Design By Example: Infiltration’s Security Tracker

In Infiltration (a game within the Android Universe of Fantasy Flight Games) players take on the role of criminals breaking into and stealing data from the CyberSolutions, Inc. facility. Uncovering each room in turn as they move deeper into the complex, their aim is to obtain the highest quantity of Data File tokens and escape before the CyberSolutions security forces arrive. The proximity of these security forces is determined by the Security Tracker; it is this that gives Infiltration its sense of increasing tension, and provides players with a means of altering the pace of the game to dramatically affect other players.

An image of the box for Infiltration.

Infiltration, an Android Universe game from Fantasy Flight Games.

The Security Tracker is made up of two parts. The upper portion ranging from -1 to 8 is the Alarm Dial, initially starting at 0 this serves as an indicator of the number of alarms that have been activated within the CyberSolutions, Inc. facility. The bottom section includes two dials that both range from 0 to 9 for a combined range of 00 to 99; together they form the Proximity Dial which indicates how far the security forces are from reaching the facility. The Proximity Dial operates on an inverse scale with 99 indicating that the security forces have arrived, that the game is over and any player still within the facility have been captured.

At the start of play both dials are set to 0, at the conclusion of each round 1D6 is rolled and that number is added to the number on the Alarm Dial, the result is then added to the Proximity Dial, causing it to increase at a steady if inconsistent rate.

Proximity Dial: Current Value + (Alarm Dial + 1D6).

Every round the Proximity Dial increases based on the current value of the Alarm Dial. During the later stage of the game the Alarm Dial could be as high as 8 meaning that every round the Proximity Dial will increase by 9 (the Alarm Dial value plus the lowest number possible on 1D6).

The Security Tracker from Infiltration.

As the current value on the Alarm Dial is always added to the Proximity Dial at the end of each round, any increase in the Alarm Dial increases the speed at which the CyberSolutions, Inc. security forces approach the facility.

Randomly selected from a deck of thirty two cards the facility is split into thirteen rooms, with six on the first floor and six on the second floor; the thirteenth room is a secret room that, depending on the other rooms, may or may not be accessible in any given game. As players move further into the facility revealing certain rooms or performing specific actions within those rooms can cause the Alarm Dial to be increased.

First Floor Room Cards:

  • 1 x Alarm Dial +2.
  • 2 x Alarm Dial +1.
  • 1 x Proximity Dial +10 (Action performed within this room, one time only.)

Second Floor Room Cards:

  • 1 x Alarm Dial +3.
  • 2 x Alarm Dial +2.
  • 1 x Alarm Dial +1.
  • 1 x Alarm Dial -2 (Action performed within this room, one time only.)
  • 1 x Proximity Dial +10.
  • 1 x Proximity Dial +2 (Each time the room is entered.)
  • 1 x Proximity Dial +10 (Action performed within this room, one time only.)
  • 1 x Proximity Dial -10 (Action performed within this room, one time only.).

Those rooms on the first floor generally have smaller rewards and present a correspondingly smaller risk; only three of the possible fifteen first floor cards will cause the Alarm Dial to increase, and another can cause an increase in the Proximity Dial. Once players reach the second floor however the risks become much greater, four cards out of a possible fourteen will increase the Alarm Dial, with another three having the potential to increase the Proximity Dial directly.

In this way the Security Tracker has a number of effects upon the play of Infiltration. Because players not only have to gather the highest value Data File tokens but also escape the facility, the deeper into the facility they explore the greater their risk of not escaping. It is not uncommon for Infiltration games to end with rooms still yet to be revealed.

The randomness of the room selection and ordering, along with the element of chance introduced by using 1D6 to modify the Alarm Dial, means that although games of Infiltration have a natural progression in pace, and associated tension, that progression is different each game. This ensures that even superficially similar facility layouts can play out at a dramatically different pace.

Two room cards from Infiltration, one from the first floor one from the second.

An example of room cards from the first floor (blue edge) and second floor (yellow edge), showing the difference in DF Token availability: 5 on the first floor verses 8 (4 + 4 for performing a specific action) on the second room. Note also the different effect revealing each room has on the Alarm Dial.

Each player has a hand made up of four (or five depending on the specific rule variation in play) action cards, and four items cards; the latter are unique cards from a pool of thirty five. Though they may have items within their hand that will allow them to slow down other players, or prevent them from obtaining Data File tokens for one or more rounds, players have no means of directly harming each other. Two cards, “Secretaries” and “Call for Backup”, enable players to alter the Alarm and Proximity Dials respectively. These item cards not only allow the player to decrease the dials but can also be used to increase them by the same amount.

These cards, in addition to the other means of affecting the Security Tracker within certain rooms, serve not only to vary the pace of the game but also open up the potential for forward planning and deliberation. Given that it is necessary not only to steal the highest value of Data File tokens, but also to escape the facility with them, there reaches a point where retreat is the more desirable course of action. Under those circumstances, increasing the Alarm and Proximity Dials can serve to disadvantage players deeper within the facility as they may now be unable to escape in time. If you are close to one of the exits it may be more immediately beneficial to raise the Alarm Dial dramatically even if you don’t have the greatest number of Data File tokens, as doing so could lead to other players becoming trapped, automatically losing the game. Such plans can still backfire, as the items available to the other players is unknown and what might seem like too little time to escape for one player might be more than enough for another; betrayal might come back to haunt you.

The Alarm Dial increases slowly and only as the result of actions on the part of players, the Proximity Dial increases every round though at an inconsistent rate determined by the Alarm Dial and 1D6. The connection between the two means the steady increase in the former ratchets up the rate at which the security forces approach. The Proximity Dial controls the pacing of each game while its connection to the Alarm Dial ensures that no two games are paced identically. Half-way between an explicit timer and a detection meter, the Security Tracker creates a sense of increasing tension and in the later stages of the game becomes one of the determining factors in player decision making.

By providing players with the means to alter the Security Tracker, Infiltration grants them a means of formulating long-term plans based on the manipulation of the Alarm and Proximity Dials. Given the element of chance built into the Security Tracker, player can still find these plans backfiring, creating an additional layer of tension, uncertainty and drama.