When You Need the Human Touch
–Jinteki corporate slogan
–Jinteki corporate slogan
In our first previews of Android: Netrunner, we shared why we’re thrilled to reimagine the classic Netrunner card game as an LCG and presented an interview with Richard Garfield that revealed his thoughts on the effort. Now, as we race toward the game’s release at Gen Con Indy 2012, we turn our attention toward the game itself, starting with an overview of the Corporation’s turn and interests.
Android: Netrunner is an asymmetrical, head-to-head Living Card Game that features radically different play and options for the Corporation player (Corp) and the Runner. We’ll take a look at the Runner’s turn in a later preview, as we explore how each faction prepares for tense and dynamic struggles in cyberspace. For now, we’ll look at the Corp’s victory conditions and the actions it can choose to take as it pursues them.
The Corporate Agenda
- Score seven points from their completed agendas (see more later).
- Force the Runner to discard a card when he has zero cards in hand.
In Android: Netrunner, the second Corp victory condition represents the Runner’s demise. Of the two Corp victory conditions, it’s the more confrontational and visceral, but the first victory condition is far more common. The game’s megacorporations are vast financial empires built on credit, labor, ambition, and clever business schemes. And like all vast financial empires, these megacorps share a singular dedication to expanding their business further, cornering additional markets, and growing perpetually wealthier.
To get richer, Corporations devise any number of agendas, and these agendas are represented by a type of card that can be installed (played onto the table) facedown and advanced (read more about advancing cards below). The number at the top right corner of each agenda indicates how many times it must be advanced before it is completed. Once the Corporation advances an agenda to completion, that agenda is scored.
In most games, then, the Corporation wants to focus on advancing agendas. Everything else is secondary. Except, of course, that if it doesn’t pursue its other courses of action along the way, the Corporation will never score enough of its agendas to win.
Android: Netrunner stands apart from most other card games in the fact that there’s no standard turn “sequence.” Most card games force players to move through a series of phases, but in Android: Netrunner players are awarded tremendous freedom in their use of a limited number of clicks (the click, or , is a unit of time and work), which they can use to perform the actions available to them in any combination they wish.
Corporate click tracker (left) and actions card (right).
Where the Runner has four clicks to spend each turn, the Corporation must take its first action each turn to draw a card and then may spend only three clicks toward their other interests. You can see from the cards above that the Corp has more actions available to it each turn than it has clicks to spend on them, and to further complicate matters, the Corp may perform actions multiple times in a turn, so long as it has the clicks (and, if necessary, the credits: ) to spend.
: Draw 1 card from R&D
The Corporation draws one card from R&D at the beginning of each turn but may spend additional clicks to draw more cards, at a rate of one per .
: Gain 1
The Corporation starts with five credits, but it must spend them to install, advance, and rez other cards (the Corp makes its installed non-agenda cards active by paying their costs to “rez” them and turn them faceup). While many cards may alter the Corporation’s income, this action defines a baseline expectation of at least one per one .
: Install an agenda, asset, upgrade or piece of ice.
The primary way for the Corporation player to bring a card into play is to “install” it, playing it facedown into one of the game’s “servers.” Thematically, it costs the Corporation time and work to move data from one location to another, and other than scored agendas, each Corp card always belongs to one server or another.
The game identifies three central servers:
- HQ: The Corp’s hand. This is represented on the table by the Corp’s identity card.
- R&D: The Corp’s draw deck.
- Archives: The Corp’s discard pile.
An example of a highly developed Corporation, with ice installed on all its servers, including two remote servers.
Cards installed outside of these central servers are considered part of a remote server, and a Corp player may create any number of remote servers.
In this example, the Corporate player spends a to install the ice, Chum, to protect a remote server.
: Play an operation.
Operations are cards like Archived Memories (Core Set, 58) that the Corporation can play for an instantaneous benefit. After it has resolved, an operation is trashed (moved to Archives).
, 1 : Advance a card.
Card advancement is one of the game’s most fundamental actions. As mentioned earlier, the Corporation needs to score seven agenda points to win and can only score those points by advancing an agenda to completion. At both one and one , though, card advancement is an expensive action, and a successful Corporation will devote much of its resources toward accelerating its economy.
As an example of advancement, the Corporation begins its turn with the agenda, Hostile Takeover, installed facedown in a remote server. It draws one card, per the rules, then spends two and two to advance the agenda twice. Hostile Takeover only requires two advancement, so the Corporation scores the agenda, gains seven and one bad publicity. The Corporation still has one to spend. If the Corporation gets up to seven points by scoring Hostile Takeover, it wins the game. If not, play continues as normal.
, , : Purge virus counters.
Certain Runner cards give or accrue virus counters, and none of them are good for the Corporation. The Corporation can scan its systems for these viruses and purge them, but to do so takes a full turn’s worth of clicks.
, 2 : Trash 1 resource if the Runner is tagged.
This is the Corporation’s second situational action, and whereas the first (purging virus counters) is defensive, this one is pure offense. A number of Corp cards provide means of tagging the Runner. In the game, this means the Corporation places one tag token on the Runner’s identity card each time it successfully tags him. Thematically, it means the Corporation has managed to identify the Runner’s signal and may be able to track his IP address, or even his physical address. Accordingly, once the Corporation tags a Runner, it may take a host of actions otherwise unavailable to it. The tag itself has no immediate game impact but serves as a triggering condition for other cards.
Here’s an example of tagging a Runner and trashing a resource:
When the Corporation scores Breaking News, it gives two tags to the Runner, placing two tag tokens on the Runner’s identity card.
Now that the Runner is tagged, the Corporation aims to choke the Runner’s income by trashing one of its resources,Aesop’s Pawnshop. The Corporation pays one and two , and the Runner must trash its resource.
Steady Progress Toward World Dominance
In time, if it is left uncontested, or if it is able to protect itself from insidious raids on its servers, the Corporation will launch several agendas, advance them, score them, and win. But Android: Netrunner rarely affords the Corporation such a smooth and stable ride to the conquest of its global markets. Thus, in coming previews, we’ll take a look at the various actions available to the Runner, and we’ll explore runs in cyberspace from the points of view of both Corporation and Runner.