Hello, I posted this over to /r/Netrunner and they seemed to like it, so I thought I’d post it here too. I’m pretty new to Netrunner but I’m interested in game design, so I thought I’d try my hand at streamlining The Big Sellout. Here’s the post!
Hello, some of you may know of “The Big Sellout,” which was an interesting 2v2 format created for the original Netrunner TCG. You can read the original rules here, and there was a better attempt to update it for ANR here. Although the original attempt was a cool idea, it is pretty clumsily designed, with lots of weird rules and options that seem like they could easily be forgotten or induce decision paralysis, and I wanted to trim the rules so they would keep the heart of Netrunner without introducing too much extra fluff.
I unfortunately don’t have enough Netrunner players in my area, so I am asking you to help me break this variant.
Sellout: A 2v2 Netrunner variant
- Two teams, each consisting of one Corporation player (the Sponsor) and one Runner player (the Agent). The Sponsor sits on the left and the Agent on the right, meaning each Sponsor faces an Agent and vice versa.
- First team to a combined 11 agenda points wins. If a Sponsor attempts to draw from an empty R&D or an Agent is flatlined, that team loses.
- Turn order is Sponsor 1, Sponsor 2, Agent 1, Agent 2.
- No resources of any kind (credits, cards, clicks, etc.) may be shared between players on a team. Each player on each team has a separate score area.
- Each player may look at all cards visible to their teammate.
- Corporation cards that refer to “the Runner” refer to the opposing Agent, and Runner cards that refer to “the Corporation” refer to the opposing Sponsor. Corporation cards that refer to “the Corporation” refer to the allied Sponsor, and Runner cards that refer to “the Runner” refer to the allied Agent. In general, your cards can only interact with the opposing team member playing the other side.
- After mulligans, each Sponsor (in turn order) may install one piece of ice on any server. This includes the special Agent server discussed below, and the Sponsor may even create a new remote server with this ice. Each Sponsor who does this draws a card.
- In addition to the Sponsor’s central servers (HQ, R&D, Archives), there is a special server called Agent. The Sponsor may install cards in this server as though it were a remote server (including assets and agendas), and it counts as both a central server and a remote server for the purposes of rules text on cards.
- Agents may run on the opposing Agent server like any other server. If successful, the running Agent accesses the following set of cards (one card at a time and in any order):
- All installed Corporation cards in Agent
- All cards in the opposing Agent’s heap
- The top card of the opposing Agent’s stack
- Whenever an Agent accesses one or more Runner cards, they may download ONE of those cards by installing it into their rig, paying all costs. Accessed events cannot be downloaded. If a downloaded card is trashed, it returns to its owner’s heap (the player who brought it to the game). If an effect somehow allows multiple accesses on the Agent server, that many more cards are accessed from the stack.
- If the Sponsor declines to rez an approached unrezzed piece of ice dur, the Agent may boot that ice. To do this, the Agent pays the rez cost, including all additional costs, and the Sponsor rezzes the ice ignoring all costs. This is still a rez, so their Sponsor resolves all “when you rez this” effects on that Ice. At the end of each turn, add all booted ice to HQ. Note that if a piece of ice has a cost that the Agent cannot pay (e.g. “trash an installed rezzed asset”), the Agent cannot boot that ice.
- While the original variant had more complex team-based mechanics like sharing credits and creating more options for your teammate through your actions, the only team-based mechanics in this variant are the Agent server and booting ice. I still think there will be plenty of coordination required, though.
- The original variant let you either tag the opposing Agent or steal an installed program. Getting your installed breakers stolen seems like it would feel pretty awful but the stealing enemy Runner cards idea was cool, so I made it so that a run lets you steal stuff that they haven’t installed. If you’re an Agent, this also means you have to think very carefully about each card you discard, because any card you discard is a card the enemy Agent can use.
- Relatedly, damage is doubly punishing in this variant. Not only do you lose the card and inch closer to death, but the enemy Agent can pay to get to it. Damaging the enemy Agent is another way the Sponsor can indirectly help the Agent (in addition to icing the Agent server).
- I originally wanted Agent runs to also let you access a random card from the opposing Runner’s grip, so a run on Agent would be like a run on all of the “Runner centrals.” However, stealing cards from the enemy grip is like doing a damage, and I think that could lead to feelbad scenarios where you have a bunch of installables in your hand and the opposing Agent can just run at you 3-4 times and just take all of your stuff. I think it would be cool to test it, though.
- The setup ice installation and the booting mechanic help Sponsors mitigate the problem of having an extra central to defend.
- My biggest worry is that making a huge Agent server and scoring out of it will be too strong, but I think that the Agent server’s importance is critical to making sure the variant feels like a team game, and in fact I’m a little worried that it’s still not important enough.
- I originally had some more complex flatline mechanics like in the original rules, but ultimately I think they cause too much rules wonkiness, and having to revive a flatlined Runner probably means you’re going to lose anyway.
10/26: Changed boot rule to allow the Agent to boot any ice.