Eugene pushed the heavy black horn-rimmed glasses back up on his nose.  He did his best to look nonchalant, failing miserably.  “Yes, mom, I’ve done my homework, made my bed, taken out the garbage.  All the chores.  Can I log on now?”

His mother looked at him suspiciously for a moment, and then relented.  “Fine, Eugene.  Just remember, no chores, no allowance.” 

“Yes mom.  I’m really trying to save up for…”  Eugene stumbled for a moment … “for the new Magic the Gathering Cockroach deck… it has this cool creature that’s indestructible as long as… ahhh… as long as it’s hidden under another card ”  He was babbling and worried for a moment he’d gone a little over the top, but it was pretty safe.  His mother knew next to nothing about the card game. 

She also didn’t know about the five million dollars in the private Swiss bank account.  

She nodded, which Eugene took as an OK to head to his bedroom, hop on his PC and join the chat room.  It was a little early, but he couldn’t do the obligatory five minutes late log on, not today.   Today, he was going to blow the socks off the other members of his exclusive little group, the Secret Underground Computer Kracker Society. 

The meeting started with the usual banter back and forth, yet another suggestion that they adopt aliases based on Pokemon … how childish … and then edged into the latest bragging rights for each member.  Eugene let some of the others go first with stories about hacking web sites, stealing information from the DEA, rerouting all White House bound mail to Tehran.  The usual stuff.  He was grinning, squirming in his seat, waiting for the right moment to insert his big time credit card hack… three major financial institutions in a single strike… and then sit back and let the adoration poor in. 

Somewhere in the distance he heard a siren and froze for a moment, then relaxed as he realized it wasn’t a sign of an approaching police vehicle or some other indication that his hack had been traced back to him.  It was… a moment later, it popped into his head.  It was the fire station alarm wailing from town center, warning of some local catastrophe or another.  Kind of odd. 

And something else was odd.  Jeffrey was normally the first to blurt out his latest indignity on the electronic web of institutions and servers that made up the internet.  But he hadn’t said a thing since the meeting started.

Downstairs, he heard a shriek over the barely audible murmuring of the TV that was always on some news channel or another to keep his mom “informed.”  It was marginally recognizable as his mother, and it sounded… well, more than urgent, more like the wail of an animal caught in a trap.  He sat frozen for a moment as a horrible feeling began to engulf him, nothing specific but a general, overwhelm feeling of dread.  Rather than run downstairs, he turned back to his console.  “Jeffery,” he typed, “what about you?”  His own news was forgotten as his stomach began to churn. 

”Well,” the green text scrolled across his screen (everyone was into VT100 emulators at the moment), “I do have some news.”  The phosphorescent green text somehow reeked of smug nonchalance.  “Let’s just say that, maybe twenty minutes ago, military computers in four different countries decided independently that they’ve detected a first strike launch aimed at them from all of the other major super powers.”

The dread suddenly had a name as Eugene put the pieces together in his head.  ICBMs had, what, a half-hour trajectory from launch to nuclear annihilation of its target… leaving him maybe ten minutes.  And, with a feeling of sick fear, he realized exactly what that meant.

There was NO WAY he was going to beat that in the time he had left. 



The simple rules:

  • You win by getting prestige points.
  • You get prestige points by completing tasks.
  • You complete tasks by using servers that match the servers required by the task.
  • You can only use a computer you’ve hacked.
  • You can only hack a computer you’ve connected to.
  • You can only connect to a computer you’ve scanned for weaknesses.

In other words: scan, connect, hack, use, win.


  • Knerds are a time unit you spend each turn to do your nefarious deeds.  You get 10 knerds a turn plus one for every server in your network (not including your starting server) + any extras you get from training cards.  Unused knerds at the end of the turn are wasted.  Knerds on failed actions (like bids you don’t win) are lost.

  • Servers have a region, a type, a sector, and an admin value.  Regions, types and sectors determine how likely there is a relationship between the servers you can take advantage of to connect from one server to the other.  Note that each player's starting server has a region, but nothing else.  The admin value is how hard it is to find a security hole.  Servers are sometimes vulnerable for one turn, which halves their admin value for hacking purposes (but not connections).

  • Networks are a network of servers created by connecting from one server to another.  Your network must always trace a path back to your starting server.

  • Tasks have a set of clauses.  Each clause has a set of criteria that are needed for a server to match it, consisting of a region, type, and sector.  They can be wild cards, that is, match anything. 

  • Cards fall into three categories:  they are “luck” cards, which give you additional knerds at the beginning of the turn, training cards, which give you additional knerds at the beginning of every turn, or they affect servers in some way.  You can only use a training card if there are no other players with a smaller training bonus than you.

The simple game:  assume there are no other players.

You start with a home server. 

The things you can do during a turn (in the order in which they happen) are:

  • Move a server on the game board.  This is just to make it easier to view networks; it has no impact on the game.
  • Use a card in your queue.
  • Scan other servers at three levels:  low, medium, and high.  A low scan gives you the servers’ region, type, sector, and number of current connections.  A medium scan gives you the admin level.  A high scan shows you where any connections from the server are going to and gives you a +1 for connecting and hacking the server (these topics are covered in a moment).
  • Bid on a card.  If you win, it’s added to your queue of cards.  You cannot use a card the same turn you win it.
  • Attempt to connect to a server.  To connect, your knerds + bonus + chance adjust must be greater than the server’s admin value.  The chance adjust is a standard distribution; 33% chance of a 0, 33% chance of a +1 or better, 33% chance of a -1 or worse.  The bonus is calculated and displayed for you:
    • + 1 for every server in your network that is the same region.
    • + 2 if the types match.
    • + 1 / +3 if the sectors match (+3 for “cross matching”; see “details”).
    • + 1 attacking from a more secure server (higher admin value).
    • + 2 for each connection you already have to the server.
    • + 1 if you've done a "high" scan of the server
    • reduction of the admin value by 1/2 if you have hacked the computer
    Select the target and use the Bonus button on the UI to see the bonuses from each of your computers.  A server may have up to four connections from a single player (and no overall limit). 
  • Attempt to hack a computer.  Knerds + chance adjust must be greater than admin value; you get +1 if you have a "high" scan of the server.  If you hack it, you own it; no one else can hack it.  Other people can continue to connect to and through it, however.  Hacked computers stay hacked even if your network to the hacked computer is broken.
  • Use a computer.  You can only use a computer that is on your network.  Using a computer takes one knerd.  It removes your hack, any connections to the server (from all players, including yourself), and increases the admin value of the server by one or two.  If a used computer matches a clause in a task, it scores you prestige points.  If it matches clauses in multiple cards, it scores you points for each task.

Two other things you can do at any time are:

  • Show all the bonuses from your servers to a server you want to connect to (making it easier to decide where to connect from).
  • Show the last turn’s results.

Prestige points – how you win the game.

Prestige points are scored as follows:

Each task has one or more clauses. You score prestige points by using servers which match clauses. If you match (and so, fulfill) all the clauses in a task, you score the full admin value of all servers used to fulfill the task. If not all of the clauses are matched, you score half (rounded down) of the admin value of each matching server.

Each clause can be matched (and scored) only once, no matter how many servers you use in a turn. A server can be used to match only one clause in each task, but can be used to match a clause in multiple tasks. When you use a server, it is compared to each clause in each task, in the order listed. Clauses that you have already fulfilled (by previously using other servers this turn) are ignored. If a match is found, that clause is fulfilled and the comparison immediately moves to the next task.

If you fully complete a task you score the sum of admin points of servers used.

If you partial complete a task, you score 1/2 normal value.

So, if you use one server with a 10 admin, and it matches a task with one clause and a task with two clauses, the score would be:

  • 10 for the first

  • 10 * ½ = 5 for the second, since you only completed 1 of 2 tasks (you get a partial completion penalty of 1/2).

Suppose you use four servers, X2, X1, X3 and Y1, in that order, that X2, X1 and Y1 are worth 10 points and X3 is worth 16, and there are three active tasks with a mix of clauses X, Y and Z that match X, Y and Z servers (note that an "X" clause matching a "X" server doesn't mean they are exact matches; a C/*/* clause could match a C/M/N and a C/F/H server at the same time).  The score would look like the following:

Task 1   Server match
  Clause X   X2 10
  Clause X   X1 10
  Clause Y Y1 10
    10 + 10 + 10 = 30
Task 2      
  Clause X   X2 10
  Clause Y Y1 10
  Clause Y --------- 0

(10 + 10) / 2 = 10

Task 3      
  Clause X   X2 10
  Clause Z   --------- 0

10 / 2 = 5


45 points

As you can see, you would have wasted using server X3.  If you had used server X3 first, you would have scored 12 extra points (and won the game).  You would score full points for Task 1, but only partial scores for Task 2 and 3.

Tasks that are completed or partially completed during the turn are removed and replaced with new tasks in the task queue at the end of the turn.  Multiple players may score against the same task during a turn. 

You need 50 prestige points to win the game.  If more than one player exceeds the 50 mark, the highest total wins; if there is a tie on total prestige, it is decided by the initiative order.

The more complex game:  assume there are other players.

The main differences are:

  • Your connection attempt is reduced by the number of other player’s connections to the server.  Note that this effect is not shown in your bonus (since you may not even know how many connections there are).
  • Players do actions in initiative order; that is, for each action in turn, all the highest initiative player orders are done first, the second second, etc.  So, if two players try to connect to the same server, the higher initiative player will connect first and reduce the connection chance for the second player by one.  If two try to hack a computer, the first one succeeds and the second one fails.
  • Initiative is also the tie breaker for bidding on cards and for the game winner.
  • You can bid on initiative to move yourself up the hierarchy.  The first turn of the game, it's a general bid for supremacy; subsequent turns it's a convoluted algorithm covered in the "details" section.
  • You can “defend” a server by removing another player’s connection (or even your own) at a cost of 5 knerds.  This occurs before connections, hacking, and use. You can only remove a connection from a server on your network, and you can only see the connections if you've done a high scan
  • You can enter and/or respond to taunts.  You can enter a taunt if you fully complete a task.  Next turn, other players can respond to your taunts (and you can respond to theirs) by clicking the "Taunt" button and saying "yes" or "no" to each taunt.  If you click the "Yes" button, the taunter scores an additional victory point.  You must respond to taunts (other than your own) if there are any.

The User Interface

To select a server, right click on it.  It will have an orange highlight.

To move a server, left click on an unoccupied location; the selected server will move to that location. 

New servers are added in the upper left hand corner of the display.  They are automatically moved to the bottom of the display to make room for the next set if you do not move them yourself.

To attempt to make a connection to another server, left click on it to create a connection from the currently selected server.  That is, you first right click to select a server you are connected to, then left click your intended target.  You will be prompted for the number of knerds you want to spend.

Connections are shown as lines with the owning player’s color and a small square in the middle; to select a connection, click on the square.  If two connections overlap they are shown in white; clicking on the selection box will give you a dialog to select the connection you want.

If you have used a card that applies to a server, and you select a server that the card is applicable to, you will be asked if you want to apply the card to that server.  Remember that selecting is right clicking, not left-clicking.  Generally it's best to select the card, click "Use Card", and then select the server you want to use it on immediately afterwards.

If you have not scanned a server, it has a heavy black border.  Low scans have a red border and show region, type, sector, and number of connections.  Medium scans also show admin level in a circle in the middle.  High scans have a thin black border.  Servers used during the turn are red.  Servers that are hacked are colored with the hacking player’s color.  Servers that are vulnerable this turn are shown with a red X.  Note that the admin value shown is the halved (rounded down) value for hacking the server.  The connection defense value is still that of the original admin value, which is not shown (and so is either double what is shown, or double plus one).

If you select a task it will change the labels of servers that match the clauses to red.  Note that even servers you have never scanned will have their numbers show up in red, giving you an idea of potential targets.  If you double click on it, it will bring up a detail reporting showing you the clauses for the task.

      A server with two connections from different players; From upper left hand corner, clockwise, Region (Europe), Type (Commercial), Sector (Travel), number of connections (2).  In the middle, the admin value (9).  Below, the server number (279) and the best bonus for connection attempts (+8)

  The GUI



The details – boring stuff

  • Bidding on initiative allows you to change your position on the leader board by bidding knerds in the following way. 

    Each player has a move up value and a defend value.  Your move up value is initially equal to the knerds you spend.  Your defend value is also initially equal to the knerds you spend.  Shuffling occurs iteratively from the highest member on the board to the lowest.  If someone has an attack that is greater than the next member's defense, the two players swap places.  One is added to the loser's defense, and one is subtracted from the winner's move up value.  Iteration occurs until no swaps occur.  For instance, assume that the hire board has player 1 - 8 in order from top of the board to the bottom, and that player 2 and 3 bid 2 knerds, and player 5 bids 3 knerds.  On the first pass, player 5 will swap with player 4, player 3 (who is lower on the tie board) will not swap with player 2, and player 2 will swap with player1.  On the second pass, player 3 (still with a 2 move up) will swap with Player 1 (who has a 1 defense because of being bumped down one).  Player 5 has a move up of 2 (having lost 1 point when he moved up last iteration) and player 1 will have a defense of 2 (bumped down 2). Player 5 will not display player 1 as a result.  Now we have player 2 in first with a 1 move up and 1 defense, player 3 with a 1 move up and a 1 defense, player 5 with a 1 move up and a 1 defense, player 1 with 0 move up and a 3 defense, player 4 with a 0 move up and a 1 defense, and the other three players in order. 


  • Cross connecting  (+3 match for sector) includes:

  • Porn sector to any military server
  • Financial sector to any financial server
  • Travel sector to any other travel sector

    Typical admin values for different types of servers are (+ or - 1):

    • Personal - 6
    • Commercial - 8
    • Government - 10
    • Financial - 12
    • Military - 14


  • The different regions (like you care):

  • China
  • Europe
  • India
  • Nauru
  • Peoples Republic of America
  • Sectors and Types (with letter code that is displayed for the sector)

 Code Personal Commercial Government Financial Military
P Porn Porn      
G Games Casino      
F   Financial IRS    
C Computer Tech Cybercrime Services  
M   Merchandising   Banks  
T Travel Travel Transportation    
H Health   Health    
L   Law Law   Homeland
D     Federal   Intelligence
B   Online brokerage   Brokers  
I Investment     Investment  
A         Army
N         Navy
F         Airforce


  • Cards include

    Training - Gives you 1 or 2 additional knerds at the beginning of every turn.  You can only train if there are no other players that have less training than you; that is, if you do a +1 training, every other player must do the same before you can use another training card (you can still bid and win them, just not use them).

    Luck - Gives you 1-5 additional knerds for the turn you use the card.  You can use as many as you want.  Store them up and use them to hack the +22 military server.

    Burrow - Creates a connection to every server that is connected to the server you are burrowing from.  The server you burrow from must be on your network; using the card will backtrack other player's connections and create connections of your own (without exceeding four total connections). A good way to add two or three servers to your network instantly.  This takes effect at the card use phase, prior to defensive connection attacks, but if a defensive attack separates the new connections from your network you will lose them.

    Ride The Wave - Does a high scan of any servers connected to the server you use the card on.  You can use the card on any server, whether it is in your network or not.

    Phishing - Allows you to use a server you have not hacked.  The server must be in your network and must not be hacked by another player.  Unlike a regular use this doesn't clear connections.  This takes effect at the card use phase, prior to defensive connection attacks. Using the server still takes one point.

    Backdoor - Allows you to make a server vulnerable (halve its admin value against hacks).  The server must be in your network.  This takes effect at the card use phase, prior to defensive connection attacks.

    Admin indiscretion - Allows you to use a server without clearing your hack or any connections (yours or other players).

    Email scam - reduces the server's admin value for connecting by one half.  Unlike other cards, this takes effect when you make the connection, so if your connection fails for other reasons (like the server you are attacking from is removed from your network by a defensive connection attack) it will fail.