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The Revised Constructed Format

by Bob "Argi" Flack

Why? Why change something that isn't broken? Simply put, to make it better. Netrunner is a great game, but tournament level play is stale. The best decks are built, analyzed, and tweaked to perfection. While there are many viable tournament decks, there are a select few that are a step above the rest. As the official Netrunner players' organization, the Top Runners' Conference (TRC) has listened to players and recognizes that a change is needed. Thus, the Revised Tournament Format was born.

A select committee of TRC members from around the world proposed these changes, after months of discussion both in private and public forums. Aimed at slowing down the game (a little), increasing the number of tournament-viable decks, and keeping all changes simple, the Revised format is showing up in TRC tournaments now.

The current Unlimited format is very open. There are no deck construction limits, except the basic agenda-to-card ratio and minimum deck size stated in the rulebook. The Revised format changes are simple and easy to understand - on purpose. In fact, there are only six changes. Two cards had a simple erratum added, two others gained the keyword Unique, and two were banned from play. Here are the details of the changes and the reasoning behind them.

Errata: Code Viral Cache, Precision Bribery. The sentence "This trashing cannot be prevented." is added as the last sentence on the cards Code Viral Cache and Precision Bribery. This erratum clarifies how these cards work in conjunction with prevention effects. Now when the Corp player trashes Code Viral Cache or Precision Bribery by paying the cost and using the ability printed on the card, the trashing cannot be stopped by Time to Collect or any other prevention effect. The card text of Code Viral Cache and Precision Bribery takes precedence. Unlike the following changes, this erratum is general. It applies to the card, and thus is effective in all formats.

Added Keyword Unique: Scaldan, Viral Pipeline. The keyword Unique is added to Scaldan and Viral Pipeline. Both of these viruses are nasty in multiples. The simplest way to keep their abilities in the game and limit abuse is to make it so only one copy can be in play at a time. You can still have several copies in your deck. The keyword Unique only limits you to one copy in play at a time.

Banned: Tycho Extension, Enterprise Inc. Shields. Tycho Extension is banned. While banning a card is drastic step, it was justified in this case. Tycho may seem innocent enough, but when combined with Project Consultants and ACME Savings and Loan, the synergy makes for a speedy win. After a lot of thought and discussion, removing Tycho was the least painful solution. Project Consultants is a key card for the Corporation to survive in the late game. It also can be replaced in the Tycho-Consultants-ACME combination with similar cards with very little loss of efficiency. Likewise, ACME can be removed and replaced with other bit gaining cards. The real problem is that Tycho Extension lets you win by scoring only two agenda, and that makes the game too short.

Enterprise Inc. Shields (EIS) is banned, but for a different reason. EIS isn't the most efficient damage prevention card. The problem is that EIS removes all threat of brain or net damage with just a few bits. Armed with three bits and EIS, you can run at will with very little threat of being flatlined. The presence of EIS removes ambushes from tournament decks. By banning EIS, many cards become tournament viable again.

While the changes are simple, the effect on the tournament environment isn't. Fast advancement decks can't use Tycho as the staple speed agenda anymore. Ambush decks (a.k.a. Poison Pill) need to be re-evaluated, since damage prevention isn't as easy anymore. The ability to lock-down a Corp with a nasty virus or bribes comes at a stiffer cost now. Is it still worth it?

On top of all this, the new Classic cards mix 52 unknown variables into the equation of a new deck. I know of a new deck using cards from Classic that is very promising. I'd say it's a good time to try something new with Netrunner. You never know what you'll discover. You could find the latest top deck!

Argi Flack, TRC Program Director

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TRQ #24
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