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Advanced play with Jackson Howard

Let’s talk about everyone’s favourite Lord and Savior.

Everyone knows why this card is good. I don’t need to talk about agenda flood or countering indexing or recycling economy cards. It’s easy to use this card to get out of a losing situation, but nobody really talks about how to play him to get an edge and win.

When I was just starting to be of intermediate skill, I would treat any agenda in HQ as a liability, and get rid of it with jackson as soon as possible no matter the circumstance. After all, the corp is “on defense”, you can’t let agendas get stolen, right? But if you treat your agendas like a liability, that’s all they will ever amount to.

In Magic, in Legacy in particular, they say to newcomers that the best way to play Brainstorm (that’s the card I butchered, above) is not to play it, i.e., to wait many turns until you have 2 totally useless cards in hand to shuffle away, making the brainstorm effectively “draw 3”, not “draw 3 then put 2 back”. Likewise in netrunner, if your hand is already good, even just average, it’s often a waste of time to overdraw. “Mulliganing” with jackson isn’t free – it takes 3 clicks that you don’t get to spend advancing your economy or board, and (especially if you’re playing a long-game deck like RP) you’re committing jackson to shuffle back agendas instead of econ, making R&D more likely to betray you 10 turns down the road.

With a few rare exceptions, to overdraw with jackson is to durdle. But there’s always a point in the game where the corp has advantage for just a scant few turns, after which the runner will overwhelm them. A corp who durdles past that point dooms themself to lose on R&D much later (and perhaps not even realize why).

Okay, enough abstract babbling. I don’t have a definitive guidebook of all the sweet plays you can make with jackson, but I have a few examples to share.

  • First, recently I was spectating a game where the corp made it safely into the late-midgame (20 or so left in R&D), but had a fistful of ice, no money, no agendas scored, and was having trouble fending off siphons. Rather than click for credits, they took a mulligan with jackson looking for hedge funds. This is wrong whether or not money cards show up – without any agenda points scored, they need the game to go long, but if it does go long, having overdrawn would just cripple R&D’s ability to protect itself. Install jackson, click for cred twice, and shuffle back the hedge funds already in archives would be much better.

  • Second example. I was playing @servas in the league, my Andy vs his RP. I’ve killed all the econ assets and connected with several siphons and scored one nisei, but through it all, the giraffes helped rez most ice and score a nisei token. R&D is down to 10 or so cards, but nevertheless, he overdraws with jackson. I know he’s a good player, so he knows he can’t durdle here, so I know he must be digging for the second nisei rather than mulliganing. I can’t let him IA it. Rule of thumb is that after jackson-draw-2-draw-2, legwork will whiff, but here I was able to use legwork to force the nisei token on HQ, leaving him unable to safely score and letting me slowly win on R&D.

  • Example 3 - Playing @Paranoid earlier today, my ETF glacier vs his Andy. We were both on 5 points and both poor, so I was trying to bait him into my remote with face-down assets (bluffing as 3/2s). By the time a 3/2 finally showed up, R&D was down to 12 cards, I had put jackson in the remote and discarded a 5/3 (for 2 agendas left in the deck). On autopilot, I shuffle back 2 operations and the 5/3, hoping to close out the game with my 3/2 before he wins with RDI. He won next run. What I should have done was leave the 5/3 in archives for 50% better odds not to lose on R&D, since it’s not like a crim with sec testing will ever actually check there right after a jackson shuffle, especially not with as much pressure as I was putting with a fresh card in the remote every turn.

There’s my story. You got any experiences with learning how to play jackson more skillfully? Using him for aggression rather than defense, watching what he does as runner to read the corp’s mind, or bluffing with your shuffles to give the runner the wrong read? Please share!


Very bad move you made indeed, but I don’t understand this.

Sec testing on Jackson or on Archives ? And even so, why not waiting 2nd run on Archives or first run on Jackson ?

Jackson shouldn’t ever be activly trashed if you’ve got Agendas to move out from Archives.
Unless for bluffing because you know the runner knows this and think you knew this too AND you think he can fool about you.

To use for calling back Gambles is valid, Jackson actually are a part of my economic engine in all my Jinteki decks.

Exemple :

  • 10 cards in archives, 2 agendas
  • 20 cards in stack, with 4 agendas
  • 5 cards in hand, with 1 agendas
  • rest of the cards on the table (including Jackson)
  • a few agendas scored or stolen (say 3, hence 10 agendas total)

Odd of picking an agenda from R&D is 20%. When you Jackson, those odds goes to 26% (6/23).
Jacksoning makes your passive R&D defence weaker. And it makes you odd of flooding HQ going up to because of those 26%.

Those 2 agendas couldn’t be accessed by any mean in your Archives.
So using it makes your Archives clean but a runner would concentrate his efforts on your HQ/R&D/Remotes so that’s not a solution aswell. Using makes -1 targets from remotes if unrez, -1 2-clic target from archives or remote if rez, so not using it actually help making more useless targets for the runner.

Even Hades Shard is not a major probblem. If installed, the problem is you were clumsy not to use Jackson when you saw this hit the table. If he lets you install Jackson, wait a little, then rez-trash : there’s no windows between rez and trash Jackson.
There’s a windows for you to trash jackson if he installs Hades with cr. If he install Hades through Archives run + trash it after, the runner is actually stupid.

No, there isn’t.


Really intersting piece and well timed (for me) since I’m playtesting a non-counterstrike HB glacier seriously for the first time and am learning just how important good Jackson use is to that build. In particular I’ve found myself in scenario 3 a number of times and have been working on how not to lose out of R&D late on.

My question would be - how is it best to play around Hades Shard with JH (since Andrew’s article everyone seems to have thrown them into crim8nal decks)? Is it simply a case of not leaving large numbers of points in archives past the begining of runner’s turn paid ability window? Or is it better to try to draw out the shard with other discards?

Edit: Since you asked for examples of tricksy Jackson play - Dead Coats allows lots of potential for messing with the runner’s head by shuffling in some but not all face down cards. Did I pull the agendas away? Or did I leave them to fuel counterstrike? Same with Jinteki builds with a shock loaded archives.

I think it’s very difficult to ‘draw it out’, because it’s a singleton you’re never even sure they’re playing.

If you do overdraw with Jackson, and the runner is sitting on 7+ credits, these days I’m really hesitant to leave multiple non-Future Perfect or NAPD agendas in Archives.

If you’re really worried, the best way is probably to keep the runner poor or under so much pressure they couldn’t afford to make that play even if they wanted to.

I’m wondering about this as well. I don’t see hades get loads of play(mainly noise), but I love to be able to play it in shaper. If you don’t expect it and the runner has the credits, yeah well, good for them.

If it already hit the table, just be really careful with the howimulls, to the point of using him at the end of your turn

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I think it’s good in builds with lots of HQ Pressure - Gabe and Leela are pretty good candidates for it. I’m not sure Shaper is the best place for it.

I think you’re right but I’ve got a remaining problem to understand with the MO exemple (in the rules : “clic: gain 2” is a paid ab) if the corp can’t Jackson between MO clics.
Since the rule you tell is "corp can’t use paids between runner’s paids unless the runner let her, I think there’s a problem :

=> Could you install Hades Shard - MO - MO -MO - Trash Hades Shard without being able to use Jackson there ?
That feels strange to me.

No, there is a paid ability window after each action (e.g. using a click to install a card). The Runner has priority for paid abilities on his turns. So after installing Hades Shard, the Runner has priority to trash the Shard (if they want). Then the Corp has a chance to use Jackson if they want.

You can’t use MO except as an action. From the rulebook, page 21:

“Paid abilities can be triggered at the beginning of each turn, before and after each player action, and at certain points during a run, unless the ability requires a click, in which case it must be triggered as an action.”

Emphasis mine.


-edit- ooh I see. Nvm.

Breaking Bioroids are exceptions to this rule, right ?

Friendly reminder for people who are trigger happy on their jackson use: sometime, letting the runner trash it could be the best play.


Breaking bioroids with clicks is not a paid ability. And the corp can certainly respond with paid abilities after the runner has finished breaking subroutines (or declining to) in their paid ability window.


Thanks for answers to my nitpicking questions.
What are breaking bioroid clics if not costs of a (corporation card) paid ability ? These are really strange in fact.

Breaking with breakers is paid ability. But there I can’t really find another name for these… Bioroid would give the runner a paid who tells “clic: break 1 sub” for most 1.0 for exemple.

I honestly wonder what these are.

My point is : if this have strange behaviour, maybe some un-noticed interactions can be find with some other forgotten cards (playing that sort of “hey you forgot” games with midori-grails atm :p).

Sorry for OT.

Exactly - I had the following ready to post, but wanted to wait on the direction the thread takes to see if it fits in here:

The one thing that always makes me cringe is people triggering Jackson senselessly (with nothing impactful to shuffle). You can Jackson-recycle a maximum of 9 cards each game, in the best case scenario… make sure you choose them well.

You only have three Jacksons - getting one trashed means the runner paid and you can recycle him (whether via other Jacksons, Archived Memories, Architect, whatever). Getting one removed without impactful benefit is a huge boon to the runner.

Oh, and - it’s cool that a Jackson server ceases to exist, but triggering him to rid the runner of a Desperado credit isn’t actually taking a credit away from them, it’s wasting a non-renewable resource to save them 2 credits in trash cost.

If there’s an easily-pointed-to thing that most people can do to improve their corp play, it’s most certainly how they use their Toymakers.


They are indeed strange, because they are not paid abilities :slight_smile: .

Yep. There’s definitely a temptation to get His Toymakerness out and recurring hedge funds as soon as possible, but in reality you definitely want to be picking as many game-changers as possible to recur. Until you really need him, He taxes for three too! Then you can use the later Jackson to recur the earlier one… man, he’s good.

As a corp, you often want to find yourself (unless… unless you’re playing glacier, ugh :wink: ) wanting to keep a nice agenda in hand at all times anyway, because being able to capitalize on a scoring window is huge. So, when you’re considering purging your hand of a nasty overdraw, consider keeping one of them in hand. Runners are trained to look for The Agenda Cycle and often go downtempo in response.


@PeekaySK, that’s given the runner actually trashed it. Still there’s a cost : you gave a choice to the runner, and gave him the lattitude to choose what he prefers and fits the most for his plans. + the fact you have a Jackson to reccur instead of another card : you just made yourself a new “problem” (small one or big one, you never know until you have not draw the next Jackson).

It may be more niche than “sometimes you can let him choose what he prefers and not look for your immediate future”.

If you’re seeing Jackson as trashable ressources then in my opinion that’s because maybe your mean trash cost is a little too small. In a deck playing Minings, Caprices and Boot Camps, sure Jackson is the king of your trash costs, but still, I’d rather the runner to remove a pad than a Jackson…

Not saying it’s a bad move but there’s a cost, being tempo, opportunity choices given to the runner, that kind of things.

For exemple : the runner have Hades Shard in hand, and you let him trash your Jackson, well, I think he would say thank you for that.

That’s why I mostly run the archives vs non Jinteki to remove the Jackson (and mostly run on those naked Jackson vs Jinteki) so this protip would be a Jinteki one I think. If I remember well, there’s no real punishment in Archives for non-Jinteki decks (until O&C’s Space Camp).

So here’s two discussion points from succesive games earlier both with HB glacier. I tried to apply some lessons from the post but would like to hear other’s views.

First game opening hand of Hedge, Heimdell 1.0, ASH, Jackson and Adonis. Mandatory draw of Ichi 1.0.

Second game essentially the same hand (might have been a different asset) but mandatory draw was Utopia Fragment.

What would you do and why? mulligan not being an option.

1: first turn hedge, ice, ice, with heimdall on HQ if crim, R&D otherwise. second turn click to draw once or twice looking for a cheap ETR.

2: click to draw looking for a cheap ETR (and to end the turn with 5 in hand rather than 3 or 4), then if I don’t find it, hedge, heimdall on HQ; second turn mulligan with jackson.

If I have any cheap ETR to jam on HQ, I like to wait an extra turn or two with the 5/3 in hand before mulliganing. Runners don’t ever legwork on the first couple turns (except against NBN).


@Syntax - this is me publicly shaming you for posting nonsense.


Here’s an advanced tip for all you corps out there: the true way to proxy Jackson.