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Android - Board Game Review

Android – Board Game Review


The Objective
Android takes concepts from Blade Runner, Cyberpunk and a plethora of other dystopian near-future sci-fi settings. Megacorps, lunar colonisation and technology are the backdrop against which the players, taking on the role of investigators attempt to determine who is guilty of a murder and who is exonerated from the list of suspects. While successfully determining the identity of the guilty party is central to the game it is simply a means of scoring points. There are other sources of points such as discovering the involvement of the primary mega-corp and developing the character along their own personal plot line.


The Concept
Android is one of the relatively new ‘roleplaying in a box’ style of board game. They achieve this through the use of characters with specific plot arcs that to some degree dictate the playing style in order to win the game. This is not a particularly new concept, when all is said and done, back in the days of the original Talisman, you played a very different game when you started with a Troll, compared to starting with the Priestess. The development here though is to flesh out the characters, giving them backgrounds and plot arcs that will change the character depending on which path they take and how successful they are in achieving the goals of the character. As the results of these personal plot arcs actually affect the capabilities of the character as the game continues, they are not just fluff but give balance to the game when weighted against the unique abilities of the character.
The Basics
Unlike the age-old game of Cluedo, Android does not have a definite murderer; there is no Captain Peacock, in the library with a candlestick (or game show host, in the Pool with a fourteen inch Toy - according to one satirical version). Instead, each player has what can be termed a Hunch. These are two cards representing the suspects. One of these cards represents the person they think is the killer and the other they believe is innocent. The player’s task therefore is to accumulate evidence by visiting locations on the board and assign the evidence to the suspects. There are three types of evidence, corresponding to how strong it is under certain circumstances. This evidence can be used to incriminate or exonerate the suspect. Placing the evidence is both secret and open. Secret in that the strength of the evidence is not seen though open in that the other players can see how you are placing the evidence. When it comes to end of game scoring, the player with a guilty hunch for the suspect with the most incriminating evidence scores the most points. The second most points are awarded to the player with the innocent hunch for the suspect with the highest total exonerating evidence. The placement of evidence gives plenty of scope for tactics. You may play few weak evidence tokens on your guilty hunch, hopefully causing other players to think that you have them as the innocent suspect thereby encouraging them to put stronger incriminating evidence on the suspect. There are also non-evidence clue tokens that will affect other evidence tokens on the suspect. There are tokens for removing the strongest evidence from the suspect and others that move exonerating evidence to incriminating evidence.

Places to Go People to See
The nature of the game is that the characters as part of their investigation travel around the board visiting various locations. These can be anything from Ritzy to Seedy, which give the player access to the character’s personal deck of light cards or the dark decks for other characters. These cards are used to help the individual character (light cards) or hinder other players (dark cards). The use of the cards either costs them points for light cards or gains them points for dark cards. This is an interesting mechanic because it forces the character/player to do bad stuff to other characters in order to be able to afford to do nice things for themselves. This invariably leads to retaliation and a dark-card war. This is good because without this mechanic the characters could easily be playing a game in a vacuum, only to deal with each other when it comes to totalling points at the end.

The Conspiracy
As mentioned above, there is a mega-corp conspiracy aspect ubiquitous to this genre. As part of visiting places the character can try to solve the conspiracy. This is dealt with in a special region of the board. Here is a large open box with a tile in the centre, the tile representing the mega-corp. Around the box are results that are applied should the trail lead from the mega-corp to them. The players use tiles to extend the paths out from the central tile to the results. As the tiles are only placed under certain circumstances such as through visiting certain locations and as the trails are unknown at the time of picking them up, how they are placed is tactical. They can be used to not only push the conspiracy that will award you points at the end of the game but also to block results that favour other players.

Personal Development
Baggage, all characters gain it and this can be both good and bad. The object is to get rid of bad baggage and accumulate good baggage. These are associated with their plot cards and are dealt with through the use of light and dark cards. Plots are resolved every few days, allowing the characters to develop their own personal storyline and possibly end up shaven headed in a padded cell!


Minor Quibbles
There is a lot to this game, in terms of bits and pieces but also learning about the specific character. They are a lot more in-depth than say the difference to a Troll and Priestess, to return to the Talisman reference. This can mean that by the time you have a handle on the character it is already too late to make the most of it. This can be narky especially if you have only played the game a few times and always ended up with a new character (especially if one chap always seems to completely randomly get the same one). Anyone attempting to nosy over at the other characters is likely to require quite a bit of time to understand what they are up to unless he has played them before. This can lead to calls to ‘get on with it’ or at the very least the perused character electing to pick up a bunch of cards from the overly interested third party’s dark deck as polite ‘feck off’ or else.

A peculiarity of the start is that there seems little incentive to actually visit the scene of the crime. As for the placing of evidence this feels less like uncovering the identity of the murderer but rather fitting up the suspect based on your hunch (Gene Hunt style).

The dark and light cards of the characters, their equipment and even their vehicles (which determines how far they can move in a turn) effectively contribute to guiding a character along a certain tactical path of least resistance (certain characters can gain through having their dark cards played on them when they enter seedy locations for example).




It is therefore a game that improves with replaying sooner rather than later and everybody either sticking with a character they have played before or all playing one they haven’t. While it does give hints on how to deal with the other characters in the game from the perspective of each character, this generally only becomes apparent in hindsight unless the player controlling the character in question is overly obvious in their actions.
This is also an all-nighter or at least can be, leaving little room for anything else. To some degree, this hits the limits of quite what can be achieved in a board game before it crashes due to analysis paralysis or simply needs writing up as a supplement for an RPG system like Gum Shoe (of the future).





 
News
Is open for business...
 
******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the latest version of ESNN, giving the news and views from the ESNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe from our new home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,
 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***
  • DEN assault FEL base and get wiped out
  • CIA Trade fleet caught and destroyed by the DEN
  • Krell denounce worship of the True One

  •  
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Huge fleet skirmish at the London/Crossley wormhole

    A large fleet of over 700 DEN warships responded to the EMP action in Crossley, where a 4000 hull DEN platform was destroyed. Reports show the DEN ships caught a group of CIA ships napping and inflicted significant losses on the humans. IMP and GTT fleets moved to assist the CIA, matching DEN fleet numbers, but the arrival of over 1200 Hexamon ships seems to have tipped the battle in favour of the DEN-HEX alliance.

    The combined DEN-HEX force pushed through the wormhole into the Heartland area of human space and retaliated, attacking several CIA platforms in response. The outnumbered Empire fleets abandoned the area and fled, they are currently waiting for the larger alien force to make their next move from their hiding places.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Admiral Lord Simms killed after a long and distinguished service to the Empire.

    The Imperial Services have intercepted and serious damaged several DEN ships on the way to the Empire’s home systems. Unfortunately during the action Admiral Lord Simms was injured and reports from the Viceroy indicate he has passed away, fighting the enemies of the Empire like any true Imperial Officer.

    The Viceroy has stated that the officers and crew of the DEN ships have been captured and are now awaiting trial at a secret IMP base.

    DEN continue to strike at the Empire

    Reports are coming in of multiple engagements between the Empire and the Dewiek Elder Nation over the last week. With several battles taking out Empire ships in the Heartland of the CIA.

    AFT turn to piracy

    The Association of Free Traders have, after a long history of neutrality, turned to piracy this week. AFT Drake boarded an IND ship in the Halo periphery, killing several of the crew in the process.
    Independent trader Jarlebanke Langhofdi immediately took to the public communication channel demanding an answer to why supposedly peaceful traders had killed his crew and taken his ship.

    The AFT remain silent over the attack.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Combat Special Edition

    Since the DEN started shooting at those lovable FEL fluffballs things have certainly been heating up. So we through it would be prudent to bring you, gentle beings of the peripheries, a special edition in order to keep you updated with all the latest action in regards to who the DEN are shooting and who is shooting them.

    Felini strike back at Dewiek

    Reports have come in of the FEL striking back at the DEN in the Kallisan system. A huge FEL force supported by the IMP and CIA assaulted DEN positions taking both the platform and base called Lucien. There was much rejoicing in the FEL camp as the Felini proved they were not such lovable fluffballs after all!

    GTT get sucked into the war

    A passing fleet of GTT warships got caught in the fighting and this saw the GTT enter the war. When asked about this CEO Fox pointed out they are not warships at all, they are trade defence ships. So how they came to be in the DEN system of Kallisan is a mystery to us. But the GTT CEO was clear that they only engaged using support and defend orders to protect allies. Needless to say, the CEO commented “We found ourselves on the Dewiek Nation’s enemy lists pretty soon after.”

    Dewiek Nation attacks GTT positions in Orion Spur, breaking DOM system rules

    A fleet of DEN warships has engaged and destroyed a significant number of GTT cargo ships and escorts in the DOM system Monument. The GTT immediately took to the public channels to ask why the DOM were not doing something. In reply the DOM issued a statement to stop, which the DEN ignored.

    The DEN newssheet "The HOWL" published a completely unbiased review of the attack shortly after.

    DOM make a choice

    After the above incident and then further raiding by the DEN, taking out a few GTT cargo ships in the DOM system of Coptuv, the DOM seemed to have been faced with a choice of stopping drinking their tea and doing something or just hoping it would go away. Instead they seem to have decided to abandon the whole idea of being an active affiliation and we have since folded. The lengths some people will go to not to have their elevenses disturbed is truly staggering. We asked the DOM for a statement on their new system rules to share with our readers but have received no replies.

    DOM positions share out

    Just as we were going to press news has come in of various DOM assets being given to other affiliations or sold. Hopefully we will have more on this story in the next issue of your favorite factual newsheet. Yes, that's us at the SSS.

    *** Affiliations ***


    AFT Association of Free Traders (54) - Marion Tweedy
    CIA Combined Intelligence Agency (64) - Laton CIA
    DNA Displaced Natives Asylum (66) - DNA people
    DTR Detinus Republic (58) - Morley Decker
    DEN Dewiek Elder Nation (67) - Urd
    DOM Dominion (57) – we believe the DOM are now inactive
    FCN Falconian Republic (70) - Bacran
    FEL Felini Tyranny (49) - Juris
    FLZ Flagritz Republic (47) - Kayxaer
    FET Frontier Exploration & Trade (56) - Cu Chulainn
    GRC Gracians (13) - HG1
    GTT Galactic Trade & Transport (52) - Xavier Fox
    GCE Garcia Enterprises (4) - Neil
    HEX Hexamon (23) - Ando
    IMP Imperial Services (51) - Jack Jones
    KRL Krell (30) - Namica
    KRT Krell of the Reverence Temple (37) - Kal Torak
    KST Kastor Kastorians (12) - Kastor
    MZC Mizuchi Combine (86) - Mizuchi
    MOH Mohache (73) - Listens
    MIC Mohache Independent Commune (76) - Sleeps with Dragons
    NLF Naplian Liberation Front (38) - NLFHQ
    RIP Regularly Involved in Piracy - Githyanki
    RRH Roy Robert Holdings (39) - Roy Roberts
    SMS Stellar Mining and Smelting (53) - MikhailM
    USN Ulian Stellar Nation (34) - Oeipus Prime
    WMB Wimble Nations (25) - zz

    * Leader MAY be inactive, affiliation may be active
    ** Affiliation has no leader but this is the only known contact

    NPC / FoC: ARC, CIV, CGT, FRE, HBO, HEF, IND, ISP, JCN, MEK, MRC, PIR, PRV, TCA, TRN, KAS

    Inactive: ANT, BHD, COD, HVE, IDC, RIP, RCF, SKW, TAG

    Deceased: CAL

    *** Submission ***

    By private message to The Editor or via Mica if you prefer to remain anonymous.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    New pirate threat rocks Corward Arm.

    Several large pirate ships have been spotted in outer rings of Corward systems. Reports forwarded to us at the SSS allow us to exclusively tell readers that traders should keep their wits about them when moving through these areas.

    No existing pirate menace has yet claimed ownership.

    In a possibly unrelated event one of the FET cartel members claimed nothing was happening in the outer ring of Coptov shortly afterwards. But it could be that they are still trying to catch Empire backed pirates and have nothing to do with the new sightings.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****


    DEN continue to shoot innocents

    The Dewiek have made themselves busy shooting at the peaceful and innocent traders of the SSL. Leader of Solar Spices and Liquors Mr TOAD has been vocal pointing out that the Beast-DEN are being totally unfair. News of a go-fund-me appeal are yet to surface though.

    This office is sure that it must have provided the DEN light relief after picking on the equally defenceless Felini. Word is that the DEN faced such an uphill struggle in these recent actions they had to take up Felini inter-breeding to provide some entertainment as the battle reports were rather boring.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Return of the LiQuans

    A close associate of the Baron LiQuan has been haunting the Corewards periphery and like the old Baron it is said he has a meklan connection. It's unclear whether he obtained his meklan nanites via the CIA but there are rumours that the DEN may be helping the Liquan relative in a bid to sow discontent in the Stellar Empire. Exactly why they would start in Corewards is unclear although with DEN allies, the DOM, having strong positions both in the Sol system and the old Harcorp systems of Harlong and Coptuv they may be the linking factor.


     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

    Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


     

    Free Ship when you sign-up
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    I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

    Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
    -Zigic