I have a confession to make.
I’ve been playing Devil’s Advocate a bit with regard to Jacks, to try and glean your opinions. I’ve prodded the comments only a little, letting you run off and debate/argue rather more vociferously than normal. But this deception has had an important purpose.
Jacks are a slightly problem child for me. On the one hand they do a sterling job of allowing me to define a range of teams in ways I simply could not do without them. I think that they are worth including for this alone because I value this spread and variety of game experiences that they bring. I am, overall, very happy with the way that DreadBall has turned out, but I am a perfectionist and there has been this niggle at the back of my mind that Jacks are just not quite where they should be.
Buhallin has a point when he says that they are a bit underpowered for teams where specialists are available too. I think that he’s overstating the problem a touch, but there is a core of truth there and in the long run it needs to be addressed.
Truth be told, I’ve known this for a long time, long before DreadBall was finalised. So why didn’t I “fix” it before? Well, it’s a very subtle problem, and one that will cause critical damage if the pendulum swings too far the other way, so I’ve erred on the side of caution.
“Critical damage”? I think so. If Jacks are too powerful, then the specialists get marginalised by a team of über-powerful all-rounders. This harks back to the bland and tedious team structures I was trying to avoid in the first place, so you can see why I am not keen. But it’s even worse than that as it endangers the whole structure of the team balance, and though that may sound overly dramatic I don’t think it is. In my view, if Jacks are too powerful then they make a mess of the whole game.
If we say that Guards and Strikers are 10 out of 10 at their specialist role, and 0 out of 10 at the other one, then what are Jacks? Perhaps they are 6 out of 10 at both at present. Well how good should they be able to get? 7? 8? That’s the absolute limit I’d say, and maybe even that is pushing it. If they become 9/10 and retain their ability to do the other specialism too, then why ever take the specialist? The problem that Buhallin et al have been railing against simply presents itself the other way round and we’re back to square 1, if not back in the box and on the shelf.
The real problem here is one of balance, and the tipping point here is very narrow. It’s further muddied by being predicated on Coach skill a great deal, which makes the mechanical solution tricker to gauge and the whole process of fixing it like doing brain surgery in the dark with mittens on. Running stats is all very well, but doesn’t hold the whole answer. So what can we do?
My plan has been to feel my way slowly with this and make any changes in small steps. For most people, Jacks are fine as they are, and are certainly not an issue in one off games and friendlies. In teams like the Greenmoon Smackers they are fine too, and don’t need any changes because they work exactly as intended. This is part of the problem. How do I not break the bits that work (by far the majority) whilst trying to improve the few sections that need slightly enhancing? Remember that the core of what allows DB to play quickly is simple, universal rules. If we’re changing Jacks it’s not just human ones, but goblins too. We need to fix one without breaking the other.
Remember also that we’re not talking about a broken game here, or even a broken player type, but a fairly subtle detail which most people never seem to notice. I don’t like niggles though, and the Jack is not quite sat perfectly where they should be. I want to correct that slight imperfection.
What I’ve been working on is a handful of additional abilities that Jacks can gain through experience. This seems to address the issue without breaking what already works and also without making them unduly potent and therefore causing a much, much bigger problem than the marginal issue we’re trying to fix.
The core two abilities are to allow the Jack to make a Run when they Slam or Throw, like the specialist. This would be 2 abilities, one for each type of action, and the Slam one would also apply to Running Interference, boosting the potency of that unique Jack ability. Breaking it down like this also enforces what I have envisaged all along which is that Jacks have the most to gain by experience of all the player types, and reward the Coaches that groom these players carefully.
Apologies again for the deception, and thank you all for the comments. I’m sure you’ll let me know what you think below 🙂