We’re fast approaching the flavor packed SanSan cycle, the dust still hasn’t settled from Order and Chaos, and all kinds of unexpected decks are still making top tables. This post has a lot of Opinions and Joeks so please feel free to disregard everything I say.
What can you build into a competitive deck right now? To quote Kevin Garnett, “Anything is possible.”
But to be more precise, “anything that targets your local meta is possible.” Viable decks are so diverse that you can’t make a ‘good against everything’ deck anymore, but local meta knowledge can let you make a ‘good against three things’ deck and cruise to a 6-1 record. A good example of this deck building approach is what’s been going down in Seattle. Out here in the PNW, Seattle has been making waves with the now infamous au revoir CT deck and now @CJFM 's Reina denial deck. They’ve received the usual myopic criticisms that almost everyone is guilty of. I know I’m guilty of it. “I’ve never lost to this deck so it must be trash, and the player is trash, and their opponents were trash, and their meta is trash. The entire region is a garbage factory. I do not respect things I am not personally involved in. I am uncertain that the moon landings occurred. I have never met Bill Murray and therefore I do not believe he exists.” But in addition to that usual deluge, these decks have been criticized for the ultimate sin of having bad matchups. Well up in Seattle they’re living in an ice age, because Glacier is the prevailing corp archetype and both these decks have the capacity to totally crush it. Building a deck that targets your meta’s popular decks isn’t jank, it’s smart, unless it has Hard at Work in it. Then it is jank and I legit will not trust you on your netrunner opinions or opinions on most things.
As a counterpoint, slightly south in PDX we have a corp meta that will look more familiar to most people with RP, NEH, and Blue Sun being the majority of successful decks with HB:ETF being the dark horse. Non-siphon spam Maxx, which I guess thanks to @mediohxcore we get to call RAMaxX until the sun eats this shitty planet, has strong matchups against both vanilla NEH-biotics and RP and has had success in our meta (she’s had two first place finishes and at Rainy Day Games’ SC both 1st and 2nd ran Maxx/RP with NEH/Blue Sun and Kate/Andy/Leela making up the rest of the cut). Looking out into the wider world, this matchup advantage has been reflected in a lot of store championship winning lists with MaxX having consistent strong showings. At this point her success can’t be dismissed as ‘no one knows how to play against her it’s all luck’. But it’s definitely possible to tech against her variants, and although her ubiquity has died down she and another very popular deck, prepaid kate with heavy recursion, share a weakness against chronos project. Is HB fast advance with chronos project an easy win against two of the most popular decks around and therefore the best corp deck currently? I haven’t played with it or against it and have only seen a few winning lists play it like @PeekaySK 's , but the answer is obviously “yes”. And it will be the best deck for seven more days, when clot comes out and kills it.
A lot of people are pretty certain clot is going to kill NEH:FA. I disagree. You can’t kill something that’s already dead. To be real though, enough popular runner decks have either a neutral or above average matchup with NEH-biotics that at this point it’s a higher than average variance corp deck that can both lose immediately or make huge comebacks on fortunate misses and draws. It can blow a game out on a lucky pairing or get blown out by an unlucky one. The Quetzal siphon decks floating around stomp its nuts. It’s still strong but it’s not magic anymore, it’s just card games, and whether you play an NEH variant or not is an actual choice.
And this is the fundamental moral of the story. Nothing is good all the time everyday anymore, so building a deck that might appear jank on a macro level is totally fine or even advantageous if it is tailored to your local competition. So play with au revoir, chronos project, whizzard, deep thought, whatever card you feel has a place at the moment. Once regionals roll around and people start migrating then yeah, playing something with less upside and but also less downside in different matchups will probably be the better strategy. But right now you’re not trying to beat the planet, you’re trying to beat your neighbor, so build their nightmare deck and jeopardize your friendship for your best shot at card game glory.