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SysHack is a small but strategic deduction card game, consisting of fewer cards than a regular poker deck.
Here's a breakdown of what's included in every copy of SysHack, both the retail version and the Kickstarter Premium Edition:
- The Data Miner card determines who starts each round during the InfoSec phase, as well as who activates an agent (possibly scoring a point for their team) during the Agent phase.
- EXE cards are used during the InfoSec phase to perform actions, typically to discover information or move cards around the table.
- Affiliation cards determine which team each player is on, as well as what action you take during the Agent phase if you're chosen as the agent. The conglomerate team must expose hacker affiliation cards to win the game.
- Data cards might contain Top Secret Data, which the hackers must uncover to win the game.
- Message Cards are used to send another player a short, encrypted message, which no other players get to see (unless, of course, they have an EXE card that lets them intercept the message).
The premium version of the game includes all components from the retail version of the game, as well as:
- 3.5" floppy disk data tiles. These chipboard tiles are an optional replacement for the regular data cards, offering a more tactile and immersive option during gameplay.
- Data Miner standee. This is an optional replacement for the Data Miner card, making the current location of the Data Miner stand out more during the game. It is shaped like an old CRT monitor displaying the script you follow during the Agent phase. The Data Miner character can still be seen in the monitor's reflection.
If there is enough interest after the Kickstarter campaign has ended, we may make a "premium upgrade kit" available for general purchase. However, this isn't guaranteed, so backing at the premium tier is the best way to ensure you'll get these components, and at a cheaper price than if you bought the upgrade pack later.
See a video on how to play:
SysHack takes place over a series of rounds. Each round is divided into 2 phases: the InfoSec Phase, where players use EXE cards to move cards and gain information, and the Agent Phase, where the player who currently has the Data Miner will secretly choose another player to activate as the Agent, who will try to score a point for their team by exposing (i.e. permanently revealing) an adjacent card.
At the start of the game, each player receives an affiliation card, a data card (no peeking!), and 2 EXE cards. One player also receives the Data Miner card.
Starting with the player holding the Data Miner card, each player will take their turn by either playing an EXE card to activate its stated ability or discarding an EXE card to swap any 2 data cards. Many EXE cards, such as the Courier or Data Analyst, have effects that can be played during another player's turn. Still other cards can only be played during another player's turn. The card’s text will help you determine the appropriate time to play it.
After each player has taken a turn, the Data Miner will guide the other players through the Agent phase.
At the start of the Agent Phase, players other than the Data Miner have one last chance to play any out-of-turn actions, for example using the Courier to send the Data Miner messages.
Once nobody wants to take any additional actions, everyone but the Data Miner will close their eyes and put a hand out. The Data Miner will tap another player's hand, activating her as the Agent. The Agent open her eyes and performs her affiliation's Agent action. Agents on the Conglomerate team will expose an affiliation card, while agents for the Hacker team will expose a data card. Agents can only expose cards of the players adjacent to them (or the next closest person whose card is not already exposed).
After the Agent phase, the Data Miner will shuffle the discarded EXE cards and deal them out so that each player once again has 2 cards. Pass the Data Miner card to the left, then the new Data Miner begins the next InfoSec Phase.
The current draft of the full rules can be found here:
We have already unlocked every single stretch goal. This means that you'll be getting the best possible version of SysHack. Thanks to everybody for believing in the game. Here's what you've helped us do to make the game even better:
"The game is great ... all of the things that you know about deception games pretty much go out the window ... it seemed like it was designed by someone who knows the Spyfall-, Battlestar-type of game pretty well."
-- Entertainment Sanctuary, episode 21, 04/07/2016, starting around 9:29
"I normally don't like deduction games, but this one was fun. It really felt like I had some control and it wasn't about who talks the loudest."
-- Anonymous gamer at MAGFest 2017
"It's a really great game, fast gameplay so you're not coming in for hours, and your friends won't hate you when you're done."
-- Kitty, gamer at JohnCon 2017
"SysHack is a fun social deduction game that's more about strategy and timing than lying and bluffing. You get to think about how you want to play your cards and when you want to play your cards to expose your enemies."
-- Feng, gamer at JohnCon 2017
"It's social deduction with a really neat twist!"
-- Dennis Hoyle, Bellwether Games
Risks and challenges
SysHack has been playtested extensively. We have already contacted a manufacturer to print the game, as well as a fulfillment company to send copies out. Both companies have a trustworthy service record, so things should hopefully run pretty smoothly overall if we fund.
However, this is our first Kickstarter, so it will be a learning experience for sure. If you have any questions, send them to
firstname.lastname@example.org, message us through the Kickstarter campaign, or leave a comment. We'll make time to check for messages and respond at least once each day.
In fact, tell us anything! We'd love to hear from you!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)