ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Android: Netrunner Review

Updated on October 18, 2014


I had never played a living card game before. In fact, I'm frightened of Magic: The Gathering due to the exhausting amount of cards, strategies, depth and customization. Of course, this kind of customization comes at a price, and when you see the price tags on certain rare cards, you'd be astonished too.

The main difference between MTG and Android: Netrunner is the fact that the company that makes Netrunner produces box sets that include all of the cards you need to play. No buying boosters. This is the main reason I wasn't intimidated by this game.

The game itself is actually an updated, reimagined version of a game from the 90's called Netrunner. It was collectible just like MTG. It had its fans, but it ultimately withered and died because MTG was simply too big. Fantasy Flight Games has brought the game back in a big way, using the core game mechanics but changing the theme to fit into their existing Android universe, which we've previously seen in a game called, well, Android.

Did I mention the art is eye-catching?
Did I mention the art is eye-catching? | Source

Enough history. The gameplay of Netrunner is asymmetrical. One player plays the Corporation and the other plays the Hacker (or Netrunner) whose job is to infiltrate the Corporation's secure servers and steal enough information to win the game. It's a thrilling game of deception and it works brilliantly.

In fact, this kind of cat-and-mouse gameplay lends itself to some intense moments of bluffing and stress. This is done by the game's clever use of information. Security systems are played face down and not revealed until the Hacker tries to get past them. Once the security (called Ice) has been activated, it's activated for the rest of the game. Uncertainty is the root of all fear; as a Hacker, there's quite a lot of it.

The Corporation, meanwhile, is a little like playing the Red team in Team Fortress 2; they are exclusively on defense during the game. The only way for a Hacker to win the game is to steal victory points from the Corporation. The Corporation, meanwhile, must spend time and money to "build" his victory points, all while keeping the Hacker away long enough to finish.

The contents of the box
The contents of the box | Source

By its very nature, you'd think an asymmetrical game would be hard to balance, but the game's designers have done a good job creating decks that all play differently. In the base game there are three different Hacker decks and four Corporations, each with its own flavor, playstyle and theme. For instance, one Hacker deck emphasizes viruses that will make breaking security systems much easier, while another might be better at simply robbing the Corporation at every turn.

If you're familiar with this kind of game, you'll know there's a strong deck-building element that makes the game much more interesting in the long term. While you can play with the base decks of recommended cards, once you see how each identity plays, you'll definitely want to customize and tweak your little engine of destruction until it's as lean and efficient as possible. This is done as follows:

- The player picks a “core deck” of cards. For example, the Green Hacker.

- The player then has fifteen points to buy other cards to include in the deck. These cards can come from other identity decks (for instance, the Blue or Red Hacker decks).

- Once the cards are picked, other cards can be removed until a certain card limit is reached (which is typically 45).

This process is the same for both the Hacker and Corporation.

Card samples
Card samples | Source

With one core set, two players can square off with a wide assortment of cards. It doesn't take long to put decks together, and the game is fun to play.

• Theme perfectly meshes with gameplay

• Fairly easy to teach new players

• Lots of variety in the core box, even if you decide to never buy additional expansions (but you'll definitely want to)

• Only one initial purchase needed; no boosters or rare cards

• Low buy-in

• Eye-catching art and design


• Lack of card rarity might bother diehard MTG players

• Rules from rulebook can be hard to learn initially (having someone teach you is preferable)


Despite the fact that I'm terrible at this game, it's still a good time.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a really fun game!

      A friend introduced me to the original version long after it was retired. Even though the game is asymmetrical, it is very well-balanced. The original did not have the different types of hacker and corporation; the remake added these so that they could distill the main styles of play into different sets of cards, which makes deck-building a little easier (if more involved). For example, if you are playing Hacker and your play style is more aggressive, you can just grab the red hacker base deck and add/tweak the cards from there. Some old netrunner players won't like being funneled into said play styles, but they added enough variability into the deck building process to let you tweak your strategy- and the new expansion packs coming out will give you even more flexibility.

    • netraptor profile image


      6 years ago from California

      Great article! Makes me very curious to see how it works!

    • William157 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern California

      Glad you enjoyed it! Currently my sister and her fiancée are playing this almost every day.

    • Eric Mikols profile image

      Eric Mikols 

      6 years ago from New England

      I've never heard of this or played anything like this (except for MTG). This sounds interesting and fun and I might have to try it with my brother. I might even get my fiacee to test it with me!

      Thanks for the Hub! This looks cool!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)