this is a lot of text and a lot of Opinion and Joeks so feel free to stomp my nuts
Lukas Didn’t Lie, Corps Really Do Own the Moon: The Lunar Cycle was teased as the bringer of corp balance back when Andy had a humble 80% win rate in all match ups. People were skeptical. How much can actually change in one expansion and four data packs? Even three packs into the lunar cycle, the high level players that populate BGG and the netrunner subreddit were adamant that runners had the advantage at top tier competitive play. I mean, the source exists and clearly shuts down fast advance shenanigans as it has been doing since its release, and also account siphon is still busted and should be banned and my Wyrm professor deck is undefeated at my flgs so maybe I am actually the genius, nerds. But nope, it turns out no matter who you work for your corporation is going to be giving you a winning record. Although NEH was clearly the flavor of choice, there was a diversity of corporation IDs and archetypes seen at the top tables. Single remote glacier, multiple remote asset economy glacier, zero remote FA, multi remote FA, kill decks, combo decks, never advance, always advance, tag storm, if you can dream it you can play it and probably kick Andy’s butt with it.
J-tek Is Real: Honor & Profit brought Jinteki into the competitive scene and key cards have put them over the top. Lotus Field is one of the most annoying pieces of ice in the game against everyone but dedicated breaker shaper, with criminal having only inefficient in faction answers and anarch only having Knight. Force of Nature is not a real ice breaker, and I say that as someone who once splashed for it. At one influence, Lotus Field can fit in any deck and completes the irritating ice quadrangle: Eli 1.0, Architect, Wraparound, Lotus Field. Enhanced Login Protocol made Replicating Perfection one of the strongest if not THE strongest glacier ID and Shattered Remains found a home in Minh’s European Next Level Jinteki: PE deck as a counter to feedback filter. However this is America and we’re bad at netrunner; Minh only got to use it for dope showoff plays just to show how sick he is. This isn’t genesis cycle anymore and with PE, RP, Tenin, and yeah Nisei Division showing good records at top tables I think it’s safe to say Jinteki isn’t a faction you can dismiss as ‘not worth practicing against play a real deck’. They have some of the best matchups against criminal, and you’re going to see a lot of criminal in tournaments, so either give them respect or expect to get blown up.
Andy is Still the Go-to Runner, But for Different Reasons: In Genesis, Andy was the most imba out of all runners, and so going the eziest of ezmodes at a tournament isn’t a hard choice. Why have a 7-3 advantage when you can have a 10-0? Through C&C and Spin cycle other runners moved around, but Andy stayed tippity top tier. Drawing nine cards will literally never be a bad ability, unless somehow the card pool changes to such a degree that nine blue cards is just a handful of garbage. Now, at the tail end of the Lunar Cycle, Andy has the distinction of being popular because she is the Least Worst. Depending on how you build her she can give you winnable matches. Parasite for RP, Feedback Filter for PE, RnD attack for NEH, etc etc. But building for one match-up puts you at a disadvantage in another. With a diverse and powerful corp pool you’re going to need to play out of your mind to get a winning record even with the Blue Queen of Netrunner.
Remotes Servers are Back: Between RP, NEH, and PE multiple remote servers and asset economy are a thing again, turning a bunch of cards that used to be dead back on. Bank Job in particular was heavily leaned on by crims for the NEH match up, and having Infiltration in your deck isn’t a mistake. Whizzard still sucks though. Just being real with it.
Anarch is in a Ruff Spot: Almost every popular corp card that has come out has kicked Anarch’s ass, with parasite being the weakest it’s ever been and AI breakers being at their least efficient. Quetzal can be built against individual decks and have an ok time, but completely faceplants if you put her against whatever she didn’t tech for. Reina and Whizzard suffer from the same problems they always have, exacerbated by the increased strength of corp decks and the lack of answers in-faction. Cache got Noise back in the game and he has reasonable match-ups. But when you lean on variance, variance leans on you. Enjoy milling 22 cards, popping Hades Shard and completely whiffing while your opponent scores out their final agenda behind a Lotus Field and Wraparound. Anarch keep getting really cool cards that do a lot if you can actually get into servers, but continue to be unable to actually do so with any efficiency or consistency. They have strong synergies, but take too long to get all the pieces on the table. When they move fast they fizzle quickly, when they play slow their ultimate rig isn’t worth it. They need to bloat their decks with multiple copies of everything just to draw what they need in reasonable time. Hope is on the horizon, with Order and Chaos around the corner and the San-San Cycle giving them the real FA answer in Clot. But if they still need to blow all their influence on money and card draw/card tutoring, if they still have no effective way into servers, if their combos are still too convoluted and unrewarding, Anarch is going to remain inconsistent and unreliable in any competitive setting. Please Lukas, show me the promised land. #ibelieveinlukas
The Yellow Elephant in the Room: I get NEH, I think NEH is a cool flexible identity and its release was the first time I ever really cared to build an NBN deck. You can do tons of cool, fun, wacky stuff with 17 influence and card draw on remote server creation. Or you can put in three biotic labors, three elis, architect or lotus field and stay up all night to get lucky. NEH FA is card game armageddon, asset economy too strong, comebacks too real, I’m going to sell all my cards and go play hearthstone/prismata/uno only emerging occasionally to complain about how much I hate this archetype and how free I feel knowing I never have to play against it again. Has a losable match-up with Chaos Theory and Noise.
Luck’s Got Something to Do with It: As much as we like to believe the reason we pulled the winning agenda from hand is because we are just too clutch, too godlike, PDX represent, luck is a factor in netrunner and has a concrete effect on your tournament standing. Sometimes the dude who you swept drops out, your sos suffers, your 10-4 isn’t good enough for top 16 and you don’t make the cut, even though you swept two nationals winners. Sometimes you run RnD three times the whole game and hit 2 pointer, 2 pointer, 3 pointer future perfect, and win the psi game. Sometimes you run HQ four times with nerve agent in one turn and see nothing but ice and the biotic labor they’re going to use to score the game winning Astroscript you missed. Sometimes you win the game running through data raven with no Plascrete out. Sometimes they have three scorch and Midseason Replacements in their starting hand. Sometimes you make winner’s bracket and get to corp for 5 out of 6 games. Netrunner is a game of player skill, but it’s also a card game. Suck outs happen, lucky wins happen, it’s tough out here but that’s life in the nfl.
In Conclusion, People Who Play Netrunner Are Fundamentally Better People Than People Who Don’t: There are definitely dicks in the netrunner community, but most of the fun of Worlds for me was getting to meet and hang out with netrunner players, both inside and outside of hot tubs. The same is not true for say, Dota, Magic the Gathering, Hearthstone, Street Fighter. I don’t know if it’s just chance that the game would have a community of cool people or if something about netrunner inherently attracts nicer dudes and dudettes than other games, especially since gaming communities tend to attract just absolutely tremendous smug unrelenting assholes. But generally speaking, people that play netrunner are incredibly cool cats and I love this game and the peeps who play it.