Early Netrunner Thoughts

As I mentioned in an earlier post in the week I tried Android:Netrunner and I liked it! (Where is the song about that Katy Perry?) For those that can remember back to the start of the year you will remember one of my gaming aims for 2015 was to try and learn Android:Netrunner. This week means I've met this one, and so early in the year. I'm glad it has ended up this way because it means I have the rest of the year to look forward to playing it. I think if this had been left to the end of the year I'd of regretted leaving it so late.

I think I've played four games now, mostly as a runner and one as a corporation. My Amazon basket is all lined up ready for payday but I will come back to that later in the post. In the meantime I've been doing a little “light” reading. My friends daughters fiancé Todd plays Android:Netrunner a lot, and pointed me in the direction of an article on Reddit that covers what to buy expansion wise after getting the base starter set. I've found a couple of articles on deck building. So I've printed these off to read along with the official rule book and FAQ.
Now I've played both runner and corporation I have to say that I do enjoy playing the runner. I didn't get on with the corporation however that is mainly I think I didn't really understand how to play it properly. But I will and I'm sure my enjoyment of playing corporation will improve.
But what is it about playing the runner that I enjoy?
I've been a fan of cyberpunk for decades now, I came across it while at polytechnic. Like many my first introduction to cyberpunk was through the writings of William Gibson. I burned through his books like Burning Chrome, Neuromancer etc. I came across the Shadowrun series of books, that combined cyberpunk with fantasy. I loved those books. Of course in these books the hacker, the anti corporate types are the heroes or anti-heroes of the story. They were cool and I loved it. Deep down wanting to be like them. I had fallen for the romantic idea of the hacker against the big corporate entity.
But even earlier than that during the home computing boom in the 80s Hollywood released the film War Games. A teenage hacker manages to hack the pentagon, come close to starting world war three, save the day and get the girl! A teenage geeks dream. In the nineties hacking got the Hollywood treatment again in the movie Hackers. Once again made to look sexy and cool, and the hacker and his friends save the day, and he gets the girl (a teenage Angelina Jolie who played an independent elite hacker in the movie).
But Hollywood was not only depicting hackers on TV they were also depicting a cyber world inside of the computer, whether it was with people being physical drawn into a virtual world in Tron or once the term had been defined virtual reality with The Lawnmower Man (this was long before I had heard of or read Flowers for Algernon). This virtual world was another element of the cyberpunk equation.
In the real world during this time viruses where becoming big news and despite the antiquated methods compared to today's everything connected to the net world, were spreading like wildfire. During the late eighties a book caused an uproar when it was printed called The Little Blackbook of Viruses. It wasn't available in the UK, but this book was a how to write viruses book. Which I managed to get a copy of, and is a highlight of my library of computing books. I wanted the book a) because of its exclusivity b) I wanted to understand what I was up against in these new programs that were out to attack my computer and wipe my data.
Hollywood was either on TV or in the movies still depicting hackers as the anti social loner. That image suited me. It was me! In the noughties the film Swordfish came out with Hugh Jackman playing a hacker. Thenfilm is only memorial because of two things, the rather interesting interview technique Hugh's character had to go through and Halle Berry topless in one scene. Otherwise it was a watchable pass the time movie. But it showed a more mature hacker, more in line with my age at the time. Hollywood hackers were growing up with me. However in Swordfish this wasn't the hacker against the big corporate entity this was hacking for criminal ends.
From there Hollywood progressed to depicting hackers as criminals or cyber terrorists in films such as Die Hard 4. With the odd “good” hacker that the action hero could call on to help defeat the evil criminal hacker.
This isn't meant to be an authoritive history of hacking and cyber punk in Hollywood. I've just picked the odd highlight that I remember.
In recent years we have seen the emergence of Anonymous and their attacks on the corporate world. The face of Anonymous is usually represented by the mask of V from the graphic novel/movie V for Vendetta, which is a mask of Guy Fawkes. Their attacks seemed to show some sort of social justice for the downtrodden, victims of corporations and a corrupt political system. This appealed to me and the cyberpunk world I had grown up enjoying. Of course the reality of the group after watching documentaries and reading a book on them showed a darker side that I find repulsive.
However the distopian corporate run world depicted by cyberpunk authors somehow feels like it is is nearly here. Corporations lobby and buy politicians to get laws passed to protect their interests, and to make them unaccountable (look into the TTIP if you don't believe me, or the copyright laws that get passed, how many bankers have been prosecuted for the 2008 collapses, or the other banking scandals that have happened since?), politicians pass laws to allow greater survalience, while not prosecuting those that are entrusted with protecting us when they break the law.
Into this bleak world view and and romantic view of hackers of mine the world of corporations combating against runners in the cyberpunk world of Android:Netrunner really does appeal to me. It's this romanticism that draws me to the runners. I am that hacker fighting against the evil corporations, standing up for the little guy with no voice, bringing down the corrupt system.
I will need to learn to play as the evil corrupt corporation so that I can better learn their tactics. But when I do my heart will be with the runner, secretly cheering them on to win.
Earlier in this post I said my Amazon basket is prepped for payday with Android:Netrunner stuff to get me started on the road to playing and deck building. So what is sitting in the basket?
There are two copies of the base starter set. This will give me the ability to have three copies of the cards. Having one copy does not do this!
The starter set is accompanied with the following expansions:
  • Future Proof
  • True Colours (I refuse to use the American spelling – which is WRONG)
  • What Lies AHead
  • Cyber Exodus

The above is the recommendation the Reddit beginners buyer guide. But we all know over the coming months I will be adding further expansions to the game and building up my card pool. It's just in my DNA that I've got to do it! Sometimes hate this character flaw of mine.

Well I hope you've enjoyed this post. It's not a great example of it, but it's along the lines of writing about games I like to read. I will improve (hopefully) as I write more along these lines. And hopefully you will stay for the journey and find it interesting. Until the next post happy gaming.


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