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Firewall Preview
Get Your Wings (Reviews)
Updated: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014
Hello, Chaz Marler from Pair Of Paradise here. Today I’m going to be previewing the upcoming game, Firewall, by Sarcastic Robot Games. In Firewall, you play the part of an elite hacker, hacking your way into an advanced computer system while simultaneously anti-hacking other hackers by hacking their hacks.

What I’m trying to say is that everything I know about hacking I learned from the Wachowskis... so it isn’t much.

But I do know board games, so let’s take the red dice and see how far the rabbit hole goes.

Please note, this preview is using prototype game components. The final version of Firewall’s components may be different than those featured in this demonstration.

Firewall plays up to 4 players. In this preview I’ll be demonstrating a two-player game. No matter the number of players, the objective is to run the highest number of your programs on each of the computer ports on the board. This will be achieved by rolling dice to generate offensive programs, and also defensive firewalls, backdoors and spikes. It’s like software jiu jitsu. I know kung fu!

Players start with ten dice. These dice start out set aside, in a non-play area called “Storage”. On their turn, a player will take three dice out of Storage and roll them. One of the rolled dice is then selected and put in to play by connecting it to one of the ports. If the player doesn’t like any of their options, they can put one of the dice they rolled back into Storage, and re-roll the remaining dice. This can be repeated as long as the player has dice available to roll.

There is also another location that a die can be placed. Players have access to a temporary location called “RAM”, where they can store one die for later use. The die saved in RAM is set aside. It cannot be played directly from its RAM location, but it can be swapped with any of the dice the player rolls on their turn, then played from there. Think of RAM as a place to set aside a die that isn't useful to you yet, but may be useful on a later turn. Like a splinter in your mind.

Once the active player is satisfied with their dice roll, they select one and play them on one of the ports in play. Each game, two or more ports will be in play. For this example, I’ll be showing a game with two ports.

The dice have six sides. Each of the dice are the same. Three of the sides are numbered one, two and three. These numbers represent a number of your programs running on the port the dice is placed on. Placing one of these dice onto an open port installs that many more of your programs on that port. The player with the highest number of their programs running on a port controls it. I don't even see the code anymore; all I see now is yellow, green, red dice.

For example, on his turn, the yellow player could place a “3” that he rolled on this port. Yellow is now in control of the port. If, over the course of subsequent turns, the green player was to place a “1” on this port, then on their next turn they roll another “1” and place it on this Port —Woah, deja vu—then the yellow player would still be in control of it, because control is determined by the total number of the player’s programs running on the port, not the number of dice.
Let’s say that, on green’s next turn, they roll and play a “2” on this port. The total number of programs green is running on this port is now four, which is higher than yellow’s three.

Yellow can block any further progress by other players on a Port by placing one of their firewalls on the port. The firewall isn’t worth any number of programs, so in this case green is still in control of the port, but the Firewall prohibits any player, other than the owner of the Firewall, from playing additional programs on the port. So, on green’s turn, she couldn’t add another program to this Port. On yellow’s next turn, however, he could add another program, such as this “2”, (Dodge this.) thereby taking control of the Port.

But, as with any of the rules of a computer system, some of them can be bent, others can be broken. The green player can regain access to the port by playing a backdoor on the other player’s firewall. This effectively cancels out the firewall for the green player, allowing them to again play their own programs and firewalls on the port. Good. Adaptation, improvisation. But your weakness is not your technique.

If a player wants to completely lock down a port, they can play a second firewall on the port. If a port contains two firewalls of the same color, then it is considered locked down, and nobody may play any further dice on that port, including the owner of the firewalls that locked down the port. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.

Another option that the player has is to play a spike. Spikes delete any dice in play. Both the spike and the targeted dice are removed from play. One of these dice has a future, and one of them does not.Any dice in play on a port can be spiked, with the exception of ports that have been locked down by two firewalls of the same color.

Turns continue in this manner until either all player run out of dice, or all ports are locked down. Players then score points based on the number of ports that they control. If players are tied, then they compare the total number of programs on the winning players’ ports. If still tied, then the player with the most dice wins.

And that’s how the game ends. But I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I’ve shown you what Firewall is and how it plays. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.
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