Netrunner: Still the Best Card Game


A provocative title I know but hear me out.  Read on and you’ll find out why.

A provocative title I know but hear me out. You might have heard of Fantasy Flights living card game Netrunner, it gained widespread popularity in the first few years of its release after being championed by Shut Up and Sit Down but also you might have heard of it because it’s great.

Read on and you’ll find out why.


First off, a question? Why do people buy packs for a collectable card game like Magic the Gathering? Discounting the people who buy them not knowing what they are going to get or are buying them for nostalgia reasons (which a 20+ year-old game is going to get) people pick them up because they like the little hit of endorphins they get when they look through a freshly opened pack of cards and see a powerful rare card staring back at them. Wizards of the Coast knows this and have made sure that even players who don’t know what good cards look like can see the foil holographic finish and / or the orange mythic rare symbol on the strongest cards in the set.


Like this? Sign up for more here

If you’ve ever played a collectable card game or know how addictions develop, you can see how problems occur. More product is brought and the rewards continue until they start to happen with less and less frequency. The buyers’ excitement level lowers as they have experienced it all before, but critically they continue to buy in to this minigame of random chance because they still want the hit.


Netrunner is a living card game which means all the cards you will ever need are in the packs and ready to be used in your games, there aren’t rare cards or mythic rare cards, there aren’t even random foil cards, every card in a certain data pack is exactly the same. However, that addictive hit of discovering a rare card still exists because it’s been transferred to be part of the fabric of the game instead.

During a game, every time a Runner makes a successful attack (called a run) they see a random card either from the top of their opponents (the Corporation) deck or from their hand. This gives out certain information on what the Corporation has ready to use, sometimes it lets the Runner force the Corporation to discard it, the main reason to run is to discover the Agenda cards hidden in the Corporations deck. These cards have a number on them in blue and when the runner has a set of them that add up to 7 or more they win the game.


So the Runner makes runs, steals agendas and goes home happy with that endorphin rush of random chance. Except, wait, that’s only one side of the game. The Corporation can seed their deck with ambushes that come into play when the Runner accesses them on their hunt for agendas, these things can damage the Runner directly, destroy programs or place nasty tokens on the Runner called tags that can be used to trigger even nastier effects like the removal of all the Runners money or the demolition of their house and surrounding houses in their neighbourhood. Most commonly they will install Ice protecting their servers meaning the runner has to expend more resources to try for that all important access.


There you go, risk and reward working together in glorious concert, though if this has convinced you to pick up a copy the total cost of all the Netrunner expansions released so far is over £400. However if you’re interested, try a couple of copies of the basic game and play with a friend.

Like this? Sign up for more here

~Did I sell you on it?

Chilvers Industries 

Weekly White Dwarf vol 1 round up and top quality hobby content

  • ZeeLobby

    This game is awesome btw. A true evolution of MtG, and really shows how basic MtG is. It’s nice not having to collect through random blisters, or pay to win as well.

    • Severius_Tolluck

      Yes, however it is a second edition of a game that failed because magic was too popular back then in its infancy. This game was originally a Wizards game! I still have magazines from then talking about it and how it was different and such. Pretty cool stuff. However back then it was also a ccg. I am glad it has since turned into a LLG, my interest in it wax’s and wanes. These days when i have hte time i stick my nose into Conquest the forty k alternative.

      • ChubToad

        True. Designed by Richard Garfield too if I’m not mistaken. Still have two starter packs. Great game, too bad it never got to its second expansion. This game was miles away from MTG back then and it seems it keeps its lead now.

    • ChubToad

      Ugh tell me about it. I think pay to win was an expression coined by MTG back when 4th was a huge success.

  • I’ve played 40k Conquest (another Living Card Game by FFG) and it is pretty awesome so far.
    I hear Android: Netrunner is more complicated but at least as good. The Cyberpunk theme also really fits my tastes.

    There is, btw, a boardgame coming out called Android: Mainframe. Looks cool as well.

    • Severius_Tolluck

      Yeah pretty solid. It takes elements of the old Dark Millenium and Dark heresy games and a pinch of net runner and goes off running. Havent had to deal with the necrons yet so will be interesting how that goes. Love my DE deck.

  • captkaruthors

    This game is awesome as far as a non collectible card game goes…but you lost me when you said it was better than MtG. I readily admit that MtG isn’t first CCG game that I think is better. Star Wars CCG was a better game (and still is IMHO) than most card games out there as there are infinite possibilities and combos you can play. But to each their own. If it’s your opinion that Netrunner is the end all be all of card games…I respectfully disagree.

    • ZeeLobby

      Mechanically it’s just way more advanced then MtG. Two resource pools, non-symetric play style, etc. Magic is definitely more what cards you own and luck of the draw then anything else. Usually there’s very little decision making in a turn. Guess it’s just depends which style you find more interesting.

  • Andrew

    I’ve played Netrunner a few times. Really like it.

  • Severius_Tolluck

    The mechancics are enjoyable. Just need a good group to start in. The starter and a few expansions pitched in by a couple of guys to borrow from is ideal.

    • ZeeLobby

      What’s nice is since it doesn’t really have that collectible aspect, you can pool cards with your gaming group and split costs everywhere.

  • Krizzab

    i played hardcore plenty of card games, magic, vampire TES, middle earth ccg, l5r, netrunner my top is :
    2-Vampire TES
    Imho the CCG model is obsolete, magic lives through secondary card market, something sad, must add. But if people likes spend ton of money on cards every 10 months its their money. I never tried yugioh but even the art is childish the game looks deep and fun.

    • DeadlyYellow

      When I played YGO it was mostly about getting an archetype deck, and at tournaments I only ever saw the same two leading decks for a set’s run. But this was three years ago.

      Pokemon TCG is also fun, with a mechanic that can cause decisive wins or loses…. but they also have powerhouse cards that can be played out of the gate, and can steamroll if your deck has nothing to counter them. Rather mixed appeal.

    • Severius_Tolluck

      Ah L5R I sitll play but now that FFG has it let us see what happens. As for Jiha… I mean VtES, was such a neat game for it’s time. With formats for multi player right out the gate and the whole political phase and shared finite mana pool was very neat for its time.

  • Skathrex

    I agree that LCGs are a better modell in general, and I do think FFG makes really good games (wherein the Mechanics are better/more intersting), BUT I don’t think Netrunner takes the cake.
    It is an interesting strategic game, but it is hard to get into, because of the “hidden Deck” ellement. You need to have a fast knowledge of the available Cards to be able to play it right, so I don’t think its that friendly to newcomers.
    I prefer Warhammer Conquest (the 40k LCG from FFG).
    Its much easier to get into while still beeing very strategic mixed with a good portion of Bluff and interaction. And it seems to be well balanced too.
    But thats just a personal opinion.

    Btw if you prefer MTG but don’t like TCGs, try EPIC. Its an LCG that plays similar to Magic, but with a diffrent source system and really explosive plays. Can fully recommend it.

  • Clayton Lin

    Jinteki player here.

    Netrunner’s a very fun game, if a bit imbalanced at competitive levels.