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Legitimate Hot Take: We're fine without Jackson Howard


I doubt anything changes significantly by the end of Kitara. Most of the hype is on runner side for pack 6.

Corp side the only really notable thing we get is a new Jinteki ID. Riot Supression/False Flag are both cards that will see some play, but don’t seem good. Better Citizens program is likely just okay, but not strong enough.


A big problem that they are still working through is that so many still-legal cards were designed after they knew that, say, Desperado or Jackson Howard were meta-defining/warping but before they had any plans to or even an operating understanding of rotation. Now that they have rotated a bunch of those out (or banned), there’s big swathes of the still-legal cardpool that are nonsensically costed or that came pre-nerfed to try to work around what is now a big hole in the ground.

This is why my position has been since basically forever that they can and should do at least one, but probably both, of these: 1) rotate competitive play much faster, and include deluxe boxes in there. No more than two years should be playable at a time in “standard” NR, and 2) be unafraid to print “fixed” versions of actually good cards. The mythic 5-cost Desperado. The neutral 2-inf Jackson, etc.

On the strict subject of JH, it’s still my belief that his abilities provided a necessary counterbalance to some structural advantages the Runner has over the Corp. Principally: R&D variance is vastly more swing-y to the Corp, and that the mandatory draw–which forces that variance issue–puts a big countdown clock around the Corporation’s neck from turn one. This in turn provides built-in constraints to Corporate playstyles, which is why the Core 1.0 / Genesis meta was so hilariously unbalanced one you’d figured out how to play. I haven’t played in forever, but I do keep an eye on the upcoming cards (and this forum!) but I haven’t seen anything that really replaces the little dinosaur gifts his abilities brought to Corporate gameplanning.


So several of you with high-level competitive experience have reported not enjoying the play right now at that level, and why.

Since I was not at Worlds and don’t play at that level I will defer to your experiences. My main point was one of incredulity since it was the first I had heard such a claim.

I don’t scour all the possible communication lines but I stay on top of the forums here at Stimhack. It seems out of character for this community here to avoid tough talk about the game (presenting this thread as exhibit A), so the lack of such a discussion until now surprised me.

Anyway, fair points were made from knowledgeable parties. Considering rotation and bans have happened, what can be done to make competitive Netrunner as enjoyable as casual is now? (seriously - I’m having tons of fun)


Obviously you’ll hear different opinions from different players, but I think many would agree that what Corp is missing are serious pressure cards like Breaking News that actually make the runner interact and ideally some way to control the rate that agendas come into play in order to have a better handle on the pace of the game.

So far the closest thing to the first point is probably MCA Austerity Policy, but the fact that it has to be face up several turns before it pays off means the runner doesn’t have to worry about it like they used to have to worry about a never advanced Breaking News. The second point really just boils down to Jackson Howard vs. his potential replacements (Miraju, Distract, etc.) and how there really isn’t anything that quite does what Jackson used to do.


Most of the high level players have been on Slack for some time, so you won’t hear their opinion unless you’re there, and maybe not even then.

I understand the need for the Corp to control tempo and flow, since they’re holding all the points. That negative inherent to their gameplan has almost always necessitated a bailout card like Howard. I forget whom, but someone once referred to Howard as a patch to ANR, and I would tend to agree. I just wish it were 0INF neutral.

re: Breaking News
I’m in no desire to return to that card. It was far too powerful for what it was: a 2/1 with a game changing ability, esp. when combined with powerhouses such as meat dmg, 24/7, EOI, and more. I wouldn’t mind seeing a reprint. Perhaps a 3/1? The fact that it can fire Boom! is problematic.


What about a BN that only gave 1 tag? Enables punishment cards outside of Boom.


It seems like an opening hand agenda flood is the ANR equivalent to getting mana shafted in Magic.

I wonder if a rules fix to mulligans could resolve the issue. Maybe allow the Corp to draw a new hand if they ever have 3+ agendas after a mulligan (if they want to), showing the hand to prove the flood (giving the Runner some info) - repeat as stupidly necessary.

If ANR needs a patch, then change the rules. Just a thought.


i completely disagree that the potential for agenda flood is a fundamental flaw in Netrunner and is something that needed ‘patching’

at its core design concept, the corp is required to play a game of netrunner like they do poker, making bluffs and daring the runner to call them. if you mulligan into 5 agendas and just sigh defeatedly, mutter ‘that’s not what i wanted’, and then when you don’t draw any ice and say ‘oh well, pass to you,’ your body language SCREAMS ‘RUN HQ, ALL THE AGENDAS ARE HERE’

i think a lot of people who have not playing netrunner before jackson existed can’t imagine the game without him, and i think that’s kind of sad tbh. some people say Jackson was a patch and others think he was a crutch. i remember someone saying once that the reason a lot of corp players need jackson is because they aren’t trying to score quickly enough, that agenda flood is only happening because the corp is letting them build up in HQ. i don’t know if i necessarily believe that either, but being able to bluff your way out of a bad situation is an intentional and intrinsic skill of netrunner

but a lot of people feel very strongly that these cards were bad for the game for various reasons.

  • some were just too good at what they did (some of the numbers needed to be tweaked but the effect was overall ok and good for the game, like desperado)
  • some were too strong with other cards (3 parasites was fine, but 6 with clone chip and instantly killing stuff - with sifr, etc. were not; breaking news is good imo, but it was really strong with 24/7 Boom!)
  • and some were just way too strong since there were so many ways to easily overcome or just completely ignore the built-in weaknesses of the card (yog + datasucker, siphon + tag me, aaron, etc.)
  • and then of course damon’s stated viewpoint in that in hampered game design. this is harder to find examples since a lot of it happened in the design process, but consider how many 0-3 str code gates were played when yog was popular: enigma because it had decent facecheck potential, and quandary because it was cheap to rez, and popup because yog didn’t matter to it anyway.
    (i also know that a lot of these are now banned, rotated, but i’m just giving examples of how these cards were actually played)

but regardless of the reason, these cards needed addressing. i don’t think ‘core 2.0 was a mistake because i believe these cards that were beneficial for the game got removed’ is a valid argument because people in a general sense don’t tend to agree on which cards were/are good/bad for the game. i agree that a lot of the card concepts were necessary, and it seems like we’re getting a lot of replacements in this cycle and in R&R.

i think a strong argument could be made about the timing of core 2.0 replacing the original and the waiting time for these replacement effects

i also think a strong argument could be made for the replacements we got just aren’t viable alternatives

  • trypano is nowhere near as good as parasite, for example, which is obviously the point, that the replacement card’s power is lower.
    but parasite was a meta-defining card which led to the development of things like adaptive barrier, lotus field, magnet, tithonium… all of which are kinda useless now since trypano sucks and hippo is much better but doesn’t host onto anything.
    but also tryp does not really work like parasite at all, which was much better for the runner if it could kill lower-strength, higher-rez cost ice and/or things with multiple subs. now it kills all things equally, so it’s just absolutely awful for hitting something like vanilla or pop-up window (two staples that were still widely used even when parasite was everywhere), which were often choice targets for parasite, because 5 virus tokens is actually a huge ask for that effect unless you’re trying to force purges

anyway, my overall point is, i think we’ll have to wait a few months before we can really say if core 2.0 was truly a mistake, and even then, we can only cite certain reasons because not everyone will agree on whether particular choices were good or bad


While I agree with ones that asks themselves if you can float like very little rocks, I’d say I wouldn’t auto-include a 1-inf neutral Jackson reprint in each of my corp decks.
It would be thinked a little more because man, those 3 freed inf are so great these days :slight_smile:

An existing 1-inf Jackson would protect a little more corps that play no Jackson (because some “he discards = archives run” wouldn’t be as automatic if a facedown remote exists).


Honestly, losing Jackson didn’t disrupt the game as much as I thought it would. The cards he was almost necessary to deal with also rotated–Noise, RDI, Medium, Parasite. I don’t even think a neutral Jackson reprint would be an auto-include in decks at this point. While losing an odd game here and there to flood is unfortunate, I think the game actually got more fun when Jackson rotated. Embrace the risky–even reckless–plays one must sometimes make; they’re exhilarating and sometimes your opponent’s reaction may surprise you!


At the time Jackson came out, he was necessary. Noise, and Criminals that could run constantly without ever stopping while gaining resources, meant that corps were seriously in trouble. A power card was needed just to get some balance back.

But Jackson had serious implications on how the game functioned as a whole.

It was a huge pressure relief on corps, allowing them to (frankly) stall things out. Combined with GFI (and the various other strong tools, peaking with Museum) things got kinda silly in how long a corp could sit around building board state without actually trying to score.

There were also some other really unfortunate side-effects. The implications for HQ pressure, even Archives pressure, the influence disparity for NBN - and then the combos enabled…

I haven’t really played in quite some time, so I don’t know how the meta (or even the card pool particularly) has shaped up since Jackson left. But I don’t think Jackson was necessary by mid-Lunar cycle, and was probably detrimental right before he was gone. And if corps are struggling now, I think a solution like Jackson proved far too heavy-handed in the end.


Worlds was ages ago. It’s hardly representative of the meta, highly competitive or more casual, now.

Edit: I do admit that I am not a very competitive player, so I don’t actually know from first-hand experience how the game works at the “highly competitive” level, but I would also like to challenge the notion that that is necessarily the best place to evaluate the game.
At the level I play at (weekly meet-ups, occasional GNKs) – and which way more people play at than at the highest level of competitive play – the game has been amazing and fun since rotation, more fun and more varied than before.


I have repeatedly said that the meta has improved since then. From a casual standpoint the meta is also in a great place, the issue is competitively there’s only 2 real strategies going around. The new cards are pretty good, a lot of competitive players are still hopeful that the game will improve with boggs at the helm, which is part of the reason why we don’t post about how bad the meta was. It is still not great, a jackson howard going around would fix a lot of things, which was the question of the topic

In good metas netrunner at a high level is way better than basically any card game. Only issue is it’s a destroyer of fragile egos, which can scare people off. Even in bad metas it’s still better than most card games, just significantly worse than good netrunner.


Hot take: I miss Astrotrain/Butchershop vs. Siphon spamming.


I agree with this. Also, Core 2 wasn’t just about removing overpowered cards. It was about including staples from early cycles that are sorely needed (can you imagine if Liberated Account wasn’t legal? pretty much all the Jinteki cards? Project Atlas?) and shaking things up. Having a core set with an extremely high power level is a terrible design mistake; no one will play the new cards because they’re worse than Account Siphon, AstroScript, Medium. Rotation would’ve had much less impact. With a high power level core set, the only way to get people to play new cards is power creep, so we end up with Mumbad and Flashpoint.

Re: Jackson, I’m glad he’s gone. He may have addressed a problem with agenda flood but in doing so made durdling and asset spam too good. I think a powered down version (maybe no click ability, trash to shuffle 2 cards in) would be great for the game, or some rules change related to mulligans or giving the corp a built-in once-per-game Special Report. But agenda flood, like mana screw, is a feature of the game. You’re meant to build around it, not to ignore it because of a broken card in your deck.


lol, whomever took us from Qualified Hot Take to Legitimate Hot Take deserves all the high fives. That cracked me up.

So, please adjust your sticker pads accordingly. Mildish Hot Take —> Qualified Hot Take —> Legitimate Hot Take.

You may now open pack 8.


You’re welcome =)


Either 0 inf neutral or I’d have been fine with 1 inf neutral. Back in the days of Astro train, butchershop, all of the various NEH builds and for who knows how long after NBN was effectively playing with 3 more influence than every other faction because Jackson was, at the time, a must-include 3-of and on top of this they felt that NEH was so underwhelming that it necessitated an extra two influenc which is how we ended up with the butchershop meta to begin with. I think the game is in a much more stable place now that cards like Jackson, Breaking News, and Siphon (rip) have all rotated out. I wouldn’t say I’m glad that Jackson’s gone, but I think the game is healthier for it.


It’s possibly a different topic but I think the issue here is mulligans more than anything else. Yes you can still get flooded part-way through a game when you draw 3 agendas in a row but it seems to me that

luck is unevenly distributed in Netrunner.

A Corp can flat out lose through bad luck; a runner less so. So I wonder if a better answer than Jackson Howard III Jr is asymmetrical set ups.

For example, the Corp’s opening hand set up might be like Arkham Horror LCG:
Draw 5 cards; put any number to one side, draw replacements then shuffle the put aside cards into R&D.

while the runner might keep the current mulligan rules.

This gives the Corp a much stronger start and generally reduces agenda flood in the opening hand. It does nothing against later floods or droughts but I think that’s part of the game.


I’ve been wondering about that, too. In ‘Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn’ it’s even better: You are allowed to pick the cards for your starting hand!
That’s probably a bit too good for Netrunner, but it struck me as a really interesting solution to the ‘mulligan dilemma’.