Tuesday, June 16, 2009

So my friends and I were finally able to get around to playing my new board game recently. Now now, boardgames are not crappy. The people who only think of boardgames in the vein of Monopoly or any of the other ones most people hear about, now they are crappy. Those people need to do themselves a favor and head over to the Fantasy Flight site and see that boardgames have evolved. From what I've heard, Europe has alot more. BUT, we are stupid, low attention span Americans, after all...

Anyways! I mention Fantasy Flight because the game I got was Android, by Fantasy Flight. It appeared at the comic shop a couple months ago, thought the premise looked interesting (not to mention the overall art design).

The basic premise is that, in the future, the moon has been colonized, human like cyborgs exist, and the government is still recovering from a recent war. In this environment, a murder happens, and the investigators (IE, the players) have to find the culprit.

Now, the first thing that I noticed (after reading another review myself) is that, unlike Clue where there is a definite killer, in Android there isn't. Rather, the game considers that all the suspects were somehow involved in the murder. The investigators jobs, then, are primarily to finger one of them as the actual killer based on their own suspicions, which are represented by cards randomly handed out to players at the beginning of the game (called their "Guilty Hunch"). The players are also given a card representing the suspect their investigator believes to be innocent (called their "Innocent Hunch").

In basic play, every investigator has a certain amount of time each turn, which represents the number of actions each player can take. Everything costs time, from moving, to investigating, to playing cards to help themselves (or hinder the other players). After someone uses all their time, play passes to the next player until everyone has gone, then the turn ends. After 12 turns, all the evidence is tallied, and the winner is decided.

Too be sure, that's the simple version. The object of the game is to be the player with the most VP (Victory Points). The primary method of obtaining said VP is making sure your guilty and innocent hunches are the correct, but they're not the only way. Now each investigator that the players can choose to play as have their own "plots", things that happen in their private lives during the course of the investigation. Making sure they resolve well are worth VP, while bad resolutions cost it. And then there's the Conspiracy Puzzle...

The Conspiracy Puzzle represents, in the game world, the people/organizations that caused the murder. In gameplay terms, it represents another way to gain or lose VP. Instead of investigating the crime, the players can investigate the conspiracy behind the murder. In doing so the players gain a puzzle piece that they place on the Conspiracy Puzzle in order to connect one or more of the various entities in return for end-of-the-game benefits. These benefits are making Guilty/Innocent Hunches/Good Plots worth more, Bad Plots hurt more, and various tokens obtained during gameplay are now worth VP.

All in all, its a very compelling game. The mechanics are very complicated and take a little while to get used to, and even if you know the rules, it isn't a short playthrough either. A full game will take several hours, but that isn't really something that people that play boardgames even worry about. Like alot of other Fantasy Flight boardgames, it contains alot of cards and tokens made of very heavy weight, laminated cardboard/chipboard(?). They are all well illustrated, and the flavor text on the cards adds to the feeling of the game world itself.

If anything the game needs (and Fantasy Flight is good about making expansions for their games), it needs more investigators with their own perks and playstyles, and the cards to go with them off course. Also, more murder scenarios would be good, as each of the scenarios contains special rules that encompass the entire game. More suspects, while nice, probably don't need to be added, though.

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