Worlds Prep Week Two – Full Meme Ahead

It’s been a week and a bit since the last post and, in theory, we’ve been looking for a corp in that time. Runner is far from solved (more on that later) but we were all pretty happy that, at the very least, we could play Steve and not feel too bad about it, it’s not a perfect deck but it’s fine. On the corp side though we weren’t feeling great about any of our options including the default fallback (PD) and were hoping that with a bit of a focus we could sort that out. Unfortunately we’re still not quite there, we’ve definitely made some progress but it’s starting to look like like worlds is going to be deeply, deeply weird.

Just as a quick note here, any result stats are from my own (Mike) games on jnet, they don’t necessarily reflect the whole team’s results although I think we’re mostly in agreement about each of these decks and they don’t really reflect tournament conditions given the extremely wide range of stuff you can run into throughout a day on there and the difference between playing a few games back to back on purpose with known decks against one person and playing random matches without talking about decks at all. Take them with a very large pinch of salt but hopefully they add a little bit of context.

Precision Design

Yet another PD list

The list here is still in flux a bit but it’s essentially the same as all the other PD lists that have been about for months. The Crisiums are gone for now – that could end up being wrong in the long term but right now there isn’t much apocalypse about and, as much as I like stuffing stargate, I like having a second copy of Anoetic Void more. The red levels are not necessarily correct but they’re an experiment in getting some of the same power as the more traditional Assembly Lines without letting the runner double dip on Pad Tap money so much and open up a few slightly different lines.

Overall this list has felt… flat. I’m 15-5 overall with it in my last 20 odd games, with things going fine against Anarch and miscellaneous mini faction lists but much shakier against Criminal. Both in testing and out on the ladder, the crim matchups feel much harder than the did before the MWL. The cause seems to be a mix of things, their economy is better with Pad Tap (and you can’t really afford to stop and contest it because doing so drops too much time that they can use to catch up), they can sneak a win with falsified dash or wheel dash and they all seem to be playing more tricks to get into the remote now they don’t need to worry about Sportsmetal. Even within the Anarch matchups there are rumblings of ever more tech being poured into improving this matchup for the runner, with Frantic Coding, triple Boomerang and Run Amok all appearing all over the place.

From my results I’m pretty sure that this is still an 8/10 deck, none of the factors above push it down a full step to B tier and we still fully expect it to be the most played deck at worlds, but none of us is super happy about the prospect of actually playing the thing. Where before it felt like you never actually had a bad matchup, just some where you were even and could get stomped with a bad draw, it now feels like there are runners you actively don’t want to play against which isn’t ideal. That said, if the right field turns up on the day (from the current looks of things, Anarch is pushing significantly ahead of Crim in the popular zeitgeist) and you find the right set of tweaks to make yourself feel comfortable in the meta, this is still old faithful,

Azmari

Neurospike Boom Azmari

This one started as a bit of a joke about which deck Azmari was actually about to unleash on the meta (with none of us being real believers in 6mari glacier but knowing that the ID is always to be respected). Starting with the Boomspike r+ list from OTG and porting it into Azmari then fiddling with it a bit we were kind of surprised to find that it seems genuinely quite powerful. While it is, absolutely, a meme and not very resilient to dodgy draws, tech or Gate + Mad Dash, it’s wracked up an absolutely disgusting kill rate against criminal in testing. At last count I think we were collectively about 20-0 against all blue decks, while a much more sedate just-better-than-evens against Anarch.

From what I’ve seen, a few other people are looking in the same direction and they’re running various slightly different lists, some completely eschewing the HHN plan (which seems like a mistake to me, you gain a faster combo but a big part of the game against Crim has involved landing an early HHN with warfare to reset their initial flurry of econ, then running out the Reeducation onto an upgrade behind some tag ice and presenting them with a lethal fork) and some twisting the influence a lot to fit Seamless in to speed things up.

I’m really not sure whether we can seriously recommend this for play, it’s very unlikely that any of us will be on it unless we manage to improve the list somehow to make it more resilient against a runner that unloads a liberated early then starts trashing ice off the remote or who has Misdirection, but it is a much more real thing than we initially assumed. At the very least it’s worth trying so you know what you could be up against when someone on Azmari suddenly triple advances a card in the remote.

CtM

Django84’s euros list

This is another one in the “performing better than expected” club. Obviously it’s a good list, it won a continental and the fundamentals are very good, but there was a bit of concern about how it could perform in a meta where Gagarin had returned encouraging additional bones and where runners have even more money than ever. Fortunately, in the crim matchups those gains seem fairly evenly offset by the loss of 419 (both the ability and the link) and the reg Hoshiko decks about aren’t amazing at handling AR Enhanced. Apoc has also gone off a cliff which is another nice point in favour of playing an asset deck right now, although that could change at any time.

CtM is going to be at the forefront of our next set of corp testing as we try and find something to actually displace the two corps above (the boring one and the stupid one) but for now we could do with some more data.

Sports

Imagine your sports list of choice from the continentals season and replace the Vacherons with a worse agenda

This seems to be creeping back into some popularity, we’ve only given it a little bit of testing but none of us is particularly convinced. While you do still get some absolutely storming starts and if things come up in the right order it can mess runners up but it’s way, way more fragile than it used to be. Back in continentals/inters/otg season it was already a bit less good than it appeared to be, it was all over cuts because it beat unprepared runners and because so many people were playing it but it lost a very large number of high table games against prepared runners and that has just gotten worse with the additions of Dash and Tap (while an econ card might not seem like a big deal, a constant drip of money that costs 0 is very good when you just want to break their Drafters as often as possible to maximise your chances to win before they do).

Gagarin

So here, we are not believers. While the ID is very powerful and we’ve all played it a whole bunch before, it just doesn’t seem to be popping off right now with too many tools missing and some powerful runner responses available. While Econ Warfare + HHN out of Gagarin remains one of the most disgusting things in the game and there is likely still something left to squeeze out of the card pool that we haven’t seen yet, for now we’re marking Gagarin firmly as “CtM but worse” and not testing it further until proven wrong.


Overall things are looking a bit weird on the Corp side, while as I said at the top, we can’t take the data too too seriously with small numbers and closed lists, it’s a little concerning that the list with the highest win rate for any of us on the Corp side is something none of us is willing to take particularly seriously or say that we actually want to play. Most of the other decks (PD, fast advance Azmari, ACME, CtM) can likely get their win rates up with some practice and some serious deckbuilding work but for now the meta is looking decidedly silly. Make of that what you will but we’re going to keep working and hope something more sensible emerges.


MaxX

Core MaxX

Returning to the runner side briefly, this one caused us a bit of consternation. Despite the aesthetic issues with the list I mentioned last week I have been giving the various versions of Big MaxX a go over this week and winning quite a lot with it. There is definitely quite a lot of power there and, while we have debated quite a lot whether it’s a fallacy or not, there does appear to be some truth to the idea that by playing more cards in this particular context you allow yourself more turns to take advantage of the power you get from MaxX’s free draw, before settling into the Labor Rights selection phase of the game.

Despite that, some of us remained convinced that you could refine the list down to something closer to its fundamentals and get something more consistent and quicker that wasn’t quite so upsetting to look at. John put together the basis for the above list and we’ve tinkered with it to a point we’re fairly happy with it.

Overall I am still not 100% convinced that it’s better than the Big lists Snarebears and others have published and have been testing around on jnet. This particular version has a faster, more consistent start than those I believe and can get to a solid board state to fight “””reg””” corps more quickly, but has a significantly less crushing late game without Maw, Stargate or the possibility of DJ Fenris for Steve. It’s also probably more vulnerable to Grinder Palana but fortunately that seems less popular than a couple of weeks ago (your line is pretty much rebirth early and hope). I do think it’s a decent competitor to that list though if you’d like to play something closer to 45 cards and we’ve all been significantly happier playing it than any other reg Anarch list we’ve run across in Hoshiko or Valencia.

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.

Episode 6 – Pad Dash: Deep Space

In which we discuss the 21.10 banlist update, where all the existing decks are at now and what we’re looking at going into the month running up to worlds

https://anchor.fm/the-process-anr/episodes/Episode-6—Pad-Dash-Deep-Space-e192kel

As the banlist had only been out for about 36 hours when we recorded this we’re a little bit light on conclusions here, mostly digging into what all the changes potentially mean for the meta and what we’re going to look at first. Hopefully things will clarify a little over the next few weeks and we’ll be updating the blog as and when we start to feel confident about some lists, hopefully with plenty of time to go before lists have to be locked in

Episode 4 – What is clot anyway?

Mike, John, Chris D and Chris F are back, catching up on another Standard Ban List and discussing the upcoming Fite Nite event we’re playing in against the Snarebears and NWE teams.

Episode 4 – What is clot anyway?

All of our lists, as well as those of the other teams can be found here so you can follow along with the discussion as well as see our incredibly inventive and powerful deck naming techniques on display. As discussed in the episode, all three teams were pulling lists together for the new meta on a fairly short notice so this represents a pretty interesting opportunity into where different testing groups have immediately looked in a fresh meta, and what is leaping off the page immediately. Out of the next few store championships and this match we should hopefully start to get a shape of the meta (although the first SCs last weekend, after this was recorded, do seem to suggest that the future is in fact Purple).

Gateway Meta – Part 3

(Written by Europe & Africa 2020 champion ChrisFerg)

A couple of us will likely be playing in NtscapeNavigator’s Store Champs tomorrow (8th May), but have struggled wildly with settling on lists for it, particularly on the runner side.

Given what seems–even after the VLC ban–to be a strongly corp-favoured meta, and with such a variety of corp wincons to deal with, runners seem to be in a tough spot at the moment. Given the strength of decks such as Red Planet Couriers/Government Takeover BTL and Spombo Lite, both of which seem all but impossible to beat with reg decks, the obvious direction seems to be with some kind of disruptive runner that messes with the corp’s gameplan. At first this pointed to Hivemind Maxx, which is both very powerful and able to disrupt the corp’s HQ with Knobkierie and Imp. However, this deck is a bit of a glass cannon, and it being the obvious choice has led to a truly staggering amount and breadth of hate tech in testing, from Magnets and Macrophages, through Reverse Infection and Ark Lockdown, to just sticking three Snare!s in everything and waiting for Maxx to die.

With this in mind, we have spent most of the last week sticking imps in everything to see if we can find something that is able to disrupt corp gameplans while also being strong enough in more straightforward games like CtM and Palana and fast enough to contend with PD, but without the weaknesses to hate that Maxx has. We tried Imps and Knobkierie in smoke, imps and simulchips in Steve Cambridge (the idea being that imp is way better if you can legwork to use it and find the key piece you’re looking for), before taking the–in retrospect–more obvious choice and looking hard at other anarch options. In this, we started with Limes’ Worlds winning list, which uses Imp with Friday Chip and Consume to build an engine that disrupts the corp while fueling your economy, powered by Patchwork and Paladin Poemu. This felt like a plausible route, but felt a bit slow for the current super-charged corp meta, so we added some Zer0 and made some corresponding tweaks to cut out cards, such as Overclock and Legwork, that need to sit in hand ready for the right moment.

The list we’ve come up with is (for now):

Hoshiko Shiro: Untold Protagonist

45 cards

Influence: 14/15 

Event (10)

3 Dirty Laundry
3 I’ve Had Worse
1 Rebirth ●​
3 Sure Gamble

Hardware (12)

1 Docklands Pass ●​●​
2 Friday Chip
3 Hippo
3 Patchwork
3 Zer0

Program (14)

3 Black Orchestra
2 Consume ●​●​●​●​●​●​●​●​●​●​
3 Imp
2 MKUltra
3 Paperclip
1 Stargate

Resource (9)

2 DreamNet
3 Liberated Account
3 Paladin Poemu
1 The Turning Wheel ●

Not only does this have a floating influence, it could also do with another Stargate (because an early one is likely to get Zer0’d before you want to install it), so last minute tweaks are likely. It is also quite possible that in the morning we might decide to fall back to our backup option of just playing reg 419 and hoping to dodge the BTLs and Spombos, but at this point that sounds like a potentially distressing day of netrunner.

For the corp side, we collectively have played very few test games, focused as we have been on finding a decent runner. We’re pretty spoilt for choice for decent lists, particularly PD, Built to Last, and Spombo, but any of CtM, Asa, Palana, and the Outfit all seem decent too. We will probably fall back on playing Spombo, mostly out of familiarity.

Gateway Meta – Part 2

At the Chatteris store champ last week all four of us (myself, ChrisFerg, Binarydogs and Nemamiah) played the 419 and Void Asa lists that we posted prior to the event. We all ended up doing okay but nothing particularly standout, with both decks going 9-7 over the 4 rounds and 2 of us missing the cut on SoS. In discussion afterwards, both within the group and with others who did well at the event, the themes that seemed to recur were that the Asa list was fine, albeit a little high variance on early accesses and without a great recovery plan if it got behind and that the 419 list felt very average. It won more games than it lost but it didn’t feel massively favoured against anything and every game was hard work.

Out of the end of the weekend’s events the corp meta looks likely to speed up even more, with Palana being potentially pushed aside by NWE’s Hivemind MaxX and both fast Sports and very fast Precision Design putting up good showings. All of that left us digging around for a new runner to take to this weekend’s Stevenage store championship and the place we have ended up is Apoc Tao.

Initially we started with Rotage’s winning list from Chatteris and have incremented from there. As Dave says in his write up the Simulchips are frequently dead, before you land an apoc they don’t really do anything apart from some narrow lines where you reinstall Engolo for a second paint and after you do, when you theoretically want the recursion, you often have no programs to trash. In those slots we’ve opted for 3 Overclocks, which turned out to be pretty excellent both for landing the apoc itself cheaply and for retaining an early pressure on the remote while building up for the apoc economically.

After that, continuing the spirit of thoroughly disregarding good shaper deckbuilding principles, we also decided to throw away all 3 copies of Self-Modifying Code. Those slightly improved your consistency in getting access to breakers to land the apoc but going up to 3 copies of Engolo, 2 Ikas instead of the 1 Na’Not’K and adding a Mayfly, as well as cutting the one Laundry and the one Misdirection (awkward to have to hand at appropriate times even with SMC and almost impossible without it) for 2 additional Compiles feels like a gain in consistency rather than a drop. The Compiles allow you to contest an early remote cheaply much like the Overclock, land an apoc from 0 installed cards and tutor up Mayfly multiple times in a turn if your opponent has set up a central which is awkward for Engolo via application of enough money.

All in all that has left us with a very lean and quite pleasingly consistent apocalypse delivery machine. It’s definitely a slightly one-note list but it can make a lot of money quickly, apply pressure to the opponent’s scoring plan and land apoc sooner and more times than most corps can deal with which is nice in an extremely fast scoring meta.

Looking to the Stevenage SC, I believe all of us who are are playing are going to be on this list, partly out of actual belief that it’s well positioned in the meta that’s likely to emerge and partly for the change from reg crim. On the corp side we’re slightly split and will either be on the previously posted Void Asa list or on SimonMoon’s Best Asa, an alternate build that feels quite a bit faster and more resilient to econ denial although loses quite a bit in apoc resiliency – let’s hope we don’t all get paired against each other.

Episode 2 – Rotation and Update and Gateway Oh My

So a whole lot’s happened, after a bit of a break post worlds and a long gap since we’ve had some new cards there’s suddenly a ton to talk about. System Update and System Gateway have both been released and the third major rotation of cards has happened, taking out the SanSan Cycle and Honor and Profit.

On this episode Chris, Mike and John talk through what the major changes to the meta mean for each faction and our very first thoughts on what we’ll be looking at this week, prior to the Chatteris and Stevenage store championships in the next couple of weeks.

Episode 2 – Rotation and Update and Gateway Oh My

Please note that for scheduling reasons we recorded this on the evening of Saturday the 27th, after the runner and corp economy articles had been released but before the full spoiler gave us the last handful of cards. None of those really changed anything in our analysis although a couple of them are pretty playable cards (particularly Weyland Restructure and Ansel 1.0) but at the time we didn’t know what they did.

Also, the decks we mention towards the end are very much our first assumptions about the places to be looking as we start testing. Things are churning very quickly as people process the cards and even in the last couple of days we’ve shifted a bit. Asa is stepping right back to the front of the pack with Anoetic Void once we all stopped trying to fit Lakshmi into it and accept that it’s changed a bit, and Neurospike Weyland decks are looking like a tier 1.5 rogue outsider that can’t really be ignored. Crim, as ever, remains the fun police.

Towards the end of this week we’ll throw up some of our lists in their current state and say what we’re going to play for those of us who are playing in the Chatteris Store Champ on Saturday, but given the volatility of the meta there is a fair chance that we won’t have arrived at exactly one list or agree what should go into it so things are going to be a bit rough around the edges – whether that’s confusing and scary or the most exciting time in netrunner depends on your outlook but it likely won’t last super long until the next drop of new cards so we should all relish it.