As an non-advanceable asset trap that doesn't need to be installed, this can be shuffled into your deck to discourage digging, held in your hand to punish Legworks and Gang Signs, or installed on the board to bait an aggressive runner into it. Perhaps most alarmingly, this ambush will fire in Archives, meaning that if they access and trash it, they've just inadvertently turned Archives into a pit of nastiness.
The comparison to other ambushes is important, especially with Snare!, which is the gold standard:
- (+) Doesn't cost any to fire (Snare costs 4 )
- (+) Can fire in archives, which is incredibly powerful for an ambush
- (-) Allows the runner to choose their punishment (similar to Shi.Kyū, Cerebral Cast, or An Offer You Can't Refuse)
I feel this last point really needs to be stressed. You'll notice those other "choice" cards are ones that rarely see play, and there's a good reason for that. Allowing the runner to pick the least harmful punishment is a massive downside to any card. While it's easy to dream up contrived situations where both choices are terrible for the runner, in the vast majority of cases you're playing one of these cards because you specifically want one effect and not the other, and your opponent knows this as well.
So should you play News Team? To answer that, you need to understand what it actually does realistically, and then decide if that's actually advancing your deck's strategy or not. The runner's choices are:
They take 2 tags
- Opens them up to generally game-ending tag punishment like Scorched Earth, Traffic Accident, The All-Seeing I, or Closed Accounts
- If they choose to clear them, they're immediately losing 2 and 4 for a trap that the corp fired for free
- Doesn't get rid of the trap. If they don't trash it, it stays where it was. If they do trash it, it now goes into archives where they can run into it again
They add News Team to their score area as an agenda worth -1 agenda point
- If they were already winning or controlling the board, this may slightly delay their win (if they were at 6 points and their game-winning steal is a 2 pointer, it won't matter)
- Permanently removes the trap from the board
- Makes the game longer, but doesn't cost them tempo (unlike Snare! which always tags them and wipes out a huge chunk of their hand)
So clearly in most cases, the runner is just going to take the -1 agenda point and keep going. If they're Medium slamming R&D, then they're just going to eat this and....keep Medium slamming. If they've got a Clot down and are checking every remote as you drop it, they're going to eat this and...keep checking and trashing/stealing your remotes.
If you're losing, News Team will delay your loss slightly (hopefully). If you're winning, News Team will make you win more (sort of).
News Team really shines when the runner does NOT control the board, but is nonetheless racing you for agendas (with burst multi-access, for example, like The Maker's Eye). If you've got a reliable fast-advance strategy that can't really afford a strong central server defense, News Team might be exactly what you're looking for. But if you're looking for a new devilish way to tag the runner for your Scorch package or to tax them with SYNC, look elsewhere. If you can spare the and influence, Snare is almost always better.
- Works great with Haarpsichord Studios when you're intentionally dumping all your agendas in archives
- Can be sold to Data Dealer to make you cry
- Score out an early Philotic Entanglement, and then play 24/7 News Cycle once the runner has eaten 3 News Teams, 3 Shi.Kyūs, and a few agendas for 8+ net damage