History of Anarch - part 2 + MWL thoughts
This is the second part of the Anarch history article. We left off at the biggest orange dominance there ever was. Something was bound to happen, what was it? Uncover the truth below. (Jump to thoughts on MWL)
You can find "part 1" of the article here:
History of Anarch - part 1

The big picture

Netrunner history anarch full
click to enlarge

Sudden dropback

Netrunner Exchange of Information

The Liberated Mind delivered a big blow with Exchange of Information. Anarchs suffered the heaviest fallback as Shapers stepped in to challenge EoI SYNC decks. The slower, more careful play of Shapers and the ability to stop Breaking News with an instant-speed Clot payed off.

I know FFG just dropped the third MWL, but I don't have any statistics on the effect of that.

Even during Fear the Masses, the three factions were equally popular, though Criminal was lagging behind in efficiency.

Climbing back

Netrunner NBN: Controlling the Message
Netrunner Hard-Hitting News

NBN: Controlling the Message was the new ID in 23 Seconds. It quickly became the strongest corporation deck: CTM Tempo Rush. Hard-Hitting News could be countered by cautions running and a credit reserve, but the asset-heavy nature of the archetype made Dumblefork an ideal counter for it, so Whizzard started climbing the charts once more. The Shaper gameplan was still valid, but Anarch was doing its business slightly better as Salsette Slums was taken out of the binder.

Netrunner D4v1d
Netrunner Faust
Netrunner Wyldside

In the meantime MWL 1.1 was out. Regarding the runner side it only had Anarch cards on it. Surprisingly it did not hurt Anarch overall. It killed the Faust Noise archetype because it could not bare any more strain on influence. Dumblefork took its place while dropping Clone Chips and spending the remaining points on Employee Strike. That worked out quite well against the corp meta of the time (HB: EtF, NBN: CtM, Pālanā). Valencia reappeared with various builds.

Netrunner Rumor Mill
Netrunner Paperclip
Netrunner Temüjin Contract

Blood Money was an influential pack featuring great runner material.

Rumor Mill was meta-defining. It single-handedly brought down glacier corps. It disables Caprice Nisei, Ash 2X3ZB9CY and Marcus Batty. Basically anything you would add to a scoring server to defend against the runner, especially late-game. It also ended careless Jackson Howard usage.

Paperclip became THE barrier breaker, we usually reached a bit deeper into our influence pocket and forgot Corroder ever existed. Of course this was not an issue for Anarch, it even synergizes with other card effects.

Temüjin Contract feels like an auto-include in every deck, it is extremely powerful. Especially if the corporation is desperate on tagging you and/or has expensive-to-trash cards. It overshadowed the previous two cards. Naturally Criminal was awoken from its slumber and became relevant again. Andy Sucker returned with The Turning Wheel, sometimes Rebirth and depending on the meta: Networking. Every faction tried to squeeze the card in, two-thirds of the runners were playing this new wonder and these numbers haven't dropped so far. (Kate variant: Temujin Katman)

Netrunner Obelus
Netrunner Black Orchestra

Escalation brought Obelus, the hot, new orange console. It enabled the tag-me style and adding some protection from just released BOOM!. It combos with Hades Shard giving insane draw. Black Orchestra was a pleasant decoder alternative.

57% of World Championship 2016 was playing Anarch. Probably this was their bet on the most powerful alternative. This was a good bet as top-16 showed little diversity, 14 contestants were Anarchs. The common choice was Whizzard (33%). Nemamiah, the champion was running it as well: Papa Smurf (Temüjin Whizzard). It used regular orange breakers and spent most of its influence on Temüjin Contract and utilized Employee Strike. Hate Bear was in demand, relying on Account Siphon, floating tags, drawing with Obelus + Hades Shard and usually spending its last dot on Rebirth. Rune Soilder also siphoned credits, but broke using Eater and included Keyhole as well. Dumblefork builds were still there with Faust and Levy AR Lab Access. Most Whizzard variants have cutlery events as the main gameplan revolved around ICE destruction and deep Medium digs. These Whizzard decks dominated the runner meta until MWL 1.2. Valencia was there too showing off very similar archetypes.

Netrunner En Passant
Netrunner Citadel Sanctuary
Netrunner Ele "Smoke" Scovak: Cynosure of the Net

Intervention rekindled interest for Shapers with the new ID: Smoke. Also Temüjin Katman and Nexus Kate were quite successful giving corporations a hard time. Players realized that link was essential to beat CtM. Criminals dug up Power Tap, a card nobody ever though would go into a serious deck. Citadel Sanctuary goes well with Siphons demonstrated by Power Tap Andy. En Passant + Blackmail comboed well and was a great addition to the Miffed Val-Passant build. For a short time more, Valencia was more common than Whizzard.

Netrunner MKUltra
Netrunner On the Lam
Netrunner Friends in High Places

Martial Law added MKUltra, the last piece of the Anarch heap breaker suite. Criminals got a powerful counter to the NBN tag tactics with On the Lam. Power Tap Andy was still strong, there even was a DLR Nexus Andy variant. Friends in High Places hit the meta and Whizzard's recurring credits and Criminal wealth was more welcomed as ever. Shapers were going down the slope.

Netrunner Şifr
Netrunner Aaron Marrón

Quorum introduced Şifr which was prophesied to bring the end of Netrunner. It was a strong card indeed, offered easy ICE destruction via Parasite and made breaking ICE easier. It was the last nail in the coffin of glacier corporations playing big ICE. Aaron Marrón helped Criminal even further dealing with NBN tags. Near-Earth Hub: Broadcast Center took over CtM, the two most popular builds were d1en's Railgun and Team Turtles. Cerebral Imaging: Infinite Frontiers also got successful at that time. Most of the runners were either Dumblefork Whizzard, Temüjin Whizzard or some Andromeda variant.

Netrunner Mad Dash
Netrunner Jemison Astronautics: Sacrifice. Audacity. Success.

Daedalus Complex contained the new Weyland ID, Jemison Astronautics: Sacrifice. Audacity. Success. It was fresh, interesting, but failed to shake the meta. Mad Dash fits nice in Adam (Find the Truth) and Shaper (Indexing). NBN: NEH was getting more dominant, so did Whizzard. We still saw the Whizzard archetypes we had on Worlds 2016, just this time with Şifr and Aaron Marrón appearing occasionally. This trend continued throughout Station One as well.


Thoughts on previous Most Wanted Lists, rant

I was always optimistic when I heard a new MWL announcement. I wholeheartedly believed that they would make the impact we desired so much. Now I am a bit sceptical.

Putting extra influence on powerful cards will not make those cards disappear from the meta. You will still use the powerful cards and you will save influence on the weaker ones. Also this locks the card in its original faction by making it harder to splash for others. Which keeps the already mighty faction dominant. As I see it, rule/card changes should make overpowered cards more balanced. The truth is MWLs did not solve any of the card-inbalance or faction-inbalance problems.

Look at the chart above. Anarch have been overpowered for more than 2 years. MWL 1.0 and MWL 1.1 did not solve this problem. The biggest hit orange players received so far was due to one card: Exchange of Information. I know, I know. You hated this card, hated to be up against it, it felt unfair. Combined with SYNC it made a deck which gave Anarchs a hard time. Shapers had tools the handle it (instant Clot). Criminals had the money and pressure for counter strategies. Factions were balanced for a short time. Don't you miss this? (Yes, this depended on NBN dominance as well, which is another problem.)

The moral of the story is that you can balance the meta with a single card. That card doesn't even have to be a silver bullet itself. Competitive players will always gravitate towards the most powerful cards, decks and to counter the strongest strategies.

The newest MWL (1.2)

runner corporation
1 influence
3 influence (new)
0 influence (removed from MWL)

The Newest NAPD Most Wanted List features a two-tier system. There are cards with 1 influence penalty and some have 3 influence penalty. (There are also slight rule changes on this "penalty", but they are still ambiguities which have to be addressed officially.) This surely changes things compared to the previous MWLs.

It's nearly impossible to pack 3 cards with 3 extra influence each into your deck. Though it's still possible to pack only one. As you can see, Anarchs are main target on the runner side, which I find fair due to their current competitiveness.

Anarchs will probably drop Faust. They would have to use multiple copies since they lack good breaker tutors (Retrieval Run is still an option). Same goes for Şifr. They will have to rely on their core- and heap breaker suite accompanied by Datasucker and D4v1d. This gameplan is still strong, mind you. An updated Dumblefork or Rune Soilder/Angery Whizzard (using Account Siphon, Keyhole, Eater) are valid options as the asset heavy decks (e.g. Team Turtles) are here to stay. It's probably Valencia who suffers the fatal blow here.

Criminals are loving the changes. They have to pay extra for Temüjin Contract, but Desperado is off the list and makes it even. The other factions will probably drop this lucrative card and go with Prepaid VoicePAD instead.

Shapers are resurrecting PPVP Kate that is for sure. It was pretty powerful last time it was around. Stealth variants are also an option as high-strength ICE is back in fashion. The inclusion of DDoS to MWL was probably to bury non-interactive False Echo+Keyhole decks. I'm certain a similar monstrosity can be built with green cards nevertheless.

Şifr and Rumor Mill are out of the way, corporations will gravitate toward glacier. Especially be on the lookout for Sandburg builds. Weyland will be popping up more often.

To sum things up: Major blow to Anarch, but they won't disappear. You will see a lot of glacier. Be prepared to whine about something new.

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Example decks in article:

Suggested reading on historic meta: Thanks to percomis for additional observations and thoughts.

2017.04.14. - Station One