Hello and welcome to the lair of the Gaming Barbarian! Today we take a look at the struggles of cyberspace criminals and the megacorporations they target as we take a look at ‘Android: Netrunner.’
Gameplay in Android:Netrunner is very interesting because the players form an asymmetrical system. On one side, you have the megacorporations. Massive companies with seemingly endless amounts of resources. On the other, the lowly runner(hacker) with just a computer, a lifetime supply of ‘Oaty Bars’, ‘Diesel’ energy drink, and a single minded goal: take what the megacorps have and make it their own/give it to the poor(you know, if you want to look at them as the heroes). It’s sort of like the 1995 movie ‘Hackers’, just without a young Sherlock Holmes nor Angelina Jolie with a Vulcan haircut.
At its most basic, A:N is a game of siege and defense. The corporation’s job is to do everything it can to protect itself and its resources from the runner. The runner’s job is to break those defenses and get the corp’s resources. While it is possible to be aggressive as a corp player, most of the time you will find yourself being defensive. The runner, on the other hand, MUST be aggressive. At a certain point if the corp is left alone too long, their defenses will become all but impregnable.
That is not to say that the corp’s only option is defense with some minor attacks. In fact, if you like to bluff and misdirect opponents, corporation is a perfect fit. Trap cards are a huge part of the corp’s strategies. If the corp player can trick the runner into hacking into a trap card at the wrong time, they can end the game in one swift stroke.
Action management plays a huge role in A:N. You have to spend actions as well as money to play cards. Now, you want to play all of your cards but you simply can’t. So you must optimize your turns. Even this action system is asymmetrical. The runner gets 4 actions a turn but doesn’t get to draw a free card. The corp gets only 3 actions, but MUST draw a card at the beginning of their turn.
For the corp, drawing a card is a double-edged sword, because if it ever gets to a point where they have to draw a card and their draw deck is empty, they lose the game.
The games’s artwork is good but not my favorite. If you look at them individually, all the game art is fine. But some of the drawings are so different-feeling that it’s almost as if they belong in two separate universes. On cards that are supposed to depict something in the net world this is fine, but for art depicting real world(for lack of a better term) images, this becomes a problem.
Once again, the rulebook is only adequate. I always say that in order to play a Fantasy Flight game, you have to read the rulebook, then the official FAQ, and then the FAQ on Board Game Geek and then you will know the rules to playing the game. While not as bad as other games, that is certainly the case here.
Like the other games in this universe, A:N is dripping with theme! The dystopian future world created in Android feels like a real, living world.
A nice touch are the references made on many of the cards. From the corp names to the flavor text, science fiction references abound! Half the fun of this game for scifi fans will be realizing that a card has a reference to their favorite movie, book, or television series.
With several expansions already in the books and more coming every month, Android: Netrunner is a solid choice for anyone that is looking for a good card game. A strong theme back by great mechanisms makes this game a hands-down winner!