• Category Archives Netrunner
  • Running Nets: Deckbuilding Intro

    Because let’s be honest, your friends are BASTARDS

    I’ve got another board-game recommendation this week, and this is one you’ve probably heard of: Cosmic Encounter. If you haven’t played this glorious game before, the goal is to spread your particular brand of alien amongst the stars and land your ships on your opponents planets as colonies; get enough colonies and you are victorious. Each turn, you’ll draw a card which tells you which player you are attacking, and once the attacking player decides how many ships to send into the battle, both sides can invite the other players to pillage or defend the system, and each player plays one or more cards that modify the strength of your side. The loser (lowest at the end of all that) loses all their ships and the winners place their ships on the other system as a colony.

    But oh god, there is so much more. You could also choose to negotiate instead of playing an attack card. If both players play negotiate cards then you have a minute to decide on a reasonable outcome, usually involving some exchange of cards and a colony for each player. That’s good, and benefits both sides. But if one player plays a negotiate card and one person doesn’t, the person who tried to negotiate shows up to a space knife-fight with a space-pen and loses all of their ships.

    Oh my god there is so much awesome in this picture

    Oh, and did I mention that each player gets one or more species cards which give you crazy abilities. You might get the ability to send spores and infest attacking players. Your lost ships might subdivide, splitting every time they are destroyed. Or maybe you’re space pirates, stealing other people’s ships and holding them for ransom. But you also might be giant crazy yellow peep aliens (no really) and just have crazy amounts of ships. Or you might decide to play with two or three of those crazy abilities. The game is a mix of hilarious abilities, some truly devious social gameplay and some great table talk.

    Beware though, this game has the potential to cause some serious problems if your gaming group is either too vindictive or too attached to “winning.” This is a game where treachery is rewarded, and you can have your entire game shot out from underneath you and if your group can’t handle either of those, stay clear. If you can, man there is a lot of win in this game, and the expansions just add more crazy abilities and cards. Highly recommended.
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  • Running Nets: Weyland Pt1

    Mmm, Deep Fried Comics

    There are a few blogs I read with respect to comics who I just implicitly trust now. They aren’t peerless quality (though they are fantastic) but they are aligned with my tastes and my interests in such a way that if they like something, I’ll probably like it as well. And its from those blogs that I found Southern Bastards. It’s a story about crime in the deep south by Jason Aaron, the man behind the hugely influential comic Scalped (which you should ALSO read), and it has to do with a stick, a man, and his father.

    The man’s father was the Sheriff of a small town in the deep south of America. He long turned a blind eye to the corruption and violence in his town, but after nearly dying at the hands of the gangsters, he vowed revenge. At that moment, a lightning bolt was said to have knocked a branch off a nearby tree. Taking it as a sign, he took up the branch, made it into a weapon, and started wreaking bloody vengeance on the criminals of the time, cleaning it up one brutal beating at a time.

    This man is harder than you

    But Father and Son weren’t the greatest of pals, and the son always resented his dad for his failures as a father. He moved away, went to Vietnam and found his own path in life. Events bring him back to his hometown long after his dad passed on, and he finds the family homestead overgrown and a huge tree growing out of his dad’s grave. He also finds the same old corruption that once festooned the town has taken root once more, and the town is filled with violence and crime.

    Not wanting to be like the man he so despises, he turns a blind eye to the issues of the town, looking away as a mysterious “Boss” rips apart the town. Eventually, out of his own rage at being forced to ignore those in need and feelings welling up about his father, he turns an Axe on the tree growing out of the grave, starting to chop it down. But stopping his blade, in the middle of the tree, is his father’s Stick, beaten, bloodstained, and ready for use once again. Accepting his fate, he takes up his father’s weapon, and with it, his crusade.

    It’s hard as nails, great written, fantastic art, and a great sense of it’s theme and setting. You should read this comic.
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  • Running Nets: The Run

    Statistics like hips, never lies

    Despite being up in Canada, I’m watching this election with interest, because there are lots of moving parts and stakes in this electoral season, so it’s very interesting from an outsiders perspective. I can’t comment on the race, but I can name drop one of my favourite websites for ongoing coverage of the election and of various other things, the amazing blog run by statistician guru Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight.com.

    I have no idea what the fox logo is supposed to be, but it’s cute

    Nate Silver rose to prominence with the 2008 election cycle, accurately calling various aspects of the election, and ever since he’s used his statistics background to comment and prognosticate (though he hates that word) on a bunch of different things, including sports and the Oscars and pretty much anything that interests him and his team of number wizkids. I really enjoy evidence based reporting and statistical analysis (I’m so fun at parties) and FiveThirtyEight really scratches that itch in a big way. It’s surprisingly informative, and written in a very accessible way. It’s a little less dry than my usual recommendations or anecdotes or stories, but hey, I’ve been doing a lot of reading this week.
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  • Running Nets: The Central Servers

    I say …

    Even though I read less than I’d like, I still enjoy a good yarn every once in a while. I’m reading the Expanse series right now and struggling my way through Infinite Jest; one of which is great and the other is FANTASTIC but a difficult read, but sometimes I like lighter affairs. My view in comics tends to skew to the more serious and dark (Atomic Robo notwithstanding) but Toby Frost’s Space Captain Smith is one of my absolute guilty pleasures. I could introduce the series more, but I’m just going to flat out put the descriptions of the first couple books here, and call it a day. If these don’t make you want to buy these books, we simply cannot be friends. Netrunner after the jump.

    In the 25nd Century the British Space Empire faces the gathering menace of the evil ant-soldiers of the Ghast Empire hive, hell-bent on galactic domination and the extermination of all humanoid life. Isambard Smith is the square-jawed, courageous and somewhat asinine new commander of the clapped out and battle damaged light freighter John Pym, destined to take on the alien threat because nobody else is available. Together with his bold crew a skull collecting alien lunatic, an android pilot who is actually a fugitive sex toy and a hamster called Gerald he must collect new-age herbalist Rhianna Mitchell from the laid back New Francisco orbiter and bring her back to safety in the Empire. Straightforward enough except the Ghasts want her too. If he is to get back to Blighty alive, Smith must defeat void sharks, a universe-weary android assassin and John Gilead, psychopathic naval officer from the fanatically religious Republic of New Eden before facing his greatest enemy: a ruthless alien warlord with a very large behind…

    For England! For Country! For TEA!

    Tea . . . a beverage brewed from the fermented dried leaves of the shrub Camelli sinensis and imbibed by all the great civilizations in the galaxy’s history; a source of refreshment, stimulation, and, above all else, of moral fiberwithout which the British Space Empire must surely crumble to leave Earth at the mercy of its enemies. Sixty percent of the Empire’s tea is grown on one world—Urn, principal planet of the Didcot system. If Earth is to keep fighting, the tea must flow! When a crazed cult leader overthrows the government of Urn, Isambard Smith and his vaguely competent crew find themselves saddled with new allies—a legion of tea-obsessed nomads, an overly-civilized alien horde. and a commando unit so elite that it has only five members. Only together can they defeat the self-proclaimed God Emperor of Didcot and confront the true power behind the coup—the sinister legions of the Ghast Empire and Smith’s old enemy, Commander 462.

    In case you might be inclined to spend a (relatively) few dollars on these books, here they are.
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  • Running Nets: The Structure of a Turn

    Get a Job you Hippy!

    So if you’re anything like me and you’ve got quite a few boardgaming friends, then chances are Cards Against Humanity hit your gaming group like a bolt from the blue sometime in the past few years and hasn’t let up. It’s a great game, and a fantastic opener, but what it’s done more than that is introduce the world to the simple, easy to play game that makes everyone laugh. It’s easy to pick up, bring to anyone’s place, have a few laughs, make a few questionably racist or awful plays, and go about your day.

    But you’ve probably also played quite a bit of the game, and are possibly sick of it, as well as feeling a bit icky or guilty due to the content. It’s a great game, and I still pull it out every now and again, but I’ve been pulling out Funemployed even more lately, and that’s not a problem, because it’s a fantastic game.

    Your answer to boring nights

    The rules could not be more simple. Each turn, one player draws a job card from the job deck and plays it where everyone can see it. That’s the job that everyone will be applying for, and each player draws a hand of four attributes from the attributes deck, and after each pitching one they don’t like for one from the common access pool in the center of the table, begins interviewing for the job. The person who drew the job interviews the player, where they have to reveal all the characteristics that they have drawn and convince the interviewer that they are uniquely qualified for this position. For anyone who’s ever interviewed this is easy and immediately relatable, and funny to boot.

    But if you’re nodding along, swirling your brandy, twiddling your mustache and going “Hmm, this game does seem quite amusing, bully!” then you haven’t even heard the best part yet. While the job deck contains some normal jobs like Schoolteacher or Lawyer, it also contains things like LARPer or Gynecologist, and while the attribute decks contain Expert or Quick-Witted they also contain things like Slimy, Has a Katana, or Is a Dragon. And there are so many different combinations of attributes that it goes well around the bend from useful and meaning that you’re stuck arguing that being telepathic makes you a better LARPer than the person who is actually a DRAGON, because who wants to interact with a Slimy Narcoleptic Kleptomaniac dragon anyways?

    Hilarious and easy to explain, perfect for people who don’t mind getting a little ridiculous. Highly recommended.

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  • Running Nets: The Runner

    Where Winning Doesn’t Matter

    Since I’ve recommended a Movie and Comic Book in recent articles, I figure a board game is next. Now, I tend towards the more cerebral board games, ones where winning is not determined by a roll of the dice but by the skill in which you manipulate the board and your opponents. Or games where you have to work together to overcome challenging tasks, perhaps curing diseases or stopping your Sitting Duck class vessel from exploding around you. But when I really want to have some cheap, easy FUN I pull out Tales of the Arabian Nights.

    Tales of the Arabian Nights is a great game that comes in a big heavy box. It’s big and heavy because it has a game booklet that is over 300 pages long, and if that’s making you plotz in fear, FEAR NOT, as it is a booklet, and not the instruction manual. You pick a legendary hero of Arabic lore (like Aladdin or Sinbad) and wander about the world, having adventures. You have quests to accomplish that sort of guide your travels, but every turn you move to a space, roll some dice, do a little bit of light index searching, and then crack open the 300+ page Book of Encounters and the fun REALLY begins.

    Big gorgeous box is Big, Gorgeous, and a Box

    First a bit of short text is narrated at you, giving you a problem to deal with. “You encounter a burning building,” “You find a trapdoor in the floor of the house you’re staying in,” “A fiendish Djinn guards the river you’re attempted to cross,” “A man offers you what seems like a sound business proposition.” Once you find out what you have to deal with, you’re given a handful of options. Do you attempt to reason with the Djinn? Fight him with magic? Try to escape? Maybe attempt to bargain with him?

    Whatever you decide, the book is consulted again, and the results of your hilarious misadventure is read out to you. Try to attack the Djinn and you might find that it was just a rich merchant in disguise, and you take his money away from him and chastise him for his foolishness. Or it might be a real Djinn, and turn you into a beast man. The options an opportunities for adventure and endless, and hilarious. My VERY FIRST exposure to the game was trying to get help for a burning building, only to have the mob dealing with it turn on me for loudly crying for help, and beating me up because I was poor. You could attempt to rob a passing Sultan and miraculously get past all his warriors, get caught, but are so good at spinning stories that he makes you a vizier. Or attempt to attack a beggar only to find he’s a notorious brigand, and get rewarded for your random act of violence. Or you could attempt to bargain with a Lion, find out that it’s a person turned into a Lion, and be so besot by empathy that your soul literally aches with mercy, giving you the “Grief Stricken” attribute.

    If you can get behind a little bit of choose your own adventure math in the encounter books, you’ll find this game will result in some of the strangest stories you’ll ever tell your friends. “And then after I got the troll to undo my curse, I tried to rob her and she threw me into a mirror, which teleported me across the world! Luckily it turns out I was just drunk, but then I got robbed by the Troll and forced to bargain with an all-powerful goat for my soul back.”

    Hit the jump for more Netrunner talk.

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  • Running Nets: The Corp

    Fra Fra Fra!

    One thing I’ve really gotten back into in the past few years is comics. Previously I had sort of dabbled, and there was a period in my university career where I was full-on addicted, but lately it’s been a much more casual sort of habit. I try and only get trade paperbacks as they represent good value for the money, and represent a bigger “bite” of the story than single issues. Additionally, I try to get series I know that will last the test of time, and aren’t just flavour of the week type big comics events.

    One of my finds, on a recommendation from a blog I read, is Descender. Usually when I start a series my response is pretty tepid for the first couple issues, but then I really can get lost in a great story, but with Descender, the first thing that really reaches out and grabs you is Dustin Nguyen’s art; it’s like a series of space opera concept art pantings come to life. The linework is insane, and it really sets the stage for an awesome title.

    The art in this comic is GORGEOUS.

    The story (written by Jeff Lemire) backs up the outstanding visuals. Set in the (reasonably) near future, the first issue begins with a galaxy that is optimistic and full of a functioning alliance of alien species which includes humanity. There is a beauracracy called the UGC in control of everything (there always is) but it works. Dr. Quon is the foremost expert of humanity on robotics, and is living the high life until massive robotic entities appear simultaneously in orbit around major worlds. Only momentarily passive, they quickly attack, causing great loss of life and general chaos, before vanishing as suddenly as they arrived. The subsequent investigation sees Quon implicated as they found evidence of his code in the robotic destroyers, and he is ruined as the galaxy turns on him and all of robotics in the aftermath of the devastation.

    Years later, a young boy awakens on a planet to find that 10 years has elapsed, and the galaxy is much different than when he fell asleep. The colony he lives on lays destroyed, and everyone he knows is dead. Little does he know, he’s about to become the most important boy in the entire system, maybe the sector, perhaps even the galaxy. If that has any appeal to you, check it out (and you can read the entire first issue right here) and if does have some pull, go check it out at your local comic book store. But be prepared to search as it’s pretty much the hottest thing in comics these days.

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  • 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.
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