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Subject: Android: The Minority Report rss

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Randy Shipp
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You've read all the breathless, great reviews...Now for the Minority Report:

(see what I did there? Minority Report...it's a dystopic, sci-fi crime story and...what's that? You get it? Not funny, eh? OK, carrying on...)

I didn't care for the game at all, really. Not only was it long, I thought it did a really poor job of evoking the theme, and I thought the human interface was terrible. The art, while lush, was busy and made it more difficult than it needed to be to see the markers on the board (thin white borders on the markers would help a lot). Plus, I didn't think the board background actually gave much of a "cyberpunk" feel to things. It was lush and pretty, but not terribly evocative. There's practically no art on the cards, so the part you spend the most time looking at is actually rather ugly. Worse, the type on the cards, in typical FF fashion, is ludicrously small, especially given the fact that the story cards need to be referenced by all the other players at the table in order for them to intelligently play the game's many "take that" cards. Large, bold keywords would have helped a lot. Part of the reason the type is so small is that as much as 2/3 of the card is covered in flavor text. As we went into the game wanting and expecting a theme-rich "experience game," we opted to read all the flavor text aloud during our first play. In some cases, this really worked well, but in many, it was disjointed and confusing and did nothing to evoke a cyberpunk theme (in fact, it occurs to me that there's far more noir theme to the game than sci-fi of any sort...this game would suffer none from being set in the 30s or 40s).

Mechanically, it was OK. I had no problem with the movement mechanism in and of itself, but at the end of the game we were bemoaning the ridiculous imbalance of the "cars" along with everything else. We played with the "PI with tortured memories," "mercenary, money-grubbing chick," and "corrupt cop." I felt that the PI character was greatly imbalanced compared to the other two, with MUCH more limited "gotcha" cards against him ("Gee, if I can only trick him somehow into getting into a fight on the moon, I'll have him!"), greater range, and better "good" cards ("Oh, this time, you don't just get to investigate that lead for free, but you get to do it from an adjacent space!"). Meanwhile, the corrupt cop spends 2/3 of the game suffering massive penalties for using many of his cards. Then there was the wild amounts of randomness in the scoring. Not only did I only manage to draw one or two positive evidence chits (not a path to getting your Guilty hunch to stick, let me tell you), but there were so many adjustments and "peeks" toward the end of the game that the whole situation shifted in the last two turns. Anything anyone had done earlier was completely negated. Then there's the wildly different rewards on the face of the tiles. And so on. I know it wasn't supposed to be a super competitive thing...it's an experience game. But the whole thing...all the mechanics...frame it as a game you're meant to try to win. So having so much randomness and imbalance was fatal for me. I'm sure someone's going to tell me that if I'll just play it four or five more times, the intricate subtlety of it all will reveal itself, but the first impression was long, frustrating on the eyes, lacking in theme, and unfun, so I'll never make it to understanding.

Randy...
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Jason Pott
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Thanks for being to-the-point with your review. A player in my board game group, during a session of TWILIGHT IMPERIUM, went on & on about how he wanted this game--had to have it!--& that he almost picked it up & was going to force it on us (he was hosting & in our group the host chooses the game--it's only fair). I love Fantasy Flight, but from what I read about it--the promotional stuff--it seemed like it was lifted from various Philip K. Dick novels & was trying for the sci-fi hard-boiled noir theme that seemed lacking in it's execution. & the board didn't seem like a board I would want to play on. It seemed like to look more like a score board than a game board.

I'll avoid this one.

By the way, how long was your session in hours of game time?
 
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nathan hayden
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I think you need to play the game another four or five times to really get it.
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Randy Shipp
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dragonblaster wrote:
I think you need to play the game another four or five times to really get it.


Would you mind terribly if I hit you about the head, neck, and shoulders with a trout?

Randy...
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Randy Shipp
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jonny morbid wrote:
By the way, how long was your session in hours of game time?


Do you want me to include the 60-75 minutes of setup and rules explanation in that figure?

Randy...
 
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Evgeny Reznikov
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Are you trying to scare people with that?
I know of almost no FFG games that require less than 40 minutes explanation time - and I still play them and love them.
Haven't had the chance to play Android yet, but an hour of rules won't be the thing to stop me...
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Rion Hanson
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Bridgeport
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cosmic encounter
 
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Well, it's one of my favorite films, but I would disagree that your review is really a "minority report". The reviews I've read of Android seem to be split pretty evenly between glowing and negative. Compare Tom Vasel's and Michael Barnes' reviews, for example. It seems to be a very polarizing game.
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oystein eker
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Agree or not.... Have not played myself.

But to claim a game to be imbalanced after one or few games is ridicolous. Especially with so different characters that a tip sheet is needed to play them well.

You could be right that the different movement abilities are made to make a character stronger - but my guess is it made to balance the game.
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Chris J Davis
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nitroburn1 wrote:
cosmic encounter


You can't really say that's FFG's.
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Daniel Hammond
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Quote:
But to claim a game to be imbalanced after one or few games is ridicolous. Especially with so different characters that a tip sheet is needed to play them well.


Lets play a game...

You pick a letter then I will pick a number and whoever has the highest number wins (and no you don't get to make Roman numerals). I wonder how many times we will play before you think it is ridiculous.

All I am saying is that IF a game has design flaws that majorly skew scoring you don't have to play it to recognize them (I own the game but have not played). I have already recognized some major flaws in scoring, such as if we tie on guilty evidence then whoever randomly choose the most likely suspect at the beginning of the game (however many hours ago that was) has the guilty guy and sorry if you did just as much work trying to convict your guy as I did, you lose (well at least I get the possibly 40 point score shift between us).

Tic Tac Toe is a perfect example of a "game" that has a design flaw, difference is it takes less than 1 minute to play.

If I work a specific strategy, travel all over the board and acquire the perfect 5 card combo I need to shift the game in my favor that is luck and skill, but if I randomly draw a single card that undoes 2 hours of someone's hard work, that is bad design. Not saying I am not going to enjoy this game (assuming I can find enough people in Honduras to play with), but I will be giving them a huge warning at the beginning.

I really enjoy Shanghai Trader it is a great deal making game, but at the end of the game one lucky die roll or multiple bad rolls can make you a loser even if you played a great game.
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Daniel Hammond
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Quote:
Then there was the wild amounts of randomness in the scoring. Not only did I only manage to draw one or two positive evidence chits (not a path to getting your Guilty hunch to stick, let me tell you), but there were so many adjustments and "peeks" toward the end of the game that the whole situation shifted in the last two turns. Anything anyone had done earlier was completely negated.


Can you elaborate on some of what happened that changed everything?
 
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Jason Pott
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rshipp wrote:
jonny morbid wrote:
By the way, how long was your session in hours of game time?


Do you want me to include the 60-75 minutes of setup and rules explanation in that figure?

Randy...


I'll pass. Been there, done that!
 
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Randy Shipp
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Grudunza wrote:
Well, it's one of my favorite films, but I would disagree that your review is really a "minority report". The reviews I've read of Android seem to be split pretty evenly between glowing and negative. Compare Tom Vasel's and Michael Barnes' reviews, for example. It seems to be a very polarizing game.


Michael Barnes? Does he post here?

Randy...
 
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Randy Shipp
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eker wrote:
Agree or not.... Have not played myself.

But to claim a game to be imbalanced after one or few games is ridicolous. Especially with so different characters that a tip sheet is needed to play them well.


I don't know whether a tip sheet is needed to play them well. My opinion is that the tip sheet didn't give very helpful advice to me. It advised me to "trick" another player into getting into a vulnerable situation. I didn't see any way to trick anybody into anything. As for the ridiculousness of my impression that the balance was iffy, I don't think I need to be a grandmaster at the game to say that. If Chess started the black player off without one of his rooks, I think you'd be able to tell after the rules reading that it was imbalanced. This is admittedly murkier.

eker wrote:
You could be right that the different movement abilities are made to make a character stronger - but my guess is it made to balance the game.


I made no claim about why they gave the players different movement abilities (or any other attributes). I have no doubt they thought they were making the characters balanced. Hell, they might be. But if I didn't have fun the first time I played, I'm surely not going to play four more times so I can "get to the good stuff."

Randy...
 
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If Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Then Actions x2 Speak Louder Than Actions
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You can't read flavor text AND complain about game length. Sorry, dems da roolz.
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Randy Shipp
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joebelanger wrote:
You can't read flavor text AND complain about game length. Sorry, dems da roolz.


With respect, I did. We did, however, taper off reading the flavor text as we (well, at least *I*) found that the added game duration wasn't sufficiently compensated for by the flavor text's theme.

Randy...
 
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J Vom-krieg
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I like the game, but I can certainly agree with some of your points. This is a very good game for a specific kind of player, I doubt it will ever have the wide appeal of settlers of cataan. As a roleplayer, who likes film noir I love it.... its not perfect, but it is different

As for character balance, I think Raymond is easier to play and is probably one of the two most powerful characters in the game (Along with Louis).

I suppose thats an issue when your try to create such different characters. Still, the game does have a balancing mechanic in the fact you can hit the leader with bad baggage and kill their suspects.

Anyway, games need both positive and negative opinions and im glad to have read yours.
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Geoff King
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My weekend group played half a game a couple weeks ago. We all went into it cold (well, i think some of us read some of the rules beforehand).
There was plenty of looking up of rules, lots of questions when we were starting out. I think the first round (four players, one turn each) took over an hour.
We only got through the first week before we had to pack it in.

I absolutely loved it. I can't wait to play it again.
I'll probably end up buying my own copy.
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Dane Peacock
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You have some dandies there in the minority with the likes of Schloesser, Sisteray, and Barnes to keep you company. In fact, I was going to write a review to refute their - and now your - opinions of the game, but I need to buy it, read the rules, play a game, and love it first.
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Chris Tannhauser
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A fair review -- sorry to hear you didn't enjoy the game...

rshipp wrote:
I didn't see any way to trick anybody into anything.

If a character is vulnerable to seedy locations, you could place a lead on the one nearest the character -- transparent, yes -- but if they are engaged in a particularly pitched evidence battle over a suspect they just might go for it as an acceptable risk.

rshipp wrote:
jonny morbid wrote:
By the way, how long was your session in hours of game time?

Do you want me to include the 60-75 minutes of setup and rules explanation in that figure?

I don't do this anymore. When people show up to play a 'hot' new game and then have to sit through an hour of prep and lecture, they spend their enthusiasm and the game begins on a low note. Couple this with the double frustration of having only one person who's read the rules (usually me) and missing or getting rules wrong the whole game through, you're pretty much guaranteed a crappy experience. And if it's a long game, it may never make it back to the table (I'm looking at you, Descent: Journeys in the Dark).

Here's what I've been doing lately, and it made a huge difference in Android's acceptance:

- I sent the rules to the players a week in advance and let them know that if they showed up without having read them, they were on their own. This also gave people an opportunity to wave off if the game didn't suit them. This eliminates the one-hour lecture portion with Q&A and gives us a really good chance of remembering all the rules as a group.

- I set the game up beforehand so that when people walk in the door enthused and ready to go we really are ready to go.

This approach has worked wonders with the sprawling, intricate games like Twilight Imperium (Third Edition), Here I Stand and Android. Don't know if it would have made a difference for you & your group, but there you have it.
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Randy Shipp
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Excellent thoughts, Chris! I had, in fact, gotten through about half the rules before our session. In general, I totally agree that everyone reading the rules beforehand -- which doesn't alleviate entirely the need to have the game explained a bit -- is a great idea. I wish it happened more often in our group.

In this case, my enthusiasm was still OK until partway through the game when certain things started to grate on me. I'm glad others are enjoying the game so much...I just think it wasn't for me.

Randy...
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David Dixon
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HiveGod wrote:


This approach has worked wonders with the sprawling, intricate games like Twilight Imperium (Third Edition), Here I Stand and Android. Don't know if it would have made a difference for you & your group, but there you have it.


Yeah, I've had this problem (and solution) as well. But Chris, how did you setup Twilight Imperium ahead of time--is there a rule variant I'm missing (or forgotten) that shows how to set it up without everyone present? I thought players went in order setting things up.
If there's a way around this, maybe me and the other guy who want to play this at our FLGS can finally find the time to do it...

Diis
 
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Chris Tannhauser
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We use the Variant Rules: Preset Maps, which can be found on FF's site here, though I think you have to register an account to download them.

Having everyone build the galaxy communally takes too much time at the front end and makes the game longer at the back end. Using the presets gets things rolling a lot faster. To assign races I shuffle the homeworlds up and deal out the requisite number, face-down, and place them into the map (still face-down). When everyone shows up they choose a seat and flip their homeworld to see who they're going to be.

Hope this works for you!
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Randy Shipp
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Probably useful to cross-post to the Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) area.

Randy...
 
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