Analyzing the Meta

(This analysis was for the meta in May 2013)

This article is a thorough analysis of all of the tournament winning deck lists that we currently have data on at:

This analysis hopes to paint a picture of the current metagame with some caveats. Just because a deck type is winning many tournaments does not necessarily mean that it is the “strongest” deck in the current meta. If a deck is particularly popular that alone can skew results over stronger but less played decks. Additionally, not all metas are equally developed, nor are all tournament winning decks necessarily very strong. In fact I would even go so far as to say that some of these winning deck lists are lists that I would personally consider to have some serious problems. With that said, hopefully by looking at similarities between an aggregate of lists we can glean some valuable information.

The data is composed of all of the tournament winning deck lists I have been able to find online so far. Analysis like this is only as good as my data, and I would encourage anyone with access to winning deck lists currently not in my data-set to please comment or email me with those lists so that I can make this data as comprehensive as possible.

With all of that said, we will start by looking at runners.

We can clearly see that thus far Criminal is the most successful runner faction (52% of runner deck lists , accounting for more tournament victories than Anarch (31%) and Shaper (17%) combined. Anarch comes up second with Shaper clearly lagging behind. This seems to match the general consensus that the two best decks in the format are Gabe and Workshop Noise. Hopefully Creation and Control will help to revitalize Shapers and make them a force on the tournament scene.

We will now shift to looking at specific runner cards and strategies.

Top 5 Most Played Runner Cards

The Top 5 most played cards in order of frequency they appeared in deck lists were:

1. Sure Gamble 20
2. Inside Job 18
3. Crypsis 18
4. Stimhack 16
5. Armitage Codebusting 16

It is no surprise to see Sure Gamble at the top of the list, I currently consider it essentially a must have for competitive deck construction and an outstanding card. What is more surprising is that not every runner deck played sure gamble! In fact three different deck lists elected not to play it.

Crypsis has proven itself as the one staple icebreaker due to its powerful ability to handle any type of ice. Seeing play in 86% of the lists played is a testament to its ability to get into servers no matter what ice is in front of it.

Inside Job and Stimhack are the two non neutral cards that see the most play, and both allow the Runner the ability to access into servers they would otherwise be unable to reach. The value of surprising the corp is clearly very strong and highly valued. As Criminals were the most frequent faction and every Criminal player played Inside Job, Stimhack is actually the card that sees more out of faction play than any other. There are few cards that cost one influence and approach its power level. The powerful synergy with Personal Workshop only adds to Stimhack’s flexibility.

The Best Breakers

1. Crypsis 18
2. Femme Fatale 15
2. Corroder 15
3. Yog.0 12
4. Ninja 10
5. Gordian Blade 8

Corroder is simply hands down the best barrier breaker in the game. Its influence cost is reasonable and it has proven to be the go to barrier breaker of the format. Most of the decks that were not running Corroder appear to be Noise Workshop decks relying on Crypsis as their primary means of breaking through ice. Femme Fatale is similarly strong, and is effective against the most popular corporate ice as we will see later. What is truly telling about icebreakers is how unpopular Shaper breakers are. The only Shaper breaker that saw any real out of faction play was Gordian Blade, and it competes with Yog.0 at triple the influence cost. All three of the Chaos Theory deck lists played at least two different out of faction breakers.

Personal Workshop

Is noise workshop better than Noise without workshop? Looking at all of the Noise lists, all but one (5/6) of the lists were running Personal Workshop. The one list not running Workshop was a  unique deck that was running 52 cards. Across the entire data-set there were a total of 8 deck lists running Personal Workshop, all but one Anarch and all but one of the Shapers. Every Chaos Theory deck list ran Workshop, and the one Kate list was the only Shaper not running it.


The Corporations

Although I did not expect this, the corps are actually quite balanced… if you ignore Jinteki. Weyland (33%), HB (33%) and NBN (29%) are all pretty close, and much more balanced than the runners. Unfortunately there is a huge gaping chasm between them and Jinteki, which is the only faction in the game to have their core identity have zero showings in our data. The one Jinteki deck to make it was a Replicating Perfection deck that had 0 Braintrusts.

The Top 5 Played Corp Cards

1. Hedge Fund 18
2. Melange Mining Corp 17
3. Data Raven 13
4. Tollbooth 13
5. Ice Wall 12

As with the runner, spending 5 credits to gain 9 turns out to be the one ability that almost everyone wants. Again I find it odd that not every deck played Hedge Fund, but this is a good example that not all tournament winning decks are created equal.

Data Raven and Tollbooth are the two most common pieces of ice, showing the power of their when encountered ability. To backtrack to the runners for a moment, this goes a long way to explaining the popularity of Femme Fatale, which is the one breaker in the game with the ability to bypass these powerful when encountered effects. The third most popular ice is Ice Wall, being the cheapest ice in the game that ends the run (snowflake is really bad), also of note is that Weyland Because We Built Its ability to advance these Ice Walls to very large strengths is also countered very well by Femme Fatale.

On Killing the Runner

1. Scorched Earth 9
2. SEA Source 9
3. Snare! 8
4. Project Junebug 4

Scorched Earth sees play not just in Weyland but out of it, maintaining a threat that all runners must be aware of. Snare! seeing 8 decklists is very noteworthy when considering that only 1 Jinteki deck is counted in that 8.

The runners tried to thwart flat-lining with these:

1. Plascrete Carapace 14
2. Crash Space 4
3. Decoy 1

If nothing else Scorched Earth single handedly has strongly impacted the meta, making 61% of the runner field run Carapace to account for it.

It’s a Trap!

1. Project Junebug 4
2. Aggressive Secretary 3
2. Ghost Branch 3
2. Edge of World 3

The various traps are well spread out among the available options, with none standing out among the rest. Six of these traps (46%) were in Weyland decks, the one faction that doesn’t have any traps without spending influence.


Fast Advance

1. SanSan City Grid 7
2. Biotic Labor 7
3. Trick of Light 4

Fast advance is a pretty popular non Weyland way of dealing with runners. Like Snare!, Trick of Light is one of the Jinteki cards good enough to see plenty of out of faction play, even at the cost of three influence.


Closing Thoughts

Overall our data set shows a fairly balanced set of results. Criminal is probably too dominant, while both Shapers and Jinteki are too weak. Netrunner is still a relatively new game with lots of room to grow, and I am excited to see how the meta changes as new data packs are released.



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