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21 June 2016

SRSLY #48: Netrunner with Alex Hern

Caroline is joined for this special episode of the pop culture podcast by Alex Hern, tech reporter at the Guardian, who tells us all about why he is very, very serious about the living card game Netrunner.

By Caroline Crampton

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

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SRSLY is usually hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s web editor and editorial assistant. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

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This week, Anna is on holiday, so Caroline was joined by Alex Hern to talk about Netrunner – you can find him @alexhern on Twitter.

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If you’d like to find out more about our topic this week – Netrunner – check the links below in the guide that Alex has put together:

  • Firstly, and most obviously, the best way to get into Netrunner is to pick up a core set, which contains 165 cards, rules, tokens and everything two people need to get playing. 
  • The digital version of the game, which is less polished but, free and so quite good for someone curious about Netrunner, is
  • The latest “cycle” – a collection of six small packs – has been the Mumbad cycle, set in the sprawling megalopolis that spans Hyderabad and Mumbai. The announcement for the first pack, Kala Ghoda (named after a Mumbai neighbourhood), sets the tone for the location, and is also a good example of how the world of Netrunner evolves.
  • The Tumblr writing project I ran for a year or so was The Netrunner Project. A mixture of fanfic, critical writing and play tips, it was moderately successful in the Netrunner community. The entry on Hedge Fund was the best I wrote, a short encapsulation of why I like cyberpunk in general. But Leigh Alexander’s guest post was the best overall, and led to her writing her first novel, a tie-in to the Netrunner universe called Monitor.
  • If you like the sound of the setting but can’t be arsed with the actual game, just read Neuromancer.
  • If you like the sound of the game but can’t be arsed with the setting, bad news: there isn’t anything quite like Netrunner in tabletop gaming. Just try not to look at the pictures on the cards, I guess.

And if you’d like to read Alex’s piece about not being good at Hearthstone, you can find it here.