Remembering Android: Netrunner

Posted on August 30, 2019 by Jack Kelly
Tags: netrunner, gaming

From 2012 through to 2015 or so, I was hugely into Android: Netrunner (ANR), Fantasy Flight Games’ (FFG) reboot of Richard Garfield’s 1996 Netrunner, widely considered one of “the greatest card games you never played”. When I was sailing, I read and re-read the rulebook; when I was ashore I was always looking for ways to play. After I finished up with Windeward Bound, I was playing multiple nights each week, and attending every serious tournament I could.

My interest dropped off in 2016, after FFG released a whole lot of poorly-balanced cards. The cards collapsed the competitive meta (roughly: the common knowledge of what decks people thought were good) into a couple of grindy corp decks (and the few runner decks that could stand against them), and the community hemorrhaged players.

FFG eventually won back some player goodwill by restricting the most broken cards in organised play, appointing a new lead designer and publishing a new core set. But ANR’s recovery was cut short in 2018: negotiations between FFG and Wizards of the Coast broke down and FFG’s license to use the Netrunner mechanics expired, ending the game’s corporate life. (It has since been unofficially continued by a dedicated group of enthusiasts.)

I still think about those weekends spent on long bus rides, sometimes even travelling interstate to make it to a tournament. I still get nostalgic for the game, like how you might think of a former friend you don’t see any more but hope is doing well. The 2018 discontinuation made me quite sad, even though I hadn’t been playing or following the competitive scene for a couple of years by then.

I’ve had a few thoughts about card game design over the years, and with a community-run regional tournament coming up in my area, it’s about time I start writing them down for reference’s sake. Maybe I’ll even pull my cards from storage and sleeve up a couple of decks…

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