Running Nets: An Introduction To Netrunner

Hugh Glass is Tougher than You

The absolute hardest part of these articles is the little bit at the beginning, before the jump. I usually like to keep things light, talk about a story that is awesome or interesting, or maybe slide a recommendation for a boardgame, comic book or piece of culture your way. I took an embarrassingly long time to start writing this because honestly, I couldn’t think of what to say in the introduction. I know, saying it out loud it’s silly, but I guess #FirstWorldBloggerProblems right?

So there was this guy, a frontiersman, by the name of Hugh Glass (make your own jokes here). He was a tough, ornery fella as only old-time frontiersman can be. Remember, these are the people that a couple hundred years ago would venture off across the wilderness of North America an other places, forage, hunt and find their own food, fjord rivers, and otherwise lead the sheep of the civilized world from the (literal and figurative) wolves of the wilderness. In a world that was much harder than our own, these people were the pinnacle of willpower and the thesis of the word “Survival.”

Pictured: Perhaps an end to the “Sad Leo” series of memes

And Hugh was good, among the best. He was part of this big expedition put on by General William Henry Ashley to ascend the river Missouri who’s members became legends of the time, known as “Ashley’s Hundred.” But this story has to do with the time that Hugh died out on one of his voyages. Suprised by a Bear and her cubs, he was mauled badly, very badly, but managed to kill the great beast. But with a broken leg, open wounds and most of the flesh carved off his back (you could apparently see the bones of his ribs Hugh fell into unconsciousness.

He and his compatriots were in the middle of Arikara territory, a Native American tribe known for attacking and killing explorers in the region, and with his wounds he was not expected to survive. John Fitzgerald (who Hugh had worked with) and young Jim Bridger volunteered to stay with him until he died, and bury the body so the scavengers wouldn’t find him. It was considered to be a last mercy to a dying man.

But Hugh didn’t die. He woke up, half buried, with no supplies, a huge amount of injuries, behind figurative enemy lines, and without any weaponry. Left alone, to die; but, he didn’t. It’s a crazy story, and if you want to know how it ends, either check out his Wikipedia page for the actual true story, or wait for the movie The Revenant staring Leonardo Dicaprio for what looks to be an amazing take on it by director Alejandro González Iñárritu.

I’ve got an additional recomendation next article for a comic book, but hit the jump for some talk about Netrunner: the best game you (probably) aren’t playing.

Winding Down the Warmachine

The Imperator Furiosa (or Furry-osa)! Fear her floofy ears!

Back in the day I played a LOT of Warmahordes. I actively played: Skorne, Pigs, Gators, Cryx, Legion, Menoth, Retribution and Trollbloods, and had my hands in Mercenaries of a few different varieties. But things change for various reasons, and I started to move away from the game. I’m down to just Retribution, Trolls, Legion, Pigs and Cryx and at least one of those factions is probably leaving my house this December, never to return again. Heck, in the past year, me and my wife bought a house, a dog and we’re expecting our first child, so yeah things change.

I really haven’t had the time to play Warmahordes, despite really liking the game, and you’ll probably never part me from my beloved Trollbloods, but I haven’t played in a tournament in two years, and haven’t played actively for probably half that. The only games I get are against a few of my friends that play and even those are once every couple of months. They’ve been replaced by boardgames with friends, a local LARP group (which I ran for a couple years) and Netrunner.

What’s Netrunner you ask?

Netrunner: The Best Game You (Probably) Aren’t Playing

The art in the game is some of the best I’ve ever seen.

So let’s start off with the basics first: Netrunner is an asymmetrical two player card game, where one player plays the Corporation (or “Corp”) who is trying to build up servers, and advance shadowing Agenda’s behind pieces of ICE (Intrusion Countermeasures), scoring enough points to advance their evil agenda and winning the game. On the other side of the table sits the runner, a plucky hacker type who’s trying to break into the servers, expose all the evil corporate plots and hopefully not get murdered or have their minds erased in the process. It’s a battle between brilliant and reckless rebels against the inevitable tide of the international corporations.

I can already hear your complaints building up. A collectable card game, aren’t those horrendously expensive? Well, it would be, if Netrunner was anything like TCGs like Magic or Yugioh or Pokemon but luckily it’s an LCG. What’s an LCG?

LCGs: The Wave of the Future

Posts, now with GIFs! (and it’s pronounced, GIF, not JIF)

I played magic for a long time. I bought boosters, boxes, traded rares and generally managed a collection. After Magic came the Battletech TCG, then the Lord of the Rings TCG, then the WoW TCG and countless other minor ones in between (anyone else remember Doomtrooper? Anyone? Beuller?). And even though I spent most of my life flopping little cardboard cards down onto the table I hated the collection management aspect of it. Warmahordes has such a nicer model of collection management where you can buy what you want, when you want it and don’t have to worry about randomness.

But Living Card Games (LCGs) are an entirely new way of doing business. Instead of offering a complete set, randomized in boosters, and make their players chase down complete playsets of all the cards they are interested in, Netrunner (and other LCGs like it) do something different. Netrunner will break down a cycle (their terminology for a “set”) into what are known as Data Packs, which have 20 of the 120 cards in the set, and 3 copies (a full playset) of each of those cards. They are sold for $10-$20 a pop (depending on your local gamestore prices) and if you buy all the 6 Datapacks, you have a complete set of cards from that Cycle. That’s it, no hunting for rare cards or managing a collection, just buy these six things and you have the complete package.

Not only that, but the Data Packs are released once a month for a period of between 6-9 months, and each cycle has a break between releases, so the cost to keep up with Netrunner is roughly $100 per year, spread out across several months. Rather than trying to justify several hundred dollars every 6 months to a Girlfriend/Boyfriend/Spouse/Conscious all you have to do is have a few less Latte’s a few months our of the year. $15 a month to keep up with a hobby and get all the cards guaranteed? That’s just awesome.

It takes all the hassle out of managing a collection and means that with a small investment every month, everyone is on an equal playing field; there are no super-rares or mythics that upset the field and force people to spend (sometimes) hundreds of dollars to stay competitive. Heck, some of the very best cards in the game we’re release in the very first box of Netrunner!

Next Time!

If this picture has no appeal then we simply cannot be friends.

 

I’ll go into the mechanics of the game next time, starting with the corp and then follow it up with the runner. There is an awful lot more to talk about, but if you’re at all a fan of science fiction and cyberpunk, and you’ve been looking for a new game to check out, tune in next time when I get into the meat and potatoes of The Best Game You’ve Never Played.