I find Android: Netrunner to be one of the most thematically rich games I've ever played. The role of credits is obvious in many of the interactions and mechanics; in the game, much like in real life, everything costs money. One major use for credits, however, I find thematically elusive: the runner spends credits to strengthen their icebreaker programs and break subroutines. Much of the core action in the game, running on servers, comes down to whether the runner has made enough money and can afford to turn it into a successful run. How does this use for money make sense, in-world?

1 Answer 1


Imagine a team of criminals planning to rob a bank. They need money to:

  • Buy and maintain equipment
  • Conduct dummy runs
  • Bribe corrupt police officers to get information or turn a blind eye
  • Upgrade the getaway vehicle
  • Pay for fuel/food/cool hideouts etc.

In my mind, similar espionage costs apply to the runner. Let's take the icebreaker Yog.0 as an example, which has the fluff text:

The Yog.0 database is a crowdsourced compilation of sniffed, spoofed, and logged passkeys. If the key to the gate is in the database, you're in. If it's not, change the gate!

Pumping up the strength represents that the gate you've come too is causing trouble and you need to 'emergency crowdsource' a key (read as 'pay some shady guy to give you the key for this gate'), or similar workarounds.

  • Yes; things like getaway vehicles and bribery are the subject of many runner cards. That is all understandable, and again, the use of credits makes sense thematically for the most part. But note that I'm not asking about paying for hardware, or events, or even programs. I'm asking specifically about strengthening icebreakers and paying to break subroutines
    – user30903
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 15:20
  • I see spending credits on icebreakers, thematically, as spending money on renting servers to use that program on (the more servers your breaker is running on, the stronger it is). And then the cost to break is the cost to actually deploy your program on the various remotes (subroutines as separate spaces). But that's just speculation :) Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 15:37
  • Interesting that you use Yog.0 as an example, since it can't be strengthened and it doesn't cost money to break subroutines... Again, this works thematically as a "free" icebreaker, but I'm still left to wonder what the ones that require pumping up with credits represent
    – user30903
    Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 22:34
  • I actually picked Yog.0 because it had some background text on that was more than just a few words.
    – user10232
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 9:15

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