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State of the meta - October 2017 - No more fair Netrunner?

A player and deck builder I respect wrote in another forum that the current meta has no place in it for “fair” Netrunner.

Of course, the exact meaning of “fair” is a contested term.

But I do wonder what people see as the current meta right now. While the people testing for Worlds gather in their groups, what do the rest of us see going on in the meta right now?

I have a couple observations, which I am sure are quite limited.

Viable Criminal builds appear to play like Shapers.
Every Runner faction is looking for money and so MOPus is very common.

R&D lock is not possible, so fast advance is stronger (Titan appears to be enjoying this.)

CI appears very popular and has more than one build.

By my definition, I think it’s a great time for fair Netrunner. The corps I’m having success with do so by scoring out of remotes and bluffing. Ice seems way more legit.

On the runner side, I think aggressive runners are in a pretty good spot, and far fewer decks are on some sort of degenerate combo nonsense. The fact that both fast and slow runner decks exist, without as many oppressive lategame cards (see Medium) makes corp play much more interesting in my experience, as the three phases of the game are more established, without corps all just having to rush. (asset spam was basically rush, but you didn’t techinically win until the mid-late game).


I would say this is the most fair meta in my memories.
I have been through various meta,basically they are like this:

2013 (HBFA & Andy days)
2014 (NEH Fastrobiotics all day,Andy,some RP,didn’t remember much else)
2015 (Foodcoats & RP for glacier,NBN still dominant,PPVP Kate,Noise,Regass Anarch is a thing for a while,do not mention that DLR monster)
2016 (ridiculous asset spam,Dumbleforks,every runner with Temujin)
2017 before Core2.0,Rotation,and MWL2.0 (even with MWL1.2,it’s still goes down to Andy/Whizz against Moon)
2017 before MWL2.0 (Lock Shaper kills everything and every little bit of fun)

So far I’m very glad that there are no deck in current meta has an answer for everything.Rush became a viable strategy,corps can play many style and have slight advantage over runner, and you just really don’t know what to expect when you see your opponent in front of you.

And yes,this is the most fair Netrunner for me.


The worst excesses have been curtailed and creativity reigns. Yes, there are still stronger options than others but every faction has good decks (that said I’ve yet to find a Criminal I like in this meta).

I think Boggs and FFG hit it out of the park with that list and I have been quite critical in the past.


shapers basically stomp everything except the few oppressive/gimmicky corp decks we have. If you play Criminal you’re a masochist or gang sign goon and if you play anarch you’re playing fair for once (aka masochist but still spike)

At anything but highest competitive level you can play whatever you want though, and generally won’t get stomped over and over. This seems to be where most people are coming from and why most seem happy with the meta


I’ve been very very very critical about the choices made but I have to recognize the meta is “slow-fair” & fun.
I like that, this is slower but since everyone is slower it is nicer.

All aboard the T1.5 train, choo-choo !

Shaper 6/10, Anarch 5/10, Criminal 4/10. Sunny is a 6 due to very popular Nexus these days. Spotted a very good Ken Comet deck.
HB 4.5/10, NBN 5.5/10, Jinteki 6/10, Weyland 5.5/10.

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A LOT of games seem to come down to whether Indexing whiffs, hits small, or hits big. In that sense, it’s unfair as it just comes down to the luck of the cards.


Have to say, the meta seems rather out of wack, mostly because of the runner side.

If you want to do something on that side, you play Shaper. Leela is t2, geist can somewhat make it work, but then they are side catch anyway because they build up a rig, see similar tempos. I’m unconvinced by the denial/bad pub anarch archetype, it seems too inconsistent to be serious, though it is fun to pull off. As for goodstuff anarch, it’s just more rigid, less consistent, slower to set up, easier to counter (code gates bigger than enigma and scarcity) by cards which float around anyway.

Meaning that as a corp, you have to deal with smoke, and the assorted MO decks. You could play anything perhaps, but really you have to have plan for smoke making your ice at normal strength pointless at some point, and MO being a little bit sluggish to start with. Now MO looks wonderful but it’s not actually that nice to take out open remotes with, it keeps eating turns.

I think the imbalance on the runner side forces corp into lower ice strategies, preferably faster, perhaps through another type of tempo you can abuse (HHN+zealous judge +austerity, or sandburg). Asset spam, tracing, or some form of obokata abuse.

I see people talk about a slower meta and I wonder if they play the same game. The runners are perhaps building up: corps really aren’t. The closest thing to glacier would maybe be one of the jinteki’s, leaning on obokata, perhaps with punitive. Aginfusion is a poor, click compression based deck at heart, investing clicks to have a turn where they can lock out someone from the remote, I’ve yet to see an impressive palana. And sandburg CI? Now that builds ice and impressive servers, but it’s a blistering fast deck.

CI might be broken in the same sense NEH used to be, that you didn’t know which kind you were facing till it was too late, but even there I’m not super sure. The others seem of alright strength, but you get a very weird corp landscape because in practice they really only have one problem to solve atm.


I don’t want to make too many broad assumptions, but I think we need to have some idea of what we are discussing when we call Netrunner ‘fair’. The only definition of ‘fair’ netrunner that I can recall is from @TheBigBoy’s blog:

I don’t completely agree with everything in his article, and it remains a little nebulous on a precise definition of fair, but I think he does a good job of describing the feelings around an unfair game.
The shortest definition I can give for an unfair game of netrunner is:

one where the corp and runner decks are trying to achieve (and prevent their opponent from achieving) win conditions that are orthogonal to each other.

That is to say the runner is trying to win, and prevent the corp from winning by different means than the corp is trying to win and prevent the runner from winning. A broad example would be any corp that does not try to score agendas out of a remote against a runner that is focused on remote lock for it’s win condition.

A more specific example from netrunner history would be Weyland tag-and-bag archetype, which is trying to leverage an economic advantage and threaten flatlineing the runner to score agendas instead of protecting them with ICE alone against a runner that is trying to win on a relatively sparse economy with more cards to close out the game by locking the remote and Legworking HQ. Note that this example can become more fair if the runner add Plascrete caraprace to their deck (and after plascrete was added to the card pool this Weyland deck was considered much more fair).

This definition may be overly-broad and subjective, but I think that this definition is appropriate for how the word has been used in the context of netrunner.


So for you fair is always based on an interaction of both decks?

I think the meta is in the best place it has ever been. There are a ton of viable strategies and the most dominant aren’t degenerate (e.g. DLR, Shutdown combo, 24/7 Boom).


Yes, my definition of fair is based on interaction of both decks.

It could be a little more broad to ‘the ability of each deck to interact with the other’, but that opens up the grey area where a counter-tech card exists, but is not commonly played because its use is too narrow.

If you look through @TheBigBoy’s article, his definition is circling around similar terms, but in my opinion remains a little more nebulous in his terminology.

If Weyland tag and bag isn’t fair, then I don’t think you can say any kill deck is fair, which seems extreme. Weyland tag and bag (aside from maybe Gagarin) is based on scoring agendas, and using the threat of a kill to make it harder to steal those agendas and survive. It’s the same as how non-ronin based PE’s goal is to make it hard to steal an agenda and survive. That’s as fair as you can possibly make a kill deck.


I don’t want to sound heated, but I don’t think your assessment does not represent the whole of my argument.
I feel that you have picked on half of my argument, and called it extreme without acknowledging the other half of my argument. With no means to counter a kill strategy, flatline decks are unfair; they become non-interactive, and high-variance (depending on how quickly the combo is assembled). Before Plascrete Caraprace was released, Weyland kill was a very powerful and often unfair matchup.

I described fairness as context dependent, if a runner has no means of countering a kill strategy, it is unfair. There are of course several counters to tag-and-bag, including just having enough credits, or installing plascrete caraprace. There is certainly room for a vast grey area of fairness where counter-tech cards exist, but are not played for whatever reason.

Please note also that the original article described unfair decks as an important part of the meta, that should compliment, but no overwhelm the tournament environment.

I will absolutely admit that the definition that I proposed applied to individual pairings, and requires further extrapolation to apply to the wider field. A definition of fairness is not something easy to nail down, if it were, we would have an agreed upon definition instead of heated arguments every time it comes up.


Weyland T&B was always fair. I’m not sure what your issue is with my definition.


What strikes me about @thebigboy’s definition of fairness is that the post is really about what is unfair. He gives us four things that are unfair:

  1. Non-interactivity
  2. High-Impact Hidden Information
  3. High Variance
  4. Ignoring large portions of card types/game actions

Fair decks are defined in the post as ones that score low on this four-point scale of unfairness.

The point raised in the OP is that someone asserted that in the current meta, fair Netrunner does not exist at the competitive level.

Interestingly, this statement is not at odds with all the people who are saying the game is really fun right now because there are a diversity of decks that are being played. I think it is possible to have a rock-paper-scissors meta where there are zero fair decks that can stand a fighting chance in a broad range of match ups. That meta will be fun if you accept that you have a certain percentage of “I just lose” match ups, but it will not be one where competitive players will want to run fair decks in tournaments.


Here’s my shot at ranking some current decks by Abram’s metrics:

Non interactivity: 2
Hi impact Hidden info: 1
Variance: 2
Ignoring card pool: 2
=7, Fair

Mushin Palana
NI: 1
HI HI: 3
V: 2
ICP: 1
=7, Fair

Gagarin Tubs
NI: 4
HI HI: 1
V: 2
ICP: 2
=9, Unfair

Skorpios Barriers
NI: 1
HI HI: 1
V: 3
ICP: 2
=7, Fair

Titan FA
NI: 1
HI HI: 1
V: 3
ICP: 1
=6, Fair

It should be kept in mind that this system was developed in a different landscape. The overall ‘power’ of ANR was downshifted with all the changes, so it’s possible that relative to the new landscape, the system is disingenuous. In any case those are where I landed on those decks

I actually think CI in general is unfair right now, by oh by virtue of its speed and consistency that outpaces almost all runners, this is due to Violet and Ultra Clearance, and not by any of Abram’s metrics. Basically CI has objectively the strongest cards and win-cons right now, IMO

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CI is fairer than it has ever been. CI has always been the home for degeneracy between Power Shutdown combo decks, 7 points in one turn, etc. It has good econ and draw now–that’s the main difference. The problem isn’t with CI, it’s with MCA and potentially Sandburg.

I suspect any deck with 3x Mushin might score higher on High Impact Hidden Information for Abram than 3. Mushin is one of his most disliked cards based on his comments on it in the past.

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And also with all good CI hate either rotated or restricted.