Of Netrunner, Mage Wars, video games, and distractions…

We here in the DC Metro area have had more than a few snow days this winter season.  For those unfamiliar: things basically shut down.  Offices close, roads close, no one really goes outside their homes.

Now I don’t mind a snow day.  I have plenty to keep my mind occupied and keep me from going stir crazy.  There’s always some video game to play, or some model to paint.  But these are pretty singular activities.  I’m not much of a TV watcher anymore, so this holiday season I started to look for stuff my wife and I could do together.  And to be honest, my painting motivation has been pretty low lately…So what’s been stealing my attention?

Every once and awhile, we’ll find a video game that we can both play together.  Rayman (Origins or Legends) are our personal faves.  Both are simply amazing games, I HIGHLY recommend them.  We also had fun with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.

But alas, these couch co-op games are becoming less and less frequent nowadays…so finding new games for us is harder and harder.  I’d gladly look into any recommendations on Xbox 360 or One.

A heartbreaking work of platforming genius.
A heartbreaking work of platforming genius.

Enter Android: Netrunner. I’m a lifelong fan of cyberpunk and with some pushing from local powergamer Danny, I picked up a core box set.  I was really intrigued by the LCG (Living Card Game) system rather than the CCG system that Magic has.  I’ve never played Magic before a roadtrip this past Christmas where I picked up Magic 2014 on my iPad in order to stave my boredom when I wasn’t driving.  Turns out I really liked it.  I even thought about getting a deck.  But getting into Magic is overwhelming for a nerd noob like me and I balked and forgot about the whole thing.

But Netrunner is a whole other beast.  Netrunner is so much more that just a head to head duel.  It’s about setting, it’s about mind games and shell games. It’s about traps and wrong moves.

And we love it.

Criminals vs Weyland (who are also basically criminals)
Criminals vs Weyland (who are also basically criminals)

Now something you have to understand:  Something this nerdy is not at all in my wife’s typical wheelhouse.  In fact, when I told Danny that her and I learned to play the game over the weekend and enjoyed it, he thought I was talking about some one else.  But we now have a new past time on Sunday nights (and weekday nights if we aren’t burnt out).

While I’ve settled firmly on Anarchs for my runner crew, and and still working out which Corp I want to be (leaning towards Haas-Bioroid), she’s still working that part out.  But she has expressed interest in making her own custom decks after I attempted to, which is pretty cool.

Our second distraction comes on the heels of Netrunner actually.  While reading reviews on Netrunner prior to buying it, I came across another interesting boardgame, Mage Wars.  Just reading the reviews were enough to get me excited about playing it (I later found out it’s in a bunch of Top 10 lists).

Mage on Mage violence.
Mage on Mage violence.

Mage Wars is a card game, kinda.  There’s dice, movement, and special effects involved.  It takes much more time (we average 2.5+ hours a game compared to 20-30 minutes in Netrunner) and it’s a bit more wonky (in a good way) and rules heavy to play (it’s 44 page rulebook gets referenced at least 4+ times a game at the moment).

It’s still a ton of fun.

Casting a spell over us.
Casting a spell over us.

This has become our Sunday night game the past few weeks since we got it.  What I love most about it is you each get an actual book of spells to use. As in let me refer to my tome of magic *flips pages*.  It feels a little goofy but the sheer amount of spells (322 cards come in the core set) and the enormous variety of them, make every game very different and unpredictable (“Ha! Now this is a flying GRIZZLY BEAR”).  There are 5 different types of spells: attack (your typical Fireball flinging type stuff), conjurations (things that effect a zone, like walls of fire or tanglevines), enchantments (think buffs/debuffs), incantations (one time use effects, like heals or the ever useful Dispel), and creatures (your minions). Oh and a slew of equip-able equipment for your mage with different effects.  Each of the four core mages play pretty distinctly as well, the Warlock would rather get things done himself and likes to spread curses. The Wizard is your “typical” trope, he’s a big toolbox of spells and more of a blasting mage.  The Beastmaster is all about swarming the field with weaker creatures, which he can then pump up to be crazy. And finally the Priestess is straight up attrition. She’s a healing specialist with very beefy creatures like heavy armor knights and angels.   And we haven’t even attempted to make our own custom spellbooks yet.

I got some models for our own custom mages that’ll I’ll be posting on here once there are done in the possible near future.

So yeah…these are some things that have kept me for being as studious with my painting.  That’s been changing lately as it’s high time I got back to completing (and repainting!) my Menites…


6 thoughts on “Of Netrunner, Mage Wars, video games, and distractions…”

  1. Have you tried Guacamelee? I’ve been playing it with my girlfriend and is one of the few Co-Op games we can actually enjoy for hours and hours on end. It can get a bit frustrating on 3 or 4 puzzles which are best achieved playing solo but since it allows you to “drop out” at any moment without penalization it’s a great mechanic that offsets the aforementioned puzzle difficulty.

    Netrunner is awesome. it has also been “stealing” my wargaming time away for quite a bit, it’s strangely addicting and I haven’t played corporations yet.

  2. Nice write up. My wife and I tried Netrunner as well and I’m jealous it worked for you guys better than us. We have a shelf full of board games and typically play each one every few weeks. So I think remembering the details after a gap between games was not as appealing to my better half. If you are looking for another fun game to introduce to non-geeks I can’t recommend highly enough Love Letter. Its super simple. You can learn it in 5 minutes and its a fantastic family friendly game that is social in execution while not being just a “social game”.

    1. I’ll try it out! I think the fact we only have the 2 games at the moment helped us out even though it was really rough the first few times out of the game. Netrunner’s insistence on using fluffy terms for everything was definitely not helping in the beginning.

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