Guest author Asher ‘LSK’ Stulman brings us the following thoughts on the Most Wanted List, present and future.
We’re now two weeks into the Most Wanted List metagame, but people have been testing for it for a month and a half now. I don’t know if the metagame is fully explored yet, but results of multiple post-MWL events are in, and it appears that there’s less diversity at the top tables than there was before the MWL was published.
The intended purpose of the MWL was twofold, as I understand it.
First, the list should bring more diversity to the decks people play at competitive events by weakening overtly dominant decks.
Second, the list should make it possible to print cards that fill a niche but fill it less effectively than an MWL card, expanding the design space.
Keeping these two points in mind, here are my recommended MWL changes.
– Runner side –
Recommended to add: Faust
Right now, many powerful Anarch decks play Faust as a primary icebreaker, generally together with D4v1d and Parasite. Between these three cards, nearly every piece of ice in Netrunner can be passed efficiently and without spending many credits. Although I dislike D4v1d (it should be an AI icebreaker so cards that interact with those can interact with it), I think Faust is the bigger problem. In combination with the deck’s other tools, it lets Noise decks pose a reasonable threat on nearly any server at any time, and makes up for the lack of early money that’s the deck’s main weakness.
Faust is played in other Anarchs to similar effect. It’s just extremely flexible in a way no other AI breaker has been before it, and it pushes more traditional breaker suites to the sidelines in competitive play.
In addition, Faust distorts corp deckbuilding in a way that other icebreakers don’t. The prevalance of Noise backed with Faust encourages corps to play cards such as Swordsman, Wraparound, and Cyberdex Virus Suite (in non-Fast Advance decks), which are generally weak or useless against other runner decks. While corp decks should be responsive to the metagame, it is a problem when decks need to play hate cards to handle an archetype and still generally can’t manage a better than 50/50 record against the archetype.
Keep an eye on: Wyldside + Adjusted Chronotype
Wyldside is the fuel that keeps Faust running. With Wyldside and Chronotype, a runner can draw 2 cards a turn for an investment of just 6 credits and 2 cards, which is
significantly more efficient than any other “drip” effects in the rest of the game.
It is very hard to proactively destroy Wyldside as a corp. While the cards that handle Faust are at least functional against other decks, if you want to handle Wyldside, you need either Elizabeth Mills or tag effects, and most corp decks that don’t plan on killing the runner also don’t have the room to toss in a tag effect. This means that you can’t expect the metagame to start playing anti-Wyldside
cards; you have to address Wyldside from another angle.
Further, Noise is a developmentally problematic identity. Any virus that’s viable in competitive play
threatens to make the Noise deck even more powerful. Since Noise stays in the game under the current rotation policy, that means that the best Noise deck should be paid attention to and addressed with the MWL accordingly. As the card that most significantly enables the deck is Wyldside, it should be looked at carefully. It is possible that Faust or Wyldside alone would be a sufficient MWL addition; I’m leaning towards Faust right now because it edges out other cards in a way consistent with the other cards of the MWL.
Keep an eye on: Medium
The best R&D multiaccess in the game should not be an Anarch card.
Medium allows for a particularly strong R&D lock in a way that other cards can’t approximate outside of two or three R&D Interfaces – if the corp’s R&D ice is trivialized or destroyed (which is something exclusive to the Anarch set of effets), the runner can access more cards in R&D than a corp can ever hope to draw, and a purge doesn’t help because that allows the runner to continue running and building up counters.
This is a developmental concern because it means that future R&D multiaccess will be held to Medium as a yardstick. I believe that it makes sense to put Medium on the MWL so that other R&D multiaccess tools can be printed, but I understand that it is a defensible card and hardly the main reason Noise is such a prevalent runner in the current environment.
Recommended to remove: Desperado
Okay, so I understand the reasoning for Desperado being on the MWL. Because it’s the most powerful Criminal console, the argument went, it kept people from considering other consoles from the faction.
Here’s the problem: All of the other Criminal consoles suck. Seriously. Blackguard is enormous, Box-E is barely worth its cost in credits in most decks, Doppelganger requires a lot of money, Forger isn’t a console, and Logos isn’t for every deck. If we’re meant to consider other consoles, we need one worthy of consideration in an aggressive Criminal deck; until then, Criminal is just hobbled in competitive play. When the faction is better, you can put Desperado back on the list. Until then, Desperado should be off the list to at least make up for all the burst draw and icebreakers you have to import.
– Corp side –
Keep an eye on: Caprice Nisei
I think the corp side of the MWL is reasonable right now, but if we’re tightening runners up even more, we need to tighten corp a bit to balance that out. If Faust goes, that significantly weakens Noise and Whizzard, which opens up a spot for Replicating Perfection decks. The cards that define the RP glacier archetype are Caprice Nisei and the agendas, Nisei Mk II and The Future Perfect.
Normally, if you want to weaken a deck, you’d pick a card that was only played at the competitive level in that one archetype. In that case, this is Nisei Mk II. The Future Perfect is played in many other Jinteki archetypes, and Caprice is too, so it makes sense to have Nisei Mk II on the MWL to weaken the RP deck.
However, of these three cards, one receives the lion’s share of complaints, and that one is Caprice Nisei. Putting Caprice Nisei on the MWL wouldn’t deter the card’s use significantly, but would weaken the RP deck by forcing it to limit its out-of-faction influence, which is often used on strong glacier cards such as Ash, Eli, and Tollbooth. Further, having Caprice on the MWL encourages players to play Marcus Batty, who offers a similar effect in an alternate form. At present, this isn’t a huge deckbuilding decision, because one card is just significantly better than the other.
I understand that cards are being printed in an upcoming data pack that significantly weaken Caprice. If Caprice remains dominant following that data pack, she should be looked as a serious potential addition to the MWL.
I’ve put this last recommendation at the end because it’s not a card-specific recommendation: Updates to the MWL should issued at consistent intervals, at pre-announced times. For instance, FFG could say updates would be announced January 1, April 1, July 1, and September 1, and these would be effective two weeks after annoucement. It’s important to have consistent times for these announcements so players can prepare adequately for competitive events.