Hack Trick

Hack Trick is a game for 2 to 4 players (in teams) created by Dorsonczky József and is distributed by Mind Fitness Games. Each player takes on the role of a hacker who has gotten information of a job where they can achieve the highest rank among hackers, the infamous Level 10 hacker. The only thing they need to do is enter a 3-digit code but things are not as easy as they seem.

You can setup the game in no time. First off, you create the playing field by placing six cards in a pattern to form the keypad. Each player chooses a color and takes ten markers of the chosen color of which one is larger than the rest. Next the dealer takes the eighteen data cards (numbered 0 to 5, 3 of each) and deals out 4 cards to his opponent and three to himself. Afterwards two cards are removed from the deck and placed face-up next to it. These are not used in this round. The player who starts the game with four cards plays one card to start the sequence (more on this later). Finally every player tells the sum of their three remaining cards to their opponents and you are ready to start playing Hack Trick with the dealer taking the first turn.

During a turn the active player may first ask his opponent the sum of his cards if he spends a captured marker. This is a marker from his opponent that he has captured on another turn.

Next the active player chooses to play a card or draw a card (only when you have fewer than four cards). When he plays a card he puts it on top of the sequence making sure the numbers of the previous cards in the sequence are still visible. The card played must differ from the top card in the sequence. Now the active player places a marker in the number on the keypad corresponding to the sum of the top two cards in the sequence. If he already has a marker there he just adds it to the area but if his opponent has one or more markers there, he captures them upon placing his marker there. Afterwards the active player has the option to force his opponents hand or defend himself by spending one of his own markers and placing it next to the sequence (out of the game for this round) and choose Play or Block. When you choose Play you force your opponent to play a card in the sequence on his next turn. Choosing Block on the other hand prevents your opponent from forcing your hand on his next round by calling for a Play.

The other option you have is drawing a card, again only when you have fewer than four cards. This simply lets you draw one card from the deck. If the deck would be empty, the dealer leaves the last card of the sequence on the table and shuffles the rest to form a new draw deck.

This continues until one player has created a line of three keypad digits with his markers (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) or he has placed three of his markers on the same keypad digit. This will score him one excellence point or two if he has his large marker in the winning formation and it was not the last placed marker by the player. Afterwards everything is reset and a new round begins with the winner becoming the dealer. This continues until one player has gained five excellence points and is the winner of Hack Trick.

These are the basic rules for 2 players but there are also 3- and 4-player rules added in the game in which the players form teams with some minor rule changes or additions. From the second edition (first edition was only available in Romania) onwards there is also a mini expansion included called Battle of Wits which includes 12 code cards that give a twist to the game. In short, after a player wins a game he draws a number of code cards equal to the excellence points he has won during that round. A player who has these code cards has the option to play these after the cards are dealt altering the game parameters for himself.

Well in my opinion this is another great game of theirs. It is really easy to play but I can guarantee that it is not as easy to win it. A seasoned player will win from a beginner when not holding back. It’s a matter of knowing the cards in your opponents hand and trying to get him to do what you want him to do. As a player you will try to have enough cards in hand to try and keep your options open. Knowing when to ask the sum of your opponents and when you force your opponent to play are key to victory in this game. I find it to be a two-player game in its core. You can play with three or four players which is a nice addition but it shines with two players. I love the tension it builds while playing the game, trying to defend against your opponent’s plays and trying to play out your master plan, but again knowledge of your opponent’s cards will help you a great deal in realizing your goals. So in one word the base game is simply amazing. The only problem I have is with the expansion. It usually gives the leader an extra advantage for the next round thus he is more likely to win the next round and again get an extra advantage… You see where I am going with this. The games using only the base game were tight till the last round. On the other hand when using the expansion the games usually went 5-0. We were planning on making a house rule where instead the loser gets the code card or even flipping the top card of the code deck at the start of each round and make that card usable by both players during the following round. All in all we love to play this game and its innovative way of using the sequences.

Play with Honor