Announcing the Liberation Cycle

As the lights of the Aurora recede on the horizon, we leave the frozen north behind and sail towards a new hemisphere. Welcome to Brazil, and welcome to the Liberation Cycle.

Liberation Cycle announcement banner

The Liberation Cycle is Null Signal Games’s third narrative cycle for Netrunner, and will comprise two sets of 65 cards each. We are pleased to announce the first set of this cycle, which is entitled The Automata Initiative and will be released in Q3 2023. 

Brazil has long been a haven for androids of all kinds, with human rights extended to both clones and bioroids within its borders. Neither can be owned or sold, and all are emancipated upon crossing the border into Brazil. Instigated by the Order of Sol, grown strong in both social and political power, the laws that enshrine the rights of androids have been accepted and sat unchallenged for decades.

Until now.

A new law project, or bill, has just been introduced into both houses of the Brazilian parliament that would strip bioroids of those very rights and protections. The titular “Automata Initiative”, this law project would enshrine the status of bioroids as robots without soul or sentience, and return all residing within Brazil to lives of servitude. Despite all expectations to the contrary, there is growing support within the Brazilian government for the bill, bringing with it suspicions of corruption, corporate meddling, and growing social unrest.

With this storm rising overhead, the status quo of the wealthy South American nation is being challenged by this very act, raising again the perennial question: what makes a person, a person? What corporate machinations could be behind this? How will Jinteki and Haas-Bioroid respond? Which voices among the Brazilian people will rise up to answer these growing threats?

Liberation set icon

For the set symbol, we have selected the silhouette of a sabiá bird, also known as the rufous-bellied thrush. It is the national bird of Brazil, and has strong associations with hope and the spirit of the Brazilian people. Their song is often thought of as “the song of the common people.” Sabiá birds have been featured in numerous poems and songs, notably Canção do exílio (Song of Exile) by Brazilian poet Antônio Gonçalves Dias, which references the thrush’s song as a symbol of his homeland’s beauty. Given the themes which inform the cycle, such as the fight for freedom, the mobilization of working people, and the hope of a new life for clones and bioroids, it seemed a perfect fit. The set symbol was designed by a member of our visual team, artist and graphic designer David Prieto.

When it comes to gameplay, the Liberation Cycle introduces a new mechanic which will be found on both Corp and Runner cards. A new concept for card design which enables power levels to scale as the game goes on and creates wild haymaker plays at crucial points of the match, this mechanic has proven to be such a natural fit to the tense ebb and flow of Netrunner that we believe it will become an evergreen part of the game. 

Additionally, the cycle will feature:

  • Lots of new connections, so you can build your revolutionary crew.
  • A cycle of sysops that all share an ability.
  • A Shaper run event that targets HQ.
  • A new 3-point agenda (sort of) for every Corp faction.
  • Three new weapons.
  • A subtype combination that has only appeared on one other card.
  • The first bioroid Corp card outside of HB, and the first card with both the clone and bioroid subtypes.

Production Status

Production for the cycle set is continuing under the new process we described in our last production article. We’ve settled into a sustainable pattern of cycling between develop, peer review, and hand-off for each stage in card production. This has created a steady drip of cards coming through the development pipeline.

Some teething problems with the new production methodology have prompted us to push the projected release date back slightly, to Q3. However, we have found our footing, and this has allowed us to proceed forward with confidence. 

Our set split has been completed, meaning we know which cards will be in set 1 and which in set 2. The entire cycle has also been “concept locked”, meaning that we have a general idea of what each card will do. This status signals to the visual and narrative teams that a card is stable enough for thematic work, such as the art brief, to proceed. Meanwhile, the development team continue testing and refining the precise implementation of the concept. 

We’ll be releasing a full production article with more details in the coming weeks.

Set Rotation and Legality

Upon its release, The Automata Initiative will immediately become legal in the Startup, Standard, and Eternal card pools. There will be a two week grace period before it becomes legal for competitive-tier Organized Play tournaments. The Automata Initiative will also trigger a rotation for Standard: upon its release, the Flashpoint Cycle and Data & Destiny will no longer be Standard-legal. It will not trigger a rotation for Startup. 

The Look of Liberation

We’re excited by the artists we’ve commissioned for this set. You will see a lot of familiar names and styles, as well as some new ones. Specifically, we are working with a number of Brazilian artists to ensure the Liberation Cycle comes to life in a way that feels authentic and exciting.

As a hint of what’s to come, we’d like to show off the first completed piece of Liberation Cycle art, a new piece by BalanceSheet

Art by BalanceSheet
Art by BalanceSheet

We look forward to sharing more details about this set with you soon. Get your crew together and get organized–the fight for liberation is coming!