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Legitimate Hot Take: We're fine without Jackson Howard



the meta is nothing close to the worlds 2017 meta… hasn’t been for many months. if players are unhappy it’s for different reasons; the meta has shifted at least three distinct times since worlds


You know, echo chambers are worth making one point pretty well. :slight_smile:


I read at least two different Worlds reports, both here on Stimhack. Neither were that negative of the meta, so the claim of terrible competitive Netrunner is questionable at best.

To bring things back to this topic, I know rotation has been overwhelmingly positive, so the claim of “Netrunner is terrible without Jackson” seems more than a little farfetched.

I get you may miss the emergency valve, and some players didn’t care for the Worlds meta, but that hardly is representative of the whole.


Core2.0 (in execution) was a mistake. I’m honestly surprised you think that rotation has been received overwhelmingly positively.


I have heard wide reports of renewed excitement in the game, players returning from being away, and new faces showing up.

This has been mirrored in my own local experience. The totality of 2.0 changes, rotation, and the ban/restricted list has been a positive for the game.

Has your experience been different?


I wonder if part of the problem here is a difference between the competitive and casual metas? I haven’t been paying that much attention to the competitive meta, and I’ll probably keep ignoring it at least until regionals is announced. So perhaps it’s terrible, and I just haven’t noticed.

I think the casual meta has been great recently. And I think the casual meta is more important to maintaining the health of the game in terms of how many people go to meetups and keep up with releases. I’d like it if the competitive meta was also great, but I think maybe that’s less critical.


Locally we’ve had a few players come back to the game, and @miek is right that there have been frustrating distribution issues when new players want the core set but don’t have access to it because the print run wasn’t enough to meet demand.

The fact that it’s more approachable though isn’t necessarily indicative of a strong meta. I think a lot of players feel a loss of control over the outcome to varying degrees when you’re playing at high levels. Often at the top tables a game is decided more by drawing well than playing well (since both players are likely playing almost perfectly).


@SimonMoon (decks) and @Nemamiah (decks) each published 4 decks since Worlds (unless they use a different username on NRDB). From my review of these decklist’s, only 3 reference the meta in a general way.

Dyer’s seems to be (at least partially) using the culturally-expected dry sense of humo(u)r when he says:

Cast your mind back to October 2016, when the world was a definitively better place. Part of the reason for that, possibly even the main one, was that CtM was indisputably the best Corp deck. Now, that iteration was obviously built around certain key interactions, most notably hugely impactful swing plays built around Breaking News, that have since been cruelly denied to us by FFG. That’s why the modern CtM lists rely much more on bluffing, forcing the runner in to mistakes and playing a long, grindy game.

He also says this deck is “fun” and seems to mean it in a disclaimer at the top.

Kenny is more straight forward in his analysis:

After Canadian nats I was pretty bummed about the state of the meta and didn’t have much interest in playing. The main issue was Corps did not really have a pressure cards (RIP Breaking News) and so the best runners could install a million cards crush in the late game. So all the remaining Corp strats (outside of Azmari, which suffered from the misery that are current wars) involved gear checking and trying to rush out fast (Nisei, Atlas). This meant the game was kind of a crapshoot that tended to be highly dependent on the first 8-10 cards in the Corp deck or Corp lost, and if they had a hand that could rush out their important Agenda they still had to rely on Val not having the correct breaker.

In a follow-up he says:

Anyway, as I said in my write up of Rasher Decisions (https://netrunnerdb.com/en/decklist/49957/rasher-decisions), I was a bit down on actually playing Netrunner… I said yes, and and he brought enough enthusiasm that it actually got me excited to play as well.

I cannot find any meta criticism beyond that. If Dyer is really disappointed about the meta it is only seems to be because of similar reason as Kenny: lack of pressure cards, which both mention that some of the new cards seem to correcting that issue. There isn’t a mention of agenda management deficiencies or silver bullets (besides current wars) being the cause of a meta problem. It just seems people like certain playstyles that they like to be viable at the most competitive level.


When I say Core 2.0 was a mistake (at the execution level) I don’t mean that the distribution is lacking, I mean that the card choices of what to keep and what not to keep were poorly done and potentially even worse than doing nothing at all. A large part of this is the unreasonable hate-on people have for power cards, meaning that things that were good for the game like Siphon, Desperado, Parasite, Yog, Breaking News, Sansan city grid, Medium, Caprice, Jackson Howard all got the axe. Even now there are people who celebrate these being gone, but the long standing ramifications of their departure have been huge. Some of these cards got some replacements (Diversion, oh ye came too late) but most are still missing in any significant form. The end result of this is that most runners have lost their core aggression and have chosen to sit back to remote camping; and that corps have lost their proactive threat cards and are being curb-stomped by runners unless a bunch of lucky RNG rolls go their way (specifically gear-checks working well and Scarcity of Resources being active for long periods of time). If Val plays inject and finds one of each breaker and is able to keep Scarcity off the table then its almost impossible for her to lose when played well. Luckily Val is able to keep up some aggression even without the cards from core1.0 almost entirely on the back of how powerful Mining Accident is.

World’s 2017 was the huge highlight of how bad core2.0 was, as the restricted list was still a hypothetical “this is what we think needs addressing” without any real meta calls, and most of the top tier decks ended up abusing degenerate strategies because fair decks had no teeth at all. Since then the MWL has been rewritten to take down most of these unfair corps, and a bunch of cards have been printed that give the corps a bit more teeth (NGO and Rashida especially). The meta is definitely fairer than back at world’s, but its definitely runner favoured at very high levels of play, and Jackson still being in the game would one-handedly solve this issue.

I could also go into a deep rant about the 1x, 2x, and 3x selections of core 2.0 (1x special order yet 3x aurora… really?) but ultimately that doesn’t matter for long-term health of the game, and just has a negative effect on specialised formats like Modded and Cache Refresh.


For a Living Card Game, all of the cards on that list hurt the sustained future and health. They limit card design by being the defacto measuring stick for any new card.

More powerful than something on that list? Broken and degenerate.

Less powerful than compared to those cards? Binder fodder - just play those cards.

I’m glad they rotated so we can see decks playing other things, new strategies open up, and have room to design cards that will get played.

It puts new life in the ‘living’ game.


That argument is a fallacy. Cards can provide new directions without being powerful as they can super impose on existing strategies. Many of the cards on this list have even had times where they weren’t good meta calls. Pretty much the only card that was actually brokenly powerful in core set was Astroscript Pilot Program.

On the runner side, they were able to provide win conditions outside of remote camping, being the hinge piece (but not the whole deck) that allowed for a huge variety of runner decks.

On the corp side, they allowed direct threats, giving the corp ways to encourage the runner to make risky runs without having to go into full blitz rush mode like we have now.

The combined effect was an extremely interactive game with a huge swath of possibilities for what could happen in any game.


I’m going to be using desperado as an example but this applies to several of the cards listed

Desperado edged out certain cards, but a vast majority of the criminal consoles are binder fodder with or without desperado in the pool, the difference is the question went from “why play logos over desperado?” to “Why play criminal over anything else?”. Several cards also were only playable because desperado was in the format. Ever run sec testing without desp? it’s the world’s shittiest opus. Several of the cards put together made a critical mass that was too strong, but most of the cards themselves were not detrimental to the game.

Parasite, medium, sansan, jackson and desperado may all be above the curve slightly numbers wise, but a slightly nerfed version would be much healthier for the game than the current binder fodder they were replaced with. Powerful cards that you can build around are good for the game and allow new strategies, currently there’s very few available strategies at a high level and it makes deckbuilding extremely dull.

I’ve spoken to several high level players that all say the meta is terrible but slowly improving. I’m the current north american champion and one of 7 people to ever win a card design, as a high level player, the meta at worlds was garbage, kitara has improved it but it’s still not good. Core 2 was great for casual players but it makes high end play very shallow. Saying “Nuh-uh” and ignoring it doesn’t prove my statement wrong

I mentioned that kitara has improved things, and it has, just not enough. Runner options are currently remote camp into indexing/ddm or turning wheel, and yet runner is too strong for most corps. Corp options are rush and hope or hope you win the Estrike/fc coinflip. There is much less player agency in winning than in basically any previous metagame.


I’m upgrading the initial Mildish Hot Take to a qualified Hot Take, for those keeping track.


To be honest, I had always been wondering why anyone would consider Netrunner a good game for high level competitive play. I really enjoy playing the game on a casual level, but at a tournament? No, thanks.

Given that, I mostly consider Core Set 2.0 and the rotation of ‘old staples’ a good thing.


Deep yomi mind games, creativity and expresivity in play and deckbuilding, ease of deck swapping, high skill ceiling, feels good to brain the runner.


At the highest level just prior to rotation there was often a lot of choices to be made which came down to 1) What could that threat be followed by 2) Do I have the means to respond and 3) Can I deal with any consequences of either responding to or ignoring that threat?

Right now the runner isn’t nearly as reactive or pressured by the corp, so often the runner can ignore most threats until the corp gets to 4/5 points at which point they’re set up and can fully respond to almost anything the corp throws at them. There’s no devastating never advanced Breaking News plays which force the runner to run before they’re ready. Against Moon’s (admittedly not great right now) you’re not worried about face checking their ice T1 because you don’t have to worry about whether it’s FC3 or Architect. You just know that worst case it’s architect and deal with it. Sure they get some tempo, but you kept them off a whole lot more by preventing Moons from building up.


I’ve played ~ 200 games since worlds. I think that losing Jackson is okay, but his loss has made a larger hole that needs filling I mostly like the current MWL but I have some #hotTakes

The corp cannot control the pace of the game

For the most part the runner has more control of the pace of the game, both from ID/deck choice to initiating runs on servers. For the most part it is hard to get the runner to engage with corps, with a large amount of viable control runners(Wu cold ones/Sunny/419/Clanarch) that are rewarded significantly by the reduced power of rush corps. With the loss of the deep draw of Howard, Corp decks can often fail to provide the pressure needed to keep up with agendas.

The power of runner draw and the lack of corp draw significantly favors runner silver bullets

This has always been true, but its most apparent now. Digging deep for the card you need as a corp can lead to easy flooding and the runner normally has easier ways to recur and find the bullets. Runner draw is as good as ever, and the conspiracy breakers in particular reward deep digging and trashing that the corp simply cannot do

Citadel Sanctuary is over the power curve

This card allows link runners to have significantly better econ than Aesops/Magnum Opus/Tapwrm while providing an answer not only to the decks that tend to punish them, but also turn the downsides of the supporting cards(looking at you nexus) into econ war machines that the Corp cannot answer. Combine this with the lack of rush corp above, and the recent support that these decks have received have pushed passive runners into a very good spot.

Aumakua is over the power curve

This turtle has been good since it was printed, and has only gotten better. AI have been powerful since Dean Lister was printed, and this guy has always been a boon to aggro poking runners as long as it has reasonable support. I’ve always liked the card and felt it was in a pretty good spot. Then it got a wide amount of expose support. This eliminates much of the counter-play around the card(ice up then purge) and allows it to be efficient and threatening all game long. The way that GPI net and amaukua interact seems particularly powerful to purge, and punishes the corp for installing ice. If they gained the counters after the encounter, it would be a different story.

The conspiracy breakers are over the power curve

Cue the surprise! Even if these weren’t near the power level of other in faction breakers on install/break costs alone, the ability to dump cards and turn them into free installs is pretty busted. Jua is an okay check, and there’s nothing better than to ark lockdown these suckers, but the support with turtle provides a robust easy breaker suit that works perfectly with the best draw card in the game(Inject)


I’d tend to agree with most of your points. I think most of the problem though comes from the first point of corps not being able to control the pace of the game. I think most of the rest of the list is fallout from that key issue.

The power of runner draw and the lack of corp draw significantly favors runner silver bullets

The lack of jackson (and any suitable replacement) is what causes issue 2 (silver bullet hunting). Corps don’t have any solid replacements with the exception of possibly DBS. The Corp is already under pressure because they’re pace is being set by how they draw. Can you find agendas/threats when you want them? Can you manage agendas in a meaningful way? In both cases not really. Fast track helps the first but does nothing for the second.

Citadel Sanctuary is over the power curve

This is an interesting take. Personally I’d disagree. Corps are severely under powered right now which leads to runners being able to play the long game with little downside which in turn allows decks like citadel to thrive. Before rotation the only notable deck running citadel (that I can remember) was the power tap Andy list that only saw serious play during the CtM heydays.

Aumakua is over the power curve

Probably true, especially in combination with Dean. Honestly though I think the only necessary change here is to errata Dean to prevent him from working with AI. If corps get more power again then decks won’t have enough time to find and set up 3 GPI + Aumakua along with all their other econ and still be able to contend in the late game.

The conspiracy breakers are over the power curve

Again, corps are under powered. If you had to check a mildly taxing remote (10+ credits) remote every turn then you will quickly burn out. Sure they combo insanely well with inject, and accident/Val help a lot with sustained runs, but they are inherently inefficient and they can get away with it by 1) spending a ton of time building up econ and 2) not actually needing to run taxing servers that often.


This essentially sums up my feeling. I don’t think the pressure on Runners is enough; rush-and-hope is a boring game, and it loses to a lot. Personally, I think the one thing Rewiring did was make sure dumb durdle decks couldn’t succeed. I’m glad it’s gone, but the game needs some sort of pressure on Runners in another form. Jackson helped with that.

Judging from the next pack not much will change.

Netrunner is inherently fun, which I like, but competitive tab JNet is mostly like playing the card game War where the Runner starts with 3 Aces (which I guess is ~63% win rate)