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Neal's Last Words


Neal's Last Words

by Byron "Neal" Massey


There's been a lot of discussion on the Netrunner mailing list recently about the "Netguard" project. The idea is to create some cards for Netrunner similar to the Magic:The Gathering "Vanguard" series. Each oversized card gives a player specific penalties and bonuses that apply for the entire game.

"Imagine what that would do for Duelist sales! " The whole project is a mistake. When Ryan Dancy took over all the WotC card games except Magic, he wrote a lengthy essay about Netrunner. It criticized the game for not being more like Legend of the Five Rings. Now Netrunner players are co-opting a Magic innovation. Where does it end? Will we soon be saying "May the Force be with you" at the end of each turn?

The sad fact is that Netrunner still needs an expansion, and WotC is only willing to publish one if they are almost certain it will make money. "Netguard" is an extremely inexpensive way for WotC to demonstrate that it still cares about Netrunner. Even with this advantage, WotC has not committed to the "Netguard" project at this time.

The cards for the "Netguard" project should meet at least three basic criterion (as discussed on the Netrunner mailing list):

The "Netguard" cards should be really fun and well-tested.

It should be possible to build constructed decks that are fun but not unstoppable using a specific "Netguard" card as a starting point.

It should be possible to randomly select a Netguard card for sealed or constructed deck play without crippling a deck. Random selection of a "Netguard" card should not change the competitive balance between two players.

A less important problem is deciding what to call the new cards. In Magic, each card represents a powerful figure who aids you in your quest to control the planes. The Netrunner version should fit into the genre, and the best analogy for a cyberpunk world is a Contract.

For Corporations, Contracts can represent work hired out by a larger company or a wealthy individual. For Runners, Contracts can represent work hired out by AIs, private individuals, or even corporations that need a job done quietly.

Mark Davis has been working on some examples of Contracts(Called "Dioscuri", a name I find laughably bad), so I decided to share my ideas for Contract cards. As usual, I willingly forfeit all rights I might have to any money or benefits I might gain if these cards or ideas are used by another party. I ask only that my name be credited as the originator of any ideas when used by such a party.

My set is seven cards, each with a Corporate Contract on one side and a Runner Contract on the reverse side. It would be great if WotC would randomly distribute all seven cards in an issue of the Duelist, so that people could scramble around and try to trade for all seven. Imagine what that would do for Duelist sales! Perhaps they could wait a month after the magazine release and then make them available at a few major retailers (or anyone that has the guts to sell some).

Here are the ideas:

Corporation Contracts

AI Data Inspector
Contract - AI

Starting hand size: 4

All cards placed in the Archives are face-up.

(2): Remove a virus counter.
(1): Look at the top card of R&D
(2): Look at the Runner's hand. Use this ability only if the Runner is tagged.

Brom Synsaye
Contract - Sysop - Random - Bad Publicity

All black ice has +2 strength. All AP ice has +1 strength. Each source of Net or brain damage is +1. The cost to rez black ice is increased by (1). The cost to rez AP ice is increased by (1). Each time you rez a piece of black ice or AP ice, roll a die. On a 1, 2 or 3, gain 1 Bad Publicity point.

Capital Investment Services
Contract - Random

At the start of each of your turns, roll a die. If the die roll is lower than the number of Futures counters, remove all Futures counters. If you have any bits at the end of each of your turns, place a Futures counter on Capital Investment Services and lose (1).

A: Remove all Futures counters and gain (3) for each counter.

Deneese H. Connor, Hitperson

All sources of Meat damage are unpreventable. Gain 1 Bad Publicity point for each point of Meat damage you do to a Runner.

(5): Lose all Bad Publicity points and remove Deneese H. Connor from the game.

Hyperwave Datapath, Inc.

Starting hand size: 4

At the start of each of your turns, you may draw up to two additional cards. For each additional card you draw, take a card from R&D and remove it from the game. These cards are not revealed to any players.

(0): Cut any number of cards from the top of R&D and place them on the bottom.

Netwatch Tracking Service

Each time a Runner makes a run, roll a die. If the result is less than or equal to the number of tags on that Runner, that Runner gains a tag.

A: Remove any number of tags on a Runner. The Runner gains (2) and you gain (3) for each tag removed.

Tom Yist, Branch Manager
Contract - Sysop

A: Reduce your hand size by 1 and gain (2)
A: Reduce your hand size by 2 and gain (3)

Runner Contracts

Baedaker's Construct
Contract - AI

Use Baedaker's Construct only immediately before encountering a piece of ice.

(6): Begin running a new fort, passing ice until you have the same number of ice remaining to be passed as the previous fort. Take 1 Net damage, which cannot be prevented. The Corp may cancel this effect by paying (4).

Brasilia Runners' Conference

All ice is -1 strength. Each time you score one or more agenda points, forfeit the first point and place a Dues counter on Brasilia Runners' Conference.

A, (4), Dues counter: Gain an agenda point.

Hyperdata Rendering Services

(0): Use this ability only during an encounter with a piece of ice. The strength of the ice is -X. Take X Net damage, which cannot be prevented. X may not be greater than 4.

Kombinat Tech Mole

Place 2 Wipe counters on Tech Mole when it is played. Each time a piece of ice goes to the Archives, lose (2).

Wipe Counter: Trash a piece of ice. Use this ability only immediately after you have broken all the subroutines on that ice.

A, (4): Add a Wipe counter to Tech Mole

Quest for Holger
Contract - AI

Gain an action during each of your turns to either install a card; trash the top card of the Stack; or take 1 Net damage, which cannot be prevented.

Surveillance Consulting, Inc.

Each time you use Surveillance Consulting, Inc., you must remove the top card of the Stack from the game. If the Stack is empty, you cannot use Surveillance Consulting.

A: Look at the top card of R&D.
(0): Reveal all cards in the Archives.
(0): Reveal a piece of unrezzed ice.

Zurich Zoning Litigators

You must pay (2) for each Zoning Counter each time you make a run.

(2): Trash a piece of ICE. Place a Zoning counter on Zoning Litigators. Use this ability only immediately after breaking all the subroutines on that ICE.

A, (3): Remove a Zoning counter.

I hope these ideas are interesting, let me know what you think. I'm especially interested in hearing about any broken constructed decks you can make using these Contracts.