Startup Ban List 24.01

Startup is our most accessible format. It has a small card pool which appeals both to new players and to people who don’t have the time to figure out the complexities of the Standard metagame, and has seen a lot of love from the community for this reason. However, with such a small cardpool, there tend to be a small number of cards that warp the format in big ways. This can create stigmas around playing certain cards in a way that we see less of in competitive Standard play. This hurts Startup’s reputation and its accessibility.

To address this, the Startup Format Panel elected to institute a ban list for the Startup format. By banning two particularly format-warping cards, we hope to make the Startup environment more comfortable both for newer players who are dipping their toe into tournaments and for enfranchised competitive players.

This ban list would not have been possible without the work of the Startup Format Panel. The Panel has a different membership each time it is convened, and we’ll be recruiting for Panel members again around two months after the release of part two of the Liberation Cycle. If you’re interested in helping to maintain Startup as a format going forward, keep an eye out!

Summary of Startup Ban List 24.01

Endurance banned

Drago Ivanov banned

This ban list will be implemented in the NetrunnerDB deckbuilder today.

Explanation of Changes

When it comes to cards that have had a big impact on Startup as a format, there are none more infamous than Endurance. Its ability to prey on weakly iced servers in the early game in combination with Shaper’s tools for late game inevitability enable a deck that is good against most Corp decks that look to score out agendas behind ice. This forces Corps to come up with plans that play the game on a fundamentally different axis, which in turn affects what Runners have to be prepared for to be competitively viable. It is a card that has been dominating competitive Startup for a long time, so we are confident that banning it will help the format’s diversity and health as a whole.

While not as notorious as Endurance, Drago Ivanov is a card that can be very powerful against decks that are not prepared to deal with the massive economic pressure that he can put on. This means that decks with what would be reasonable economies under normal circumstances are pushed out of the format. Drago has also been a dominant force in competitive Startup, and so it is another card we can be confident in banning from competitive play.

There are certainly other cards that we have considered banning from Startup due to their power or their potential for creating negative play experiences. However, we decided to keep the ban list to just these two cards for a few reasons.

One reason is that, while our goals for Startup are more focused on the community-building aspects of the format, this ban list is still primarily for tournaments and competitive play. We care about ensuring diversity and side balance in competitive Startup, but with the current tournament and play data we have access to, we couldn’t be confident that banning any further cards would improve these factors. 

The other is that we want this ban list to be as short as possible. This is mainly for the accessibility of new players, but also because the size of Startup as a format means that banning more cards will reduce diversity, just because there are only so many cards left to play. If we were to make a more comprehensive list in the pursuit of full side and faction balance, we’d massively reduce the interesting decisions available to players in deckbuilding.

We’re aware that the two cards that we’ve chosen to ban are both cards from the Borealis Cycle which will rotate when part two of the Liberation Cycle releases. The Startup Format Panel agreed that it is worth the effort to improve players’ experience of Startup for the few months between now and rotation, and we hope this helps to set a precedent for how we’ll be handling Startup as a format going forward. Should bans or any other action be needed in future, the infrastructure is now in place for action to be taken sooner into a format’s life cycle.

Startup Ban List 24.01

Effective Date: 26th January

EnduranceDrago Ivanov


  • Scarlett "ORCH1D" Clark

    Scarlett is the Startup Curator for NSG. She's a smooth criminal and hardcore NBN shill, and you can find her nerding out about most Tabletop games under the sun.