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The State of Netrunner

Actually, I wonder what the meta would look like if instead of Genesis and Spin leaving after Red Planet, Genesis leaves after Flashpoint. Sadly that doesn’t solve Blackmail, but all the Projects get the heave-ho, no more Midseasons, no more Oversight AI (rip), no more Whiz, no more DLR, no more Andy, etc. It’s not like people haven’t been warned rotation was coming; maybe the solution is get the show on the road? (Maybe it’ll just make Breaking News Boom! decks more oppressive, with no Plascrete and no NACH, though.) At the very least, it’s a meta I’m curious to test out.

How much of a problem is turning off ICE rez for one run?

It seems to me that it is only really a “game breaking” problem if your deck relies entirely on that mechanic. If you build a glacier deck with GFI plus a load of 2-pointers relying on ICE/ICE plus upgrades to form guaranteed scoring windows before ever installing an agenda, you are in a bad place against heavy Blackmail recursion.

But what if you build a glacier deck with 1-pointers instead, where you use your ICE to tax runs rather than forming guaranteed scoring windows (“Yes you can steal any agenda you want, but you won’t be able to afford/have enough Blackmails to steal all of them”)? What if you replace your defensive upgrades (for guaranteed agenda windows) with advanceable traps (for a more probabilistic approach to killing/getting to 7 before the Runner)?

Is one card that subverts a core mechanic a problem? Or are decks that can’t function at all without that mechanic the issue?

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The difference is that a deck with GFI + 2 pointers can win against non-blackmail.

The 3/1 deck is going to lose against pretty much everything.

Yep, and if there was one deck that was preferred against everything, wouldn’t that be pretty boring? If your deck is good against one thing, it’ll be bad against something else.

The question is whether one tactic (Blackmail) is unplayable. I suspect that the card pool allows for play against it moreso than the decks that players generally tend to build. A deck predicated entirely on abusing the “2-pointers plus GFI for the Corp” agenda make-up combined with building board states that allow for secure, predictable scoring windows is no less mono-strategic than one that relies predominantly on Blackmail.

A glacier deck reliant entirely on ICE and defensive upgrades to secure predictable windows is not a middle-of-the-road/all-comers/toolbox/“fair” Netrunner deck. A real toolbox Netrunner deck would rely on bluff, strong ICE and tricks in equal measure.

If you bring no hand size increase, no meat damage protection and no tag avoidance, you will be sad when you run into BOOM! If you bring no out-of-run rez abilties, no bad pub removal, no upgrades to prevent theft with no ICE (Caprice, Old Hollywood Grid and so on) and no traps, you will be equally sad when you hit a Blackmail deck.

You skipped half of the problem. Blackmail is around for a while now, but only now with En Passent people started to complain (again). Now it’s not “turning off for one run”, but also trashing that ICE afterwards. Combine that with Siphon and the corp has lost money and protection. Which is a powerful combo and potentially frustrating if you are not used to it, but " every deck needs to pack boot camp from now on" is imho nonsense.
I can think of a large amount of decks that do just fine: Nearly all flavours of Jinteki apart from RP/Palana glacier do fine. Russian NEH can score on amazingly low money and has various cost 0 ICE, CtM can dodge the Siphons and win over unprotected asset spam and tag punishment. Blue Sun has a way of rezzing ICE outside of runs (Oversight AI) already in the deck. Also, with Archangel/Sapper/Snare now every faction other than HB can hide threads in R&D and punish Medium digs (if you manage to get some money).
As for HB … ehm … ABT, ICE recursion via Friends in High Places and NA games? Okay I admit, they got hit pretty hard by the new Val … and Glacier has a problem with that, but I heard rumors Glacier had a problem before. :wink:

I’m not sure I was ignoring it. I agree that such a specific combination can be oppressive. I was addressing the assertion that the problem was with Blackmail itself.

If you can keep R&D ICE-free, Medium or Keyhole can be oppressive effects. Ditto recursive Account Siphon or Vamp on HQ. But any kind of ICE destruction deck can do this, it’s not just limited to Blackmail-En Passant. Compared to AI-Cutlery, or heavy Parasite-recursion I would say that the Blackmail-En Passant combo is actually clunkier in the long run, but has the quicker setup advantage of being able to ignore facecheck pain in the early game without breakers.

I would suggest that the problem lies with the run effects not Blackmail per se, or at least those run effects where dedicated ICE destruction is a significant tactic in the game. Install all the Mediums, run undefended R&D four times a turn is no less uninteractive if carried out with AI-Cutlery deck than a Blackmail-En Passant deck. In fact I would say the Blackmail deck is more interactive, since if you can somehow get some ICE rezzed, you are more likely to make the Runner search for a solution. If a cutlery deck has the resource advantage, they probably don’t even care.

I have bluffed way, way more with foodcoats than any non-Jinteki deck. Never advance is a thing, double biotic GFI, installing an agenda on BBG. Stuff like that. Bluffing is not part of deckbuilding, so I think your statement is not quite fair. Also traps have major problems that have been discussed a million times before, so I dont want to go into that.


Surat does not fulfill the roles I want EBC to do:

  1. It costs 2 influence per copy instead of one. EBC+2 Architects is better than Surat Grid.
  2. EBC being a tutor is significantly more useful for the vast majority of decks than a discount on rezzing cards after rezzing another card. I can tutor for economy, Sandbug, Jackson or whatever tricks I have.
  3. If they run the remote EBC its in, that’s a win for me, specially since I can still use the tutor ability.
    3.1) If Valencia blackmails every single facedown card for fear of EBC, I win. If not, I’ll rez an annoying piece of ICE to make it protect itself and keep working slowly.
  4. EBC functions on its own. I can slap it behind an Aiki and start rezzing cards. If they run it, I come out winning. On the other hand, Surat requires me drawing, playing and rezzing other cads in the same server and chances are that if they run them, I lose a bit.
  5. EBC costs 0 credits, dicounts by one. Surat costs 2 credits, discounts by two. I prefer the former, because I want to rez ASAP against DDoS.

I really think it’s the easiest way for Corps to metagame against both DDoS-fuelled decks and Valencia. Or at least the right-meta call.


Don’t you think that the reason for this problem is the heavy runner advantage in the game right now? A straight forward runner deck can win Worlds (see: Chris Dyer’s Temujin Whizzard), but with corp’s at such a huge disadvantage, they can’t afford to be fair. If you fix the runner/corp unbalance, I think you fix a lot of the unfairness in the meta.


I like that they offer balanced counters together. Along with Architects of Tomorrow, they have given us the Khan bird suite. When I am using my janky Khan, de-rezzing the ice on the outside, then the AoT trigger doesn’t fire. But I have to spend crazy money to keep it up. Good balance.

(I’ve also been playing AoT, so thanks for the advice on that!)

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I just wanted to chime in wrt the rock/paper/scissors comment. I am still enjoying the game, but have also been noticing the RPS factor becoming more and more pronounced over the past year. I would agree with those that say more and more of the game is being ‘played’ in the deckbuilding/choosing phase. And that’s not something I particularly enjoy. To put it in context, I am very much a tactical player. I enjoy decks with many lines of play, decks that allow me to play in the moment and test my skill by forcing me to pivot each and every game, depending on board state. For me, the game does not feel the same when played in a strategic mode, from either side. I understand that many players enjoy this, but I’m not one of them. I understand what I need to do as Whiz when playing against IG, or how to approach the CI7 match-up, but I am less emotionally and intellectually engaged in these games than those where two tactical decks try to play with their hands and out-maneuver the opponent. One issue is that the Corp has been out-paced when it comes to tactical mid-range strategies and cards. A few problems cards have already been mentioned here. I don’t have any answers to hand down from on high, but I think the observation that it’s ‘one in and one out at this point’ is valid. ANR at its Core was a tricky game to pitch to new players; I would say it’s an impossible one now. There are still thousands who enjoy playing it, myself included, but I would like to see the rock/paper/scissors aspect somehow combated. I’ve always gravitated towards games that mitigated this somewhat. For ANR, I think the OP hypothesis that limiting strategic power level and increasing tactical power level would be a good place to start. Combo decks are fun, but for many their appeal is largely novelty, which leads to a super swingy meta where people play the latest strategic deck for a week or a month before picking up the next strategic deck that answers its nemesis.


To echo Moistloaf’s comment above, the final of Top Deck #2 came down 100% to the deck choices made by the two players.

In an alarming note for me, both finalists played an IG asset spam decks.

I’m affraid that this might be a fundamental problem in the design of the core asymmetric ANR mechanics. There is perhaps only a limited space for creativity in designing ICE, breakers and run effects. Therefore designers are spending more and more time developing various alternative strategies, which have now mostly replaced the core Corps approaches.

And in the ICE vs. breakers + runner econ area, it is again a hard question how to balance and explore the design space without falling into the pattern of perpetual arms races. Which seems to be happening all the time in ANR, with runners having the upper hand currently with the recent strong econ options and new efficient breakers. But we are already getting a new generation of very strong ICEs, which might tip the balance to Corp side again. (I firmly believe that in Mumbai cycle meta Corps had massive advantage over runners, with pretty much only Whizzard being able to keep the pace with them.)
I’m not fan of this cyclic power creep approach, but I really don’t see if there are any realistic alternatives… The heavily assymetric nature of Netrunner is certainly making this a very hard problem.


Finals of the first also came down to deck selection

I have a theory that most new players tend to play strategic decks, even when they don’t have decks designed to play strategically. I discovered my first comfortable deck when I got my hands on a rush deck that really had no other outs than being a rush deck. I did not do well with the deck, but I felt comfortable playing it.

It is easier as a new player to frame a simple strategic concept and pursue that than it is to develop skill at playing tactically. That does not mean it is wise to do, but it is my experience and something of a warning. As a new player, I need to develop more tactical skill, but it is hard to do so, especially when you are not always sure which mistakes were really mistakes and which ones led to defeat.

Yes i agree, the trap is often made even more dangerous since there are very strong strategic decks out there that play semi-solo. This leads to a state where a new player has to unlearn what they’ve learnt to start learning the rest of the game when switching to a more standard deck, and also start losing a lot more.

Usually an unfun experience, and i suspect some people just continue to switch decks to be able to find ‘the one deck’ that they win with again without going back and learning the other skills. If this happens it is probably not good for player-retention. This was a sub-theme in my ‘decks’ article, to help set new players on the track to most fun from the start, and prevent this pitfall.

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To be fair to the designers, adding new archetypes is pretty understandable as a desire and probably neccessary to prevent the game going stale. Another advantage of rotation (and the MWL) is that it allows different types of decks to cycle in power level as cards move in and out of the pool.

Ideally the designers would be adding new tactical elements to the game as much if not more than adding new strategies. This has definitely happened, however there is a fine line in power level between something being a viable tactical choice and it becoming a viable all in strategy (which then requires counters that can kill it on a tactical level). An example beyond asset spam might be program destruction, although you can argue the counters came first and have pushed it towards an all-in strategy.