First impressions of Android
So together with Andrew, Goran and Paul I had my first game of Android at the Tintagel game day last Sunday. Or actually, my first half
game since we decided to end it after the first week so we would have time to play Space Alert.
I won't really cover the rules much as they can be downloaded from FFG or you can read extensive summaries on BGG. I'll just ramble on willy nilly about my thoughts after playing.
For those of you who don't know
, it's the latest game from FFG and is basically like an unlicensed Blade Runner board game. In the future city of New Angeles the players take on the roles of five very different characters that are trying to solve a murder, figure out the conspiracy behind it as well as looking after their own (often quite problematic) personal lives. The game takes place during two weeks with each day being one turn. Every turn you get around six Time, or actions, to do stuff.
At firt glance you might think it's a mystery game like Clue, but it's really not as there's no predetermined murderer. Instead points are tallied at the end of the game to see which player (or character) had the correct hunch about who was guilty. The murder is really just one part of the game. The other two parts are the conspiracy that you can slowly figure out as you uncover more puzzle pieces and then there's the personal stories, or Plots as they're called in-game, and I would say that these are the real core of the game.
As is often the case with FFG's products this is a heavily theme based game. I think the mechanics are interesting and I like all the things going on at once, but what really attracts me is the noir/sci-fi atmosphere and the characters. Everyone starts with a personal plot that is specific to their character - it can be anything from the corrupt cop's relationship problems to the android philosophizing about what he really is. And during the game you have to pay attention to these plots, as well as the murder and the conspiracy, to make sure they get a happy ending (earning you more points). This is of course made more difficult with the other players (not characters mind you!) trying to mess it up for you.
As I said, it's with these plots the game really comes into its own as it creates a kind of semi-roleplay atmosphere. It's hard not to read the flavour text out loud when you're playing a Twilight Card on an opponent or manage to get a good ending on your plot as they really helps the characters come alive.
Anway, let's start talking about how it actually plays.
Well, you move around the board in your spinner investigating clues to use them either for follow your hunch about who's guilty/innocent or to try and uncover more of the conspiracy. You also now and then do stuff that's specific to your current plot; the corrupt cop might spend a few actions taking his girlfriend (or is it wife? I don't remember) to dinner etc. Most of the game is in the cards though, and not really knowing what good cards you can get to play on yourself or what bad cards the opponents might hit you with it's hard to make up an overall strategy. Just like a CCG or Race for the Galaxy you really need to learn the cards to truly get into the game. Both your own character's cards as well as the other characters' to know what strengths, weaknesses and abilites they have.
As I had read that my character was good at uncovering the conspiracy puzzle I got started on that early and practically ignored the murder. But I didn't plan it out very well and only got a few points out of it (you get points, among other things, for placing the last piece in a row of five). I also discovered that during the second week I needed to place more puzzle pieces to get a good ending on my plot but by there was none left! Not very good planning from my side, I should have read my cards. Hehe!
In the end I ended up with a measly 17 points against the others 50-70. In general the game felt rather random, but I think that's only because of me not knowing the cards. Until next time I'll have a look through the different decks a bit. I don't think it's necessary to learn all the cards by heart, but having a general idea about a characters different cards and "card theme" would help immensely.
I think we spent about three hours on the first week alone so it's definitely a long game. However, as always I imagine this can be cut down drastically as you get more used to the mechanics and especially the cards
! Hehe! I had a great time and I'm looking forward to the next game, but Android is certainly not for every one. If you like the theme, don't get angry when opponents "are mean to you" and, maybe most importantly, have some interest in roleplaying I think there's a good chance you'd enjoy it.
It would be interesting to hear from Paul, Goran and Andrew. What do you think of Android boys?