Cache Refresh 1

Wait. There’s another way to play Netrunner?

If you haven’t heard, Fantasy Flight Games recently revealed a new format for Android: Netrunner competitive tournaments that uses a reduced card pool—pre-rotation.

We’ve all been looking forward to a crazy shakeup in August or September with rotation (though I’ve been hoping that the November worlds wouldn’t have rotation yet), and FFG has had this in the chamber!

So what is Cache Refresh?

Well, in a Cache Refresh format you are allowed these and only these

  • 1 Android: Netrunner Core Set
  • 1 Deluxe Expansion of your choice (these can be different for your corp and runner decks)
  • 1 Terminal Directive Campaign Expansion
  • The current Data Cycle (Red Sands)
  • The second-most current Data Cycle (Flashpoint)

That is… a lot to take in. Mumbad is gone, but oh my god, so are SanSan and Lunar! I feel like I’ve still barely gotten to play with the Mumbad cycle, let alone the Flashpoint cycle—and SanSan just swooshed by so fast. There are so many cards that never got their fair shake in the sun, and I was expecting them to be revisited when the Genesis and Spin cards rotated out. Like… my Grail ICE could be relevant again!

This will probably take a few posts to really, really dig into, but let’s deal with some top-level stuff first.

First, as collections go, this is great for new players. I’m in a newer scene—only about a year or so old—and so a lot of people are only playing with the new cards anyways. A few of them have bought older packs, but most of them have large holes in their collections.

This is perfect for those folks, and for people who just want to play Netrunner occasionally or drop in and out of the scene if they don’t like how the meta is. But what the hell will the meta be?

First thing’s first, let’s look at the usual suspects. Who we’re seeing, and who we’re losing.

Removed Runners

  • Whizzard
  • CT
  • Andi
  • Reina
  • Nasir
  • Quetzal
  • Leela
  • Hayley
  • Geist
  • Fisk
  • Jesminder
  • Nero

We knew that the first four were going away, so we’ve all made peace with that. But I feel like the Lunar runners (Nasir, Quetzal, and Leela) were the hipster ones. The ones that you played when you wanted to do something really creative. Whereas the SanSan ones (Hayley, Geist, Fisk), were always the sleeper builds. Someone was going to come up with something amazing—like Pitchfork.

As for Jesminder and Nero, they haven’t barely had any time to shine! They need new cards to find new synergies. I hate losing those two.

Potential Runners

  • Kit
  • Professor
  • Exile
  • Iain
  • Ken
  • Silhouette
  • Kim
  • MaxX
  • Valencia
  • Apex
  • Adam
  • Sunny

So depending on what deluxe expansion your opponent chose for their runner side, you could see any of these runners. That’s really cool. They’re there, but also you give up a huge potential card pool to get them. For instance, won’t people really want Clone Chip, Levy, SMC, Dirty Laundry, Daily Casts, and Same Old Thing? Those all came in Creation and Control. Is it worth it to play MaxX without Levy? What a shakeup for MaxX decks! The same way, Honor and Profit has Legwork, but most of the other runner cards are second tier or worse. Oh, are we talking about HQ multi access? Because Turning Wheel is gone. I guess we’re playing with Counter Surveillance?

And then there’s Order and Chaos. Most of the runner cards are uninspiring—well except for I’ve Had Worse, the cutlery, and Eater.

If we didn’t have Temujin, runner economies would be crippled or all using Creation and Control as their deluxe box. Strange world.

Oh, right. I forgot Data and Destiny.

I guess it’s an interesting mind puzzle to try and build Apex, Adam, and Sunny without Dirty Laundry and Daily Casts.

Definite Runners

  • Noise
  • Gabe
  • Kate
  • Null
  • Khan
  • Omar
  • Smoke
  • Los
  • Cambridge
  • Ayla
  • Merchant (Announced)

Ignoring the core set runners for now, we’re looking at the Flashpoint and Red Sands runners. This actually feels a little anemic. One of the coolest things about a new runner is that they potentially revitalize old, unused cards. Like how Los makes all of Criminal’s shutdown shenanigans more potent, or Smoke got people thinking about Stealth again. But now the old cards are gone.

It remains to be seen what will happen with a smaller pool using these runners, but I’d assume that the choices will tend toward the reliable.

So that brings us back to the core set runners. Noise has no Cache and no Imp. Which means we probably won’t see much of him. Gabe makes you cash, so he’ll always be good. Especially with no Andromeda. And Kate is just a standby. She gives you discounts, and that is always good.

In Conclusion, to be continued

My bet is that the most popular runner identities in Cache Refresh will be Kate, Omar, and Los. There’s an argument that Gabe could be stronger than Los, but I think that’s more down to nostalgia.

That being said, the corp meta may skew all of that thought—completely.

I’ll look at corp IDs in a future post. Then I’ll probably build a few decks using the Cache Refresh card pool.

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