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Gaming Bits: Control-Alt-Hack Review

Jonathan Nelson
United States
Birmingham
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Control-Alt-Hack is a game by Tamara Denning, Tadayoshi Kohno and Adam Shostack, published by RGB Hats, LLC. It is for 3-6 players. In this game, players take on the role of white hat hackers. Using their hacking skills, they will try to complete various missions to gain hacker cred. If they gain enough cred, they will become the CEO of their own security company. The player that accomplishes this will be declared the winner.

To begin, separate the cards into the 4 main decks, one for hacker, mission, entropy and attendance. Shuffle each deck except for the attendance one. Each player is then dealt 3 hacker cards and 3 entropy cards. They are given an attending and a not attending card from the attendance deck along with 6 hacker cred. Player then pick one of the 3 hacker characters they were dealt to represent them in the game. The remaining 2 cards from each player are placed back in the hacker deck and shuffled. Play now begins.

The game is played in rounds. Each round is divided into 7 phases. Those phases are distribute money and draw entropy cards, draw mission cards, staff video conference, missions, hacker cred bonus/penalty, discard entropy cards and check hacker cred. The first phase is the distribute money and draw entropy cards. In this phase players are given $2K each. The player with the highest hacker cred score gets an extra $1K. Players then draw an entropy card.

The next phase is to draw mission cards. Each player draws a mission card. Players then decide whether they want to join the staff meeting or not by playing one of their attendance cards face down onto the table. Player will gain advantages and disadvantages based on which they chose to do.

The third phase is the staff video conference. In this phase, players flip over their attendance card. Those players that chose to join the conference then reveal their mission cards. They then get to draw another entropy card. Players are then able to trade missions. A player with higher hacker cred scores can trade a less paying job, known as a newb job, onto the player with the lowest score as long as they don't already have a newb job. Those players that choose not to attend do not have to reveal their mission card. They do not receive an extra entropy card but they do get a free re-roll on any one failed roll during that mission.

The next phase is the missions phase. In this phase, players reveal their mission and try to perform it, starting with the player with the highest hacker cred score. Players must complete the tasks on the card in order. They will roll 3 dice to determine if they succeed or not. Any dice rolls that are less than or equal to the players current level in that skill will succeed. If any tasks are failed, the mission is a failure as well. Players gain rewards for completed missions and suffer penalties for failed ones.

The fifth phase is the hacker cred bonus/penalty one. Once players have either succeeded or failed their missions, hacker cred points are awarded. If only one player succeeded they get an extra hacker cred point. Likewise if only one player failed, they lose a point. If no players failed, everyone gets an extra hacker cred point.

The sixth phase is to discard entropy cards. Players can either use or discard their entropy cards. Players must have 5 or fewer entropy cards after this phase.

The final phase is to check hacker cred. If the player with the highest hacker cred score has 5 more points than the next closest rival, the game is over and that player wins. If a player has a score of 0, there character is fired and they lose all their cards and money. They must then start over with a new character, 3 new entropy cards and 6 hacker cred points. Another way that players can win is if the combined hacker cred scores of all the players rises or drops below a specific number based on the number of players. The player with the highest score at this point becomes the new CEO and wins the game.


COMPONENTS
The game comes with some really great looking pieces. The cards are really well designed. I love the cell shaded character cards especially. All the cards are easily separated by color. They have a great feel as well. The theme is very much a part of the design. The hacker creds and money tokens are all made of thick cardboard. They are different colors as well to help distinguish the different values. The game also comes with 3 dice. These are your normal standard issue dice. Everything looks really great and works together really well. Definitely a good quality product.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rules are in full glossy color with lots of great pictures throughout the book. Everything is explained really well. It's simple to read and learn. There are detailed explanations about the different hacker skills that the characters have as well as rules for special conditions. There's even a section about what to do in the event of a tie called a hacker showdown. I had no trouble with the rules and I really liked how well designed and put together the rulebook is.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This game is a reimplementation of the Steve Jackson game, Ninja Burger. It's really simple to learn and play. It's lots of fun. I love the whole computer hacker theme to this game. The missions are really fun. Sometimes you'll have no problems completing missions, then others the dice will turn on you. There's definitely a bit of luck to this game. However, the different hacker abilities tends to make that very minimal. It basically comes down to your character and what they're good at doing then trying to make sure that the missions you attempt require those skills. The game time for this is about 45 minutes to an hour depending on how things go and the number of players. It's fairly light but really pulls you into the hacker world. I really enjoyed playing this.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Control-Alt-Hack is a light weight card game of hacking. It has an average play time with most games lasting no longer than an hour. The cell shading artwork of the character cards along with the card designs are really cool and smooth. The theme really draws you in and puts you into the world of hackers. Fans of the original Ninja Burger game as well as those fans of take that style card games should really enjoy this one. It's really easy to learn and play. I really enjoy the missions as well as how each character feels different through the various abilities. I highly recommend this game. It's lots of fun. You won't want to delete this game any time soon.
9 out of 10

For more information, please check out the game at it’s site.

http://www.controlalthack.com/index.php
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