I bought the core set a while ago and now I'd like to get some more cards, afaik there are multiple ways to do that:

  • data packs
  • deluxe expansions
  • big box?

What's the difference between them? As I've read the data packs each belong to a cycle, what's that all about? What's the bigbox? I got that term from the wiki at reddit:

Unlike FFG's other Living Card Games, Netrunner doesn't require that you pick up the "big box" expansion before getting the data packs from that cycle.

I'd be really thankful for a quick summary of how all of this works.

4 Answers 4


Big Box expansions are deluxe expansions, those terms are synonymous. There are only 4 of these and they will always be tournament legal. Their structure focuses on specific factions (e.g., the first only pertained to HB and Shaper, with some neutral cards).

Data packs come in "cycles" of 6 packs, which cover all the factions and have an overarching theme (usually in terms of story or mechanics). We are currently on cycle 5 (the Mumbad cycle). At some point in the future, the first two cycles will rotate out of competitive play but that won't be for at least a year or two. If you are just playing casually, this won't affect you.

No matter what you buy, you can find information on which cards are available in each pack online. All packs should be available at your FLGS.

Unlike with some of FFG's other LCGs (e.g., for Lord of the Rings each deluxe expansion is necessary to play with the following adventure packs, but this is rare for the LCG model), in Netrunner you can pull cards from any expansion you want for your deck - so there is no need to buy everything unless you are a completionist (like many of us). This is what FFG meant in the above quote - you can play a Criminal deck without purchasing Honor & Profit (the big box expansion that features Criminal cards) - however, in most cases, the big boxes yield some great cards and are worth the investment!

As a practical tip, you can browse netrunnerdb.com for decks, and when viewing one that strikes your fancy, click Sort above the decklist and choose "By Set". That will tell you where all the cards for that particular list can be found.

Good luck and have fun!

  • 2
    By contrast, each set of 6 adventure packs in their LOTR card game needs the deluxe expansion that precedes it in order to be playable. You need Khazad-dûm in order to play The Redhorn Gate, and you need The Voice of Isengard in order to play The Dunland Trap. Jun 9, 2016 at 17:50
  • Ahh, I don't play LOTR so didn't know this detail. That is very interesting! Jun 9, 2016 at 18:13
  • Perhaps you can incorporate Andrew's comment to your answer? Jun 9, 2016 at 18:41
  • Sure, no problem - information about LOTR added. Jun 9, 2016 at 18:43
  • Might be worth like "e.g. Lord of the Rings". I'm just not sure about FFG's other LCGs (aGoT, WH40k Conquest, Warhammer Invasion). Jun 9, 2016 at 21:42

Just to augment the other answers, I find the left hand column of the card search on NetRunnerDB to be very helpful in explaining the Deluxe Expansions and Cycles, as it shows them in the order they were (or will be) released:


Here you can see the Core Set listed as #2 (ignore the Draft section for now), which was followed by the Genesis Cycle (#3) which contained 6 Data Packs (What Lies Ahead, Trace Amount, Cyber Exodus, etc.) and was followed by the first Deluxe ("Big Box") expansion: Creation and Control.

The pattern then repeats, which another Cycle (called Spin this time) of 6 Data Packs, followed by a Deluxe Expansion (Honor and Profit). As you can see, the last 2 Cycles (Mumbad and Flashpoint) have not been followed by a Deluxe Expansion, but the next Cycle (Red Sand) will be followed by Terminal Directive, which is a narrative expansion and will differ slightly from previous Deluxe Expansions and plays like a campaign/story, rather than like previous expansions.

The numbers in brackets after the Red Sand Data Packs and Terminal Directive indicate how many card designs are known so far. So we know what 7 of the 20 unique cards in the Station One Data Pack will be.

So to summarise, the various units of cards which you can buy are:

  • Core Set (~$30): You already know what this is as you have it!
  • Data Pack (~$15): Deck of 60 cards (generally 3 copies each of 20 new cards). These are grouped together in named sets of 6 Data Packs called Cycles.
  • Deluxe Expansion (~$25): Contains 165 cards (3 copies of 55 new cards), focusing on two specific factions (one Runner, one Corp) in each expansion (with the exception of Data and Destiny, which featured NBN and 3 new Runner mini-factions). Released between Cycles of Data Packs.
  • Narrative Expansion (~$30): Contains new Runner and Corp identities, sheets and stickers used to track progress and secret campaign cards. A core set is required to play a Narrative Expansion, it does not stand alone.

@Twitch_City's answer is good, I'm going to take a stab at a shorter alternative.

You only need to buy whatever Deluxe Expansions and Data Packs have the cards you want to play with. You can even play without the Core Set if you don't need any of the cards from it (which is unlikely - you probably want some of them), you can use pennies or pieces of colored paper or dice or whatever as tokens. Use NRDB to pick or build a deck you want to play, and buy the appropriate packs of cards.

From a long-term perspective if you care about Tournaments, Deluxe Expansions are never going out of rotation, so they'll always be in the potential pool of cards for deckbuilding. But that's not a very immediate concern.


Deluxe Expansions and Big Box mean the same thing. They are a larger expansion with 60 different cards (3 copies each), usually focused on providing cards for certain factions. They are ideal to purchase if you want to make a deck for those factions.

Data Packs are smaller expansions with 20 different cards (3 copies each), at a smaller price point, released more regularly.

The 'cycles' that the Data packs are released in include 6 packs based around a certain theme, often synergizing with each other or making use of a new mechanic.

You can check various online databases such as http://www.acoo.net/netrunner-cards-list/ to see what cards are in each pack. You will always get 3 copies of all of the cards in the pack.

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