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Android - Board Game Review

Android – Board Game Review


The Objective
Android takes concepts from Blade Runner, Cyberpunk and a plethora of other dystopian near-future sci-fi settings. Megacorps, lunar colonisation and technology are the backdrop against which the players, taking on the role of investigators attempt to determine who is guilty of a murder and who is exonerated from the list of suspects. While successfully determining the identity of the guilty party is central to the game it is simply a means of scoring points. There are other sources of points such as discovering the involvement of the primary mega-corp and developing the character along their own personal plot line.


The Concept
Android is one of the relatively new ‘roleplaying in a box’ style of board game. They achieve this through the use of characters with specific plot arcs that to some degree dictate the playing style in order to win the game. This is not a particularly new concept, when all is said and done, back in the days of the original Talisman, you played a very different game when you started with a Troll, compared to starting with the Priestess. The development here though is to flesh out the characters, giving them backgrounds and plot arcs that will change the character depending on which path they take and how successful they are in achieving the goals of the character. As the results of these personal plot arcs actually affect the capabilities of the character as the game continues, they are not just fluff but give balance to the game when weighted against the unique abilities of the character.
The Basics
Unlike the age-old game of Cluedo, Android does not have a definite murderer; there is no Captain Peacock, in the library with a candlestick (or game show host, in the Pool with a fourteen inch Toy - according to one satirical version). Instead, each player has what can be termed a Hunch. These are two cards representing the suspects. One of these cards represents the person they think is the killer and the other they believe is innocent. The player’s task therefore is to accumulate evidence by visiting locations on the board and assign the evidence to the suspects. There are three types of evidence, corresponding to how strong it is under certain circumstances. This evidence can be used to incriminate or exonerate the suspect. Placing the evidence is both secret and open. Secret in that the strength of the evidence is not seen though open in that the other players can see how you are placing the evidence. When it comes to end of game scoring, the player with a guilty hunch for the suspect with the most incriminating evidence scores the most points. The second most points are awarded to the player with the innocent hunch for the suspect with the highest total exonerating evidence. The placement of evidence gives plenty of scope for tactics. You may play few weak evidence tokens on your guilty hunch, hopefully causing other players to think that you have them as the innocent suspect thereby encouraging them to put stronger incriminating evidence on the suspect. There are also non-evidence clue tokens that will affect other evidence tokens on the suspect. There are tokens for removing the strongest evidence from the suspect and others that move exonerating evidence to incriminating evidence.

Places to Go People to See
The nature of the game is that the characters as part of their investigation travel around the board visiting various locations. These can be anything from Ritzy to Seedy, which give the player access to the character’s personal deck of light cards or the dark decks for other characters. These cards are used to help the individual character (light cards) or hinder other players (dark cards). The use of the cards either costs them points for light cards or gains them points for dark cards. This is an interesting mechanic because it forces the character/player to do bad stuff to other characters in order to be able to afford to do nice things for themselves. This invariably leads to retaliation and a dark-card war. This is good because without this mechanic the characters could easily be playing a game in a vacuum, only to deal with each other when it comes to totalling points at the end.

The Conspiracy
As mentioned above, there is a mega-corp conspiracy aspect ubiquitous to this genre. As part of visiting places the character can try to solve the conspiracy. This is dealt with in a special region of the board. Here is a large open box with a tile in the centre, the tile representing the mega-corp. Around the box are results that are applied should the trail lead from the mega-corp to them. The players use tiles to extend the paths out from the central tile to the results. As the tiles are only placed under certain circumstances such as through visiting certain locations and as the trails are unknown at the time of picking them up, how they are placed is tactical. They can be used to not only push the conspiracy that will award you points at the end of the game but also to block results that favour other players.

Personal Development
Baggage, all characters gain it and this can be both good and bad. The object is to get rid of bad baggage and accumulate good baggage. These are associated with their plot cards and are dealt with through the use of light and dark cards. Plots are resolved every few days, allowing the characters to develop their own personal storyline and possibly end up shaven headed in a padded cell!


Minor Quibbles
There is a lot to this game, in terms of bits and pieces but also learning about the specific character. They are a lot more in-depth than say the difference to a Troll and Priestess, to return to the Talisman reference. This can mean that by the time you have a handle on the character it is already too late to make the most of it. This can be narky especially if you have only played the game a few times and always ended up with a new character (especially if one chap always seems to completely randomly get the same one). Anyone attempting to nosy over at the other characters is likely to require quite a bit of time to understand what they are up to unless he has played them before. This can lead to calls to ‘get on with it’ or at the very least the perused character electing to pick up a bunch of cards from the overly interested third party’s dark deck as polite ‘feck off’ or else.

A peculiarity of the start is that there seems little incentive to actually visit the scene of the crime. As for the placing of evidence this feels less like uncovering the identity of the murderer but rather fitting up the suspect based on your hunch (Gene Hunt style).

The dark and light cards of the characters, their equipment and even their vehicles (which determines how far they can move in a turn) effectively contribute to guiding a character along a certain tactical path of least resistance (certain characters can gain through having their dark cards played on them when they enter seedy locations for example).




It is therefore a game that improves with replaying sooner rather than later and everybody either sticking with a character they have played before or all playing one they haven’t. While it does give hints on how to deal with the other characters in the game from the perspective of each character, this generally only becomes apparent in hindsight unless the player controlling the character in question is overly obvious in their actions.
This is also an all-nighter or at least can be, leaving little room for anything else. To some degree, this hits the limits of quite what can be achieved in a board game before it crashes due to analysis paralysis or simply needs writing up as a supplement for an RPG system like Gum Shoe (of the future).





 
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******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the new version of ESNN (formally CSNN), giving the news and views from the former CSNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe,

And so with the news,
 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

A Detinus expeditionary force is being assembled to liberate slaves in the Twilight Periphery. Stung by the wit of the Wimble Dinash, Admiral Bridge is leading a personal and sizeable force against the newly constituted Flagritz Republic.

The Wimble Bake Off has new competition with the Dominion instituting a Master Chef competition in the Orion Spur. This is all said to be a cover for further land grabs and in preparation for a move against the Hive and Dewiek, tipping the balance further in the Stellar Empire’s favour.

Meanwhile, the Wimbles struck off a number of hapless Wimbles under their new rules. To cement their plan to align themselves with the Stellar Empire, they have offered the services of their new masters to the Emperor.

Several hundred thousand slaves have been released by the Flagritz Republic but the terms of their manumission are unclear. Millions more await their emancipation. Many have refused to accept freedom without transit home, especially those brought in from outside peripheries. Many reportedly were captured by the Stellar Empire from the Detinus Republic and then sold on to the Flagritz.

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

The ship PRV HarCop Omega has been reported both in Orion and Corewards. This was the flagship of the former League Chairman, sacked from the role when the League went into administration and quietly disappearing beyond the edge of known space. It is thought that his return may have been for a clandestine meeting with his former contacts in Harlong and Coptuv. If so then he clearly has an agenda.

Unconfirmed stories that the Pirate King of The Pirate Holes and Million Islands is near completing research on the various larger ships his pirates have successfully captured over the past few years (big thanks to all the affiliations that participated in 'donating' ships). If the rumours are true it is likely a new armada of pirate ships using more advanced technology will be found in Corewards in the near future.

An supernova has been detected originating from just beyond the Transpiral Periphery. The rare event has created ripples in the subspace of the nearby stars. Nobody has reported any tangible ramifications but this is the first supernova in the current age of the Peripheries so esoteric scientists are excited by the prospect of grants to study the relatively nearby phenomena.
 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Wimbles Crisis Solved ***

The Wimble Crisis of 217 has come to an end with the human Baron making way to the wimble Grandfather Paden Mastaak. Celebrations were held in Wimbledon upon the news with crack teams of Wimble security staff guarding all the pies.

It’s unclear how long the Wimbles will enjoy this new era of peace and self-determination.

Vocal Wimble Dinasha, one of Paden’s early backers, has chosen this precarious moment to bait Dewiek, Flagritz and humans who were initially disposed to be friendly to the new administration. Whilst the Wimbles' history with the former-slave-loving Flagritz could be understood, their animosity towards the Dewiek and humans was more mysterious. One insider alluded to a rise in the number of cases of foot-and-mouth across the herd as being a likely cause.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Storm in a Teacup *** Yahn Bares All * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door ***

The stargates are closed! Reports from multiple sources indicate at least three of the stargates, all within Dewiek controlled systems, have been closed.

Two different sources have indicated that the TCA have been spotted recently in a number of systems and may be behind this turn of events. A scan sent to the SSS indicated eight TCA ships were recently spotted first in the Faery system and later near the Kasmer stargate.

Another source, suspiciously put the blame on the ARC, suggesting the ARC and DEN were working together because they “need to trap [the TCA] and try and finish them off after the DEN bodged their operation to protect the ARC while they incinerated the MEK homeworld, which ended up with several ARC ships being destroyed and the job only being half done."

However, with no public statement from the Dewiek themselves, its hard to know whether these rumours are reliable.

Lord Igor of the Dominion and Erasmus Andersen of the Garcia Family both offered public apologies at the delay in meeting their trade commitments because of the recent closures. The not-so-subtle subtext being that someone will pay with blood for this interference in their business. Or at least with a stealthy price rise.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Wimble Civil Strife * Who Sniffs the Sniffers? * Largin’ It * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Videtis quantum scelus contra rem publicam vobis nuntiatum sit? ***

The Flagritz Empire is no more! The Flagritz Republic is reborn! Quick on the heel of the collapse of the Empire, the Fessin caste declared a new era of foreign and economic policy with a rapid withdrawal behind the Black Gate.

The new ecologically-friendly Prime Minister Kayxaer, asked for patience as “economic” reforms were undertaken. It remains to be seen whether there will be any price to pay for the dramatic changes being made by the reclusive Flagritzi or whether it will all be sunshine and rainbows going forward.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Large at Large * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Bravo for Freedom ***

Naplian Forces have attacked three human pirate outposts in the Morroglyph system. A spokesperson for Naplia HQ told the press that the plucky duct-tape loving free people would continue their war against slavers and pirates in their home periphery.

One salty Naplian libertarian told the SSS, “The people of the Naplian Home Periphery are sick and tired of human criminals coming here just because their homeworld is an overcrowded hell. It’s time for them to go back home.”

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Igor of Fang and Horns * Admiral Loves Dick Turpin * &etc

 

Free Ship when you sign-up
Complete missions for in game rewards
Control everything, up to an entire empire
Dedicated human moderators
Player and Moderator driven plotlines
Discover new worlds to explore, exploit & colonise
Over 20 years of content development
Persistent Browser-Based Game (PBBG)

I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic