Hacker is a game for 3-6 players, each player takes the part of a worker in a computer firm. The firm has 6 departments, in each of which is a computer, which contains a secret code, protected by a password. As well as finding the password, the player must also battle against the intrigues of the other departments, all of which are constantly pushing their own priorities and trying to gain the largest possible amount of terminal time for themselves. Just getting a place at a terminal in the face of dummy users and fellow players is difficult enough. Finding the passwords and codes is almost impossible!


Any replacement parts can be ordered for the game from FANFOR-VERLAG.

The Board

In the centre of the board is the cafeteria, (it's easy to recognise with its typical coffee machine, typical, because like all such coffee machines it doesn't work.) The six departments lie like the arms of a star around the cafeteria. Each department is divided into two sections. 1) The Terminal. The uppermost space next to the computer. The player sitting here has access to the computer. 2) The Queue. (The three spaces below the terminal). Players in these spaces have no access to the computer, and hence cannot play terminal cards. In the corners, and against the short sides of the board are the marker zones. These are used to show the current Priority (PRIO) and Time (TIME), levels for each player. Each player also has on the board a check list, ( 2 rows of squares numbered from 1-6). These are used to show which passwords and which codes the player has learned.


Each player takes a set of marker stones, a player marker and a set of place cards in their own colour, In the basic game all BLUFF, PARTNER, and all but one SUPERSPY, cards are removed from the pack of action cards. The action card deck is then well shuffled and each player dealt 5 cards. Players put their Time markers on the 3 field of the marker zone and the Priority marker on 5. Each player puts his player marker by a terminal and then the number of dummy users at each terminal is decided. For each terminal a die is rolled and the number of dummy users decided as follows

Die Roll  Number of Dummy Users  

1,2       0  

3,4       1  

5,6       2

Goal of the Game

Each of the 6 terminals contains within it a secret code. This is protected by a password. In Hacker it is necessary to first find the password and then to use it to gain access to the system and so learn the code. The first player to learn a given number of codes has won the game.

The number of codes needed to win the game is dependent on the number of players:

3-4 Players
5 Codes
5-6 Players
4 Codes

If preferred, with 3 or 4 players you can "close" one or two departments. This means that you only play with as many departments as you have players. In this case it may be best to play until someone learns 3 codes rather than 4.

Order of Play

  1. Pass on cards
  2. Play a place card
  3. Place Dummy Users
  4. Position players, displace dummy users, decide positions.
  5. Move Dummy Users forward.
  6. Lay chance and terminal cards
  7. Decide starting player
  8. Play cards
    1. Chance cards
    2. Terminal cards.
  9. Alter marker stones,
    1. Reduce TIME by 1,
    2. Reduce PRIO as per use.
  10. The Boss arrives.
  11. Remove Dummy Users at Terminals
  12. Replace cards, increase PRIO for Coffee Drinkers and Users in the queue.

The first round starts at phase 6, the earlier phases having been part of the preparation.

Game Phases

1) Pass on cards: Each player passes one of their 5 cards to their left hand neighbour.

2) Play a Place Card: Every player decides where he wants to spend the round and lays one of his place cards (1-6 or C), face down on the table. There are 4 possible moves: a) He can stay where he is. b) He moves to another department, A player may only move from a department to the department directly to the right or left ie from department 1 he could move directly to 2 or 6 but not to 3,4 or 5. c) He can move to the cafeteria. This is accessible from all departments d) He can leave the cafeteria, All departments are accessible from the cafeteria. A player may only spend one round in the cafeteria, he may not stay there.

3) A dice is rolled for each terminal in turn to decide whether, and if so, how many Dummy Users appear in each department.

Dice Roll    Number of Dummy Users 

  1,2           0 

  3,4           1 

  5,6           2

The new Dummy users appear at the back of the queue. There may never be more than 3 Dummy Users per department, any more are replaced in the box. It's not important at the moment if there aren't enough places in the department for all the dummy users and players who want to go there, that will be sorted out in phase 4.

4) Position Players: Every player now turns his place card over and puts his player marker into the department or into the Cafeteria shown. Whether the player gets to the terminal, or, if not, where he sits in the queue is decided by his Priority. Players can displace Dummy Users as well as other players. The actual order in the queue of players and Dummy Users is decided as follows

Displace Dummy Users

  1. Each Dummy User has a Priority of 3.
  2. When there are more than one Dummy User then their Priority is added, up to a maximum of 9.
  3. The player's Priority is shown by the position of the PRIO marker in their marker zone.
  4. The priority of players when there are more than one in the same department is not added together.
  5. If the player has a higher priority than the Dummy Users then he automatically moves in front of them.
  6. If the player has a lower priority than the total of all Dummy Users then he takes a place only so far up the queue as his priority allows.
  7. If the player and a dummy user have the same priority then it comes down to a duel.


A player with a priority of 4 automatically moves ahead of a dummy user, A player with PRIO 2 always stays behind a dummy user, A player with a priority of 3 must fight it out for the better place. If a player is in a department with two dummy users then he needs a PRIO of 6 or more to have a chance of reaching the terminal. With a PRIO of 7 or more the player automatically gets to the terminal, with PRIO 6 he automatically displaces the first dummy user but must duel with the second. With PRIO 4 or 5 then the player takes a place between the two dummys.

Displacing Fellow Players

If two or more players, after displacing the dummy users, have both reached the same position, then they must fight a displacement duel.

Displacement Duels Dummy User versus Player

Another player rolls for the dummy user. The Player rolls one dice as does the dummys representative. The player adds 1 to his dice roll. The winner of the duel moves ahead of the loser. Player versus Player: The two players each roll one die. The player with the higher PRIO adds one to his die roll. If the scores are then level the two players roll again but neither gets a bonus. The winner of the duel moves ahead of the loser Several Players: If more than two players are fighting over the same place then each duels against the other scoring two points for a win and one for a draw.

There are no rerolls if the scores are level. The number of points gained decides the seating order. All duels between players and dummy users must be decided before the duels between players are fought. Successful displacement moves all other pieces one space backwards. Once all places have been settled then any Dummy Users without places are returned to the box. Any player markers which have failed to find a place sit out the round in the Cafeteria.

5) Move up Dummys: Once all places are decided then any dummy users with free spaces in front of them move up towards the terminal.

6) Lay down Chance and Terminal cards: Once all players know where their players will be during the rest of the round, they lay Chance and Terminal cards face down onto the table. They are laid down separately, making two piles. Cards laid down must be played where possible.

7) Choose starting player: To choose a starting player for the round then take a set of place cards from 1-6 (leave the C card out), Every player takes a card and the player with the 6 card starts the round. Play then follows in clockwise direction.

8) Play cards: You may play chance cards or terminal cards or both. Players may however only play terminal cards if they are sitting at a terminal. Players whose markers are in the Cafeteria or in the Queue may not play Terminal cards. a) Play Chance Cards: Beginning with the starting player each player in turn, (clockwise order), plays all the chance cards that he has laid down. b) Play Terminal Cards: Beginning with the start player each player in turn plays all the Terminal Cards that he has laid down. A player may only play Terminal cards if he has at least 1 TIME. (TIME marker stands on 1 or more). Each terminal card played costs 1 PRIO point. A player may only play Terminal cards if he has enough PRIO points. The PRIO points used are taken away in phase 9. The basic rule is that all cards laid down must be played as far as is possible. Exception: HACK card: If a player sitting at a terminal decides to try to discover the password for that terminal then he must declare this as soon as his turn begins. He then tries to "hack" his way into the system and only when he has succeeded or failed does he play the rest of his terminal cards. Once all his terminal cards have been played then the next player takes his turn.


"Hacking" is attempting to gain entry into a computer system. In the game this process is simulated by the player trying to find his way to the centre of a 5x5 square, (The Hack Pad). The protection of the Password is the responsibility of one of the other players who builds checks into the system in an attempt to prevent the player from reaching the centre of the square. If the player comes up against one of these checks while finding his way to the centre then he is thrown out of the system and his attempt on the Password is at an end. If on the other hand he reaches the centre of the square then he has found the Password and as a reminder, he puts one of his marker stones onto the relevant field in his check list.

Building checks into the programme. One of the other players takes the Hack Pad and rolls two dice. Taking the sum of the two dice he looks at the Hack table and sees how many checks he may place and in which zones of the hack pad.

Hack Table

         Dice Roll      Outer  Middle  Centre 

           2,12           -      2       1 

           3,11           -      3       - 

           4,10           1      1       1 

           5,9            2      -       1 

           6,8            1      2       - 

           7              2      1       - 

The Outer Ring is the 16 outermost squares, the Middle Ring is the 8 squares around the centre square and Centre is the centre square. The player who rolled the dice now decides where to place the checks. He can do this by drawing crosses in pencil on the pad or by putting marker stones onto his chosen squares. It is important that the player attempting to hack into the system does not see what the dice roll was or where the checks have been placed.

Attempting to Hack

The Hacker begins by announcing the coordinates of one of the outer squares, "A1" for example or "E3". If the controller (fellow player), does not announce a check then the Hacker may now attempt to move to a neighbouring square, (horizontally, vertically or diagonally). If he reaches the centre (C3) square then he has succeeded and puts a marker stone in the appropriate square of the check list. Successful hacking; Once a player has found the password (reached the centre of the pad), he can immediately go on further and play terminal cards. Any Hack cards that he has laid down but not used are returned to the discard pile. The player however loses no PRIO for them since they have not been used.

Unsuccessful Hacking

If a player tries to move into a square with a check on it then he is immediately thrown out of the system. All the terminal cards that he has set down are returned to the discard pile, without any loss of PRIO, since they have not been used.

Passing Checks

If a player has laid down a HACK card then he is not immediately thrown out of the system. Instead he must return to his previous square and returns the HACK card to the discard pile. He may now attempt to move further towards the centre of the pad. If he encounters a further check, or reencounters the first one, then he will be thrown out, unless he has laid a second HACK card. Exception: If the check is on the central square, then the player, by playing the HACK card, does reach the square, and so finds the password. Example of Hacking: The fellow player rolls a 2 and a 6. Looking at the Hack Table, the 8 means that he must put one check in the outer ring and two in the middle ring. He decides to put them in A2, B3 and C2. The Hacker now attempts to reach the centre of the pad. He first announces a move to A4. The fellow player gives him the OK so he then says "B3". The controller announces that this square has a check on it. But the Hacker has played a Hack card which he now discards. He reduces his PRIO by one and then attempts to go further. He says "B4" and is given the OK. He then says "C3" is again given the OK and so reaches the centre and finds the password. He places a marker stone on the relevant square of the check list, and may now play any terminal cards which he may have laid down.

9) Adjusting marker stones. a) TIME markers: Every player who spends a round at a terminal loses one TIME unit per round. It is irrelevant whether the player has achieved anything during the round, he still loses the TIME unit. As soon as he has no more TIME left then he must leave the terminal and move either to another department,or to the cafeteria. If he loses the TIME before his turn, then he discards all his terminal cards and sits out the round. If a player spends a round in the cafeteria or in the queue then he removes his TIME marker from the marker zone. As soon as he returns to a terminal he replaces his TIME marker to 3. PRIORITY markers: Every terminal card that has been played and has been active, (has had some effect), costs 1 PRIO point. Terminal cards that have been laid down but then discarded without being used, do not reduce PRIO. Players can regain PRIO by spending a round in the Cafeteria.(see phase 12). 10) The Boss arrives. As in every normal firm, the Boss of our computer concern carries out the normal duties of a Boss. That is he regularly goes round on his "are my beloved employees carrying out their duties properly" check. And to show who the Boss is, he removes or gives PRIO to players. One player takes a set of place cards 1-6 plus C and another player draws one at random. If the chosen department contains one or more players, then the Boss descends and either rewards his faithful workers, (raises PRIO), or tears them off a strip, (reduces PRIO). If there are no players in the chosen area then another card is chosen until he finds someone to supervise. He especially enjoys descending on the Cafeteria when it's full of workers.

What happens where

The Boss finds Players  Result             Text

At a terminal           Raises PRIO by 1   Keep up the good work!

At a broken terminal    Lowers PRIO by 1   Now we know why our 

(Terminal defect or                        repair bills are so high!


In The Queue for a      Lowers PRIO by 1   What are you wasting time for? 



At a Terminal with      As Above           As Above 

TIME = 0

In the Cafeteria        PRIO -2            Here am I with all my 

                                           troubles and you lot

                                           sit around drinking


The boss spots every player in the department that he visits. If one player is at the terminal and another sitting in the queue then the first gets his reward and the other his bawling out. If more than one player is in the Cafeteria then they all get a strip torn off. The Boss is always in the right.

11) Remove dummy users. All dummy users currently sitting at terminals are returned to the box.

12) Replace cards/adjust PRIO: a) All players take sufficient cards to make their hands up to 5 again. b) All players sitting in the Queue raise their PRIO by 1 unless the Boss has spotted them. c) All players in the Cafeteria increase their PRIO by 5. Players in the Cafeteria may exchange cards, they hand in any cards that they don't want and take another card from the action card deck. For each card exchanged they receive one less PRIO point, so a player exchanging two cards would increase his PRIO by 3 rather than 5.

The Action Cards

Chance Cards

All cards without a black dot on them are chance cards. They can be played no matter where the player is, at a terminal, in a queue or in the Cafeteria. Playing a chance card doesn't affect PRIO or TIME.


A player can use a TIME card to raise his own TIME level or to lower that of another player. A player may not raise his own time if it already above 3. Each card played raises or lowers TIME by 1 point. More than 1 card may be played in any turn. For example a player with TIME 3 could, by playing 2 TIME cards simultaneously, raise his TIME to 5. To recap, if a players TIME drops to 0 then a player at a terminal may not do anything more in that turn. Any Terminal cards which he may have laid down are returned to the discard pile unused. Chance cards may still be used in that round but any TIME cards can only be used to lower opponents TIME.


Priority cards are used to raise the players own PRIO points or to lower that of opponents. A player may only use the card to raise his PRIO when its current level is no greater than 5. Each card played raises or lowers PRIO by 1. More than one card may be played simultaneously.


This card is played against a particular terminal. The Firm's Security Control Officer decides to change the password for this terminal. All players who have discovered the password for this terminal must remove the marker stone from their check list and if they wish to use this terminal in future, they must first Hack the new password. The code for this terminal is not changed, so any players who have already discovered it need not alter that marker stone. A player who is sitting at the terminal and has already achieved access to the system may continue to play terminal cards until he leaves the terminal. At this point the new password comes into force, and he must discover it, by hacking, before he can regain access to the system.

Terminal Defect

This card is played against a particular terminal chosen by the player. The terminal suffers a breakdown and no terminal cards may be played, or hacking attempted, by the player at that terminal. Any Terminal cards laid down are returned to the pack. SPY: This card is played against a chosen opponent. The person who played the card copies a password from the opponent, ie he may place a marker stone onto a password square of the check list, so long as the opponent has a stone on the same square.


This card must be either played in the round in which it is drawn, or passed on to the next player. A current failure in a terminal causes the terminal to crash, giving the same effects in that round, as for a TERMINAL DEFECT card. The affected terminal is chosen by a dice roll. The card also causes the code in that terminal to change, meaning that all players with a marker stone on the code square for that department, must remove them. The password for the terminal remains unchanged.

Super Spy

This works in the same way as a SPY card except that the player copies a code rather than a password. It must be played in the round in which it is drawn, or passed on to the next player.

Information Exchange

The Boss arranges a conference, so that individual departments can exchange information with each other for the greater efficiency of the firm. Each player takes as a number the number of the terminal which is nearest to him. Players in the Cafeteria may choose which number they take. Now a player takes an equal number of place cards (1-6) as there are players and deals them out to the players. The number of each card indicates the player to whom he must pass on information. The player must pass on a password which he knows but the player does not. If this is not possible, either because the player doesn't know any passwords or because the opponent already knows all the passwords that the player has learned, then the player must pass on a code. If that too is not possible then the opponent goes empty-handed away. A player who draws his own number has been lucky, and need not give out any information.

The Terminal Cards

All terminal cards are marked with a black dot. The following cards are Terminal cards: QUERY, LOCK, HACK, NETWORK-ACCESS, ADDITIONAL-PASSWORD, PIPING and MALFUNCTION. Terminal cards may only be played by a player when he is sitting at a terminal. QUERY, LOCK, NETWORK-ACCESS, ADDITIONAL-PASSWORD and PIPING only work when the player has access to the system, ie has found the password by hacking.


The QUERY card allows the player to discover the code in the system; provided that there are no LOCKs on the system. A LOCK marker blocks access to the code. The query must be asked again. Every QUERY card played removes one LOCK marker until the system is free from LOCKs. Then a further QUERY card reveals the code. A player may play QUERY cards to remove LOCKs, even if he has not got enough to remove all LOCKs in the current round.


As described above, a LOCK card blocks access to the terminal's code. For every LOCK card played a LOCK marker is placed in one of the 4 squares in the department. It follows that no more than 4 LOCKs may be placed in any department at one time. A LOCK can be used directly after a successful QUERY.


HACK cards are only needed when a player is sitting at a terminal and wishes to discover the password for that terminal. A password can be found without HACK cards, provided that the player doesn't encounter any checks on his way to the centre of the Hack Pad, but a HACK card or two makes the whole process much more certain. Each HACK card allows the hacker to pass one check without being ejected from the system. HACK cards laid down must be returned to the discard pile even if they haven't been needed.

Network Access

The NETWORK-ACCESS card allows a player to use a terminal other than the one he is sitting at. He plays terminal cards in the normal way, but can decide from which terminal he extracts information, such as passwords or codes.

Additional Password

This card may only be played by a player with a PRIO of 7 or more. It allows a player who is sitting at a terminal, and who knows the password for that terminal, to install a second password. He is the only one to know this second password. All players who wish to access the system through this terminal must first discover two passwords, ie hack successfully twice. They may make both attempts in the same round. Players who already know the code from this terminal are unaffected (unless the code is altered by a BLACK OUT). The terminal should be marked with a marker stone to indicate that a second password is needed. The player who has installed the second password should place a second marker stone on his check list, as should any players who later discover both passwords. If a SECURITY card is played against that terminal, only the original password is changed, the player who has installed the second password still knows it, but must, like all the other players successfully hack the new password before he can once more access the system.


A player playing this card chooses a fellow player who is also at a terminal. He obtains from this player every bit of information that the second player discovers during the round, passwords, codes, everything. If he plays the card against a player who has already had his turn, then he knows exactly what he will receive. If on the other hand he is the starting player, then he must nominate a player, and then just sit and hope that that player obtains some useful information.


The computer goes berserk and starts spilling out information, the player playing the card rolls a dice, and takes the result from the following table.


1           Gives the password for that terminal  

2           Gives the code for that terminal.  

3           Raises TIME by 3  

4           Raises TIME by 2  

5           Changes the password, acts like a SECURITY card. The      

            player at the terminal remains in the system until he


6           Terminal Defect, as per a Terminal Defect card.

Defence Cards

Superspy Protection

This can be played at any time that a player is attacked with a SPY or SUPERSPY card. It negates the effect of the SPY or SUPERSPY card. It need not be played by the object of the attack. Both cards are discarded.

Optional Rules

Advanced Hacker

Once you have mastered the normal game you may like to try the advanced version. In this all the SUPERSPY cards are used rather than just one, also the PARTNER and BLUFF cards.

Victory conditions: 3-4 Players, 6 codes 5-6 Players, 5 codes.


In this version the SUPERSPY card is not played directly. Instead, it is laid face down in front of an opponent. It may then be activated to obtain a code from that player, if, and only if, that code gives the player a win.


BLUFF cards are laid face down in front of opponents in the same way as SUPERSPY cards, they have however no action and merely serve to worry the opponents.


If a PARTNER card is played, a set of place cards from 1-6 is shuffled and dealt into three pairs. The paired terminals are connected for this round, and any information obtained at one, is available to the other. So if 2 and 5 are paired a player sitting at terminal 2 obtains any passwords or codes obtained from terminal 5 and vice versa. If one or both terminals are occupied by a dummy user then no information exchange takes place. SUPERSPY PROTECTION. In this version of the game the SUPERSPY PROTECTION card must be played in the round in which it is drawn or passed on. It allows the player to remove one face down BLUFF or SUPERSPY card from in front of a player. Both cards are discarded, the BLUFF or SUPERSPY card is not examined but returned face down to the discard pile.

Translation by John Webley.

Distributed by Mike Siggins from The Sumo Rules Bank

The Game Cabinet - editor@gamecabinet.com - Ken Tidwell