After you’ve acquired your Netrunner products you might be wondering what’s the best way to start playing the game and grasping all of the main gameplay concepts. These are tips on how to learn the game and evolve your deck building and playing skills.
A really cool feature about Netrunner is that you’ll get a lot of content to play with right out of the core set. The core set features specific cards for all the three runner factions and all the four corporations along with a pool of neutral cards that you can mix with those faction specific cards in order to test them all out. If you’d like to get an overview of the play style of each particular faction beforehand to help you choose which ones you’re going to try out first you can check out the “Faction Specialties” thread on BGG, if you scroll down you will see several users describe each faction’s approach.
The neutral cards have a distinct grey colour while the rest of the cards have the faction specific colouring so you can easily differentiate them and mix them up. This makes up for a lot of content and a lot of game play time and re-playability with several different deck archetypes unlike what you would get from a couple of starter decks for another collectible card game. This is where the living card game distribution system shines brighter than the normal method for distributing and selling card games in which starter decks are normally constituted of the most basic uninteresting cards of the game, hence forcing you to buy a lot more cards quite soon to actually enjoy the more advanced mechanics that the game has to offer. In Netrunner if you look at even the most recent deck lists you will see that a huge percentage of the cards included still belong to the core set.
You can see a detailed unboxing video filmed by me above that goes through all of the cards contained on the core set for each of the different factions. You will realize how much content you’ll get straight out of the box.
After you’ve fooled around with the Core Set decks straight out of the box and have accustomed yourself with all the different types of game play that each runner and corporation provide you’ll want to try your own particular approach and start constructing your first decks.
If you went just for the core pack you still have a couple of different options for deck building and you can get together some very interesting decks that can give even more complex decks a run for their money. You can find some great ideas to build your first constructed decks our of the Core Set on these Board Game Geek articles: “Single Core Constructed Deck Lists” and “Constructed Starter Decks for Every Faction”. All you have to do is to abide to the minimum number of cards shown on the identity you choose (normally 45 cards) while keeping the total amount of influence points (the bright dots on the 5 dot markers of faction specific cards) of the off-faction cards you choose under or equal to the number shown below the minimum card limit. You can see that the possibilities are more or less limitless and pave the way for really interesting archetypes.
The next step to take if you’re taking your time to absorb all the cards available so far in Netrunner will be to start adding cards from core packs and expansions to your constructed core set decks. So far all the cards that have been released for Android: Netrunner are tournament legal and as far as I know there are no plans to restrict the pool of cards available for competitive deck building so it might take you a while to get familiar with all the cards out there, this is why I would advise you to take these steps to ease yourself into the game instead of getting all the cards into the mix straight off the bat.
The Championship Decklists available at the Stimhack website are a great resource for novice deck builders to get ideas from because you have deck lists sorted by year. This enables you to find decks built from only core set cards dating back to 2012 or to go forward in time (in case you’re buying the data packs and expansions in chronological order) to find constructed decks with other expansions included.
Eventually you will get bored of playing other people’s decks and you will want to build your own personal approach to the game and further develop your own play style. There’s a really great article by Daman Asha called “The Futility of Net-decking in Android: Netrunner” which defends that Netrunner, unlike other card games is all about creating a deck that suits your play style and your personality overall. He defends that browsing and playing the widely catalogued competitive decks that you can find on several websites unlike what happens on other CCGs won’t get you very far and that Netrunner is a game where player skill and personalized deck building has a much greater role.
Still if you want a solid base to start with you can always take a look at the “Community Rankings – Corp and Runner Identities” and “Initial Collection of Archetypes” threads on CardGameDB. This will allow you to pick an identity and overall mechanic that will be a good base for your own constructed deck if you’re looking to get a good start on competitive Netrunner.