Cyberpunk hackers vs evil corporations

Gab always loved the Android board game, but it is a bit too intensive to play very often. We played it with my family in a four-player game and it took six hours. There are only 12 turns in the whole game and our brains hurt.

What Gab loves about it is the cyberpunk Android world. The clones and androids and seedy cops and nightclubs and jet-cars and conspiracies and corrupt corporations.

What Fantasy Flight Games did which was great was realise that even if the Android board game wasn’t a huge hit, they had some amazing IP in the world they created around the game. They published some Android novels and brought out a great heist game called Infiltration set in the same world. They also redesigned the old Netrunner card game with an Android theme.

The original Netrunner game was written in the 1990’s by Richard Garfield, who did Magic the Gathering. Fantasy Flight have now got a licence for the game from Wizards of the Coast (the Magic people) and have tidied up the rules and jazzed it up with their usual high production values.

They also changed the expansion releases to their ‘Living Card Game’ format, where instead of having to collect cards in random boosters (like in Magic), you get a schedule of regularly-released fixed expansion packs, where you know what cards you are getting and you can grow your collection more easily.

I got this new Android:Netrunner when it came out a couple of years ago and it is very neat. The game is for two players. One player is the Runner (i.e. hacker) trying to steal data from the other who is the Corporation. The ‘Corp’ has servers with the data and the runner has hardware and programs to try and break into them.

Some cards

Working in IT, I can really appreciate the way the computer stuff is handled. The corp player can build servers and install stuff on to them. The protective software (called ICE) has subroutines that the runner has to break using viruses and codebreaker programs. Its all very ‘computery’.

The overall theme of the game is a lovely mix of IT, the Android world and 1980s cyberpunk slang.

Every time we see an expansion pack in a games shop or one shows up on amazon in a “you may also like” list, Gab asks if we can play. Also, my sister and her boyfriend have started playing and really like it, so I am re-learning the rules and my plan is for us to have a go when we next get the time.

First step is to write up a rules summary.