Netrunner on OCTGN

netrunnerAh another one of these posts.

So after Dune, I got into developing a Netrunner plugin. I don’t remember exactly why, I think I noticed that the existing plugin had a few bugs and/or could use a few tweaks now and there. I edited it a bit to polish it a bit more, then I edited a bit more to take off some rough edges and…well, one thing led to another and I’ve written another 2000 lines of code >_<

It’s all good though, I was always interested in Netrunner, even though I didn’t get into it when it was active (it had already died when I started diversifying from Magic:The Gathering). With this particular plugin I went completely overboard in the scripting department, writing flexible code to automate around 70% of the various card effects in the game, so that you can just play a card and it works without you fiddling with counters and markers. This is even far beyond the Dune CCG plugin I’ve coded, but then again Netrunner’s card effects and rules are not as convoluted as Dune’s.

For those curious, there’s a lot of reasons to be interested in Netrunner. It’s one of the few (or is it the only?) asymmetrical card games out there, with the two sides of the game having completely different mechanics and strategies. One is always attacking, and one is always defending, but depending on the cards each player uses, the roles might be temporarily reversed as well. It also has bluffing build-in to its system in a way that even Doomtown cannot achieve, and that is a game based on Poker! If you like games which involve an element of bluff, Netrunner is absolutely something you should check. The setting is cyberpunk which is rare in itself, but not only that but it’s made with a degree of humor and 90s pop-culture reference that you can’t help but love. It’s especially cute to see how wrong they go the future in some issues, especially in how IT would progress. In Netrunner’s world things like newsgroups and BBS’ and jury-rigged computers are still big, which is something that gives the whole theme a nice William Gibson and 80′s IT sheen. I love it.

Finally I can’t help but mention that there’s a reboot/reimplementation of the Netrunner franchise from FFG, called Android Netrunner which is set in a different universe but retains a lot of the flavour and (hopefully) improved card game mechanics. It’s also an LCG which means it not a huge money-sink if you want to enjoy it, and it can cater to both those who like to dabble in deck-design and those who just want to pick up cards and play. Since Netrunner was one of those CCGs which kept a large cult following after more than a decade after its end, you can enjoy how many people have come out of the woodwork for the new part of the franchise. It’s going to be big!

Naturally an Android Netrunner plugin will be forthcoming and in it I plan to re-use a lot of the code I wrote for Netrunner, so there’s that ;)

EDIT @ 02/07/2013 : I’ve moved the installation instructions on to the dedicated page for this game definition. Please follow the step-by-step installation instructions for Netrunner CCG there.


Once everything is set up, you need to find someone to play with. Once you do, one hosts and game and the other joins. Leave the two-sided checkbox checked and once the game is started, load your decks. Things should be fairly intuitive but keep in mind 4 basic things in relation to the OCTGN engine plugin.

  • First thing you do after you load a deck is Setup (Ctrl+Shift+S)
  • At the start of your turn, declare it with F1
  • At the end of your turn, declare it with F12. Make sure the game announces that your turn has ended and is not expecting you to discard down to your max hand size ;)
  • Play cards from your hand with the “Pay and Install”  (double-click with the mouse) or “Play at no cost”

And some more advanced stuff starting from version 2.1.x

  • Most card will automatically trigger their abilities when played/scored/rezzed so you don’t need to do anything else. Pay attention to the notification area for messages from them.
  • Cards with abilities which increase your MU, Hand Size, etc will automatically increase it when they come into play and reduce it when they go away, as long as you don’t drag&drop them in or out of the table manually. Use the built-in commands for that. Rez, Derez, Trash etc
  • Cards with abilities you activate while they’re in play (like programs, agendas, upgrades etc) will trigger them when you double-click on them. If they have more than one ability (such as most icebreakers), the game will prompt you to select one and pay the appropriate cost.
  • Cards which reduce the cost of other card’s abilities, will also automatically work. If you have a card which has tokens which can pay the cost for activating icebreakers, they will be automatically used when you use one such ability. If you have more than one of these cards which can affect such costs they will be triggered in the order you put them on the table. If you wanted to use the tokens from another card instead, you can simply drag the token manually to the other card afterwards.
  • There are cards which will automatically do damage to your opponent and thus discard random cards from their hand. Due to the way OCTGN works, this may crash the game if you opponent was manipulating the same card. There is a warning before all such damage that will warn you to inform your opponent to be hands-off while the effect is in progress. This warning will also give your opponent the opportunity to play cards which prevent damage.
  • Yes, cards which reduce damage taken have been automated and work automatically depending on the kind of damage you take. As before, they too get triggered by the order they’ve been put on the table, so if you didn’t want to lose the counters from one particular card, just drag them in from the card you did want to use.
  • Some cards require that you select a target from the table or your hand. Do this before you play or activate the card. If you don’t the action will abort and the game will inform you to select your targets first. As always, keep your eye on the chatbox for such warnings.
  • Cards which have effects which trigger at start/end of turn (i.e. refilling bit markers on them) will automatically work.
  • If you don’t like some or all the automations, you can disable some or all of them. Go to the game menu, and you can disable damage automations (i.e. your opponent will have to use the damage options manually but those won’t automatically use the damage prevention cards), Turn Start/End automations and Play/Score/Rez Automations (i.e. mostly everything). If you find that you’d rather do everything manually, just disable all of them and you’ll have an experience as with most generic card game engines.

Phew, that should be the most basic things about the new automations. In general if you’re not sure if a card is automated, simply play it and see what happens. You will be surprised at how many cards just work.

You can find updates discussions about the plugin in the forum