Welcome to another article from your friendly neighbourhood Balance Team! To coincide with the release of System Gateway and System Update 2021, we are releasing a small update to the Standard Ban List. These changes come into effect for Standard format tournaments on 9 April 2021. This is also the date on which System Gateway and System Update 2021 become legal, and on which Honor and Profit, the SanSan Cycle, System Core 2019, and Salvaged Memories rotate out of the Standard card pool. The summary of changes from the previous list (20.09) is as follows:
Summary of Standard Ban List 21.04 Changes
Effective date: 9 April 2021
This update has been developed in consultation with Game Development and all the hard-working playtesters who worked on System Gateway. With the many new game-defining tools coming in System Gateway, we decided that it would be sensible to look at those decks which Dev and testers thought might be getting too much of a boost from these new cards, and ensure that they wouldn’t be a problem in the Standard metagame.
Our discussions flagged two potentially problematic cards: Titan Transnational and Game Changer. Both are already powerful forces in the game, and there was widespread concern among System Gateway testers that the new cards you’ll be finding out about this month will push them way over the top. We therefore tested the decks based around those cards (Atlas Train Titan and “Spombo” Sportsmetal) to see if the best Runners in the post-Gateway meta had good answers for them. The results were unequivocal: both these decks had very polarizing matchups, crushing Runners who lacked the “tech” to deal with them, but doing badly against those who did. We believe that this leads to an unhealthy metagame, creating heavily “rock-paper-scissors”-type matchups which leave the players feeling frustrated and lacking in agency.
The reason that Titan was ultimately banned while Game Changer was not was due to the type of “hate cards” each deck was vulnerable to: with the new cards coming in System Gateway (some of which you’ll have to stay tuned to Spoiler Season to find out about!), the type of hate which counters “Spombo” decks will be easier to slot in, available to a wider variety of Runner archetypes, and useful against a broader range of Corps than just “Spombo”. By contrast, Titan is primarily countered by Clot, which is very narrow tech only useful against fast advance decks.
Nonetheless, we tried hard to preserve Titan, testing it with some of its fast-advance tools banned in an effort to curb its speed and consistency. The deck proved very difficult to slow down. We considered testing it with even more bans, but at that point we would be also inadvertently nerfing half a dozen other Corp decks which also use Titan’s tools. Faced with the choice of banning Titan or causing widespread collateral damage to multiple other Corps, we decided that some must be sacrificed if all are to be saved. Titan has had its day in the sun, dominating several large tournaments recently, and it’s time for this titan of personal finance to step aside to make room for the young upstarts. (If you’re a FinTech startup, please contact us for sponsorship opportunities!)
That’s not to say that Game Changer is out of the woods! We will be keeping a close eye on Spombo decks in the following months, and take action on Game Changer if we deem it to be necessary.
Finally, we’d like to address why this update is so limited in scope, when there are so many other issues with the game that need to be tackled. For instance, there are several currently-banned cards that could be freed, with rotation taking away the combo pieces that made them problematic; there is still a side-imbalance in favor of Corps which is slightly more pronounced than we would like; and there’s the long-term design goals for the game which lead designer June Cuervo recently outlined, and whose fulfillment we could accelerate with a few targeted bans.
While all of these are important goals which we’ll get round to, there was one consideration that outweighed them, and that was letting the System Gateway meta shake out with little interference, so that we could accurately assess its impact. With two new sets and a very large and impactful rotation, we cannot accurately predict what the game will look like in a few months.
With this in mind, the pattern for this and future Ban List updates shall be to interchange between having small-scale updates accompanying new NISEI product releases, intended only to ensure that there are no problematic interactions as a result of the new cards, followed by more substantial updates in the gaps between new products. Those updates will respond to the meta as it was shaped by the new sets, fix imbalances, and potentially free old banned cards.
This update is therefore kept small in order to let the new cards shine and allow us to gauge their effect on the game. We restricted ourselves only to preventing any overpowered decks from emerging as a result of the new cards being released.
As mentioned above, this update will come into effect for Standard format tournaments on the second Friday after the release of System Gateway and System Update 2021—that is, on 9 April 2021. This will simultaneously trigger the rotation of Honor and Profit, the SanSan Cycle, System Core 2019, and Salvaged Memories from the Standard card pool. These changes may not be listed on our Supported Formats page until closer to that time, so, until then, please refer to this article to check the legality of a particular set or card for System Gateway-Standard. We will also be publishing a rotation guide closer to the time of System Gateway’s release, and this article will be edited to include a link to it. Please see below for the full Standard Ban List.
Standard Ban List 21.04
Effective 9 April, 2021.
Cards on this list may not be used in Standard format games.
Changes from Standard Ban List 20.09 appear in bold.
- All cards with the “current” subtype
- Aaron Marrón
- Bloo Moose
- Clan Vengeance
- GPI Net Tap
- Liza Talking Thunder: Prominent Legislator
- Mad Dash
- Mars for Martians
- PAD Tap
- Salvaged Vanadis Armory
- Temüjin Contract
- Watch the World Burn
- All cards with the “current” subtype
- 24/7 News Cycle
- Azmari EdTech: Shaping the Future
- Breached Dome
- Bryan Stinson
- Cayambe Grid
- Clone Suffrage Movement
- Friends in High Places
- Gagarin Deep Space: Expanding the Horizon
- Gold Farmer
- Hired Help
- Jinteki: Potential Unleashed
- Mumbad City Hall
- Museum of History
- Mti Mwekundu: Life Improved
- Sensie Actors Union
- Shipment from Tennin
- SSL Endorsement
- Titan Transnational: Investing In Your Future
- Whampoa Reclamation
- Zealous Judge