Worlds Prep Week One – Worse… but better?

It’s been about a week since the updated Standard Ban List came out and we’re just starting to get a sense of what the meta is going to look like. Helpfully, members of the playtest team have been publishing the lists they were looking at before the list was released on netrunnerdb which gave us a bit of a shortcut, and the usual suspects have been grinding out a ton of games on jnet which has all added to our own testing and initial impressions to start to answer a few questions.

In this first week we’ve been looking a bit more closely at runner than corp, for two separate and almost opposite reasons. First, if we don’t figure out what corps are good we have a very obvious and obviously good fallback in PD, and second it’s generally not obvious what corps are worth looking at. The update has released several new different directions (Jinteki grinder, Azmari, Gagarin tempo/prison, some BoN monstrosity) but it’s likely that at least some of them are just not good, as well as the meta shifting generally around the pre-existing corps from the continentals meta. We’ll look more at all of that next week and hopefully something jumps out but, for now, runners.

Just as a caveat before getting into these, it has only been 6 days and these definitely aren’t completely refined lists, a total vision of the meta or entirely accurate assessments but hopefully it’s handy to someone to see where we’re at.

Steve

Rotom’s List, but even more boring

Anyone who has listened to last week’s episode of the podcast will have heard, we were fairly down on Steve as an ID and weren’t sure quite how a reg Steve deck would stack up against the obvious power of pre-ban 419. Having now tested the above list quite a bit (starting with the playtest list Rotom published, trimming a few cards and adding 2 Inside Jobs, a third Boomerang and a Dash) I think those doubts were a bit ill founded. The id is very definitely weaker than 419, at least as far as the Aumakua synergy is concerned in the early game, but the power boost you gain from PAD Tap and to a slightly lesser extent Mad Dash seems to cover that gap quite nicely. The Taps provide a similar effect to 419 in the early game, either slowing the corp by a full turn while they try and trash them or giving you a cheaper set of Rezekis so you can contest their board.

The PD matchup is the big one and warrants some further testing but the full set of 3 Boomerang, 2 Inside Job and 3 Falsified gives you a lot of power to contest early, the Dash helps you close out a little quicker (either off a blind Mad Dash dig or if you can hit the remote with Polop and either Falsified info or just some intuition about there being an agenda in there) and the barrage of recurred Diversions, PAD Taps and Bravados Steve can unleash can be brutal if they stumble. I certainly wouldn’t call it a heavily favoured matchup, you have some draw variance, especially without Earthrise Hotel to smooth things out, and PD can always just storm over you with a good start but it feels similar to 419’s matchup before the ban to me and definitely warrants practice if you plan to play Steve.

The asset based matchups, Gagarin and CTM, both feel eminently manageable if you know what you’re doing and manage to balance caution with fighting over the board. You would ideally like the 3rd Bones Rotom had in his list but as long as you don’t draw pure trash it doesn’t feel necessary, one early feels like enough to fight over the board and keep them on their toes then with an id trigger you can either get a second copy back for free or force the corp to give you another strong econ card like a Bravado to stop you getting it back. This matchup can be a little miserable for everyone involved, especially against the more prison-y, win con light Gagarin decks, but they are not too bad.

Nothing else at this point seems too scary, NBN glacier seems to be on the back foot in the jnet meta but it’s pretty beatable with a ton of drip econ, Boomerangs, Falsifieds and Mad Dash. Jinteki grinder is a pain and you have to constantly balance playing around a lot of things in their ice suite, upgrades and traps but at this point I’ve not seen a list that was too punishing for Steve as long as you play carefully (and don’t walk into Saisentan with 5 events in hand, ahem).

Lesson learned, I’ll never doubt reg criminal again until Aumakua and Bravado rotate.

Hoshiko

10 influence?!?!

Spoongolo Hoshiko

We’ve still not really managed to crack this one, and from what I’ve seen around no one else quite has either. The lists above are two different things we’ve tried, with John deciding to see if you can tighten up the PD matchup by spending 10 influence on Logic Bomb as an even more powerful version of Boomerang and a whole bunch of different people on jnet trying different variations on Hoshiko with Engolo, Spooned (to beat Kakugo as well as to stop PD dragging you through something annoying like an Ansel repeatedly) and the mandatory 3 PAD Tap.

Every variation on this that we’ve tried has suffered in similar ways, the slots feel horribly congested and you just can’t fit the tools you need in for one matchup without shoving out the things you need for another matchup or some extremely fundamental piece of core econ or draw. Once you decide that you definitely want 3 PADs, some number of either Rezekis or Foldings (depending on your mu), Hippos (because why else are you playing Anarch), Gate, Dash, Overclock because otherwise you can’t contest PD’s remote and a set of breakers the list is already starting to seriously creak. We’ve found that you can just about fill out a functional looking list from there but it tends to be left with a glaring weakness, either a lack of burst econ so it can consistently fight over the board against asset decks but crumbles to Warfare/HHN, or no way to fight over a PD remote in the mid to late game.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this one with interest, if someone else solves those problems (other than in the way I’ll discuss next) then this could be a real contender but for now, despite being the most obvious place to play PAD Tap, Dash and a real Dash enabler in Gate, it’s going on the back burner to Steve. Definitely don’t dismiss it but if you’ve got limited time from here on out and you want just pick up the obvious, good against everything deck, look to crim rather than anarch.

Big Maxx

No that’s far too many cards

Now this one has come from outside our group entirely, Osclate from the Snarebears and several other members of their team have been playing this and have said that it’s the real deal. We’ve not tested it much, with a bit of an aversion to Large Deck MaxX for aesthetic reasons, but it makes a bit of sense. If anarch has all the pieces of a good deck but just absolutely cannot fit it into one pile then playing a ton of cards makes sense, and if speed is your main concern against the best corp then playing it in MaxX similarly makes sense.

From the handful of games that any of us have played with or against it we have some serious concerns about the consistency, while there is a lot of draw there is a tendency in there to either mill all of something important or just not see a breaker because all 3 copies are in the bottom 10. If you are happy to lean into the chaos a bit this might be something to look into but until we see some more solid numbers we’re still a little suspect.

That weird green faction

What I am NOT Playing for Continentals 2021

A couple of us have poked around with this a little after getting sick of playing Hoshiko and MaxX against grinder Palana and it sure is a shaper deck. CritHitD20 is a shaper magician and I think the list, with a few meta tweaks and some space found for PAD Tap probably, is about as strong as the faction gets right now… but that isn’t saying a whole lot. You have to fight a long way up hill to make the deck feel decent when Steve can just fall out of bed, play a Bravado here, an Inside Job there and walk away with a win, and once you get there you still don’t have a deck that is very happy playing against Crisium PD or Crisium ACME.

This is a direction that we would firmly not recommend looking at too much, unless you just really love green cards or you come up with something absolutely demonic playing Encore.

The other stuff

There’s plenty we haven’t quite got to yet and will try to in the next few weeks. Hivemind MaxX is a major standout, we have some doubts about whether it’s quite right at the moment, given that it wasn’t incredible against PD before and now PD is still there and joined by multiple asset HHN decks, but I’m sure NWE will prove us wrong somehow. Apoc anarch isn’t here either but that we’re just ignoring for now, while it does obviously have some leverage against the Gagarin and CtM decks, the matchup against Kakugo decks and Crisium heavy NBN Glacier is an absolute nightmare and PD isn’t much better. There will be some about but for now it’s off of our testing radar.

That’s all for now, as always we’re very interested in any feedback about any of this, and if you have any lists that you think we’re seriously overlooking give us a shout and we’ll have a look.

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