30 March 2012 | Infiltration

Burglary 101

A preview of Infiltration, the upcoming card game of futuristic larceny

It is the future, and beneath the flickering glow of the sprawling New Angeles skyline, immense corporations seek every advantage in the burgeoning field of synthetic humanoid technology. On the brink of a revolutionary innovation, CyberSolutions Inc. is poised to become the next global powerhouse, threatening the profits of well-established conglomerates Haas-Bioroid and Jinteki. But unfortunately for CyberSolutions, security at their New Angeles branch has just been compromised.

In January, we announced the upcoming release of Infiltration, a card game designed by Donald X. Vaccarino (Dominion, Kingdom Builder) and set in the dystopian future of Android. In this tense card game of futuristic larceny, two to six players take the roles of thieves, pushing their luck to the breaking point as they venture ever farther into a highly secured corporate facility. The most vital information lies deep within the complex, but with corporate security mercs on the way, each step inward narrows all hopes of escape.

Accessible and engaging, Infiltration offers plenty of compelling strategic choices and significant replayability. Today, we’re pleased to offer our first look at Infiltration’s mechanics.

Get in, get the data, get out

First, take a look at the game’s layout below. At the start of every game, two rows of six cards each are arranged in a “V” formation to abstractly represent the two floors of the CyberSolutions complex. These randomly determined rooms are drawn from Infiltration’s 32 room cards, resulting in a new combination and configuration with each new game. What’s more, “second-floor” rooms are designed to be more challenging (and more rewarding) than “first-floor” rooms, ratcheting up the tension in the later rounds of the game.

Now, note that one of the room cards in the lower left corner is faceup, while the others are facedown. It is on this “entry card” that each player’s operative marker is initially placed, and it is from this first room that players will begin their illicit escapades, flipping the other cards as they enter those rooms. Barring any special card abilities or unforeseen room effects, the entry room is the only means of escape; there’s one way in, and one way out. The farther the thieves venture inward (and toward the wealth of the second floor), the farther they will be from freedom.

But how do the thieves move to a new room, and what do they do once they get there? At the beginning of every round, each player chooses a card from his hand to signify his intentions. A player may choose an item card, which represents various technology or tactics and is typically discarded after use (we’ll look at a few item cards in a future preview). Instead, he might choose one of his four action cards, which return to his hand after every use.

For every action...

A player’s four action cards are his primary means of interacting with the game; they present the basic maneuvers necessary to all thieves. Advance moves a thief forward one room (unless he’s already in the final room), while Retreat moves him backward. If a thief plays his Retreat action while he’s in the entry room, he’ll leave the facility for good (and wait out the remainder of the game), banking any of his ill-gotten loot. Of course, you won’t want to leave until you’ve filled your databanks with valuable information. That’s where the other two action cards come in.

Simply moving forward and backward along a linear path may not seem to offer many decisions, but the issue becomes somewhat more complex when you consider the range of room card effects that can be triggered. The versatile Interface action card allows a thief to interact with the room in which he’s standing; he might grab some quick medical attention from the Infirmary or commandeer a few weapons from the Security Station, for example. Finally, the Download action card lets a thief do what he came to do – steal data.

No room for error

Now, let’s take a closer look at one of the more straightforward first-floor room cards. Moving Sidewalk offers a tempting pool of data files, as well as the potential to draw two valuable items cards. Unfortunately, the room itself is designed to eject intruders; its “Enter” effect states that if you use your “Advance” card to enter the room, you’ll end up moving forward against your will. If you want to claim the Moving Sidewalk’s spoils, therefore, you’ll have to Retreat your way in from the next room... but will that be worth the delay?

It might just be. This particular room begins with two facedown data file (DF) tokens, as indicated by the large “2” in its center. Four more DF tokens are also available (indicated by the “4” on the right side of the card), but they’re currently under guard by a lab worker on the nightshift; to get to them, you’ll need an item capable of “neutralizing” pesky employees. You could also use your Interface action to pluck two new items off the assembly line, but you’d better be quick. The first player to Interface with this room will remove the interface token, spending this one-time opportunity.

So far, we’ve seen only a fraction of the engaging options and card interactions that are possible in Infiltration. Look for our future previews, in which we’ll delve into patrolling NPCs, the ever-increasing threat of capture (represented by the Security Tracker dial), the challenges on the second floor, and much more. Then, look for Infiltration on store shelves in the second quarter of 2012!

Back to all news