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Won't we always have a most hated deck?

From a suggestion on Slack, I was listening to Episode 77 of The Winning Agenda podcast, in which @TheBigBoy was recounting the creation of DumbleForks. In the podcast, he traced the genesis of that deck to his search for a counter to “the Foodcoats terror.”

As a player who started playing the game in October 2016, I was struck by this comment since my experience in the game has been hearing people bemoan the loss of Foodcoats since Rumor Mill was printed. Over and over, I hear how terrible it is that glacier is not strong.

It seems like the game is always going to have a “terror” deck that everyone hates and thinks dominates the game too much. IF that is true, does it make sense to make changes in the game like MWL based on what are perceived to be the current “too powerful” decks?

I’m not suggesting the MWL itself is bad, but shouldn’t it be narrowly targeted at broken cards and not at powerful decks?


You’re really asking two separate questions here.

1. Won’t there always be a best deck?

Yes, there will. But there are two key considerations that also tend to determine how much people complain about that deck. The first is how big the gap is to the next best decks; if there are a range of viable alternatives to the best deck, and in particular if those decks have broadly different strategies and attack the opponent in a variety of ways, then hey, you’ve got a healthy meta game. As an example, while Foodcoats was at it’s strongest Fastrobiotics was also a very strong deck choice that played in a totally different way.

The second part to that question is simply whether the games against the best deck are fun or not. Foodcoats tended to produce quite close, strategic and exciting games of Netrunner. Hot Tubs and IG54? Not so much.

The reason (and I realise that you didn’t ask this question) that so many people are begging for an MWL update right now is that both of these factors are negative; there aren’t enough alternatives to the best decks, and the games that those best decks produce are often not very fun.

2. Shouldn’t the MWL target broken cards instead of powerful decks?

Who knows, frankly. One of the issues that Netrunner is dealing with right now is that nobody, least of all the design team, knows what the MWL is actually for. We can extrapolate reasons based on what Damon said when it was introduced and what cards have been placed on it, but it’s still far from clear. Is it designed to reinforce the colour pie (hence Lady’s inclusion?). Was it to help expand design space (Pre-paid Voice Pad?). Was it to encourage diversity in deck building (Desperado?) or tournament representation (Wyldside?).

The truth is that it’s been used as a hodge podge of all of the above, which means that the strategy of what cards should be added to it (and at what levels) isn’t particularly clear. One of the things that I’d like to see under Boggsy’s reign is that they clarify what the MWL is trying to accomplish, and if it’s a balanced tournament meta game then it should be handed over to the OP department to maintain rather than design.


Chris gives a pretty excellent summary and I have only a few things to add. One of the important things to keep in mind is everyone has different aspects of the game they like and dont like, so someone will always be complaining no matter what is good. The trick is to try and make a meta with a large variety of options that are good, so everyone gets to play something that they like and no one has to play against the stuff they don’t like too often.

Beyond that, there are a couple of strategies that are generally pretty universally disliked and should probably never be top tier (prison, pure combo decks). It’s good for these to exist because it is an aspect of the game some people do really like, but it’s bad if they’re any good. However, you can kind of cheat and roll this into the first idea on balance because the decks that people tend to hate the most also tend to have very orthogonal strategies that require very specific strategies to deal with them, which in turn means the options on dealing with them heavily limits the meta (play whizzard or lose).

In terms of what should the mwl be for, I think Chris nails it that ffg is muddled and confused on this. I think as structured it only makes sense as a deck view meta balancer, because it’s purely a deck building restriction. Cards on the mwl are not actually any different when you at them, the only difference is the decks you’re able to make with them. On the specific subject of op being in charge, I think Chris is correct this should be the way things are done because designers tend to get biased by there intent and veer into the other categories. However, it seems to me boggs is the only person on ffg who has significant contact and communication with the player base, and at this point with rotation coming up netrunner is basically already all in on boggs being a miraculously good designer, so might as well stick with him imo.


Or rather, require very specific CARDS to deal with them.

There’s a difference between playing ‘tech’ to improve a specific matchup and playing ‘tech’ to actually have a shot. In my view, a meta where a Reg-Ass deck, i.e. money + breakers + multi-access (and a few tricks) does not have a decent shot at winning the majority of its matchups, is a sign of a not-fun meta. That does not mean other strategies shouldn’t exist, but a big part of why Andysucker, Reg Maxx and PVP Kate where so much fun is that they allowed people with strong fundamentals and a good understanding of the opponent’s strategy to actually leverage those. Actual in-game decisions are more pronounced here.

Granted, Corp decks are much more heavily restricted in this kind of flexibility and it’s mainly on the Corp side that things are in a bad spot right now. But Corp strategies that actually force the Runners away from the above Reg shell are imo the biggest cause of discontent right now.


The MWL can certainly have more than one goal as long as its overall effect is understood.

If you are including Desperado to increase deck diversity, that’s great. Just understand how it is will affect Criminal’s relative power and how it will affect asset spam/prison.

I have really been loving Desperado on the MWL because rewards me for using some weirdo console in Crim instead of just making me feel like a chump. It’s coming off probably for the greater good and that’s fine too.

Feeels like designers and developers should be able to talk to each other and come up with an optimal solution. I’m very happy for Boggs or whoever to continue to have an input in the MWL.


Absolutely agree with most of this. Particularly about the MWL being a muddled concoction.

I think, to be completely honest, part of that is that it wasn’t about balance or design space. I think those were reasons that were back-filled to get rid of certain decks (ahem, PPVP) or cards that might have made up a significant portion of the meta, but weren’t necessarily a problem. Being stagnant can be a problem, and I get that shaking up metas is cool, but why do so if the game is healthy?

Clarification on, and streamlining, the MWL so that it has a understandable set of goals can only be a good thing for the competitive scene. You’re right that they really need to figure out what it is supposed to do and tell us explicitly. I think this is something we’ve all been talking about for a while now, isn’t it? The crux of the issue seems to always boil down to communication. They don’t do enough; we want more.

I disagree that, should they decide MWL is mostly a balance tool, that it should get handed over to OP. Quite the opposite, I think that lead designers of LCGs need more control over how OP is run for their particular game. FFG needs to place more trust in these designers to set the direction and tone of competitive play. Especially when it comes to just letting us know what is going on; the fact that designers can’t say “We know that’s an issue, we’re looking into it” or “We’re working on a new set of fixes” is so egregious it throws me into fits of foaming nerd rage.


These kinds of responses are why I keep asking questions and opening new topics here. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of the responses and the discussion.


I think those are a variety of problems that the Design team and the OP team want to address. And if the MWL works to solve them, great. I rather not have a FAQ with a section for color pie adjustments, another section for design space expansion, a section for diversity, etc. If the MWL doesn’t work for these problems, then we should continue discussing and figuring out if there are better alternatives.

The OP team seems over-burdened, so I wouldn’t want them to be tasked to know the meta and card interactions well enough to make an informed list. We’ll likely have to wait even longer.

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I appreciate your outlook and attitude and facilitating these discussions. I thought I had understood and known much of this information, but seeing others post has helped broaden my understanding.


You can boil the answer down to “Yes, depending on who you mean by ‘we’”.

There’s also different levels of hate.
I hated playing against Fastrobiotics, but concede that there is interplay between the two players, and there are deckbuilding decisions you can make to make the matchup easier, so I was never really unhappy playing against Fastrobiotics.
I hate playing against CI because it’s a broken combo that has literally no way to absolutely prevent them from scoring out, save literally taking the combo out of their deck with Slums or Archives Interface. I hate playing against CI because it’s never a game, but instead just 20-40 minutes of waiting for them to draw the broken combo. rant over It’s one redeeming quality is that it’s at least a cool puzzle to solve for the person playing the deck.


You can also just prevent them from scoring out by accessing 7 points from their deck.


I think OP being in charge of the MWL would be a big mistake. I don’t know much about them personally but my guess is they have much less of a handle on specific cards and how to address them, whatever the purpose of the MWL may be. I have a lot of faith in Boggs given some of his statements (e.g. “prison & asset spam should exist but not be everywhere” is an opinion I share) so let’s hope his guidance on the MWL helps competitive play.

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Relying on RNG to give you 7 agenda points isn’t a viable strategy or combo prevention. Especially because you can say the exact same thing about any Corp deck.

(Unless you stack the deck… figuratively… with Medium/R&D Interface/Indexing.)

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Almost every good runner deck has a way to get a lot of accesses if need be. Sure luck can swing either way but the same is true of any corp deck. The strategy against CI7 of maximising early accesses is both sound and effective.


Obviously not a Gabe Player. :stuck_out_tongue:


Not really true since the release of:

Well, I said ‘viable strategy’, didn’t I? :wink:

I was going to bring that up in response as well. The rate at which CI can accumulate cards in hand makes the random access game really oppressive for a number of reasons.

For one, it’s not atypical for them to have a hand of 15 or so cards with only a few agendas, so even getting 4 single accesses in a turn still won’t tip the odds in your favor.

This is confounded by the fact that CI is almost impossible to R&D lock because of the absurd amount of draw power between the Violet and Blue Level Clearances.

It seems like it’s just another deck that almost requires specific tech, either in the form of special HQ pressure (Maw, Ed Kim, Information Sifting) or in some kind of combo disruption piece (Hades/Utopia Shard, Salsette Slums). Beating it without specific answers is basically a coin-flip. Sure, you can improve your odds with good play, but superb play won’t necessarily win you the match.


Have the people who find playing against CI difficult tried playing as it? Cause when you actually try playing it, you realize there’s a zillion ways to lose and only a few ways to win unless you’re a genius like Dan who can pull a win out of an incredibly bleak situation.

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Yeah. I’ve played a lot of CI7, and I’ve built a reputation for being kinda good at it, but ultimately I think it loses to aggressive early game accesses more than it loses to any specific hate. If you just include good cards in your deck like Medium, Parasite, Temujin, Femme, Keyhole, Siphon, etc… you usually have pretty decent game against CI7. Its not about “medium lock” or “stopping the combo” its just about getting lots of accesses through their very porous ice.