Chapter 1 of Learning Netrunner
A How to Play Guide for New Netrunner Players

Learning Netrunner is a series of tutorial videos and blogs designed to teach the Android: Netrunner Living Card Game. Get ready to explore a vibrant sci-fi universe and engage with what may be the best game mechanics ever created.

As of 06/08/18, the end of official support for Netrunner has been announced


Before we jack into the net, a few important points:

1. Android: Netrunner is a living card game (LCG). This means that a) the game is played using cards and b) new cards are consistently released over time.

2. Every living card game starts with what is called a Core Set – and in the case of Netrunner, a Revised Core Set. The original Netrunner Core Set was released in 2012, and then updated in 2017. When it was updated, it was renamed to the Revised Core Set. Anyone interested in playing Android: Netrunner will need at least one Revised Core Set, as it contains the cards, rulebook, tokens, and components needed for the game to function. Buying a Revised Core Set is like buying a traditional board game – you can open it, learn the rules, and play it for as long as you would like.

3. A Netrunner Revised Core Set contains 247 cards to be used during the game, split among 8 factions. Many of these cards only have a single copy included in the Revised Core Set. When building a deck of cards for the game, you can include a maximum of three copies of any card. Therefore, many players buy three Revised Core Sets in order to get three copies of every card.

4. Living card games are “living” because they slowly expand over time. For Netrunner, this is primarily achieved through Data Pack expansions. These packs generally release once a month, and contain three copies of twenty new cards (with each faction getting 1-3 new cards). The contents of these packs are fixed, with no randomness or rarity involved (anyone who buys the Sovereign Sight Data Pack, from now until the end of time, will get the exact same cards) . Players of a living card game typically buy a single copy of the new pack every month.

5. Data Packs are conceptually bundled into “cycles” of six packs. A cycle explores a particular theme in the game and fleshes out various new concepts. So Data Pack #1 through Data Pack #6 will be the first cycle. Data Pack #7 through Data Pack #12 will be the second cycle. Data Pack #13 through Data Pack #18 will be the third cycle, and so on. Packs of the same cycle have matching color schemes that make them easy to recognize (the first cycle might have red packaging, second cycle blue packaging, etc).

6. In addition to monthly Data Packs, living cards games occasionally release bigger expansions often referred to as Deluxe Expansions (we also call them Box Expansions). These Deluxe Expansions generally contain three copies of sixty new cards, with a self-contained theme. Think of each Deluxe Expansion as a bundle of three Data Packs released all at once.

7. If you intend to fully collect Android: Netrunner (getting all possible cards for maximum deckbuilding options), you should plan to purchase a Data Pack ($14.97) every month and a Deluxe Expansion ($29.97) once or twice a year. If it sounds annoying to pay attention to every new release and purchase packs every month, we created a subscription service to solve this problem. You sign up and enter your payment information, and then we charge you for every new Netrunner release and send it right to your door. You can find out more about subscriptions right now, or come back to it after learning the game!

8. If you decide to start playing Android: Netrunner, you will notice that there is a catalog of past Data Packs and Deluxe Expansions for the game. Netrunner uses a rotation system to keep the card pool limited, which means that as new expansions come out, older expansions are discontinued and no longer legal for official play. Before you buy products beyond the Revised Core Set, read up on how rotation works. If you want to buy all legal Netrunner expansions and have all possible cards at any given time, the total cost is around $500; but this is rarely done. Instead, most players will build a few decks with the Revised Core Set and then slowly buy expansions to make them better.

We created a solid deck for every faction that can be built from one Revised Core Set, one Deluxe Expansion, and one Data Pack – so you can choose your favorite deck and enter the fray for around $80. Those decklists are included in the faction-specific blogs below!

Though it may sound a bit complicated, a living card game is basically just a board game with a mini expansion every month and a big expansion a few times a year. You can collect the game as seriously or casually as you like.

With the fundamentals covered, the next logical step is to actually learn how to play the game! We created a pretty extensive tutorial for the game that covers the basics of play and includes a full gameplay walkthrough. It is rather difficult to capture the magic of playing Netrunner through a video like this, so we encourage you to watch a few of our additional gameplay videos after watching the tutorial. Each video explores a different faction and exhibits various styles of play.

Both of the decks we used in the above video were built from a single Revised Core Set. If you are already convinced that you would like to give Netrunner a shot, hop over to our store or click below to buy a Revised Core Set (or three)!

Once you have the cards from your Core Set(s) on the table and organized, it can be overwhelming and confusing to make a deck for the game. While deck customization is one of our favorite aspects of a living card game, it is undoubtedly the biggest barrier for new players. Before you throw your hands up, check out our Core Set Deck Building Guide! This video will give you a quick, foolproof method for building your first deck – regardless of your faction.

Of course, deck building is much more complex than what we present here, and the depth of a card game is found in the myriad options available for expressing your desired strategies and tactics. If you are interested in diving into a more developed deck, check out the linked blogs below. Each one features more intricate strategies, general tactics when using the deck, and a video in which we use the deck in a real game.

Shaper Runner – Rielle “Kit” Peddler
Criminal Runner – Gabriel “Gabe” Santiago
Anarch Runner – Valencia “Val” Estevez
Mini-Faction Runner – Adam

Haas-Bioroid – Stronger Together
Jinteki Corporation – Tennin Institute
Weyland Corporation – Skorpios Defense Systems
NBN Corporation – New Angeles Sol

If you want to take your decks even further, we also have an Advanced Deck Building Guide that you can watch below. We go over higher level concepts that are helpful as you actually begin creating powerful decks for Android: Netrunner.

We truly hope you will join us on your journey through Android: Netrunner, and start playing the game with friends or at your local game store. Be sure to read through everything and watch the videos in order – Netrunner is a pretty unique card game, and it can take a few interactions with it before things make sense. Once it clicks though, life will never be the same.

If you have any questions, please comment below and we will be happy to help as best we can.

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