Developer Diary: Netrunners
by Audrey Jaeger on May 25, 2023
Developer Diary: Netrunners
By Mack Martin
One of my personal favorite aspects of Cyberpunk are the Netrunners. From bath to chair to suit, I’m just a big fan. It’s a section of the universe that’s particularly ripe for use in a miniatures game. Netrunners, and by extension their programs, allow Cyberpunk RED: Combat Zone to blend the flashy “Technoir” flare with strategic decisions cribbed from Sun Tzu.
Programs for Pandemonium
Your team may include one or more Netrunners: talented individuals who are able to surf the digital pathways that so many residents of the Combat Zone have installed in their meat-ware.
Models with the NETRUNNER keyword are able to install and run programs. Programs are a special type of action which don’t use “meat-space” Action Tokens the way moving, attacking, or interacting with the Battlespace does.
Netrunners may equip a special kind of gear called a program. This comes with a few additional restrictions, for instance each Netrunner may only “install” a number of programs equal to their tech skill, and they can’t install the same program more than once.
Think Fast… NO FASTER!
One of the strengths of a Netrunner, is that their programs don’t require a meat-space action, which means they don’t require the use of an action token. Instead, programs are rated RED, YELLOW, and GREEN. A Netrunner can take the program’s Tech action (as noted on the card) and will roll the same color dice as the program’s quality. If successful, the card will be flipped over to its running side and no action token from the character is used! A program can only be activated once per turn, but that’s a small price to pay for extra actions!
While every Program has a quality on the front side of the card, the back side is blue, which shows the card is “Running”.
Here’s an example card, Ambush. When loaded, this Yellow quality program allows the netrunner to hack a target within GREEN range. The Netrunner will roll a YELLOW die (a D8), and if successful, Hack the target (giving it a hacked token). Then the player flips over the card to the blue side. While this program is running, ALL rivals with a Hacked token are easier to hit, as attacks will gain Accurate against them (which grants a reroll). Once you Inspire your team, this program is flipped back over to the loaded side, ready to be used again!
The Best Defense
Other than running, bleeding cool programs, a Netrunner serves as a shield against hacking for the rest of your team. When one of your models is targeted by a rival program, your Netrunner may step in and resist the attack instead. The Netrunner needs to have a Path of Attack to the rival hacker, and if your Netrunner fails to resist the action, they become the target, so placement becomes a crucial element of proper Netrunner strategy.
Brains: The Other Gray Meat
Now for the down side. Netrunning ain’t safe, and it ain’t for the faint of heart. When a Netrunner Fumbles a Program launch, they suffer a Stun 1 effect, which will flip a read action token over to the spent side. However, if they don’t have any ready action tokens, they suffer a wound instead. Netrunners are prone to nose-bleeds, but a full brain hemorrhage or stroke isn’t unheard of either.
So now that you’re armed with all the deets, I’ll leave you with my favorite two programs, and I think you’ll be able to put 2 and 2 together.
First up is Trojan Alpha, which is particularly strong in the hands of teams with resilient Gonks, like Maelstrom. If I plan to focus an enemy down, getting this program on them first can quickly overwhelm my foe with sleeper agents to hold positions and tie up rival shooters.
My other favorite Program is Death Dealer, which I like to run with my Tyger Claws. When timed just right, it grants my dying crew a last ditch attack, usually with a RED die, so chances are good I’ll score a Deadly Crit!
So in parting, don’t be a gonk… bring a Netrunner. They’re ready to hit the Combat Zone with plenty of tricks up their extremely stylish sleeves!