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How to address the ID problem

I think it’s time that us, the community, put together a letter to FFG expressing our concerns about the imbalance of IDs in the game, and how it warps the meta. This thread is where we can put that together. I will keep an updated list of key points in this post.

I look forward to working with you all on this.

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I feel like ETF is the only one that’s a serious issue post MWL. Kate has real competition now. There are 4 good shaper ID’s (Maybe Jes can make it 5?), 4 good Crim ID’s (I have my doubts but people seem to like Nero, so maybe 5), 4 good Anarch ID’s (Although I’d argue Noise is still dumb and OP but we don’t need to go there). Four to five for each runner faction is really good.

Corp side there are 3 good Jinteki ID’s (I’m counting Biotech, sue me), 4 Weyland ID’s are having real thought put into them and producing decks capable of winning at least by surprise (yet to see if this is sustainable), 3.5 good NBN ID’s (C’mon Sol, you can do it!) and… HB is down to ETF as long as Noise exists.

ETF is the only major issue right now. Axing Noise would make it two for HB. Axing ETF without Noise would make zero good HB ID’s. It’s tough. If HB had other decks that were sort of there, like the other shapers pre MWL, maybe, but nothing is even close in HB.


100% what @hhooo said. HB lacks a diversity of solid IDs. If you nerf ETF, where do people go? The answer would just be the nerfed ETF. CI would probably see some play. Cybernetics is probably the next most playable, but it’s a niche card.

Noise could be toned down. Drop his inf or make it the first time each turn. Chronotype on the MWL might even be enough.

I wouldn’t say it’s warped the meta as much as it created the meta.

I don’t think nerfing IDs is necessary as much as modifying the cards that define deck archetypes. Look at Kate: pre-MWL the most prevalent (if not powerful) runner ID. What the MWL showed us was that it wasn’t Kate who dominated, but the ppvp archetype. She’s still powerful, but with PPVP off the table, much more balanced.

I don’t know that ETF needs to be fiddled with, instead of maybe buffing other IDs in HB. NEXT Design (a one time use gamble ability) only having 12 influence? Why?? If anything it needed 17 and a “search the deck for 3 ICE to install” ability.

Anyways, my 2 cents. Oh yeah, and MWL Faust already


Honestly, while I agree (very much, in fact) with the notion of redressing ID imbalance, I doubt you’re going to really be able to get a unanimous (or even close, really) agreement as to what correct ID reworking would involve. If you feel impassioned about this, send your own letter (I say this as someone who has done so in the past, regarding Exile and Harbinger). Heck, I might send my own.

As @hhooo states, HB:EtF is really the biggest issue, in terms of warping ID design. It’s ability is simply so versatile and powerful that it really is basically impossible for new HB IDs to actually serve as reasonable alternatives without simply resorting to purple power creep (which would be far worse). That being said, as Niles further points out, there are problems on the Runner side (personally, I think a strong argument could be made for nerfing both Kate and Noise), that if they weren’t addressed as well would result in major sad times for HB.

Anyhow, my personal nerfs of choice (in the interest of increasing ID diversity):

HB:EtF - "The first time you install a card in a server each turn, gain 1 credit.

Near-Earth Hub - Influence lowered to 15.

Kate - Lower the install cost of the first program you install each turn.
(Originally, I had this as only hardware instead, because Digital Tinker, but I think program might be better)

Noise - The first time you install a virus program each turn, the Corp trashes the top card of R&D.

The reality is, even with the aforementioned nerfs, some IDs that suck are still going to suck, irrespective of the former kings and queens having their thrones be shaken a little. Designers make mistakes and sometimes efforts spent trying to rectify them would be better spent simply learning from their mistakes and trying to improve.

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This is not the ID problem I was expecting when I entered this thread! Regardless, I do wish there was a narrower band of power. For example, it is obvious even from the core set that, disregarding the factions (which should be in approximate balance throughout the length of the game, with some error), ETF is obviously functionally far superior to Building a Better World, as well as being clearly the strongest once you’ve played a little bit (except for the games where you flatline someone with PE!).

I read a reasonably clear article on this topic a while ago (the enormous impact of abilities that are available every game) that I’ve dredged out of the archives - it’s about Hearthstone but I think it applies in this context too. - http://bmkgaming.com/look-hearthstone/. I’ve quoted the most relevant paragraphs here.

My biggest issue with Hearthstone, though, is the Hero powers. Every class has a unique Hero power that costs two mana and can be used once per turn. These powers are all at glance relatively minor effects – deal one damage, heal two damage, make a 1/1 creature – but they have a tremendous impact on the texture of gameplay and even on card evaluation and deck building. I have been providing a significant amount of feedback about the beta to a member of the Hearthstone team, and my single strongest argument is that the Hero powers are a huge problem because of the way they shape game play.

This is a very dangerous space. Any ability that you are guaranteed to have access to every game runs the risk of defining the game entirely. Look at the casual Vanguard format in Magic. Even the smallest ability can drastically impact the way games play out, and they become more about the Vanguard power than the individual card choices. This is a big problem, because the entire idea of a collectible game is that the cards themselves are what matters.

Optimally, I would have preferred not to have had any Hero powers at all, because even if your goal is to make them all relatively low impact across the board, somewhere along the line you’re going to make a mistake. You always run the risk of making some things better and worse than you’d intended when you’re developing a collectible game, but those errors are magnified drastically when they’re effects that players are guaranteed to have access to every game, and there’s nothing that your opponent can do to interact with them. If you make a card that’s too good, players can bias their choices toward cards that are better against that card. On top of that, players who choose to play that card won’t always draw it, so its impact won’t necessarily be felt in every game. Not so with a Hero power. A Hero power that is better than the others will be felt in every game that’s ever played with that Hero, and it’s much harder for your opponents to make card choices to fight against.

On top of this, even if you can reach a semblance of balance in a broad sense for the Hero powers, you’re not going to be able to balance for all possible contexts. One decision that was made for WoW TCG (that I also disagreed with, but it was pretty much mandated from on high) is that the different classes start with different health totals, because classes had varying levels of hit points in the game. The argument was made that we could just make the cards and/or Hero powers better for the lower health classes to compensate. The problem with this reasoning is that the same things don’t matter in the same way in different contexts. In a battle between resource-advantage based control decks, a difference of one or two or even five points of starting health could matter very little, while an ability that, say, allows you to draw extra cards can be absolutely game-changing.


I don’t think nerfing existing ID’s is fun or interesting for anyone. It’s just lame and killjoy-ish. Kate already has competition. This doesn’t reduce the NPE of Noise. This doesn’t make any HB ID besides ETF worth playing, it just makes ETF worse, but still the best. Core just needs to be nuked at some point, there’s no good way around it.


What’s your third? I would say both PE and grindy glacier IG are ahead of Biotech, and obviously RP.

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No one seems to mention the alternative:

Make everything as good as the Core.

It’s 100% possible. The boat has sailed on the first 2 cycles, but The Future Is Now.


IDs are just cards. How is wanting Custom Biotics to be as good as ETF any different from wanting Zed to be as good as Eli?


I’d take IG over PE, but saying four is fair. Biotech and IG are like PE with more ability to focus on a plan though.

As to sending my own letter, I considered that, but if by some miracle they listened, I wouldn’t want the community to feel like their needs weren’t addressed, and that it was tailored to the wants of some dude from the Northern Wastelands of Maine.

There’s only one thing that helps: new core set once rotation hits and the new core set consists of cards of the past cycles/boxes.

This way, you don’t fuck with the old gamers and you have a better balanced start.


I agree that many of the core ID’s are fundamentally imbalanced in relation to each other. EtF is far and away better than any other core set ID and the problem compounds because the core set is evergreen. Influential ID’s like NEH and Blue Sun will eventually rotate out, but unless something changes we’re stuck with the core set forever.

I strongly feel that the core set needs to either be redesigned or rotate out. Many of the cards in it do not properly represent the current “color pie” and pose serious balance and design problems to the game. Look at Yog. Anarch is supposed to be the WORST decoder faction and yet they have the best decoder. The fixed strength breakers have been plaguing tournaments ever since the core set. Many of these cards need to leave.

I don’t know the best way to address these problem cards, but for the health of the game they really need to go.


Crazy Idea…

The printed IDs are fine for use in 99% of games. Casual, GNK, Store Champs, probably even the regional events. There’s a wide enough cross-section of players (and small enough prize support) that re-designing the game around the power gamers feels like overkill.

What if FFG’s design team came out with a set of NEW IDs for the big tournaments (Nats and Worlds only) that players were forced to use. These could be edited versions of the current personalities in the game, or completely new characters we haven’t seen yet. The 2016 version of this would probably just be re-skins of what’s out there, but if you started play-testing now you could have 2017 versions that were really well balanced (and, more importantly, created a different meta for the large tournaments than we have the rest of the year for the small ones).

Of course, this also presents the opportunity to have the World’s winning IDs playtested (and possibly broken) by the best players in the game, edited slightly (if necessary), and then put in the following year’s cycle for “everyone else” to use. Maybe the champ even gets to pick the art-work (or inspires the artwork) on the ID.

Crazy? Yes, I see how the amount of time invested by FFG to create these doesn’t correspond to any revenue, but I think it’s an otherwise very low cost solution that doesn’t screw with the 99% of the worldwide community to don’t want to see their existing game get screwed around with… and it seems like a cool way to build some hype for a “new” experience at Nats/Worlds that you can’t get any other time (incentive for more people to get involved with the higher level tournaments).

Can you imagine the hype around this list when it gets published a couple weeks before Nats? The frantic deck-building and gauntlet-running that gets done with this stuff in those couple weeks would be insantely exciting. All of us living vicariously through these new IDs for a couple months, then they go away and we get back to the cards we’ve got in front of us…


that’s incredibly reductive. put that way IDs are just cards that are played on turn 1 and never leave the game (except for employee strike). they have the potential to influence the game from beginning to end. if netrunner needed fixing, you’d start with the systemic issues. that’s IDs.

With the WNP errata, my hope is that the next big box contains a heap of errata’d cards (in addition to new cards and whatnot) so they can fix some of the problems. LCGs are in a MUCH better position to do this than TCGs and it would help some of the ID problems if they could Nerf Noise, buff all the HB ones, fix influence on things like NEH and Medtech.

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No, we don’t need to fix Noise. A clever player can play around him. At least until DDOS was released. We need to fix Kate, ETF, NEH, and buff GRNDL, Iain, and some of the Haas identities (Custom Biotics).

Yeah noise can be fixed by card design (keep the powerful viruses from being to cheap).

However we don’t need to ‘fix’ NEH or GRNDL, that’s pretty much the point of rotation policies as they can print new IDs for that space.

The deluxe criminals and HB identities could be fixed, but a problem of low power is much less harmful than too much power, and they could design cards specifically to help those IDs.

Kate and EtF are the ones that can’t be addressed by any tools the designers have seen fit to deploy yet.

That’ll have to wait for rotation then, the powerful virus are already cheap. I think Noise needs to nerf-bat as much as ETF or Kate. (Basically) free accesses for doing something you want to do anyway, is arguably better than Kate discount.