WOTC Netrunner circa '96

I used to play the original game when I was a kid and have tremendous nostalgia for it. It’s been on my mind lately when I play ANR because it is such a similar game. A bit cruder, wilder, spicier.

I’m well aware of all it’s short comings and imbalances in the competitive scene. But in my world, no one bought a million cards to calculate out the most degenerate fast advance decks. Most people only bought a few starter decks and a dozen packs and it was a brilliant game. Some have argued that the reason it didn’t thrive as a CCG was that it was a good enough game without needing to buy volumes of cards. As I recall, after The Duelist published an article that got into it, in my meta, there was 4 ice-breakers that were considered ‘best’ and only 6 pieces of ice that were mostly considered standard. The game was endlessly fun because the game was trying to figure out which of those 6 ice were in front of you. If I had my original decks, I could have played that game forever and it would always have been fun. Even at the time, I always complained that it would have been better as a non-collectible game and credit to FFG for sharing my outlook. Their system for releasing cards is imperfect but leaps ahead of previous models.

Maybe my memories are rosie. But the idea of playing a version of Netrunner with a whole different set of cards and quirks (There are multiple, common 7 to advance 1 point agenda and a 14 to advance agenda worth 3 points if stolen and 7 points if scored).

Since the meta is effectively dead, it’s a perfect game to just build sparring decks that are meant to match-up well.

I bought a lot of 3000 OG NR cards off ebay and was really stoked to get what I assumed was someones old collection. But it seems like it must have been a game stores overstock of picked over commons. I am the proud owner of literally 150 copies of Nomad Allies and 200 copies of Zombie. With only 1 copy of Score, it’s a drag having 3000 cards but not being able to make even a basic deck. No cards are from Proteus, either.

I was wondering if anyone else still plays this game or has any experience with it in the last decade.


I still have my entire collection (somewhere around 2-3 starter boxes and I don’t know how many boosters worth of all 3 expansions) but haven’t looked at it since ANR, other than to wow my ANR groups over the years with all the bonkers stuff in it.

Last time I played was my 3rd wedding anniversary (7 years ago), when I found some teaching decks and made my wife play a few games during our weekend away.

Still have 3 sealed Double Starter displays lying around. So we do play Limited occasionally and it’s always a blast.

I don’t know why exactly but ONR gives us a better time than ANR, might be the crazy art, might be the power level of the cards or the rules.

I bought a NR 96 starter pack back then, tried it with a friend, and found it very disappointing, rather boring while I wanted to love it.

When years later ANR was announced, I wanted to retry with my old cards, just to see, but never found them back (also lost : a Diplomacy copy. Mom always has credits to trash stuff, thank you Mom).

So while a bit reluctant, I bought an ANR core set, and this time it clicked. Though I’m not all devoted to the game (almost everyone here must be more than I am), it’s the first and only card game I follow since.

Surely I could have liked NR 96 if I had dedicated a few more play, but as such, it’s rather bizarre to imagine that NR has existed with a meta which is not the one I saw since ANR release.

On a side note, it has become really difficult to find NR 96 card scans on the interwebs.

They’re all on emergencyshutdown, no?


I still play. Is it that you have questions about the game?


@webster I don’t have any specific questions about the game but always interested in general thoughts and comparison.

I’d love to find either a way to get some playable decks or people to play with. Like I said, I just bought 3000 cards and was extremely disappointed that with that many cards I couldn’t put together even basic decks to play with. if anyone needs literally 250 copies of Nomad Allies, hit me up.

I don’t know what I could do to help you IRL, but ONR is supported through both OCTGN and Magic Workstation.

If you’d like to compare deck ideas, I could likely help more there.

For reference though, since I am unable to play very often I have focused on playing under the most exaggerated rules. I have built decks that do not respect card limits, errata, or the bannings offered by the various ban lists most popular from the time (e.g., the DCI list, the UK list, and the Draconian List). That being said, I am happy to discuss more restrained decks as well.

@PizzatimePlayer in the interest of kicking off discussion, what are your thoughts on icebreakers in the format? Assuming no restrictions, I have found the most success between three different approaches:

  1. multiple Rent-I-Con + MIT West Tier and/or Microtech Backup Drive
  2. Joan of Arc + Bartmoss Memorial Icebreaker
  3. Pile Driver + Skeleton Passkeys + AI Boon

I find the strategy and economic base of the deck to largely affect the choices in icebreaker composition, but have you found similar results or have an alternate icebreaker suite you prefer to run in decks you have built?

I’m not familiar with that and googling is a bit confusing. You can play NR96 on there? Are there people who are playing it or would I have to find someone to play with some other way. How would one even find someone to play with.

As far as deck building, I’m not even there yet. I bought 3000 cards thinking I could build decks but I literally own over 250 copies of zombie and 200 copies of Desert Nomads. Not even any Proteus.

I used to play ONR the way you did – small collections with another friend. I also picked up an abandoned collection about 15 years ago and that had some expansion cards. I still have all of my ONR cards and a few janky decks put together.

@ff0x has run an ONR sealed deck event at ANR Worlds for the last couple of years. At Worlds 2016 I won a Pacifica Regional AI, and since then I’ve been thinking about building an ONR cube for drafting. I haven’t actually done it yet, since cubes are complicated and Netrunner cubes are really, really complicated. Plus I wouldn’t be able to provide starter packs for everyone (like how in ANR draft every Corp has enough Priority Requisitions to make sure they can build a legal deck), and I haven’t thought up a solution I’m crazy about for that yet short of just getting some custom staples printed myself.

ONR definitely lives on in small ways, though.

Umm… couldn’t you use ANR cards for the draft starters? There’s enough cards that are straight reprints that it would be compatible game-wise, the only issue is if they’re the same size.

That’s one of the options, yeah. The not matching would make me twitch a little, though.


You could punch your collection into the NRSealed program available at DarkpactCloud (bottom left column) and have it generate “Starter” packs for you, then run some old-style drafts (also mentioned on the page).

Incidentally, this is where I got my teaching decks from as well :slight_smile:

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That’s an interesting idea!

Sorry for the delay @PizzatimePlayer. I ended up losing track of things. Regardless of which direction you choose to pursue in playing ONR online, it will be incumbent upon you to locate your own opponent. While there is a game lobby that offers the opportunity for any available players to join your game, ONR lacks a player base to afford an expectation of another ONR player joining your game.

I would recommend the use of OCTGN as the medium through which any games are played online.

Direction for obtaining the necessary downloads for play on OCTGN can be found here:

A summary follows:

  1. Download OCTGN
    a. Download - Gaming Platform

  2. Download the card images bundle
    a. http://dbzer0.com/pub/Netrunner/Sets/Netrunner-Sets-Bundle.o8c
    b. Open the Game Manager in OCTGN
    c. Import the bundle into OCTGN by use of the “add o8c” function

An alternative to OCTGN does exist, though it is significantly more basic and much rawer. I fully recommend the use of OCTGN over Magic Workstation.

Instructions for Enabling Online Play via Magic Workstation of NetRunner can be found here:


A summary follows:

  1. Download Magic Workstation
    a. http://www.magicworkstation.com/downloads.php

  2. Download NetRunner Patch
    a. http://www.runners-net.com/

  3. Unzip NetRunner Patch within the Magic Workstation folder
    a. Approve any overwriting of existing files

  4. Run MagicWorkstation.exe

  5. While in Magic Workstation*:
    a. Select Tools
    b. Select Preferences
    c. Select Interface
    d. Change** Graphic Theme from Default to NetRunner

  6. While in Magic Workstation:
    a. Select File
    b. Select Open Libraries
    c. Brows for the file NetRunner.mwBase

  7. While in Magic Workstation:
    a. Select File
    b. Select New Deck

*Switch from Library Mode to Deck Edit Mode for ease of use of the latter.

**When changing the theme from Default to NetRunner, Magic Workstation may crash. If you encounter a crash, find within the NetRunner pack two .reg files: NetRunner.reg and Default.reg. With Magic Workstation closed, run NetRunner.reg to change the theme automatically. By running Default.reg you can return to the default theme.

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So I searched my parents basement and was thrilled to find my old collection. It looks like it’s a little bit more than 1 box of core and 1 box of proteus.

I have been building decks to play against each other and it’s an interesting exercise. With a 2 person meta, the process is a lot like Beyoken’s sparring decks.

Do you have any general guidelines on how to use a collection to create two decks that play well against each other. I think it makes sense for them to be kind of basic and have a little bit of everything rather than trying to do some speciality cocktail, of course. Also, what cards should I not include. There is a 4/4 agenda that seems unfun, for example. I don’t think I should put my one Joan of Arc in with Bartmoss, right? I want to get my friends to play and taking them out with weird, degen combos seems poor form and untrue to the spirit of the game.

I kind of left tagging-stuff out of both sides because it was unclear how much was appropriate. But without tagging, it also sort of feels like it is missing something. I remember it being exciting when there were big trace reveals but I also remember thinking that trace almost never really happened.

Any general thoughts on deck building welcome.

If the idea is to introduce friends to the game, then yeah, I’d definitely keep things simple, introduce basic mechanics, and avoid combos. On the Runner side I’d stick to a regular breaker suite that works with money, rather than dealing with fixed strength breakers, since your opponent won’t know the possible ice strengths. On the Corp side I’d stay away from the complex, nasty ice like Cerberus and just use simpler ice. Damage / program trash subroutines are fine, just not weird conditional stuff.

I am not actually looking for a simple intro to the game. This is more something I would like to bring to Netrunner nights and play with new-school players to show them the flavor of yester-year. It is also for ongoing kitchen-table games with some friends.

What I am going for is two decks that play well against each other in a way that flatters skill on both sides. In a way, I am sort of designing the matches as I am creating both decks. I’m just as interested in removing the busted elements of the game thought deck design as anything.

Beyoken did an ANR series of “sparring decks” where he selected decks from different times in the meta where certain match-ups were particularly sporting.
Are some cards negative play experiences? Are some types of decks totally busted? Was tag & bag done in a way that was interesting or was it more random feeling? When I put decks together, where is the meat and potatoes of a good match?

My decks look something like this now:

My runner deck is mostly bust economy, card draw and breakers. Sprinkle in a couple viruses, inside jobs, custodial position, uplink protocol and a couple of interesting viruses.

My corp deck is a basic mix of ice, money and a few upgrades/ambushes and fast advance.

So far the games tend to play out that the corp gets run-over by the runner who gets his breakers and econ going and wrecks. I feel like the corp needs a few more dirty tricks to be interesting but I don’t know. I can post specific deck lists but both decks kind of suck so I am not sure how worthwhile it would be.

I’ve read old deck lists around the net and it seems common that most competitive decks seemed to have 10 copies of 5 different cards. Were people who owned that many cards and were constructing such complex decks having very good games? I kind of imagine that the games themselves were usually crazy blow-outs and that the real challenge of the game was to construct decks. Was that kind of the nature of the game back then or were their interesting piloting situations in those kind of match-ups. I was an avid player but seeing decklists now, I can’t imagine how some of those games must have played out.

I also have fond memories of dramatic blind reveals of trace but when I play now I can’t imagine a place where link would even come up, as ice subroutines rarely, if ever, seem to actually fire.