NISEI’s Most Wanted: MWL 3.0

Editor’s note, May 2020: This article was initially part of Replicating Perfection – System Core 2019. It has been split into its own post here for clarity and readability.

The Most Wanted List (MWL) is a list of cards subject to deckbuilding restrictions in order to keep the format fun, balanced and interesting. Cards in the MWL’s Removed section cannot be included in your deck at all. Cards in the Restricted section may be used when building a deck, but you may only choose one card from the Restricted list to include. You may have up to a full playset of your chosen restricted card (normally 3x).

As previously stated, NISEI will maintain multiple MWLs – at the very least, one for Standard and one for Eternal. You’ll always find the most recent version of the MWLs among the Organized Play Policies, but for discussion and visibility, they are presented here along with the thought process behind them.

This article will list the updates to both the Standard and Eternal MWLs. First, you’ll find a brief summary of changes, followed by an explanation of each change. By scrolling to the bottom of the page or clicking the following links, you can find the full Standard 3.0 and Eternal 1.0 lists.

MWL Changes

Standard 3.0


  • Corp: Bryan Stinson, Hired Help
  • Runner: Watch the World Burn


  • Corp: Commercial Bankers Group, Excalibur, Mti Mwekundu: Life Improved
  • Runner: Paperclip

Effective date: 21 December 2018

Eternal 1.0


  • Corp: Friends in High Places, Hired Help, Museum of History
  • Runner: Faust, Rumor Mill, Salvaged Vanadis Armory, Şifr, Watch the World Burn

Effective date: 16 November 2018

Explanation of Standard changes

Four goals guided the Standard MWL. In order of importance:

  1. Reduction of negative play experiences
  2. Balance between Corp and Runner
  3. Balance among factions
  4. Balance among identities within factions

Given those points, the MWL Committee along with Austin, David, and Greg came up with an initial list, submitted it to playtesting, then analyzed feedback and data and revised the list. This process was repeated several times to get the list in front of you today. Below is a brief summary of the reasoning behind each decision.

Bryan Stinson: This was the easiest decision we made. For most players, very little about this card stands to reason as balanced or enjoyable – the rez/trash ratio is outrageous, he’s an upgrade (butwhy.gif), and mechanically he’s just out of control. “Free” is a dangerous word in any card game, particularly when there are so many ways to fire his ability without the runner making misplays. Low Runner credits are supposed to be scoring windows, not “never run out of money for the rest of the game” windows.

Commercial Bankers Group: Controlling the Message was on the initial version of this MWL and we ultimately decided this would be the most effective way to rein it in a bit while still allowing competitive viability. It was on the brink of dominating the tournament scene and only grew stronger with SC2019; the switch to RDI meant that Runners could not apply the same dramatic level of R&D pressure that Indexing allowed. Our testing determined that restricting Bankers was more or less equivalent in function to a Mumbad Virtual Tour restriction but allowed for much more variation among CtM builds and more interesting deckbuilding decisions.

Excalibur: Most of the time, this ice only sees play in “gotcha” strategies that punish players for using traditional breakers. Excalibur feels particularly cheesy in AgInfusion and Mti – combining its subroutine with Batty or Border Control can leave the Runner with no recourse and score agendas in a way that feels unfair. We wanted to give Runners the ability to be less reliant on AI and hit the very strong Jinteki glacier builds in the process.

Mti Mwekundu: Life Improved: Speaking of Jinteki glacier, it’s a standout in the game right now, and has led to some really interesting builds and matches in both casual and competitive settings. That said, Mti takes the innate power of the Jinteki card pool and turns it up to eleven. The ID is simply too efficient: it saves clicks AND credits, allows you to place ice in an order most convenient to your server, and takes away one of the most important aspects of playing Netrunner as the Corporation – predicting angles of attack and getting in front of them. The ID is so strong that it nearly in and of itself has necessitated a rise in Employee Strike as a restricted card, narrowing the Runner’s options. It has also done an incredible amount of work retraining player brains to avoid running early and hampering early aggression. It has proven itself game-warping in a negative way, so it finds itself in time out for the foreseeable future.

Paperclip: With the return of Corroder, Paperclip was almost a no-brainer and has stuck around on every iteration of this list since we began. This serves as a small but non-trivial hit to Val (who must now play Clone Chip/Retrieval Run or play Inject a little more judiciously), but primarily we’ll see a little more fracter diversity outside of the orange faction. Coupled with some choice includes in System Core 2019 (Eli 1.0, Oversight AI), this’ll also manifest itself as a bit of a boost to Corps.

Watch The World Burn/Hired Help: These cards were removed almost without question. Hired Help is of course extremely oppressive (especially on HQ), and Watch The World Burn does not remove itself from the game and can be easily recurred. The issues with these cards are numerous – granted, they introduce some interesting mechanics, but they were never playtested nor designed through the proper channels, which serves to trivialize the hard work that designers, developers, and playtesters do.

Standard changes we considered but did not enact

Some other key cards that were considered but escaped the MWL (this time):

Rebirth: Probably the most discussed card of everything we considered. Rebirth was on several previous iterations of this MWL as restricted and as removed but was ultimately taken off. The rotation of Indexing was a significant blow to R&D pressure and our playtesting found that taking away Rebirth (functionally another form of R&D pressure out of Anarch) gave the Corp too little to worry about, so it remains… for now. I think we’re in unanimous agreement that it’s not a great card and we’d like to eventually see it gone.

Border Control: Our initial draft of the MWL included Border Control in no small part due to its interaction with Excalibur, which becomes especially silly when played out of Red Tree. We decided to give it a little time in the sun without a restriction and our testing and further analysis revealed that it was hardly the root of the problem. Four credits for a single-use end the run isn’t exactly economical when it can’t be abused with both Mti Mwekundu and Excalibur landing spots on the MWL. For now, this remains unrestricted, but it’s one we’re watching closely.

Scarcity of Resources: This card is nigh-universally loathed, but in the end we can’t let powerful neutral currents exist on one end of the board but not the other. Scarcity remaining off the list is a symptom of the difficulties around the current mechanic as a whole. At some point, much like Rebirth, many of us would like to see this disappear, but now was simply not the time.

Standard MWL 3.0

Effective 21 December 2018.

Most recent changes appear in bold.


24/7 News CycleBio-Ethics Association
Bryan StinsonCommercial Bankers Group
Cerebral Imaging: Infinite FrontiersExcalibur
Clone Suffrage MovementGlobal Food Initiative
Friends in High PlacesJinteki: Potential Unleashed
Hired HelpMother Goddess
Museum of HistoryMti Mwekundu: Life Improved
Sensie Actors UnionMumba Temple
Mumbad City Hall
Obokata Protocol
Violet Level Clearance
Whampoa Reclamation


Aaron MarrónAesop’s Pawnshop
Bloo MooseEmployee Strike
FaustFilm Critic
HyperdriverGang Sign
Mars for MartiansInversificator
Salvaged Vanadis ArmoryLevy AR Lab Access
ŞifrMad Dash
Temüjin ContractRumor Mill
Watch the World Burn

Explanation of Eternal changes

Since we are effectively creating this format, the Eternal MWL will be effective immediately. In the future, expect a few week delay similar to the Standard MWL; they will be announced and effective at the same time.

Our goals for this format are notably different than Standard; obviously NPE and balance are important, but we are going to be a little more hands-off; otherwise, the Most Wanted List would be massive. Notice the lack of any restricted cards; we simply knocked out the worst offenders as a starting point. We are launching an Eternal tournament on in a few weeks (see this post) as a way to help playtest this format and gauge where this list needs to be; expect the next iteration to be substantially different.

Eternal MWL 1.0

Effective 16 November 2018.

Removed – CorpRemoved – Runner
Friends in High PlacesFaust
Hired HelpRumor Mill
Museum of HistorySalvaged Vanadis Armory
Watch the World Burn

What’s next?

You’ll receive MWL updates like this one quarterly. Hopefully “emergency” updates won’t be required, but we are not at all opposed to immediate action in unusual circumstances (looking at you, Vanadis).