I’m surprised there’s only one review for one of the most ubiquitous, polarizing, archetype-defining, and meta-warping Corp cards in the game.
As of writing, Hard-Hitting News (HHN for short) is featured in 39% of top Corp decks (according to knowthemeta.com). Often called “Damon’s best design”, Hard-Hitting News is one of the most interesting implementations of the Terminal subtype; you load the Runner up with tags, but they have an entire turn to clear them before they pay the media conglomerate piper.
In-faction, punishments that await the Runner include Closed Accounts, Psychographics, Exchange of Information, or Market Forces. Out of faction, HHN is widely used as the prelude to having a bad time.
So, when can the corp use Hard-Hitting News against you?
If you’ve made a run last turn AND
Corp ≥ Runner + (and remember they get two clicks before they use HHN).
As such, the common counterplay to HHN consists of not running until you have more credits than the corp, or enough where the money the corp would spend to boost the trace outweighs the value of landing the trace. The value of the trace is typically considered around 12 credits, as removing four tags costs the Runner 8 and 4. Thankfully, alternatives exist in the Runner card pool to avoid having to manually remove the tags. One of Shaper’s big strengths in the current meta is the fact that they can use SMC to find Misdirection in response to HHN. Networking and No One Home can also help removing or preventing the tags, respectively.
So while Hard-Hitting News certainly seems well designed and has counterplay in terms of both the card pool and Runner strategy, it does have some criticisms that I think are worth thinking about:
- Early game has historically been running time. Before the Corp has all of their defenses up, the Runner has the ability to get some early accesses to gain information or maybe steal agendas. Hard-Hitting News puts a stop to this, until the Runner can earn money to rival the Corp.
- HHN simultaneously protects all of your servers. Similar to complaints against Mti, HHN circumvents typical limits in Corp defense. Using ICE, a Corp can defend 1 server per , and the Runner knows that they are going to meet resistance if they run on that server. With HHN, the Corp can simultaneously protect all servers at once by punishing the Runner for running any of them. The tempo loss of 4 tags can be seen as similar to face-planting into DNA Tracker, one of the classic worst-case scenarios of running against Mti.
- The Phantom Menace: HHN can prevent the Runner from running important Corp tempo assets like Rashida Jaheem or Commercial Bankers Group turn 1 without the Corp ever spending clicks or even card slots. While this is true of all cards and is an integral component of competitive Netrunner, HHN is such a grueling punishment for such an integral part of the game, that its presence can be felt even if it is not in HQ or R&D.
Hard-Hitting News is a powerful Corp tool that allows them to punish Runners with a painful “fork”--tempo loss or death--and can certainly provide interesting decision-making opportunities for both players. However, it is a massive hammer drop of punishment for very little crime on the part of the Runner, and as such can feel unfair at times. For better or worse, Hard-Hitting News will likely be a key player in any Corp tagging strategy for the foreseeable future.