Standard Ban List 23.09

Since The Automata Initiative landed, we’ve seen a healthy, diverse, and popular metagame emerge. The effects of rotation have been extremely positive and the community are really enjoying playing the game right now. That being said, there are still some areas of the game that we think could be improved in the lead-up to the Null Signal Games World Championships in October.

However, with Worlds being so close, we’re reticent to make too many drastic changes. We believe that if Worlds was to be played under the current ban list, it would be a fantastic event. Therefore, the changes announced today are not necessarily permanent, and are deliberately not drastic. The Runner-side ban in particular is a cautious attempt at adjusting the meta game and is open for reevaluation after the event.

We are not enacting any changes for Startup before the World Championships. More information about our plans for Startup will follow soon.

Summary of Standard Ban List 23.09 Changes

Dr. Vientiane Keeling banned
DreamNet banned
Laamb unbanned

Click here to jump to the full ban list.

Explanation of changes

The most obvious issue in the current metagame is the dominance of decks using Hoshiko Shiro as their ID. Certainly, Hoshiko is not as problematic as Anarchs have been in the last several years — the rotation of the conspiracy breakers has done wonders for reducing the delta between factions, and other Runners like Arissana Rocha Nahu and a selection of Criminals are very justifiable. Compared to the Parhelion metagame, Hoshiko is in a far more balanced position.

However, the Anarch card pool is still very powerful, and critically it’s far more versatile than either Criminal’s or Shaper’s. The Corp metagame is highly diverse with a wide variety of top-tier strategies. Anarchs have significantly more ability to handle that spread of potential opponents than the other factions do. That being said, Corps are favoured overall and we don’t feel comfortable banning the strongest Runner so close to the largest event of the year. Therefore, we’re taking a more cautious approach and instead taking away one of Hoshiko’s most unique and powerful tools — DreamNet.

The density of powerful cards within Anarch is extremely high. Banning strong economy pieces like Paladin Poemu or Fermenter would only limit the scope of the faction rather than actually reducing the raw power level of top decks — we’re consistently seeing Hoshiko decks perform well without either of those cards. With multiple ways to build the economies of top performing Anarch decks, we don’t feel there’s any real set of two cards we could ban that achieves a desirable outcome. We would need to look towards banning three cards, and a change of that scale requires testing time that we don’t have ahead of the World Championship. Reducing Anarch’s ability to handle a wide variety of threats is something that we will be looking into at greater depth after the tournament.

DreamNet is one of the few truly consistent aspects of Hoshiko decklists, and its removal both reduces the speed at which she sets up, and could help bring decks which care about taxing the Runner’s clicks through damage, like Jinteki: Personal Evolution (PE) and horizontal builds of Ob Superheavy Logistics, back into the meta. Denying the best Runner an additional card every turn does a lot to promote those decks. While DreamNet also saw play outside of Hoshiko, it is far less central to decks that cannot use the ‘Digital’ clause, which have other alternatives for card draw readily available to them.

We’ll be watching closely to see if Hoshiko continues to be omnipresent with this change. If she requires a ban later, you can expect DreamNet to be unbanned at the same time. We’ll also be considering broader changes to the Anarch card pool, and similarly DreamNet will be considered for an unban at that time. We are aware that the card is of a very different nature to most on the banlist, and there is every chance that this is not a permanent addition.

With the most powerful Runner weakened, Corps will benefit across the board. That’s a scary prospect in a meta that’s already Corp-favoured, but we are satisfied that most of the Corps in the current meta create interesting and dynamic games. One exception to this rule is the AgInfusion prison deck that uses Dr. Vientiane Keeling. While decks like Prāna Condenser PE have used her fairly, she’s best known for being a non-scoring win condition in AgInfusion decks, which tends to result in drawn-out games that put stress on the timing schedule of tournaments. Our worst-case scenario for Worlds is that Keeling prison dominates the event, and banning her prevents that outcome.

It’s arguable that the deck doesn’t have a problematic power level as long as Runners play the requisite tech cards, like Pinhole Threading and En Passant. However, we believe that Keeling will continue to be an issue in the future if left unbanned, and that while this change might not currently be warranted by the deck’s power level alone, it will help to ensure a fun Worlds metagame while getting ahead of a problem we would likely need to address in the future anyway. AgInfusion was also a viable banlist target, but we believe that AgInfusion glacier is still a reasonable deck and without it the glacier archetype wouldn’t be present at all in the environment.

Laamb was originally banned in part due to its interactions with cards like Knifed and Surfer. Those cards have since rotated, and Laamb looks like it could have an interesting position in the game right now. Brân 1.0 is taxing against most breakers, but Laamb handles it very adeptly — in return, it’s far worse against the large number of 1 strength barriers in the game. The 2 MU cost is also a very real consideration for many decks. We decided to make this change in order to open up additional options for the Runner side to deal with the various ice options that Corps might bring to the table.

If discussing these changes sounds interesting to you, or if you’d like to help test any potential changes post-Worlds, you can apply here to join banlist testing!

Standard Ban List 23.09

Effective Date: 22 September 2023

Note: The tournament organizers of some events taking place in this upcoming weekend (16-17 September) were informed about these changes slightly in advance. It is possible that some organizers might opt to enact the new ban list prior to its effective legality. However competitive tier events (Nationals) should all use the 23.08 Ban List until Sept 22. Please stay in touch with your local organizer and keep an eye on their communication channels to ensure you know which format your events take place in!

Changes from Standard Ban List 23.08 appear in bold. Strikethrough denotes unbanned cards.

All cards with the “current” subtypeAll cards with the “current” subtype
Bloo MooseArchived Memories
BukhgalterBreached Dome
Clan VengeanceCayambe Grid
CrowdfundingCyberdex Sandbox
DreamNetDr. Vientiane Keeling
EnduranceDrago Ivanov
Kabonesa Wu: Netspace ThrillseekerEngram Flush
LaambGame Changer
Liza Talking Thunder: Prominent LegislatorGold Farmer
Mars for MartiansHigh-profile Target
PAD TapHired Help
Salvaged Vanadis ArmoryMass Commercialization
Watch the World BurnMti Mwekundu: Life Improved
Nanisivik Grid
Obokata Protocol
Project Vacheron
Shipment from Tennin
Slot Machine
SSL Endorsement
Whampoa Reclamation