Android Netrunner Game Rules

Game Components

Object of the game

The objective for both players is to score seven agenda points. The Corporation scores agenda points by advancing agendas; the Runner scores agenda points by stealing agendas from the Corporation. Agendas are cards that only appear in the Corporation’s deck.

The Corporation also wins if the Runner is flatlined and the Runner wins if the Corporation must draw a card from his empty draw deck.

Setup

To prepare a game of Android: Netrunner, carefully follow the steps below.

  1. Choose Sides: The players decide who will play as the Runner and who will play as the Corporation. Then, each player places his identity card faceup in his play area and takes a corresponding deck.

    Note: New players should use the Shaper and Jinteki starter decks for their first game.

  2. Create Token Bank: Gather the credits, advancement, brain damage, tag, bad publicity, and generic tokens into piles. Keep these piles within reach of both players.

  3. Collect Starting Credits: Each player takes five credits from the bank.

  4. Shuffle Decks: Each player shuffles his deck. After shuffling, each player offers his deck to his opponent for further shuffling.

  5. Draw Starting Hands: Each player draws five cards from the top of his deck to form his starting hand. After drawing starting hands, the Corporation may choose to take a mulligan by shuffling his hand back into his deck and then drawing a new starting hand. After the Corporation decides whether to mulligan, the Runner decides whether to mulligan as well.

    If a player takes a mulligan, he must keep his second hand as his starting hand. When the players are satisfied with their starting hands, each player places his deck facedown in his play area.


Corporation and runner cards

Read here for more information



Game play

In Android: Netrunner, the Corporation and the Runner alternate taking turns. Android: Netrunner is unusual in that the Runner and the Corporation are governed by different rules.

Players should familiarize themselves with the rules for both sides. The Corporation always takes the first turn of the game.

Turn Overview

Each player, during his turn, takes actions by spending clicks. A player can only spend his clicks during his own Action phase, and he must spend all of his clicks in each Action phase. The Corporation begins his turn with three clicks and the Runner begins his turn with four clicks.


Corporation’s Turn

The Corporation’s turn consists of three phases, which he performs in the following order:

  1. Draw Phase: The Corporation draws one card from R&D.

  2. Action Phase: The Corporation has three clicks with which to perform actions.

  3. Discard Phase: The Corporation discards down to his maximum hand size, if necessary.

I. Draw Phase

The Corporation draws the top card of R&D. This does not cost the Corporation any clicks.

Note: If the Corporation’s R&D is empty when he attempts to draw a card, the Runner immediately wins the game.

II. Action Phase

In his Action phase, the Corporation takes actions by spending 3 clicks. He can only take actions during his Action phase, and he must spend all three of his clicks during his Action phase. The Corporation can perform any of the following actions as many times as he likes, and in any combination, provided he can pay for them. These are listed in the format of “cost: effect.”

Whenever the Corporation spends clicks on one of these actions, he is considered to be taking an action and cannot take another action until the current action fully resolves.

When the Corporation has spent all of his clicks, his Action phase ends and his Discard phase begins.

Drawing One Card

For one click, the Corporation draws the top card of R&D and adds it to HQ.

Gaining One Credit

For one credit, the Corporation takes 1 click from the bank and adds it to his credit pool.

Installing Cards

For one click, the Corporation installs a single agenda, asset, upgrade, or piece of ice from HQ, placing it facedown on the table.

Note: When an asset or upgrade is installed, the Corporation can pay its rez cost to rez it at almost any time. Ice can only be rezzed when the Runner approaches it during a run.

When installing a card in a server, the Corporation can first trash any cards already installed in that server. Trashed cards go to Archives faceup if they are rezzed, and facedown if they are unrezzed.

If the Corporation chooses to create a remote server when installing a card, he installs the card by placing it facedown in a discrete location in his play area. Agendas, assets, upgrades, and ice can all be used to create a new remote server. If the Corporation creates a remote server by installing ice, the server exists, but is considered to be empty. An empty server can still be run against by the Runner.

Note: Installed cards cannot be rearranged or mixed-up by either player except through card effects. The following entries describe the installation restrictions and associated costs of each card type:

Playing Operations

For one click, the Corporation plays an operation from his hand by paying its play cost. He then places it faceup in his play area, immediately resolves the effects of the operation, and trashes it.

Advancing a Card

For one click and one credit, the Corporation adds one advancement token to an installed card. Agendas can always be advanced while installed. Cards other than agendas can only be advanced if their text box allows it. There is no limit to the number of times a card can be advanced.

Note: If a card’s text box says that the card can be advanced, the card can be advanced even when the card is unrezzed.

Scoring Agendas – When the number of advancement tokens on an agenda is equal to or higher than its advancement requirement, the agenda is fully advanced and the Corporation can score it. The only times the Corporation can score an agenda is right before his turn begins, or after he completes an action.

To score an agenda, the Corporation turns it faceup and places it in his score area, resolving any conditional abilities on the agenda that use the language “When you score.” The Corporation cannot score an agenda until it is fully advanced. Scoring an agenda does not cost a click and is not an action. While an agenda is in the Corporation’s score area, it is active and adds its agenda points to his score.

Delayed Scoring – An agenda sometimes has an ability that rewards advancement beyond the agenda’s advancement requirement, or an ability that encourages the Corporation to delay scoring the agenda. The Corporation is not required to score an agenda immediately upon satisfying its advancement requirement. He may instead advance it more, or wait for a more opportune time to score it.

Trashing a Runner’s Resource

If the Runner is tagged, the Corporation can spend one click and 2 credits to choose one of the Runner’s resources and trash it.

Purging Virus Counters

For 3 clicks, the Corporation removes all virus counters hosted on cards, returning them to the token bank.

Triggering Clicks Abilities

Some cards have abilities with trigger costs that require the Corporation to spend one or more clicks. These abilities list the click icon in their trigger cost, and the Corporation can trigger these abilities only during his Action phase.

III. Discard Phase

The Corporation begins the game with a maximum hand size of five cards, but card effects can increase or decrease this limit. If the cards in HQ exceed the Corporation’s current maximum hand size at the beginning of the Discard phase, he must discard down to his maximum hand size.

If the Corporation must discard more than one card from HQ, he chooses and discards cards from HQ one at a time until he is no longer above his current maximum hand size. Cards discarded from HQ are always sent to Archives facedown, regardless of whether they have been previously accessed by the Runner.

After the Corporation completes his Discard phase, the Runner begins his turn.


Runner’s Turn

The Runner’s turn is divided into two phases, which he performs in the following order:

  1. Action Phase: The Runner has 4 clicks with which to perform actions.
  2. Discard Phase: The Runner discards down to his maximum hand size, if necessary.

I. Action Phase

In his Action phase, the Runner takes actions by spending 4 clicks. He can only take actions during his Action phase, and he must spend all four of his clicks during his Action phase.

The Runner can perform any of the following actions as many times as he likes, and in any combination, provided he can pay for them. These are listed in the format of “cost: effect.”

Whenever the Runner spends clicks on one of these actions, he is considered to be taking an action and cannot take another action until the current action fully resolves.

When the Runner has spent all of his clicks, his Action phase ends and his Discard phase begins.

Drawing One Card

For one click, the Runner draws the top card from his stack and adds it to his grip.

Gaining One Credit

For one click, the Runner takes 1 credit from the bank and adds it to his credit pool.

Installing Cards

For one click, the Runner installs a single program, resource, or piece of hardware faceup in his rig. An installed Runner card is active and does not have to be rezzed like a Corporation card.

Note: The Runner’s cards are always installed faceup and in a vertical orientation.

Programs – To install a program, the Runner pays the program’s install cost and places it in his program row. Each program also has a memory cost. The Runner cannot have programs installed that have a combined memory cost greater than his available memory units (MU). The Runner begins the game with four MU, though certain card effects can increase or decrease this value.

If the MU costs of the Runner’s installed programs ever exceed his available MU, he must trash his installed programs until he is no longer exceeding his available MU.

The Runner can choose to trash any number of his installed programs at the beginning of an install program action.

Resources – To install a resource, the Runner pays the resource’s install cost and places it in his resource row. There is no limit to the number of resources a Runner can have installed.

Hardware – To install a piece of hardware, the Runner pays the hardware’s install cost and places it in his hardware row. There is no limit to the amount of hardware a Runner can have installed.

Note: The Runner can only have one piece of hardware with the console subtype installed at a time, as listed in the text box of these cards.

Playing Events

For one click, the Runner plays an event from his hand by paying its play cost. He then places it faceup in his play area, immediately resolves the effects of the event, and trashes it.

Removing Tags

For one click and 2 credits, the Runner removes one of his tags.

Making a Run

For one click, the Runner initiates a run against the Corporation in order to steal the Corporation’s agendas and trash his cards.

Triggering Click Abilities

Some cards have abilities with trigger costs that require the Runner to spend one or more clicks. These abilities list the click icon in their trigger cost, and the Runner can trigger these abilities only during his Action phase.

II. Discard Phase

The Runner begins the game with a maximum hand size of five cards, but card effects can increase or decrease this limit. If the cards in the Runner’s grip exceed his current maximum hand size at the beginning of the Discard phase, he must discard down to his maximum hand size.

If the Runner must discard more than one card from his grip, he chooses and discards cards from his grip one at a time until he is no longer above his current maximum hand size.

After the Runner completes his Discard phase, the Corporation begins his turn.


Runs

Runs are the heart of Android: Netrunner, and provide opportunities for the Runner to steal the Corporation’s agendas and trash his cards. In a run, the Runner attacks one of the Corporation’s servers in an attempt to access cards, using his installed programs to help him pass the Corporation’s ice.

Because most runs pit the Runner’s installed icebreaker programs against the Corporation’s installed ice, it is vital that both players understand the functions and subtypes of the Corporation’s ice and the Runner’s icebreakers.

Ice

Ice is defensive software the Corporation installs in front of his servers to protect his valuable data. There are four main subtypes that can appear on a piece of ice: sentry, barrier, code gate, and trap. Ice also has separate abilities called subroutines.

Subroutines

Subroutines are abilities of a piece of ice marked by the arrow symbol. If the Runner encounters a piece of rezzed ice and does not or cannot break its subroutines, the unbroken subroutines trigger and resolve one by one.

In addition to preventing the Runner’s access to the Corporation’s servers by ending his run, subroutines can pose other hazards if allowed to trigger, such as damaging the Runner or initiating trace attempts.

Icebreakers

Icebreakers are programs with the icebreaker subtype that the Runner can use to overcome ice encountered during a run. Each icebreaker has a strength, an install cost, and one or more subtypes that reflect which kind of ice subroutine it is designed to break.

The Runner uses icebreakers to interact with and break subroutines on ice. An icebreaker can only interact with ice that has equal or lower strength than the icebreaker.

In addition to this strength requirement, many icebreaker abilities can only be used to break subroutines on particular subtypes of ice. For example, an icebreaker that has the ability "1 credit: Break barrier subroutine" can only use this ability to break subroutines on a piece of ice with the barrier subtype. It does not matter if the ice has additional subtypes, provided it has any subtypes referred to by the icebreaker’s ability. If an ability does not restrict itself to a subtype, it can be used against any piece of ice.

Increasing an Icebreaker’s Strength

Many icebreakers allow the Runner to temporarily increase the icebreaker’s strength by spending credits. This helps the Runner deal with stronger pieces of ice, provided he has enough credits to spend. This strength increase lasts only while the current piece of ice is being encountered, unless otherwise noted by card abilities. After an encounter with a piece of ice, the icebreaker’s strength returns to the value shown on its card. This applies to any other strength modifiers given by icebreakers as well.

Phases of a Run

Runs typically transpire in three phases. Not every run will include all of these phases. Players are encouraged to use the following text in combination with the “Timing Structure of a Run” diagram on page 33 in order to fully understand the intricacies of runs.

  1. Initiation Phase
  2. Confrontation Phase
  3. Access Phase

I. Initiation Phase

To initiate a run, the Runner declares the server that he is attacking. The Runner can only initiate a run against a single server per run action.

After the Runner declares the server he is attacking, he gains 1 click to spend during the run for each point of bad publicity the Corporation has. Then, both players check to see if there is ice protecting the attacked server.

If there is ice protecting the server, the run proceeds to the Confrontation phase.

If there is no ice protecting the server, the run proceeds to the Access phase.

II. Confrontation Phase

The Confrontation phase consists of approaching a piece of ice and then potentially encountering that ice. A Runner approaches each piece of ice protecting the server one at a time, starting with the outermost piece. The Runner must pass each piece of ice in order to approach the next piece of ice protecting the server, continuing until all pieces of ice have been passed or until the run ends. If the Runner passes all pieces of ice protecting the attacked server, the run proceeds to the Access phase.

Approaching Ice

When the Runner approaches a piece of ice, he must first decide whether he wishes to continue the run or jack out. If he decides to jack out, he ends his run and the run is considered unsuccessful. The Runner cannot jack out while approaching the first piece of ice during a run.

If the Runner decides to continue instead of jacking out, the Corporation has the opportunity to rez the approached piece of ice and any other non-ice cards.

Note: The Corporation can only rez ice when it is approached.

If the approached piece of ice is rezzed after the Corporation has the opportunity to rez cards, then the Runner encounters it.

If after rezzing cards the approached piece of ice is not rezzed, then the Runner passes it. He then continues the run by either approaching the next piece of ice protecting the server or proceeding to the Access phase if there is no more ice to approach.

Encountering Ice

When the Runner encounters a piece of ice, he has the opportunity to break any subroutines on that piece of ice. After the Runner finishes breaking any subroutines that he wishes to break, each unbroken subroutine on that ice triggers in the order as listed on the card. If a subroutine ends the run, then the run ends immediately and no further subroutines on that piece of ice trigger.

Breaking Subroutines – To break a subroutine, the Runner uses abilities on his installed icebreakers. The Runner can break the subroutines on the encountered ice in any order he chooses. There is no limit to the number of installed cards a Runner can use to interact with the encountered ice, but he generally only needs one icebreaker. Remember that before an icebreaker can interact with a piece of ice, the icebreaker's strength must be equal to or higher than the encountered ice's strength.

Note: Breaking all subroutines on a piece of ice does not mean the ice is trashed. A passed piece of ice remains installed and is approached during every subsequent run against the server it protects.

After the Runner breaks all of the ice’s subroutines and/or any effects from unbroken subroutines resolve without ending the run, he has passed that piece of ice. He then continues the run by either approaching the next piece of ice protecting the server or proceeding to the Access phase if there is no more ice to approach.

III. Access Phase

After the Runner has passed all of the ice protecting the attacked server, he has one final opportunity to jack out. If he chooses to continue, the Corporation has one final opportunity to rez cards. After rezzing cards, the run is considered to be successful and the Runner accesses the Corporation’s cards by looking at them. The type of server attacked determines the degree and method of access, and the Runner must access cards according to the following rules:

Stealing Agendas

If the Runner accesses an agenda, he steals it and places it faceup in his score area, resolving any conditional abilities on the agenda that use the language “When you steal.” While an agenda is in the Runner’s score area, it adds its agenda points to his score. The Runner cannot decline to steal agendas he accesses.

Trashing Cards

If the Runner accesses a card with a trash cost, he may pay credits equal to its trash cost in order to trash it to Archives faceup.

Accessing Multiple Cards

When accessing multiple cards, the Runner accesses them one at a time in any order he likes. For example, the Runner may access a card from HQ, then an upgrade installed in the root of HQ, and then another card from HQ, if he has the ability to do so.

When accessing multiple cards from R&D, the Runner must draw them in order from the top of the deck, and must return any cards not scored or trashed in reverse order, so as to preserve their positions in R&D.

The Runner must fully resolve his access to a card (steal it, pay to trash it, etc.) before accessing the next card. If the Runner scores an agenda that gives him seven or more points, he immediately wins the game, even if he would otherwise access more cards.

Concluding the Run

After the Runner has accessed all required cards, he returns any cards not stolen or trashed to their original play states. For example, an unrezzed card in a remote server returns facedown to that server, and a card accessed from HQ returns to HQ. After a Runner finishes accessing cards, the run ends. The Runner returns any unspent bad publicity credits to the token bank, and the Runner resumes his Action phase.


Traces and Tags

Though the Corporation spends much of the game repelling the Runner’s intrusions, traces and tags give the Corporation opportunities to attack the Runner.

Traces

Some card abilities initiate a trace on the Runner. Traces are marked by the language “TraceX” on a card, with X equaling the base trace strength of the trace. Traces pit the Corporation’s trace strength against the Runner’s link strength, both of which are increased by spending credits.

The Corporation acts first during a trace, openly spending any number of credits to increase his trace strength by one point for each credit he spends. There is no limit to the number of credits the Corporation can spend on the trace.

After the Corporation spends his credits, the Runner has the opportunity to openly spend credits to increase his link strength. The Runner’s base link strength is equal to the number of links (~) he has in play. The Runner increases his link strength by one point for each credit he spends. There is no limit to the number of credits the Runner can spend on the trace.

After the Runner finishes increasing his link strength, it is compared to the Corporation’s trace strength. If the trace strength exceeds the link strength, the trace is successful and any “If successful” effects associated with the trace are resolved.

If the link strength is equal to or greater than the trace strength, then the trace is unsuccessful, and any “If unsuccessful” effects associated with the trace are resolved.

Tags

Certain card effects result in a tag being placed on the Runner. As long as the Runner has at least one tag, he is considered to be tagged. While the Runner is tagged, the Corporation may, as an action, spend click and 2 credits to trash one of the Runner’s resources. Certain card effects can also trigger off of the Runner being tagged, and it is usually dangerous for the Runner to remain tagged for very long.

While tagged, the Runner may, as an action, spend click and 2 credits to remove the tag, returning it to the token bank. The Runner can repeat this action as many times he likes, provided he has the clicks and credits to pay its cost, and as long as he has a tag to remove.


Damage

Many cards and ice subroutines inflict damage on the Runner. The Runner can receive the following three types of damage:

Note: The only differences between net and meat damage are the cards that inflict and prevent them.

When the Runner trashes multiple cards for damage, the cards are placed in his heap in the order they were randomly trashed.

If the Runner takes more damage than the number of cards in his grip, or if he has a maximum hand size of less than zero at the end of his turn, then he is flatlined and the Corporation wins the game.


End of the game

If at any time a player has seven agenda points in his score area, he immediately wins the game.

If R&D contains no cards and the Corporation attempts to draw a card, the Runner immediately wins the game.

If the Runner is flatlined, the Corporation wins the game.