The problem: Kate, ETF etc are too strong at being generic IDs in that they’re better than the other generic IDs that have been printed
Kate and ETF are both incredibly strong IDs. They have very solid effects throughout the game that it’s very hard to match with other ‘numbers’ IDs without blatant power creep. DLR aside, Haley is almost ubiquitously worse than Kate in every respect because they both try and do the ‘numbers’ thing, but Kate does it better. The same can be said for NEXT Design, The Foundry, and Stronger Together, you can swap out the ID and have a better deck with ETF.
Now let’s talk about two cases where this doesn’t apply: Cerebral Imaging and Nasir. Though I don’t think either are exactly to the level of tier one that Kate/ETF are, they’re IDs where you can’t just swap out the ID and get an automatically better deck. They don’t try and do the ‘numbers’ thing and are better for it because it means they have a place.
The solution: Print more ‘out there’ IDs with very unique effects
CI Shutdown would not exist without CI. You can’t play that deck anywhere else, in the same way you can’t really play a Blue Sun deck outside of Blue Sun or a Noise deck outside of Noise. This is good design and what FFG need to aim for. It also makes the game a lot more interesting, as it opens up vastly different playstyles. The solution isn’t making a better Kate, that would just mean Kate sees no play and new-Kate sees all of it, it’s making new, radically different IDs that Kate/ETF can’t hope to be like.
I think FFG understand they missed the mark with IDs like NEXT Design and Stronger Together, but The Foundry was relatively recent in comparison and doesn’t help my confidence. We need more CI-esque IDs, less IDs that try and compete with ETF (the same applies with Shaper), more IDs that do something different and demand a different style of deckbuilding (and have adequate rewards for such). The reason we’re seeing so much ETF and Kate in their respective factions is because the IDs aren’t really diverse, they tend to all be about efficiency but ETF/Kate does that best, and Kate even has a Link to boot.
Anarch is a very, very good example of ID diversity, it has Noise, MaxX and Val who all have extraordinarily different decks and all see competitive play, none of them try and do the same thing as each other. HB and Shaper need to follow suit. This isn’t even the end of the faction, IDs like Reina and Whizzard also have radically different decks to the aforementioned three. This same design philosophy needs to be applied to all factions, else we’ll continue to see Kate and ETF dominate their respective factions’s representation.