Introduction to HTB Seasons
HTB Seasons are a new way to play Hack The Box. We are cranking the gamification factor by introducing a Seasonal competitive mode on our HTB Labs platform. Before discussing what it is, let's talk a bit about why.
In our classic competitive model, there is an inherent advantage to those playing on the platform longer. To reach the top, you'd need to complete over a hundred challenges, all active Machines, and you would be at a disadvantage regarding Bloods. Those who have been around the longest have a momentum that helps them hold their top spots.
With the Seasonal mode, you'll have the opportunity to compete in 13-week Seasons, and can climb your way through the different tiers. You can start each Season on equal footing and dive straight into the competition.
The classic ranking system and hall of fame still exist! Seasons is a new mode that we are adding in addition to the classic system.
Competing in a Season
Each Season lasts 13 weeks. As usual, a Machine will be released every week that users can attack and own. Again, just like usual, it will be active for some time (around 6 months), giving points, contributing to ownership percentage, and helping increase your rank on the classic hall of fame.
However, with the Seasonal mode, there is a crucial difference. The machine will only count towards your Seasonal ranking for the first week it's released. After one week, the Machine will become a regular Active Machine, and a new Seasonal Machine will be released.
So, how do you compete in Seasonal? Simple. Just play each Machine the first week it comes out.
Viewing the Season Page
In the Navigation Menu on the left side of the website, you'll see an option for the current HTB Season. Clicking this will bring you to the Seasonal Page. Here, you can see the current seasonal Machine, your progress, as well as the prizes (but more on that later).
Connecting to a Seasonal Machine
In the VPN Selection Menu in the upper-right corner of the website, you are able to select the Seasonal lab. Through here, you will be able to play the current week's Seasonal Machine. You'll also have the option to select your VPN Region and Server.
If you are already familiar with Hack The Box, then you may be familiar with the Release Arena. We open up the Release Arena lab environment each week and allow you to spawn a dedicated, personal instance of that week's Weekly Release machine.
This special lab environment is available until Wednesday when we close it down to prepare for the upcoming Saturday release, and the Machine becomes available on the regular VPN servers.
When you select Seasonal from the VPN Selection Menu, you will also have the option to choose which server you'd like to play this week's machine on, including the Release Arena, if it is available.
Progress in Seasons is determined in two ways. Points, and Tiers. You start each Season with zero points As you hack Seasonal machines and submit flags, you'll earn points. The number of points you earn will depend on the difficulty rating of that week's Seasonal Machine.
As the table indicates, you will receive bonus points if you manage to succeed in Blooding a machine (being the first to submit either the user or root flag).
Points are how you can measure yourself against other players competing in the season with you, and yes, bigger is better. The more points you have, the higher in the Seasonal Leaderboard you'll sit.
Another way you can progress during a season is by climbing the Tier System. Your current Tier is determined by how many flags you've submitted rather than your points. It's a way to monitor your personal progress, without needing to compare yourself to others.
There are 5 Tiers you can be placed in:
A thirteen-week season means there are 26 flags in total. As your percentage ownership of the total amount of flags increases, so does your Tier.
Once you've submitted enough flags to move up to the next tier, you will be promoted.
Gamification is always better when there's a reward for your hard work, and Hack The Box is no different. We've implemented a prize system to incentivize you to hack your heart out. These are subject to change, but below, you can find the prizes that will be awarded for our first Beta Season.
What’s changing about the old way of doing things?
Generally speaking, there won't be any changes to the old way of doing things. There will still be 20 Active Machines at any given time, and solving those Machines will still give you points, progress your Hacker Rank, and do all the same things it used to.
The only change is that each Machine will spend its first week as a Seasonal Machine, and during that time, solving it will contribute to your progression in the Season.
If you aren't the competitive type, or simply don't have time each week to work on a Machine, you can continue to use Hack The Box in the same way you always have, and you will progress in the same way you always have. You just won't compete in the Season.
Who is Seasonal Mode for?
Seasons is a chance for the most skilled hackers from around the world to vie for the top positions on the leaderboard, making for an intensely competitive environment. However, at the same time, Seasons also makes it easier for new players to jump in, progress, and place on the leaderboard in their respective Tier.
Ultimately, whether you are a beginner or a professional, Seasons are a place for those looking to compete.
Will Seasonal Machines be Available on Release Arena?
It will! The Release Arena experience will mostly stay the same as it's always been. You can still spawn your own personal instance of the most recently released machine, up until Wednesday. Like always, that is available to all members, with no subscription required.
The only change here is in the user interface. Instead of selecting Release Arena as a main option under the VPN Selection Menu, you'll be able to access Release Arena Servers under the Seasonal option.
You can also access Seasonal machines via Free, VIP, and VIP+ servers as well.
Are Challenges Included in Seasonal?
At the moment, no. This is a new competitive model, and for now, we are only including Machines. Other content, like Challenges, Endgames, and Fortresses won't be included in Seasons for the time being.
That said, we do have some ideas, so stay tuned.
Are Teams Allowed to Participate?
Teams aren't ranked in Seasons, and won't appear on the scoreboard. The rules regarding Teams haven't changed though, and you can continue to collaborate (within the guidelines of the rules) as you always have.
What About the Classic UI?
No such luck there. You'll need to use the new UI if you want to access Seasons. It's been two years, it's time to let go.
When / How Will Prizes be Awarded?
Prizes will be awarded at the end of the Season and what prizes you get will depend on where you placed. You'll be notified and will receive your prizes via email, so make sure it's up-to-date!
Can I Access Seasonal from the HTB Business / Enterprise Platform?
If you are a business customer with a Dedicated Lab, you'll be able to access weekly Seasonal Machines like normal, and your progress will sync to your HTB Labs account like always.
Starting with Season II, completing Seasonal Machines on the HTB Business / Enterprise platform will result in seasonal progression on the HTB Labs platform, so long as you've enabled progress-syncing between your accounts.