Announcing the Fifth Data Pack in the Red Sands Cycle for Android: Netrunner
Mars used to be cold. Then humans arrived—and brought the flames of war with them!
Fantasy Flight Games is proud to announce the upcoming release of Free Mars, the fifth Data Pack in the Red Sand Cycle for Android: Netrunner.
While the Martian Colonial Authority (MCA) and its Earth-based corporate backers insist that the war ended a long time ago, the Free Mars Council (FMC) knows better. And now, it’s actively recruiting for the “War for Martian Independence.”
The new Agendas in Blood and Water revealed how far the Big Four are willing to go on Mars to pursue profits and power. Now, with the sixty new cards (three copies each of twenty unique cards) in Free Mars, it's time to see how far the Clans and their Runner allies will go to keep Mars for Martians (Free Mars, 81). So strap a milspec laser to your exosuit and call in every favor you can; the revolution is here!
Resources Are Scarce
Under the domes, it’s almost possible to forget that Mars was never meant to sustain human life. For some Clan members, enduring the MCA has felt like a small price to pay for the luxuries that are imported each day into Bradbury’s starports and distributed by mag-lev to the outlying nodes. But everyday, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the O2 recyclers, the multi-tiered aglots, and nextgen plasteel plates aren’t arriving for the benefit of the Martians who struggled and died for generations to build a civilization out of red, irradiated dirt. Instead, newly arrived corporate execs keep the best supplies for themselves and let the Martians squabble over their scraps. Now the FMC is encouraging their fellow Martians to see these aliens for who they are—schemers who see a stint on Mars as the best way to climb a ladder that’s grown too crowded on Earth.
But a smear campaign against the Earthers may not be enough when the corporations control everyone’s access to the news, the water supply, and even the air they breathe. And new Corp cards illustrate how much control they can wield over the Runner’s choices when resources are scarce.
Three new cards in particular— Biased Reporting (Free Mars, 96), Water Monopoly (Free Mars, 93), and 02 Shortage (Free Mars, 90)—confront the Runner with the harsh inequities of life on Mars. When the Corp plays Biased Reporting, the Runner must choose to trash their own cards or let the Corp profit from their attempts to create an advantageous board state. As more and more runners rely on resources-heavy strategies involving Salsette Slums (Salsette Island, 59) and Temujin Contract (Blood Money, 26), or classic combinations like Data-Leak Reversal (Future Proof, 103), Joshua B. (Cyber Exodus, 42), and Paparazzi (Old Hollywood, 87)—Biased Reporting lets the corporation make a quick profit from their meticulously constructed rig.
The profit differential increases if a Jinteki player employs Biased Reporting against a Runner’s resources after scoring a Water Monopoly. Each copy of Water Monopoly in the Corp’s score area increases the cost of non-virtual resources by one credit. Seasoned Jinteki players know that they can usually score an early agenda without any protection against runners who fear accessing a Snare! (Core Set, 70) or Psychic Field (Honor and Profit, 10). While agendas like House of Knives (Honor and Profit, 4) and Profiteering (Second Thoughts, 39) have capitalized on this strategy by enhancing the Corp’s intimidating demeanor, Water Monopoly offers Jinteki players a slower burn that can give them an economic advantage for the entire game.
Meanwhile, O2 Shortage offers Runners another catch-22: trash a random card from their grip or give the Corp an extra click. At first glance, this operation may seem like a less reliable version of Biotic Labor (Core Set, 59). However, O2 Shortage offers a few advantages of its own. First, it offers HB players an extra three chances to fast advance their agendas. Second, it costs a credit less than Biotic Labor, and any player who could have won a game if they had one more credit can appreciate the importance of that discount. Finally, O2 Shortage can offer players two ways to win when they take advantage of its lower influence cost to combine it with cards like Ronin (Future Proof, 112) or Neural EMP (Core Set, 72). If the last run left the Runner short on cards, you can give them an ultimatum: “Give me a click or be flatlined.”
But Talk Is Free
While it may seem like the corporations have an impossibly tight grip over life on Mars, the truth is that it's a big planet and Earthers are still afraid to stray too far from major nodes like Bradbury. This means that the FMC can secretly rally its forces in the Red Planet's innumerable hills and canyons, and outlaws of all kinds can still gather in seedy locations like the Bloo Moose (Free Mars, 89).
The newest neutral resource captures the essence of life on the fringe's of Mars, where runners must struggle to make the most out of every card and click if they want to survive. Bloo Moose lets players remove a card from their heap to gain two credits. This means that runners who sell an empty Cache (The Spaces Between, 37) to Aesop's Pawnshop (Core Set, 47) have one more chance to profit on the seemingly worthless program in their heap.
But players will want to choose the cards they remove from the game carefully, because new events like Rip Deal (Free Mars, 84) may offer them better ways to reuse their hardware and resources.
Make Every Run Count
Life on Mars is a constant struggle. Martians must struggle against an inhospitable environment, an uncaring government, and Earth-based corporations eager to test their newest field rifles, warbots, and samurai clones. If they hope to succeed against these forces, the Martians must rally the Clans, requisition every piece of equipment they can find, and manage their resources carefully.
It may be true that the war never ended, but its final victory won't be determined on the battlefield alone. They say, "To the victor go the spoils." But in the world of Android: Netrunner, gathering the spoils first may be the key to winning.
Grab everything you can when Free Mars arrives in the second quarter of 2017!