Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Android: Netrunner - My Journey in a Dystopian Future - Part 14: Opening Moves

It’s exciting times in the world of Android: Netrunner as we begin a whole new cycle – the Spin Cycle. I’m a bit disappointed the data packs for this cycle aren’t called things like “Mixed Colours”, “40 Wash” and other such laundry-flavoured titles!

Just kidding of course. Spin is in reference to the corporations and the media spin they put on things and this cycle will see Bad Publicity playing more of a role. We’ll see how that progresses as we cover future packs, but for now, here are my picks from the first one – Opening Moves.


Hostage is a Double Event - a new mechanic for the game in which cards cost an additional click to play – and it has a great ability. This gives the Runner a means of finding the likes of Kati Jones and Mr Li from his stack, cards that can be vital to a Runner’s strategy. I also love the art on this card. I like how Thomas Haas isn’t necessarily on the side of his mother and the big, bad corporations.

One of two chess-related cards in this pack that will come into their own further down the line I think. Pawn, much like an actual pawn in chess, can progress down the board and when it gets to the end, can upgrade to something new – a new Caissa card. The only other Caissa card we have at this point is…….

For a click, Rook moves horizontally or vertically along Ice, raising the rez cost by 2. I have yet to have a go with this and will probably wait till we have more Caissa programs released; but this sounds like a great idea and will no doubt lead to some interesting play. Here’s hoping we’ll eventually have enough Caissa programs for a Runner to create a full chess-themed deck. The thinking man’s Anarch is emerging!

Pawn is also the first card in the game to get errata in the latest FAQ: Should read: “Whenever you make a successful run while Pawn is hosted on a piece of ice, move Pawn to the piece of ice directly after the current ice hosting Pawn, if able..."


Celebrity Gift
This fits perfectly with Jinteki’s way of doing things. Not only is this a good economy card for the poorest corp, but the mind-games you can play with this are fantastic. I’m going to show you this agenda in my hand. But I’m also going to show you these two snares as well. Go ahead and run HQ. Brilliant.

Jackson Howard
Hailed by many as the best card we’ve seen in a while and some say even the best in the game. This ability hurts Anarch mill decks, ruins an R&D run following a successful Indexing or even just puts those three Hedge Funds you’ve used back into your deck. Superb. And at just 1 influence, this is going in everyone’s deck.

NEXT Bronze
This Ice is nothing special on its own but can you imagine a whole suite of NEXT Ice when more get released? It’s going to be a monster if the Corporation can get it set up.

A great start to the new cycle. We should get Second Thoughts and Mala Tempora by the end of the year, so watch this space.

Android: Netrunner - My Journey in a Dystopian Future - Part 13: Creation and Control - Haas-Bioroid

So we looked at one half of the Creation and Control expansion here. Well here’s the other half – Corporation cards for Haas-Bioroid, as well as some Neutral cards. Let’s start off with a look at the new identities.


Cerebral Imaging
At a standard 45/15, Cerebral Imaging allows your hand size to equal the number of credits in your credit pool. Great if you’re flush, because you can have plenty of options open to you, but if you’re struggling for cash, you’ll find yourself in trouble.

Custom Biotics

This identity offers a whopping great 22 influence, but don’t be thinking you’re going to fill it with nasty tricks and traps, because the caveat is you can’t include Jinteki cards in this deck. Play this card and you’re telling your opponent the cards you don’t have.

NEXT Design
While this ability is only applicable at the start of the game and is dependent on you drawing Ice in that starting hand, it can be very affective and get you off to a good start. With an Ice-heavy deck, this Identity can be very useful.

Other cards

Amongst the other cards in Creation and Control there is a definite Bioroid theme – kind of obvious as it’s all Haas-Bioroid. Stronger Together -  the identity from the What Lies Ahead data pack - which strengthens all Bioroid Ice by 1, has certainly received a boost by this expansion with cards such as these taking advantage of Bioroid Ice:

Project Wotan

Awakening Center

Bioroid Efficiency Research

Despite this strengthening of the use of Bioroid Ice and the new HB identities, it can still be argued that the original Engineering the Future Identity is still the best. Gaining 1 credit the first time you install a card each turn cannot be underestimated and while some interesting decks will no doubt be made from the other identities, it’s still going to take something really special for HB players to completely abandon their original.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Android: Netrunner - My Journey in a Dystopian Future - Part 12: Creation and Control - Shaper

As the first cycle of data packs for Android: Netrunner draws to a close, we get our first deluxe expansion - Creation and Control.
Containing 55 new cards split between Shaper, Haas-Bioroid and neutral cards, we'll be looking at the Runner's side of things in this blog post, with a breakdown of the 3 new identities and then a selection of cards I deem to be of particular significance.


Great synergy with cards like Test Run and Scavenge that take advantage of cards in your heap, Exile will allow you to draw a card whenever you install a program from your heap - helping you get through your deck and reducing the need to splash Mr. Li or Wyldside.

The Professor
Now this is interesting. I haven't had a go with it yet, but this could really lead to some great decks that a fun to play. The problem with this ability is having enough memory to install all these programs. The joy of the deck is how random is could be. The Corp won't know what's coming next at all with The Professor.

Rielle 'Kit' Peddler
This identity probably got the most enthusiasm from players. If you get a decoder icebreaker in your opening hand, or at least early game, this can truly mess up the Corporation's plans. They will need to create two deep ice walls as quickly as they can to keep Kit out. Brilliant for making Shapers effective early game when they're used waiting until mid or late game before they get into gear.

Other cards

Pair this card up with Datasucker to manipulate the strength of the Ice you're facing and you have a very strong deck. So strong in fact that there are rumblings that this may have to be restricted. Personally, I'd rather see FFG release cards that will deal with Atman rather than having to ban, errata or restrict any cards, but we'll see what happens.

This is classic Shaper - manipulating the environment to how you need it to get through. I haven't tried it myself or had it done to me, but this feels like a strong card - hence the influence.

Self-Modifying Code
And here's another strong card. Being able to grab the icebreaker you need mid-run is an exceptional ability and this is what Self-Modifying Code is all about. I don't think the 2 memory cost is an issue as this will get trashed when it's used anyway. A very effective card.

The Source
With the Source we have an answer to fast advancing corp decks. The Advancement cost of agendas is increased by two while a The Source is in play. The Source does costs 2 and if the Runner is stealing an agenda it’s another 3 credits. It's the first neutral card that also costs influence and The Source has to be trashed whenever an Agenda is scored or stolen. In other words, this as “a” answer to fast advance, but perhaps not “the” answer. It won’t stop fast advance, but it will certainly slow it down.

Exploratory Romp
Not only does this card have fun art, it also has a fun and very useful ability. Playing against a corp like Jinteki and you're unsure whether or not the server you're running on has a Junebug waiting for you at the end, you can run it with this card, remove the advancement tokens and then run it again - thus taking the danger of landing on that trap out of the equation.

There are many more great cards for the Runner in Creation and Control and whatever faction you play, you should really consider picking it up. In the next Android: Netrunner blog update, we'll be looking at the Corporation side of the expansion to see what the suits at Haas-Bioroid have up their sleeves.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Games Day 2013

Games Day returned to its old venue of the National Indoor Arena for its 2013 event – a change from the usual venue at the NEC. I heard it was a simple double-booking, but considering how far in advance these kind of things are put in place, it’s more likely this was a cost effectiveness exercise.

As well as the venue change, there were considerably fewer tickets released for the day and participation gaming was taken out.

So what affect did these changes have?
Some good and some not so good.

The main floor of the arena was separated into two main sections – Sales (containing Forge World, and unnecessary space given to Black Library and normal GW products) and the rest (the main stage, Fantasy Flight Games, a section showing off the new line of digital releases and various groupings of GW staff with whom to have a chat).

At one end of the balcony above the arena floor were more licenced games for PC and tablets and in a separate area of the building about 47 flights of stairs down, was the Golden Demon and Armies on Parade entries.

Let’s start there – the level of painting was as high as ever in Golden Demon and the fewer people ensured that it was less of a struggle to get to see the models up close. Opposite the cabinets were the Armies on Parade. There were some terrific entries here, although some treat it as an excuse to put a load of miniatures on a tray and others to add flashing lights that make the war torn battlefields of the 41st millennium look like Christmas.

Back up to the arena and it was evident Games Workshop really wanted to give their customers access to the staff. It was much easier this year to get to talk with the painters, graphic designers and sculptors this time around and even when larger gatherings existed around the likes of Phil Kelly and Jervis Johnson, it was still possible to get through and ask your questions, have a chat or get something signed.

The food hall at the NEC – while basic – is spacious, organised and offers a good deal of variety. The NIA took basic to Favela-like proportions. Based in a seemingly purpose-built-that-day hut, the “Food Village” saw long queues, badly organisation and was running out of food left right and centre. I gave it up as a bad job and went outside to find a takeaway up the road.  On a side note – going outside was one of the main highlights of the day and I don’t mean just to escape the unwashed odour of your average hobbyist. Beside the arena runs a lovely canal and the surrounding area is all nice-looking pubs and Italian restaurants. Under a blue sky, I perused the barges that made up a floating market, selling herbs, spices and handmade jewelry.

But I digress…..
Back inside the arena I spotted Warren from the Beasts of War website and spent a few minutes talking to him about the event. If you aren’t familiar with the site already, I definitely recommend you check it out for great coverage on Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and other games like Infinity, Mercs and Warmachine.

The day ended with the usual presenting of the Golden Demon awards and with an impressive high definition screen and smaller, darkened area infront of the stage, it made for a much better closing act. And so Games Day was done for another year. Will we see the same venue again in 2014? Will gaming tables return? Only time will tell.

With fewer attendees, getting a chance to speak with developers and artists was much easier and was a real highlight of the day, but the absence of gaming tables and the triumphant cheers and bellowed “Waaaarghs” that come with them, made for a noticeable lack of atmosphere and fun. Improvements can certainly be made and I’m not sure the event is going in the right direction, but Games Day 2013 was well worth the visit and I’ll be back next year.

Free as a Bird - What a Region-free Xbox One means for you

Of the numerous U-turns Microsoft have made in their build up to the Xbox One release, one of them that has largely gone ignored is the console is no longer region-locked. PS3-owners have always enjoyed a region-free console, but we on the 360 have been confined to games and DVDs sold in our area of the world.

With the Xbox One, this will no longer be the case, but what does that really mean for you?

For the sorry souls in countries like Sweden who aren’t getting the console until 2014, it will mean they can order it from a part of the world that is. It will also mean we will no longer be restricted on the games we can play. A prime example is American sports games. The main ones like NBA, NHL and the NFL are all released widely in this country, but if you’re a fan of baseball, the last one you could get a hold of in the UK was MLB 2K11 – the next three iterations were only released in the US and in countries where Baseball is a more prevalent sport.

If the Xbox 360 had been region-free, I would have ordered Activision’s NASCAR the Game from America instead of having to smile and try not to look jealous while playing NASCAR 09.

So whether it’s American sports that British people don’t understand, or weird Indie films you can only pick up on Blu-ray in Russia, whatever you’re into, a now region-free Xbox One has you covered.

Gentlemen, start your engines…….