Mastering the Cyberstruggle: A Guide to Netrunner


Netrunner is a collectible card game that combines elements of strategy, bluffing, and outsmarting your opponent. It’s set in a cyberpunk future where players take on the roles of either a mega-corporation (the Corp) or a hacker (the Runner). The game was originally created by Richard Garfield, the brain behind Magic: The Gathering, and was first published in 1996. After a bit of a hiatus, it was rebooted in 2012 as Android: Netrunner by Fantasy Flight Games, but sadly, as of my last check, the game isn’t being printed anymore. However, the community is still active, and there’s a lot of love for the game out there.

The essence of Netrunner lies in its asymmetrical gameplay, which I find really interesting in any game. The Corp tries to advance their agendas while protecting their servers, and the Runner aims to hack in and steal those agendas before they can be scored. It’s a cat-and-mouse game with a deep strategic layer. The history of Netrunner is rich, with a fan base that keeps the game alive through community-driven events and expansions even though the original game and cards are out of print. Let’s jack in!

Quick Tip for Netrunner

Always keep an eye on your opponent’s credit pool – it can give you valuable clues about their capabilities and potential next moves!

Rules for playing Netrunner Card Game

Understanding the rules of Netrunner is key to enjoying the game. Each player has a different set of rules that apply to them, reflecting the asymmetrical nature of the game. The Corp has a deck of cards representing their assets, while the Runner has a deck of programs, hardware, and resources to aid in their hacks.

The game is played over a series of turns, with each player taking actions to draw cards, play cards, gain credits (the game’s currency), and make runs (the Runner’s attempts to hack). The Corp installs cards in servers and protects them with ice (defensive programs), while the Runner installs programs and hardware to help break through that ice.

Each turn, the Corp draws a card and gets three clicks (actions) to spend, while the Runner gets four. Cards can be played, or credits can be spent to advance agendas or strengthen defenses. The Runner’s goal is to score seven agenda points by hacking into the Corp’s servers and stealing agendas. The Corp wins by scoring seven agenda points themselves or by depleting the Runner’s deck, representing the Runner’s loss of will or resources.

Card Types for Netrunner

Netrunner features several card types, each with its own role in the game:

  1. Agendas: These are the main objectives for both players. The Corp advances and scores them, while the Runner tries to steal them.
  2. Assets: These provide various benefits to the Corp, from generating credits to dealing damage to the Runner.
  3. Upgrades: These enhance servers, making them harder to hack or more rewarding for the Corp.
  4. Operations: One-time use cards that give the Corp immediate effects.
  5. Ice: Defensive barriers that protect the Corp’s servers from the Runner.
  6. Programs: The Runner’s tools for hacking, including icebreakers to get past ice.
  7. Hardware: Permanent installations that give the Runner ongoing benefits.
  8. Resources: Connections and jobs that help the Runner gain credits and other advantages.
  9. Events: One-time use cards that give the Runner immediate effects.

For beginners, starter sets or core sets are available, which provide a balanced selection of cards to learn the game.

How to Play Netrunner CCG and Game Mechanics

The game mechanics of Netrunner are unique and engaging. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Setup: Each player selects their deck, sets their identity card, and prepares their play area. The Corp creates servers and the Runner sets up their rig.
  2. Gameplay: Players alternate turns, taking actions to play cards, gain credits, and make or defend against runs.
  3. End of the Game: The game ends when one player scores seven agenda points or if the Runner is forced to draw from an empty deck.

How to Win at Netrunner

Winning at Netrunner requires a mix of strategy, bluffing, and resource management. Here are some tips:

  1. Know Your Deck: Familiarize yourself with your cards and their synergies.
  2. Manage Your Credits: Always have enough credits to threaten or defend against runs.
  3. Bluff: Keep your opponent guessing about your true intentions and capabilities.
  4. Adapt: Be ready to change your strategy based on your opponent’s moves.

As you gain experience, you’ll learn to anticipate your opponent’s actions and control the flow of the game.

Best Strategies for playing Netrunner CCG

For the corporate player, the best strategies often involve carefully managing resources to protect their agendas with ice (in-game defense mechanisms), while also setting traps and misinformation to mislead the Runner. Bluffing and predicting the Runner’s moves are key components, as is maintaining economic superiority to afford the costs of rezzing ice and advancing agendas.

For the Runner, success hinges on efficient rig-building, which is assembling a suite of programs and hardware to effectively bypass the Corp’s defenses. The Runner must apply constant pressure by making calculated runs on the corporation’s servers, while managing their own resources to avoid being left vulnerable to counter-attacks. Both sides must balance aggression with control, pushing their advantages while preparing for their opponent’s counter-strategies.

Deck-building is also crucial; players must construct decks that not only align with their strategic focus but also can adapt to a variety of threats posed by different opponents. In essence, the best strategies in Netrunner involve deep knowledge of the card pool, keen situational awareness, and the ability to outthink and outmaneuver your opponent in this high-stakes game of cyber warfare.

To excel at Netrunner, you need to master both offense and defense. Here are some general strategies I recommend:

  1. Pressure Early: As the Runner, make early runs to force the Corp to spend credits on ice.
  2. Score Fast: As the Corp, try to score agendas quickly before the Runner builds a strong rig.
  3. Control the Board: Maintain control over the game’s pace and your opponent’s options.
  4. Use Misdirection: Bluff and use traps to lead your opponent into making mistakes.

Remember, the best strategy is one that keeps your opponent off-balance and unsure of your next move.

Deck Building and Best Cards in Netrunner

Building a strong deck is crucial in Netrunner. Focus on creating a balanced deck with a clear win condition and cards that support that strategy.

Best Cards in Netrunner

While the “best” cards can vary based on your playstyle, here are some universally recognized powerhouses:

  1. Hedge Fund: A staple for Corp decks, providing a significant credit boost.
  2. Sure Gamble: The Runner equivalent of Hedge Fund, essential for quick credits.
  3. Account Siphon: A powerful event that drains the Corp’s credits while enriching the Runner.
  4. SanSan City Grid: An upgrade that accelerates the Corp’s agenda scoring.

Experiment with different combinations to find what works best for you.


Here are some common scenarios and how to turn them to your advantage:

  1. Corp is Rich: If the Corp has a lot of credits, make less risky runs and build your resources.
  2. Runner is Aggressive: If the Runner is making frequent runs, install traps and punitive ice.

Adaptability is key in turning any scenario to your favor.

Frequently Asked Questions about playing Netrunner game

Here are some common questions and answers:

Q: How many cards can I have in my hand?

A: The Corp has a maximum hand size of five cards by default, while the Runner’s hand size can vary based on their identity and cards in play.

Q: Can I run on my first turn?

A: Yes, the Runner can make runs on their first turn, but it’s often risky without the right cards in play.

Additional Topics

Other relevant subtopics include:

  1. Meta Game: Understanding the current popular decks and strategies in the community.
  2. Tournament Play: Preparing for and participating in competitive events.

Netrunner was inspired by the classic novel “Neuromancer” by William Gibson (Goodreads)

The Netrunner Weekly is an online magazine dedicated to the game and universe.

Top Runners’ Conference – Official Netrunner player org

Fantasy Flight Games (Android: Netrunner The Card Game) – Android: Netrunner Official Website

Null Signal Games – Current publisher of Netrunner