Are we in a "pick your poison" meta?

Heard one of the hosts on the Breaking News podcast recently say that we were in a meta where no matter what deck you picked you are going to have at least one really bad match up. The best thing, to do, he said was to just choose a deck that does as well as possible vs some matches and has its near auto-loss match vs a less common or uncommon deck type.

Is this true? Are there no good “all around” decks right now?

Has this always been the case?

I’m not sure, I think the meta is really great right now. I got pretty negative pre-MWL 1.2 but I’m having a blast right now, mainly because I don’t see as much Bioethics around which is—what’s the opposite of a pet card, a pet hate card?

There are a lot of slick, fancy, elaborate corp decks going around and that’s fine by me. Each corp faction seems better represented than last year and has one or two good archetypes. It seems there’s a lot of spam and kill, but I don’t consider these as bad matchups for any runner as prison matchups. The first time I played against an Estelle Moon deck, I won without too much stress. It seemed to do absolutely nothing but draw and install cards that installed other cards. I slammed Medium and Turning Wheel, the end. I’ve since seen Moon piloted better but I still don’t dislike or fear the deck. I guess the “bad matchup” on the corp side is probably anything vs Whizzard, but is it really? I’ve been seeing Whizzard players get overwhelmed and neglect to just, you know, try to access cards that are unlikely to be a 45th Advanced Assembly Lines…

I guess it’s on the runner side lots of Whizzard and Andy, a bit of MaxX, Smoke, and a few idiosyncratic Hayley and Kate builds going around. The Criminal and Anarch players can probably field a strong build against any of the current corps. Account Siphon and/or Temujin (honourable mention DLR) are just so strong out of Anarch or Criminal. Shaper is the only one that seems to uniformly struggle with bad matchups. I’m pretty off Shaper at the moment anyway. Even though I’ve been seeing some Shaper decks that rival Sifr level of bustedness, they die to creepy rigshooter stuff which, somewhat mercifully, is also popular at the moment. Aside from Smoke, I’d say anyone playing Shaper decks with lots of specialized 1x cards, playing without a degree of breaker redundancy/protection (or relying on an econ engine like Aesop’s) are the ones who will have these specific bad matchups…

All in all there’s lots to love right now, and fewer bad matchups for everyone with Prison and CTM no longer in ascendance.


It kinda feels like in an asymetric game there being a ‘pick your poison’ meta is good, right? Like, we don’t want there to be a corp or runner with no bad matchups, because then everyone would be on that deck and the meta would define itself around it. SIFR/Medium/Ice Destruction unto victory anyone?


I don’t think I fundamentally disagree with you, but there’s a difference between “no bad matchups” and “all good matchups”. I’m fine with there being a deck that’s just over 50% across the board, in preference to a situation where every matchup has one side at 60%+ to win before you even start but that bias is evenly distributed among matchups. I don’t think we really are in the latter situation (so I disagree with the proposition in the OP), but it’s certainly possible to have a variety of different types of healthy meta.

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This meta isn’t perfect, but it’s so much better than the other metas of the recent past that I’m pretty happy. My biggest complaint is FIHP - card should be MWL’d (I would prefer tier 3, but even tier 1 would be better than nothing).

and as for the “Has this always been the case?” question, I think that for a while ANR was really good at not having horrible matchups, but now that so many problematic cards have been printed (Faust being the first) horrible matchups are more common.

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Part of the problem is simply that without rotation and the rumored Core 2, there are too many strong cards/strategies such that one can’t really defend against them all. Which paradoxically pushes players toward more linear strategies (I’m thinking Dyper, 24/7, and CI) which move faster and thus shorten the window for the opponent to win the game, which encourages their opponents to pack more hate, and downward through the spiral.

If there are four broken cards to plan for, you can position yourself to trump their game plan, but at six or seven it’s almost impossible to pack that many hate cards and be consistent. (See Anarchs trying to choose between Employee Strike, Hacktivist Meeting, and Rumor Mill.) You either go fast enough that you don’t need to be disruptive (and thus provoke other players to disrupt you), or you pack as much hate as you can and hope you dodge the un-hated matchups.

This is the natural consequence of FFG’s overly conservative rotation schedule. It’s just a shame it had to occur over regionals/nationals-time. Once the game gets cleaned out, there’ll be enough room to clean out Friends, Aaron, etc. and hopefully put the game back into equilibrium - where combo decks are fewer and, like my post-rotation 7-point CI, sufficiently susceptible to hate cards.

The problem with rotation is that are so many problematic cards, as you call them, in the last three cycles. I would almost prefer a meta that rotated out mumbad and flashpoint and left spin and genesis playable.

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Spin and Genesis have their own cards that are part of the problematic combos from Mumbad/Flashpoint cards (False Echo, DLR, Accelerated Diagnostics) or otherwise arguably too strong or noninteractive (Beale/Vitruvius, Caprice, Jackson himself, Whizzard/Andromeda, Plascrete, Blackmail). I think rotating them will shake up the game quite a bit.

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What Kopiok said, plus Boggs has suggested that FFG pressured him to not put too many cards on the MWL list (presumably for the same reason that they didn’t want a banlist). Once cards rotate, there’ll be more room on the MWL list, even though the card pool has contracted, and then hopefully FFG will let him list Friends, Aaron, Moon, etc.


Despite my own personal dislike of Jackson and Caprice, I don’t think any of the cards in the latter set are all that bad. As for the combos, it’s kind of a “one hand clapping” situation. Blackmail was fine when the only ways to get BP were Frame Job and corporate hubris. So do we blame them for printing Val in a world where Blackmail exists, or for having printed Blackmail in a world in which Val could someday subsequently exist? I’d say the former–though I think your case is strongest with Accelerated Diagnostics; that card really was a design catastrophe waiting to happen.

If you remove flashpoint and mumbad, you’d have to ban dlr, blackmail and false echo, and reprint polop. AD is already fixed by the PS errata, and the rest of your cards have never been the problem. Keeping mumbad and flashpoint leaves aaron, temu, sifr, bio-ethics, friends, sensie, rumor mill, (not faust), museum and mumbad city hall, and that is not even an exhaustive list

(edit: ooops!)

Not that it invalidates your point, but for precision’s sake: Faust is not in Mumbad/Flashpoint. (It’s SanSan.)

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I personally feel like I’m in a bad match-up if some of the core cards to my strategy are blanked or made negligible. I used to play rush corp decks until Faust got really popular; the ability to break through any number of ice wall / quandary / etc for free once a Faust hit the table meant that I had to score out before they found 1 breaker, not 3 separate ones.

The same effect happens with Yog and some other early cards. I’ve got a bad match-up against Yog if a lot of my ice are low-str code gates.

The difference from a deckbuilding standpoint is this: If I don’t want to have a bad time against Yog, I choose different ice and put them into the same deck. If I don’t want to have a bad time against Faust, I can’t play a rush deck.

So that’s the rub, ya? Powerful cards can invalidate other cards and it’s fine in terms of Meta-Health. Overpowered cards invalidate entire strategies, thereby restricting what decks are even viable in the meta.

Are we in a meta where every deck has a prevalent overpowered counter? I’m not sure. I feel more limited with my corp options than I do runner.


Rumor Mill invalidates defensive upgrades, and therebye most IA/IAA glacier strategies. Aaron invalidates tagstorm and most tag’n’bag strats. Stealth, with the recurring credits, invalidates NA strategies that try to tax out the runner by having him check the remote multiple times. Feedback filter blocks net damage kills. And Faust invalidates rush, as you noted.

With the mwl no deck can use all these cards. But all of them apart from FF are common in tournaments. Hence 10 hb decks in the cut at euros, most of them Moon decks.