Idiomdrottning’s homepage

Radlands vs Netrunner

My thinking on Radlands vs Netrunner is that the limitations of Radlands is what really weigh in its favor. A very simple non-camp card pool with no fancy or weird cards, two copies of every non-hero character and of every event so one quickly learns the pool and what to expect and most games we pull pretty much the same cards but because of how the game works, completely different things happen with those cards. It’s just such an elegant design, it’s genius, I love it.

The camps can get weird and I’m glad that that’s where he put the complexity. That adds fun while still making sure the actual base game is still fun.

What makes it good is what it doesn’t have: deck building, expansions, meta, bad matchups, sideboarding, playsets, millions of different token types (even the twelve water tokes that are there isn’t strictly necessary; it’s possible to use one’s fingers or just remember), factions, ban lists. Just pure fun and resource management and hard choices and top deck luck. We had a game today that I won but he would’ve won if he had a wheel junk card; he got three chances to draw one but didn’t. And then it turned out that the very next card of the deck was one. Fun fun fun.♥︎

And, I love that the simple cards also means huge art boxes on the cards. Cards that are mostly art with just a li’l icon or two.

Putting a pin in that “elegant minimalism” and comparing game vs game, that’s where Netrunner has advantages: bluffing, more stuff you can do without cards, a more detailed economic game with resources accumulated over many turns, interactive rez/jack decisions during runs etc. In Radlands you do have one type of resources, even unknown-to-the-opponent resources: namely junkable cards-in-hand. But most of the time you’re both stretched so thin that that’s not much of a factor, and/or if one player does get a huge lead in junkable cards-in-hand they might be able to quickly win (“here, I play nine burning tires so damage your camps thrice RIP”).

In Netrunner, not all programs can break and in Radlands, not all characters can fight. I love that. I love that you can have a pacifistic li’l Muse or Rescue Team. But in Netrunner the runner can inherently run without programs and just encounter icies on their own or if there is no etr ice just go take a peek in the corporations HQ, R&D, archives or even remote servers. Here, the player can only do stuff through cards. Whether that damage is fast through ‘splosions, or delayed though the car.


I find myself wishing for a “contained” experience, like Radland is, but one that would bring some of the fun from Netrunner back in. And that’s wishing for gold when I already have diamonds because Radlands as it is is an awesome experience with fun characters, thematic interactions, a li’l bit of bluffing, and lots of hard choices and tight positions. Every time I’ve played it, I like it more.

Although I don’t like the theme. Humans on the brink pushed into hurting or even outright killing each other. That’s where games like Pollen have an edge, where players are flowers who want to attract insects. Or even Netrunner with all of its politics and clever satire.