. Each of your runs is an attempt to hack into a Corporate server and access its cards, and starting a run is as simple as spending a click and declaring the target of your attack.
If you access an agenda, you can steal it, depriving the Corp of the points it hoped to score toward its bid for financial supremacy. Instead, you score those points yourself, and if you can filch seven points from your enemy, you win.
Additionally, if you access any Corporate card with a trash can icon, you can pay the indicated number of credits to trash it. It’s not always worth the cost to trash a Corp player’s card, but it’s nice when your destructive impulses can simultaneously disrupt the Corporation’s momentum and buy you more time to rip through their servers for data.
Aim for the Weak Spot
You don’t need icebreakers to attempt runs, but you’re naked without them and vulnerable to any defenses the Corp player has installed. When you’re jacked in on a run, Corporate ice can do some very bad things to you.
Some ice just kicks you out of the system and ends your run, but some ice can deal brain damage (reducing the cards in your hand) or initiate traces in order to give you one or more tags. Tracked by tokens, tags allow the Corp player to keep track of your activities and set you up for future punishment. There are many tales of Runners who failed to avoid tags; most of them disappeared for long periods of time until their bodies were dredged out of dirty rivers or discovered by accident in a building’s cracked cement foundation. We’ll look more at tags in future previews.
If you haven’t got icebreakers installed (and the credits to pay for them), the safe play is to aim for the Corporation’s weakest servers. Of course, there’s not necessarily anything of value in those servers, and daring Runners often spend their early game putting the Corporation on its heels by forcing it to rez multiple ice, until it can’t afford to protect a valuable central server.
As a Runner, you can develop a valuable support system of hardware, programs, and resources. It takes credits and clicks to acquire these things, but they can all help you in your efforts. While we’ll look at more of these elements in a later preview, we’ll continue today by looking at the tools most essential to your work – icebreakers.
Click the diagram above to watch a Runner conduct a run on a Corporate server.
Icebreakers are programs designed to unlock, smash, trick, depower, or otherwise bypass Corporate ice. All icebreakers have a strength value and one or more abilities. Nearly every icebreaker has at least one ability that can break ice subroutines, and most have an ability that can increase the icebreaker’s strength.
In order to break a subroutine on a piece of ice, you must first increase the strength of your icebreaker until it equals or exceeds the strength of the ice. Increasing the strength of your icebreaker will cost you some credits, and then once you’ve increased the strength of your icebreaker, it’ll likely cost you some more credits to break ice subroutines.
As an added wrinkle, most icebreakers only target a single type of ice, meaning you’ll likely need to find and install multiple icebreakers. As an example, Ninja can break Sentry subroutines, but it’s ineffectual against a Barrier. On the other hand, Battering Ram (plus some credits) will get you through a Barrier, but not through a Sentry or Code Gate. Accordingly, every good Runner plans to install icebreakers to deal with each type of ice.
Always Be Running
In Android: Netrunner, Runners are criminals who must constantly hone their skills and upgrade their tools to avoid detection and repercussions for their runs. They live outside the safety of the law, and each run they attempt could be their last. Still, they risk brain damage, financial ruin, and beatings at the hands of Corporate thugs. They do so for different reasons. Runners are a diverse and individualistic group and arrive at their chosen profession from a wide range of backgrounds and motivations. However, at the root of it all remains one vital fact: if the Runners don’t run, the Corporations win.
Keep scanning our uploads for additional previews. Before Android: Netrunner releases at Gen Con Indy, we’ll look at the rules, tournament rules, and Corp and Runner identity cards appearing in the Core Set. Until then, keep on running…
Based on the classic card game designed by Richard Garfield, Android: Netrunner The Card Game is a game for two players set in the dystopian future of Android. It pits monolothic megacorps against subversive netrunners in a high-stakes struggle for the control of valuable data.