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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.

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I just wanted to chime in that R&R and Kitara, as someone who came back from a break and digested the entire set, was really amazing for what was designed in just 1 year. There is something different about the recent meta where the powerhouse decks were (are) just goodstuff Netrunner - breaking ice, stimhacking, making big remotes, and interacting with eachother much more than past metas. It’s reminiscent of Kate, without the iron grip of Shaper lock and the looming alternative matchup of Siphon spam Crim.

If you want an example of a game where design space was capped early, take a look at Gwent. An amazing game that hit its design space within 3 content patches, now is being redesigned completely from the ground up. If it wasn’t CDPR and the resources they have, it would be dead in its own beta. It just solidifies the awesomeness of ANR.


Gwent is far from Netrunner, in term of strategy. Very far.
Basically, if you can count quickly, deckbuild and farm days for the cards you need, you win.

The amount of theory you need is considerably lower than the depth of Netrunner, the reason of this design would be because people it is design for are videogame players, and there are thousands of f2p videogames around.

Netrunner is for people who play in the real world (we are far less), and fill a niche of gamers that a little complexity doesn’t repel.

One of the top players of my country said that Netrunner is more complex to master than Poker (ie master like in “making money most of the time with poker”).

So : Gwent being simplier in term of strategy makes the design space narrow.

There is a lot of design space left in Netrunner, because the game has being “let’s create 3 new strategies, support 2 and ban 1” for years with FFG.

Before creating ID, I think the game need to exploit some that never shined because of a lack of support.

I think that was the biggest lesson FFG can take from Netrunner: aggressive rotation is good for LCGs.


…but it’s bad for business, I guess. Products stays less long on shelves.

Imagine a LCG who does this: rotation each years. Products stays 1 year on shelves instead of 4, people who don’t play year 1 happen not to buy first products, etc.

I will wonder for the rest of my life if the rotation did not kill ANR.

Netrunner is certainly a complex game but it is hyperbole to say it is more complex than poker.

Poker is so complex that AI learning was only able to beat a top human player very recently and the size of the computer involved with that was rather epic. It’s an interesting thing to Google on if you follow that sort of thing.

GTO poker is, as I understand it, almost impossible for a human to execute. I believe that near GTO games of Netrunner happen all the time at the highest level. Although I would say that top-tier players don’t seem to grok some of the more esoteric, poker-like aspects of the game.

Although the exception is that Netrunner games do diverge from GTO play when poker concepts come into it sometimes. I just watched a Worlds quarter-final where a guy was playing a Mushin deck and, if we are talking about Absolute Perfect Play, I don’t believe his opponent was weighing body language tells at the level of a poker master, thereby it was less GTO than the rest od the games I watched.

I don’t mean that as a slag on someone who is obviously one of the best in the world. I mean to note that Netrunner players, in my experience, don’t always have the deepest understanding and appreciation of how many levels there are to poker or how complex the math and paychology really gets when you start digging.

But don’t get me started on poker v netrunner or it will turn into an essay on why Mushin No Shin is the best card in the game.

Hang on dude, you been playing the same game as the rest of us??? :smiley: They couldn’t flipping KEEP product on the shelves anyway! I couldn’t get a copy of Creation&Control for like A YEAR after I started the game (ended up buying a German language version), and Opening Moves for even longer! Their reprint schedule was utterly devoid of rhyme or reason and took forever. Hell, even the revised core sold out in 2 weeks and we didn’t see more stock UNTIL THE CANCELLATION ANNOUNCEMENT! :smiley: Meanwhile, the less popular packs stayed on the shelves for aeons and retailers couldn’t discount them steeply enough to make them disappear!

For a company with the amount of supply chain problems that FFG has, faster rotation would actually HELP their business! They wouldn’t have to worry about reprints except for evergreen boxes, new players wouldn’thave to chase down 3-year-old expansions that are impossible to find except for one FLGS in the Arctic circle who does do mail order bu their website is only accessible with Netscape Navigator 3.5, and they wouldn’t have the problem of constantly running out of design space to print, so their only options are either to print endless binder fodder or broken shite that ruins the game until a counter to it gets printed 4 months later.

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I hate it when that happens!


It’s ALWAYS Netscape Navigator 3.5! :stuck_out_tongue:

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I’m not sure shorter cycles are easier to organize, for them.

We waited way too different times between datapacks and boxes. The shorter the rotation, the more precise you need to be with ETAs within a product line.

I’m also not sure to enjoy reuses of just rotated themes.

The impact of having a shorter card pool is if there is parasite and clonechip in it, you see it in each deck.

Until rotation, sure, butthe cycle is full of AstroNEH.

Then you’ve got Faust bs etc.

Degeneration cycles are shorter than 6 monthes. I’d want to believe, but I’m not sure NISEI could do better in term of caution than FFG did (the good thing being if they want to ban a card, it won’t last monthes), so even of the pool reduces, the degeneration will still be there.

To me, degeneration definition is, knowing a deck, defending against it with a valid deck, and still not be able to have reasonable chances to win with no silver bullets.

This will happen, and a short pool may not offer players enough “deckbuilding space” to ignore these.

There was 15-17 simultanate games on Jinteki yesterday. I’m kind of nostalgic of the days when we had 45-50.

Yesterday was world’s


Worlds didn’t change much. There is way less playing on Jinteki than in the times when Casual and Competitive lobby division happened - it was standard then that Competitive had double digits amount of tables going on, currently this never happens.

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Who won ? That information should be pretty obvious for Google (and all over the place here), but I can’t find it.

What was the decks involved in the final ?