Bioroids can’t kill people. So why are people in New Angeles turning up dead, murdered by a bioroid, in Terminal Directive, the Campaign Expansion for Fantasy Flight Games tentpole LCG (Living Card Game) Android: Netrunner? Over the course of about 8-15 unique games, you’re going to find out.
What makes Terminal Directive different from previous expansions is that it doesn’t just provide you with a lot of new cards to add to your Netrunner decks (although it does that, too). Terminal Directive contains an entirely new way of playing Netrunner: a campaign mode. In the campaign, you will build decks using the cards from the set, plus one Netrunner core set, and play them with the same person until you finish the campaign and solve the murders. One player will choose from one of the two corporations (Seidr Laboratories, a division of Haas-Bioroid, or Skorpios Defense Systems, a Weyland subsidiary), and the other will choose from one of the two runners (the Shaper, Ayla “Bios” Rahim, or the Criminal, Steve Cambridge), and keep that identity for the entire campaign (although you can, and will, modify your deck between games).
The campaign provides sealed packs of cards and stickers that you’ll set aside and only open when it tells you to, beginning with Set 1. To advance your side of the story as fast as you can, you’ll need to win games using the cards provided in the pack – for example, the first corporation pack includes three agendas that, if you win having scored one, you’ll get to advance to Set 2. Otherwise, you’ll need to win multiple games to advance.
Each Set also includes narrative decisions for you to make, which will give you additional abilities, goals, or conditions during your next game: things like gaining credits when the other player steals or scores an agenda, a 1-use ability to shuffle your hand into your deck and redraw, a side-goal of trashing player cards, or restrictions on how many or how few credits you can have in your credit pool. All of these abilities and conditions come in the form of stickers you add to a PAD in front of you, so you can easily see your progress. As you advance through sets, stickers will be replaced or covered. Meeting your goals will unlock new sets with powerful cards for you to use the next game. Failing to meet a condition will also unlock sets... ones with really unfortunate consequences.
The campaign mode is a fascinating and refreshing new way to play Netrunner for players who might have gotten a little bored with nothing but tournament-level play. But, don’t mistake it for easy mode – even with a much smaller card pool, the added complications from the campaign add serious depth of play, and they’ll change significantly between games.
Much like Rob Daviau’s Legacy series of games, you’ll only be able to play through the campaign once, but it’ll be quite a ride. For some players, that thought might be a turn-off for a $40 MSRP campaign box. However, there are still just as many new tournament-legal cards in Terminal Directive as there are in one of the previous deluxe expansions for Netrunner ($30 MSRP), and players will still want to get their hands on those. So, a better way to think of it is that you get a deluxe expansion, plus paying $10 for the campaign (and a really big box). At $10, it’s unquestionably worth trying the campaign.
The new tournament-legal cards are nothing to sneeze at, either, with something for everybody. Criminals receive some very efficient icebreakers, while Shapers get a versatile set that can each be used to break two different kinds of ice. Weyland gains a welcome boost to its suite of advanceable ice, and Haas-Bioroid’s Ultraviolet and Black-Level Clearances exemplify the corporation’s trademark deadly efficiency. Even the factions not featured have something to gain, with runners gaining access to the mysterious Shadow Net and corporations getting to perform a profitable IPO. Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough... you get a really big, nice box.