Monday, October 29, 2012

Android: Netrunner

Two weekends ago I picked up a copy of the new Netrunner game. Last week I read the rules, briefly looked through the cards, and built a couple of legal decks. Some people came over for board games on Saturday and I played one game with Sky. I certainly want to play a few more times to draw more conclusions but here's my initial thoughts...

With one minor difference the rules to this game seem identical to the rules for the old Netrunner CCG. I was expecting them to deviate a bit more from the original game but since I liked the old game this is just fine by me.

That one difference is they added character cards for each side. Each character card has one minor ability (doing 1 damage whenever anyone scores points, or getting a minor cost reduction on your first card per turn, that sort of thing) and then some rules regarding deck construction. The cards are split into specific factions based on character with a bunch of generic neutral cards that anyone can use. Then each character can use a few cards from other factions as well. This doesn't really change the way the game is played but does put some real restrictions on deck creation. Restrictions breed creativity, or so I've been told, so this sounds like a pretty good change.

The problem is with the implementation. The corporation in particular has to put a specific number of agendas into their deck. The box contains exactly enough agenda cards for each faction that you barely have enough assuming you use every neutral agenda in the deck. This means you can only build a single deck at a time. And it means you have no choices to make at all when it comes to which agendas you use. Restriction may breed creativity, but this just seems stifling. One of the neutral agendas has a special ability that can only be used if the runner is tagged. This seems decent in a deck focused on tagging and terrible in any other deck. And yet every deck just has to use it.

There also aren't very many other cards to pick from. Some cards have drastically different power levels. Sky kept drawing cards and shaking his head at how useless they were. I was similarly drawing some useless cards but since a lot of Sky's bad cards made me discard cards it didn't really hurt me very much. Maybe there's a focused discard deck in there somewhere that can actually kill the runner? But it felt like there just wasn't enough going on to build a focused enough deck at this point.

Would I buy it again? I actually don't think I would. As a lonely nerd I don't really have much opportunity to play a strictly two player game. And if I did have someone to play with, and we wanted to play Netrunner, I feel like it would be better to play the old game with the old cards where you could actually build a variety of decks. Maybe with an expansion with some more cards it'll get to the point where it does what I want? I donno.

I am happy to see an old CCG coming back though. I would love to see the old Lord of the Rings CCG make a comeback. Sim City, on the other hand, can stay in the vault.

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