MWL 3.4 & Uprising Booster Pack

[Editor’s note: Because all the cards from the Uprising Booster Pack are now available in Uprising, we’ve taken down the product page for it. You can see the list of cards that were in the pack on NetrunnerDB.]

Just in time for the NISEI World Championship, we return with the latest update to the Most Wanted List (MWL) for the Standard format. MWL 3.4 is a mild refinement to 3.3, wherein we curb some of the more frustrating decks in the format, but otherwise allow the cards from the Uprising Booster Pack the opportunity to shake up the meta on their own. 

In addition to the new MWL, we’re pleased to formally release the Uprising Booster Pack as a print-and-play PDF. Everyone attending the 2019 World Championship will be given full-art printed copies of the Uprising Booster Pack as a free participation prize. The full release of Uprising is just around the corner, so we felt it best not to offer this product via our print-on-demand partners.

For new and returning players, the 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).

The new MWL and the Uprising Booster Pack will be officially legal for tournament play on the 20th of September 2019.

Given the upcoming World Championship, tournament organizers may optionally use this MWL and the Uprising Booster Pack at their events before the 20th of September, at their discretion. If you do elect to do so, please ensure you inform your players of this clearly and in good time!

The summary of changes is below, followed by some brief notes on each change. Please scroll to the bottom of this article or click this link for the full list, and see our Supported Formats page for the Eternal format MWL, for which there is no change at this time.

MWL 3.4 Changes

Restricted: Engolo

Removed: Zealous Judge, Laamb

Unrestricted: SIU

Effective date: September 20, 2019

Explanation of Changes

Zealous Judge: Despite its restriction in 3.3, we found that this card continued to enable excessively easy flatlines out of Gagarin decks. This in turn skewed the Runner side towards decks that could remove Hard-Hitting News tags and still run to trash Judge in the same turn (mostly through the use of Misdirection). Gagarin was unquestionably the most successful Corp in the 3.3 meta, and its astonishingly high win rate, even in the face of Runners packing all sorts of hate cards against tags or assets, justifies further action with the removal of Judge. Though it is still possible to create a flatline deck, either through the use of Urban Renewal and Contract Killer in tandem, or by forcing the Runner to float Hard-Hitting News tag in order to run and trash those assets, the removal of Zealous Judge makes it much harder to guarantee those flatlines.

SIU: With the removal of Zealous Judge, SIU no longer needs to be restricted, as, on its own, it does not present the same degree of threat as it does in tandem with Zealous Judge.

Laamb and Engolo: When we previously restricted Laamb, we noted that Engolo was also considered a target for the MWL. The continued popularity of these breakers, with their ability to break through expensive ice so cheaply as to virtually blank them, combined with their painting abilities enabling early aggression without risk, has warped the game. Corps could previously punish early aggression enabled by AI icebreakers through the use of AI-hate cards such as IP Block, but Laamb and Engolo carry the advantages of AI in their ability to break any ice type without being vulnerable to the hate cards. Laamb, in particular, has been combined with Surfer to utterly invalidate monstrously expensive scoring remotes, in decks mostly built around Kabonesa Wu. We have therefore concluded that restriction is not sufficient to prevent it being abused, so we’ve removed it from the format. Engolo, on the other hand, enables Pawnshop Hayley to get through servers with unparalleled efficiency as well as enabling her to challenge servers without a full rig. This compresses the setup time of the deck and allows it to reach the point where its victory is inevitable faster than most Corps can deal with. Engolo’s restriction is directly targeted at bringing Hayley in line.

Eternal: We feel that the Eternal metagame is in a healthy place right now, and at the power level we want for a format with no rotation. We hope those of you coming to Worlds will bring Eternal decks along to participate in side events, as well as join us for our Eternal Championships later this year!

Some notes regarding the future of the MWL

We’ve heard the term “whack-a-mole” used to describe the MWL a few times now, referring to the practice of taking action against key cards in problematic decks and archetypes. We agree that this isn’t ideal; we’d rather free cards than restrict or ban more. Given the time constraints of the upcoming World Championship, and risking playtester burnout from months of Uprising testing, we eventually agreed on conservative changes this time around.

The periodic nerfs of each meta’s best deck have also resulted in a gradual reduction of the game’s power level, and a resultant decrease in the excitement and skill ceiling of the game. While many now-banned cards were derided when they were legal, many of them enabled interesting decision points which a skilled player could use to overturn an unfavourable situation. This resulted in swingy, exciting, and skill-testing moments, which have grown less frequent in the current meta. 

We believe that the MWL is becoming bloated and we are bumping up against the limits of what it can do for the meta. In light of this, we’re looking forward to some substantial changes that we believe will greatly improve the MWL process, meta, and playtester/player experience in general. We intend to change our approach to our curation of the Standard format for future iterations. Rather than periodically knock down whichever the best decks in the meta are at any given point, we would rather reintroduce powerful cards to the meta which would counter those decks. While we tested such changes for this update, and were satisfied with the results, we eventually decided that they represented too radical a change to the meta to drop with this little lead time before the premier competitive event of the year, so have decided to consider them in a future update.

We will also be moving to three MWL updates per year, as opposed to four. This will offer more time and cause less stress to our playtesters and the MWL committee. After this release, we will also be reviewing the entire MWL (in terms of individual entries, approach, and format) to see how we can offer something that will better suit the needs of the game. As such, we expect to release the next regular update in early 2020.

Standard MWL 3.4

Effective 20 September, 2019.

Changes from Standard MWL 3.3 appear in bold.


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