I’m sure there are plenty of people who could see this article and think: what the hell is this? And to be fair, I thought the same thing when I first heard of it about a month ago. Netrunner is a card game that was made by Wizards of the Coast, with a cyberpunk theme of Mega Corporations versus Runners. It had a printed run from 2012 to 2018, when WotC lost the license.
However, the game has been supported by fans ever since, and still has a pretty active community. A group called the Netrunner International Support & Expansion Initiative (NISEI) has kept the game alive and well, giving it support years after its official cancellation. They keep it up-to-date by adding in rotations and managing ban lists, but what makes this game really appealing to me and many others is NISEI’s dedication and priority of diversity, equality, and inclusion, which makes these spaces more welcoming to marginalized groups, such as queer folk.
What about playing it, though? Is its only draw its inclusion?
Well, no. It has some really fun mechanics, with both the corporations and runners playing in direct competition with each other. The runner makes runs on servers ran by the corp, attempting to steal their assets and gain points, while the corp sets traps to stop the runner while they gain points through agendas.
The gameplay loop is a lot of fun and despite only winning one game so far, I still absolutely enjoy experimenting with different archetypes and tactics. If you’re a fan of Magic: The Gathering, you’ll most likely find this game appealing, especially with how common and even encouraged using proxies (printed cards) is, if you’d prefer a more tabletop experience.
To those who don’t regularly play TCGs, but really appreciate cyberpunk, I’d still recommend it to you as well, since this game has some good flavor text and lore to appreciate for those willing to look into it. The learning curve may be a little hard for newcomers, but it’s well worth it.
So, how can I get into it if it’s discontinued?
Well, there are plenty of resources online to help you play, which I’ll conveniently put here for you.
To upload decks and play with others, Jinteki is where to go.
To find decklists and view cards, NetrunnerDB is a good resource.
For some basic rules, here’s a PDF
And lastly, to help you learn to play, there’s a nifty How To PDF
So, now you have all the tools to look into and play the game yourself. Get out there and live out your cyberpunk fantasies!