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Hypothetical Core 2.0 for a single tournament

I’ve been thinking about how I’d balance Core 2.0 for quite a while. Recently it occurred to me that I could put that time to good use by running a Core 2.0 tournament with my balance tweaks. I’ve accumulated quite a bit of FFG swag over the years since I live near them, so I could easily just put up my own prize support and have a reasonable prize pool. Naturally, I’d just TO and judge, not play.

Of course, I can’t just rebalance Core in a vacuum – the entire post-Core card pool has been released with consideration given to Core 1.0 cards. I think the most notable example is the power level of Cyberdex Virus suite.

Proposed constraints:

  • Only Core Set cards can be rebalanced. No changes to Caprice, NAPD, etc.

    • This is to keep the balance changes simple so people don’t have to remember 50+ rebalanced cards.

    • However, the Core Set balance changes have to be made with the entire card pool in mind! For example, any change to Nisei Mk II has to account for the fact that Caprice will not be changed.

  • Only nerfs, no buffs.

  • I’m not set on this one, but almost all of the ideas I’ve come up with have been nerfs, and the buffs haven’t been super useful (e.g. removing the unique constraint on Ice Carver, because I have a huge soft spot for ONR Clown decks, and resource trashing is powerful right now anyway).

  • As with the first point, I want to limit the number of cards that change.

  • It’s hard to come up with good buffs. For instance, I spent a while thinking about how to buff BABW, but with the constraint that only Core Set cards can be changed (so nothing like turning Subliminal into a transaction), it’s hard to do.

Here is my current slate of nerfs, of course subject to further balancing:

  • AstroScript Pilot Program

    • Add “This token cannot be used to advance another copy of AstroScript Pilot Program.”

    • This makes the decision to use the token more skill testing, but keeps the token powerful. You still want to run 3 AstroScripts, but you can’t chain them from your deck with Fast Track and a rezzed SanSan, or topdeck them one after the other and score from hand without other tools.

  • Scorched Earth

  • 5 influence.

  • Meat damage flatline is too easy in NBN, and we can’t change Traffic Accident. This is intended to push the drip tag / non-kill uses for tags that are all over the place in NBN, but that no one plays because once you land a tag, it’s better to just win the game with Traffic + Scorch. This makes it even harder to fit Traffic + Scorch in the same deck, and reinforces Weyland’s primacy as the Scorch faction to the extent that I think this can be done with only Core Set changes. (I mean, maybe SEA could be 1 influence, but I’m not sure how much that would actually help.)

  • Engineering the Future

    • “The first time you install a card in a server each turn, gain 1.”

    • Working on both server installs and ice installs is way too good. This moves EtF out of Stronger Together’s design space.

  • Kate “Mac” McCaffrey

    • Link 0. Lower the install cost of the first program or piece of hardware you install on your turn by 1.

    • Kate isn’t that far ahead of other Shaper runners; she just needs to be brought down a peg to make it easier to choose Hayley, Kit, or CT.

  • Desperado

    • Install cost 4.

    • At 3, almost no other Crim consoles see play. This opens the door just a little.

  • Account Siphon

    • 5 influence.

    • This is the card that makes me think hardest about my current position on nerfs / buffs. Trying to indirectly buff Crim by nerfing one of their best cards when used in another faction is awkward.

  • Parasite

    • 3 influence.

    • This is step 1 of “Anarch cards for Anarchs.”

  • Datasucker

    • 2 influence.

    • This is step 2 of “Anarch cards for Anarchs.” If I could also change cards outside the Core Set, I’d rebalance this in a more fundamental way, but since CVS is going to remain untouched, Datasucker should retain its power level. If you want more than 1 copy, though, you should have to chew up some real influence.

  • Mimic

  • 2 influence. Install cost 4.

  • This is step 3 of “Anarch cards for Anarchs.” Mimic at 3 is also by far the strongest killer in the game, even if it needs support. It should be slightly less of a no-brainer to have Mimic as your killer if you aren’t an Anarch or playing stealth.

  • Yog.0

    • 2 influence. 1: Break up to 3 code gate subroutines.

    • Breaking for 0 is way too good; Yog should come with some minimal cost. It could be break unlimited subs for 1 given the code gates in the game, but this allows for tricks like Midway + Merlin to work even with Yog and sucker tokens (only +1c, but better than breaking the entire thing for 0). Even in this form, Yog is still very strong, so the influence cost goes up.

These are by no means final, and I’ve given a lot of thought to their implications in their current form:

  • The Anarch changes hurt Criminal somewhat, although not quite as much as in the past – straight up AndySucker may be impossible, but Crims like Leela and Geist aren’t splashing a ton of stuff from the Anarch suite these days. The Parasite change probably hurts the most.

  • The Anarch changes more or less put an end to Prepaid Kate in its current form, but as we saw at Worlds, there are powerful alternatives without fundamentally altering the deck. Currently, Kate can have it all – Clot, Legwork, Datasucker / Parasite, and Mimic. I don’t think all that stuff should fit in one non-Anarch deck, so I’m fine with that.

  • If I were doing buffs, Account Siphon could be: Make a run on HQ. If successful, instead of accessing cards you may force the Corp to lose up to 3, then you gain 5 and take 1 tag for each credit lost. 5 influence. That would be bananas in terms of power level and still enable denial decks when paired with Vamp.

  • I haven’t helped Weyland beyond making Scorch harder to splash in NBN. I’m not sure how feasible it is to “fix” Weyland with Core Set nerfs alone, and this is one reason I considered allowing buffs, but then I couldn’t think of any well-balanced, tidy buffs to Core Set Weyland cards that would actually address the problems the faction has.

As to the last two bullets, though, I’m not sure it’s my job when rebalancing the Core Set to fix the downstream power level issues that have left Criminal and Weyland in the places they’re in now. Ultimately this isn’t intended to reshape the existing meta, just tweak it and see what new decks rise when current powerhouses are toned down just a touch.

I’m interested in both general thoughts on the concept and execution as well as specific proposed Core Set 2.0 balance tweaks for a hypothetical Core 2.0 tournament!


I really liked the idea of Kate and ETF being flip IDs, reading “The first time you install a card in a server, gain 1 credit and flip this ID” on one side and “The first time you install a piece of ice protecting a server, gain 1 credit and flip this ID” on the other; “The first time you install a piece of hardware with cost 1 or more, gain 1 credit and flip this ID” and “The first time you install a program with cost 1 or more, gain 1 credit and flip this ID”. (NOT my ideas, saw somebody mentioning them in the other thread,

Also, Astroscript being a 3/1 would also be quite interesting.

I like almost all of these, especially the Astroscript change. That’s the most creative take on it that I’ve seen and it’s really interesting.

Just a few buff ideas off-hand:

  • Give Gabe a link. Makes sense for one of the core set runners to have link, and link is more a criminal thing than any other faction not counting Sunny.

  • Make Ninja not terrible so crim has some sort of niche in icebreakers. I’m thinking 2 to pump 4 str, 1 to break a subroutine would be decent. Puts it on 5 to break Ichi 1.0 entirely and it still wouldn’t be all that efficient against the likes of Architect, but at least it would be playable.

  • Drop the link from Toolbox and take the cost down to about 7 or so. Again, link really isn’t a shaper thing (although Rabbit Hole disagrees) and Toolbox is an interesting console for its other parts.

  • Security Subcontract needs to gain Weyland more. Like 6 or something. Basically have it not be terrible.

  • Research Station could work from remotes and it would be fine.

  • I was going to say something about Zaibatsu Loyalty, but I don’t think anything can save it.

Zaibatsu Loyalty does exactly what it sets out to do and it’s not its fault that no one runs expose effects.


Desperado to cost the same but triggers only on first successful run.

I love the idea of 1 link for Gabe. That might be enough to change my buff stance on its own. I’m intrigued by the buff to Ninja as well, I’ll have to look at some cost tables and see where a simple change like +1 base str would leave it.

I looked at Research Station and Zaibatsu when I was thinking about buffs, but I’m also trying to avoid complex card changes – that’s one reason my changes are relatively small. I don’t want people to have to remember complex card changes and whatever new rules interactions those changes may create. That was also why I didn’t do the flip ID thing for EtF and Kate, even though I liked the ideas that I saw in the other thread.

I think reducing Desperado to once per turn is too much of a nerf. I don’t want to hurt Criminals very much given where they are in the meta right now, I just want to make Desperado the best console maybe 65-75% of the time instead of 95% of the time.

My gut says that with Astro, Scorch and EtF nerfed and minimal non-influence changes to Anarch, Noise is going to be crazy-bonkers.

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I actually considered making Noise his own mini-faction, but balancing his influence would be a challenge even if I switched one or two of the Core Set viruses over to his mini-faction. However, that seemed like too sweeping a change, and with the current power level of resource hate, it may or may not be necessary.

First virus each turn would be too harsh?

That could be okay. Similar to Kate, it would dial him back just a bit. Even though I’ve played a lot of Noise, though, I have a hard time gauging just how strong he would be in this environment as-is.

Pawnshop to 3 inf? Then his inf spread gets really hard.

What about the following for Astroscript?

“Place 1 agenda counter on AstroScript Pilot Program when you score it if there are no other copies of Astroscript Pilot Program in your score area.
Hosted agenda counter: Place 1 advancement token on a card that can be advanced.”

APP stays pretty strong and is still a 3/2, but you can no longer chain them. It also works thematically, I think: you should only be able to write on the moon once.

I like your idea for an Astro nerf but I don’t like adding additional text to core set cards which are meant to be an introduction to the game.

I had an idea for an astroscript nerf whilst still retaining its basic premise was making its text the shorter “If APP is the only agenda in your score area, the advancement requirement of agendas is reduced by 1

It can still usefully fast advance an agenda but can’t astrotrain (and allows lots of clever tricks with agenda forfeiting). Plus the flavour of it being the pilot project and mechanically connected to the SanSan City Grid effect.

Yes, a thousand time yes

I don’t think this is going to be enough honestly, its not the link that makes Kate the powerful one.

1 credit extra is not going to outweigh the 20+ credits the Desperado ability gains you. But I don’t have the hundreds of playtest games to tell you what an appropriate cost should be :smile:

Parasite & Datasucker
I think these are the wrong way round influence wise - its not parasite that’s the problem but the ease of reducing ice strength with datasucker. If the latter is too influence expensive for non-anarchs you’ll see parasite and the Anarch breakers used as focused ‘solutions’ (ala Sharpshooter and Deus X) for particular problems in the metagame but they won’t form the core rig of shapers or criminals. Having the anarch tools without datasucker will allow for runners to metagame against corps (Komainu too common? slot the parasites!) without being the de facto default rig.

If noise was a mini-faction, who’d be the core set anarch? Maybe make his ability trash viruses to mill, so you can’t get the mill and the selling to pawnshop?


I’d like to see a different Astro nerf that isn’t so specifically focused on blocking the Astro train. People still play Beale frequently as a blank 3/2. Might be crazy, but what about a 3/1 that gets two counters, but you can only use one counter per turn? Sort of like a Firmware Updates that isn’t limited to ICE. Scoring an Astro makes scoring future agendas easier, but you’re increasing agenda density if you want to include them. I guess you could still do Astro->Astro->3xBeale and that’s only marginally worse for the corp than 3xAstro->(Beale or a 2/1) so it might still be too strong, but at least you need to add 3 more point of agendas to NBN decks.

For Kate, I think being able to get the bonus credits by playing on the Corp turn is a fun part of Kate and it’d be nice to keep it around. I’m having trouble thinking of an alternative nerf though.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I wouldn’t touch Siphon’s influence. Including it in other decks costs quite a lot already. Though I’m biased since my first deck I got to sing was 3x Siphon Chaos Theory.

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Time for a first post here.

I just have to chip in on the astro nerf, we have been discussing all alternatives and i really think that making it a blank 3/2 with the ability of getting a counter if it is overadvanced to 4 is the right call. It is simple, allows it to be used as a 3/2, and will be on par with Nisei II roughly.


There’s some very interesting stuff in the last few posts that has exposed an additional constraint I imposed on myself while thinking about this that I realized I didn’t mention: I’m trying to be minimally invasive. I mentioned trying to keep the individual changes tidy, and I also mentioned trying to limit the overall number of changes, but I didn’t tie those things together to expose the underlying premise.

So while I agree that – for example – the Desperado nerf doesn’t change the cost/benefit equation very much over the course of the game, I think the biggest advantage of Desperado is the relatively small tempo hit Criminal decks have to take to get it on the table very early in the game. Increasing its cost slightly is intended to affect only that aspect of the card – I was intentionally trying not to change its overall efficiency very much. Doing that opens the door a little bit to at least considering a different console in Criminal decks that aren’t using Security Testing. It comes at the cost of hurting the SecTest Criminals a little bit, but I thought that was a reasonable tradeoff.

That’s why I don’t want to do something more drastic to AstroScript like change it to a 3/1. It’s one thing to remember alternative influence costs when building your deck or remember that a card costs 1 more to play; it’s another to see 2 printed agenda points sitting in your score area and having to remember that it’s only 1 point without reminder text like GFI has. The 3/1 idea and the pseudo 4/2 idea are interesting changes, but they’re also huge changes to how AstroScript works and how NBN decks play overall.

I’m not trying to shut down those lines of discussion, though! I’m interested in all apsects of this conversation even if I may not use the ideas directly in the tournament.

The Anarch influence question is one of the more interesting aspects of this to me, because of how little it affects their faction and how much it affects all of the other factions. I’m sympathetic to the notion that Parasite is okay at 2 inf and that Datasucker should be more; I’ll think about deck influence spreads where Parasite stays at 2 inf and Datasucker costs 2 inf as well, or maybe even 3 inf.

Pawnshop at 3 inf seems like it would hit Noise even harder than @Zeromus’ idea of his ability only triggering once each turn. Another option would be to increase the install cost of Parasite and/or Datasucker, but then I’m making multiple changes to those cards and that may be more complex than I want.

[Edit: You know what, though, the more I think about that the more it might not be so bad. 3 Pawnshop / 2 Cache / 2 Clone Chip is still a strong influence spread, and Noise just slots extra draw or more viruses in the 2 slots it opens up. It makes the deck worse, but not drastically so. Very interesting.]

Another thought on AstroScript that @Apotropaeus made me think of is that thematically, AstroScript should really be limit 1 per deck as was done at that Chicago tournament earlier this year – because yeah, once you’ve written on the moon one time, it isn’t really a pilot program anymore! But I’m approaching this almost entirely from a mechanics/balance standpoint, and I think harsher AstroScript nerfs without other balance changes really hurt NBN, so I’m going to keep that one simple.

The whole idea of making astro a 3/2 with an overadvance is to allow NBN to have two 3/2’s to fast-advance using biotic/sansan etc. it will allow them to capitalize on a small benefit by gaining a counter as well.

Agree to parasite at 2 inf, it is a fun card when it actually takes it’s time, and to nerf Anarch as a faction maybe think about making Faust a 4-cost, as Dan D’argenio suggested.

Here’s what I’m currently thinking of changing from my initial list:

  • Aesop’s Pawnshop

    • 3 influence.
  • Gabriel Santiago

    • 1 link.
  • Ninja

    • 2: +3 strength.
    • 3 influence.
  • Parasite

    • 3 install cost. (Back to 2 influence.)

Faust isn’t in the Core Set, so I don’t want to change it in this case.

This is a bit offtopic but I would hate see a card have a different card text that is written on the card. I played Vampire: The Eternal Struggle a lot which had many different versions of cards and erratas. It was sometimes hard even for veterans to know what was the “real text” of the card sometimes. I am in favor of just removing card if it’s too strong.

But I feel FFG has a lot of potential in Core Set 2.0 (which I think won’t ever happen and Netrunner 2.0 is the likely solution). The solution I would like to see is combining the rotating Genesis/Spin cycle + Core and make a new Core 2.0 from that card pool. Astroscript could be removed from the Core and be replaced with Beale. Also Kate could replaced with Chaos Theory as the basic Shaper and Noise with Whizzard. There are many possibilities to balance the game with this change because Core set has maybe the most impactful cards. Also core set could be changed having 1x of every card which is the trend with newer LCGs. I feel this solution would be the easiest for FFG, not anger the veterans and have the possibility to change the meta a lot.