Ban vs restricted philosophy

I was imagining what it would be like if the restricted cards were just ban. I understand why they are restricted and I think that it’s an elegant solution in some ways. Props to the design team. Still, I’m asking for peoples thoughts and philosophies on the topic.

One thought, rather than have cards that are acknowledged to a bit imbalanced why not just ban them and print new versions in a new data pack. Release a version of Obokato that cost 3 damage to steal or a version of Film Critic that you have to trash with each use, or something like that. The cards still have important roles in the meta-game to fulfill so replacements would be necessary, but they don’t have to still give players that feeling we know so well when your entire deck concept gets hard countered for 2 credits. I’m thinking of Film Critic in particular here but the same concept applies to a few of them.

While they are at, maybe even makes Jeeves 1 less to trash and ban CI/release a new version where your credits are equal to your HQ limit up to 8 cards or something. in a game of 1000 cards, there are certainly a couple of cards that could benefit from some tweak.

I always compare to Netrunner’s meta to the kind of metas you see with esports or MMOG’s. Those games have the benefit of of offering system wide patches. This is obviously impractical when dealing with B&M card-printing factories, but some equivalent process in the more extreme cases could only make a good game better, IMHO.

Or do you think the restricted cards add a fun element, having that one power card you are thrilled to draw or something like that?

I do think it adds a fun element, not so much because of the thrill of the power card, but because it’s interesting to force different kinds of deckbuilding choices than we’re used to.

If I could choose between that and instantaneous free patches, obviously I’d choose the latter, but as an answer to “is there a way to make these cards playable enough, short of scrapping them and charging everyone $15 for replacements,” I think the restricted list is pretty good.


The banned cards are cards that truly ruin the game. If I have Aaron, you can’t kill or tag me (short of MCA Informant). If I have Faust, most ice just doesn’t matter. If I have FIHP, why even bother trashing things. If I fire Sensie turn 1, you might as well concede. If I have Temu or Bloo Moose, I get absurd amounts of money for free. It’s not literally impossible to beat these cards, but I would be surprised if anyone thought that the game would be more fun with them unbanned. And I think they did a great job picking which cards to ban - all of them (except maybe CSM) definitely needed to be banned.

The restricted cards are more fuzzy. At the end of the day it’s like the original MWL: an effort to make deckbuilding more interesting by making it harder to just play all the best cards. I think the restriction system is a lot better than the influence penalty system - spending influence is fun!


I used to be in favour of errata rather than banning/restricting. Then I tried to build a legal Destiny deck (a game I don’t follow as closely so I didn’t remember all the errata off the top of my head), and flipped the table in rage when I realised half an hour later that the point cost of one of my characters was bumped by 2 so my idea wouldn’t work anymore.
So yeah, it’s tempting to just errata a card whose numbers are just a little off, but then it adds up, because designers are human and they screw up, and before you know it you need 4 post-its on each card to remember all the changes that have been made to it.


Given the delay time between development and release, we would receive these cards at least a year later. I don’t think being subtle nerfs means that they can skip testing—if Obokata with 3 net damage was oppressive then it’d just be another problem that cannot be reacted to quickly. Furthermore, now several slots of data packs are taken up with derivative designs, limiting the new things we have access to. Each meta might successively trend towards a less powerful version of the former one.

As you point out, these sorts of changes just aren’t possible for physical card games like they are for Hearthstone, where the stats on a card can be adjusted. If WotC can’t do it for Magic, then FFG definitely doesn’t have the resources for Netrunner. The reason why banned/restricted lists are a good tool is that they’re flexible and quick, relative to other means.

I personally enjoy the restricted list as guessing/knowing your opponent’s restricted card becomes ingrained in game play, an interesting twist. You can hide that you’re on Film Critic or Employee Strike until a vital moment. The elegance of the MWL was that it used an in-built Netrunner mechanic (influence) to hinder the use of overpowered cards, but that proved too easy to abuse (e.g. mono-Anarch decks or Lock Hayley spending most of its influence on Faust & Rumor Mill). The r/b list is better at dealing with problem cards and also adds a nice game play twist. We can debate the list itself endlessly but I think it’s a great mechanism.


I really do wish they could at least Print-on-Demand updated/errata’d cards just so people that want updated text on cardboard could get it.

One of the main reasons I went out of my way to hunt down a Builder of Nations alt-art, just so I could have the errata right there in front of me so I didn’t have to explain it every. single. game.


Oh they do it all the time, functional reprints with added tweaks or costs are commonplace. They just do it once the card has rotated out, and not always.

That takes years though. It’s similar to Account Siphon being replaced by Diversion of Funds but it’s not a card that’s currently seeing play suddenly being live-errata’d the way that digital card games do.

I don’t really imagine it being as hard as all that.
I understand what is involved and by and by I don’t think every little errata or tweak has to be addressed the way an online game sees patches.
However, the restricted list is one a few cards that could all be pretty easily smoothed out. They print out promo cards all the time to give away at tourneys. Once a year releasing a pack of 10 cards that were tweeked doesn’t seem wildly cost prohibitive.

It’s a small thing and I see why they don’t bother but its such a brilliant, well-thought out and interesting game and the I sort of feel like addressing the very most egregious bumps in the road would just be a cool thing to do. I mean, whatever I guess.

In a lot of ways, I wish they would just switch over to being an online game as Jinteki offers so much to the game anyway. I, personally, would rather just pay a few bucks a month to subscribe online and have things like patches be part of the game rather than knowing that there is a major financial barrier for new players to play competitive.

Even for the promo cards, they generally require stores to order them six months ahead, so they wouldn’t come out as fast as one might expect.

And having two versions of a card that have the same name but work differently in some important way seems like it would be confusing. Even if the logistics could be figured out, I think I’d prefer bans.


I know this isn’t exactly a hot thread but I think about this a lot.

I think most restricted cards are fine as restricted. Cards like Magnum Opus, Hunter Seeker or Levy are made more interesting as restricted. They are fun to build around and choosing among them is a fun element to deck design.

A card like Film Critic though isn’t just a card that it too powerful, it’s a hard counter to whole deck archetypes. There are a lot of examples but for the sake of discussion let me just use one to try to get my idea across. You can’t really be competitive as Harpsichord Studios in a meta where Film Critic exists. In fact, Worse than that, it’s not even really fun. If you ban that one card, you allow entire, rather elegant deck archetypes to be playable. So the idea of being more liberal with banning cards actually creates a more diverse and interesting game with more interesting possibilities and flavors.

I think that if a cards existence essentially forces a huge amount of otherwise interesting and balanced cards out of the game, that card is doing the game itself a disservice.

So many of the agendas in the new cycle have such interesting “when stolen” triggers, Ikawah Project, Viral Breeding Ground, SSL Contract, etc. But if most people are playing a card that negates those effects, what is the point of even playing them? There are such cool, interesting agendas and agenda-related effects in the game and so many games are completely robbed of that dynamic.

Obokata Project is such a cool, fun card but if Critic were ban, it would have to go too. I think that those two cards are the only cards actively hurting the game. Although if Museum of History disappeared, I don’t think anyone would really cry, ya know?


I fully agree, Film Critic can die in hell together with Aaron. It just does too much. It stops on-encounter effects, it stops additional costs, and it gets around “if the runner stole an agenda” conditional punisher cards. If it did just 2 of the 3 maybe, MAYBE it would be ok, but all 3 is just ridiculous.

I don’t think most people actually are playing Film Critic though, specifically because it’s restricted. In the Worlds 2017 top 16 cut, none of them were on Critic. Even still, I was on a Jinteki deck that would be heavily hurt by Film Critic, so I ran cards to counter it - MCA Informant and Voter Intimidation. Looking at current Store Champ results, only a Smoke or two seems to be on Critic.

You describe it as “essentially forces a huge amount of otherwise interesting and balanced cards out of the game”, but it’s not actually doing that. Again, looking at the actual results in the meta, all three of the Jinteki decks in the top cut not only decided to play Obokata, but did so with it on the restricted list. The NBNs played Quantum Predictive Models.

When Skorpios came out, it was said that it would force MaxX out of the meta. Yet Skorpios is still around and MaxX has won at least 7 Store Champs this season by my count.

The fact that some cards counter others is the nature of the card game. But the actual impact Film Critic is having on the game seems to be smaller than you’re suggesting.


Would Critic be better if, say, it had to trash itself for the process effect? I mean, it’s not like the Corp is just going to sit idle while someone leaks their plans.

Has a idea for a alternate version that was like Personal Workshop, except the number of counters/clicks it took to clear scaled off the number of points the agenda was worth… or maybe advancement requirement?

I like your suggestions, as I personally am not a fan of Film Critic, but I recognize that a strong counter is necessary against cards as powerful as Obokata.

But given where we are, I don’t think Film Critic should be errata’d in such a fashion. I don’t think Film Critic should be banned, as I would not want to play in a meta with no reasonable counter to Obokata and similar effects. While I’m still not a fan of film critic as a narrow ‘hoser card’ that strongly counters certain play styles with no use outside of these matchups, I feel like the restricted list is the right place for it.

Given how long it takes FFG to address these issues even when they decide to do so, it will (hopefully) take less time for FC to rotate on it’s own than for FFG to fix it anyways.

If the runner puts an Obokata onto Film Critic, the correct answer is not to complain about a good card, but instead you should jam another Obokata immediately. If your servers are porous enough to allow two back-to-back accesses when you’re on 5/3 Agendas, the problem here isn’t Film Critic.

I do think Film Critic is fine to Restrict; I feel that whatever is done to Film Critic should also be done to Employee Strike. Both cards are very similar in that they answer very specific strategies, without being Threats in their own right. Film Critic doesn’t help you break servers. Employee Strike might help you break servers, depending on the Corp (AgInfusion, for instance) but I find it’s usually used as econ denial (Vs NEH/Palana/Nisei Division) or to prevent a specific strategy (CtM, Skorpios, Argus, PE, AgInf, CI) Both cards have counters to them that aren’t terribly difficult to use, beyond the opportunity cost the card slot takes. (MCA Informant, Voter Intimidation for FC, and Literally Every Current for E-Strike)

I don’t see any real problems in the game right now, with the sole exception that Runner Economy needs something. It’s painfully obvious that Bloo Moose/Temujin Contract were planned to exist in the card pool at this time, and their lack makes Runners unreasonably poor in comparison to Corps. (With the best credit engine (Tapwrm+SacCon) requiring that the Corp has stacks of money, we’re in a very odd spot, economically.) I’m hesitant to say that pulling either of those down to Restricted would fix things, because they are pretty obviously strong, but I think if we want to stop seeing Tapwrm+SacCon, those need to move to Restricted or Runners need a new Econ option… (Otherwise, Economic Warfare + Stinson is going to lead to some runaway games.)


I count 5 decks with Film Critics. You are right though that this didn’t stop people from playing Obakata (6 Jinteki decks in top 16, not sure if they all had Obies but safe bet). Not a single one of the Jinteki decks in top-16 had any Voter Intimidations or MCA Informants in them, and I’m not convinced that this sort of “my hate card for your hate card” type thing works very well - there’ve been dozens such cards in Netrunner, and the only one that had widespread success was CVS as a counter to Clot. It’s just too many conditionals (do they have a hate card for my strategy? have they drawn it? have I drawn mine?) for it to be a viable include in a corp deck.

Anyway, I got sidetracked. I think your argument that looking at the results of the meta disproves @PizzatimePlayer’s argumetn is misguided, as their point was exactly that you CAN’T KNOW what the meta would have looked like if Film Critic didn’t exist. Sure, it’s obvious that it doesn’t shut down decks relying on Obakata completely, but who knows what other weird stuff would’ve been more widespread (though not necessarily dominant) without her?


I didn’t say Film Critic was a problem for Avocado decks specifically - I said it’s a problem, because it does too much. It’s not about how hard it counters a specific strategy, it’s about how many different strategies it affects, to a greater or lesser extent. It is SUCH a catch all, and such bad design! Obviously tournament results have shown that it’s not an autolose for Avocado farms, because they have a bunch of other tools to stop you from even accessing their avocados in their first place, but it certainly neuters one aspect of their strategy.

I’ll admit that there is an argument to be made to the obverse: if a corp deck relies exclusively on a single strategy (whether it’s making agendas impossible to steal due to net damage, or to Midseasons the runner after stealing, or whatever), then it’s fair enough that it should fail hard to a counter. Those convenience shop decks were not great netrunner, they were completely linear and had no backup plan at all. If you’re putting all your eggs in one basket then it’s fair that they should be broken when the runner kicks the basket out of your hand. But Film Critic doesn’t just kick the basket, it kicks all the tortured metaphors, because it’s just such a catch-all!

Ha, I stand corrected, I foolishly focused on the Shaper decks.

But this way lies madness. I can argue that Sunya is dangerously OP and warping the game of Netrunner, and when you show me that nobody is running it or playing around it I can just say “well yeah but you don’t KNOW how things would look if it didn’t exist.”

There’s always some amount of “we can’t know what the alternative looks like”, but if the very card you immediately think of as most hosed by Critic was indeed played in lots of decks that made top 16 at Worlds, I don’t think it’s fair to characterize the situation as “what is the point of even playing them?” and “forces a huge amount of otherwise interesting and balanced cards out of the game”


Well, yes, but, also, that way lies a career in game design - they actually have to think about exactly these things! :slight_smile:

That’s the card YOU immediately think of because it’s the only one of the cards countered by FC that still sees play! What about Punitive? Argus? Hunter Seeker? OK, those are all Weyland so they would not have been in top-16 of Worlds anyway, but you get my point! :stuck_out_tongue:

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