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.


  1. Over at Board Game Geek there is a thread that discusses training decks for those of us that are keeping current with the Data Packs. Absolutely use the Shaper vs. Hass-Bioroid if all you have is the base set. I just played/taught the roommate with the decks suggested here: http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/156783/the-netrunner-teaching-deck-project-now-with-cor and lost to a very close yet fun game. I know I made some misplays and we had to look in the rule book, but the starter decks laid out for the first match-up are good and simple teaching tools.

    Looking forward to seeing more in this series!

    1. Thanks, I'll check that out! :)