Home | About | Tournament Winning Decklists | Forums

Hitting the complete design space limit of the game


I think about how amazing it is that there are so many cards in Netrunner. It’s such a basic game in some ways, yet new ID’s come out all the time that make it feel original and fresh all over again.

Smarter folks than me have discussed the idea that there can only be so many cards while still keeping things relatively straight-forward. With the game being discontinued, I’m curious how much design space you guys think would have been left to explore anyway. There are only so many ways to make ice breakers novel. Kitiara Cycle had a ton of interesting corp cards but runner decks don’t look that different than they did 6 months ago. Not that this is even a bad thing.

Certainly Reign & Revelry made a strong case that there were still bold refinements to be made. I would dearly loved the game to have gone long enough to have seen a fuller rotation of cards. Just guessing, i feel like the game had a good 2 or 3 more years in it before it would have kind of hit the wall.


MtG is still going after, what, 25 years? And it’s base design space is smaller than Netrunner’s. There’s loads more space for us, but much like Magic, it may take some major changes and introductions (exile becoming more prevalent, planeswalkers being introduced, common effects keyworded) to push it forward.


That’s a good comparison and i admit to not having played Magic in recent years but the reason I, personally, started playing Netrunner was 100% because Magic had started to feel too basic.

Netrunner is a cooler game than magic and, if you don’t mind me saying so, is held to a higher standard.


At least four more years. I’m not very creative in terms of design, but I’m was blown away with what Damon/Boggs did just focusing on the basics with Kitera/R&R.

I played Magic as a kid and sold everything around 2000. I dipped my toes back in briefly 10 years later, and thought that Magic jumped the shark with those split cards (2 mini cards printed on a regular card) a few years before then, but they seemed to have recovered.


Yeah I remember back in Mumbad or so someone saying “what’s left? we pretty much have all the icebreakers,” and we’ve seen at least twenty new breaker concepts since then.


I don’t believe magic has less design space than Netrunner. In fact Netrunner likely has a lot less simply given how structured the game is in comparison. I do agree though there is a lot of unexplored design space.


Magic has a lot of space because it is much simpler. Play creatures and attack. There are some specific archetypes and that’s all. Mtg can literally introduce complete subgames just writing some new rules on the cards and making them an enchantment.

Anr on the other hand is very structured, has specific tools and win conditions, so the design space may seem more limited. However, it is asymmetrical, effectively meaning that you design cards for two different games. And actually, I find it much harder to design corp cards than runner ones just because corp must be passive and hide information for a balanced game imho, not overly oppressive.

There is a lot of design left imho, and there must be rotation. Rotation will change the way people use breakers, the way they run and the way they evaluate situations. Imagine the game right now without paperclip for example and with worst or more niche fracters. Barriers will be back again in force. After one year change this again, and make killers weak. And the circle goes on. Or, where the bin breakers do not exist so killers and trash a program becomes relevant again.

To end this wall of text, some ideas that have not yet fully developed, design wise. Link, memory costs, the hand of the runner and info in it,more trap ice, expandable breakers, small agendas that actually do things but provide zero agenda points, ids that improve their abilities if you spend time on them.(i have been developing a fan made expansion for the last 3 weeks so I have thought a little about it), alternate way like stealth to pay for breaking.

And most of all ROTATION!


I think it’s pretty difficult to debate Magic v Netrunner on such an abstract point. I don’t agree that simpler definately equals more space per se or that those design areas have that much room to expand compared to others. Especially link, which seems rather fully formed. I also have always liked that barriers had a strong breaker as one type of ice should be weaker tland generally less dangerous than the other other two types and barriers have always been easy to break since 1995.

But i do strongly agree that rotation was the sexiest thing about it and, i think especially in hindsite, the game should have had much shorter rotation cycles all along. Since I feel that new cards are often innovating on what came before, the evolution of the game was a thing of beauty and new cards are exciting but moving past tiresome cards was even more exciting. My larger point is that the game felt like it was just about to rotate out a lot of cards that they learned a lot of lessons from and move to a new golden age that wil really never come to be now. I have very little faith in NIESI or other fan efforts at this point.
I hope to be proven wrong though.