Hackers is a multiplayer mobile strategy game. Information about the different strategic aspects can be found here.
- Getting Started - New to the game, or a returning player wanting to brush up on the basics? Start here!
- Game Tips - General Gameplay and Node specific tips.
- Offensive Strategies - Learn about Brute Force and Stealth attack strategies.
- Defensive Strategies - Learn about Defensive layouts and Node placements.
Min-maxing is a long-term strategy adopted by many experienced hackers - especially when starting a second "smurf" account - and is considered to be the game META (most effective tactic available).
If you do not want the strategy or intellectual challenge of the game to be disrupted, please avoid this section!
Due to the search algorithm used to find hack targets on the World Map, networks of similar level and reputation will almost always be matched, except when viable targets are in very short supply. This means that if nodes and programs can be improved to be as effective as possible while gaining as little experience as possible, other users who have not progressed as efficiently will be at a distinct disadvantage. This is the philosophy of min-maxing.
- Sentry - The backbone of security on every network. The antivirus it spreads can turn even non-security nodes into a serious obstacle for intruders. Upgrading a single well-protected Sentry will drastically increase the power of potentially every node on the network, making it the best primary investment for security.
- Core - The shear number of nodes on a network offers vast structural options and requires additional programs and time on the part of the intruder - all major benefits. Extra nodes can also be left at level 1 and used as chokepoints At later levels, a Core defended by three Guardians is also an intense challenge, allowing resources to be protected behind it. At core level 12, you can have 5 code gates. Because of this, you can get all five and use them to stop attackers drastically. At level 5, attackers usually use rams because it's quicker than forcing it with something such as Beam Cannon or Shuriken. 5 gates also stops any attempted stealth attack if the attacker has low lvl stealth and the gates are seen by a Scanner so very little damage is done to the network.
- Scanner - Stealth hacks can prove fatal to even the strongest networks. A maxed Sentry does no good once a Wraith or Portal is installed. This threat can be almost completely eliminated by a well-positioned Scanner in range of as many Code Gates as possible.
- Databases and B-coin Mixers - These are necessary to purchase all the other big upgrades as levels increase. Upgrade these only as needed.
- Program Libraries - Every program is significant in a hack, and having lots of disk space will allow weak targets to be hacked back to back, since only half of the space may be needed. Programs also take up space at the time of compilation, so having more than needed allows some to be compiled for a future hack while another is attempted.
- Shuriken (or Beam Cannon) - These are cheap, basic programs which take up little disk space and can be used generously. Without any real specialization, they work for everything and will quickly become more than powerful enough for most networks if the min-maxing method is followed. Shurikens have roughly the same strength as Beams two levels lower, but this is made up for easily when attacking two or more nodes. Hence, Shuriken is recommended, unless Beam Cannon has already been upgraded much more.
- Protector - Defensive programs are expensive, but necessary for Brute Force hacks. If a buffer is needed, using one ICE Wall or Shocker to set up a high level Protector will grant as much time as needed. Protector can be upgraded relatively cheaply, quickly, and to high levels with a mid-level Evolver.
- Blaster - While Battering Rams are designed for Code Gates, and also work against Guardian shields, Blasters work just as well for both - if not better - once upgraded. They can be also used in any Offensive situation, unlike Rams, have a shorter compilation time, and can be upgraded faster and higher relative to the Evolver level.
- Access and Wraith - While it is not recommended to upgrade stealth programs until higher levels, it is a valid option when looking for more complex gameplay, a way to save time during hacks, or a fast way to steal resources. Note that using stealth alone to gain resources will make it extremely difficult to preserve reputation.
While most other upgrades besides those described above are less valuable, here are some specific ones to avoid and the reasoning behind doing so.
- Server Farms and B-coin Mines - These are a completely reasonable investment if the intent is to collect resources rather than to loot for them. Be advised, however, that upgrading these resource generators will greatly increase experience, take away from potential security improvements, and the resources produced can be stolen while they accrue. There are also usually several of these nodes, which only multiplies the experience gained. Hence, it is not generally recommended to upgrade these.
- Other Security Nodes (than those mentioned above) - Turrets, Black ICEs and Guardians all require several upgrades to significantly increase their effectiveness, and each one must be upgraded individually. This causes experience to skyrocket, and provides very little benefit to parts of the network only defended by Sentry antivirus.
- Code Gates become dramatically more effective with each upgrade, and often only one or two needs to be leveled to increase the overall benefit. Until very high levels, however, Code Gates are primarily to ward off stealth attacks, and as such need only be upgraded to the point where a Wraith becomes more efficient than installing Access directly, which is around level 5 for most stealth hackers.
- Portal - Upgrades are very expensive and time consuming, and after level 2 Portal offers the least overall decrease in visibility compared to other stealth programs. It is also rarely used due to the risk of running short on visibility and the extreme compilation time and price.
- Maniac - Simply unlocking Maniac is a milestone, and each upgrade requires incredibly high Evolver levels. It will likely not be necessary to increase its strength until the end of the mid levels, and not before having sufficient disk space to store them.
- ICE Wall - ICE Walls are very expensive, and a Protector can very soon be more efficient in terms of disk space, price, and compilation time, once the number of programs required to hold a node is compared.
- Worms - To be truly effective, Worms must be upgraded to very high levels. This is simply not reasonable until much later in the game progression, and after the most important programs have been highly developed.
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