There haven't been any reviews of this card in a while, so I figured I would break down the usefulness of Datasucker in the modern meta, particularly in light of the most-played Anarch breakers: the conspiracy suite.

Datasucker has been around since the original core set, and is often seen as the archetypal non-icebreaker virus. Historically, Datasucker has primarily been used to enable fixed-strength breakers. While those have fallen out of favor or rotated, Datasucker still sees some play alongside Aumakua, alongside which it doubles the value of certain runs. Other than allowing accesses via fixed-strength breakers, Datasucker counters can be used to save money, usually at an exchange rate of 1 counter = 1 for most icebreakers. However, this exchange rate is even better for the now ubiquitous conspiracy breakers.

While Paperclip, the favorite child, still yields the 1 counter = 1 exchange rate, Black Orchestra and MKUltra, infamous for their inefficiency, yield far better dividends when used in combination with Datasucker:

• 1 counter = 3 (3/counter): Archer, Cortex Lock, Data Raven, Fairchild 3.0, Hydra, Ichi 1.0, Inazuma, Little Engine, Macrophage, Mausolus, News Hound, NEXT Diamond, NEXT Gold, Oduduwa, Slot Machine, Surveyor(4+), Tollbooth, Trebuchet, Wormhole

• 3 counters = 6 (2/counter): Archer, Hydra, Little Engine, NEXT Diamond, Surveyor(6+), Trebuchet, Wormhole

• 5 counters = 9 (1.8/counter): Surveyor(8+)

• 2 counters = 3 (1.5/counter): Anansi, Archangel, DNA Tracker, Gatekeeper(first rez), Nebula

(Bold = most-played ICE as of writing (present in >7% of decks)

Nice review = D —
Thanks! —

Complete Image is a complicated card with a simple purpose: it is a win condition that allows you to flatline the runner if you know the identity of every card in the grip.

Before I get into the ins and outs of Complete Image's primary feature, a few things to note:

  1. Complete Image is a Terminal operation, meaning that there is no way to use two in one turn, or deal other damage after the effect resolves.

  2. It can only be used when the runner has at least 3 agenda points, which can be relevant and allows some counterplay on the part of the runner--you don't have to be worried about how many cards are in your grip early in the game.

  3. It has a trash cost of 2, meaning that it is vulnerable in Central Servers.

  4. Complete Image always does 1 net damage at least, meaning it can be used as an expensive Neural EMP if need be.

Complete Image's primary feature is a frightening and exciting recursive net damage cascade; if you know every card in the runner’s grip, the chances of flatlining the runner are as follows:

• 5 cards: ~1% chance (1/5 * 1/4 * 1/3 * 1/2 * 1)

• 4 cards: ~4% chance (1/4 * 1/3 * 1/2 * 1)

• 3 cards: ~17% chance (1/3 * 1/2 * 1)

• 2 cards: 50% chance (1/2 * 1)

• 1 card: 100% chance

• 0 cards: 100% chance

Two things become apparent looking at these odds: 1) while similar to Neural EMP, Complete Image also lets you flatline the runner if they have just one card in the grip, and 2) your chances of flatlining the runner increase drastically for every card that is missing from the grip. You are 5x more likely to flatline the runner if they have 4 cards in hand instead of 5. And if they have 3 cards, you are 20x more likely to flatline the runner than if they had 5 cards in hand. This means that every value damage you can do before firing the Complete Image greatly increases your chances of winning the game. Using Neural EMP, Bio-Ethics Association, or Ronin are more or less reliable ways to line up your shot.

However, again this all requires perfect knowledge of the Runner’s Grip. To get this knowledge, a few options are available. Jinteki IDs such as Hyoubu Institute, or more reliably in my opinion, Chronos Protocol, have built-in ways to gather this information. Several NBN cards, such as Salem's Hospitality, Peeping Tom, and Standard Procedure also allow you to gain the information necessary to land the kill.

Notably, Standard Procedure, Neural EMP, and Complete Image all require a run to have been made last turn. So using these cards all in one turn is one way to land the Complete Image.

To counteract Complete Image, runners can trash it when they see it, they can try to stay below three agenda points, and they can keep their hand size as large as possible. In addition, a single net damage prevention card can stop the entire process in its tracks.

Complete Image is a powerful win condition card that can allow you to simply end the runner with a bit of luck and knowledge of their hand. Landing the Complete Image can be tricky, but watching a lucky net damage cascade flatline a runner with a full grip is certainly a memorable moment.

Cool review = D —

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 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?

  1. If you’ve made a run last turn AND

  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Very well put! I would love to see this card leave Netrunner, but i have no idea what could be put in it's place. —
HHN is not banworthy imo but definitely deserves a spot on the restricted list for being very powerful. That would allow tag(-and-bag) decks to still be competitive, while making them slightly less consistent. Argus, The Outfit, Gagarin, CTM and NEH, all very strong decks which rely on Hard-Hitting, usually have either GFI or Mumba Temple as their unicorn card. With HHN restricted, they would either have to give up some econ or agenda reliability. That would be enough imo. —
I think it can be frustrating to play against, but personally I don't think it's ban or restriction worthy. Competitively speaking I think these tag-based decks have a place at the table. —
@Cpt_nice Corps have to have strong, game-warping cards to compete. The game is designed so that if it comes down to breakers and ice, the runner just wins. Corp cards have to be brutal to overcome how overpowered runners are just by default. —

As of writing, there are 41 legal Corp Identities in Standard. Out of those, Direct Access does literally nothing to 14 of them. Among the remaining 27, about 10 are effectively blank; either you only save a credit (or no credits by using Direct Access) or you prevent the Corp from maybe gaining a credit, or the effect would only be applicable in extreme edge cases.

I think the remaining 17 Corp Identities can be separated into three groups based on how useful Direct Access might be against them:

Minor Payoff:

  • Chronos Protocol: If you would take damage during this run, the Corp doesn’t get to see your hand. This might be critical in some cases (they don’t get to prep for Complete Image) but often doesn’t matter too much.
  • New Angeles Sol: If you manage to steal an Agenda during this run, they don’t get to replace a Current.
  • Personal Evolution: If you steal an Agenda during this run, you avoid taking a net damage. This doesn’t leverage more cards in your hand to steal Obokata Protocol because you’re spending a card to play this, but it does keep you from being ground down earlier since this card is recycled.

Decent/Occasional Payoff:

  • The Foundry: Not being able to use their ability would definitely feel bad, if they’re playing this ID.
  • Industrial Genomics: Depending on the state of the game, this might let you trash a critical asset, saving several credits.
  • Argus Security: If you happen to steal an Agenda during this run, you can avoid two meat damage or one tag.
  • Haarpsichord Studios: Can let you steal more than one Agenda a turn. Combine with multi-access to nab two agendas at once.
  • Builder of Nations: Prevents an almost assured meat damage, throwing a wrench in their grinder.
  • Sportsmetal: Can save you from giving the corp a fairly significant tempo boost if you steal an agenda during the run (which might be likely if they run lots of 1-pointers).
  • The Outfit: If they rez an illicit ice, they still get a bad pub but don’t get the 3.
  • Stronger Together: Reduce all Bioroid strength by 1, saving you multiple credits if the server is stacked.
  • Seidr Laboratories: This ability rarely fires, but when it does it can be a nuisance. Preventing such a fire can be helpful.

Strong/Reliable Payoff:

  • CtM: Saves you 2-3 credits, depending on your link. You can use this reliably to trash assets.
  • Architects of Tomorrow: Costs the corp 4 pretty reliably.
  • AgInfusion: Stops you from getting sent elsewhere for critical runs.
  • Acme Consulting: Depending on what ice you hit, can save you loads of credits.
  • Replicating Perfection: Saves you clicks, credits, and cards as you avoid having to run a taxing central before hitting the remote.

My thoughts: Direct Access is a far more balanced and well-designed version of Employee Strike. It does not smother Corps as unilaterally, but can really shine in particular matchups. I think if you slot it, you will use it to surprising effect in some games. However, whether or not it is worth a slot is dependent on the state of the meta, as well as what Runner ID you’re using because oh yeah, it blanks yours too.

ADDENDUM: This ID is slightly better against Argus, Personal Evolution, and Sportsmetal than I originally stated if you have multi-access such as The Turning Wheel (or against Mwanza PE), since these Identities trigger every time you steal an agenda. Avoiding 3 net damage, 3 tags, or denying 6 credits to the corp during a deep R&D dig is very good value, although this is a niche occurrence.

Nice list. You really want to highlight what makes it so unique - its ability to shuffle back into your stack for repeated usage. It may be an Event but it can see multiple uses during a game. —
Yeah, I realized after writing all this that there's a whole other side of the card to go into; how it shuffles back into the stack. For example, playing as RP against this might be a nightmare. As the game goes on, it just gets easier and easier for the Runner to get into your remotes as the stack thins out. Lots of little nuances that come up on the Runner side of things that are worth thinking about. :) But I think for now the bigger question is: should you play the card? —
Could be decent in a deck that wants to run through itself quickly. —

I think in any other game, Rebirth would be a fun, cute card that would let you think your way out of particular match-ups, or transition between phases of the game.

For example, Rebirthing from Kabonesa Wu into Jesminder or Kit after getting set up is a neat way to spend your influence and deck slots. And the ability to choose a different identity based on the situation offers a lot of fun decision points.

However, I think this design is a total mistake in Netrunner, for a couple reasons:

  1. Identities that are blank after the start of the game: Identities like Andy, Val, or even The Professor have text that is only active when the game begins (or before) and are essentially blank afterwards. Because these Identities exist, it is a no-brainer for them to run Rebirth (except maybe the Professor) because it is always useful to them, even on turn 1. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain from including it in their deck. Compare this to Kabonesa Wu, who would need to hold onto Rebirth in hand for at least a few turns before using.
  2. Identities are balanced around link and influence: Some Identities have stronger abilities than others, and as such have been balanced in other ways, namely now much link and influence that identity has. Omar Keung has a very strong identity ability, and as such has only 12 influence. This is meant to curb decks that use that Identity, because if he had 15 influence, he would likely be considered stronger than several other Identities. Kit has only 10 influence, because her ability to turn ice into code gates is very strong. Rebirth lets you play as these notably stronger identities, who are balanced with a downside, without the downside.

Because of these two factors, Rebirth allows Val, who has a strong abiilty that is notably blank after the start of the game, to use Omar's powerful identity ability. The player receives the upside of Val's ability and influence, with the upside of Omar's central-targeting power.

This, combined with Rebirth's "Limit 1 per deck" clause results in swingy matches where sometimes you're playing against Val (who is just fine in her own right) and sometimes playing against Omar with 15 influence, and you have a bad pub. Sometimes you're playing against Andy, and sometimes you're playing against Leela who got to start the game with a 4 extra cards in hand. For these reasons, I think Rebirth is a good example of bad design. Unfortunately, being poorly designed and slightly frustrating is not enough to warrant Removal from the game for now.