Sunday, 19 January 2014

Android: Netrunner - My Journey in a Dystopian Future - Part 16: Is Jackson Howard the problem?

In my last post I outlined the potentially broken combo that appeared in the game of Netrunner on the release of the Mala Tempora data pack. All the fingers are pointing at Power Shutdown – the unrestricted ability allowing it to combine with Accelerated Diagnostics to flatlining affect.

But here’s the thing – none of this would be possible without Jackson Howard.

Jackson was released as in the Opening Moves pack and was held aloft on the shoulders of the Netrunner community as a hero of our times, the greatest card the game had yet seen.

His abilities:

Draw 2 cards for a click, allowing the Corp to work through his deck and get to those cards he wants.
Remove Jackson Howard from the game to put up to 3 cards from archives back into R&D and shuffle R&D.

While this second ability could be used for all manner of things, such as dropping your 3 Hedge Funds back into your deck; it has ultimately been used to protect Agendas.

But did Jackson make the game better?

He ruined the follow-up run after a successful Indexing – was Indexing a powerful enough card to warrant Jackson’s introduction?
Jackson single-handedly took Noise out of the game, many virus decks becoming redundant overnight.
He took the risk out of Accelerated Beta Test’s optional ability – a delicious risk that made its use exciting.
And he makes the Power Shutdown/Accelerated Diagnostics combo possible. Without him, it would be nothing.

Up until now, Fantasy Flight Games’ modus operandi has been to introduce a powerful card and then give you the tools to combat it. Scorched Earth has Plascrete Carapace; Atman has Swordsman; so does Jackson need his own nemesis? A friend of mine and regular opponent has suggested a Runner card called something like “Communication Blackout” that prevents the Corp from using his Executives (communicating with them if you will), for, say, a turn or even until the Corp finds a way to trash the Runner’s card.

I suspect FFG consider the Power Shutdown combo to be too situational with too many moving parts for it to come together and become prevalent enough to warrant restriction. I also suspect Jackson Howard will remain as he is, smiling behind his desk of cuddly toys; but time will tell.

No comments:

Post a Comment