It’s been quite a ride. Netrunner has progressed beautifully through two cycles and a deluxe expansion, as the second expansion looms. I think it is time to step back and look how the latest cycle, Spin, has affected balance in a competitive environment. To assist with this endeavor, BGG user Miaowara Tomokato has been kind enough to compile OCTGN stats into beautiful graphs, which I’ll help decipher and provide context through anecdotal evidence.
First, to define the graphs’ parameters. The Genesis data was taken shortly after Creation & Control, and Spin was taken at the 210k dump. We wanted to analyze a more competitive environment while still maintaining relatively high sample sizes, so Tomokato narrowed the field to the top 27% of runners playing against the top 29% of corps (for comparative purposes, previous ELO-based data was presented at the top 7-9% or even 1% of the field). Before drawing any conclusions from the results, I highly encourage at least skimming through both of Hollis’s 99th percentile threads (1, 2) as well as Tomokato’s (here). Interestingly, the results in these graphs lie somewhere between the old high-ELO data and Slaghund’s recent dump. Here’s another representation of the data, sorted by the winrate differential, excluding low sample sizes:
|Chaos Theory||44.33%||47.18%||2.85%||NBN: TWIY*||47.03%||48.80%||1.77%|
God Tier (S-rank): Andromeda, Gabe; NBN: MN, GRNDL? (sample size)
Top Tier (A-rank): Kate, Weyland BABW, HB: ETF, HB: CI, NBN: TWIY
Mid Tier (B-rank): Kit, CT, Anarchs
Bottom Tier (C-rank): Remaining Corps
It’s both surprising and concerning that although Corporations are generally at .500 overall, in a competitive environment, they’re struggling as much (actually slightly more) as ever. NBN is the exception, which is hardly a surprise, considering all NBN archetypes are firing on all cylinders; and very powerful upgrades, assets, and agendas force runners to expend all their resources accessing them. Now that NBN has more in-faction tools, it can spend its influence on the the best of each faction, such as Caduceus, Ash, Scorched Earth, and Biotic Labor. Hopefully the other Corporations will receive similar in-faction assistance that will further aid high level play. I think NAPD Contract will definitely help almost every faction and archetype in this regard.
Runners on the other hand have evened out nicely. Shapers have come unto their own and now have the versatility to address the myriad of Corp archetypes out there, from Fast Advance to Glacier. Creation & Control certainly performed its role beautifully, though even Kate and CT aren’t quite on par with Criminals, and the other Shapers lag far behind. Noise definitely got a kick in the teeth by Jackson Howard, though a win rate of 47% isn’t terrible until you compare it to that of Criminals. Hopefully extra emphasis is placed on Anarch in the next cycle, as their cards are providing top tier assistance for other factions, but they can’t quite compete themselves.
At the onset of Spin Cycle, Runners were predominated by Criminals and Noise. Alexfrog’s Andy “The Deck” and Hoobajoo’s Gabe optimized Account Siphon’s use; the former seeking an eventual complete R&D lock and the latter a flawless opening from which the Corp can’t recover. Corporations on the other hand, were fairly evenly split between HB: ETF , Weyland: BABW, and NBN: Making News, primarily seeking to weather the initial onslaught and win in the following window before the opponent established a full R&D lock. The primary antagonist and bane of Corporations everywhere was Account Siphon. Thankfully, players rose to the challenge and began incorporating tools to mitigate the huge credit swing, aided by the addition of powerful tools to help free up influence.
For Corps, speed is now everything. TWIY and GRNDL have steadily improved throughout Spin Cycle, and optimize the window in which Runners are at their weakest. This has forced Runners in turn to simplify their rigs and devote themselves to full aggression, such as Knight Gabe. Interestingly, this has tipped the scales in favor of Corps with low agenda densities such as Red Coats, and obscure archetypes such as Cerebral Imaging, which seek to survive early, and keep runs as fruitless as possible once the Runner has exhausted himself. Against such highly varied Corps, Kate has proven the most diverse Runner, and has improved drastically throughout Spin Cycle.
Into the Future
Honor & Profit holds a lot of hope and trepidation, depending on whom you ask. Personally, I think it’s exactly what the game needs. Jinteki will further punish early aggression, and Criminal tools will diversify the faction, while strengthening Anarch and Shaper. If Jinteki does enter the competitive fray, runner decks will further be diluted to address all four factions, and meta calls when deckbuilding will be more important than ever. Perhaps this will finally give Corps the push they need to reach .500 in a competitive environment. The largest unknown is the efficacy of the upcoming central-only breakers. Will they replace the all-powerful Datasucker/fixed breaker combo? I predict it won’t be quite as efficient for Andromeda, but will be far more consistent in Gabe, who isn’t as interested in assembling a full rig. Aside from Gabe, Kate and The Professor likely have the most to gain. Whatever the case, Netrunner has made fantastic strides in its infancy, and the future seems to hold a lot of promise.