At last! Last Saturday, I had the chance to play Android again. I’ve written about this game before, and I have some additional thoughts as a result of our Saturday game.
Let’s see. I was playing as Louis Blaine, Gabrielle played Caprice, and Crystal played Floyd. Yep, I was the only real human in the game. The final scores were as follows: Crystal 51, Gabrielle 38, Seth 27. 15 of my points were from a surprise murder solve on my part. There were only two suspects left in the game; had the other suspect been responsible, Crystal would have lost 5 points (her innocent hunch would have been wrong), and Gabrielle would have gained 15 points for her guilty hunch. In other words, my solving the murder cost Gabrielle the game.
Actually, that leaves me to my first collection of thoughts about Android
Solving the murder in Android
Some folks on the Internet have been thoroughly distressed that solving the murder doesn’t automatically win you the game. After all, the game is a murder mystery, right? Shouldn’t you win by solving the murder?
Well, see, it’s actually not a murder mystery. It’s a SF neo-noir game. The goal of a protagonist in a noir is discovering the truth, not solving the crime. This may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but I’m not. Our Saturday game actually gives an excellent example of what I mean.
Twenty of Crystal’s fifty-one points were from conspiracy markers, and another 6-9 were from Haas and Jinteki tokens. Sure, Louis eventually collared the murderer, but she was just the flunkie who took the fall. Floyd got the dirt on the real villains, who were from the movers and shakers in New Angeles. I can envision a meeting between Floyd and a couple of powerful men, when he hands them a folder with incriminating evidence and tells them how it’s going to be, in his calm, logical way.
Rather than destroying the theme of the game, this feature of the game actually reinforces the theme.
That being said, solving the murder is still important. After all, having the right hunch is worth 20 points (15 for your guilty hunch plus 5 for your innocent hunch). As I’ve already mentioned above, if Gabrielle had solved the murder instead of me, the swing in points would have vaulted her into first place.
One last point: just because a suspect has the most evidence doesn’t necessarily mean that the suspect will be the most guilty. This seems really obvious, but we were all caught off-guard by the murderer in our game, because the other suspect had many, many more pieces of evidence on her. So, keep it in mind.
One weird thing about Android is that the board is filled with buildings that will be rarely used, if ever, in a given game. This is weird from a Eurogame perspective. Why would you have all these abilities on the board if they can’t be used? And the cost of some of those abilities…. They just don’t seem worth it.
Humanity Labor is probably the best example of this. 3 Time to get there, because it’s restricted. Then it costs 2 Time, 2 twilight cards, and one of each favor, all that to get one hit. Who would ever spend that much for just one hit?
I did, during this game, and it cost Crystal 15 points.
Our case was “Last Call at Roxie’s”, which meant that a suspect would be killed with only two hits. Crystal was pushing Eve pretty hard as the murderer, so something obviously had to be done. Eve already had one hit on her from some other source. So I went to Humanity Labor and paid for the other hit.
And, you know, I could see the scene play out, too? Louis is standing outside Humanity Labor. In voiceover he muses, “Eve hadn’t murdered Roxy. I knew that. But she was guilty of something.” He sighs. “Whatever lets me sleep at night.” Then he enters the building.
The major locations are specialized tools, and, quite frankly, they simply aren’t useful at every time or each case. The toolset is broader than you will need in a given game. But, the tools are available, should the situation warrant, and their presence adds additional nuance to the setting.
Another “brilliant” insight from our last game: dark cards are a big deal in the game. Fairly early in the game, I played a Louis light card (“Is that all you’ve got?”) that required that the next dark card be played on him. Gabrielle and Crystal then proceeded to ignore the dark cards while still inflicting various pain on me through other means. What I had managed to do was lock myself out of the dark cards altogether.
Don’t do this.
Also, at the end of the game, we realized that all three of us had come very close to burning through our light decks. Had the dark cards not been locked out by yours truly, we probably would have seen even more card play. This seems to sync up with past experience. So, at this point, I consider it to be highly likely that an effective player will see his entire light deck over the course of the game. Again, something to keep in mind.
Just a couple of final thoughts. Among other things, this is a game of efficiency. So make use of the various features of the game to set your moves up in advance. Get several leads lined up just across the district border so that you can sweep through several locations quickly. Plot your moves out a couple turns in advance. Try to avoid unnecessary moves, if at all possible.
True, dark card play will affect this, but the uncertainty of the future shouldn’t stop you from laying plans. I mean, you do that in the real world, right?
Also, we used the plot overlays that I found on Boardgamegeek. We would actually place them on top of the corresponding dark deck. This made it a lot easier to remember how to spike an opponent’s current plot, which has been my major concern with trying to track the gamestate as a player. I recommend them.
It’s all still true. I know that I won’t be able to get this game to the table often. It’s a long one, and the target audience is narrow. But, when this game can hit the table, it will. And when it does, I want to be playing.