Top 3 Netrunner Cards…thematically.

I was raised playing  parlor card  games like Pinochle, Hearts, and Spades and board games like Sorry, Life and Monopoly.In the 4th grade on “Bring a game to class” day I was introduced to the  Dungeons and Dragons Red Box and it was love at first saving throw versus fire. In the nearly twenty years since that day I’ve  played so many different video game, card and board games I’ve lost count. My current obsessions include but are not limited to Android Netrunner, Cards Against Humanity, X wing miniatures, Descent 2nd edition and  the Pathfinder table top role playing game. You can track the exploits of my Pathfinder/Descent group called the Rain City Gamers  here in this oft neglected blog 

Netrunner. I go to sleep thinking about Netrunner. I fell asleep last night thinking about Jinteki net damage. I woke up this morning wondering if Noise’s mill ability would eventually grow too powerful and would need errata. I find the game mechanics and thematic elements of Netrunner so enthralling I don’t feel like i’m playing a card game but that I am  a character in an interactive William Gibson  novel. What are the three best Netrunner cards ? I could go with the most click efficient or meta defining but the thematic elements are what drew me to this game so I’m going to countdown in no particular order my top three cards that make me forget I’m playing a card game and think I’m a hacker.


1.  Stimhack

Nothing says dedication to the cause in the hacker community like shooting yourself full of Lucidrine and making one last eye bleeding, synapse  frying run on a data server surrounded by so much ice it looks like Superman’s Antarctic Fortress of Solitude. Not only is Stimhack thematic its absurdly powerful serving as both the nail in the corporate coffin when the runner has the lead or fueling an improbable comeback when the runner is tagged and the corporate hit squads are closing in. At one influence stimhack has a home in any runner deck despite its particularly nasty side effect. The drawback ? What drawback ? Whats a few brain cells in exchange for bringing a global mega corp to its knees?

2. Cyberfeeder

The essence of cyberpunk is a fist full of  data jacks fused to your spine piping in terabytes of netcode directly into your cerebral cortex. The concept of “jacking in” to the matrix is one of pillars the cyberpunk genre was built on and the game would not be cyberpunk without it. While wireless access to cyberspace would likely be a reality in the world of Android it is the brace of cables twisting from our neck that make us question our humanity. Are we still human ? Or has our technology made us into something different entirely? In game the cyberfeeder is a core card of the Anarchs faction though with the low influence cost it can find it way into any deck that needs a stable source of income and/or utilizes viruses.

3. Janus 1.0

The hacker only becomes heroic when squaring off against an worthy villain and nothing says arch nemesis like an AI so powerful it might as well be a deity. Much like the old testament prophets who  could not look upon the true face of god the runner cannot look upon the face of Janus 1.0 without his brain melting and dripping out through his nose.  Janus 1.0 is so bleeding edge that even a multinational global corporation would not likely have enough liquid assets to bring him on line without an agenda like an accelerated beta test or a priority requisition. How long  Janus 1.0  would be content as corporate shill  is  in another matter entirely… it could only be a matter of clicks before turns on the very scientists who created him.

If I was allowed to choose ten, twenty or even thirty cards I would have but these are the three that capture the feeling of the first time I read Neuromancer and saw Ghost in the Shell. Thanks to Team Covenant for “Access to Gamer Globalsec”. I signed up for contest but I’m definitely sticking around for the community.

-ryan 1/25/2013





  1. 2 copies in most decks. ive been playing around with 3 copies in a turbo kate deck with wyldsyde. its an operation heavy deck that tries to use sure gamble, stimhack and modded + shapers versatile breaker suite to blitz the corp with maker’s eye and inside job, Still a work in progress but it feels like playing a suicide black deck in magic the gathering.

    i think stimhack’s brain damage drawback scared a lot of people off it initially. Brain damage sounds worse that it actually plays since you can still draw as many cards as you want. If your deck is designed to play fast and you are using stimhacks to steal your last couple of agenda points the card is a disgusting 9 credits for 1 click. There is nothing else in the game that even comes close to generating that big of an economic advantage.

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  2. I like the idea of “the lure” — spend a click to play ICE that will not defend you as a false bluff, in order to bolster the illusion you are advancing an agenda and not a Project Junebug. Chum is pretty good for that. So is Data Mine actually. Snowflake comes in cheap as a new edition to that… but there’s no real need for a third bluffing ICE, so it’s dead out of the gate. Data Mine and Chum have other uses. Snowflake is pretty much only a bluff.

    Bullfrog is rubbish. Too costly to use on a bluff, too weak to have any other use. The mini-game doesn’t get played. The runner just breaks the gate for cheap and continues the run.

    Both of these cards needed to be like Toll Booth — place that mini-game outside of a subroutine, and those cards become pretty decent. (They’d need to weaken the mini-game on Snowflake so that the runner wins 2 in 3 instead of 1 in 3 by reversing who wins when credits match.) Putting the mini-game inside a subroutine all but guarantees it will not even be played. At the very least, the strength on these ICE should have been higher so that chancing on the mini-game was something the runner might choose over paying to break.

    These are two of the weakest cards to come out. Just as the core game had a few duds these are the duds. I don’t see much of a way to save either piece of ICE, except…

    …except, I’m 99% sure that Jinteki will soon get a “Psi-booster” card (maybe a new identity???) that will boost both Bullfrog and Snowflake by 2 (or maybe 3) strength. They are the only Psi-ICE in the game right now, and both are weaker than ICE alternatives. It would be an easy fix. The only thing that would change my mind is if we saw strong Jinteki Psi-ICE come out.

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  3. I’m a much bigger fan of Bullfrog than I am of Snowflake, but I appreciate both cards because they’re just fun to play with. I run a Jinteki “Replicating Perfection” deck and I really love having Bullfrog in there on the off chance it gets me to bounce the runner back to a heavily defended Central Server, or onto a Snare/Fetal AI/Junebug.

    While they aren’t likely to see much competitive play, they are great fun for casual games and I look forward to seeing similar cards for Jinteki in the future.

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