Kickstarter preview – Super Hack Override

img_9446If you’ve read my Gen Con – Day 1 recap, then you know that I had the privilege of meeting Nick and Carla Kopp of Weird Giraffe Games, and was able to play Between Two Cities with them.  In fact, one of the two cities I built during the game was built with Carla’s help.  We had a great time and, through conversation with them, I found out that they were preparing to launch a Kickstarter for their first game – Super Hack Override!  What is Super Hack Override?  How does it play?  Should I back it?

Super Hack Override is a fast-paced, light card game for 2-6 players.  It plays very quickly; you can get through a game in 5-10 minutes.  In the game, you take on the role of a hacker, vying to gain enough cred to be crowned the Super Supreme Hacker by competing in a secret cyber-battle against other hackers.  You will earn cred be executing the most epic hacks that you can, all while avoiding the authorities.  Throughout the competition, you’ll make use of proxy swaps and protection hacks to shield yourself from the other hackers, while hacking into government facilities and doing whatever it takes to avoid Hacker Jail.  Let’s take a look at how this all works.

The Setup

The box contains 25 hacks (cards).  If playing with five hackers (players), all 25 cards will be used.  If playing with any other number of hackers, you’ll remove cards according to how many hackers are competing.  The remaining cards are dealt until the deck is exhausted.  Hackers will have an equal number of hacks in their hands.  These hacks begin the game face-in (or private).  There is no draw pile and no hacks will be drawn throughout the game.  Only the hacks that have been dealt will be used for the contest.

The Hacks (Cards)

Super Hack Override includes 10 different hacks for you to execute.  These hacks fall into one of three categories – proxy swaps, protection hacks, and government hacks.  Each hack is worth a certain amount of hacker cred (think of this “cred” as victory points), noted by the number at the top of each card.  Based on the number of hackers that are competing, you will need to acquire a certain amount of cred in order to win.  The majority of the hacks also provide special abilities when they are executed (played face-out/made public).

Proxy Swap Hacks

img_9453Proxy swaps allow you to swap hacks between hackers.  There are four different types of proxy swap hacks, one of which is actually an interrupt.  These hacks have the most powerful abilities in the game.  This makes them more common hacks that are not worth much cred (because they’re pretty easy for hackers to accomplish).  The cred values on proxy swap hacks range from 1-4.  Proxy swaps are recognizable for their light blue color and the proxy swap icon (except for the interrupt, which is purple and includes the interrupt icon).

Protection Hacks

img_9454Protection hacks are designed to keep your hacks safe from being proxy swapped by your opponents.  There are two different protection hacks – the Firewall and the Trace Spoof.  The Firewall will protect you from one kind of proxy swap, while the Trace Spoof will block another.  These hacks provide more cred than the proxy swap hacks, but not as much cred as hacking into a government facility. Protection hacks are worth either 5 or 6 cred, and are identified by their yellow color and the protection/shield icon (which indicates which proxy swap is blocked when these hacks are executed).

Government Facility Hacks

img_9456Hacking into a government facility is worth the most cred (values range from 7-10) because they are the more difficult hacks to pull off.  Since they provide so much cred, the special abilities they provide are less powerful than the proxy swap and protection hacks.  Hacking the mainframe, in fact, does nothing except give you maximum cred.  Hacking government facilities can also be dangerous.  If, at any point in the game, you have hacked three government facilities at once (meaning the hacks are face-out/public in front of you), the government has triangulated your location and you are sent to Hacker Jail immediately.  All of your private/face-in hacks are made public/face-out, and you are eliminated from the contest.  Government facility hacks are identified by their red color and the government hack icon.

The Gameplay

The first player is the hacker who holds the Diskette card in their hand.  The Diskette is immediately played face-out (made public), and then the first player executes another hack.  If the Diskette was one of the cards removed during setup (i.e. no one has it in their hand), then the hacker who most recently won a game goes first.  If this is your first game, then the youngest hacker will go first.  Play will then continue clockwise.

On your turn, you will execute a hack in one of two ways.  You can either execute one of your face-in/private hacks by flipping it face-out (making the hack public), or you can flip any face-out/public hack in front of one of your opponents – returning it to their hand.  You then resolve the effect/ability of the hack.  If you opt to execute an opponent’s public hack, the effect is resolved as if you had played the hack from your own hand.  Executing an opponent’s hack has the added benefit of removing cred from them.  On each of your turns, you will only ever execute one hack (whether one of your own or one belonging to an opponent).

The Table Is Optional

One of the unique aspects to Super Hack Override is that you do not need to have a table in order to play the game.  The game was designed so that it could be played anywhere – including while you’re standing in line somewhere.  If playing sans table, you simply turn your public (face-out) hacks around in your hand -facing your opponents – and continue holding them.  Combined with the small size of the game (it is only 25 cards, after all), the “table optional” feature makes this game easy to transport.

My Initial Thoughts

Super Hack Override will launch on Kickstarter on September 12.  Having played the game with a couple of different groups and different player counts (including a few playthroughs with Nick and Carla), I feel like I have a good grasp of the game and how it plays.  At first glance, Super Hack Override seems too light to be enjoyable.  And, I’m not going to lie … the firs tfew playthroughs were tough.  I initially had trouble understanding the terms face-in vs face-out, as did quite a few of the others that played the game with me.  Like a lot of gamers, I’m very familiar with the terms face-up and face-down.  These new terms were initially confusing.  However, once I had played through a couple of “learning” games and got used to the terminology, I found it very easy to play.  I also discovered that there is a surprising amount of strategy involved in the gameplay.  There are a few different paths to victory, and this allows the player to determine their strategy right out of the gate – and still have the flexibility to switch it up mid-game if the intial plan begins to fall apart.  I do know, after having a few conversations with Nick and Carla, that some of the terminology is being modified.  I believe that face-in and face-out are being replaced with private and public, respectively.  This should make learning the rules much faster, and help cut down on any initial confusion.

The artwork on the cards does a good job of capturing the feel of the classic hacker movies of the late 80’s and early 90’s.  The entire game has a very solid retro feel to it.  I also really like some of the game’s unique concepts.  The “table optional” functionality is a brilliant adaptation for making a game portable.  If I can throw a game in my pocket and play it anywhere I happen to be, that’s never a bad thing.  And, if that game is fun to play, that’s a bonus.  I also really enjoy the ability to execute my opponents’ hacks.  This provides plenty of “take that” opportunities that can quickly turn the tides.

That being said, Super Hack Override is not going to be a staple in my game night.  It is simply not a long or complex enough game.  However, it will come off of my shelf often to be played when I know I’ll be in a line somewhere, or at a restaurant while waiting for my food.  And that’s exactly the niche that the game is designed to fill.  It’s not designed to be a heavy game that takes a couple of hours to play.  It’s meant to give you a game to play when you have a few extra minutes to kill.  And it does this very well – especially at times when you’d otherwise be staring at your phone and not socializing with the friends and family that you’re out with.

Super Hack Override will hit Kickstarter on September 12.  If you’d like to be notified when the game launches, head on over to Weird Giraffe Games’ website and sign up for their newsletter.  For $10 (less than the cost of two Pumpkin Spice Lattes), you’ll be able to get your hands on a great little time killer that can be played literally anywhere.


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