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Subject: Android review rss

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Travis R. Chance
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Fishers
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This game can be very entertaining, but it is slow and complex, meaning it won't be for everyone. The biggest problem I have with Android is that it takes so long to play, especially if the people at the table are not experienced gamers; don't be surprised when you convince friends and family who are not serious about gaming to try this and it takes the entire day. Despite enjoying the game, I must confess it sets a slow pace and isn't particularly exciting enough to sustain that many hours of gameplay.

The designers definitely could've cut down the number of components the game ships with, there are just too many tiny cardboard pieces to keep track of. Some of these pieces weren't necessary as there are more intuitive ways of tracking game information, but cardboard pieces were probably the cheapest, so it's not difficult to see why they chose this path.

But frankly, Android has the most fragile game board I've ever played with, the number of small tokens, counters, and trackers that must be in exactly the right place mean the slightest table bump or unchecked arm movement can send pieces flying out of position, which is never a good thing.

Another complaint is that, at least in my experience, the complex interactions and variety of strategies and options are often times wasted as it seems more efficient to pursue the most basic action of collecting evidence instead of performing one of the game's many advanced options (killing a suspect, piecing together the conspiracy, etc).

This could just be the steep learning curve the game has, making it a long time before players realize when and how to take advantage of these mechanics, but even among knowledgeable and experience gamers I found that none of us were taking these advanced actions because doing so meant sacrificing several opportunities to place evidence on a suspect and receiving very little gain in return. This is especially true since many of these actions require that you take other actions to make them useful, eating up a lot of time, and if the other players are only placing evidence you'll fall behind since doing so provides the biggest opportunity for victory in the game.

What really surprised me about the slow pace and advanced strategies was the contrast to the twilight cards the game uses. These are basically two decks of cards, one called a Light Deck that is beneficial and can only be played on yourself, and a Dark Deck that is harmful and only used against the other players.

Many of these cards are startling powerful in comparison to the rest of the game, forcing players to discard all of their cards or favors, preventing them from acting on a turn, etc. Worse yet, there seems to be no way to counter a card (and they're very easy to play), so once they've been used you can do nothing but suffer the consequences. Nothing is more disturbing than the sickening feeling you get when other players hit you with these cards during the last two rounds of the game and all the strategy and effort you put in were for naught because your opponents happened to draw one of the more powerful cards available, causing you to lose a game of slow, complex game strategy due to dumb luck and no skill on anyone's part. These moments made me feel like I had stepped out of Android and into another game, they just don't mesh well with the feel and pace the rest of the game offers.

For every one of these powerful cards you draw, there will be several that provide very little benefit and are mostly played to get them out of your hand. You cannot exceed the draw cap in this game and simply discard down to the legal amount later, or discard without spending time during your turn, so being able to get a card out of your hand is very valuable, and most of the game is spent playing these weaker cards in order to do just that, with the hope that the next card(s) you draw will be better.

Lastly, many of the negative effects have stipulations under which they can be played. Many of these stipulations involved the advanced mechanics of the game, giving players even fewer incentives to do anything other than follow evidence around the board, because to do otherwise would put them at risk of being targeted by a powerful card.

Despite these complaints, I do enjoy Android. I do, however, feel that the game could've been streamlined in a few areas, and this becomes readily apparent when you've been playing the game for several hours and realize everyone at the table has been just been placing evidence in the same routine manner while whittling down their decks to find those really powerful cards that will cripple other players by setting them back an entire round or more and require very little strategy to play.

Android is best played with veteran gamers who won't mind the lack of polish, will explore the game's depth out of curiosity, and really get into the rich history and story the game provides through it's setting, characters, and scenarios. In short, if your friends like to read the quotes and flavor text on cards and sheets, they will probably get into this game. If not, then they might not enjoy it since immersing yourself into the game world is a major part of the experience.

Android is brilliant and beautiful, but flawed and unpolished. Be sure you know what you're getting and who your fellow players are before purchasing this game.
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Tiago Nunes
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Great review, I mostly agree with you that the game needed a bit more polish as it is very hard to hit the table as the game is.

The flavor in the components is great but usually the players I play with do not give much attention to this (and I'm glad for it or the game would drag for many more hours).

To me the dark cards sometimes are a bit too "anti-play" making players lose whole turns for silly things.

I disagree in that the only valid action to pursue is getting evidence. The conspiracy board is usually the first thing to end in my games as the "line making" portion of it gives a lot of points (another weird mechanic). Also it boosts the collecting favors strategy.

I think that with some changes this game would be awesome! Particularly something that could end the downtime (waiting on the player's whole turn on the off-chance that you can trigger a dark card does not resolve this as you usually can't play more than one or two dark cards given their cost).

As a final note, I play with the variants suggested by FFG on their site as I think they make at the game a bit less random. They alter the way evidence is counted and fix some abilities on the board.
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Andrew Young
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How long does it take to play? What's unpolished mean?

Thanks!
 
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Scott M.
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I love android,
The way the players become THE story and not part of the story is fascinating. A truly unique game.
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Elijah
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Best game ever in the universe
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Tim Kelly
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atraangelis wrote:
I love android,
The way the players become THE story and not part of the story is fascinating. A truly unique game.

Amen, brother! Sure, the first game might take long, and maybe the second game, too, but...it is totally worth it!
TK
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Aswin Agastya
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Hmm, oddly I found that Android card play is the most interesting part of the game. I feel that it's the core, and everything else is built around it (it might not be designed that way, but it feels so to me).

Some games have variable player powers. Some games have a few cards to define a character's special abilities. Each of Android character has two decks to flesh him/her out.
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Frank Franco
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someotherguy wrote:
I love the "Lose Two Turns In a Row" card even though there are only eight turns in the whole game.


What?
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Tim Kelly
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someotherguy wrote:
I love the "Lose Two Turns In a Row" card even though there are only eight turns in the whole game.

Huh?
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Sean D.
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someotherguy wrote:
I love the "Lose Two Turns In a Row" card even though there are only eight turns in the whole game. That made the story really interesting and the game totally fun, and not for a big turd of a gaming session.


Sarcasm?
 
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Tim Kelly
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Hector131 wrote:
someotherguy wrote:
I love the "Lose Two Turns In a Row" card even though there are only eight turns in the whole game. That made the story really interesting and the game totally fun, and not for a big turd of a gaming session.


Sarcasm?

I caught the sarcasm part. My puzzlement stems from the fact there are 12 turns in the game, and I have yet to see anyone lose two turns in a row.
TK
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Sean D.
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tkelly wrote:
Hector131 wrote:
someotherguy wrote:
I love the "Lose Two Turns In a Row" card even though there are only eight turns in the whole game. That made the story really interesting and the game totally fun, and not for a big turd of a gaming session.


Sarcasm?

I caught the sarcasm part. My puzzlement stems from the fact there are 12 turns in the game, and I have yet to see anyone lose two turns in a row.
TK


Yeah, that would be confusing. I have never played this game, but its been on my radar since it came out. I think you would need the right group for this one to really shine.
 
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Peter O
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someotherguy wrote:
I love the "Lose Two Turns In a Row" card even though there are only eight turns in the whole game. That made the story really interesting and the game totally fun, and not for a big turd of a gaming session.

The characters are so fleshed out, like the cop who drinks and works so hard that he has alienated his family. They certainly made that rusty old saw seem fresh. All the fleshing-out is probably why it takes two decks for each character.

Putting face-down numbers on the suspects really made me feel like I was really there actually solving a real crime. Pow, a three -- that's like searching your files for evidence. Bam, four, bitches -- I just canvassed all the nearby houses to see if anyone saw anything. Somebody smells frikkin guilty over here, and those face-down numbers ADD UP!! How come my daughter won't take my calls? Oh, give me a whiskey to drown my sorrows.

Best game ever, totes! I hope they come out with an expansion with an older cop on the verge of retirement, but they team him up with a younger, wise-cracking cop whose risk-taking initially gets them in trouble and causes friction, but in the end they bond and solve the crime.

How come nobody ever made a movie like that? It's a good idea.

...or a cop with a dog, and you roll a dice to see how much evidence you get.



Are you wanting an RPG? You do realize that all board games need an abstraction?

Arkham Horror has a bunch of random sentences lifted out of disconnected stories, none of which pertain to your character.

Most of the story combat games require dice or some other abstraction just to do combat. Dice are very realistic. I want balistics modeling of every shot fired!

Mansions of Madness is a good attempt at telling a horror story, except its mostly a tactical squad sized combat game with some story sprinkled in. It just have an overly complex scenario construction mechanism for purposes of attempts at replayability.

Clue certainly contains no character specific plot other than pictures of intentionally cliche detective story characters. And how is "I'm in this room with this object, tell me if any of these cards are in your hand" any less abstracted than parts of Android.

While Android uses some fairly standard detective novel tropes they are still telling a more cohesive story than just about any non-RPG game while maintaining tension and different possible endings. I see nothing wrong with a game experience that lets us dive into a sci-fi detective pulp novel and get to play around with the classic stereotypes.

This is a type of game where you need to be okay with your characters personal story going south because you have the ability to see that you are not your character. It is also a game where if you want to play more competatively you need to know what bad cards exist for your character at which point a push your luck dynamics builds where you weigh the odds of the bad card being playable on you with the rewards of whichever action is tempting you.

It sounds like sour grapes where you had a couple of negative cards played on you and now your pouting.
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Štěpán Honc
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I'm very pleased that the game is still alive, it seemed it will die definitely...

I really love it but what I love mainly (and this is for all Wilson's designs) is the progress of the playing experiences with more sessions. First couple of games are really a story-driven experiences, watching and reading everything amazed and chatting about the game even two hours after...

Since about fifth game, when players are well familiarized with personal stories of detectives, their powers, weaknesses and all that genial game mechanics, the real competition begins. The game has simply SO MANY options what to do in your turn, what strategy or tactic to choose and how to screw up your opponents... after session we have to get a cigarette ... and chat about the game even two hours after :-) Hey, tell me about another ameritrash story-based game from last five years, some well "polished" especially, which I would be happy to play more than ten times... Middle-Earth Quest? Don't kid yourself...

One of the best board games I've ever played and far the most underrated game ever! Maybe not for everyone, maybe just for hardcore-gamers minority but I would change nothing...
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