Returning the Favor with Sabotage

Welcome to Midnight Sun previews! I’m June, NISEI’s current Lead Designer and the Set Lead for the Borealis Cycle. Over the next three days, I’ll be sharing the mechanical ideas behind the three Runners in Midnight Sun.

In the early days of creating the overall vision for the Borealis Cycle, we set out to create a suite of new game mechanics to build on the simplicity and low complexity of System Gateway. From the earliest iterations of Borealis, I sought to bring a familiar but exciting new mechanical idea to each of the three Runner factions.

Esâ Afontov, who you can meet in fiction here, introduces us to the major Anarch mechanic of the Borealis Cycle: sabotage. We’ll share more about the nitty-gritty specifics of how it works another time, but for an overview: sabotage is always followed by a number, and when the Runner sabotages, the Corp has to trash that many cards of their choice from HQ and/or the top of R&D. Esâ, fitting for xir faction, has an ability that triggers a sabotage when xi suffers core damage. (What’s “core damage”? Our EDI team’s update from yesterday explains this terminology update.)

When designing sabotage, we wanted to hit a couple thematic and mechanical notes: 

  • First, we wanted the mechanic to force the Corp into a difficult decision. Thematically, we wanted to represent how the Runner’s direct action can cause powerful entities to make sacrifices within their organizations. 
  • Second, we wanted the mechanic to accumulate. Multiple instances of sabotage compound and force the Corp into a more desperate state where their options become severely limited. This is to show how a single action pales in comparison to the collective and persistent actions of many.

Cards like Chastushka, below, evoke powerful collective action forcing the Corp to make difficult choices with their resources.

Chastushka

Chastushka

Anarch Event: Run – Sabotage

Cost: 3 – Influence: 4

Run HQ. If successful, instead of breaching HQ, sabotage 4. (The Corp trashes 4 cards of their choice from HQ and/or the top of R&D.)

We’re all alike down here
Androids are friends we salute
Give us all a f***ing break
Ol’ Jack is the s*** on my boot.

Illustrated by Adam S. Doyle

And, when combined with taking some core damage on the same turn…

Marrow

Marrow

UNIQUE

Anarch Hardware: Console – Cybernetic

Cost: 2 – Influence: 2

+1 mu

You get +3 maximum hand size.

When you install this hardware, suffer 1 core damage.

Whenever the Corp scores an agenda, sabotage 1. (The Corp trashes 1 card of their choice from HQ or the top of R&D.)

Limit 1 console per player.

Illustrated by Martin de Diego Sádaba

…you can set up powerful plays that force the Corp to either abandon their carefully curated hand of cards or risk a worse fate by seeing what the top cards of R&D hold. Marrow ensures Esâ can withstand more punishment while setting up big plays using the sabotage mechanic, and adding more sabotage triggers squeezes the Corp’s resources further.

Sabotage broadly follows Anarch’s gameplay pattern of creating gameplay chaos that incentivizes the Corps to care about protecting oft-neglected servers like Archives. Sabotage also allows the Corp to bluff the Runner: “The cards I discarded from my hand are surely not agendas… or are they? Did I install a piece of ice to protect an agenda you just sabotaged, or am I bluffing to entice a worthless run?” By adding a large hidden information component to games of Netrunner, sabotage puts Archives in play in a way that favors the Runner but offers significant Corp counterplay.

We hope you enjoy sabotaging corporate plans as much as we do. Expect more ways to take core damage and put the Corp in difficult positions in the coming weeks.

Chastushka, by Adam S. Doyle

Midnight Sun will be released on July 22, 2022, as physical cards via NISEI’s print partners and pay-what-you want files for downloading and printing at home!

Author

  • June is NISEI's lead game designer. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and spends her days scribbling game designs into notebooks, roller blading, and playing poker.