So, you want to dive headfirst into the gritty, cyberpunk world of Netrunner. Great choice! There’s a reason (actually a bunch of them) that Netrunner is out Game of the Month.

Getting started in Netrunner is easy. You need two decks – one for your megalomaniacal Corp and one for your elite hacker Runner. Getting cards for your deck is as easy as buying the sets that have the cards you want.

Netrunner is a Limited Card Game (LCG). That means you know every card that is included in the product you buy. In Trading Card Games (TCG), like Magic and Pokemon, booster packs are random. You don’t know what you’ll open – or if it will even be useful for the deck you want to build. Netrunner is different. If there is a card you want, all you have to do if buy its pack.

Although we’re sure once you start playing Netrunner, you’ll be hooked at want to complete your collection, you don’t have to buy all the cards just to get started. So which packs should a new player start with?

Step One: Get a Core Set

netrunner-box

The Netrunner Core set has everything you need for a new player to build multiple decks. In fact, one Core Set is probably enough for two players to enjoy hours of gaming. The Core Set comes with 252 cards – including powerful ID cards for each faction.

With a single Core Set, you can explore a wide variety of strategies for both Runner and Corp sides. It is very possible for you to build multiple Corp and Runner decks from this box alone.

   
Don’t think you are throwing your money away on an “Intro Pack” that’s designed with low-powered cards that only exist to teach the game. A huge number of cards in the Core Set see competitive play to this day. Cards like Account Siphon, Scorched Earth, Tollbooth, and Data Sucker are just a few of the incredibly powerful cards that anchor multiple competitive decks.

Expanding the Toolbox:

Once you get a few reps in with the Core Set, you might want to expand your card pool. There are two different types of products to help you do this: Deluxe Expansions and Data Packs.

A Deluxe Expansion focuses on a specific Corp and Runner faction, and goes deep on cards for its respective teams. If you find that you really like the playstyle of a specific faction, a Deluxe Expansion is the perfect way to upgrade that specific deck. One Deluxe Expansion gives you playsets of all the cards included.

On the other hand, if you want a wider variety of cards that are good for all the factions, Data Packs are the way to go. Data Packs are released as Cycles (think Blocks in Magic) of 6 packs each. Each Cycle revolves around a specific set of themes. A Data Pack contains 60 cards – usually a playset of 20 unique cards that has something for each faction.

We recommend that a new player selects their favorite faction and picks up the Deluxe Expansion that goes with it. By focusing on a single faction, and going deep, you have more options to make a strong deck.

Of course, if there is a specific card that looks awesome to play, get that pack, and build around it. Netrunner is incredibly open to combining fun cards in interesting ways.

Data Dump

Eventually, you’ll want to start picking up Data Packs. If there is a card that looks really interesting to you, by all means, start there. But if you want to build up your collection from the ground up, take a look at the following guide for what we recommend as the best Data Packs for new players.

A quick note on release order: The following guide is heavily biased toward newer packs. While there are plenty of older Data Packs that have incredible cards in them, we think it makes sense to focus on newer packs. In addition to not rotating next year, many of the new packs are incredibly powerful. People are playing with the cards in these packs, and it will be beneficial for new players to be more familiar with them than with the cards that defined the metagame two years ago.
1. Blood Money Temujin Contract is one of the most powerful runner cards ever printed. Rumor Mill, Paperclip, and Beth Kilrain-Chang are excellent support cards for a variety of Runner strategies. On the Corp side, Fairchild 2.0, Prisec, Hatchet Job, and Enforcing Loyalty will find their way into many Corp decks.

  
2. Escalation Omar, Obelus, and Black Orchestra form the backbone of a powerful Anarch deck. Net Mercur is an overpowered card for stealth strategies. DNA Tracker and Fairchild 3.0 are great pieces of ICE for traditional Corp strategies. And BOOM! is a new, powerful way to flatline a Runner.

  
3. The Underway Faust is possibly the best ICE Breaker in the game. Geist opens up a new strategic lane for Runners. Gang Sign, Drive By, and Street Peddler are all great support cards. The Corp side of this pack is a little shallow, but it is made up for by the incredible Marcus Batty.

  
4. Breaker Bay While this pack doesn’t have a ton of cards that define unique strategies, almost everything in here supports major strategies. Hacktivist Meeting, Career Fair, and Off-Campus apartment are the standouts on the Runner side. The Corps get powerful tools with Gutenberg, Turing, Crick, and Blacklist.

  
5. Democracy and Dogma While the Runner gets some really cool cards like Spy Camera and Political Operative, this pack really opens up new strategies for the Corp. Political Assets like Sensie Actors Union and Bio-Ethics Association give the Corps good reasons to “go wide.”

  

Runners, get ready: Join our Netrunner League

Come on in to Win Condition Games and pick up a few packs of Netrunner. Then join our weekly Netrunner League to test your skills against other players. The Netrunner League is designed to teach new players the game, and to have fun exploring new decks every week. You can find out more about the League, as well as rules and prize support here.

Experienced Netrunner players, what advice would you give to new players just starting out? Sound off in the comments.