Super Hack Override – Proxy Swap Your Way to Supreme Victory!
“There’s a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think… it’s all about the information!” – Sneakers, 1992
For some of us, it’s quotes like these that are about as close to hacking as we’ll ever get. Maybe we’re not that into computers, or maybe we don’t have the drive to dig deep into the source code that runs the digital parts of our lives.
But for some people coding day-in and day-out is a living. Breaking down firewalls, slipping through sockets, and running clandestine scripts get their fingers tapping and their pulses racing.
Weird Giraffe Games definitely had these people in mind when they published Super Hack Override, a fast-paced card swapping game for 2-6 players. You are a hacker, trying to build your hacker reputation to the point where you become the Supreme Super Hacker, finding a way to merge with the machine and become one with “the ‘Work”.
Is Super Hack Override super or a hack?
In Super Hack Override your goal is to acquire “hacker cred.” You do this by playing cards from your hand or stealing cards from other players. In either case you place these cards in front of you. The first player to the cred goal wins!
On your turn, you must execute a hack. You can do this one of two ways. First, you can reveal a card from your hand (“private hacks”) that have abilities and cred points. You then place this card in front of you. This now becomes a “public hack” and you perform the ability on the card.
The second way to execute a hack is to play an opponent’s public hack. You execute the action on the card in front of your opponent as if you had played it yourself. If you do this, that player takes that card back into their hand and their cred value goes down.
Once you’ve executed the hack and resolved effects, you check lose conditions.
There are some very powerful hacks in the game that are “Government Hacks”. These hacks are always red and have high “cred” scores. If any player has three government hacks (4 for 2-player) in front of them at the end of anyone’s turn, that player is arrested.
Arrested players immediately lose and all of their private hacks are made public. Anyone can use these as public hacks but they do not go back to anyone’s hand after they’re used.
Once lose conditions are evaluated you must evaluate win conditions. If any player has enough hacker cred to meet or exceed the winning cred goal, the game immediately ends and that player is crowned the Supreme Super Hacker!
The take-that element of this game comes into play when the mechanics of the cards are interwoven. There is an idea in the game called a “proxy swap” where a player swaps hacks with another player. This is the core mechanic that allows players to jockey for higher cred, and there are many different flavors of it in the game.
Players can use proxy swaps and trace spoofs (modified proxy swaps where a player forces two other players swap hacks) to win or to force a lose condition on another player. These are the fundamentals of how Super Hack Override is played.
We had a little bit of trouble getting into Super Hack Override. Though we’ve got technical degrees, none of us are “hardcore” network geeks. After a few games, though, we began to recall many of the network references from academia long ago.
In fact, as we played more, we realized that pretty much every single reference is a legitimate networking or hacking term of one kind or another. Kudos to Weird Giraffe Games.
The public/private hacks also took some getting used to. It’s a novel mechanic to force players to expose their powers to get closer to winning, all while simultaneously becoming more vulnerable. In fact, I vastly prefer this mechanic over games like Munchkin, where the decision to gang up on the leader feels binary. There’s always a gradual shifting of power in Super Hack Override that makes the game feel a lot more fluid.
Despite the fludity in advantage, there is still something a little grating about the mechanics. It’s difficult to place, and perhaps it would be resolved with more playthroughs. The Buffer Overflow card, for example, has three copies in the deck. They’re identical in every way except the target of the card. It’s just enough of a hitch in the mechanics to be noticed.
There really isn’t enough depth here to allow dramatically different play styles depending on the preferences of the player. You’re either trying to force other players to lose through government hacks or trying to win by gaining cred.
Super Hack Override is also unapologetically old-school retro-futuristic. The cards feature black base print with highly saturated colors and a futuristic art style. The manual even starts: “Far in the distant future, in the year 2000….”
Super Hack Override very much feels like the kind of game that is a combination of take-that and next-level chess strategy, but it’s critical to deeply know every card in the game to fully take advantage of that. Players of Super Hack Override would need to be intense and deliberate to get the most out of the game.
Between the art style, the technical references, and the mechanics, Super Hack Override is a game best suited for the hardcore nerd. I’m not sure if we’re there anymore (we were in college for sure) but there is certainly an audience for it.
If Super Hack Override sounds up your alley, head over to their website to pick up a copy for just $12!
Weird Giraffe Games provided The Family Gamers with a promotional copy of Super Hack Override for this review.