Android: Infiltration (REVIEW)
The world of Android is classic cyberpunk noir. A setting in which megacorporations vie for control as agents and saboteurs, human or synthetic, skulk among the shadow fringes of society and cyberspace, engaging in cybercrime and corporate espionage.
Three games currently comprise Fantasy Flight Publishing’s Android brand: the original eponymous board game, a living card game called Netrunner, and Infiltration. Infiltration focuses on a small group of criminals who are attempting to commit corporate espionage by breaking into a high-tech corporate building and downloading as much data as they can before the authorities show up.
Infiltration is a competitive card game with board game elements. You “build” the corporate building with a set of cards that act as spaces, upon which the players move pieces. Every card is a room of the building, each with a variety of events, NPCs, possible items, and of course valuable data. The catch is you have to collect as much data as you can while keeping an eye on the Security Tracker, a timer that goes up every turn. If you’re not out by the time it reaches 99, you lose automatically, despite what data you may have collected.
The game is played by building the board with room cards, choosing a character (though there are no differences between them besides flavor), and using Action Cards and Item Cards to traverse the building and download data as well as interact with rooms and NPCs. The Action Cards are the same for each character: Advance, or move forward into the building; Retreat, or move backward; Interface, which means to interact with the room in some way defined by the room card; and Download, which is the way in which you gather the data chips that act as points for the game.
Besides these simple actions, you also get Item Cards which act in unique and more advanced ways than your Actions, often granting better versions of the Action Cards themselves. This diversifies game play, and is the spice of the game. There are cards like a Jump Pack which allows you to move forward multiple rooms, or others that let you plant bombs for unwary NPCs or players.
Each turn adds more points to the Security Tracker, the amount being variable and depending on what is happening on the board. Since the board is essentially linear, you have to take care and figure out when to start Retreating out of the building as the timer builds up.
Overall it is a simple game of simple concepts, though each Room and the Item Cards add a good level of complexity.
The game is easy to pick up, and the listed playtime is very accurate even for people that are new to the game. As is usual with Fantasy Flight, the rulebook is very clear as well as succinct. The only complexities may come from how items and rooms interact with each other, though I haven’t personally come across a situation not easily resolved within the rules.
I can’t really think of a game quite like it. It has some features of ‘dungeon crawl’ type games because of the use of items, rooms, and actions, but it feels much lighter and within a different context. The theme of the game is well presented in the product, and you will quickly feel immersed in the tension as your secret agent traverses a hostile environment.
Fantasy Flight is very good at cardboard. Their pieces are always well made, well presented, and sturdy. The one problem I have with the physical aspects of this game are the size of the cards. Though the room cards are large, the item cards are small and hard to shuffle. I can understand the convenience of small components, but I think the item cards would be more easily handled and look much better if they were simply the same size as the room cards. The Actions Cards are also small, but they shouldn’t be shuffled so it’s less of a big deal.
The artwork is gorgeous and impressive, cleaving to the heart of gritty yet beautiful post-modern sci-fi aesthetic. The entire Android brand has a very consistent and well put together visual style.
Any game that can allow you to suspend disbelief enough to make you feel a shadow of the action being presented by the pieces is one I like. You really feel the heat as you traverse the rooms with the Security Tracker slowly snowballing to 99. The game starts out slow, wary, and calm. It then builds, and by the end you can’t help but yell or curse as you get caught at the end of the tracker, or whoop with joy as you escape just in time with you ill gotten data.
The competitive elements feel great as well, and really adds to the shadowy espionage feel of the game as your opponents fall for a well placed trap as you collect the data they wanted themselves. The game is pure fun with little frustration, and will be a rewarding experience to any gaming group regardless of the experience levels of those playing. Overall Android: Infiltration is highly recommended.