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Board Game Review – Hack Trick: It’s Hacking Time

In a world filled with dangerous hackers, the board game Hack Trick: It’s Hacking Time puts us in the position of power. Designed by József Dorsonczky and published by Mind Fitness Games, Hack Trick paints a picture of two hackers looking for world domination… Or at least, cyber domination. But this cyberspace isn’t big enough for the two of us, as we have to deal with our opponents, as well as taking over servers all across the world. Make sure you’ve got a secure connection, as we’re about to check out this simple, easy to understand board game.

Overview

Published by Mind Fitness Games
Release
Approx. July 2016
Genre Creative, Story-Telling

Review

Gameplay

I’ll come right out and say it – This game is Tic-Tac-Toe. Now before you think that’s a bad thing, let me explain that I spent a lot of the night playing this game with various people, all of whom were skeptical. When we figured out the game was basically Tic-Tac-Toe, we were surprised it was being bundled as a game… But then the cards come in and it all makes sense. In fact, the game was genuinely incredibly interesting. So how does Hack Trick work?

First of all, the board is made up of three small boards which fit together. You take out the cards, which has numbers from 0 through to 5 and shuffle them. If you’re the dealer, deal 4 to your opponent and 3 to yourself. Your opponent choses one of their hand to place as the first card, placing this underneath the board. You then place two cards above the board, revealing them in the process to show what cards are not in the game. This will be useful for people who’ve played the game several times, introducing card counting into the strategies. Each player takes 10 virus markers, one of which is larger than the others – and the game begins!

On a turn, a player chooses one of two possible actions:

  • Draw a card – If the player has less than four cards in their hand, they can draw a card.
  • Play a card – The player places their card, slightly overlapping the previous, underneath the board

Whilst draw a card is somewhat self explanatory, when you play a card, you determine where you’re placing a virus marker. For instance, if the first card was a 5 and you place a 0, you add 5 + 0 to make 5 – and you place your virus marker on the 5 spot on the board. You can win by getting a three in a row, or by getting three virus markers on one specific location (I.E you get three virus counters on 5 – A clever play on the term “Hat trick”.)

However, wherever you place a piece, your opponent can take your piece (and you can take theirs). This is done by getting the same location again – For instance, after that 0 you played on your turn, if your opponent then played another 5, then they can take your piece. They can also take two pieces, if you already have two down in one location. They would put these in their spy zone, which they can use against you at the start of their turn, should they wish. All they would do is get take one of the pieces they captured out of the game entirely, then you would have to say the total value of cards in your hand. A useful way to get some intel on what numbers the opponent has in hand.

The game has some very interesting mechanics for what is essentually Tic-Tac-Toe, but do not let the simplicity fool you. There’s enough deep strategy in there that for a 10-15 minute game, this is perfect. The longest round I had took 20 minutes and that was a combination of us both being cautious not to go too wild too fast, along with a bit of inexperience at the time. The shortest game was done in about 5 moves. If you manage to go through a deck (which we did on several occasions), then you simply take all but the last played card, shuffle them up and use that as the deck from here on.

As a last rule, there is a bonus feature – Bitcoins. You earn a Bitcoin for each game you win. If you win 3 Bitcoins, you win the set of games! Truth be told, this felt a little tacked on, but hey, it added to the overall theme of the game.

Artwork

The artwork of Hack Trick is really nice; it’s simple, but nothing too simple. The map on the three board pieces looks great. The hacker’s face is hidden by their hoodie, although bright orange is an interesting colour choice! – Not complaining, I genuinely love a bit of colour! The hologram screen the hacker’s hand is touching is sufficiently hologram-my – All in all, thematically, the game looks brilliant and the pieces you get are of top quality.

Overall

Hack Trick really surprised me. I picked it up for £9.99 from Excelsior, which was a fine price for this. Okay, so let me point out a few criticisms: The game is absurdly simple to understand. The above isn’t abridged in anyway – That’s all of the games rules, simplified. Furthermore, the game’s theme is just tacked on – You could literally replace this simply with Tic-Tac-Toe itself and you’d have the exact same game. You could also replace it with anything; so you could put a soldier theme, or a housekeeping theme… I dunno, I don’t make themes. However, that may be a strange criticism, as it could also be one of the strengths of the game.

When I say the theme is a weakness, but also potentially a strength, it’s simply that you could repackage this game as anything. As such, you could have a range, as ultimately, not everyone loves the idea of playing as a hacker. Some people in the group actually mentioned how they thought it was a bit of a strange thing to make a board game about. When I explained what the gameplay was, people eased to the idea. So, with that in mind, I’d think it’s fair to say that the game itself is really good – and I really, thoroughly enjoyed playing it – But the theme isn’t the best. With that in mind, I’m sure many others in the future will be playing this simple, fun game with me – and I hope to earn all of them board game bitcoins. But now, I pass this over to you: Have you played Hack Trick? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

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