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The State of Netrunner

Originally published at: https://stimhack.com/the-state-of-netrunner/

Discuss the latest article here.


Thanks for writing this! I have some disagreements, but the most important thing is that you took the time and effort to get all this down and on site. Thanks for that!

This is an excellently written article, and a great way to retrospectively look at Netrunner in 2016.

A few points I would add:

  1. I agree that Blackmail/Valencia are toxic runner-side, but more emphasis could have been given to how IG prison is toxic corp side. I use “toxic” here in a specific manner, to which the article refers: these strategies are very good, relatively low-effort to learn (maybe difficult to master, but easier to pick up and do well with than a midrange deck as defined in the article) and really punish new players before they’ve had a chance to “git gud”.

  2. I agree that EoI is a well-designed card, but the rules interaction it has with Breaking News is a problem. This combo is very low cost to force 2 tags on the player. Maybe if GFI is MWLed, it won’t be quite as prevalent, but it’s still scary with Boom! and Scorched.

  3. Glacier is not a weak as it seems. Sometimes they don’t run rumor mill (specially now that many decks are contorting themselves to beat CtM and SYNC). Sometimes they don’t draw it in time. Palana got DNA tracker which is huge. Also, I’ve been testing Mind Games as an early-mid lockout tool and it works alright. 0 cost Code Gate 4 strength with an (often) must-break subroutine. I still hate RM’s design, but I think you are right that they are using it to push out cards that will be rotating soon. And it was a smart thing to do.

Also: "I believe that if you bring a meta-adapted, well-tuned mid-range deck you should not have to encounter a worse matchup than 40/60 in a tournament. "

Anecdotally, I remember one MtG tournament where Owen Turtenwald said he played a Jund deck that had 45/55 matchups against everything. That is, he opted to play a demonstrably underpowered deck against the entire meta because he could leverage his play skill to make up for that fact that his deck was “weak”. I look forward to a Netrunner meta like that!


metadamon.jpeg alone would make up for a lot of things, but this is a very well written article.

On the search for a global optima of ‘diverse metagame’ I think its worthwhile noting that LCGs have much less resources to iterate experiments with than other card games; any given card pool lasts a few months at most. mtg’s don’t always solve their metas with 3 months between releases and thousands of professional players working on the problem. The scarcity of resources goes for FFG as well; it’s implied they don’t test the 5 metagames produced by the first 5 releases in a cycle to the same extent as the whole cycle metagame.

Additionally I’d say that if Rumor Mill is to pre-push defensive upgrades out that’s pretty dumb - Mill will be restricting the design space of unique cards for two rotations after we’ve gotten rid of Caprice and Jackson.

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Thank you so much for this whole series of articles. They are great. As a newer player, especially, I appreciate these and hope they get a high-profile spot where newer players in the coming months and years can find them easily.

In my limited experience, I do see your points about the low-complexity mono-strategy decks. I see them all the time both in live games and on Jinteki and they do warp the game significantly. (I think it is interesting that Ben Ni felt he had to apologize for running DLR Maxx at Worlds.)

I’ve never played in this game without Rumor Mill as a card. While that card does wreck Foodcoats right now, I also see a problem with runners just being so rich that you literally can’t tax them out in the late game. In many ways, money and efficient breakers make ice as irrelelvant as Blackmail and DDoS do.


This article, and in fact the entire series, was super good.

I only vehemently disagreed with one thing here:

Further, kudos to the design of Hard Hitting News, I find this card to fit perfectly in the triad of active tagging, and a great addition to the game.

Time Walk is not an OK card. HHN is a card that has a pushed power level to demonstrate the Terminal mechanic. This is similar to Sensie demonstrating Political, Caprice demonstrating Psi, and Boom! demonstrating trashable operations. In all of these cases, the card has singlehandedly warped the meta around dealing with that card. You cannot seriously take a deck to a large tournament without at least having a plan for Sensie, Caprice, Boom!, and HHN. The fact that the answers for those four cards are in different directions (Sensie and HHN overlap the most) is not a good sign. Put another way, you can build Mono-Strategy decks around each of those four cards that require specific hate. (With, again, Sensie and HHN overlapping quite a bit. Mostly because Sensie just makes every card better, especially if you want/need to draw those cards in a specific timeframe.) And this is even discounting the fact that it’s a Yellow card, overloading that faction even further with Power cards. (Sometimes I think their strategy for balancing NBN is to simply print too many good cards for any one NBN deck to run, and hope that people get caught up in including too many of them and end up diluting the power of their deck. See also: Worlds 2016 Top 16 Corp. … Not Corps, Corp.)

To fix HHN, it’s relatively simple: Increase trace strength, and change the number of tags to 3. It’s still a good card, and in fact, better in the circumstances it needs to be (Tagstorm decks have problems dealing with Link Runners. HHN doesn’t solve that at this time.) without being a free turn if you land the trace. It also becomes something that isn’t oppressive enough to dedicate cards to hate it out. It becomes Good, instead of Meta-Defining.

Still, HHN is a personal pet peeve of mine. Rumor Mill is similar, but your arguments were interesting and I think you convinced me to try Palana again. (Probably not Sandburg+Batty+Caprice+Grail though… God that was a glorious, glorious month.)

When it comes to Blackmail (and En Passant), there’s one important thing about the card you have to realize. It trades Corp Pressure for Accesses. If you don’t allow the Corp to rez ICE, Corps get rich very quickly. You absolutely have to get Agendas off of your Blackmail in order to be able to have a chance later in the game when your stream of operation recursion dries up. Along with specific counter cards being available for the matchup (and in Weyland no less, which is actually the faction that would need it the most, so that’s interesting…) I’m not convinced Blackmail needs to be on MWL. There’s also only one ID that realistically runs Blackmail anyway.

I’m also really amused by the False Echo Restriction request. If there’s a card in that deck that needs to be Restricted, it’s actually DDOS. False Echo was binder fodder for the longest time and only with DDOS did it become playable at all. This is despite the fact that it works with Blackmail, too. There’s really no reason for False Echo to be Restricted. It’d be similar to requesting that Accelerated Diagnostics be Restricted because CI7 exists. (And even then, both decks have ways of working around only one of the Key Card being available.)

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Maxima is plural. Maximum is the singular.


Thanks! I’ll try to adress your points:

HHN imo seems unfair, and escpecially in CTM. In a vacuum it is ridiculously easy to counter however: stay at 8-12 credits. The reason it is needed is for rush-decks that need kill potential (Argus) and for decsk that need a side benefit for tagging (economic cost for runner).
I see your point, but i think some of your examples are well done like HHN and Boom! while others are not like Caprice and Sensie. In my opinion if there is a generic strategy for most decks to play around the card it is more likely to be ok.

I’m aware of that cost of Blackmail, i just think that 1: it is a binary overpowered option, 2: the corp set up to rush-score agendas do not have other options to turn that money into winning, and 3: there are way to many recursion options to realistically bleed the runner out of Blackmails.

Well, the card itself is not a problem, the archetype is. I am personally not a fan of DDoS, especially stacked with other effects, but i’m not sure it, either, is overpowered in a vacuum. It can be played around, and it has a more severa cost to use than Blackmail for example. One False echo would limit the amount of ICE bounces to 4, which would be fine in my world.


Thanks, and hang in there. Rotation is coming!

Hey and thanks. i’ll try to answer these:

  1. I decided to leave out Prison IG (while it is an obvious candidate) since there were more current examples.

  2. Yes, BN is a major problem it turned out. i think we’ll be fine concerning Boom! etc though even though i find it odd that they choose to enable more NBN-kill all the time.

  3. I agree, most definitely. As i wrote i have observed this while testing, however it has some really bad matchups (notably Val). I’m glad more people are investigating!

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I think Prison IG might have a resurgence soon. FiHP is a hell of a card.

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I still remain unconvinced about HHN. Especially because ‘stay at 8-12 credits’ literally doesn’t happen, ever. Argus already has kill potential in SEA Source (and in fact SEA Source is better, because you can kill them the same turn.) and decks that have a side benefit for tagging already have Data Raven. HHN is like if you could put four rezzed Data Ravens on all your servers, all the time. Whenever you run, you can be forced into a trace-fight and pay to clear four tags. HHN reminds me very heavily of Museum of History, a card that specifically pushes the power level of a mechanic to its breaking point. The only other Terminal operation that’s seeing some play is Preemptive Action, which more serves to illustrate how busted Jackson really is. (Stock Buy-Back also sees some play, I suppose.)

The point is that HHN is extremely powerful because forcing you to end your turn in exchange for the runner spending Their next turn clearing tags is the most obvious use of a Terminal operation, as it bypasses the restriction of the mechanic. ALSO, the downside to HHN is that you just don’t play the card if you can’t beat the Runner’s trace. It’s an extremely high ceiling of power (you win the game) with a correspondingly high floor (you drew a card that you can’t play immediately). There’s minimal drawback for the card’s worst case scenario, and even in the worst-case scenario, you’re dictating the terms of how the Runner plays.

With Regard To Blackmail: 1) Potentially, but while it parallels HHN in the High Ceiling, High Floor department, it differs because the setup cost for Blackmail is also correspondingly high, so it gets a pass on being Very Powerful, In Limited Circumstances. 2) That’s why the best decks to fight Blackmail pack Biotic Labor/SSCG, as they do, in fact, turn money into winning. 3) Actually it’s more about the speed of the options you get. Generally speaking they’ll draw a Blackmail-equivalent about once every two turns. (Remember, this is Val. 50 cards.) There’s between 9 and 27 Blackmail-equivalents in a Val deck, depending on whether they’re running less-used things like Trope, or if they’re using Levy. (SOT and Deja are a given.) Because there’s so many, you’re right, they generally won’t run out of Blackmails. On the other hand, do you know the common number of Accesses needed to win a game >50% of the time? Because that number is greater than nine… The trick that every Corp can use is to bait Blackmail runs. They won’t run out of Blackmail, but they will run out of Blackmail for this turn, and open a scoring window.

And as for False Echo… Still not convinced. :wink: DDOS is stronger than Blackmail because you don’t have to be Valencia, and you can get multiple runs out of one DDOS. It sometimes doesn’t even matter that the run isn’t free with DDOS, just that they can’t rez the ICE. Also, with En Passant, DDOS becomes much more powerful.

… Gosh I wrote a lot about HHN… >_>

What really bothers me about Rumor Mill and Blackmail in tandem is that it absolutely crushes newbies. Really, all you have to do is Blackmail whenever they advance a card and and you’ll win 80% of the time. Play it along The Source and you won’t even need a single icebreaker.


Heheh yeah i believe that what you experience with HHN is also its use in combination with CTM and assets. If looking at it in an Argus deck (that has an issue of not having as much money as BS for using SEA by the way) it is on the power-curve. Staying at 8-12 is not always easy, but that’s the point. Cards should be powerful. The problem with CTM is that it easily creates a situation where you have to trash, greatly increasing the power of HHN.

I think we agree on Blackmail. It is however drastically different for different decks being able to effectively bait the 9 runs you need. A glacier-deck that runs 4/2’s for example cannot do this while HB can more easily do it.

That’s fine :wink:
I’d be fine with DDoS on the MWL, i am not sure enoug just yet to recommend it however. Personally i don’t like the card design, but i do think it is better than blackmail by far and it does have counterplay, hence more difficult to evaluate.

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Aw man… What’s the protocol on profile picture uniqueness? Do I need to change mine since you joined a few months before me?


We can come to some kind of… agreement i’m sure. Jinteki match, best of 5?


Honestly I’m not as hung up on Blackmail.

Because without Blackmail, Valencia wouldn’t see play.

I don’t believe that. She starts with a Desperado installed for christs sake.

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Wait for Eli 2.0?


There’s some good points in this article, but I think you left out the biggest issue in the state of Netrunner: rotation takes way, way, way too long. It’s been many months since I’ve met a new Netrunner player, whereas I meet new Game of Thrones, Destiny, Arkham, etc. players all the time (and see people quitting Netrunner all the time). The card pool is far too large for people to invest the time or money into. Fixing issues like Rumor Mill would do a lot to improve the tournament experience for me, but focusing the ‘way too large card pool’ issue would improve my ability to play casually at game stores with a wide variety of people.