Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Android: Netrunner - My Journey in a Dystopian Future - Part 2: Master and Apprentice

In my last post I gave a brief introduction to Android: Netrunner and added a few sources from which you could learn more. Well there’ll be plenty more of those sources in this post, but first, I want to talk a little about teaching this game to someone else.

At the time of writing, I have taught Netrunner to one person. I have another coming up soon and one more in the pipeline, but nevertheless, right now – just one. What I’m getting at is - I’m no expert. I’ve only had the game a matter of months after all. But these posts are about my journey with this game and I wanted to share what I’d learned and what my thoughts are on the best ways to teach someone the game.

First off, I suggest sticking with the core set for the first few games. Deckbuilding is the bread and butter of Netrunner and we’ll get to that in later posts, but for an introduction to the game, you want the basic elements as they come in the boxed game. The Netrunner manual recommends an introductary game be played with the Shaper and Jinteki decks. The community, however, suggests Shaper vs Haas-Bioroid would be better at demonstrating the pace and depth of the game.
A Jinteki deck - with its traps and ambushes - might very well teach the Runner the perils he might face, but an HB deck can do this as well, while also showing how important economy is in Netrunner.

Next I suggest the one doing the teaching to play as the Corporation for that first game. Playing as the Corp is no more complicated than the Runner, but you get to go first and you can exercise a degree of control over the game. While I’m not suggesting you set things up for the Runner to win, at the same time you don’t want him flatlining and losing the game on turn two. Your opponent most likely won’t like it and your aim, ultimately is for him to enjoy the experience and hopefully become a new opponent for you in the future.
As the Corp you can work to control the ebb and flow of the game. You can lay down an ambush for the Runner that’s going to teach him the perils he can face without ruining his first experience.
In the second game, switch sides and let your opponent have a go as the Corporation. If you explained what you were doing while you were the Corp, he should now have an idea of how the role works and – because he just played as the Runner himself – know what you’ll be doing on the other side of the table.
A couple of things to explain going into these first games.
1. The Runner should make sure he keeps cards in his hand, or he runs a major risk of getting flatlined. There are Corporation cards that do damage to the Runner and remove cards from his hand. If he takes more damage than the number of cards in his hand, he flatlines and loses the game.
2. The Corporation needs money when the Runner makes his moves. He needs money to “rez” (activate) his ICE (firewalls) in order to protect his servers. A Corporation will be at the mercy of the Runner if caught low on funds.

Like I said, I’m still learning myself, and it doesn’t happen without help. I'll leave you with a list of some great sources of info:

YouTube Channels:

CardgameDB (for deckbuilding)

Breaking News: An Android: Netrunner Podcast
Team Covenant

Time to jack out.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Android: Netrunner – My Journey in a Dystopian Future: Part 1 – Welcome

Those who read my blog post about New Discoveries will know I’ve got into Living Card Games from Fantasy Flight Games this year. If you're not familiar with them, here's their official spiel of what a Living Card Game is:

"A Living Card Game® (LCG®) offers an innovative fixed distribution method that breaks away from the traditional Collectible Card Game model. While LCGs still offer the same dynamic, expanding, and constantly evolving game play that makes CCG’s so much fun, they do away with the deterrent of the blind-buy purchase model that has burned out so many players. The end result is an innovative mix that gives you the best of both worlds.....While the LCG Core Sets provide a fantastic stand alone game experience, those that wish to can expand even further! Monthly installments of expansion packs, each a set of fixed cards, provide ongoing and regular additions to the available card pool. These expansion packs add customization, variety, and an ongoing sense of theme to your experiences with the Core Game, while evolving the play environment in exciting new ways."

I bought The Lord of the Rings LCG first and have really enjoyed its solo and cooperative play. My most recent purchase was Star Wars: The Card Game, a very cinematic experience filled with thematic battles, vying for the balance of the Force.
But the game that has captured my imagination the most, the game I can’t stop thinking about……is Android: Netrunner.

As the video states, one player takes on the role of the Corporation, protecting his servers, playing assets, operations and upgrades and ultimately attempting to advance and score seven points worth of Agendas.
His opponent - playing as the Runner - is also trying to score seven points, but by hacking into the Corp's servers and stealing those Agendas.
With the Runner you’re prodding and poking at the Corp’s servers, looking for a way in, making him spend money to stop you. Catch the Corp without enough funds and you’ll be all over his cards – taking cards out of his hand, out of his deck, everywhere.
The beauty of playing the Corp is knowing. You know what cards are on the table, you know when the Runner has just declared a run on a server and you’ve got a trap waiting at the other end for him. It’s beautiful stuff

You can watch Fantasy Flight Games’ complete Netrunner tutorial by following the links after the video above and here’s an article on the game by Robert Florence at Rock Paper Shotgun: Cardboard Children - Android: Netrunner
With deep deckbuilding supported by regularly released “Data Packs”, this game is an engrossing addition to any gamer’s collection, bound to take centre stage.
Welcome to Android: Netrunner and my journey in this dystopian future. There’s a lot more to come……..

The Kotheous Campaign - Pt.3: Prologue Mission - The Signal: Battle Report

A change was made going into the game. I decided not to include the Skyshield landing pad and instead opted for the signal to be emitting from a crashed spacecraft in the middle of the field.

For the Battle Report for warllama40k's ongoing campaign can be found here.

Turn One
Loaded with two combat squads of Blood Claws and Wolf Lord Johan, the rhino sped onto the field of battle, heading straight for the objective. On its left, effortlessly keeping pace was the hulking form of the Space Wolves Dreadnought.
All Eldar units except the Farseer arrived from reserve in turn one – the jetbikes moving cautiously in from the right board edge; the Dire Avengers joining them, but making a run towards the objective; the Guardians and War Walker moved in from the top table edge, their weapons aimed at the incoming rhino, but two shots from the starcannon missed the speeding vehicle entirely.
Turn Two
Pulling up in front of the objective, Wolf Lord Johan stepped out of the rhino, quickly followed by the two blood claw squads. Squad Alpha headed towards the objective, teeth bared. Meanwhile, the dreadnought turned and headed around the back of the bastion with the War Walker in its sights.
The Farseer arrived from reserve in the Eldar’s second turn and immediately displayed his powers, firing a Mind War psychic power at Squad Alpha, killing a marine. First Blood to the Eldar.
In the centre of the field, the War Walker levelled its pair of scatter lasers at Squad Alpha and killed another.

Turn Three
Bloodlust got the better of Squad Alpha in turn three, as they left the objective and charged the War Walker. Wolf Lord Johan moved to aid the young Wolves against the War Walker when the Dreadnought failed to damage it, but the assault was ineffective.

The Eldar Farseer once again fired Mind War – this time on the Wolf Lord, wounding him. The Dire Avengers moved onto the objective and unleashed a barrage of catapult fire with their Exarch’s Bladestorm ability, completely wiping out Squad Beta! 

Turn Four
In turn four the combat between the Blood Claws and the War Walker raged, two of the marines falling and the Eldar pilot getting stunned.
Finally, the Dreadnought and Wolf Lord wrecked the War Walker, but Johan was killed along with another marine, the final member of Alpha retreated towards the top table edge.

Turn Five
The Dreadnought attacked the Dire Avengers, who suffered casualties but managed to get away and the final Blood Claw charged the 10-strong squad of Eldar Guardians, slaying two with his chainsword.

In the Eldar turn, the crowd of Dire Avengers parted and the Farseer stepped between them, his glowing witchblade pointing at the massive bulk of the Space Wolves Dreadnought. While the centuries old machine towered above the Eldar warrior, the power of the arcane blade could not be matched, wrecking the Dreadnought outright.
With a roll of the dice, the battle ended with an Eldar victory. They controlled the objective and also scored First Blood and Slay the Warlord.
The remaining Space Wolves made a tactical withdrawal, knowing this battle for Kotheous had only just begun……..

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Above Us Only Sky

When the curtain finally falls on this current generation of consoles and we look back for the first time, what will we remember? 

Whenever I consider this, one image consistently springs to mind – My head bursting through the ocean surface, fuel and debris ablaze on the waves around me.
That was the opening of Bioshock in 2007 and even six years on, it still stands as one of the most stunning images I’ve seen in a game. 
It was inevitable then, than the only game that could hope to reach those heights again, would also have Bioshock in the title.

Bioshock Infinite is set in 1912 in Columbia – a floating city. The player takes on the role of Booker Dewitt, a man tasked with rescuing Elizabeth, a young woman held captive in the city. Facing two warring factions – the founders of Columbia and a band of rebels known as the Vox Populi – Booker must escape with Elizabeth and along the way will learn of the powers she possesses and the back story behind this city, its creators and Elizabeth’s captivity. 

The game was released in March to glowing reviews, many of them 10/10, but since then, some sites have picked at those perfect scores and tried to find fault. Games journalists – because they are professional critics who invariably hate the industry they’re a part of – often seem embarrassed by high scores. I just want to take them to one side, put a comforting hand on their shoulders and tell them it’s ok to love something. 

Not that their comments are without merit. The combat mechanics in Bioshock Infinite – while entertainingly chaotic and unpredictable – are for the most part standard shooter fair and for those who like their games challenging, you will only find a few sequences to really test you. People better informed than I could dig further and unearth other areas of Infinite that don’t live up to the review scores, but that’s they’re business. For me - from the story to the graphics, from the soundtrack to the characters - I found the game a staggering experience not easily forgotten.

And what a sight for sore eyes it is. The production values on this game are phenomenal with amazing detail, stunning environments and sights to just gawp at at every turn. One of the downsides of the first Bioshock was that Rapture was already a broken city and you never got to see how it used to be. In Columbia, you get to see Rome before the fall. The world Irrational games has created is so good that at times you’ll get annoyed when its residents attack you, because you simply want to be left alone to wander around and soak it all in. 

The “Can videogames be considered art?” argument continues to rage, but those who believe they can, will surely be holding the Bioshock games aloft as proof.

Bioshock Infinite is a piece of art. Ken Levine and the developers at Irrational Games have woven together a tapestry of story, action and sheer spectacle that few can hope to match. 

When the history of the first person shooter is written – nay – when the history of games is written; they will ask us: Where were you when Bioshock Infinite happened?

I for one will be able to smile a knowing smile and reply: I was there.