Friday, 19 June 2015

Android: Netrunner - First Impressions

In a rather positive move, The Guardian has started reviewing board games in it's regular games column. For someone who used to play Warhammer 40k when-I-was-a-lad I've been greatly cheered to see that it and some new contemporaries are still going strong. It's also interesting to read about games I was only dimly aware of like Magic: The Gathering.

Scanning through the "favourite board games" article, I noted the glowing review and subsequent article extolling the virtues of Android: Netrunner. Strategy, bluffing and an element of chance all in one game with a dystopian sci-fi theme? Sounds perfect!

One trip to my local friendly games shop and I was equipped with the "Core Set" which contains everything you need to get up and running.
** Support your local bricks-and-mortar shop! ** I bought my copy of Netrunner, and a couple of other games, from the friendly and helpful folk at IQ Gaming in Huddersfield. I kind of wish I lived a bit nearer and earned more money as I'd be down there a lot! Good service in helping me find the games I was looking for and directing me to places where I could find more info on the game and their regular game nights. A good vibe about the place with lots of games taking place in store even early on a Sunday morning.


There is a slickly produced video by Fantasy Flight Games which demonstrates the basic game mechanics. Whilst this gives a basic idea, the best intro video by far is Nam and Jeremy's which covers pretty much everything you need to know delivered with enthusiasm and humour.

Early Results

Me - "I'm going to play this."
Luke - "Hang on, what does this bit mean?"
* share a confused look* 
Both - "RULES!"

Following the recommendations in the manual, Luke and I have played 10 games with Jinteki (corp) vs Shaper (runner) from the core deck taking five goes at each faction. Overall score 6-4 to me and most of the games were very close. Playing with Luke is great because he likes geeky things too.

Luke and I showed the boy how to play and he enjoyed it so much he's been nagging to play again and again. I've also shown Louise how to play and, to my surprise, the really enjoyed it and demanded to play again despite us finishing our first game at quarter past ten on a school night!

Initial Thoughts

The game mechanics take a few games and some referencing the rules to get the hang of but we were into it by the end of the fourth round. No two games are identical, even when playing the same factions, due to the order in which the cards come out of the stack or R+D.

I was also surprised how differently the Shaper and Anarch runner factions played. Shaper is all about building your strong icebreaker rig steadily and a steady economy from Magnum Opus before launching a difficult to defend against attack. Anarch is, on the face of it, much more complicated to play with virus tokens everywhere. With Medium up and running you can quickly start to get lots of access to R+D. Throw a couple of Stimhacks in there and it just gets crazy.

More time is required to get the feel of the finer points of the strategy and I have the feeling that this game could very well being a long standing favourite with lots of replay value!

Geek out.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds complicated. I had to keep looking at the rules for playing Quirkle with the kids this afternoon.