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Netrunner and Balance Part 2: Our Glorious Future

Originally published at: https://stimhack.com/netrunner-and-balance-part-2-our-glorious-future/

Discuss the latest article here.


I’m just going to copy and paste what I said on reddit. shrug

I think this is a very thoughtful and purposeful list. I don’t agree wholeheartedly with all of your proposed changes but your reasoning is fair and I wouldn’t be upset if these changes took place. The only issue that might cause problems is bringing PPVP off the MWL. Nothing has really changed that would not make Prepaid Kate dominant again, maybe even more so with the addition of Deuces Wild. Other than that, thank you for such a thoughtful and well expressed article.

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MWL is doing a very good job at curtailing the dominant decks. I don’t think we’re in a place where banlists are needed yet.

Bans, in general, are not a good sign for a game. The MWL itself is basically a concession to ‘This is a complicated game and some effects are far-reaching that we did not predict.’ Faust definitely doesn’t need a ban, now that every faction has an answer for AI.

More to come when I get home from work…

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I love Sifr. I think it’s fun to play with and against. But if making a ban list and putting that card on there will get (most) everyone to stop complaining about it, I’m all for it.


I can only speak anecdotally, but I know more people who would be excited to come back to competitive Netrunner if there were bans than people who would leave if there were bans, myself included. I think “bans are not a good sign for the game” is a blanket statement that isn’t necessarily true in all cases. Bans are a tool, like any of form of card pool manipulation, and if there are extreme cases that call for it (especially in that other softer methods have been proven not to work), then I think banning a card would be the right choice to make.

IMO, the reason the Netrunner community on the whole is opposed to bans is because we’ve gone so long without them. There is a fear, I think, that the moment we go down that road, there will be a wave of bans and that it will become the norm. But I hardly think that would be the case. In any case, 2/8ths of the cardpool will be “banned” soon and we will have to see how that changes things.

Personally, I love the suggestions made by SimonMoon here. I’m at a point with this game where I’m not sure if I want to continue playing. Partly because I can’t keep up with the release schedule (monetarily or mentally), but also partly because of cards like Rumor Mill, Sifr and Aaron Marron. If these changes were made, I think I could actually get excited about competitive Netrunner again.

I’m all for the banhammer to finally come down. Nothing needs to be permanent. And I think it would still be a good idea to utilize the MWL. But, as it was pointed out in the article, the MWL can only do so much. It will never be able to lower the power level of cards, only limit options (which in turn will limit creativity in deckbuilding, IMO).

So, question: Who in this community would be interested in doing a community format using these restrictions and testing it out?


I love all the suggestions. And yeah a Ban list like this make me return to the game. But i suggest that also there are 2 cards of corp that will be very dangerous in that new meta. Sandburg (problably MWL or ban and Bioethics should ban).

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I think the biggest issue with a ban list has less to do with actual mechanics/balance of competition and more to do with player attitude/perception. Specifically, once Damon (or some future lead design) starts banking cards for balance, everyone will fight about what does/doesn’t deserve to be on the list.

Of course, now we just argue about the MWL and whether or not there should be a ban list at all. My general feeling, though, is the more you concede that ‘balance’ should be achieved at the design level, the more you encourage players to lament the existence of powerful strategies that they simply don’t like to play. Sure, degenerate cards need to be reined in if they are so broken that there are no other viable options - especially in an asymmetric game - but Netrunner has honestly never been at that point. The closest we came was probably Wireless Net Pavilion absurdity.

From a commercial - rather than competitive - standpoint, though, it is in FFG’s best interests to make sure that the most powerful strategies still lead to ‘fun’ styles of play. Although ‘fun’ is a bit nebulous, that probably means encouraging a wide variety of both play styles and faction representation, given that players enter the game seeking a variety of experiences.


Just a thought, but what about errata? I know the “changes” were mostly just focused on the MWL and hypothetical ban list, but what kind of tweaks could also work?

One random one I was thinking about was making Clone Chip “non-virus programs.” Would cut down on the amount of mid-run Parasite installs, and so the runner might actually suffer the effects of a ICE they slam into instead of just blowing it up and moving on.


I think historically we have seen that FFG is extremely hesitant to errata cards to a point where it is almost unhealthy. Wireless Net Pavilion is a special case in my mind because it was changed last minute before printing and that was clearly a mistake that was fixed rather quickly. But they knew for a very, very long time that Astro needed either errata or a straight ban but were unwilling to make the necessary changes because they wanted to maintain the integrity of the core set. Which I certainly understand, but that nerd needed to happen a long time ago. I think it was pretty clear within a month of the MWL that Astro wasn’t fixed.

@strundle I agree that banning may cause a rift in the community, but I think balance changes are always going to cause that to a degree. They shouldn’t avoid taking necessary measures for the long term health of the game because of some short term backlash. As I said, I think part of the fear of banlist is just the fact that they’ve never done it. I personally felt that way for a long time. I think I’ve been afraid to admit that bans are necessary. But I’m of the opinion now that they are. But again, it’s just my opinion. That’s why I would love to try this out and see what happens.

Just like the developers were too conservative with card design early in the games life cycle, and are now pushing the power level if cards to make up for it, perhaps they have been too conservative with restricting the competitive card pool. Maybe we think it’s bad because we haven’t tested it to know?

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There’s definitely no precedent in that with a list of cards that immediately got eight cards put on it, removing deck archetypes from the meta entirely, and that is now accepted as normal, and good for the game…

Mmm. How to put it… I don’t think a banlist is necessary. I also don’t think it would be the end of the world. The problem is that a banlist will annoy a whole lot of people, and more will argue that it didn’t go far enough. And then some people would come back. But in my experience, bannings cause more people to leave than to stay/rejoin.

Now, back on topic…

Faust does not need to be put on a banlist, there’s enough AI-hate in every faction now to make it fine.
Aaron can easily be put on MWL because the thing you’re looking for is to limit how often you’ll see him outside of Criminal. Rumor Mill is a bit more contentious. Most Anarchs run only one, so putting it on MWL doesn’t affect them too much. Still, it’s what we have so we should use it. The same argument holds for Sensie Actor’s Union. (Which happens to make it less attractive for IG, so it solves that at least.)
DDOS also works for MWL like Aaron.
Sifr and Blackmail do not need to be MWL’d. Sifr is pretty close, though. Same for Feedback Filter. Blackmail and Feedback Filter are such narrow cards that they are never run, and putting them on MWL wouldn’t affect the decks that run them. Sifr is not powerful enough.

Temujin Contract is also worth putting on MWL, because the abuse case is it showing up in Every Faction, not just Criminal.

I also feel that putting HHN on the MWL is worth considering, because the worst cases of it are when it appears from out-of-faction. But it’s almost not worth putting on there because it’s not being used as much anymore. EoI also isn’t worth putting on MWL for similar reasons.

Desperado is worth bringing off the MWL, maybe. I don’t think it actually will come off. PPVP is never coming off, because it constrains design space.

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I thinks bans precisely allows more archetypes not less. Only Dyper will die. Regardless i don’t thin blackmail will be necesarry because is rotating anyways.


I think historically we have seen that FFG is extremely hesitant to errata cards to a point where it is almost unhealthy.

Well this holds true to the Netrunner corner at FFG.

The Xwing corner for example is much more proactive and aggressive with erratas and FAQs to reign in problematic cards.

Which indeed helps a lot to keep Xwing extraordinarily balanced and fun game, and locally I can see a strong trend of players moving away from ANR to Xwing, or AGOT.

I disagree with banning a card that breaks open one matchup, because playing that card already is trading some small amount of percentage against the field (for lack of consistency, and sometimes influence) for a big swath against a particular deck. Most of the bans-for-destabilizing I think could be MWL, because I don’t think most of those core hate cards would be broadly played if they cost both influence and deck space. Both are very tight these days, and the advantage of MWL is it makes them even tighter. That, and there’s a part of me that’d like to believe banning should be for cards that are permanently destabilizing - that punch huge holes through the meta. If a card cracks open a particular matchup, the meta can shift around that matchup until the hate card becomes less prevalent and it shifts back again.

If I were czar, I’d do this:

Faust (sorry, kids, we’ve been abusing our toys), Rumor Mill, Sifr (gj Damon)

Temujin Contract, Blackmail, Aaron Marron, DDOS, Sensie Actors Union, Friends in High Places, Medium, Employee Strike* (scandal!)

Suspect List (aka I could be convinced these deserve MWLing)
Accelerated Diagnostics

Eli 1.0, Desperado, NAPD Contract (also scandal!)

Usual Suspect List (aka I could be convinced these deserve to come off)
Cerberus “Lady” H1

*This one probably deserves a special defense. Employee Strike is a card that I think punches too big a hole in a core part of this game, which is building around IDs, and it just encourages lazy “my current, your current” counter-play. I feel like Strike, more than Feedback Filter, makes Jinteki damage matchups less interesting.

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1010/1010 would read again

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There’s some great stuff in this thread. I’m not that keen on bans like a few people, what about:

  1. Adding another influence pip instead of banning. Want Faust? He’ll cost you two influence per copy now.
  2. Differentiating between “global” and “in/out faction” influence. To me Temujin Contract is fine in Criminal, it’s the ubiquity out of faction that’s a problem. What about adding an influence pip for out-of-faction splashing only?

The article makes some very good points. One thing i would point out is that the response to runner hate cards shutting off corp win cons seems to be corps getting ways to destroy the runners hate cards (the counter to the counter). It is to this effect that I think Hunter Seeker will make a HUGE impact on the game, as for a 2-inf splash (or none for W), any corp can have a way to get rid of a runner hate card. I can definitely see your point about the corp wincon vs runner hate meaning that too much runner hate shuts down corps too hard, and runner hate cards should be balanced very very carefully, but another part of the balance is making sure corps have ways to deal with the hate cards. (voter intimidation kills aaron, for example). If hate cards are kept in line (no more rumor mills) and all crops have reasonable access to anti-hater cards, the balance between sides should be healthier.

As far as bans go…I don’t think a card should be outright banned because of it’s use in a single deck. The dyper deck does not employ any one single OP card, but a voltron assortment that becomes exodia once assembled. Thus I have no problems with DDos and really don’t think it should be MWL/banned. Some erratas could fix the dyper problem (make hyperdriver unique, errata ruling on false echo, something like that). Blackmail is a toxic card but will be rotating out anyway. Sensies really needs to be MWL’d. Faust got hit hard with nerfs.

Rumor mill, though…yeah ban that shit. Ban it right in it’s face. Sifr is a close second, but I think if we could poll only one card you suggested to get banned, Rumor Mill would win hands down.

For the MWL suggestions of Temujin on, Desperado/PPVP/Eli off. Yes. Totally. I am 100% okay with that. I really didn’t want temu to go on the list because it would kneecap crim too badly and I’m a crim main, but if desperado came off then I am absolutely in agreement with that move. Eli coming off is good for glacier, and I personally never thought PPVP really needed to be on the list in the first place. PPKate needed a hit but it didn’t need to be hit THAT hard.

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Any errata more complicated than unique or one off is a non starter and more confusing than a ban. This isn’t an online game and you can’t balance things by changing cards to be perfect. Obviously there are a ton of ways you could rewrite the cards I listed to make them okay, but it’s on thing to expect people to understand this card but 1x or this card but unique, and another to have someone understand a card does something other than it says.

All the cards I listed under ban are cards that’s issues will not be fixed by any of mwl, 1x, or uniqueness because they all are distortionary even given any of these restrictions. Ban is far and way the best and most elegant solution to these problems.

Ddos in particular is played in one of three cases:

  1. Blackmail spam helper
  2. Dyper
  3. Cheesy siphon decks

All of these are unhealthy for the game and it makes zero sense to try and preserve ddos to be used in a deck because it will either be bad or unhealthy.

Sifr is notable in that it would be fine if you restricted sifr / parasite so you couldn’t include them in same deck it would roughly have the same effect as sifr ban, since sifr is only worth playing because of parasite abuse. You could also ban parasite but that’s an all time terrible idea. The game has largely been balanced around parasite and without extensive testing you probably end up with a boring and broken game (next etf with Caprice (assuming rm ban, but probably without as well) immediately becomes the only Corp deck and creates a boring game where the corp can simply install ice forever and do nothing any win. The game is way better when all types of cards and both sides can be attacked, and parasite is the most interesting method of attacking ice in the game (excluding sifr which busts it and isn’t interesting).

TLDR: bans are good and everything I listed on my banlist should be unobjectionable (except maybe fbf). Functional errata is messy and a bad idea.


I think the main issue with giving the corp hate cards to match the runner ones is that slots in a corp deck feel more restricted than slots in a Runner deck. After all it’s already hard as a Corp to justify including the hate cards we already have.

Though I guess Corp hate cards could be made broader and easier to use - I think it follows from the fact that “pure” netrunner is runner favoured that Corp cards should generally be slightly better / more powerful / more flexible than runner ones as a general principle.

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Also anyone who thinks anything less than a sau ban, functional errata, or restriction with CTM would work is wrong, probably didn’t read my article in full, and should not be listened to.


Love this article. Couple things: Accelerated Diagnostics should be outright banned. It’s the enabler to broken CI combo and that deck is cancer. Another option instead of banning DDOS is to ban false echo, which sees zero play outside Dyper. I’d also like to see something done with either bio ethics or hostile infrastructure. One or the other. Bio lock is too strong and too unfair for most decks that are not dedicating 5+ slots to it (or are whizzard). That kind of metagame, as Kenny mentions, is unhealthy for the game as a whole.

FFG needs to pay attention to their players, because Netrunner is treading water right now.