You’ve got questions; we’ve got more answers than a deep dive on R&D.
All two players need to start playing Netrunner is System Gateway: Starter Pack. It includes two ready-to-play teaching decks, player aids, and links to the NISEI Learn to Play guide. Once you’ve learned the basics, you can expand your toolbox of deckbuilding options with the System Gateway Deckbuilding Pack.
You will need to supply some small pocket change or other objects to use as trackers.
Two players learning the game together only need one copy of an introductory set, whether that’s System Gateway or an older set like the Core Set, Revised Core Set, or System Core 2019.
Netrunner is a two-player asymmetric game: one player plays a Corp, while the other player is the Runner trying to hack their servers. Each player’s deck is completely specific to their role—cards go in either a Corp deck or a Runner deck, but never both. The introductory sets mentioned above all contain cards for both Corp and Runner, so you can immediately square off against each other.
You only need one copy of an introductory set to learn the game. However, having multiple copies of older introductory sets can provide certain conveniences when deckbuilding, especially when using older sets like the Core Set or Revised Core Set.
A single full set of System Gateway, including both the Starter Pack and the Deckbuilding Pack, will provide a full playset of every card in the set. You will not need an extra copy of System Gateway unless you want more copies of cards than you can use in a single deck.
Of course! If you already have a copy of the Core Set or Revised Core Set from the game’s history, you can also use that to begin your journey alongside the NISEI Learn to Play guide, although we recommend System Gateway as your next purchase. In addition to being an introductory set, System Gateway is designed to be the cornerstone of a Netrunner collection, full of useful and reliable cards.
Technically, yes, although it will be quite difficult and frustrating. You are not required to use cards from introductory sets in deckbuilding, but many staple cards can be found in these sets. Trying to deckbuild without them is a challenge even for experienced players.
Introductory sets are designed so that you can pick up and play without knowing anything about building decks. That’s not the case if you’re trying to learn with a random assortment of cards.
We recommend sleeving your cards in opaque-backed sleeves so that the backs are not visible.
If you are playing in any competitive event, you must use opaque sleeves. The NISEI Organized Play policies require decks to be sleeved in “opaque, standard-sized card sleeves of consistent size, color, texture, and condition” for use in in-person events.
NISEI Sets and Products
NISEI sets are currently released in two forms: finished cards from our print-on-demand partners, and pay-what-you-want print-and-play files. You can pick the option that works for you!
A “cycle” is a set of expansions built around the same creative and mechanical themes. NISEI cycles tend to consist of two expansions, each containing full playsets of 60-65 cards. The sets within a cycle are not typically released simultaneously; rather, one is released before the other. All cards within a cycle have the same expansion symbol.
NISEI’s first cycle, for instance, was the Ashes Cycle, consisting of Downfall and Uprising. Thematically, the Ashes Cycle took place immediately following an attack on the Beanstalk space elevator, and explored the consequences this had on the world of Netrunner. Mechanically, the Ashes Cycle included themes like Anarch’s companion resources and Haas-Bioroid assets that improved upon the basic Corp actions.
In a previous version of the game, Android: Netrunner, cycles (such as the SanSan Cycle or the Kitara Cycle) typically consisted of six smaller expansions, each containing full playsets of approximately 20 cards. NISEI cycles contain roughly the same number of cards, just split over two expansions instead of six.
Although the sets within a cycle are released one-at-a-time, they are typically rotated out of formats like Standard all together. For more about that, check out the Organized Play section below.
Print-on-demand is a way of printing and distributing cards. Under a print-on-demand model, cards are only printed when they’re specifically ordered—rather than being pre-printed in bulk, stored in warehouses, and shipped to stores or players from there.
- DriveThruCards is the best way to support NISEI in terms of revenue. Their cardstock is of similar quality to Netrunner cards printed by Fantasy Flight Games. They offer fast shipping, although shipping outside of the United States can be quite expensive.
- MakePlayingCards offers two cardstock options, Standard and Premium. They have discount codes available for larger orders, and they offer fast and affordable shipping worldwide.
For more details, check out our Purchase Guide.
No. Unlike some other card games, cards in NISEI sets are fixed. When you buy or print Downfall, for example, it contains a full playset of every card in the set.
No. We list our sets as complete products on our print-on-demand storefronts, meaning that the contents and price are fixed. You cannot, for instance, elect to include extra copies of Sure Gamble when you order System Gateway.
That depends! If your older cards are from Android: Netrunner, the version of the game published from 2012–2018 by Fantasy Flight Games, then yes, you can. NISEI cards are designed to be compatible with Android: Netrunner cards.
If your older cards are from the original Netrunner, published in the early 1990’s, unfortunately, you cannot. NISEI cards are not designed to be compatible with the ’90s version of Netrunner.
System Core 2019, NISEI’s first “core set”, was never released as physical cards, nor was it released as a print-and-play file. Instead, it was released as a list of cards that players could assemble from their existing collections.
There are no physical cards associated with System Core 2019.
We appreciate your enthusiasm! This is a popular request. Unfortunately, due to logistical issues, such as our print-on-demand partners’ maximum number of cards per product, it is not feasible at this time for us to offer one giant “complete pack” of all NISEI expansions.
Because we continue to update rules terminology as time goes on, some older NISEI cards have slightly outdated text.
Thanks to our print-on-demand distribution model, releasing cards with new wording is much easier for us than it would be if we had piles of old cards sitting in a warehouse. Laying out these updated versions, however, still takes time and effort.
We are open to the possibility of someday releasing “remastered” versions of our older sets, such as the Ashes Cycle; however, we have no concrete plans at this time for such a product.
This is intentional! Our print-and-play files do not contain backs. We don’t distribute our card backs, as we’d prefer to retain control over what gets put opposite them.
The print-and-play files are designed to be used as proxies in opaque sleeves with other cards as backing cards. Your local game store may have bulk cards from other card games that they’ll sell you for cheap or free. They’ll be covered on one side by the sleeves and on the other by the proxy you print, so they’re pretty much just there for sturdiness.
If you’d like professionally printed cards with the NISEI backs, please consider purchasing from our print-and-play partners.
Organized Play is the division of NISEI responsible for supporting competitive Netrunner events, ranging from small community game nights to our annual World Championship. Organized Play (or “OP”) can also refer to those events more broadly.
There are many different reasons! Playing in competitions, even friendly, low-stakes competitions, can be an opportunity to test your skills and try out new decks. It also gives you an opportunity to meet other members of the Netrunner community.
And, of course, if you like shinies, NISEI provides prize support to Organized Play events—which means that by competing, you can win rewards like promo cards, playmats, and more!
In the context of Organized Play, a format is a way of playing Netrunner. Most formats start with a cardpool—a definition of what cards are allowed. Often, a cardpool begins by selecting certain sets, and is then clarified with a ban list to exclude troublesome cards within those sets.
For instance, the Snapshot format consists of all cards released in the Creation and Control set and all sets printed between then and September 2018. It has a ban list that removes specific cards in that pool.
A format may also introduce new restrictions or rules. These can affect gameplay, deckbuilding, or both!
You can see a list of formats supported by NISEI Organized Play here.
Standard is the flagship format for NISEI Organized Play. The Standard cardpool is made up of recent sets, and every major NISEI release removes older cards from the format. Because of this, it’s constantly changing, which keeps the metagame exciting and engaging for players of all levels.
For a more detailed definition and ban list, check out our Supported Formats page.
Core Experience was a format for playing Netrunner in tournaments and events. The cardpool consisted of a single copy of System Core 2019, which meant when deckbuilding, players could not use more copies of a card than were included in the System Core 2019 list.
Rotation is the process of expiring older cards out of a format as new cards enter.
An ever-growing cardpool is a burden for game design and development. Without rotation, every new card design must be weighed against all previously printed cards, a problem that only gets worse with time. Additionally, developers and playtesters must consider an ever-widening pool of potential interactions. Design is forever constrained by the cards that came before.
In addition to the constraints an eternal cardpool creates for design and development, it also creates a burden for new players. If the entire cardpool is relevant, then new players face a daunting barrier to entry; without access to every card, they are at a disadvantage to players who have been building their collections longer.
Furthermore, attempting to sidestep both of these issues often leads to power creep: newer cards are made relevant for new players and exciting for old players by being simply better than older cards. Power creep is often the death of a game.
Rotation is a way to solve these issues by imposing an arbitrary competitive lifespan for cards. Rotating old cards frees design space, simplifies playtesting, and lowers the barrier to entry for new players, without introducing power creep. This is why NISEI’s flagship format, Standard, as well as the introductory format, Startup, both employ rotation.
However, if you dislike the idea of rotation, there are other formats, such as Eternal, where you can still use your old cards! And, of course, when you’re playing casually, you can use whatever cards you and your playgroup like.
As of the release of System Gateway and System Update 2021 in March 2021, the following sets have rotated and are not legal in Standard:
- Core Set
- Revised Core Set
- Genesis Cycle
- Spin Cycle
- Lunar Cycle
- Creation and Control
- Terminal Directive
- Honor and Profit
- SanSan Cycle
If a card is legal in a format, any copy of that card can be used. All printings of a card are treated as equivalent.
For example, Daily Casts was first printed in the Creation and Control set, which rotated out with the release of Uprising. However, it was reprinted in Uprising, which is a Standard-legal set. So long as a Standard-legal set contains Daily Casts, the card is legal in Standard, and any printing of the card may be used.
Before June 2020, the list of cards banned in competitive play was known as the “Most Wanted List”, or “MWL”. The name was a flavorful holdover from previous management of the game. We realized this was unnecessarily obscure, however, so the ban list is now just called the “Ban List”.
A proxy is a stand-in for a legal card that a player doesn’t have with them. They may be printed on thick cardstock so as to closely resemble ordinary cards, or they may be printed on standard printer paper.
The NISEI Organized Play Policies allow the usage of proxies at all NISEI events, provided they follow specific guidelines.
Online only, at least for now.
Previews, also known as “spoilers” or “scoops”, typically begin on NISEI.net about three weeks before a major set’s release.
No. We love our community creators, but we want to keep NISEI cards visually distinguishable from community cards. This is to prevent a potential situation where questionable or unlicensed art is used alongside a NISEI back, problematically implying our endorsement.
Members of the community have created and shared generic card backs to be used for alt-art purposes. We recommend asking around in Netrunner community groups on Reddit, Facebook, Discord, or Slack!
We maintain and update the rules of the game with an eye toward clarity and consistency. At times, that means introducing new terms or changing how familiar effects are phrased. You can catch up on major changes to rules, terminology, and phrasing by reviewing our Major Changes page.
These two terms refer to the same mechanic: a form of damage that reduces your hand size by 1 for the remainder of the game.
The mechanic was originally called “brain damage”. However, with the release of Midnight Sun in July 2022, we revised the terminology in the interest of inclusivity and narrative potential. “Core damage” is the new term that we will use moving forward.
The term “scoop” refers to an exciting piece of news reported by one outlet before any others. At some point, this was used to refer to previews/spoilers, and it stuck.
A “playset” is the maximum number of copies of a single card you could need in a game. Typically, a playset is three cards, since you can only include three copies of a card in your deck. There are some exceptions:
Old articles by Fantasy Flight Games about the game used to randomly capitalize words. The community decided it must have been the act of an enthusiastic intern, who they dubbed “CAPS LOCK INTERN”.
It’s on the Moon.