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2016 Regionals Top Cut Data (Updated June 15th, 2016)

I think the Watchlist did a lot of what it was intended to do. It wasn’t perfect and new cards were released that helped out NBN a lot. HB and Kate were weakened, and to be fair so was NBN-it’s just that it has a lot of really fucking great cards in faction. I do hope the MWL gets updated soon to try and open up the meta some.

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I considered including something like this in my report, but it felt a bit too much like an interpretation of the data than just the data itself. Top cut data can be very noisy due to the fact that you can get knocked by losing with only one of your decks. It’s very hard to judge overperformance and underperformance of IDs with such a small sample size.

It’s also really hard to draw meaning from this data due to the variance of player skill. If there was a top 8 filled with 7 new players and Dan D’Argenio, Dan is going to win that tournament no matter what ID he is playing. If we really wanted to be able to actually test how good decks themselves are, we would have to run several top cuts where decks were assigned randomly to players, and repeat it enough to see performance data that comes through despite skill.

It’s still interesting data, so thanks for providing it! Just wanted to share some of my thoughts and approach to the data, trying my best to only draw the conclusions that are reasonable to draw.

For example, we can look at the data and see that Whizzard is everywhere. But that doesn’t tell is that Whizzard is “overpowered”, it just tells us Whizzard is prevalent. If we wanted to demonstrate that Whizzard was overpowered, then we would have to do lots of tests of Whizzard against other corps in a manner that lessens the impact of player skill. Presumably, this is what players actually do before they decide to bring a deck to a tournament, but sometimes it’s a last-minute decision to bring a netdeck, relying on someone else’s testing and experience. We can’t even reliably assume players take decks that they think have the best chance of winning a tournament; they may instead bring decks that they simply find more fun, or are more comfortable playing, even if they don’t think it’s the best deck at the moment.

The data also presents a chicken-and-egg problem, where on one side, you can say “Look, two people top 8’d a 121-player regional in the UK with IG, that means IG is really powerful!” and on the other hand, you can say “Alex White and Dave Hoyland are both excellent players, they were likely to make top 8 regardless of what they played!” Once again, it’s difficult to really say anything about how good or bad an ID or a deck is based on its presence or absence from a top cut is (or whether it won).

There’s a lot more to say on this, but I just wanted to clarify why I’m very hesitant to start trying to draw conclusions from the data that the data might not actually support, which is why I just decided to report the data in a pretty simple format, just looking at representation. You can determine what you will from it, but I’m going to try to be pretty reserved about it.

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It’s definitely important to be reserved about what we can say, but it’s important to keep in mind that having this lets us say some things that we couldn’t without.

For instance, what the data tells us is what players experience during a tournament, and so it reveals something about their prior beliefs about the game’s balance. At a certain point, arguments about what is truly the case as far as faction power are vastly less important than what appears to be the case. Having this information gives us a view into the appearances, and game balance tweaks operate on precisely this level. (i.e. if Criminal and Weyland are secretly the best decks, but the meta is for whatever reason convinced that Anarch and NBN are for whatever reason, the game designers have to account for that perception when they’re making balance choices via restriction, MWL, or printing new cards. You have to change player perception or you won’t see that ‘true power’ shine. You could even write articles to highlight matchups or commentate games!)

We don’t have this data in all cases, but we can test the hypothesis via sample thanks to Acoo. For instance at the St. Louis regional (cherry pick success!):

and I’d encourage folks to do so. Point being: it’s not impossible to make these sorts of claims given what we do have.

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I’ve added a link to my OP with the full spreadsheet of results so far. Data nerds, have a field day.

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This is probably impossible to know, but I am curious for the biotech people, how often they’re playing anything other than The Brewery in any particular game.

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Isn’t Mumba Temple the only new card that anyone but @spags uses in their post-MWL NEHFA builds? I think it’s very telling that NEHFA is as strong as it is even if they only got one new toy in the whole cycle.

Mumba, Sensie. The bulk of the support came in D&D or the back end of the last cycle - assassin, archangel, turnpike, GFI, explode, 15mins, ASI, team sponsership

EoI probably takes it in a new direction

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There is also Sensie Actors Union, and how good some the Data and Destiny ice were was undervalued (Resistor and Turnpike).

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I haven’t played Biotech in a few months now, but I built a real Chimera of a deck that was a mix of rush and kill. Depending on my first 5 cards, one of those plans would look better than the other, and I would pick my ID (either greenhouse of brewery) based on the first 5.

I’d try to keep my ID face-down for as much of the match as possible. My best wins typically used Biotic Labor to:
FA a Nisei
Score a never-advance TFP to win from 4 points
EMP or Ronin into a Brewery flip.

No matter what, it is important that you play hard on the kill possibility. This is different from NEH, where your deck either had Biotic Labor or SE in it, and once the runner saw the card they would know for sure, this deck has all of the cards for either option. The runner won’t know what you are planning until you do it.

Ultimately the ID is pretty difficult to play, since it forces the corp to play most of the game with a blank ID.

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Wow. I knew that yellow was the best, but seeing it laid out in black and white is hilarious. NEH, more than the next 2 PUT TOGETHER. Hilarious. There are more NEH than the entire rep of Jinteki, HB or Weyland.

On the runner side, the situation is somehow even worse. Anarch is just slightly less than Crim + Shaper+ neutral…doubled! There are more Whizzard reps than ANY OTHER THREE RUNNERS.

A modest proposal. Remove all text from Astroscript Pilot Program, it is now a blank 3/2. Remove David from the game. Parasite no longer destroys Ice one it reaches 0 strength. Yellow and Red probably still run the table, but it would be a start.

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Also remove all core set Anarch/NBN cards from the game, along with all of their identities except Quetzal and TWIY

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Random musing, but would it help diversify things a bit if there was a incentive to play other factions at events? Like, say, a Top of Faction prize? I mean, you don’t really get anything of note if you don’t win, so might as well bring whatever the FOTM bandwagon is currently and go for broke.

didn’t they have that at worlds, or am i thinking of one of the side events?

It would be a nice way to create diversification in the tournaments if they had other forms of prize support in game night kits.

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Sorry, I should have clarified that Sensie is the card that I have only seen played by spags. At least nobody in Germany seems to play it.

I think part of the reason for NEH FA dominance despite MWL is that MWL cut out the influence they were spending on ice, but D&D gave them some pretty insane ice so they could survive without it. I still think it was a good move to keep butchershop in chek and prevent them from having an even crazier ice suite. That and glacier is in a bad spot at the moment, if you don’t wanna glacier you’ve got NEH and IG and IG is both newer and thus more effort to learn and also a lot slower to play.

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My analysis of the corp meta game before this was that NEH is the best deck, other NBN decks are fine, and IG is your next best option if you want to win a tournament. Anything else is dicey.

I think this data supports that theory.

It’s not that the game is way out of whack - it only takes a couple of good glacier cards - particularly powerful high influence ice - in HB and Weyland for those decks to start returning to the top tables.

I honesty think IG is a bigger problem in the meta than people think. It prevents natural balancing of the meta by punishing people who play shaper or crim, which both have more game against NEH.

At the moment, if you bring a deck that’s better against NEH, you probably die horribly to IG, so you bring Whizzard anyway and then you’re 40-60 or so in your NEH match and up against the rest of the field.

Without IG, or with that deck slightly less consistent due to MWL Museum or Mumba Temple, the runner meta would be way, way more diverse.

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It’s too true. I wouldn’t dream of bringing anything but Anarch to a competitive event, because of the Asset decks and IG in general. It makes perfect sense that the thriving faction is the one best at undermining the fundamentals of the game, since that’s what Corps are doing. I’ve expressed it before, but I feel that the meta has been going back and forth since Caprice. Runners try to figure out a way to subvert the Corps, with oppressive/alternate strategies. Corps then respond. Compared to Anarch, Criminals and Shapers have far fewer tools to play ‘unfairly.’

I wasn’t around in the beginning, but my experience of the meta has been this:

  1. Corps will protect servers with layers of ICE, and play a mixture of traps, assets and agendas.
  2. Runners will run more economy and better breakers. Scoring windows become smaller.
  3. Corps will protect their servers with upgrades that force two or more runs on the same server: Caprice and Ash.
  4. Runners are frustrated by fruitless runs. They decide to start playing outside the box. Enter DLR; enter Bagbiter; enter Apocalypse; enter Dumblefork; enter Hyperdriver+Keyhole.
  5. Corps realize ICE can no longer protect them. Scoring windows are laughably small, or totally nonexistent. Their clicks and credits are better invested in increasingly powerful assets and oppressive strategies: enter IG; enter Gagarin; return of Butchershop; continued popularity of NEH Fastro.
  6. What’s next?
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Criminal maybe. But Shaper?

Up until the release of Ramujan-Reliant 550 BMI, Shaper had a monopoly on net damage prevention. If people choose to consistently slot defense against death to meat damage blasts but not net damage pings, then that’s not a problem with the cards. If it’s a problem, then it’s a problem with the deckbuilding hivemind choosing that it’s going to give diffuse net damage decks an easier time than concentrated meat damage decks.

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