Gen Con 2022: Netrunner was discontinued, but fans breathed new life into it

On October 22, 2018, publisher Fantasy Flight Games ceased production of the cyberpunk card game Android: web runner. It was one of their most popular titles, and the competitive scene, a desirable trait for any game, analog or digital, was robust. net runner lived and suddenly no more. Now, four years after it was discontinued, it’s suddenly thriving, all thanks to its dedicated community.

net runner is a violent, asymmetric experience in which one player takes on the role of a powerful corporation executing crooked agendas. The other player is the eponymous “Netrunner,” a troublemaker who hacks into the company’s servers to sow anarchy. Players go back and forth, attacking and counterattacking until the crucial final rounds. not how Magic the Gathering, however, the original game was not a collector’s item. It’s been branded as a living card game, where everyone always works with the same deck and uses the same tools – even when creating decks from scratch.

It’s entirely fitting, then, that this game’s modern legacy is now in the hands of a non-profit fan collective called Project NISEI. This group of over 60 people – game designers, marketers and artists – are totally dedicated to rebooting a game that never deserved to die. As a result, net runner feels punkier than ever.

“Everyone constantly judges us against what FFG has done,” said Serenity “SwearyPrincess” Westfield, NISEI’s vice president of engagement. “During the first six months we were constantly questioned and all our decisions questioned. […] However, if you consider that this is what was said to me most often at the UKGE [the new starter set] is the best core set this game has had, I think we did it proud.”

to get in net runner Today you must either purchase a print-and-play PDF of Project NISEI’s new material from DriveThruCards (a branch of OneBookShelf, which also powers DriveThruRPG and the Dungeon Master’s Guild) or have them crafted through this website and shipped to your door. There is no box, pack-in or tuck box for storage, not even a printed rule book or the necessary cardboard tokens and markers needed to play. You will be expected to download the rules from the NISEI website and equip your own peripherals with poker chips or spare parts from old board games. There’s that charming illegal vibe that permeates everything.

The game’s underground feel fits the themed nature of its design, but also serves as a potential hurdle for newcomers. net runner was never an easy game to learn. It has proprietary terminology and uses interesting but unorthodox conflict processes. Recording this supremely rich tactical deck is even more of a challenge today when you have to literally assemble a bunch of cards and dance with a long and complex set of rules.

Still, there is something beautiful here. Last year, Project NISEI released an awesome set of starter cards that act as an up-to-date entry point net runner and its continuous line. system gateway consists of two small starter decks – a Runner and a Corporation – that are roughly two-thirds the regular size and allow players to slowly get into the game. The cards are expertly tailored for newcomers and mimic the functionality of a pre-built one magic Commander deck. This set can be picked up from DriveThruCards for a modest $21.

A netrunner in cyberspace sends a coiled bit of code into the heart of a mainframe.

While it doesn’t hold your hand or completely alleviate the heavy learning requirements, it offers cleaner onboarding and includes a number of cards that are said to be better suited to the task than even Fantasy Flight’s official starter. This tutorial approach works, and despite the lack of a smooth corporate feel to the product, there’s a new sense of power as bringing the game to the table is more like plugging in a USB-C plug than the annoying Type-A variety .

The next step is to start deck building. After a few games with the starter builds, there’s a natural desire to tinker with the setups. As a runner, you might want more subversive viruses to weaken your opponent’s defenses, so rely on “Botulus” to get the job done. Are you a business looking for more brutal trap options? Urtica Cipher has you covered.

system gateway comes with a small subset of additional cards to facilitate this construction loop, further fleshing out concepts and providing a deeper understanding of the various processes. From there, an optional deck building add-on doubles your options in the Living Card Game collection, providing a pool of 100 cards to build from. In reality, this $45 combined purchase is the actual starter set and the face of NISEI as the custodian of net runner. In addition, there are other small card packs you can buy to add to the Living Card Game Pool, as well as a surprisingly robust organized play scene with fresh kits and tournament play.

Of course, fan projects like this have a reputation for being shut down. So is this even legal? It seems the answer is yes. The NISEI decks feature all-new illustrations, the rules on their website have been rewritten from the originals, and the project avoids using any trademarked or copyrighted material. It’s all wild. Beating the tragic odds of survival faced by a typical dead deck is a testament to NISEI’s skill.

This new leg of net runner had some growing pains, most notably in the art department. While the game design has remained solid throughout the lifespan of NISEI, the illustrations on the cards have evolved. Illustrations as seen on 2019’s Paladin Poemu and Prognostic Q-Loop revolt set do not have the same gravitas as system gateway“Overclock” and “Sprint”. The most awkward portraits are mostly gone at this point, with system gateway with an overall outstanding selection. These cards can be scattered on a table with Android: web runner material, and most casual gamers would never tell the difference. Which is quite important since NISEI’s map pool is fully compatible with Fantasy Flight’s edition.

Although the efforts of the NISEI project have recently gained a lot of momentum, they have not yet reached their peak. Developers say new players are downloading and printing decks every day, and there are plenty of new cards on the way.

“I hope that in five years – what will make us more durable as Android: Netrunner at this point – people feel comfortable talking about it net runner We do without an asterisk,” said community manager Spencer Dub. “We get some people who see us as a ‘fan project’ or ‘unofficial’ and I hope by year 9 that’s ours net runner would have earned his spurs long ago.”

I was wondering if there is a grand strategy for NISEI with a planned date for end of content and declaration of completed project. Dub noted, “We’re not aiming for that at all – we’re trying to breathe new life and longevity into the game, whether that’s by making it more accessible to more players or opening up new design space. But when the day comes when the NISEI wheels stop spinning, I hope our work can show that games never really die. net runner Has never stayed dead so long cause people love it so damn. While it’s just people making new maps on scraps of printer paper at their kitchen tables, I hope we can show people the joy of putting the games they play into their own hands.”

Classic Android: web runner can still be found sparingly on eBay and Amazon, with the odd friendly local game store still carrying some stock. However, Project NISEI currently thrives on DriveThruCards with its entire line of products currently available – although it will have a different name at some point. The team announced on Monday that it would soon be rebranding. Gen Con 2022: Netrunner was discontinued, but fans breathed new life into it

Charles Jones

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