It was probably just my unclear language in that last post (as I was trying to be very brief) but I’ll try and clarify here. I’m still sumarising my wall of text, but hopefully this is a bit more enlightening.
Having thought about it a lot recently, I think almost all of Jaina’s problems stem from the legacy of her V1 build and how her various cards were changed or not changed when she was brought into V2. Her old deck is going to be the single most informative thing to figuring out what Jaina was originally supposed to do, and why her various cards don’t seem to gel together very well. (Note I don’t want us to return to this clearly god-tier character, I just want to establish the context for making future changes to her).
V1 Jaina had some very important differences compared to V2 Jaina:
- Her innate allowed her to rebuy any card if she attacked (no HP gating for DPs). She paid 3HP for normals, 4HP for faces and 5HP for aces.
- Unstable Power was played after a combat reveal to flip her revealed card at the cost of 10HP.
- Her 10s could be powered up and returned to hand when the opponent dodged.
Her original innate (and the lack of normal draw) meant that her Js and Ks were mostly irrelevant as combat reveals. I suspect this is why fast J is so bad right now, because it was never updated, and back then it didn’t matter what it did, it would have been relegated to power up fodder. K would also have been made irrelevant as a reveal as soon as she had Q/A, and then used entirely for dodge follow-up. She also could make do with a lot less blocks with this innate, as she could simply DP in lieu of blocking.
Unstable Power in V1 was very broken, mostly because it made her dodge reveals unthrowable and therefore completely safe. This might also explain why Jaina has relatively poor dodge follow up outside of stacks of Ks or Aces. Her 7* also meant that Knee Bash would act as the fastest throw in the game (even “faster” than PCP), which perhaps explains why it seems so lacklustre/pointless now. She also had a lot more useless cards to pump it with so it would seem like free damage. Reserving your 7s for their ability definitely seems less bad if you have access to an even “faster” option.
It’s very important to note that the way her 7* and 10* used to work, she would always be holding 7s in hand until they could do something useful, and she would periodically get all of her spent 10s back. This meant that if you were to sample her count of blocks and throws in hand, V1 Jaina would almost always have more than V2 Jaina. Her access to additional aces that power her damage were also not tied to her 7s at all, but to her 10s.
All of this to say that V1 Jaina was not a rushdown character. Her early game would have been very defensive because she could play safe moves without caring about the card cost (“reckless”). In the mid-late game she could chase kills by cheating on combat reveals and using her free aces (aggressive). I think both of these aspects were significantly diminished by the reworking of her 7* and 10* into its current form. Her lack of blocks has only become an issue because she has to hand manage her DPs until she’s on low HP.
So what would address some of the (intentional and unintentional) issues introduced by changing her kit? One way to try and give her more useable blocks and throws would be to move the distribution of her abilities (and change Knee Bash) to more closely match Geiger - another character with two very important non-recurrable abilties that he needs to spend for his gameplan. This would mean:
- Move Smoldering Embers to her 6
- Move Unstable Power to her 8
- Make Knee Bash a 9 damage 2CP throw starter at 8.6 speed
Since Smoldering Embers doesn’t recurr, and Jaina has a very low block count anyway, its important that we start by moving it off of a block. Putting it on her 6 seems like the most obvious place. Making Knee Bash her most damaging, (but not fastest) throw then means that Jaina is automatically incentivised to throw with it, and she’d be pretty happy dodging into it early game compared to if it was her fastest throw. It also acts as her replacement 8 throw since she won’t usually want to play her Unstable Power card that way. She now effectively has dedicated throws on her 6,7 and dedicated blocks on her 9,10.