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Most ethical faction?


Read a thread recently on the morality of each corporation and anarch factions on boardgamegeek and I found myself disagreeing with the opinions there so I want to start a new discussion here. I’ll state it as I see it and am looking forward to people weighing in. Here’s the old thread for reference (from 2013): https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/985759/who-are-good-guys-runners-or-corps

Template (feel free to use the same or comment on individual points):

1.Eticality in my opinion (least moral to most moral, since I’m sure we can all agree some are better than others but none are good)
2.Ethicality according to popular opinion in boardgamegeek thread
3.Ethical pros
4.Ethical cons

1.I believe the anarchs are the most moral. Sure most of them look like waster punks on drugs but of the 3 factions they seem to be the only one attacking the corp because they feel the corp is evil, so they at least have a reasonable motive.
2.Anarchs in the old thread had the lowest approval, with the general concencus being they are the worst because they just want to see everything burn. I disagree because “destroy everything” means they might be doing it for the right reasons as there is no material personal gain.
3. They have a cause, which automatically gives you some moral ambiguity.
They dont profit from attacking corps.
Reina roja in particular looks like she is leading some kind of rebellion that might actually succeed and make a long-lasting diffirence for the better.

  1. Noise personally sacrifices a clone and steals university funds in the card fluffs, so he at least is just a criminal with a hobby.
    The anarch model of good-doing isn’t going to benefit anyone in the long run. They are just slowing the actual good research the corps do and not stopping much of the dirty-dealings.

1.i see shaper as middle of the road. They aren’t doing anything bad or good, they’re just having some fun.
2. In the old thread the concencus is much the same. Shapers are just spoiled kids wasting their talents is the ghist of it.
3. Nada
4. Breaking the law if you consider that immoral in it’s own right.


  1. The worst imo, they are just thieves without a robin hood clause
  2. Opinion here is much the same
    4.Stealing for personal gain, drug-dealing, murder exhortion etc


1.IMO the worst. Their business model is slavery, they obviously have connections who can murder people for them, probably involved in creating bio-weapons a-la project junebug.
2. Someone beautifully pointed out most people in the old thread seemed to be worried about BMO’s and bio-weapons rather than slavery lol
3. Genetic enchancements, presumably gains in agriculture, disease-fighting
4.Actively trying to murder those who enter their servers, run gambling establishments/murder/exhort and do basically everything a triad does, everything mentioned in part 1 basically. Reading the fluff piece about caprice that was taken from “strange flesh” sums up how they see their clones purely as a merchandise with no feelings or rights whatsoever. Also “clone retirement program” is just dark- the way the agenda is scored clearly shows they kill them imo.

i honestly can’t decide between the next 3, so I’m going to put them on the samel evel and just talk about their pros/cons

Pros: made colinization of nearby planets a reality by building the beanstalk
Cons: that is probably their last contribution to humanity, as apart from that they just do business anyone could do really, if they had weyland corp’s money and ruthlesness. Obviously involved in exhortion and murder as can be seen by “scorched earth”, “the cleaners”, etc. IMO along with jinteki they are the corp that are most willing to do evil, but don’t have the same kind of capability to do so as the other corps do (aka they kill of dozens of people weekly probably, but can’t invade the privacy of millions like NBN or breed and kill hundreds or thousands like jinteki).

Pros: They invade your privacy, but it’s mainly to sell you stuff so it’s not TOO horrifying. Unless you are f*ng with them in which case they will totally f with you (not sure if they resort to actual murder).
Cons: They have the means and the will to negatively affect the entire of humanity with their snooping and total disregard for your rights. And they dont even make any kind of meaningful contribution to humanity as a whole (though I read something I wasn’t entirely sure about recently: did they create the net and save humanity from regression after the internet *broke or something? Was it implied they broke the internet in the first place?).

Pros: They made a source of cheap labour in any quantity you need, that can take on jobs too dangerous or impossible for humans…
Cons: …and then they decided to make it intelligent. Come on guys you could have been the grey area, now you’re just douchebags. Would well-programmed robots just have been too hard? You had to use actual brains as the model and make them arguably equivalent to humans?
“Mandatory upgrades”- nothing need be said here
“Ash”- they must be horrid to work for

So that’s all I have to say for now. I only read the wonderful android wiki so some of my knowledge may be off, therefore I’d love to hear your thoughts. Especially if you read the books and can give a more detailed insight into the corporations and individuals of netrunner.




While Anarchs have relatively nice people like Reina Roja and Valencia, they also have cards like Sacrificial Clone and Frame Job. Shapers don’t have that kind of cards.



As you said, Bioroids are conscious beings not just well programmed machines (as evidenced by at least Floyd). Therefore what HB does with them is about as bad as what Jinteki does. HB does support the Clone Suffrage Movement, which is a plus. Although they only do it to hurt the competition. Otoh there is Test Ground.

There is no hard evidence afaik. They were just suspiciously quick with a solution (that helped them enormously in the long run).


Haas Bioroid does seem to pander to the darker vices if humanity, and is ruthless when it comes to efficiency, but as a business, they aren’t trying to do anything but make money and save lives, as evidenced by the campaigns. A sexbot is still not a human, so there’s nothing inherently wrong with anything Adonis and Eve might be doing. Rex is clearly meant to be heroic. The domestic sleepers though, that’s pretty morbid, I can’t really defend them. Their cyber security suite is dangerous for sure, but you really shouldn’t be trying to intrude on corporate servers in the first place, as it is theft. I think HB compared to all the other factions, are the most morally sound.


Anyone who says Weyland is moral is wrong. As per Spin cycle, they started fracking, knowing it would cause an earthquake. They then took out insurance along coastal properties. They then got the construction contracts to rebuild after the tsunami.

Jack may be future-minded, but the Consortium is still the product of multiple organized crime outfits banding together.


Being cyberpunk, none of the factions of Android: Netrunner have any sort of moral ground to stand on. They are all, at best, misguide, at worst, evil, and often out of impure motivations like vanity or revenge.


I couldn’t possibly agree more. One of the most core concepts of Cyrberpunk as a genre is that the whole idea of “good guys and bad guys” is a joke and that everyone’s hands are dirty to some extent. A:NR does an excellent job getting this across by presenting extremely morally ambiguous figures and organizations.

Compounding this is that every game presents a completely different scenario. One game might have a career criminal sabotaging clinic and threatening sysops with drive-by shooting so that they can profit from undermining Police contracts and hunger-related charity initiatives. In the very next game an idealistic young computer-science student might uncover multiple conspiracies to cover up countless murders committed by real estate moguls in the name of profit.

These and everything in between can take place from game to game, depending not just on side, faction, or ID but also by deckbuilding choices and even just which cards get played in that particular game. To try to assign some static moral value or ranking to any of these players like just missing the point.


Weyland is the most ethical by far. Renovations and shit are vaguely good, but lets not discuss whether it counts as gentrification or not.

Also, they don’t actually kill anyone. When was the last time you played against a Weyland deck that didn’t end up discarding the scorches in frustration?


The thread seems to be about which faction is the most moral, not the most ethical.

If the question is which factions are the most ethical, all 4 corporations outclass all 3 runners, since the runner factions don’t seem to have ethical guidelines they’ve agreed on as a group, and among those it’s mostly a blurry tie. (off the top of my head Weyland and NBN might have the most gray ops and black ops that contradict the ethical guidelines the public facing aspects of the corporation might claim to follow, though, and Jinteki’s stuff is more in line with their own handbook, i.e. Cerebral Casts on the runner are what’s coming to them. Invasion of Privacy or Traffic Accident have more collateral damage/more innocent targets presumably hit in other instances.)


You aren’t necessarily wrong but it’s worth noting that their “renovation” is literally done with flamethrowers.

I love that Weylands agendas are all themed around the most unpopular elements of modern capitalism: aggressive takeovers of small companies, damage to the environment, corrupt government procurement, and now property “development”. They’re supposed to be the worst of the worst.

And Mark Yale is clearly Patrick Bateman.


Talking “ethical” in cyberpunk universe sounds really weird.


this is actually a really good point, though in a practical sense almost nobody automatically differentiates between the two in regular day-to-day speaking.

going by the strict definition of ethics obviously this applies to some corps (excluding perhaps, black and grey ops, black ice, etc.) and almost zero runners (with a possible exception for certain shapers or criminals who might follow a certain “code,” albeit an illegal one)

The morals question is the one people (and this thread) are actually interested in - who’s right and wrong- and the one intended to be completely vague in a cyberpunk setting like this.


Gets popcorn


Thanks for the clarification. I use morality in my inititial wording and didn’t differenciate between the two.

So I gather
morality=right or wrong
ethics=following a cetain code/set of rules?

In that case yes, I certainly meant morality.

Yeah we get it it’s cyberpunk nobody is good. Look I pretty much said that in the OP, and that what I’m trying to discuss is who is the best of a bad lot and who is the worst of the worst.


I like that Android universe is more mature about moral issues that many other games. Typical American morality and bad&good guys makes some game worlds very boring for me. FFG has made a great job about making each side grey.


The only factions homogeneous enough to say anything interesting about are the mini factions, and none of them are really interested in notions of morality or immorailty. They do what they do because that’s what they do to get by.


Ethics actually has an impact on card design. Elizabeth Mills and Invasion of Privacy have a bad pub when the public finds out because their behavior contradicts ethical guidelines the public expects of the corp. SEA Source doesn’t have a bad pub if the trace fails because it targets runners that are lawbreakers in the first place, the public isn’t upset about that.

Morality has less impact on card design. Best I can come up with is False Echo’s neither trashing ice nor drastically damaging the corp, since it is part of what seems to be part of Rielle’s moral crusade to free all the ice and bioroids (at least, moral to her)

As a result, False Echo is weak unless you do something actually mean like DDOS the corp, and the card sees no play. Sorry Rielle! Abe Lincoln got flatlined too.


Fundamentally, this is a question that describes the answering party more than the subject. Each faction has different vices and virtues, so what is perceived as evil depends on how you view those pieces of dark and light.

Most Anarchs don’t want to burn everything, they want to burn specifically the Corp (whoever they’re playing against). They have a real strain of anti-technical thought (though with good reason). Even Renia is morally questionable, given her bankbreaking tactics. Is it okay to ruin a Corporation or division because of past sins, or because of some moral objection to their operations?

Criminals are greedy - but look at who they’re stealing from. On some level, many Criminals are forced into their theivery (Express is a runaway with no rights, Gabe is a grown up street kid, Andy got fucked out of her inheritance, Iain’s former employer probably can’t even acknowledge he exists).

Shapers are at first blush not particularly evil, but then reconsider the cost of their actions. They force the corp to spend large amounts of money and effort defending themselves not for justice or in rebellion (Anarch), or because of personal advantage (Criminal), but because it’s fun. If golfing is a irresponsible drain on resources to serve the entertainment of a few, then what are a shapers runs?

HB views the world in a very structured, rigid manner. They’re (at least in the fluff thus far) the company most likely to use lawyers as goons, and view challenges to their worldview as simple ignorance.

Jinteki is a mad science institution. They transgress many moral boundaries in pursuit of pushing humanity’s limits. Also slavers, which doesn’t help.

NBN isn’t as obviously harsh - but they’re also damn insidious.

Weyland’s vice is obvious - the use of violence as a solution. However, remember what the runner is doing. They cost the Corp ridiculous amounts of money. Wanting to lash out is understandable, if still not okay.

Weyland, however, is truly trying to build a better world. Taken as a whole, they have a surprisingly wholesome portfolio, compared to the other corps. They’re ice is usually either barriers or sentries that hurt programs - probably reasonable defenses. If you ask “How does Weyland make money?” the answers are surprisingly benign, with a few black marks.

That being said, much of the problems with Weyland (the man and the company) can be summed up with “Building a Better World for who?” There’s a lot of inherent classism in Weylands dream - assumptions about what “Better” means.


On the runner side, Shapers seem to me to match the original definition of “hacker culture”: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_culture
So their motivation is mainly curiosity, breaking new grounds and pursue of excellence, which seem quite ethical to me. Of course breaking into corporate servers and magnum opusing bank accounts is somehow spoiling this.

On the corporate side it’s hard to pick anybody, as they all seem mostly immoral and ruthless…


This is never how I read Magnum Opus. the credits don’t come from the corp like account siphon, and the flavor text describes them as “real, honest-to-goodnes UN certified.” It’s extremely safe and it can never be tapped out (bank job) or get the runner caught (dirty laundry->sea source). I think it generally represent something more along the lines of a brilliant personal investment logarithm, or some other variety of killer financial application that just earns beaucoup dollars for the runner in some legitimate/semi-legitimate manner.


Most ethical faction? Well, the one that doesn’t discriminate between factions when running, and the one that wouldn’t even consider itself a faction.