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Subject: A Quickfire Gamer Review – Android: Infiltration rss

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JD Mofo
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While others quest deep into the night, fight epic wars across huge battlefields and evolve entire civilisations, quickfire gamers seek a different gaming experience. For us a 'filler game' is known as a 'game'. These reviews are written for gamers who like their games to be short, relatively simple, and to include as many players as possible; but still want them to deliver in terms of strategy and theme.

Check out the full list of Quickfire Gamer Reviews here:
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/174760/quickfire-gamer-rev...

-- Android: Infiltration –

I have been aware of Fantasy Flight’s Android universe for some time. The original game (called Android, naturally) sounded cool but as stated above, my group doesn’t do games that take 3 hours to play. When FF released Android: Netrunner I was curious, but it only supports 2 players so I didn’t think I’d get much use out of it. Both games undoubtedly looked cool though, so when I heard about Android: Infiltration I was immediately interested.

This game seemed right up my street. 45 minute play time, up to 6 players, high quality components and what seemed like a cool sci-fi theme. That pretty much describes my perfect game, but did it live up to its promise? The stunning box art is a great start. It states that A:I is ‘a card game of corporate larceny in a dystopian future’. Sounds cool. Opening the box was also a pleasant experience, it’s typical Fantasy Flight quality and looks beautiful from start to finish.

The game places up to 6 players within a high-tec corporate facility and charges them with stealing as much data (download files are represented by chunky cardboard tokens) as they can before making a swift exit just in time to avoid the authorities who are coming to arrest them. Yes you play thieves, but it’s OK because the corporation is obviously evil and the players are some sort of futuristic Robin Hood types.

As a setting for a game I think this is a stellar idea and the game delivers extremely well on the promise of its theme. The facility is represented by a chain of 12 random face-down room cards (6 ground floor cards and 6 upper floor cards), along with a secret room which can only be accessed via certain other room cards (which may or may not be in the game depending on the cards dealt out). 13 room cards in total are used from 39 supplied in the box, giving plenty of variety each time. The cards are laid out in a V shape to reinforce the idea that the ground floor leads up to the upper floor, with the secret room in the centre of the V. The room cards are nice and big and have great artwork to enhance the theme further.

Players themselves are represented by some pretty nice cardboard stand-ups. The characters are all pretty interesting-looking but play identically, so it won’t matter which one you choose. Each player has the same four action cards in their hand which give them their basic actions, along with four random item cards. Your action cards are taken back into your hand after use, so you will always have them. Your item cards are usually one use only, although there are exceptions.

Each round every player will choose either an action card or an item card and place it face-down in front of them (the backs are the same, so other players will not know which kind of card you have played). Cards are then revealed in turn order and the action or item is used as described on the card. This mechanic is very similar to FF’s Space Hulk: Death Angel but although I like that game, it is better implemented here with the item cards mixing things up a bit rather than just having the same actions every turn. You need to think carefully about when to use that powerful item as you won’t get it back and extra items are very hard (and sometimes impossible) to find in this game.

The basic actions available to a player are simple. Advance one room, revealing it if it has not been entered before. Retreat one room. Download some data from your current room (if there is any). Interface with your current room (this will have a different effect depending on the room, for instance in the Med Lab it heals a wounded character). Actions are so simple that it allows you to plan a little ahead and reasonably accurately predict what your opponents may do, although they may use an unexpected item card to throw a spanner in the works of your plan.

The crux of this game is the proximity dial. This is a high quality bit of cardboard you assemble when you first play and is similar to the scoreboards in FF’s Blood Bowl: Team Manager. At the beginning of each round one player rolls a dice and adds it to the dial, which starts at 0. When the dial reaches 99 the feds swarm in and anybody left in the facility is arrested and loses all of their data (read: they lose the game). This means the game will always last roughly the same amount of time which is pretty accurately stated as 45 mins on the box.

Usually the only way to escape the facility is to retreat while standing in the very first room, so the further you push into the facility, the further you are from safety. This is a brilliant mechanic and although it usually means that for your last several turns you’ll just play your ‘retreat’ card over and over, the tension is palpable as players all wonder if they will get out in time. It is also possible that you could find an alternate exit as you explore the facility but this only happens about half of the time, as the room cards are randomised each time so there will not always be an exit available. Will you press on hoping to find the Executive Elevator on the second floor and ride it to freedom, or turn tail and run for safety now? The most data and other valuable pickups are to be found on the second floor, which gives you more incentive to push your luck and get up there.

Some rooms contain NPCs who are represented by small cards which show the rules for controlling that NPC. Each NPC has different effects on the game, mixing things up all the more. Every room contains a certain amount of data which can be downloaded and added to your character’s collection of data chips. These chips have a number from 1 to 3 on the underside and at the end of the game everyone will reveal their chips and add up their final score. Unless they were busted that is! The player with the most data is the winner and has probably struck an important blow for the cyber resistance. Or something.

Bling in the Box: 4.5/5

This game is made by Fantasy Flight so anybody who has seen other FF games will be in familiar territory here, it looks fantastic. The room cards are pleasingly large and the card stock used is top quality with a canvas finish. The proximity dial is uber-cool. My only slight criticism is that the item and action cards are on the small side (as they were in Space Hulk: Death Angel) but this doesn’t detract from the game for me. The artwork across the board is stunning and very atmospheric which goes a long way towards immersing the players into the world of ‘corporate larceny’ presented in Android: Infiltration.

Initial Infodump: 4/5

This game is pretty straightforward. There are a few rules to get into your head before you get going (as with any game) but nothing complicated. 3 or 4 turns into the game it’s unlikely any players will be unsure about what’s going on and will all be eyeing up that precious data that you have set your sights on.

Immersion: 5/5

Superb. Android: Infiltration is right up there with the very best games in terms of putting its theme across. There are no rules we encountered which do not work well thematically, the mechanics are hidden in the background and you feel like you’re actually immersed in the scenario the game presents.

Duration: 4.5/5


This game lasts 45 minutes according to the box and this pretty accurate in our experience, even with 6 players. This is due to the proximity dial increasing each turn, ramping up the tension as it goes. There is no chance this game will drag on and on, which will leave you plenty of time to have another game or two!

Skill vs Fate: 3.5/5

This game is reasonably solid in terms of your choices making a difference. There is obviously an element of luck involved if you press your luck and try and grab that last bit of data before beginning your retreat, as high rolls on the proximity dial will finish you off and low ones will aid your escape. That doesn’t feel too random though, as you’ll only be in that position if you decide to take a risk and stay that bit longer, which makes perfect sense thematically. Turn order combined with which room cards come out could favour certain players, but it felt like a pretty level playing field each time I’ve played.

Banter and Backstabbing: 3/5

There is not a great deal of opportunity to really screw over your fellow cyber-burglars in this game, but there are item cards that you can use to booby trap rooms or steal a few bits of data from other players. Most of the time you will be mainly focussing on your own game. Obviously you will be trying to grab data files before the others around you and working out how best to do that, but as that’s the object of the game it doesn’t feel personal. The exception comes towards the end of the game when players who are close to the exit can force the proximity dial higher, dooming those who pressed deeper into the facility to a life sentence in some kind of future jail. You can only do this if you happen to be holding the right item cards though, which is fairly rare.

Longevity: 4/5

I can see this game getting a lot of play over the coming months. We’re several games in and it doesn’t show any signs of getting old or samey. The layout of the facility is different each time and you have a different selection of items, so each game plays quite differently. Certain cards combo in interesting ways with each other and with certain rooms; and there are a lot of cards in the game, so there will always be something new in a game of Android: Infiltration. Not the kind of game you’ll want to play every week, but a very strong game for getting out once a month or so I’d say.

Fun: 4/5

Android: Infiltration is great fun. Not too taxing but with enough depth that you feel in control. It’s a great game for anyone who doesn’t like things to get too personal between players but even those of you who love to stab your friends in the back will find something here too. The theme is so strong in this game that you really invest in the mission your character has embarked on. Top notch.

If you're in a hurry, just read this bit!

Anyone who enjoys a game with a strong theme should get this immediately. Take control of a cyber criminal, bust into a high-tec corporate facility, hack as much data as you can and then hightail it out of there before the future-feds arrive to bust you. Along the way you will encounter cool NPCs, interesting rooms with varied effects and collect futuristic equipment to aid you in your mission. The proximity dial increases each turn as the police edge ever closer, making for an edge-of-your-seat endgame. Yes it’s light, but never to the point where you feel out of control. Highly recommended for anyone who has even a passing interest in sci-fi games or anyone looking for a quick, fun game that plays up to 6.

Overall score: 8.5/10
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Kārlis Jēriņš
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Great game and great review!

I have one nitpick components-wise in addition to what you said, though. The data file tokens should really have been cards. In that case, they could've been shuffled easily. As it is, the tokens are a bit of a hassle to manage.
 
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JD Mofo
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Thanks!

I see your point about the DF tokens but disagree. The tokens are admittedly a bit of a chore to turn face down on the table at the beginning - there's a lot of them! But we're talking about a couple of minutes. Randomising them couldn't be simpler, just mix them about a bit on the table.

I think they need to be tokens so you can stack them on the room cards. It's useful to be able to see at a glance where the good stashes of data are just by the size of the data piles on the cards, and it also helps thematically to see that data there in the room. How would you place the data in the room in the same way if they were cards?
 
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Kārlis Jēriņš
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jdmofo wrote:
The tokens are admittedly a bit of a chore to turn face down on the table at the beginning - there's a lot of them!

And shuffling a deck of cards (the small cards they're already using for items and actions) is way easier than that

jdmofo wrote:
How would you place the data in the room in the same way if they were cards?


Simple. Just place a stack of cards, slightly spread out so everyone can see how many cards there are, on or next to the room card. There's a lot of free space unless some four characters are there at the same time.
 
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JD Mofo
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I like the tokens better. When I said it takes a while to turn them all face down I'm talking about a minute or two and for me the tokens just feel better in the context they are used in, I dunno why that is.

Its also crucial to be able to see how everyone else's stack of data is coming along, which would be a lot harder if they had a small deck of cards.

But this niggle aside, I think we're both agreed this is a great game
 
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Kārlis Jēriņš
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jdmofo wrote:
But this niggle aside, I think we're both agreed this is a great game


Oh yes, certainly! I'm always excited to play
 
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