What is Jank?

I’m somewhat bemused by the use of the word “jank”.

To my mind, it should be applied to decks with crazy combos of typically seen as unusable cards or other daft shenanigans.

In the community it se to get applied to (among other things);

Decks that aren’t in the top 16 of Worlds
Using uncommon IDs like Whizzard
Putting one off-piste card in an otherwise champion deck
A perfectly normal deck someone calls jank, just in case they get beat, in a vain attempt to save face
A deck someone hasn’t seen before so it must be jank
A deck not one of the acknowledged types from the Hivemind or on Netrunnerdb
A way to be pejorative about your mate’s deck #ArchbishopOfBanterbury

Are we over-using the word jank? Has it become meaningless? Did it ever mean anything?


yes. yes. no.


Jank is a backformation of Janky, which is derived from Junky which is from the middle English Junke for a collection of items of little value.

Individual cards aren’t Jank, collections of cards with low average power or poor synergy are jank. (This is irrc where MtG started using Jank to describe the decks that would later be known as ‘zoo’, multicolour decks with lots of ‘small’ cards rather than powerful or synergistic ones that just rushed the opponent)

Thus to your list on what should be called jank:
Maybe, No, No, Maybe, No, Maybe, Of course!

Yes I am aware of the silliness of applying dictionary definitions to slang :smile:

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Baby don’t hurt me.


Jank is definitely overused. In netrunner, almost anything other than tier 1 is sometimes called jank, and a lot of people like to call their deck jank after they lose to a known archetype, somehow devaluing that victory. And then sometimes you get people playing wyldside pancakes noise, calling the deck jank because they run one or two cards not found in every wyldside pancakes noise deck.

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when someone dont know how to play deck X, then X is defo jank in their eyes :wink:

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I classify jank as any deck that’s not competitive, i.e. there exists no meta where this deck could ever be a good meta call (usually because there’s a version with better matchups across the board). An example would be Professor and Stronger Together.

I’m not quite sure whether or not this is the same definition of jank that everybody uses, but it feels to me like the most descriptive and most likely to be the definition, as there do exist weird combo-y decks that are actually good (like Noise and Val). I don’t really use the word much though, I’d rather be clearer with what I’m saying (as you rightly pointed out, the word can mean different things to different people). Instead of saying “the Professor is jank” I’d rather say “the Professor is not a competitive deck”.


I don’t know how to define it, but I know it when I see it.


I could be wrong but I think those were referred to as Junk not Jank and the term was a bit tongue-in-cheek; the decks just played the strongest cards, not necessarily caring about synergy.

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Junk is White-Green-Black, Jank was the 4+ colours decks (some of which became zoo).

Jank because they were beyond Junk.


I know it when I see it. Mostly its combos of bad cards, or any deck that ever tried playing Sage or Ekomind.

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you beat me to it ! :grinning:

This exactly because language is descriptive, not prescriptive.

It’s true though that when a word covers such a broad range of meanings it can seem very diluted, or difficult to tell which the user means. I think there are a couple of clear versions that are probably the “parents” of all the versions you listed:

  • a deck that lacks something essential to ever contend for a top spot in a serious competition. This one is usually where all the pejorative versions come from: for someone who follows competition trends, it can be frustrating to lose to a deck they know would get ground to dust against a field of Astrobiotics or PPVP Kates but just happens to be a hard matchup foir the deck you’re playing. Unfortunately because of this, it can easily get applied to decks that may actually be good but are simply untested or unfamiliar (“not hivemind”)

  • a small group or subset of cards that are notoriously under-powered or hard to use (usually because they require large combos to work). This is where the word can leak into even established decktypes; everyone has their own definition for how many “off-key” cards you have to put into a PPVP Kate shell before you say “yeah,this deck has some jank in it.” This version is most often used as a pejorative when an unexpected include works well by catching a player by surprise; the implication, again, is that in a competitive setting the surprise wouldn’t last as word got around.

  • one last tidbit, I think it’s already been touched on, but jank is related but entirely distinct from the MtG term “junk” or “junk deck” (sometimes known as a Zoo). In this case it refers to decks that have little or no overall synergy, but simply include a large number of strong, reliable cards (“good junk”). In can be pejorative since it implies lazy or un-creative deckbuilding, but in general these types of decks can be very strong (see also: 2014 Andysucker).

Andysucker lacked synergy? The whole thing was built on the run-conomy engine of Desperado/Sucker/SecTest/Masanori.


I think jank is sometimes used in netrunner to mean what would be called “Timmy decks” in magic- decks that are less competitive because they go for some huge and impressive play that is exciting when it comes together. Monolith decks, mandatory upgrades decks, government takeover decks, and so on are jank by this definition, and to a lesser degree all the apocalypse decks floating around now (less so only because these are more competitive).

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Yeah, I mean it as trying to make bad cards work, usually to assemble some combo or just make a pet card work. Build around “Timmy” cards are a good signal, including identities.

I like people trying them out though; we wouldn’t have e.g. PE if someone didn’t try to make it work.


Jank was a seperate term from junk. Junk was derived from the B/G/x (favoring White, and almost exclusively white after Jund appeared as a term) archetype where you just tossed strong cards together in a pile. Junk shares similar roots to Rock, although Rock is tied to a specific deck.

The earliest instance of “Jank” terminology colloquially applied to a magic deck was R/W back around the time of revised-6th ed, as you played a lot of cards that were individually unimpressive, and seemed to (and often did) have anti-synergy.

Swords to Plowshares in a deck full of Savannah Lions and Lightning Bolts with no form of card advantage? Was pretty much Heresy back then, since it went against both the “Card Advantage Uber Alles” school of thinking and the “Measure every card in how fast it kills them, any left-over cards in their hand when they die is card advantage for you” school.

This anti/lack-of -synergy aspect is often what people refer to when they call a deck Jank. When referring to individual cards, the anti-synergy descriptor tends to go out the door and the term defaults to a stand in for “seems pretty bad.”

If I were to play a Big Rig Apex deck with 3 Apocalypses, I’d call it a Jank Deck.


I’ve always used ‘Jank’ to mean something akin to ‘Rube Goldberg-esque’. Anything that takes a lot of work to put together, and then gives a very large benefit when it goes off.

Notorious BAG, and all DLR decks fit into this definition of Jank, so it doesn’t mean ‘bad’ or ‘uncompetitive’ to me. That said, Snitch-Au Revoir and False Echo-DDoS also fall into the ‘Jank’ category. Conceivably 24/7 Philotic also is Jank, as is Turtlebacks NEH. There’s also an old Josh B + Demolition Run + Medium deck that qualifies as Jank.

So, to me, Jank describes a Combo deck. Something that will get applause when it goes off and does the thing, or that elicits a response of ‘Wow… that was amazing!’ from your opponent.

The Val DLR deck is the most on the line deck when it comes to Jank-ness. It’s got a weird combo, but it’s so absurdly powerful even without getting the combo out that it’s hard to say that it’s Jank. It just has a janky part that happens to work very well in the lategame.


Jank is defined as belonging in tier 3.8437