So, you’ve read my last two entries of Running the Nets. You’ve decided “Man, this Andrew guy? Totally awesome. I should do things he says, like play Android: Netrunner.” So you’ve started playing in whatever way is most convenient for you (at your game store, with a loved one, online over OCTGN…).
But you’ve got a problem. You’ve read the rules and you understand them, but you need a little bit more help to really get started. You don’t really “get” the game yet. You run headlong into Project Junebug and flatline. You eat Scorched Earth and Flatline. NBN advances agendas right out from under your nose and you lose. Basically, you need a bit more help then “Hey, this game is awesome, play it!” posts provide.
Well, thankfully, you’ve got me in your corner. I’ve got some basic advice that will help you out as you learn your way around the net. After all, I want you to win. Unless you’re playing against me. But that’s neither here nor there.
Now, keep in mind. I myself am somewhat new to A:N myself. My word is not (yet) law. In fact, some of the advice I give would be bad if you treated it as law. There are constructed decks you can build or situations in which ignoring my advice will be the very best thing you can possibly do (for example, there is a deck that will want to ignore half of tip 2). But to identify those situations, you need to understand the game. And to understand the game? You need some basic, foundational advice to build off of!
And that is why I’m here.
So, read on if you want to jump in and learn to be a better runner.
1. Know What the Corporations are Capable Of
Okay. This is an AWFUL tip to have at number one for new players, but, unfortunately, this is the single most important thing you can do. If you don’t know about things like Project Junebug or Scorched Earth? You’ve already lost the game. Plain and simple. Netrunner is a game that punishes mistakes quite harshly, and, to deal with that, you’ve going to need to know what the Corporations can do.
Now, don’t get me wrong. You don’t need to memorize every single Corporate card (although it does help), but you do need to know about cards that, when encountered, can either severely swing the game or outright end it. While this list is by no means exhaustive, these are the sorts of cards I mean:
1. Project Jungbug/Snare/Neural Katana/Scorched Earth (Capable of outright ending the game if you aren’t expecting them and keep your hand small).
2. Archer/Rototurret/Aggressive Secretary (Losing Icebreakers, especially lategame, can brickwall the Runner).
3. Corporate Troubleshooter (Can potentially make ICE you weren’t worried about unbreakable quite suddenly).
As the game expands, there are likely to be more cards like this, so it will be important to at least have a broad view of the potential threats that exist in the game at a given moment.
2. Run Early. Run Often.
Money gives the Corporation options. As a Runner, you need to find a way to keep the Corporation poor. Unless you’re a Criminal with Account Siphon available, the only way to do that is to force them to spend money. Whenever you let an unrezzed card stop a
run, they are getting a pretty serious advantage from it for minimal costs. You won’t make progress on that server and they’ll still have money to rez ICE they need elsewhere.
Thus, you need to force the issue with them.
Now, I’m not saying you should take stupid risks and run headlong into what could be a Neural Katana with 2 cards in hand, but you should take reasonable risks and force them to spend their money. A good example is the standard ICE HQ, ICE R&D, take a credit opening. You theoretically have very little to lose by checking both pieces of ICE without a breaker available (Clicks or a couple cards), but the Corp has quite a bit to lose: 6 Credits or whatever cards they let you get access to.
This severely limits their options next turn (a Corp with no credits is a sad Corp) and gives you an opportunity to run wild.
That said, try to make sure you make those runs early in your turn. This gives you the maximum ability to fix things if something goes wrong (you walk unexpectedly into a Neural Katana, you get tagged, etc). Late turn runs, unless you know exactly what you’re getting into, can turn a good game into a bad one very, very quickly.
3. Don’t Ignore the Archives
This one is pretty basic and one I’ve noticed. Make sure to keep an eye on the Archives and make a point to check it occasionally. Especially if things are getting tight in their hand or they are trying a weird server bluff, the Corp may well sneak an agenda into their discard and there, in that pile of cards that a lot of card gamers wouldn’t normally worry about, it will linger, fully safe and secure.
In other words, you should strive the Corporation honest. As the Runner, you’ve got a lot to keep your eye on and, especially when you’re new, so it is very easy to let one pile go by the wayside. In my experience, when you’re new, that pile tends to be the Archives (not used to needing to worry about it, opponent stacks it weirdly, etc).
4. Pay Attention to Your Opponent
Moreso then many other card games, A:N is about watching your opponent. Since the Corporation has tons of hidden information, you need to become adept at predicting where to strike and when. A good example involves the Corporation’s HQ. If you see that your opponent is keeping a fairly full hand, hasn’t discarded Agendas and hasn’t played them either… well. There are two safe guesses here. Either your opponent hasn’t been drawing them or they’re hoarding them in their hand.
You don’t really have to guess here though, as you can further make a judgement based on what your opponent has been doing! Have they been installing like mad and running Operations left and right? Then it is likely they’ve just been failing to draw Agendas and you should hit their R&D. If their turns have been surprisingly light on plays, then you should start hammering their HQ.
5. Keep Your Grip Healthy
As a Runner, your Grip is your life. Literally.
As such, it is a good practice to keep your Grip, at the very least, at 4. This puts you out of range of immediate death from a 2-counter Junebug or a Scorched Earth, which are some of the most immediate, big damage threats.
And there you have it! 5 simple tips on starting out as a runner.
Special thanks to FFG and Cardgamedb.com for the images. If you guys would like them removed, please let me know and I will take them down.
Agree with me? Disagree? Well go ahead and comment and I’ll be more than happy to accept your undying praise, weep at your scorn, or just talk it out with you. Oh, and if you want to read more about Android: Netrunner (or board games, gaming, game design, writing, or whatever else I feel like rambling about), go ahead and Follow me!