Spin Doctor

♦ Spin Doctor 0[credit]

Asset: Character
Trash: 2
Influence: 1

When you rez this asset, draw 2 cards.

Remove this asset from the game: Shuffle up to 2 cards from Archives into R&D.

“Itʼs worse than dead meat—your project is too toxic to even feed to the vultures! If you don’t want to join it in the bloody memory hole, crawl onto every business show you can and wallow in blame like a pig in muck.”
“I might take a break from VR after this one.”
Illustrated by David Lei
Decklists with this card

System Gateway (sg)

#53 • English
Startup Card Pool
Standard Card Pool
Standard Ban List (show history)
  • Updated 2021-10-11

    Can the Corp use Spin Doctor’s ability to remove it from the game without choosing any cards in Archives? Does this cause R&D to be shuffled?

    Yes and yes.

  • Updated 2021-10-11

    If there are no cards in Archives, can the corp activate Spin Doctor’s ability to remove it from the game in order to shuffle the deck?

    Yes. Shuffling the deck is a change in game state, so you could activate this ability without any targets to shuffle back. Note that you must have at least 2 cards in R&D to do this, because if you only have 1 card, you aren’t actually shuffling the deck.

  • Updated 2021-10-11

    When rezzing or using Spin Doctor, can the Corp quote Malcolm Tucker from the BBC series The Thick of It?

    Maybe! Please be mindful of what is appropriate language for your play environment. NISEI encourages players to be respectful and welcoming to each other, and some players may find strong expletives to be off-putting. Refer to the NISEI Code of Conduct and Organized Play Policies for more information.

  • Updated 2023-10-01

    If the Runner uses the first ability of Hannah "Wheels" Pilintra to run a remote server containing Spin Doctor, what happens if the server ceases to exist due to the Corp removing Spin Doctor from the game?

    If the server ceases to exist during a run, that run is neither successful nor unsuccessful. The Runner will not take a tag.


This game has seen its fair share of broken stuff, as have most games. And in the spirit of learning from one's mistakes, we often see retrains of old cards attempting to fix those problems. Conduit replaces Medium, now in the right faction and slowed down a tad. Pennyshaver and Paragon each try to replace Desperado, each with their own twists. And I've been pretty satisfied with these callbacks and fixes. They've been balanced, fun, and still pushed enough to be relevant.

But when I saw the Spin Doctor, I thought I had something crazy in my eye. Surely they didn't just give us a retrain of Jackson "Three Influence" Howard? Jesus Howard? The savior, the staple, the must-include, the card you were surprised if a corp deck ran any less than three. While it may look innocuous to newer players, the old guard knows. Jackson was dominant. He was the face of Corp recursion and the reason running Archives was a wasted click.

So let's say it is with reserved optimism I look at Spin Doctor. On the one hand, I've seen good retrains, and the playtest teams seem to have a good finger on the pulse. On the other hand, I've been burned before. I've seen Jackson in action. I played during the Museum format, so I know how bad it can get when Corp recursion gets good. I hope the Spin Doctor doesn't take us back in that direction.

(System Update 2021 era)

At LEAST 1c to Rez or Activate - anything that kept it from being a free instant-speed safeguard. I think that's the only issue.

I started playing just as J-How rotated so never saw him in action and honestly never really understood why he was such a contentious card. Just so I'm clear on how he was used, the scenario would go something like this?

Oh no, I'm flooded! But luckily I have Jackson in hand so I: <br/>* Slap him down and rez<br/>* Draw 3 (possibly drawing more agendas?)<br/>* Dump 2 agendas into Archives at end of turn<br/>* Then use Jackson to hide them back in R&D<br/>It doesn't seem that much stronger than other recursion tools like Drudge Work or Attitude Adjustment that have appeared since, and none have become ubiquitous or problematic. So why was he such an issue?

I also wasn´t playing Netrunner in Jackson´s era, but was problematic because he was 1 influence, instant speed, gave you some tempo and helped you fight Noise

Jackson wasn't broken in any single dimension; everything he does is individually reasonable. It's just that it was a single card that had a huge number of different uses, and that sort of versatility is incredibly powerful (normally adding a card to your deck has a risk of it becoming dead, but Jackson would be useful no matter what). A good way to look at it is that Preemptive Action is a pretty good card, and you can always use Jackson as a Preemptive if you want to. But you can also use him to cycle agendas from HQ back into R&D, or dig for a particular card, or overdraw intentionally, and he was also useful in combo decks (due to being able to clicklessly stack an empty R&D). So there was no reason to choose between the various draw and reshuffle and Archives protection cards available; you'd always simply just choose Jackson.

The most powerful aspect of Jackson, which Spin Doctor retains, is that you can use the reshuffle effect in any PA-window. Meaning the runner has to comitt the click and run to check archives before you reshuffle. You almost don't need to store agendas in RnD. They are safe in archives, until the Runner has wasted time attacking it.

Similar to what others have already said, there was never a downside to using him and always a downside to the runner trying to interact with him. If they run Jackson, you pop him like an NGO front and recur 3 cards, wasting the runner's time. If they run Archives, you pop him and pull your agendas out of the bin, again, wasting the runner's time. If they run R&D, poo him and shuffle 3 non-trashable cards into R&D to reduce the agenda density. If they Index R&D, pop him to reshuffle R&D. If they... As you see, the list goes on and on.

Ok that makes sense. With that in mind then, do you think Spin Doctor is different enough to prevent it becoming a problem?

Nope. Single click card draw for no cost, with a no click reactive

Shockingly powerful. In addition to being tempo-neutral recursion on demand, he's a high-value asset which tends to waste Runner clicks (either running on Archives, or running on a Spin Doctor about to vanish). Virtually all corp decks (97% currently) use Spin Doctor and they're not wrong. It's not only the most common import in the game by far, it's more commonly used than any of the neutral cards as well. Spin Doctor is the smoothest option for working through agenda floods and increasing deck consistency.

Before, corps could use cards like Attitude Adjustment or Preemptive Action to move agendas from archives to R&D. Spin Doctor holds agendas in a Schrodinger's box where they are in NEITHER archives nor R&D until the runner successfully runs on archives or Spin Doctor. It's also free recursion with free card draw. If you're more interested in the card draw than timing flexibility or faking out runs, Sprint might also be viable, but there are many many situations where Spin Doctor is far more useful.

IN ADDITION, it also offers you the ability to shuffle on demand and significantly reduces the threat level from Stargate and Apocalypse. Previously, a Stargate run was one of the highest-value plays a runner could make on 5+ agenda points. In the Spin Doctor era, it doesn't feel like it.


Philosophically, Spin Doctor is a very well-designed card for quality of life. The game is more fun if corps have widely-available tools to cheaply play around situations like mulligans into agenda floods. On the runner side, games are more fun if runners have some ability to cost-effectively stop a killer asset (Pinhole Threading). From a game balance perspective I think it's okay that these cards are far better for these critical jobs than most alternatives. In contrast, a card like Endurance is poorly-designed because it enabled runners to do something they shouldn't be able to do (easily locking down iced servers for little recurring cost).

(System Update 2021 era)

Even if all you want is draw, there's still an argument for Spin over Sprint: Spin draws you 2 real cards, which lets it essentially stay even on cards and clicks (1 card for Spin, 1 click to install v clicking for 2 cards), whereas Sprint, while seeing 1 more card, sets you -1 on cards in hand compared to clicking for 2 cards. Sprint lets you filter slighty better, but even in the roll of raw draw, Sprint is great!

I think the best use case for Sprint is when you already have cards that you want to get rid of. In that scenario, it is more efficient card draw than Spin Doctor and easier to use in cases where you don't have enough cards in hand to start discarding.