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Metagame Dominance and other LCGs

Right now it appears that at the highest level of competitive play ANR is being dominated by a limited handful of archetypes on the corp side with the runner side not too far off. I do not wish to debate this here. Assume that while casual ANR play has a great variety, high level competitive play does not for players who want the greatest chance of winning.

The question – How does this situation compare to other LCGs? At the higher levels of competitive play (regionals and up, maybe even the store level) is the metagame diverse or stale in the same way ANR is?

I often see ANR players bemoan the lack of diversity at the top but have not seen any discussion of whether this is unique to ANR or symptomatic of other LCGs as well. Is it a structural limitation of the LCG format that only a handful of archetypes will meet the requirements for highly competitive play?


My impression is that there are less than 4 tier 1 decks in Game of Thrones at any given point, but there are a lot of tier 2 decks. That’s just my impression though. This is my first LCG and I don’t think there’s room in my life for a second LCG and a wife.

In Magic, there are been times (hawkblade/JUND/Ravager-Affinity) where there’s only one tier 1 deck and everyone played it. But there have been times where it gets up to maybe 4 arguably best decks and then plenty of tier 2 stuff.

I don’t think this sort of metagame is avoidable. The difference is that those deck types were around for a solid year to two years while their component pieces weren’t banned and were in standard. Whereas in an LCG if you wind the clock back 3-5 months, there’s a pretty good chance the meta was different.

So, yes, things “crystalize”, but only for so long.


I think you hit this nail on the head. It’s telling that a game as big as MTG can have a metagame as or more narrow than most LCGs (imo). ANd while it varies from game to game, I think overall A:NR has a pretty similar breadth to the other LCGs.

Your last point is by far the most important: while netrunner has its top dogs, they haven’t been there for long, and they won’t stay alone at the top for long either. For example,so far I’d estimate that there have been 4 or 5 truly distinct metagames for the corp; each involving 1-3 top tier decks and a smorgasbord of competetive teir 2 decks.

Last thing: One nice thing about the meta of this game is that because of the very high importance of hidden knowledge in this game, a good deck that’s “out of meta” often has a distinct advantage; i.e.; a deck that would be tier 2 in a vacuum might be teir 1 material at an event where everyone was planning and deckbuilding to face a different opponent.


I honestly think that any issue I’ve had with Netrunner’s metagame is much less “there’s too little diversity” and more “there’s too little shakeup” in the Tier 1 decks. Tier 2 shifts quite a bit, even if it’s not very diverse at any one time itself.

But for most of my Netrunner experience, Criminal and NBN were top-tier, more specifically Andy and Making News. Now Kate is catching up with Andy and NEH is taking over from MN, but still. NBN has been “the best corp” for, what, more than a year now? And Andy’s run was about that long?

The issue, again, isn’t that there’s no shakeup, it’s that there actually are “best decks” that don’t keep changing overall quite as much as I think many people might like. There are solid Tier 2 choices, but Tier 1 has been more-or-less unshaken until relatively recently, and on the Corp side hardly at all.

More accurately: The issue for a long time was that the best deck against MN + decent vs most of the field was Andy, and the best deck against Andy + decent vs most of the field was MN.


Less than a year, actually.
Last year at the same period, the top corp decks were Weyland Supermodernism and HB Fast-Ad/Rush. Making News was good in fact but trailing a little bit behind compared to the two other decks. Before Jackson, Noiseshop was also a really strong archetype in tournament, same for the TagMe Anarch around last winter/spring. For a really long time, MN was at best tier 1.5 ( both his taxing version, midseason scorch or midseason girafe) and TWIY* Astrobiotic was the FOTM for at max 1 or 2 month. It was Fast-track + sweeps week who made NBN the top tier archetype it is now. PE Killteki is also a thing atm, and the glacier deck are

On the runner side, Katman/swissknife kate is a top contender for more than a year (since last year GenCon in fact) with different variation (the Desperado/ProCon katman, the grimoire/sahsarara with imp/yog, PPvP Katman with parasite recursion, PPvP rush with CC/Corroder, PPvP with ProCon … etc) and Noise can always make an upset in any tournament, regardless of the corp field.


I actually think there’s much greater diversity in Thrones than you’re suggesting. In the run up to any major tournament I have been able to name several decks that could all win, and been unable to put my finger on a favourite. Often these decks number as many as ten; at the least there has been a solid contender for 5 out of the 6 factions. That said, the huge card pool and the restricted list make the Thrones meta much different to the Netrunner one. I think its neither surprising nor inevitable that Netrunner top-tier decks are less diverse.

As a more casual Netrunner player (Thrones is my main game although I’ll hopefully be able to get into the Netrunner tournament scene next year), I’m curious about something. How many players do you get at tournaments who don’t follow the forums and keep abreast of the global meta? Part of the variety in Thrones comes from a significant proportion of players who do their own thing when it comes to deckbuilding, rather than sticking to what is collectively ‘known’ to be most efficient/strongest by dedicated forumites like ourselves. This applies even to players who are self-consciously competitive and aiming to win, not just to the those building fun combo-y or theme decks. How much of this do you guys see at Netrunner events?

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This is something that happens at the highest level of all card games in general, not just LCG. Also happens in minis games. Any time you have a pool of things with varying strength and abilities, people will find the best and most effecient few combinations and use them. There’s no real way around it other than having more cards in the set, which will come with time, obviously.

I’d be careful to not treat MTG as one thing here. Standard, for example, is not exactly a huge card pool especially nowadays that sets are smaller. Legacy is a slow-moving format that has tons of deck variety, though a lot of that is probably just inertia because switching is hellishly expensive. The all-commons format Pauper has a bunch of viable archetypes.

Standard has ranged from a 1-2 deck metagame to beautiful things like the Time Spiral - Lorwyn - Coldsnap format which was a veritable treasure trove of deck archetypes (of course, it was the largest Standard format ever and had a ton of powerful cards across the spectrum. You were only really screwed if you loved Equipment)

Fair enough, actually. It’s been a while since I ran screaming from the MTG scene. Though I will point out that breadth of meta in Magic is enforced by externally agreed-upon formats; if, for example we included in the netrunner discussion either common form of draft play, the entire discussion of NEH/Andy would have a lot less heft…

I guess I meant to use MtG as an extreme example, rather than a direct comparison. Here’s a game with an essentially infinitely larger card pool than netrunner, and withing any given format, there’s still just a handful of viable decks.

Let’s see results at World’s. But arguably, Scorched Earth CI, Shell Game PE, Redcoats, Oversight Blue Sun and NEH Astro are all realistically tier 1 choices… Giving all the corp factions a tier 1 option.

I also think that Noise, Andy/Ken/Gabe and Kate are all tournament viable tier 1 decks when built and played correctly. Results show that. This gives each runner faction a tier 1 meta call too.

Not buying original argument anymore, this living card game has outlived the pure NBN/Andy dominance days. If the factions all have an outstanding tier 1 meta call for tourneys, that’s a great place to be…

The real aspect of this argument I can sort of buy into, is that some decks are much harder to play than others, and can’t be auto-piloted through large tournaments. This gives the simpler decks a slight upper hand in tournament play, but it is nonetheless not power related, it’s endurance related.

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You’d just be using a horrible example because Limited play and Constructed play are entirely different animals.

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I have the feeling your definition of Tier 1 is different from mine. Now, you might be right – there haven’t exactly been a surplus of big tournaments recently. But I haven’t seen results that I’d call Tier 1 for Shell Game, CI, Ken, or even Gabe recently.

Blue Sun might be there, I think that’s very likely. It’s very possible Noise is. Red Coats (and Deadcoats, I’d like to think) are possibly there, but I’d put them behind Blue Sun unless what I’ve seen of that is just people in the “how do I deal with this” stage that Quetzal had going.

I’d say those other lists are all very solid Tier 2 choices. This isn’t meant as denigration, it’s not a joke to see someone show up with one of those decklists, and they’ve got every chance to do well. (Tier 3 would be “you can do well with this, it’s decent, but surprise and great skill will be taking a lot of credit if you win, and it’s not likely to work super-well for others”. Everything else doesn’t get a Tier.)

That said, I haven’t found enough tournament results recently to see if NEH has been pushed out – but it’s easy for things to creep in during the off-season, as it were. I’m just not sure yet that most of them will stick around for the big tournaments like Worlds, or the Store Championships next year.

I’d like it if they did, I’m just not confident they will just yet.


I think NEH Astrobiotics is the new go-to Fast Advance for any serious competitive player. I think it is better than ETF Fast Advance right now. As such I don’t expect NEH Astro to disappear from the meta any time soon. Even against people who know what to do versus NEH Astrobiotics, it can still just win. I also don’t foresee PE going away any time soon. It is a tricky, fun deck that can also just win even if your opponent knows how to play against it. RP Glacier is the same, and I think Blun Sun Glacier will be the same as well. I consider Tier 1 decks to be decks that even if your opponent plays perfectly, you can still just win.


This really speaks to the power of APP. Not to beat that dead horse, but if a restricted list were to come about Astro should be card number one.

I’ve been considering HB fast advance for Worlds lately. With asset econ It’s essentially the same deck as NEH, hell, I’m seeing hub decks where all 17 influence is HB, with better ICE and extra credits instead of draw. But without Astro, and that easy button win ability, it’s simply inferior.

Kind of frustrating

HBFA gets to run 3 influence-free architects; their asset econ is better than NBN’s; sansan is a cheaper splash than biotic labor; eli is in-faction; and domestic sleepers does the harmony-shi-kyu thing.

And yet the astroscript token gives enough free wins that the popular vote still prefers it to HB.

But I do think that with the release of architect, HBFA is getting closer.

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Architect is a big deal. There’s no denying it.

HB has a very good FA list right now. It’s not as fast as Not Even Hard. But I think it is better against Noise, which might be enough to make it a valid option.

Hard to turn down those astroscripts though.

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I have to agree with this. Tier 1 is NEH / RP and Andy / Kate / Noise. Those other arch types are solid, but win considerably less % at top level play.


Jinteki PE is definitely Tier 1 and has the results to prove it:

  • Hinkes won the Cambridge Regional in July.
  • He came in 3rd (I believe) at the Canadian Nationals in August.
  • @Axul won the German Nationals with a similar PE deck in August.

As you said, there isn’t hasn’t been a lot of bigger tournaments lately, so it hard to tell. It’s definitely not popular, so it’s more of a dark horse contender.


It’s pretty easy to adjust too after you’ve lost to it a few times and see how it ticks or if you just adjust your deck for the match a bit.

I’d say it is a great meta deck, but I’d put at at tier 1.5 or 2. Tennin Lightning also won a regional, but no one’s talking about that anymore.


Not Even Hard… I like that lol