Friday, November 1, 2013

Some thoughts on New Net Runner (Android NetRunner)

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Chris and I have played a couple of games of the new version of Net Runner. As you may (or many not) know Chris and I have played Net Runner (the original one) for many years now and consider it an almost perfect CCG. Richard Garfield knew what the hell he was doing yo.

We have worked on many 'virtual expansion' card ideas and have play tested many, hoping one day that the game would see the light of day again. Lo and behold it happened last year. Fantasy Flight Games worked with Wizards of the Coast to bring out a new version of Net Runner that is very similar to the old version. We were excited but a little wary.

In the end they changed just a few things:
  • Some terminology has changed.
  • Link is just a value, no hiding bits then revealing.
  • You now have 1 'identity' card that gives you a bonus.
  • When you build decks, you have to pay attention to it's faction and can only add certain additional cards not in your faction (think Battle Tech CCG).
  • There are no pre-con you can buy. It's their LCC so no boosters/starters. You have to build everything.
The art is there. One of the big complaints for the old game was that the art was 'too out there' for it's time. I think the art fit with the game theme but that is just me. The new stuff looks great. I'd prefer it to be a little darker in tone (the whole cyberpunk type thing) but I can't have everything.

The card design is one of areas I feel the new game falls short. In the old Net Runner you knew when a card was an Ice and when it was a Resource. The designs stood out. The new game's design is a bit soft and you have to focus on the middle of the card to read the card type. I am sure after many playings I will begin to memorize the designs, they just don't stick out at you as easily.

The gameplay is basically the same. The key to Net Runner's success is still there, asymmetrical gameplay with different cards for each side. The change of the Link is a good one and I'm not too hot on the identity simply because if it's ability is constant (throughout the game) you have remember you have it. There are some newer elements slipped into the game but they don't seem to alter the basic structure of the game.

The big fail for me and the only reason I am not foaming at the mouth over this game is the deck building aspect. I am IN LOVE with old Net Runner's pre-con starters. You could buy one starter pack and both of those decks played SO WELL against eachother. There are no pre-cons here. You have to build the decks yourself if you want to play at all. You can get online and look at people's
'power decks' but I really enjoyed the 'semi-randomness' of the old starters. I don't need to win in 3 turns, I need to have fun. Getting a starter to work for you is most of the fun, not a over powered 3 turn-win designed deck.

Finally I am having issues collecting this game. I want one of each card, in sheets, in a folder. The old Net Runner was grouped by Corp/Runner, then set, then card type, then by alpha. Easy enough. The new Net Runner is numbered. This means you have every type of card all mixed together, not good for organizing in any sort of display method for easy viewing. Oh well, small gripe.

Most of my issues will work themselves out with more and more play. It's a fun game and has still held onto it's uniqueness. Long live Net Runner.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When the Net Runner gods smile upon you...

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

As you know Net Runner is expensive... very expensive. You could jump on Ebay eight now and see a box of Proteus booster for 300+ dollars... that's stupid.

Back in the day I had a couple of those. I got them for about sixty bucks and was happy with that. As the years went by I opened them life was good.

Its been years since I have laid my hands on new cards. A couple of years back I got a booster box of 1.0 (core set) cards and opened about 15 packs and sold the rest last year. I'm not too interested in booster though. My enjoyment from Net Runner has largely come from Starters. The calculations that Wizards of the Coast came up with for card distribution in starters was INSPIRED! Both decks in a starter were always so perfectly balanced! Getting my hands on Starter boxes was the real goal!

Anyway, fast forward to 2011. I started up my business again selling Anime models at various conventions and online (go here for my site and buy a bunch of shit, will ya?). One of the conventions I set up at was the San Antonio Comicon in San Antonio Texas. I paid for 2 booths and when I got down there they split my booths up across a fire exit so I had to spend my time going back and forth. That sucked.

The guy in the booth next to me sold all sorts of stuff from gaming miniatures to action figures. It looked like he had a game shop at some point in his past. Anyway we got along well although we were divided by one of his big rolling carts so I didn't talk to him that much.

At my table I put out the remaining core boosters I had. I figured I'd slap $4 on them and see if anyone bites. I could at least get to talking to someone about my favorite game. I didn't sell well there at all. There were a lot of people but no one was interested in my model kits (or Net Runner cards). I spent slow times browsing other people's booths to see if there was stuff I wanted. This sort of thing goes on all the time and a lot of other vendors looked at my stuff too.

Later that first day the guy next to me looks at my stuff and points to my Net Runner cards. "I have some of those", he said. My ears perked up so high they nearly detached from my head. I figured if he lived close I could get them or perhaps have him ship them to me. I told him I would be interested in buying any he had. I tried to keep the look of excitement off my face. "Yeah, I have a box of them. They are over here. I'll grab them."

I nearly crapped my pants.

He brings back a box. It's not Net Runner... It's Proteus.

I nearly vomited.

I then asked him how much he wanted for it. When I deal with other vendors I try my hardest to deal in trading. I would just assume to do trades but almost everyone wants cold hard cash. He said: "15 bucks."

I crapped my pants and vomited at the same time... no really I did. Ok, maybe I didn't.

I pulled 15 dollars out of my pocket faster than you could say Richard Garfield. I paid the man and called my trip from North Texas all the way to San Antonio a success.

I wound up putting it online for sale (Ebay, of course) and it sold in just a couple of weeks. There is a company called Toad and Troll who post a lot of auctions and they have had a Proteus box up for sale for years at the princely sum of $330. At the time it was about $317 (I guess they constantly adjust for inflation). I listed my box for $300 (or best offer). I got an offer for $275 and took it.

A deal like that only happens once in a blue moon. I doubt I will ever find a deal like that again but at least it happened for me the one time. My dream is to go into a shop and find 10 boxes of Net Runner Starts on sale for $10 each!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Net Runner - An very light overview and some memories...

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Welcome to THIS the FIRST post in our wonderful new Blog: NetRunner CCG! This blog is basically a reprint of the blog I wrote for our 2011 Daily Blog: According To Whim. I go on to explain NetRunner and have a few thoughts about it. Enjoy!

NetRunner is a collectible card game (like Magic The Gather or YuGiOh). It was made in 1996-1999 by Wizards of the Coast (the same people who made Magic The Gathering or MTG or Magic The Crappering as I like to call it).

In my opinion NetRunner was a game that was GREATLY underrated and before it's time. Had it come out two or three years later I think it would have done even better. In the end NetRunner was apparently only a marginally successful game. It saw two expansions (additions to the original card set) called Proetus and Classic.

NetRunner still has it's fans. In fact it's fans are smart, affluent, and rich.

I'm serious. Well, in Chris' case I will make a exception. I kid! I kid!

Its safe to say there is a core fan base for this game still in existence. I myself created a NetRunner Yahoo! Group and it has a couple hundred members. This doesn't include a couple of still active websites. The most active of all the site on the inter-webs when it comes to the NetRunner fan base is... EBay.

A pack of 15 cards that you could buy for $2.95 now go for about $4.00 (and that's just the base set). The expansions are even more rare and you will pay between $6-$8 for those 15 cards.

It's not uncommon for a box of these 'booster' card packs to sell for $140.00 (and around $200-$300 for the expansions).

That's ridiculous!

It is!

At the same time I can see the logic behind it. If I had money just lying about I guess I would be buying them up too at those prices. They are becoming more and more scarce and so I guess the prices will continue to go up.

I have decided (until I am mega rich at least) that I don't need to buy any more. I have 2 five thousand card boxes full of cards and scans of all of them. My friends and I don't mind playing with photocopied proxies if we need to.

Chris and I play regularly and we intend on making a 'how to' series of videos on YouTube in the near future. I think the game is so great that one day Wizards of the Coast WILL reprint it (I am sure of it). Until then we will treasure our cards (I refuse to shuffle my cards in the traditional way so as not to bend and wear on the heavily).

Now for some history... Chris introduced me to NetRunner in 2002 while I was living in Fort Worth. His friend Loren was playing this game that was 'internet hacker' based and was really fun. The dynamics of the game was nothing at all like the other game of the day (mainly Magic The Gathering). NetRunner utilized two completely different sets of cards. In Magic The Gathering each player can choose any of the three gazillion cards in the set. In NetRunner there are cards that belong to the 'hacker' and cards that belong to the 'corporation'. This makes NetRunner very unique (even to this day). I told Chris it sounded cool and we gave it a shot. In no time at all I was playing and having a great time. Chris brought Loren and we would have tournaments and be playing for hours on end.

One of the other great things about this game is that the cards are fantastically balanced and a game can go one way or another in the blink of an eye. With a lot of other collectible card games once someone gets the upper hand (so to speak) the game can be very one sided and/or end very quickly. For the most part NetRunner is not like that at all.

During this time up until 2005 ish I was loading up on NetRunner cards off EBay. They were pretty cheap. At one point I was able to buy several of boxes of 'Starters' (2 complete, ready to play against each other decks) for $20 a box. Those are the ones going for about $100. In 2004 I think I had about 6 starter boxes and about 4 booster boxes just sitting in my closet. I did sell a few and opened quite a few more. In all that mess I completed a set (all 500+ cards) and sold it for some insanely cheap amount on EBay. I wish I would have saved it... I have built myself a second set (that is still not complete). Chris didn't have the money or credit that I did (since he had to support 1,500 children) so he did a lot of 'proxing'. He would take some real cards to Kinko's or someplace and photocopy the cards and cut them out. He would go to the dollar store and buy packs of playing cards and a stick of glue. He then glued the photocopied cards to the playing cards and there you go! He would also make boxes for those decks from interesting things like mutilated playing card packs and Walmart saltine cracker boxes.

He still has those. We still play them too.

We hope to continue to play NetRunner for years to come since it provides us with some great gaming time. I highly suggest you try it out if you ever can. If you are in the DFW area, look us up and we will be glad to come teach you.