A board game review by . Game published by Fantasy Flight Games in 2008
First of all let me say that Android is one of the most ambitious, complex board games I have ever played (or even heard of). It is without a doubt an incredible game, vast in scope with a huge depth to the story and full to the brim with little details.
As you might imagine though it does have a steep learning curve, the first time you play expect at least an hour just to setup the myriad cards, tokens, markers, sheets and to figure out where everything goes. This also includes setting up the one of three possible murder plots and subsequent suspects. If this is your first time out I highly recommend that you start with 2 or 3 players rather than the 5 that we did as it can take a considerable amount of time to get going.
It's at this point, when you randomly choose one of the five detectives that you begin to realise the level of detail the game designers have included here, each different detective is quite unique and has a detailed background, abilities, npc supporters, vehicle, victory conditions and motivation. It is very much a case that this background and the story is just as important as the game process itself. On top of that you also get a handy tips sheet which provides an insight on the other players characters, highlighting weaknesses that you can try and take advantage of - or even outright exploit.
This can be very important as not only are you investigating a murder but also working against these other detectives to prevent them doing the same. Each of these have their own agenda which can often be counter to your own. To help against those competing detectives you can draw "twilight cards" and use them against the other players including the ability to occasionally challenge them to a bit of fisticuffs.
You also get 2 "hunch" cards which are essentially suspects who you think are innocent and guilty, trying to point evidence to them to prove either case. This all makes for some fascinating in-fighting and a greater degree of replay value as each game plays very different to the last. The instructions are pretty thorough if a little counter-intuitive at times, some of the terminology is mixed too which means when one part of the manual mentions "token" and the other "markers". This creates a degree of confusion and delay in the progress of the game and is a little frustrating. Some of the things you can do are a little unclear too, hidden within the various sections which takes a few re-reads of the manual to understand and even then parts are still unclear.
The game has a finite length, lasting two weeks in length with each turn representing a day. At various points within the week different cards are played and the characters sub-plot develops. Victory is determined by a clever scoring system based on set parameters and individual conditions which in theory does mean that a character could win the game even if they didn't actually solve the murder if the carry out sufficient sub-plot elements successfully.
I loved the futuristic, dystopian setting which includes a board with travel split between two planets, complete with androids and flying cars which works very well with the irregular, idiosyncratic detectives and the high quality prose.
Overall this is an incredible game of vast depth and complexity, a clever game that is quite singular - unlike anything else on the market. Be warned though it does have a steep learning curve and you should expect to put aside your entire evening to do the game any justice.
Written on 30 November 2012 by .