Android: Netrunner: Theophilius Bagbiter Deck Building Session

The Bad Publicity show did something pretty neat this week: viewers voted on cards for the hosts to build a deck around. Theophilius Bagbiter, one of the most improbably-named cards in Netrunner, became the centerpiece of a deck, which they promptly took out onto an unsuspecting OCTGN population.

The final results are astounding in and of themselves, but I most enjoyed the discussion as Jamieson and Hollis worked out how they were going to make use of Theophilius and winnowed down their options to a 45 card deck. It’s a long video, but at least give the deck-building discussion a listen:

Decked!: The Professor vs. Tennin Institute

That digital pack rat of a hacker, the Professor (Alex) brings to bear almost every program and piece of crufty old hardware he can against Director Roy’s Tennin Institute as it furtively advances agendas, assets, ICE and anything else on the board.

Fast forward icon made by Daniel Bruce from, and is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Decked!: Custom Biotics vs. Nasir Meidan

Decked! returns with a Netrunner match-up between the cyber explorer Nasir Meidan, with Roy scrounging credits from thin air to pay for his probes into the developing agendas of Haas Bioroid’s Custom Biotics, headed up by Alex, eager to prove not only his division’s ability to produce marketable products, but also their offensive defensive techniques against virtual intruders.

Click through the video to visit the official Decked! YouTube channel, where you can subscribe to get updates as new episodes post, and browse the archives as they grow. Decked! is produced with facilities provided by Vermont Community Access Media in Burlington, Vermont. You can also watch it on VCAM 15, or on VCAM’s web player.

In this episode, and the one to come, I made a back-up recording of the overhead angle of the table. This way, in post-production, I could either cover up switching mistakes I made during the recording, and skip over the longer pauses in play.

Decked!: Tennin Institute vs. Ken “Express” Tenma

Decked! returns with the follow-up Netrunner match between Roy and Alex. This time, the tables have flipped as Alex’s runner, Ken “Express” Tenma, takes on the Tennin Institute, headed up by Roy.

Click through the video to visit the official Decked! YouTube channel, where you can subscribe to get updates as new episodes post, and browse the archives as they grow. Decked! is produced with facilities provided by Vermont Community Access Media in Burlington, Vermont. You can also watch it on VCAM 15, or on VCAM’s web player.

Sgt. Whizzard’s Lonely Runners Club Band

dboeren (Elder Things, The Dude Ranch, participant in countless card game discussion boards) linked to an article by Daniel Fackelman on Stimhack about building a local community around Netrunner. Daniel specifically addresses Netrunner and uses language specific to the game, but the basic principles hold for anyone looking to drum up and sustain interest in a game designed even in part for repeated plays and fine-tuning that you find in card games. I particularly appreciated this passage:

The entire game industry is built exclusively on disposable income. There are thousands of other games competing for the investment of each wide-eyed Explorer looking to a new world to claim as their own. Netrunner is a relatively inexpensive game to play, however, it still requires an investment of credits. Credits well-earned at demanding jobs with torturous hours and co-workers that make fun of these folks for liking Dungeons & Dragons or quoting Star Wars.

In the end, this is a hobby. It shouldn’t be work or unfun. So it’s a little weird to think of yourself acting as a salesman in pursuit of enjoying a hobby, but it can work. There are more games to play now than ever before. Convincing someone to try this particular game is going to be equal parts sharing your passion for it and helping them figure out what about it appeals to them, and is worth their attention and money.

Daniel goes on to describe a bit of how one might introduce the game to a casual passer-by. I need to bone up on that. I taught Netrunner last week for maybe the third or fourth time. I still do not have a patter or rhythm down to explaining how it plays, and why one thing is good and another bad. One of my big takeaways from being a Man in Black for Steve Jackson Games was the benefit to outlining a loose sort of script in teaching the basics of a game, and how one can pack information into a turn so the demo is more than parroting the rule book, step by step.

[HT to dboeren’s post to the Doomtown forum on Boardgamegeek.]

Decked!: Whizzard vs. Jinteki

We’re kicking off something new today. Embedded above is the first episode of Decked!, a web series of people playing board games, in homage to shows like Magic Matchups, Team Covenant‘s living card game coverage and Tabletop. We kick off with a round of Android: Netrunner, in which my friends Alex and Roy pit the relentless trashing might of the anarch Whizzard against the Jinteki corporation’s layers of traps and misdirection.

Click through the video to visit the official Decked! YouTube channel, where you can subscribe to get updates as new episodes post, and browse the archives as they grow.  Decked! is produced with facilities provided by Vermont Community Access Media in Burlington, Vermont. You can also watch it on VCAM 15, or on VCAM’s web player.

The Esoteric Order of Gamers’ Game Summary Sheets

After the euphoric high of opening a new board game, probably the next strongest emotion is the swell of despair as you process just how thick the rule book to the intricate and theme-laden game you’ve just bought actually is. And often times, the density of that rule book teams up with its cunning partner poor organization to make figuring out how to play the game clear as mud. But don’t despair. There is help available.

I’ve sung the praises of Universal Head’s rules reference sheets before while playing Arkham Horror and Android. Since then, Universal Head’s work has migrated to the Esoteric Order of Gamers, where the repository of games covered has only grown in the past couple years. When I acquire a new title completely unplayed, know I’m going to be learning something new or will be teaching a complex game to a newcomer, the Esoteric Order of Games is my first stop. Universal Head’s summary sheets have just the right mix of solid graphic design and strong structure to pack a whole game into what is usually a few double-sided sheets and a half-page of turn order details.

If you’ve ever paged through a rule book and been completely baffled by the turn order, or directed to see another section that you can’t find, you have got to check out Universal Head’s work. The references for Android: Netrunner and Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game live in a manila folder right next to the rule books, and that folder never leaves my game bag. When a question comes up, Universal Head can almost always answer it faster than consulting the rule book. The reference sheets are just that good.

The Games of 2012

What did I play in 2012? Well, according to my log over at Boardgamegeek/, in 2012 I played:

  • Role-Playing Games
    • 36 sessions of Carrion Crown
    • 11 sessions of Skull & Shackles
    • 1 session of Fiasco
    • 2 session of Call of Cthulhu
    • 1 session of Qalidar / True 20
    • GMed 1 session of GURPS Ghostbusters
  • Board Games
    • 9 rounds of Betrayal at House on the Hill
    • 6 rounds of Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game
    • 9 rounds of Dominion — with attendant expansions I will not list
    • 4 rounds of Android: Netrunner
    • 4 rounds of Give Me the Brain!
    • 3 rounds of Pandemic
    • 2 rounds of 7 Wonders
    • 2 rounds of Arkham Horror — with attendant expansions I will not list
    • 2 rounds of Carcassonne
    • 2 rounds of Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers
    • 1 round of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
    • 1 round of Castellan
    • 1 round of Chrononauts
    • 1 round of Chupacabra: Survive the Night
    • 1 round of Clue: Harry Potter Edition
    • 1 round of Cthulhu Fluxx
    • 1 round of Dungeon Petz
    • 1 round of Fealty
    • 1 round of Frag
    • 1 round of Guillotine
    • 1 round of IceDice
    • 1 round of Jungle Speed
    • 1 round of King of Tokyo
    • 1 round of Ligretto
    • 1 round of The Lord of the Rings Adventure Game
    • 1 round of Lords of Waterdeep
    • 1 round of Monty Python Fluxx
    • 1 round of Nefarious
    • 1 round of Small World Underground
    • 1 round of Smash Up
    • 1 round of Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation – The Next Phase
    • 1 round of Tales of the Arabian Nights
    • 1 round of Talisman
    • 1 round of Tobago

[Tuesday Night Board Games] Android: Netrunner

Android: Netrunner box cover.Dropping into Tuesday night board games at Quarterstaff Games last night, I finally got to try my hand at Android: Netrunner, the latest of Fantasy Flight Games’ living card games, and the next iteration of a beloved collectible card game, Netrunner, designed by Richard Garfield himself. I’m honestly not sure what about Android: Netrunner caught my attention — probably the same thing as Dominion: the galaxy of possibilities in playing the game without necessarily the same level of investment as a traditional CCG; plus the extension of the Android universe, which we local fans think is one of the original game’s greatest assets — but I’ve been following the discussions on since the first announcement. And while I’ve stopped following those discussions because they invariably looped back to the pros and cons of the living card game format and whether X card or faction is wicked broken, I maintained my interest.

With only one play under my belt as the criminal runner Gabriel Santiago against Haas Bioroid, it’s hard to say a lot that’s helpful or likely to be terribly accurate. But that never stopped anyone before, did it?

Part of what drew me to Android: Netrunner was that it was supposed to be playable out of the box, particularly in the wake of having been interested in the Call of Cthulhu card game until I let those arguments about the “need” to own multiple core sets to play it properly dissuade me from exploring further. Android: Netrunner, however, absolutely is playable out of the box. Pick a faction, add the neutral cards to those and you’ve got a deck. While I lost against Haas, it didn’t feel like an unmatched loss, if you know what I mean. There were cards that worked together and I was able to see some of those match ups from the very beginning.

I didn’t really know what I was doing for the first half of the game, so maybe I dawdled or didn’t generate enough cash regularly enough — there were more than a couple turns where all I did was drum up credits, especially once I figured out that Sneakdoor Beta is a persistent effect letting Gabriel use his ability against a second of the corporation’s core servers — but I started to get the sense of recognizing when the corporation’s resources are low as part of dancing around its intrusion countermeasures.

It was a first brush with a new game. I liked it for the most part. The prospect of having multiple first brushes with Android: Netrunner is a little intimidating, owing to the number of factions with unique cards to learn how to use, but it’s also a promise of lots of variability in play. It’s kind of like opening a new Dominion expansion, only the entire game is different and there are cyborgs.

There was also the slow process of “All right, so I spend a click to go on a run, then the ICE requires this strength hacking, which means this program needs this many clicks . . . ” but you’ll have that with any game. I repeatedly found myself in the position of discovering halfway through a run that I didn’t have enough credits to bypass all the subroutines. In retrospect, I wonder if I was playing too cautiously, being unwilling to take the consequences. Particularly with regard to the final, make or break run. I can’t remember now if the credits I spent on the layers of ICE were something I could have saved by taking the penalties of the subroutines.

And as game jargon goes, it’s pretty easy to find the analogies between clicks and actions, stacks and decks and so forth for anyone who’s suffered through the innumerable variations on “victory point.”

Best of all, it was fun to play without worrying about deckbuilding at all. I’m looking forward to trying out all the factions, on both the runner and corporate sides of the board.