|The Runner's Game
An Android: Netrunner Strategy Article by Guest Writer El-ad David Amir
|Android: Netrunner The Card Game | Published 19 March 2014|
“I see it clearly. The bleeding citadel towers in front of you. Its walls rise endlessly. Its gates are barred by arcane locks. Its barricades harbor sentinels wielding cruel weapons. There is but one person that can point to you the secret passage inside. You must seek g00ru.”
In an Android: Netrunner strategy article aimed at aspiring Runners, New York City tournament organizer and guest writer El-ad David Amir offers a few fundamental pieces of advice.
El-ad David Amir on the Runner’s Game
The shady streets of New Angeles are home to a menagerie of humanity. Well-dressed salarymen brush against the vilest street scum, bioroids cross paths with G-modded athletes who possess the physique of demigods; above all, the never-ending buzz of the web chimes through vidboards, seccams, earphones, PADs, brain plugs, acoustic needles, servitors, clone maidens, refurbished rigs, zinc antennas, alarm clocks, mind-machine interfaces, eye implants, and plethora of other microscopic and macroscopic instruments. It is the future: We shot the moon, we colonized Mars, and we stand poised to plunder the solar system for its riches. Still, the greatest dreams and aspirations are housed and developed in the silent confines of cyberspace. And there, Runners threaten the world's mega-corporations. These ultra-talented individuals pay blood, toil, tears, and bits in their attempts to steal information, the most precious commodity of all.
Read on, aspiring Runner, to learn some of the secrets of the trade.
“Know Your Enemy”
In Android: Netrunner, your goal as the eponymous runner is to steal seven points worth of agenda cards from the Corp. The path to that end is straight-forward: run on one of the Corp's servers, access an agenda card, and it's yours. In contrast, the Corp must dedicate significant effort to score their agendas, investing time (Clicks) and money (Credits).
Unfortunately, the task is not as simple as it looks. An astute Corp will employ a variety of tools to defend their servers. Chief among these are ice: bits of software that hamper your progress in a variety of nasty ways. The simplest ice will only end your run and leave the precious agendas out of your reach. Nastier Corps employ more dangerous ice that will fry your rig, tag your physical location, or even scar your brain. Icebreaker programs will get you through ice, but it will take a variety of breakers to get into into the most defended servers.
It’s important to learn the tricks so that you’ll understand what you’re up against. Acquiring the resources required for the installation and activation of these programs will come at the expense of running.
“Run Early, Run Often”
“You must go in. I can’t go in. I’ll go in.”
While the Corp is building their defenses you can run and nab agendas. However, there comes a point when all of the servers are either sealed or exert a painful toll for entry. This necessitates the installation of icebreakers and other tools that will help you get back in. As the Corp develops further, they’ll be able to rez truly nasty ice, and you’ll need to further upgrade your rig before making additional attacks. This dichotomy between periods of action and periods of preparation creates the tension that lies at the heart of running. The periods when you cannot run are what the Corp calls scoring windows, as they allow the Corp to chill back, relax, build its economy – and, worst of all, advance and score agendas. A successful Runner will apply the maximum amount of pressure possible while minimizing the scoring windows.
This last bit is crucial: a naive runner might think that they should wait until the Corp installs an agenda into a remote and then snatch it from there. This approach is misguided, though, as leaving R&D and HQ alone means that the Corp can dedicate its resources to that crucial server that will host its agenda. When you eventually run, you will face the most brutal defenses the Corp could muster. Furthermore, you won’t know what to expect as you face running against a server guarded by several layers of unrezzed and unidentified ice.
Compare this tactic with the more encompassing strategy of harassing centrals. Once the agenda is in your score pile, you do not care where you stole it from. By probing R&D and HQ often, you can force the Corp to squander its precious credits on defenses that do not directly contribute to its victory. Running frequently pushes the Corp to invest in ice, denying them resources, and giving you information.
“Start with a Strategy”
The Runner’s situation becomes more complicated when you consider how to build a rig to support your runs. If you just run, you will be forced to stop when the Corp installs a new piece of ice that you cannot break, offering it the dangerous gift of a scoring window. Therefore, you’ll still want to dedicate some of your clicks to building your rig, either by generating economy with cards like Kati Jones (Humanity’s Shadow, 91) or by directly installing programs and hardware.
The trick is finding the correct balance, and many factors dictate that balance, including the Corp’s defenses on its central servers, the strength of its economy, and its faction identity. Developing the correct balance between pressure and preparation will take time and patience, as you need to learn how Corps think and how best to exploit their moments of weakness.
This development may be executed in gameplay, but it starts with deck-building. The more aggressive you intend to be, the more icebreakers and run events you’ll want to include. You’ll play them cheap, and you’ll count them as expendable. If you’re playing for the late game, that’s when you’ll focus more of your deck and actions toward the development of a full and stable rig capable of busting through just about any Corporate server.
“Learn from Your Experience”
It’s worth noting that developing the correct balance between pressure and patience is probably the most valuable lesson an aspiring Runner can learn: Let experience be your guide.
By identifying past situations in the current game state you can make a better, more informed decisions. Should you play aggressively versus a heavy-drawing, low-economy Jinteki? What if your opponent is the Weyland Consortium with its big bank and its apparent disregard for its agendas? The best way to learn is to join the other side, if only for a spell. Join us next time, then, when we discuss beginner tips for the Corp.
As much as any card game you'll find, Android: Netrunner rewards skillful play. Accordingly, we intend to publish more articles in the coming months that focus on some of the game’s tips and tricks, as well as how successful players consider these elements as they develop their decks.
Keep your display active. There’s plenty of Android: Netrunner yet to come!
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.