Pre-Nationals Meta Analysis

Pre-Nationals Corp Meta Anaylsis


David ''Cerberus' Hoyland


It has been some time since I wrote an article about the Netrunner meta, and I think that it is in quite an interesting place currently, so it seems like a good time to do so. In this article I am aiming to talk about what has happened in the meta recently, and what are some of the top decks. What are good counters to cards that are frequently within these top decks and about the decks that are on the rise due to the meta changes.


I think it is worth leading with the fact that there will always be strong and popular decks. The reason that I mention this is because people often complain about the fact that there is a top deck that everyone plays. This, in my opinion, is part of the game. You have to accept that there will be a popular deck type, and I believe that part of the skill of Netrunner is being aware of all of the top competitive decks for each faction, and trying to play something which is both generally strong, but also good at dealing with the top decks.


What I am hoping that you take away from this article is what some of the competitive decks look like for each faction, so that when you sit across from one in a tournament you already have an idea on what it may be, and when you are at home deck building you have an idea of what cards are strong against those decks. I’ll start by looking at the corp choices and in the next article, look at the runners.



The Fall of NEH


The first thing I feel that should be spoken about is the decline in popularity and strength of Near Earth Hub (NEH), since Clot has arrived in The Valley, there has been considerably less NEH at tournaments and in the winning deck list section of Stimhack. Does that mean that NEH Astrobiotics is no longer a viable deck? I think this is very dependent on your meta, if there are a lot of Shapers splashing for Clot, then it is likely a poor choice of deck. However, not everyone is packing Clot, many hope that others will and therefore they don’t need to. I still see NEH Astrobiotics do okay at tournaments, it definitely loses to PPVP Kate with Clot in most cases, so is this an acceptable risk, it may be in swiss but what about in the cut? It is early days, I’ve only been to a few tournaments since The Valley was released but currently I’m not convinced I would take NEH Astrobiotics, however when the number of people using Clot has died out I think it may be time to bring it back. I expect this to happen sooner than people think.


NEH also has other archetypes, the Scorched Earth/Traffic Accident deck is strong, NEARPAD is a thing, (which I’ve not tested in all honesty)plus many others, so there are other options available if yellow is still your favour colour. Are they top tier, I’m not convinced they are currently, but maybe that’s because they’ve been over shadowed by AstroBiotics, they are definitely not bad decks!



The Rise of RP


I’m not sure that Replicating Perfection (RP) has risen, it has been good for a long time (it did win Worlds 2014 after all), but it was definitely the other option to NEH for people wanting tier 1 decks without building something themselves. With NEH losing popularity RP has become the go to deck in the current tournament scene. One of the reasons for this is the fact that now that the Runner doesn’t need to be able to deal with the super fast deck that is NEH, many of the strong decks around are glacier, and the best glacier around is RP.


Here is an example of an RP deck.



Jinteki: Replicating Perfection


Agenda (8)

1x Hades Fragment

1x NAPD Contract

3x Nisei MK II

3x The Future Perfect


Asset (12)

1x Blacklist •

1x Daily Business Show •

1x Executive Boot Camp •

3x Jackson Howard •••

3x Mental Health Clinic

3x Sundew


Upgrade (4)

1x Ash 2X3ZB9CY ••

3x Caprice Nisei

Operation (7)

3x Celebrity Gift

3x Hedge Fund

1x Interns


Barrier (4)

3x Eli 1.0 •••

1x Himitsu-Bako


Code Gate (8)

2x Crick

2x Enigma

2x Lotus Field

2x Tollbooth ••••


Sentry (5)

2x Cortex Lock

2x Pup

1x Susanoo-No-Mikoto


Other (1)

1x Excalibur



Why is this deck so strong? Well 5 or 6 of its 9 agendas protect themselves, especially the 3 pointers, this is extremely key as often you need to score 4 agendas against this deck to win, if you can’t win the psi game.

The ice is taxing; the deck is aiming to drain you of credits so that you cannot run often and so that this causes scoring opportunities. Caprice Nisei and Nisei MK II are also key here, often forcing you to run through a number of ice multiple times just to play a psi game. These things often create great scoring windows, and one of the key strengths of the deck is to have a scored Nisei MK II and a Caprice in the remote, almost guaranteeing the safety of the remote server providing you can afford to play the psi games.


This is the top corp deck at the moment, if you are going to a high profile tournament; expect to play against this deck type.


What are the good cards against this deck then? Parasite is a key card because the deck is often trying to tax your credits and Parasites mean that you don’t have to continually pay. The current versions of RP decks are not as susceptible to Parasite as they used to be, as they are not running cards such as Komainu and Tsurugi as much, however it is still very worth while, even if it is to deal with Pups which become taxing very quickly. Another key tactic against this deck is credit denial, a lot of the decks strengths rely on having credits, for example, playing Carprice Nisei and The Future Perfect (TFP) psi games are only possible with credits, as is the rezzing of much of the taxing ice. Therefore Vamp and Account Siphon recursion often in conjunction with cards such as Crescentus and Emergency Shutdown can do serious damage to RP. Even if you are not going for a credit denial strategy, it is usually the correct call to kill the asset economy.



Other Corps of Note




What about Weyland, are there any tournament decks out there at the moment for the faction? I’d say yes, there are, both are out of Blue Sun. Which I feel is a shame, as I’d hoped that the new ID’s would have made more of an impact, but never mind.


The two options in my opinion are Blue Sun Glacier, this is a strong deck that focuses on taxing the runner and does not have a Scorched Earth back up plan, and The Government Takeover deck, which is a kill deck that is very focused on the flatline win, and very little desire to score out.


I don’t want to spend too long talking about the Blue Sun Glacier deck as there is a great article written by Ben Blum here which I feel covers most of the pros and cons of this deck. I think the main thing I would call out is that the decks weakest match up is against Shaper, so if you are seeing a lot in your meta, this may not be the deck to take.


On to the The Government Takeover, here is an example of the deck:



Blue Sun: Powering the Future


Agenda (6)

1x Government Takeover

2x Priority Requisition

3x The Cleaners


Asset (8)

1x Cerebral Overwriter ••

3x Jackson Howard •••

2x Shattered Remains

2x Snare! ••••


Upgrade (2)

2x Research Station


Operation (17)

3x Hedge Fund

3x Oversight AI

3x Punitive Counterstrike

3x Restructure

3x Scorched Earth

2x SEA Source ••••


Barrier (11)

2x Bastion

3x Curtain Wall

3x Fire Wall

3x Hadrian's Wall


Code Gate (3)

2x Datapike

1x Tollbooth ••


Sentry (2)

2x Taurus


This deck is strong because it has some very taxing ice, that cost the runner a lot of credits to get through, and a very low agenda density. On top of this, the deck is very focused on the kill and therefore the credit difference is actually very important. Stealing an agenda against this deck often isn’t a good thing if you are not set up correctly; being behind on credits opens you up to Punitive Counterstrikes, SEA Source and Scorched Earth, or a combination of the two. Plascrete Carapace is very important against this deck but don’t be fooled into thinking you are safe because of it, as there are multiple ways for the deck to get through or around it using cards such as Taurus, Shattered Remains, The Cleaners and Cerebral Overwriter.

The thing to remember about this deck is that it is very slow to score out, often unlikely to. The best thing to do against this deck is to maximise your economy, and try to get ahead so that you are immune to the killing attacks. However, it is important that you don’t allow the corp to score a High Risk Investment, otherwise they will always be able to match you. The cards that are good against this deck are D4v1d, as it shuts down part of their economy, such as Oversight AI’d Curtain Walls, and can be used to punch into their scoring remotes at a reasonable price. Long term economy cards such as Magnum Opus and Kati Jones are extremely strong against this deck. I believe that expose cards are also very strong against this deck because it runs a number of traps and because scoring a Government Takeover at the wrong time can be fatal.





Generally, the two decks that I expect to see when I sit across from NBN at the moment are a form of fast advance such as AstroBiotics and a form of kill deck such as Butcher Shop (Scorched Earth and Traffic Accident). AstroBiotics has taken a hit recently because of Clot but that doesn’t mean that it is not going to be seen, however because of its recent domination of the tournament scene I am going to presume that everyone is aware of what NEH AstroBiotics is and how to deal with it, if not, there is plenty of information on this subject already.


Therefore I’m going to talk about Butcher Shop, this deck is pretty simple, it makes a lot of money and tries to either kill you, or rush out agendas. The agendas are dangerous because Astro Script Pilot Program and Project Beale are two of the best agendas in the game. The deck kills runners by allowing the scoring of an agenda and then using Mid-Season Replacements to land tags and then Scorched Earth and Traffic Accident to kill the runner, often through defences such as Plascrete Carapace.

Here is an example deck



Near-Earth Hub: Broadcast Center


Agenda (11)

3x AstroScript Pilot Program

2x Breaking News

3x NAPD Contract

3x Project Beale


Asset (9)

3x Jackson Howard

3x Marked Accounts

3x Melange Mining Corp


Operation (16)

3x Hedge Fund

3x Midseason Replacements

1x Reclamation Order ••

3x Scorched Earth ••••• ••••• ••

3x Sweeps Week

3x Traffic Accident •••


Barrier (3)

3x Wraparound


Code Gate (3)

3x Pop-up Window


Sentry (5)

3x Data Raven

2x Information Overload


Other (2)

2x Universal Connectivity Fee


This deck does some things really well, firstly it forces the runner into a number of catch 22 situations, you don’t want to let the runner score that first Astroscript Pilot Program but if you do it means you are likely to get Mid-Season Replacements, and a kill will come quickly after that. Secondly, it can rush out agendas fast and then use NBN fast advance to finish off the scoring if the runner is set up. Often it is this rushing of agendas that causes the runner to make a mistake and they end up getting killed because of it.


What cards are good against this deck type? Meat Damage defence such as Plascrete Carapace and I’ve Had Worse are very important, as is economy cards, as having more credits is the other defence against the kill shot. Other than that, cards that are good against standard NEH decks are also good here, cards that lock R&D such as Medium and R&D Interface are strong as they counteract the NEH draw. Imp is an extremely strong card as well, since it allows you to get rid of the combo cards that end up killing you.





I think that there are two HB decks that are playable in the current meta, the first is a glacier deck and the second is a rush and fast advance hybrid. The glacier deck generally uses big ice which is supported by HB’s great asset based economy, and some form of upgrade to keep the remote server safe, for example Ash or Caprice Nisei (or both). The idea of this deck is simple, rez large ice using the excellent economy and then score agendas safely in your remote server which is protected by the upgrades which force the runner to make multiple runs on the very taxing server, which their economy just won’t be able to deal with.


The rush and fast advance hybrid does include some of the same elements, such as the asset economy and the upgrades to protect the remote server, however they will also contain smaller ice and some operation based economy, in order to support a faster play style, with the aim to rush points early as the runner is setting up, and then use Fast Advance to win once the remote server has been compromised.

Here is an example of a HB Glacier deck:



Haas-Bioroid: Engineering the Future


Agenda (9)

3x Accelerated Beta Test

1x Eden Fragment

1x Hades Fragment

1x NAPD Contract

3x Project Vitruvius


Asset (12)

3x Adonis Campaign

3x Eve Campaign

3x Jackson Howard •••

3x PAD Campaign


Upgrade (7)

2x Ash 2X3ZB9CY

2x Caprice Nisei ••••• •••

2x Crisium Grid ••

1x Cyberdex Virus Suite


Operation (3)

3x Hedge Fund


Barrier (6)

3x Eli 1.0

3x NEXT Silver


Code Gate (6)

2x IQ

3x NEXT Bronze

1x Tollbooth ••


Sentry (5)

3x Architect

2x NEXT Gold


Other (1)

1x Mother Goddess


The cards that are good against this deck are cards such as Parasite, Crescentus, and Emergency Shutdown, the ice is often expensive to rez and taxing, therefore killing the ice with Parasite stops the need to break them on multiple occasions (and removes the NEXT Silver which is key), and derezzing effects are strong as it will often cause the corporation credit problems. Multi access cards are also very strong as they allow you to run less often through the taxing ice, R&D Interface is often better than Medium in this scenario as there will be opportunities for the corp to purge without too much of a negative impact, especially considering the drip economy.





Corp Summary


I think that there are two top tier corp decks at the moment, the first is Jinteki Replicating Perfection, and this is definitely at the top, this is backed up by multiple high profile tournament wins. Nisei MK II and Caprice Nisei are a tough combo to deal with, along side taxing ice and an agenda suite that defends itself. The other top deck in my opinion remains NEH AstroBiotics, while this deck has been hit by Clot, I think that it will only be so long until people start to drop Clot and NEH will become dominant again. Especially because most runner decks are now focused on dealing with slower glacier type corp decks, they are unlikely to be able to deal with the speed of NEH.


Is the corp meta game in a good place? There is definitely a deck at the top, but there always is and I don’t think people should be put off by that. (I’ll freely admit that I have been in the past, and it’s the wrong way to think about the game). That being said, I do think the meta is in a healthy place, I can think of a number of decks for each faction that I could take to a tournament and be competitive with. That is a very positive thing.



The Runner Article

Keep an eye out over on The Winning Agenda for the next couple of weeks for analysis of the current runner meta. I already have the 3 or 4 runners that I want to talk about in my head, who are you expecting those 4 runners to be? I’d be interested to hear what you think!


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