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Playtest report: Cyberpunk the CCG

February 4th, 2004: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Playtest report: Cyberpunk the CCG

There’s a lot of buzz lately about Cyberpunk the CCG. Around my area, much of that buzz is gamers asking “What’s it like?” or “Where can I get it?” It seems some local retailers have been reluctant to buy into another collectible game, at least until it’s a verified Runaway Hit (TM), so around here it’s making the game harder to find. This hasn’t slowed us down though, since Social Games President Peter Wacks hooked us up at Gen Con SoCal, and we’ve been playing around with the game ever since. Though we’re still working on the full review, let me see what I can tell you so far.

In Cyberpunk, players assumed the roles of netrunners, punks, corporate fixers, solos, and so on. In Cyberpunk the CCG, players assume the role of a Sponsor, an organization or company with certain goals, and start recruiting netrunners, punks, fixers, solos, and so on. By using the EuroBucks provided by land cards — er, location cards, players start forming teams of all the character types Cyberpunk fans know and love. Once the teams, which can usually have no more than four characters, are ready to move out, they start working toward the Sponsor’s goals, or hindering other players.

There are three goals of the game for each player. The first is to win by getting 100 Ops Points (gained by completing Operations, or destroying enemy locations that have Ops values). The second goal is to get 100 Style Points (another value listed on the particularly cool looking cards). Thirdly, each Sponsor has it’s own goal that can win the day, tailored to the overall agenda of the Sponsor (the Cops have to bust a bunch of people, etc).

Completing an Operation is straightforward once you’ve formed a team. Any Op, whether an opponent’s location or an Operation card, has two security values to overcome: a Manual Security (fences, guards, etc) and an Electronic Security (encrypted database to hack into, that sort of thing). By doubling the ESec and adding it to the MSec, you get the value your team has to beat with its overall attack rating. Using whatever skills they have to max out their attacks (Solos can add their Power to either Short or Long range attack), you then add up the attack ratings, factor in any bonuses from Event cards or snipers adding their Long Range support, and see if your attack beats the total security of the Op. If so, you succeed; if not, you total up the overall Defense of your team, which might be in for some pain. Of course, if you didn’t use one of your Netrunners from outside the team to reduce the ESec of your target beforehand, you’ll have a much harder time.

Things get messy when an opponent decides to defend a location of theirs you’re attacking. Suffice it to say, we try real hard to avoid fighting another team. Most of the time, no one comes out alive. It’s never fun to bring your team back home dead.

We played more sessions with the preconstructed Your First Run decks given out for free at SoCal, just to get the rules down solidly, then launched into the starters and constructing our own decks. I’ve been playing a Militech deck mostly, after an abortive attempt to build a sneaky Biotechnica deck that tried for the stealth win with Style Points. The strategy of speedy team building, completing Operations that let me search the deck or get me extra Euro, and backing them up with Long Range attackers and high-power Netrunners like Spider Murphy, has done well so far.

What I find odd about the game is the extreme importance of having a good vehicle in play. Normally, when a team goes out to attempt an Op, they end up in the “Used” position (I’ll resist saying “Tapped”. Oh damn, there I go). The player then has to use a different team, or be done with Ops for the turn. With a vehicle, the team can go attempt as many Ops as the vehicle has movement points, and remain unused at the end (or make one more attempt beyond that, and become Used). With some vehicles providing 2-4 movement, and even adding to the team’s Short Range attack, Long Range attack, or Defense, having a vehicle in play early can win you the game.

It should be noted that the version we’re testing out is the preview release, Cyberpunk the CCG: 2013 (the year Mike Pondsmith set the original Cyberpunk RPG in). After GTS in March, Social Games will release Cyberpunk the CCG: 2020, with 60 more cards than 2013

I’ve played quite a few CCGs, from back when Magic: The Gathering‘s Legends set came out and through dozens of systems, until my eventual semi-retirement a few years ago. Is Cyberpunk the CCG worth coming out of CCG retirement? Yes it is, if only for the fact that it brought out feelings of nostalgic and immersive enjoyment that have eluded me for a while. It’s not a perfect game, and I still wouldn’t call myself an advanced Cyberpunk the CCG player, but for a few hours, I can get lost in the card combos and the thrill of activating my team of runners to raid my opponent’s Night City locales. Despite the game’s problems, I’m excited by the potential.

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