Sunday, 11 May 2014

A Netrunner Cube Draft; A recipe


4 netrunner starter sets (randomly generated using a program called netseal;

4 proteus boosters (also generated using netseal)

A ton of netrunner cards with which to assemble the generated sets from.

Android Netrunner now dominates the 'hotness' column on, and seems like its going to be a permanent fixture. I have about 800 netrunner cards, mostly acquired in one trade a couple of years ago for a copy of Core Worlds. The question in my mind for a while has been, should I flog off the whole set and buy into the new version? I prefer the early 90s campy cgi art and I'm tight fisted so I figured I'd try and breath some life into my cards by building a cube.

What is a cube? For the uninformed, in collectable card games (Magic the Gathering) you can play what is called a draft. This is when you all buy a bunch of sealed booster decks, open them, and then pass them around in a circle. Each player takes a card from each set that is passed to them and then passes it on. In this way you build a deck to play the game with. This is called a sealed draft. A cube draft is when you create a bunch of fake randomly generated booster decks from cards you already own and then do a draft. I think its called a cube because when you lay the cards out it often forms a square.


I used netseal to randomly generate 4 starter decks, that is 60 runner and 60 corp cards with no replicates. Each starter deck was originally designed to be fairly balanced in terms of ice cards, ice breakers, resource cards, traps, etc. They work as functional decks to play the game straight out the box. I then generated 4 boosters. I don't own every netrunner card, so where i was missing a card from the generated set I would either put in a close equivalent, or throw in an extra resource or engine card (by engine card i mean a card that allows you to search your deck or draw more cards).

To create a legal / working netrunner deck each faction needs certain cards. The corporation for instance needs to have a certain number of agenda cards, the runner needs at least one of each type of ice breaker and ideally a baselink card or two. In old netrunner these cards are classed as vitals. All of the other cards are classed by rarity, being a collectable card game. To make the draft work for the corp each player took all of the vitals out of the starter deck. So they each had about 10 agenda cards. These would not be drafted. You had to build your deck around these cards. For the runner each player took all of the ice breaker cards and all of the baselink cards out of their deck and were allowed to keep one of each type of ice breaker and two baselink cards. Everything else was shuffled and drafted in two drafts, the first draft for the corp cards, the second for the runner.

It took about 2 hours, which is very long for a draft. After the draft each player cut down the cards they had drafted (typically about 60-70 cards) down to around 45-50 card deck. In future I might just run two proteus boosters rather than 4 to speed things up a little and cut down the surplus cards.

Since then I've played 6 games with the decks I created, 3 as each faction. I was surprised how well this worked. It is not as smooth as a magic draft but it does work. My decks work to their strategic design, and my opponents decks varying degrees do function. The cube does seem to have been a bit short on runner resource cards still. I knew going in that runner resources can be worth their weight in gold, so I drafted quite a few of them, but certainly some of my opponents struggle to get their decks monetized. I might tweak this for future drafts.

My corp deck works about as well as one of my constructed ones. I built it around the idea of being able to res my agendas as quickly as possible, so I drafted plenty of resource cards and any cards that allow me to drop a lot of bits onto my agendas quickly. The deck is a little short on cheap ice, but never the less it is still unbeaten.

I've seen a few threads around looking at Android drafts. I imagine it would be harder than old netrunner as Fantasy Flight games added the faction system but people seem to think it is workable. Personally I find drafting far more interesting than pure constructed decks, and would recommend giving it a go.