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Subject: I've played it... once: New Angeles rss

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Rachel Irene Lunan
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I have come in last in my fair share of Netrunner tournaments. I have a couple of data packs and some weirdly cobbled together decks (I’m bad at Netrunner because I want to make odd decks instead of solid decks, and I am nowhere near good enough to justify things like making a breaker-less runner deck with a) my experience and b) the cards I own but I do it anyway, sense be damned) and I play only every so often. None of that is necessary for New Angeles, though, which you can tell from the box cover. It’s not called “Android: New Angeles, the hidden role game for Netrunner fans”. That said, if you play this game with anyone who has played Netrunner, there will be some possibly polarizing table talk about this character and that corp and this thing and that other thing as the players are excited to see these things they like or love in a different incarnation. Just like if you play Battlestar Galactica with superfans who quote things or, I don’t know, I’ve never played it with superfans but I imagine it could get just as polarizing. Anyway.



New Angeles takes place in the Android: Netrunner universe but you don’t need any prior knowledge about it to either play or succeed at the game. You take on the role of one of the corporations looming over this megadistrict, trying to keep things in order enough that the people don’t revolt and the government doesn’t come in to take over and stop you from making mad profit. Each corporation benefits from some aspect of city clean up:



Weyland with the outage repair, NBN with unrest dispersal, Jinteki curing illness, etc.

I was NBN because they are my favorite in the LCG and because Victoria Jenkins looks like she has things completely under control. You can’t pose so comfortably with your future-tablet-pad and hand delicately under your chin without being at least partially capable at your job. Or maybe she’s very stressed about things and this is all a front because *gasp* she’s the traitor! (Spoiler: she was. I mean, I was. We were.)

So everyone is working together all happily to make sure the city stays free from government intervention and everyone makes money and lives happily ever after.

Except… not. Each player is randomly given a card which either says the name of one of the other corporations, or says “federalist.” If you’re given one of the other corporations, your win condition is that you have more profit than them at the end of round six. If you’re given your own card, your win condition is that you have more profit than three of the other corporations at the end of round six. If you’re given the federalist card, your win condition is that you have more than 25 profit AND that the threat level hits 25 BEFORE the end of round six. So, it’s possible for everyone to win (making it to the end of round six with threat below 25 and no federalist), or just one person (federalist victory), or some people (making it past round six and some people fulfilling their rivalries) or no one (threat level reaches 25 and federalist doesn’t have 25 profit). I’m sure there are other possibilities, too, but I’m sure you get the picture. It’s everyone for themselves but also… together?

Things I had difficulty with:

Any difficulty I had is the usual difficulty with a hidden traitor game. The only advantage I had being the traitor was that it was everyone’s first time playing, so no one really knew more about what was going on or what to watch out for.

Things I liked:


The use of art from the Android: Netrunner decks. I haven’t played as much Netrunner as some people I know but I’m familiar enough with the cards and the corporations and the art to be pleased to see Jackson Howard pop up as an asset, or feel that sense of “uh-oh!” as my heart drops when Scorched Earth is revealed (but hey, I’m not a runner this time, so Scorched Earth is good!). Also, I love in hidden role games when the conversation turns to, “who can help us with this particular task?” and you look at your hand and you have the perfect card and you kind of shrug and say, “oooh, sorry, I can’t help this time, guys,” really struggling to keep from giggling.

Things I found odd/didn’t fully understand:

Nothing, really. The game’s depth comes from the players’ interactions, which is fantastic and makes the game less of a beast to teach. Maybe playing with someone who hasn’t played Battestar Galactica or Dark Moon might be a bit tricky, though, although I feel that the mechanics of this one are a bit more streamlined than those two.

Things I wish I had thought about/of earlier:

Keep in mind that the backs of the event cards tell you what will cause the threat level to rise during the event phase. Is it the protest/strike symbols? Get those under control, otherwise threat will go up one notch per token in the city. Orgcrime? Crack down on them with Prisec as soon as you can. Outages? Get those sectors up and running or else that threat track will be eaten up in a matter of rounds.

When we played we did not think about the event cards too much; we were worried about meeting demand. But, looking back, we had no real problem orchestrating our turns and agendas to be able to meet demand. The addition of knowing what to knock out (based on the event card’s back) would’ve given us that tighter feeling of, “oh, shit, can we make it?”

There’s no benefit to early revealing, that I could see, in the game. Unlike in BSG or Dark Moon there isn’t a new set of actions you can take once you’ve revealed as the traitor/federalist and revealing just means that the other players will gang up against whatever you propose.


The offer cards look like they were produced from the template of the BSG cards, which I have no complaints about. Made them feel like home.

I “revealed” at the end of round four because we were already at threat level 20. You don’t really announce that you’re the traitor but I did an action that definitely confirmed yup, it’s me, Victoria Jenkins, traitorous media mogul. I needed to boost that threat level to 22 by playing my emergency action (NBN’s is reduce the level of unrest by up to four and place two illness tokens) and placing the two illness tokens in the sector next to the Root, causing one to spread to the Root and raise that threat level. I figured, based on our previous experiences with event cards, that we would get at least three threat points but I was worried it could be only three, and I wanted to force the end of the game while I was above 25 profit. Over the course of the game I had only had three assets; as the game went on and my behavior grew increasingly traitorous and suspicious, I would’ve liked to have had a larger share of assets to back me up when the others inevitably figured out that I was federalist scum.


Assets like Jackson Howard, lovely, alt-art Jackson Howard

I’m not sure if they did figure it out until I took that last turn and forced that illness to the Root. Even though I did do my usual hidden role idiotic thing of saying, “oh, that’s good for y’all…. us. That’s good for us” earlier in the game, and then smiling in what I’m sure was the opposite of a reassuring way.

In conclusion, this game is great. If you enjoy BSG or Dark Moon, or the richly developed universe of Android, you’ll enjoy this a ton.

Sidenote: Netrunner probably has one of the most diverse representations of people in any game I’ve ever seen, fairly equally representing men and women and showing a distinct tendency towards multi ethnic characters over Caucasian, which makes sense in a game set in what is currently Ecuador. The corporations are represented by a 50/50 split of male and female characters in New Angeles, and they are a predominantly non-white group. Is this easier to accomplish in a game set in the future? Probably. But it’s still really nice and refreshing. Especially since I got to choose a female character who was not hypersexualized and seemed able to be powerful and attractive, and to not garner her power solely from her attractiveness. And it’s not limited to the women; see Farid, also pictured above. Dude’s pretty hot. Or Director Haas. Love. Her.



Also, if you’re curious about my first opinions on BSG, you can read my I’ve played it… once review here.
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Paul Zagieboylo
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A great review. I would make one correction: it is NOT possible for everyone to win. If the city survives the 6th round without reaching 25 threat, and there's no Federalist in the game, someone will have the lowest profit. That person by definition failed to meet their goal of doing better than their rival. This is by design. The corporations are allied against the Federal government, but they are not friends.

It's also possible for no one to win even without the threat reaching 25, if the Federalist had the highest profit and everyone else had a chain of rivalries, ending with the Federalist, that were not fulfilled. Obviously this is unlikely because it means the other players were really quite terrible, but it's possible.
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paul sanchez
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Wanted to play this boooooo.
 
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Rachel Irene Lunan
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duncan_mccloud83 wrote:
Wanted to play this boooooo.


I've got Evan's copy for an indeterminate amount of time so, if you show up to games, you can play.
 
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paul sanchez
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Yeaaa threw my back out Monday had to goto the er...hopefully sooner than later.
 
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Evan S
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Glad you liked it and I respect your opinion, but my experience was completely opposite. When I was being taught the game, I said "this reminds me a lot of Pandemic" (and that's not a complement). I haven't played too many games that required negotiation in any form, let alone this much negotiation. You need to negotiate the main and counteroffers for every asset, which just takes a game that should take 75-90 minutes and turns it into almost a three hour game. I just found very little about the game to be enjoyable. I have also never played BSG or any of the other games you mentioned (including Android: Netrunner), so I assume I would like it more if I was more familiar with the universe, but if I am going to play a coop with hidden traitor game, I'll stick to Dead of Winter.
 
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Tyler DeLisle
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GoingTopShelf wrote:
Glad you liked it and I respect your opinion, but my experience was completely opposite. When I was being taught the game, I said "this reminds me a lot of Pandemic" (and that's not a complement). I haven't played too many games that required negotiation in any form, let alone this much negotiation. You need to negotiate the main and counteroffers for every asset, which just takes a game that should take 75-90 minutes and turns it into almost a three hour game. I just found very little about the game to be enjoyable. I have also never played BSG or any of the other games you mentioned (including Android: Netrunner), so I assume I would like it more if I was more familiar with the universe, but if I am going to play a coop with hidden traitor game, I'll stick to Dead of Winter.


That's really interesting to me because I thought that New Angeles felt more like Dead of Winter than any of the other games mentioned. Which while I don't like Pandemic either, but both DoW and New Angeles have that same board feel of having to maintain a balanced control in the locations or they'll be over run.

Think it really comes down to if you enjoy negotiating that much. If you love wheeling and dealing and misdirection, that's really what New Angeles offers over the other titles. You definitely have to enjoy that.
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Mike Carroll
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TyDeL wrote:
GoingTopShelf wrote:
Glad you liked it and I respect your opinion, but my experience was completely opposite. When I was being taught the game, I said "this reminds me a lot of Pandemic" (and that's not a complement). I haven't played too many games that required negotiation in any form, let alone this much negotiation. You need to negotiate the main and counteroffers for every asset, which just takes a game that should take 75-90 minutes and turns it into almost a three hour game. I just found very little about the game to be enjoyable. I have also never played BSG or any of the other games you mentioned (including Android: Netrunner), so I assume I would like it more if I was more familiar with the universe, but if I am going to play a coop with hidden traitor game, I'll stick to Dead of Winter.


That's really interesting to me because I thought that New Angeles felt more like Dead of Winter than any of the other games mentioned. Which while I don't like Pandemic either, but both DoW and New Angeles have that same board feel of having to maintain a balanced control in the locations or they'll be over run.

Think it really comes down to if you enjoy negotiating that much. If you love wheeling and dealing and misdirection, that's really what New Angeles offers over the other titles. You definitely have to enjoy that.


Yup. It's all about the negotiation.

I also agree with the comparison to Dead of Winter. That tension of "I want the group to be successful to avoid raising threat, but I have my own needs to satisfy" really opens up a lot of possibilities.

But it does also share the qualities of negotiation games like Cosmic Encounter (not the best example, but it's what comes to mind at the moment), which can fail miserably when the group doesn't buy into wheeling-and-dealing.

I happen to love both of those traits. But I can totally understand how some people might NOT like the combination of them, especially when it results in a long game.
 
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