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A Radical Proposal


#1

tl dr: I think the Corps should have a new base ability which reads :click: :click: :click: : shuffle HQ into R&D. Draw as many cards as you shuffled in.

With the advent of the Red Sand Cycle, a lot of us are looking to the future where Jackson Howard no longer exists. I think that JH was poorly designed in a few ways (don’t get me wrong though, he’s an amazing card.) Jackson Howard does a lot of different things (which is why he’s pretty much a must include for the vast majority of decks) but for this article I’m only going to be focusing on his ability to correct agenda floods (where the Corporation draws an overwhelming amount of agendas in a short period of time), and to this end I think he is a poor solution. Let me explain:

  1. Agenda flooding is a game problem that is unqiue to the corporation side:

Agenda flooding is a game problem. It’s the same as mana flood (or drought) in MtG. Sometimes the random aspect of a shuffled deck leaves you with no viable outs. Generally as a community we have decided to skip playing this small percentage of games which is why we have the opening hand mulligan. The problem arises when the agenda flood isn’t in the opening hand but happens part way through the game. It’s important to note that the Runner does not have an analogous problem. If they are short breakers they can draw 4 times and discard whatever is least useful. This is not an option for Corps as it either puts agendas into archives where they are often more vulnerable, or leaves the corp with a five agenda hand (obvs the best solution for corps experiencing agenda flooding is to start scoring them out, however this is not always feasible.) Essentially the difference between a Corp agenda flood and a Runner’s bad hand is that the runner can attempt to correct their bad hand with in game abilities, whereas the corp cannot.

  1. Jackson is a card solution to a game problem:

In both cases the Corp and Runner can include in their deck cards to help mitigate bad draws. For the Runner it can either be tutors (like Special Order or Self Modifying Code) for the Corp it’s Jackson Howard. This may seem a little obvious but these cards are only useful if they’re drawn. With Jackson Howard this poses a few problems. First is that he can be trashed out of R&D or HQ before he is needed (or he can be shut down entirely with cards like Rumour Mill). Second if the situation where a corp gets agenda flooded necessarily makes it less likely that a JH is drawn. For example: let’s say the corp starts their turn with 2 agendas and 2 non-agendas in the deck. If they mandatory draw an agenda and their first click is to draw an agenda, now they have been flooded. In this case the flooding agendas preclude the drawing of a solution. And that’s not including cases where all the Corp’s JHs have been trashed out of R&D or are near the bottom of the deck. My point is that if Jackson is a Corp’s only defense against agenda flooding then he is only useful in those scenarios where the Corporation is both agenda flooded and has a Jackson Howard (which is: probability of agenda flood x probability of a JH)

  1. Jackson Howard is a faction card that takes up a lot of the Corp’s deck space and influence.

Corporations are de facto strapped for deckspace compared to runners as they are forced to include the agendas in their deck. In addition they need to include ‘basic’ cards like ICE and economy cards often leaving them with only 10-15 slots for their tricks (or whatever makes their deck unique). When 1/3 to 1/5 of these precious tricks slots (as well as a 1/5 of non-NBN deck’s influence) is taken up by Jackson Howard, this drastically limits the variety of viable Corp archetypes as these slots must be taken up by ‘power cards’ that help the corp score. Adding more room here would allow for more of the ‘fun’ Corp cards to see play.

Given these problems I propose a somewhat radical solution to the problem of Corp agenda floods, that the Corp be given a new base ability which is :click: :click: :click: : Shuffle HQ into R&D. Draw as many cards as you shuffled in. I settled on this new ability because:

  1. This ability is always available to the corp. It does not have to be drawn, and it can’t be trashed.
  2. This ability does not slow the Corp’s clock. A Corp will naturally deck themselves given enough turns. Cards that reshuffle from Archives into R&D buys them extra turns (see Museum of History), this ability does not do that.
  3. This ability shuffles ALL cards into R&D and draws new ones. This precludes this ability from being used to sculpt an idle hand (so cards like Special Report and Disposable HQ still have value).
  4. The cost of the ability is extremely high so that the ability will probably only be used as a last resort, rather than giving the corp a strong base ability the runner can not deal with.
  5. Not only does this ability not help sculpt hands, it does not help the corp retrieve cards that have been milled. This means that cards that do such (like Preemptive Action or Whampoa Reclamation) still have a lot of value.
  6. As a side effect of this ability it does allow corps to break an R&D lock (at the expensive of a turn plus refreshing R&D for the runner), which I think adds an interesting new decision to the game.

I have playtested with this ability and can confidently say that it is not obviously broken. The cost is high enough that it is usually an extremely wasteful way to spend one’s turn, and if one is digging for a certain card it is usually better to simply draw for it. I would really encourage people to try building and playing Corp decks with this rule and see what they think.

Thank you for reading.


#2

Have you tested this in CI?


#3

I have not, but I fail to see how it would be any better or worse in CI. They are looking for specific combo pieces shuffling all of HQ into R&D means they can’t keep pieces they already have and are just as likely to not fewer pieces as they are to draw more.


#4

I think it needs to be 3 clicks and end your action phase. Otherwise you can do stuff such as Biotic->Reshuffle->Punitive, which feels wrong. Apart from that it seems radical but worth a try? With the advent of GFI corps have had less agenda flood in general I think, but this might be interesting to test regardless of whether or not Jackson rotating will mean the sky is falling.


#5

Perhaps! If the ability is found to be too strong for finding cards like punitive and playing them same turn (with a biotic) certainly it could be made Terminal. Tbh I don’t really see that as a huge issue, but who knows?


#6

To be fair, I don’t think it would be very strong, but it would lead to absolute feelbad moments on the runner side, which seems unintentional. Playing the “I hope he does not have card X in hand” game is suddenly less exciting when your opponent can just “mulligan” for it.


#7

I mean think of Jeeves. A very common late game move in a Jeeves deck is draw three, install. A draw five that contains less risk that also allows you do something afterwords seems obviously good.


#8

Cap at five cards drawn? Normally you’d have six cards after mandatory, so you’d draw six and then immediately discard one.

I also think it needs Terminal.


#9

That’s the idea, otherwise the Corp would be able to shuffle six into R&D and only draw five, essentially adding a card to R&D and preventing it from ever milling out.


#10

i had heard a suggestion before of just click: shuffle one card from HQ into R&D
there’s even a card that has this same effect Rework

i don’t think the effect needs to have such a huge impact like you’re suggesting. i think even spending your whole turn to replace HQ, it’s kind of a huge thing. and some people might want to use it to find combo pieces or something instead of hide away agendas.

i agree that agenda flood can be a problem, but i also think flood tends to happen sometimes if you don’t try to score fast enough and just kinda durdle. yeah, drawing 3 or more agendas in your mulligan really sucks, and it’s really hard to get out of it, but i’ve bluffed my way out of games like that before.


#11

If the corp had the ability to Rework whenever, a) they would never mill out and b) it would be much easier to abuse for setting up combos

I can see it to be used to find the first pieces or pieces of a combo, but after that the Corp has to shuffle all of HQ back into R&D, which makes it difficult to use for setting up a combo (i.e. you’re just as likely to lose pieces as you are to gain them)

I agree with you here. It’s not going to do any favours to players who aren’t aggressive enough as corp. But that’s not really the goal here. I’m trying to come up with a solution to agenda flooding that expands deck building choices (not to mention play choices).


#12

Lets take a standard glacier deck:

–> 9 Agendas
–> 17 ICE
–> 12 Econ cards
=38

This really only leaves 11 slots left for everything else: Defensive upgrades, FA tools, kill pieces, traps, tutors/utility cards, draw cards, janky stuff.

Erin makes a great point that having to devote 3 of these slots just to Jackson which is a game patch for a fundamental design flaw does constrain a large degree of freedom for corp deckbuilding. I really quite like the suggested solution.


#13

Yeah, I’ve always thought of JHow as more of a messy rules patch than a card. Depending on how this panned out, it could also be worth limiting this to, say, once per game or removing the “draw up to your previous hand size” clause.

I think that knowing when the corp is flooded is a really interesting part of the game, and I wouldn’t like to see that go away. Adding the dimension of “oh, the corp just dumped agendas into R&D, it is extra spicy in there now” seems interesting. Of course, I haven’t tried it yet as written, so it’s hard to say.


#14

i think needs a nominal cost too. otherwise combo decks would gladly exchange a turn to hope for combo pieces i think. also rough for lets say a fast advance list… one of the good ways to get points vs them is legwork while they waiting on FA pieces. free ability to shuffle hq around is hard, since they can reroll into having the fa tools and score slightly later.

post shuffle, you cant really infer anything about the value of a hq run either. there are tells when you play that can hint if hq is a good server to attack. but after a full shuffle, you are kinda guessing.

i like the ability on cards, to deal with agenda flood. then you can value deck slots as agenda safety. gets you a strategic choice.

i just think jackson did too much. nbn for example can run special report, or pre-emptive action, or both, or even more stuff. they gotta choose what kinda protection they want.

if every faction had reasonably playable effects to mitigate agenda flood, i rather have it in cards. the bigger issue on jackson is he was basically auto include, but wasnt neutral.


#15

I think it’s an interesting proposal that is worth consideration. But at the same time, I’m not sure I’d support it as proposed.

I think Jackson Howard rotating is going to do a lot of good things, including punishing decks that spam assets all day and don’t try to score agendas.

One of the best tactics against those decks is to battle to control the board until you think the corp has more than 2 agendas in hand, then pound HQ. Jackson allows the corp to dump all the agendas at that point in the game, potentially forcing the runner to expend more energy to force the corp to use Jackson and then more or less resetting the game.

There are other options to hide agendas such as special report and preemptive action, but they’re much weaker than Jackson and will probably be less frustrating and tedious to play against. I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out. The ability to special report on demand for the cost of purging virus counters would reproduce what Jackson does in those matchups.

People have raised other concerns such as how it would interact with CI that I think are valid, although you could sculpt the rules around it to address those points.


#16

I could totally go for that, but not because of just Agenda Flood, I would say because of lack of ICE. But my only thing would be:

Executive Retreat
When you score Executive Retreat, place 1 agenda counter on it and shuffle HQ into R&D.
[Click], hosted agenda counter: Draw 5 cards.

or even better…
Corporate Shuffle
As an additional cost to play this event, spend [Click].
Shuffle all cards in HQ into R&D. Draw 5 cards.

This would even allow you to play a piece of ICE. 0¢ double.

Special Report
Shuffle any number of cards from HQ into R&D. Draw that number of cards.

This costs 1¢ but isn’t a double?

Alexa Belsky
As an additional cost to play this event, spend [Click].
Shuffle all cards in HQ into R&D. Draw 5 cards.

Kinda bad asset but can be used on demand

Is there any reason you can’t include a couple of these cards in your deck? If for some reason the build you have keeps getting flooded?


#17

I think the main reason is that these are cards, whereas what he’s proposing is an effect. If the runner gets a bad hand they can correct it using basic actions alone. Card draw like diesel helps, but drawing a bunch to find the cards you need is a perfectly feasible solution that the corp doesn’t have. The reason why Jackson seems a bit messy is that he’s a card solution to a game problem, and that means if you don’t draw him (or don’t put him in the deck), you have no outs to the problem. The same goes for all of the cards you mentioned.


#18

Executive Retreat and Corporate Shuffle rotate out when Jackson Howard does, so it doesn’t help the problem that’s the source of the proposal. Also, Executive Retreat is a hard to score 5/3, so if you’re problem is that you have a lot of agendas, and you can score a 5/3, you don’t really have the problem. Just score agendas.

The others are 2 influence cards in NBN. So great for NBN, but not the other factions. This is a design problem, when they give one faction the “solve agenda flood” colorpie.

There’s a much better 2 influence card coming out in Red Sands.


#19

I don’t like an automatic out for both poor hand situations or runner manipulated R&D. Playing what you have in hand is part of the game. Agenda flood sucks, but the game is not an auto loss. Bluffing, misdirection, and careful strategic play can sometimes get you beyond it.

Some runner strategies specifically work by pushing agendas to HQ. Corps don’t deserve an ‘always on’ solution to that. Same for something like Indexing. The Runner had significant cost getting and playing that card, a Corp shouldn’t be able to neutralize that with a full shuffle without an ability from a card.

I think an ability like that messes with the basic balance of the game - the flow of cards from deck to hand to play or discard.

What some consider a ‘fundamental flaw’ I consider simply an aspect of the game. In an attempt to fix a random draw situation, you punish good Runner play that intentionally sets up that circumstance.


#20

You’re not fooling anyone with that username, Damon Stone.