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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Jul 12, 2012

Fantasy Flight: Reimagining Netrunner and the Icebreaker Tournament [Gen Con 2012]

Back in the 1990s a card game released that captured throes of fans from everywhere. This game was centered on a cyberpunk sort of universe and had players enthralled with the world Richard Garfield created. In essence, it was just a customizable card game, and while it was really fun, it had the potential to become much more. After two expansions the game officially died out.

Fantasy Flight picked up the game and decided to put that potential to use, and give some rebirth to a fantastic game. Android: Netrunner was then born. The company took the great dynamic game that already existed and turned it into what’s known as a living card game, or LCG. What possessed the company to do this, besides the love for the game? As they explain, there were three reasons:

  • They were excited by the game’s compelling theme and mechanics, and while they were aware of design challenges, there were a lot of creative opportunities presented.
  • The original iteration of Netrunner, along with the company’s experience with A Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings LCGs provided them with lessons that could be applied to Android: Netrunner
  • The company believes that the LCG model offers a lot of promise, not only to revive the game, but to push towards a better future for the game than the collectible model did.

With the collectible core removed from the game it allows for the opportunity of growth. When you take away the concept of rare cards and random buys, the company felt better with designing rarer copies of other, more common cards that effectively provide the same effects. Clutter gets cut down and you don’t have multiple cards fulfilling the same means. Designers can then put more focus on designing cards that go toward the overall gaming experience. This allows for more unique cards that cater to different dynamic play styles.

So what is Android: Netrunner exactly? It’s a game for 2 players that rewards skill, strategy, and risk-taking. It pits a megacorporation and its massive amounts of resources against the skills and talents of netrunners – experienced hackers with their own agenda. Corporation players try to score points by advancing their agendas while netrunners try to score points by breaking through the corporation’s defenses and walking out with valuable data. The first player to seven points wins the game.

Corporations try to push the idea that each day they offer vital ideas and services to the masses at large. People in these businesses work tirelessly to force the edge of the human experience. By this time mankind has made their way across the universe, colonizing different galaxies and planets to add to the growing abundance of resources being stockpiled. On Earth there exists a massive space elevator that ends at a space hub, facilitating easy travel throughout the stars.

Through different advances in technology a method that allows the human mind to be electronically recorded and synced to sophisticated mind-machine interface devices has been discovered which has come to be known as brain-mapping. Mice and keyboards have become ancient relics of a world left behind. Scientists and businessmen are working together to unlock the infinite secrets of the human condition.

When it comes to netrunners, nothing is ever black and white. Everything you know and have ever known is a complete lie. It’s only what the corporations want you to believe. If you really want to see the truth you need to filter and cut through the layers of firewalls, sneak past sentries, and disable whatever poor security these places use to protect their black data. These companies are built on blood money, credits, lies, and fear. If you want the truth, talk to a runner. Better yet, become one. They call us criminals and thieves. We take what’s rightfully ours, there’s no thievery involved. If you dig deep enough, if you run fast enough, you can find anything. You can become anyone.

Fantasy Flight has announced that the game will officially be available at Gen Con 2012 this year, and players can pick up the core set. It will run $39.95 and include 252 cards, including seven unique identity cards. Also at this year’s Gen Con event the company will be running the Android: Netrunner Icebreaker Tournament. Players can participate in the tournament to try their skills at the game and emerge on top, and claim some rewards. Each match will consist of two games and last for 65 minutes. The person who scores more total points over both games wins the match. It’s a great way to learn the game and put your running skills to the test. I know I’ll be picking up a copy of this game at Gen Con!

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