Alec Chapman(ALGO)United Kingdom
Lincolnshire"She said the same thing about waffles."
Retrospective 10: Mecanisburgo and Android
Obtained: Both Cash.
Fate: Mecanisburgo still here, Android traded for Mansions Of Madness
So it is with a heavy heart that I recall these two games, both of which suffer from similar issues and are set in similar worlds.
Let me be clear though, from the outset. I really like both games and it's only because of the few issues I have with them that they are not more often played and, in Android's case, no longer in my collection at all.
Android is a game I was hugely looking forward to and it almost met my hopes with its fun conspiracy, unique ideas and a true air of real enthusiasm about the way it has been put together and the attention to detail.
This image is by user "endou_kenji"
You can read my old review of Android by clicking here, and it was mainly due to being true to my principles that I traded it away. I just wasn't playing the game.
Why do I think this is? After all, I had played it with several people and they had enjoyed their times - I am just not sure that given the many, many games on my shelves I would choose this one at any stage.
The chief barrier is teaching - as I have become busier and busier, our rare chances to have a game night mean that taking a flier became less and less attractive - and having to teach a game that absolutely needs all that up front teaching and explanation is not where I want to be right now. I hope it's getting more plays where it is now. I disagree with everyone who said they didn't like it because:
a. The central idea is counter intuitive
-sure, you aren't "discovering" a killer so much as making the killer be discovered, but this is a game!
b. The consipracy is overpowered
- I think this is one of those "I played a six hour game and lost - there must be a flaw in the rules" arguments.
But the game is incredibly long and super, SUPER, complicated for the people I play with most regularly. I no longer have the game to check, but I think the point at which I sort of gave up hope was the way that positive or negative "points" on your stories are, for theme reasons, all called different things depending on what works in the story - but are functionally the same. Only problem is that this means for more casual players they keep asking what the keywords mean because nobody else seems to have them.
That's not a huge issue, but is symptomatic of a huge issue. This is very much a gamers game, and I don't game with 'gamers' often enough for this to get the plays.
In fact, the smoothest game I ever experienced of this was that way precisely because I didn't even play! I acted as a kind of GM and made sure everything ran correctly.
I fricking love it though, so if anyone I know still owns it and wants to set up a session at LoBstercon, let's have at it!
This image is by user "EnterTheUser"
As for Mecanisburgo, (read my original review by clicking here) it's my equivalent of the hipster games everyone seems to play - a tiny fanbase, obscure rules questions and a rulebook so counterintuitive you'd be scratching your head for weeks unless you took the time to set the whole thing up and run through a couple of turns for real.
Basically, though, I still adore it. Mainly because you do get the sense that you are the president of a seedy future megacorporation sending out agents to take advantage of opportunities.
Unlike in Android, the central idea of collecting people or materiel to obtain points, or at least to obtain the things you need to build the things that score points (sigh) is consistent on a gut level.
"OK, so I am going to the courthouse to try and persuade that Mutant Psychic to join our corporation. Don't know if we'll have company. Want me to take the robot just in case?"
It's just plain fun to know that rather than sending a generic meeple to pick up three wood, you're going to be sending your pet racing driver to grab nuclear material from under the noses of your opponent's ninja. The fact that until the conflict begins you do not know who your opponents have sent is an intriguing mind game in itself.
But it feels logical, right? You commit your resources, but the more effort you spend on winning conflicts, the less money you'll have to spend next turn and if you can't meet the wages your staff demand, they'll just leave.
If you concentrate on obtaining Scientists to achieve the research goals, your frontline is going to be weaker. Again, makes sense.
The problem is where the international requirements step in.
If you had keywords written on every card then this would help, but it needed to be multilingual and therefore we are stuck with an unwieldy sheet of symbols and miniature rules that, in a couple of cases, only apply to one or two cards across the entire game.
When your central conflict method is basically just addition with a card as a tiebreaker, the need to constantly double check for additional bonuses or penalties you may have missed is a bit annoying.
This image by user "cnidius"
Unlike Android, I have kept Mecanisburgo because in the end, while the outcome is sillier and the theme less obvious, I just remember enjoying it more. The conflicts are always tense, the scores usually pretty close and at the end even if you didn't win you have a whole tableau full of agents, technological achievements and assets that you didn't have when the game started. You feel like you've achieved something worthwhile.
I really, REALLY fricking like this game. I should dig it out again (maybe I can double bill it with Galaxy Trucker)!
Opinions, not always positive, on the gaming world.
11 Dec 2014
- [+] Dice rolls