News for August 2012
Corporate Interests
See the Struggles of Android: Netrunner from the Corp Player's Point-of-View
Android: Netrunner The Card Game | Published 01 August 2012

“What’s my secret? Nothing terribly complicated. I invest wisely and bury all my most valuable data under more layers of ice than you can find in Antarctica.”
    –Y. Akita, C.E.O. of GlowComm (subsidiary of NBN)

In recent previews, we presented an interview with Richard Garfield that revealed his thoughts on the reimaging of his classic Netrunner card game, and we reviewed the actions available to both the Corp and Runner each turn. Now, as we race toward the release of Android: Netrunner at Gen Con Indy 2012, we continue our series of previews with a two-part exploration of the game’s central struggles – illegal runs on Corporate servers.

Android: Netrunner is an asymmetrical, head-to-head Living Card Game that features radically different play and options for the Corporation player and the Runner. Today, we look at running from the Corporation’s point of view.

Hidden Agendas

The monolithic megacorps of Android: Netrunner command vast wealth and unimaginable resources, but the pursuit of further success demands that each corporation expands its business to new realms, cuts costs where possible, and keeps its most cutting-edge developments buried safely away from competitors’ prying eyes.

In the game, the Corporation wins by scoring seven points from agendas. To score an agenda, the Corp player must first advance it by spending a combination of credits (funds) and clicks (units of time and work). It sounds simple, but the trick lies entirely in keeping the information safe against the talents and criminal intents of high-tech hackers known as runners.


The Corporation begins its turn by drawing one card, and then has three clicks to spend. It spends one click to install the agenda Breaking News facedown, and then spends two clicks and two credits to advance it twice. Breaking News requires only two advancement to score, so the Corporation successfully scores its Breaking News!

Megacorps can protect their assets by shielding them with layers and layers of ice, creating an environment thoroughly hostile to any would-be hackers, but credits and clicks are limiting factors. Ice cost credits to rez (or turn faceup), just as agendas cost credits to advance. Researching and developing ice also requires an investiture of clicks, and those clicks can’t be directed toward advancing agendas.

The heart of the Corporation’s success hinges upon a visionary balancing act that weighs expenses in the advancement of agendas against the expenses in protecting them.

Building Defenses

All Corporation cards begin vulnerable to runs. The Corp starts the game with five credits and five cards in his hand (HQ). HQ is one of the game’s three central servers. The others are the Corporation’s draw deck (R&D) and discard pile (Archives). The Corp doesn’t start with any remote servers, but in order to play an agenda or an asset, the Corp must create a remote server. Then, on the Runner’s turn, every Corporate server is a potential target, and if the Corp doesn’t want the Runner to access the cards within a server, he must protect it with ice.


The Corporation begins its turn with a piece of ice installed on HQ. After drawing a card, it uses a click to install an agenda facedown in a new remote server. Then, it uses another click to install Viktor 1.0 facedown in the remove server to protect its hidden agenda.

Each piece of ice has a cost that must be paid to rez it. Furthermore, many Corporations recognize that a single layer of ice may not be enough to stop a dedicated runner, so they install layer upon layer of ice to protect their most important servers. Each layer of ice beyond the first costs credits merely to install, so the Corp needs to be able to generate credits enough to advance agendas, install, and rez the ice protecting those agendas.

As a result, Corporations are always looking for short-term investments that may increase the number of credits they have available at any moment. Thus, operations like a Hedge Fund and assets like the Melange Mining Corp can prove invaluable to a Corporation’s long-term strategy despite their initial costs.

Defending Runs

Runs don’t actually take place during the Corporation’s turn, but each Corp is so paranoid about defending itself from hack attempts that runs are integral to the Corp player’s strategy.

On his turn, a Runner may declare runs against any of the Corp’s servers. Central servers or remote servers, it doesn’t matter; the Corp player builds the fortress, and the Runner lays siege. If the Corp player has not installed any ice to protect the server, then the Runner succeeds in his run and accesses the cards in it.

Unless modified by cards in play, a Runner that makes a successful run accesses a specific number of cards according to the server he targeted:

  • HQ: One card at random.
  • R&D: The top card of R&D.
  • Archives: All cards in Archives.
  • Remote Servers: All cards in a remote server (agendas, upgrades, and assets).

If a Runner accesses an agenda, he steals it, scoring its points for himself. If a Runner accesses an asset or upgrade with a trash can icon, he can pay a number of credits equal to its trash value in order to trash that card, sending it to the Corp’s Archives. In these ways, Corps that don’t protect their servers allow Runners to move closer to victory while deleting the resources the Corps need to win.

This is why ice is essential to a Corporation’s grand design. When a Runner declares a run against any server protected by a piece of ice, the Corp player can choose to rez that ice by paying its rez cost. If the Corp does so, the Runner must break each subroutine on the ice or suffer the consequences.


The Runner declares a run against a server protected by the facedown Wall of Static. The Corporation notes that the Runner’s only icebreaker is a Sentry breaker, so it pays three credits to rez Wall of Static, which is a Barrier. The Runner can’t break the Wall of Static’s subroutine, so it ends the run, and the Corporation’s data remains secure.

Not all pieces of ice end runs. Some allow the Corp to trash a Runner’s programs; others run traces in order to tag runners so that the Corp can take retaliatory actions. But no matter the benefit the Corp hopes to gain from a piece of ice, it must first be able to rez it. Once the ice has been rezzed, though, it remains in place, its defenses a constant, but known, threat to the Runner.

Endgame

As a game of Android: Netrunner progresses, the Corp player will likely develop multiple servers and shield them all with layers of ice. Still, as the Corp moves closer to its goal of securing seven points from agendas, the Runner is working to develop more sophisticated programs to hack through ice and steal the Corp’s cards. Gaining the edge in a game of Android: Netrunner as the Corporation requires careful planning, a good measure of bluffing, many short-term investments in credits, and lots and lots of ice.

Stay tuned for our next preview when we look at running from the Runner’s point-of-view!

Based on the classic card game designed by Richard Garfield, Android: Netrunner The Card Game is a game for two players set in the dystopian future of Android. It pits monolothic megacorps against subversive netrunners in a high-stakes struggle for the control of valuable data.

Netrunner is a TM of R. Talsorian Games, Inc. Android is TM & ©2014 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Netrunner is licensed by Wizards of the Coast LLC. ©2014 Wizards.
    
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