With Continental Championships in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to revisit the Standard Ban List in light of what those tournaments have shown us about the state of the game.
While many people enjoyed the meta during Continentals, there are still some issues which we felt the need to address. These most notably include the speed of the top Corp decks restricting viable Runners, as well as the near-complete absence of competitive decks from the Jinteki and Shaper factions. Additionally, with the card pool unchanged since June and a number of big tournaments in the meantime, we feel that the meta is largely solved, and a shakeup is needed to ensure an exciting Worlds.
After a great deal of debate and deliberations between us and playtesters, we’ve arrived at the following changes:
Summary of Standard Ban List 21.10 Changes
- Project Vacheron banned
- Jinteki: Personal Evolution banned
- Kakugo unbanned
- Shipment from Tennin unbanned
- Azmari EdTech: Shaping the Future unbanned
- Gagarin Deep Space: Expanding the Horizon unbanned
Effective Date: 29 October, 2021
Analysis of Changes
First of all, we want to address one notable omission from this list: Cyberdex Sandbox. Although we went into 21.10 testing with the premise that it would be banned, after reviewing testing results and results from the latest big tournaments, we realized that Sandbox is not the central problem it seemed before. While it continues to be a strong card, Runners have adjusted for its presence and top Corps have moved on to other agenda suites. At this point, a ban would hit other Corps harder than the currently strongest decks, further increasing the distance between the best and second-best decks. With Sandbox staying unbanned, we think Runners will need additional tools to deal with the agenda suite of Precision Design in particular and decks relying on low agenda density in general.
On the Runner side, we saw relatively little diversity; the widely represented decks were Reg 419, Hivemind MaxX, and Apoc MaxX. The 419 lists especially excelled at slowing the game down to their own pace to then use their strong economic engine to overpower the Corp. With both Steve Cambridge and Zahya Sadeghi being viable ID options, we believe that banning 419 will reduce the dominance of Criminal decks while still leaving them a strong faction. We also hope it will allow Corp archetypes which 419 was particularly good at suppressing (such as horizontal decks, whose lighter ice suites suffer from 419’s ability to quickly charge Aumakua) to re-emerge into the meta. To help a broader range of Runners keep up with the fastest Corp strategies, this is accompanied by a PAD Tap unban.
While at the top tables the Audacity Sportsmetal archetype seemed balanced and led to interesting and dynamic games, at the middle and lower tables Project Vacheron wreaked havoc on side balance. The extremely lowered agenda density, combined with the deck’s high speed which renders the four-turn clock on Vacheron irrelevant, warped these games to a point where Sportsmetal felt insurmountable. Banning Vacheron is a sizable hit to these decks, yet nonetheless does not impact their speed and ability to score, thereby leaving them still viable.
To give non-HB decks an additional boost, we looked into several changes in other factions that should open up strategies that were not represented well in the previous meta. The first of these is Azmari EdTech, which, together with the recently explored ACME archetypes, should bring some variety to viable NBN decks. Having lost much of its best ice, as well as other tools, we’ve found that Azmari is no longer the oppressive force that led to its ban, and should provide close and exciting games against the top Runners.
Furthermore, we want to address the Jinteki faction. Since the ban of Engram Flush, it has lost its edge against many of the runners. Unbans in the Jinteki faction always run the risk of enabling the Grinder strategies mainly played in Jinteki: Personal Evolution. We have tried a variety of unbans to help the faction during previous ban list testing cycles, none of which ever made it to the final list because of oppressive decks appearing in PE. For that reason, we have now decided to ban PE in order to enable unbanning Kakugo and Shipment from Tennin. We hope that these give the faction enough teeth to stave off Apocalypse attempts and enable the damage-based attack vector that has been missing from the metagame for a while. One important note, however, is that we intend to reconsider these changes in the near future, as Borealis was designed with PE in mind. This is a major deviation to how we usually approach bans, and we will monitor both its consequences and the community’s response to this decision.
Finally, to give Weyland some more options, we have decided to unban Gagarin Deep Space, which opens up horizontal decks outside of Controlling the Message. New strong tools on the Runner side, combined with the rotation or banning of key tools such as Tour Guide and Zealous Judge that created negative play patterns in previous oppressive Gagarin archetypes, mean that games with this identity should be much more dynamic and interesting for both sides of the table.
In conjunction with these unbans, we also revisited Encore. As many of the cards that allowed the Combo Shaper archetype to abuse this card have rotated, we believe it no longer deserves its spot on the ban list. While we do not, unfortunately, expect it to be the boost that Shapers need to be competitively viable, the lack of other Shaper unban candidates limits what we could do on this issue.
These changes will come into effect for Standard format tournaments on 29 October 2021, and will be the list under which the upcoming World Championships will be played. As previously discussed in the 21.04 update, there will be another Standard Ban List update with the release of Borealis, in which some of these changes might be revisited in light of the newly-released cards.
Finally, we’d like to announce that two members of the team, Raja “ajar” Doake and Michael “manveruppd” Papadopoulos, will be stepping down with the release of this update. Raja and Mike wish the rest of the SBT every success for future ban lists, and would like to thank them and our playtesters for all the work they’ve put into the game we all love!
Please see below for the full ban list.
Standard Ban List 21.10
Effective Date: 29 October, 2021
Changes from Standard Ban List 21.06 appear in bold.
Strikethrough denotes unbanned cards.
- All cards with the “current” subtype
- 419: Amoral Scammer
- Aaron Marrón
- Bloo Moose
- Clan Vengeance
- GPI Net Tap
- Liza Talking Thunder: Prominent Legislator
- Mars for Martians
- Salvaged Vanadis Armory
- Temüjin Contract
- Watch the World Burn
- All cards with the “current” subtype
- 24/7 News Cycle
Azmari EdTech: Shaping the Future
- Breached Dome
- Bryan Stinson
- Cayambe Grid
- Clone Suffrage Movement
- Engram Flush
- Fairchild 3.0
- Friends in High Places
Gagarin Deep Space: Expanding the Horizon
- Game Changer
- Gold Farmer
- Government Takeover
- Hired Help
- Jinteki: Personal Evolution
- Jinteki: Potential Unleashed
- Mass Commercialization
- Mumbad City Hall
- Museum of History
- Mti Mwekundu: Life Improved
- Project Vacheron
- Sensie Actors Union
Shipment from Tennin
- Slot Machine
- SSL Endorsement
- Titan Transnational: Investing In Your Future
- Violet Level Clearance
- Whampoa Reclamation
- Zealous Judge
Finally, a reminder that we’re always looking for more playtesters to help us shape the future of the game! Click here to apply for Ban List testing, or click here to apply for product testing (which is currently testing pack 2 of the Borealis Cycle, entitled Parhelion). All levels of experience with the game welcome!