Netrunner Rules

I condensed the rules to the card game Netrunner down from its 36 pages, mostly to lower the barrier to entry for new players. Ideally, this text and the starter Shaper and Jinteki decks, with the neutral cards shuffled in, should be all it takes to get started, allowing players to learn most of the rules while playing their first game.

Overview

Netrunner is a two-player asymmetric card game modeled in deck design after trading card games, modeled in theme and flavor after William Gibson's universe, such as Neuromancer, and unique in its gameplay.

One player is a Corporation, while the other player is a Runner. The Corp is trying to complete 7 points worth of agendas, by advancing them, while the Runner is trying to steal 7 points worth of agendas, by accessing each in a run on the Corp.

The Corp can also lose by drawing when the Corp deck has no cards, and similarly, the Runner can lose by discarding when the Runner hand has no cards.

Layout

To set up the game, each player gains five credits, shuffles their deck, draws a (maximum-size) hand of five cards, and has exactly one chance to mulligan for a reshuffled hand of five cards. The Runner begins with 4 MU, which is not denoted in any way.

Corporation Layout

The Corporation has multiple lanes or columns of vulnerabilities for the Runner to run. The Corp defends these lanes by placing ice in them, which the Runner will have to encounter before reaching and ultimately accessing the vulnerability. The Corp has three permanent vulnerabilities called central servers, each with their own lane:

  • HQ (the hand, denoted by the identity card)
  • R&D (the deck)
  • Archives (the discard pile)

These lanes are already occupied by a vulnerability, and thus can only have ice or upgrades installed on them. The other lanes are remote servers, each of which can have at most one agenda or asset card installed, in addition to any ice or upgrades. There are no other limits on servers. (For example...)(no-server-limits)

(start no-server-limits)

Any number of ice or upgrade cards may be installed on each server, even remote servers with no agenda or asset installed. Any number of remote servers may exist.

(stop no-server-limits)

Face-Down Cards

The Corporation installs cards on servers face-down. The Corp may look at the face-down cards that are not in [R&D][(the deck)] at any time during the game, while the Runner may not. Both players may look at any face-up cards at any time. Cards not in the [archives][(the discard pile)] are face-up only when rezzed; cards in the archives are face-up only when the Runner has looked at them before, either because they were face-up when [trashed][(put in archives)] or because they have been accessed.

Face-down cards in the archives are turned [sideways][(landscape/horizontal)] to ensure the Runner knows they are there. Installed ice is turned sideways and separated to ensure the Runner knows how many pieces of ice defend each line and in what order, even while some may still be unrezzed. All other face-down cards are deliberately placed [normally][(portrait/vertical)] so the Runner cannot tell what kind of non-ice cards they may be.

Runner Layout

The Runner also has special names for the basic regions:

  • grip (the hand)
  • stack (the deck)
  • heap (the discard pile)

The Runner has the ability to play cards into the rig (in play), representing what he has available to run with. There are three rows in the rig:

  1. programs, which require MU to install and can contain icebreakers
  2. hardware, which are the basic rig cards
  3. resources, which can be [trashed][(put in the heap, the discard pile)] by the Corp if the Runner is tagged

Unlike Corp cards, all the cards in the Runner's [rig][(in play)] and [heap][(the discard pile)] stay face-up, available for both players to view at any time.

Card Information

The only kind of card not mentioned so far are those that are [trashed][(put in the discard pile, either archives or heap)] when played. For the Corp, these are called operations, and they go directly to the archives. For the Runner, these are called events, and they go directly to the heap.

When viewed in the hand, all cards are designed to be read [normally,][(portrait/vertically)] so all of the positions described below assume this normal orientation.

Activation Cost

The cost in credits to activate a card is on the top-left of the card. For operations and events, this is the cost to play and trash it. For the Runner's programs, hardware, and resources, this is the cost to install the card on the [rig.][(in play)] For the Corp's ice, upgrades, and assets, this is the cost to rez a card that is already installed on a [server.][(in play)]

Ice Interaction

The strength of ice or programs is on the bottom-left of the card. A program's icebreaker cannot be used on a piece of ice unless the strength of the program meets or exceeds the ice. Any boosts to a program's strength only apply while encountering one piece of ice, after which it resets to the strength on the program's card for the next step of the run.

Icebreakers typically only cancel one ice subroutine at a time. Each ice subroutine starts with "↳" symbol.

Icebreakers typically can only cancel one subtype of ice. The subtype(s) of the ice is on the left of the card. There are three subtypes of ice: sentry, barrier, and code gate.

Server Contents

Agendas have their agenda points on the middle-left of the card. These are the victory points for the game: for the Corporation if the card is advanced to completion, or for the Runner if the agenda is stolen. The number of advancement tokens required for scoring an agenda for the Corp is on the top-right of the card. Agendas are only activated when scored.

Upgrades and assets are also vulnerable to Runner access. When accessed, the Runner may choose to trash (put in archives) the card by spending credits equal to its trash cost, which is on the bottom-right of the card text.

Player Actions

Each player starts their turn by performing actions, and ends their turn by discarding ((not trashing!Discard.)(actions-not-trashing)) down to their maximum hand size (five cards at the start).

(start actions-not-trashing)

It has the same effect as a [trash,][(put the card in the discard pile)] but it has a different name so it cannot be prevented by card abilities which prevent trashing. The same is true when the Runner takes damage.

(stop actions-not-trashing)

Corporation Actions

Each player typically performs four actions in a turn. The Corp's first action must be to draw a card; this is shown by the Corp only receiving three clicks to spend on other actions. The options are:

  • Draw a card.
  • Play a card.
  • Gain a credit.
  • Spend a credit to add an advancement token to a card.
  • Spend two credits to trash a resource if the Runner is tagged.
  • Spend two additional clicks to remove all virus counters from all cards.

Cards are drawn from [R&D][(deck)] into [HQ][(hand)] and played from HQ onto [servers][(in play)] (installing) or [archives.][(discard pile)] (for operations)

Agendas and any asset that says it can be advanced are the only cards that can be advanced. After advancing an agenda, check if it met its advancement requirement and can be scored.

Installing on Servers

Corp cards are always played on [servers][(in play)] face-down and inactive. Non-ice cards are simply stacked face-down in the server, while ice is played in the landscape or horizontal orientation in front of any ice or server contents.

There is typically no install cost, except when playing ice on a server that already has ice on it, in which case the Corp must spend one credit per piece of ice already installed on the server. To avoid this cost, the Corp may choose to [trash][(put in archives)] any ice as he installs new ice on the same server.

Similarly, the Corp may choose to trash an agenda or asset when installing a new agenda or asset on the same server, since only one can be on a server at a time. These are the only times such trashes can be made.

To make an agenda active, it must be scored by advancing it to completion. To make any other card active, it must be rezzed.

Runner Actions

The Runner receives four clicks to spend on actions each turn. The options are:

Cards are drawn from the [stack][(deck)] into the [grip][(hand)] and played from the grip onto the [rig][(in play)] (installing) or [heap.][(discard pile)] (for events)

Installing on the Rig

Runner cards are always played on the [rig][(in play)] face-up and active, requiring the activation cost to be paid in credits immediately.

After installing a program, the Runner must [trash][(put in the heap)] programs until there are enough MU (memory units) for all of the programs on the rig. The Runner starts with a base 4 MU, which can be altered by cards in the rig. The MU required for each program is on the top-left of the card, just to the right of the activation cost.

Making a Run

When the Runner initiates a run, he chooses which server to run and approaches the outermost ice. On any approach, the Corp may then rez the approached ice (and any non-ice cards), and if so, the Runner encounters the ice, using icebreakers and applying ice subroutines (↳) that are not broken in order. After encountering the ice, or passing it if it remained unrezzed, the Runner decides whether to approach [the next thing in line][(either ice or server contents)] or jack out and end the run unsuccessfully. After approaching all ice in order, the Runner may choose to approach the server contents, making the run successful and accesssing the server. As with approaching ice, the Corp may rez any non-ice cards after this approach, before the resulting access.

When a remote server is accessed, all its [contents][(upgrades and at most one asset or agenda card)] are revealed to the Runner, who may then steal (score) any agenda and choose to pay the trash cost of
any upgrades or asset. Each of these cards is accessed one at a time, in whatever order the Runner chooses.

Each central server has a unique effect when accessed:

  • HQ: The Runner accesses a card chosen at random from the hand.
  • R&D: The Runner accesses the top card from the deck.
  • Archives: The Runner accesses all cards from the discard pile.

When R&D is accessed, the Corp does not get to look at the accessed card unless it gets stolen or trashed. When Archives is accessed, all cards are turned face-up, and no cards may be trashed. Each card is still accessed one at a time in all cases.

Odds and Ends

Card text always takes precedence over game rules when there is a conflict.

A card being active means its text/abilities take effect; inactive means the opposite. To make a card active is to activate it.

A Corp card is rezzed when it is face-up and active. Becoming rezzed requires a cost in credits, and can only occur after installing. Non-ice can be rezzed immediately before almost any game step completes; ice can only be rezzed when approached by the Runner.

When a card ability says to expose a card, reveal it to all players and return it to its previous state. This does not count as an access.

Some cards become hosted by other cards. Such cards are [trashed][(put in the discard pile)] when the host card is trashed.

When a card ability has a number of credits with an arrow (↶) over the credit symbol, it means the card comes into play with those credits on it, then replenishes those credits every round, at the start of the card owner's turn. The card will typically restrict how those credits can be used.

(Note: If the Runner plans to play with the Noise deck...)(noise-note)

(start noise-note)

Only one copy of Wyldside may be in play at a time. This is denoted by the diamond before the title. (Other core set cards have this diamond, but Wyldside is the only one with more than one copy.)

(stop noise-note)

Counters

Credits are the currency of the game, which come in 1's and 5's. The backside of the 1-credit is the advancement token, gained as a Corp action to try to complete agendas and win the game.

The red brain counters denote brain damage.

The blue/green rectangular counters are for tagging and bad publicity.

The blue/red circular counters are versatile. For instance, they may be blue Corp agenda counters, red Runner virus counters, or miscellaneous power counters for either player.

Damage

When the Runner takes meat damage or net damage, discard (not trash) a card randomly from the [grip.][(Runner hand)] (These damages have different names so that card effects can prevent only one or the other.) This can trigger a Corp win immediately if the grip was already empty.

When the Runner takes brain damage, discard (not trash) a card randomly from the grip, and reduce the Runner's maximum hand size by one, taking a brain damage counter to denote this. This can trigger a Corp win immediately if the grip was already empty, or at the end of the Runner's turn if the maximum hand size was already zero.

Tagging and Bad Publicity

The blue side of the rectangular counter is used for tags, the green side for bad publicity.

Any time a card has an effect for the Runner to gain a tag, an additional tag is given to the Runner. This allows the Corp to perform extra actions, such as the default "spend a click and two credits to trash a resource" or the neutral agenda Private Security Force ability "spend a click to deal one meat damage".

Any time a card has an effect for the Corp to gain bad publicity, an additional bad publicity counter is given to the Corp. The Runner gains one credit for every bad publicity counter at the start of each run, but these credits are returned when the run ends if they are not spent.

Some Corp cards have a "Trace\(^n\)" ability, which begins a trace. In a trace, the Corp begins with strength \(n,\) while the Runner begins with strength equal to links, (◰) found on the identity card and sometimes on cards in the [rig.][(in play)] Then the Corp openly spends some number of credits, increasing strength by that amount. Then the Runner does the same. The trace is successful if the Corp has greater strength, unsuccessful if the Runner has equal or greater strength.