Super Hack Override: Preview

Fairway does have a degree in computer science, but was nothing more than a script kiddie aimlessly trying to hack the Gibson. Well, it might not be the Gibson, but check out whether Fairway causes havoc at NOAA and mass transit as he previews the upcoming Kickstarter, Super Hack Override, by Weird Giraffe Games.

Super Hack Override (SHO) is a two- to -six player hand-management, take-that, card game in which players try to score enough hacker cred to win the game while not becoming so notorious that they end up in Hacker Jail.

Initial Impressions

  1. The art feels straight out of a classic, hacker movie. Fantastic.
  2. The fact the game is playable just out of your hand (no table required) is a nifty feature
  3. A small deck game that easily plays up to six players is a welcome addition to that relatively small list of games
  4. Cleverly permits players to play their own cards or other players’ played hacks.

Game Play

In SHO, players are dealt a series of cards. Each card represents a hack, and each hack is assigned a cred value from one to ten, a special power, and (in most cases) an effect.

At first, none of the hacks are revealed and remain “face-in.”  Then, starting with the first player and proceeding clockwise, players can either play one of the hacks from their hand (turn it face-out) or one of their face-out hacks (turn it face-in).

When playing one of your own hacks, you get the points awarded for that card.  These points are your hacker cred.  Have enough hacker cred face-out, and you win the game.

In addition, you get to do whatever the special power is described on the body of the card. For example, the power might let you move face-out hacks of other players around. Most face-out cards also provide one of three other conditions: it’s a government hack, perform a proxy swap, or offers proxy-swap protection.

Government hacks are worth the most points but also put you in serious jeopardy of hacker jail  If you have too many government hacks, you get sent to hacker jail and are effectively out of the game for the remainder of it.

Proxy swaps lets the player trade face-out hacks among other other players useful for either reducing another player’s cred or handing them one-to-many government hacks.

Depending on the player count, the game ends when someone scores enough cred or all of the other players are in hacker jail.

On the green

Super Hack Override certainly gets the hacker-theme right. The way you sling hack cards feels a bit like the hacker-battle in the movie Hackers. Beyond the theme, SHO does have a few things going for it.

The art. The art and graphic design are very thematic. It definitely calls to mind the hacker movies of the eighties and nineties.

Portability.  The idea that you can play this game without a table is clever. Players can hold their face-in and face-out cards in their hands and play the game the same way. We tried it this way and it mostly works, but there’s definitely some limitation to this, see below.

Player count.  The game is playable from two to six players. That’s pretty nice feature in a small deck game. Our experience was that four players seems to be the best and mostly avoids the quirks noted below.

Fun with intuition.  The game offers some real opportunity for strategically playing cards and trying to decipher what other players are holding in their hand. This becomes especially important when trying to force a player into Hacker Jail using the government hacks.

Where it comes up short

There a lot of hacker fun in the little box. Though, it’s not without some faults.

Playing from your hand.  SHO says you can play without a table (e.g., standing in line). That seems a bit difficult especially at lower player counts for a few reasons: there’s just too many cards in your hand, it’s difficult to know the cards that are “face out” without constantly checking, and cards rely a bit on seeing the face of the cards (like the body text and the shield values and the cred values). Unlike other “pocket” games I’ve played, playing this one standing in line would be a bit of a challenge.

Various actions.  Feels like there’s a huge depth of hacker activities that could be drawn upon an incorporated into the game. But there’s a fairly limited set of attacks and card actions in the game. This is a positive for the “playing from your hand,” but definitely lacks variety one might expect from a card battling game.

Hacker Jail. At higher player-count games, a player can be eliminated during a round with no opportunity to defend himself or herself. In any games where the player count exceeds the number of government hacks required to go out, one or two players are likely to be eliminated very quickly.  The game has some mitigation option, but they’re mostly luck of the deal: defensive cards, etc, but all this does is change the target.  The games play pretty quickly so being in Hacker Jail isn’t that bad.

Cycles? Like the Hacker Jail issue, certain game players might find themselves able to create cycles of flipping cards because you can play other player’s face-out cards by turning them back in. This results in lots of actions, but few points accumulating.

In the hole

Super Hack Override is a light, quick card game with plenty of take-that opportunities. It riffs on the terribly, terrific hacker-culture clichés as if this was a 90s hacker movie, but in a good way. Anyone looking for a card battling, hacker-themed game will have a fun with SHO.

Super Hack Override is in the hole for par.

Fairway was provided a copy of the game for the preview but wasn’t otherwise compensated.

 

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