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 http://imanujakku.wordpress.com/ 

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