16 April 2012 | Infiltration

Not-So-Innocent Bystanders

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

Time itself seemed to halt in that moment; the only motion in the room was a thin ribbon of steam dancing from Nelson’s CyberSolutions coffee mug. The dumbfounded officer’s eyes locked with those of the intruder while his mind briefly worked to categorize this interruption to his nightly routine. A computer console near the intruder’s right hand finally broke the long silence, a soft tone accompanying the flashing message – “Download Complete.” Time instantly resumed, and Nelson’s flechette pistol was unholstered even before his coffee hit the floor.

We recently 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.

Last time, we looked at a basic overview of Infiltration’s mechanics, including the game’s layout and the anatomy of a simple room card (be sure to read that article first, if you haven’t already). We also revealed how, despite the seemingly straightforward construction of the CyberSolutions facility, a thief’s movements are seldom linear. Countless card interactions can arise from the random layout of the “board,” creating a new facility with each new game.

Burning the midnight oil

These engaging synergies aren’t solely a product of room cards, however. NPC (non-player character) cards represent security guards, office workers, and even a murderous robot that might be roaming the halls of CyberSolutions. Aware of the burglary in progress, most of these hard-working NPCs just want to flee to the nearest exit, where they’ll escape to call the proper authorities. Some, on the other hand, have a duty to defend the office against intruders, and will present a danger to the thieves until they’re dealt with.

Before we elaborate on that, however, here are the basic phases of each round:

  1. The Selection Phase, in which players choose an action or item card to play.
  2. The Resolution Phase, in which the above chosen cards are revealed and resolved in clockwise order.
  3. The NPC Phase, in which any active NPCs behave according to the instructions on their card.
  4. The Security Phase, in which the security tracker dial is adjusted to represent approaching security mercs.

In our previous article, we discussed the first two phases, including the fundamentals of selecting and resolving action cards. Now, let’s examine how the NPC Phase adds another layer of activity and card interaction to Infiltration.

Officer Nelson is an excellent example of a basic NPC card. Relatively speaking, he doesn’t do much; should a hapless thief stumble into the Security Station, Officer Nelson will become aware of the break-in, hole up in his room firing at any thief who enters, and attempt to call for backup.

Leah Bailey, on the other hand, is just a CyberSolutions pencil-pusher caught in the wrong place and the wrong time. As Vice President of Research, Bailey’s office is a virtual treasure-trove, holding a whopping six data file tokens. Unfortunately for would-be thieves, Bailey likes to work late, knows all the closest exits, and will be quick to call the local security mercs should she escape the building. Once she’s on the move, a thief has little choice but to resort to violence (we’ll discuss weapons and wounds in a future preview). While taking out NPCs is an admittedly unpleasant business for a professional thief, sometimes it just comes down to a question of you or them.

Three room cards with Reveal effects that place NPC cards. Click to enlarge.

But not all NPCs are antagonistic towards the thieves. Should you find yourself in the Showroom, you might use your Interface action to reprogram CSX-13, sending this powerful robot on a murderous rampage through the CyberSolutions facility. He’ll make his way methodically to the entry room and to freedom (then presumably to terrorize the populace of New Angeles), but not before destroying all NPCs and other obstacles in his path!

Here comes the cavalry

With all this activity, you can’t expect to keep your heist under wraps for too long. Throughout the operation corporate security mercs approach, preparing to lock down the facility and end the game (eliminating players of thieves caught inside). Their impending approach is represented by the security tracker dial, which really consists of two dials working in concert.

The lower (and larger) portion is known as the proximity dial. With a maximum setting of "99," this dial represents the mercs’ distance from the CyberSolutions building. They’ll make their way slowly toward the facility no matter what, as part of their regular nightly patrol. If an alarm is tripped, however, they’ll hurry to investigate. The upper portion is known as the alarm dial. Various game effects can raise this dial to a total of eight, representing the alert level of the office and the rate at which the proximity dial can potentially increase.

During the Security Phase of each round, the first player rolls a standard six-sided die, then adds his roll to the current alarm dial level; this total is then added to the proximity dial. This means that the proximity dial can potentially increase by fourteen points each turn – six for a high roll and eight for the alarm dial’s maximum. As more game factors raise the alarm at CyberSolutions, the mercs will move faster and faster... and if the proximity dial ever reaches “99,” the game ends and any thief who hasn’t escaped the facility is eliminated!

The security mercs are on their way, but you haven’t finished downloading all the valuable data files pertaining to Infiltration. Keep checking back for more, and look for it on store shelves later in the second quarter of 2012!

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