This is a service to all those interested people out there who "want to know about the game" but don't want to "waste time reading the Rules". As strange as that sounds, there is some merit in explaining the game in a Q&A format. So, I've written the following up. It's not a complete retelling of the rules, nor is it intended to be; it does allow people to see in what ways the game can be "played" and how to go about it. It will be added onto as more is released, as usual.
What is the game Android about?
- Android is a game about a handful of investigators (the players) who are assigned to a high-profile murder case, the circumstances of which are mired in controversy - namely, the treatment of artificially-created humanoid lifeforms (both organic and inorganic), and the ethical questions such lifeforms introduce (are they sentient, do they have rights, do they have a soul, can they genuinely feel, do they dream of electric sheep, etc.) In the midst of the ongoing investigation, the player-investigators must deal with personal issues that involve themselves in the case, and they must also discover the bigger picture of what organizations may have been behind the murder plot. All three aspects - the murder case, the personal problems, and the grand conspiracy - tie together to determine which player-investigator is most successful (and therefore, the winner). Therefore, the game is not merely about finding out "whodunnit", but more about collaboratively creating a narrative set in a cyberpunk/detective-noir setting, similar to such films/novels as L.A. Confidential, Blade Runner, and Ghost In The Shell. Players are scored based on "how well their movie plays out".
What is the setting of the game?
- Android takes place in a future Los Angeles (now renamed New Angeles) in the mid-21st century. Technology has advanced considerably, allowing intrasystem space travel, colonization of the Moon and Mars, and personal flying vehicles (think Harry Canyon and The Fifth Element). The most important aspects of the high-technological setting are that New Angeles is connected to the Heinlein Lunar Colony by means of a space elevator (called the Beanstalk), and also that artificial humanoid lifeforms (both clones and electro-mechanical androids) exist, have been given limited rights and citizenship, and are beginning to integrate themselves into the human population (and more importantly, the workforce, which some humans have a rather serious grievance with).
What kind of mechanics come into play?
- Time Constraint - players only have 12 turns in which to affect their scoring (or the scoring of others). Each player's turn is expected to take 3-4 minutes, based on the estimated game time (2-3 hours).
- Action Point Allowance - each turn a player only has a set amount of Time Units in which to move around the board and act on game elements. Sometimes they may be able to increase this allowance, or reduce the allowance of others.
- Hidden Goals - players have a Guilty Hunch and an Innocent Hunch only they know the identities of, and will score a significant number of points if they ensure these Hunches are fulfilled.
- Variable Starting Configurations - each game begins with an randomly selected murder case (picked from a group of six). Each case changes certain aspects of the game rules and places game assets in different locations on the map.
- Variable Player Powers - each investigator, while possessing a standard set of rules in how they play, also has a number of custom card decks, tokens, and statistics that customize how they interact. For example, two of the investigators are artificial (a clone and an android), while each of the humans has a different type of investigative background (a police detective, a private investigator, and a "retrieval expert").
- Hidden and Volatile Asset Valuation - during the course of the game, certain collectable assets in the game can increase or decrease in point value based on the actions of the players. Also, there is not a definitive murderer, but rather a suspect who has the best case created against him/her through the acquisition and proper (or improper) use of evidence.
- Random Events - a majority of the turns in the game end with a random/semi-random event that affects the game state. Some of the events are directly related to the selected murder case.
- Indirect Interference - since the players are trying to fulfill their own unique Hunches, pursuing those will unintentionally thwart the others' efforts to fulfill theirs. Players also can move certain pursuable goals on the board to other locations, forcing opponents to spend more time capturing them.
- Direct Interference - players can play cards deliberately on specific opponents in order to halt their progress (though there is a rules-based limiter on this, to prevent undue antagonizing of one person). They can also deliberately hamper opponents' ability to "sort out their personal demons" by loading them with "Bad Baggage".
How do I win the game?
- Through the acquiring of Victory Points, and having the most at the end of the game (12 days).
How can I gain Victory Points?
- Fulfill your Guilty and/or Innocent Hunches.
- Collect secrets on Jinteki/Haas-Bioroid.
- Collect Conspiracy Tokens.
- Achieve Happy Endings with your Plots.
- Create links within the Conspiracy that add value to collectable assets that you own.
How can I lose Victory Points?
- Suffer Sad Endings with your Plots.
- Incur Trauma.
- Allow the creation of links within the Conspiracy that subtract value from collectable assets that you own.
How do I fulfill my Hunches?
- Plant both damning (positive) and exonerating (negative) Evidence on your suspects so that the Guilty Hunch ends up with the most Guilt (Evidence total value) and the Innocent Hunch does not. Additionally, the suspect on your Hunch must be alive at the end of the game to qualify.
How do I prevent others from fulfilling their Hunches?
- Through careful observation of Evidence placement, use of gameplay effects, and deductive reasoning, determine what other players' Hunches are. Then, apply evidence in a way that keeps their Guilty Hunch FROM being convicted (highest Evidence total), or cause their Innocent Hunch TO be convicted. Alternatively, if a Suspect is killed before the end of the game, the Hunches do not score.
What if my Guilty Hunch and Innocent Hunch are the same person?
- You are considered to be "obsessed" with that suspect, for right or for wrong. You can still score either Hunch individually and score the 15 or 5 points for doing so. However, if you can prove them really guilty - their Evidence total is greater than the nextmost guilty Suspect's total by 5 or more - you score both Hunches, plus an additional 3 VP for satisfying your obsession.
How do I collect a secret on Jinteki?
- Travel to Jinteki HQ, then spend an additional 2 Time, a Corp Favor, and a Political Favor, and sacrifice two Twilight Cards. Doing so gives you a Jinteki token worth 3 VP by default.
How do I collect a secret on Haas-Bioroid?
- Travel to Haas-Bioroid HQ, then spend an additional 2 Time, a Street Favor, and a Social Favor, and sacrifice two Twilight Cards. Doing so gives you a Haas-Bioroid token worth 3 VP by default.
How do I collect Conspiracy Tokens?
- You must place the final Conspiracy tile that finishes a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line of tiles on the Conspiracy Diagram. Doing so gives you a Conspiracy Token worth 4 VP, and one token is awarded for each line that completes with the placement of the tile - therefore, there's a total of 12 tokens that could be awarded over the course of a game (5 across, 5 down, and two diagonals - like Bingo).
How do I achieve Happy Endings / suffer Sad Endings with my Plots?
- A Plot, which consists of several sequential cards, must ultimately award at least 1 VP, to be considered a Happy Ending. A Sad Ending is any Plot that concludes with a loss of VP. Plots advance through three cards in the course of a week (3 cards over two weeks if you're Raymond Flint). Every three days, the current Plot card is checked for how much Good and Bad Baggage has been contributed to it. Checks with *more* Good than Bad Baggage cause the plot to move towards a more rewarding ending. Equal or more Bad Baggage nudges the story in an unfavorable direction. The result also determines where the Plot proceeds among several possible "branches" (and Baggage totals are reset). At the end of the week (or two weeks if you're Flint), the Plot's final card generates a lasting effect on that character's story, possibly granting or penalizing VPs, along with other rewards and/or setbacks.
How do I create links within the Conspiracy that add value to collectable assets?
- Place Conspiracy tiles whose blue pathways form one or more unbroken lines from an organization on the edge of the diagram, to the Conspiracy Eye in the center. A "link" is defined as one pathway from the organization to one distinct side of the Conspiracy Eye; therefore, you can link an organization a maximum of four times, one for each side of the Eye. Additionally, if a tile showing Jinteki or Haas-Bioroid is placed, it too can form a link to the Eye and increase the value of their respective "secret" tokens.
What organizations exist on the Conspiracy board, and how do they affect the scoring of assets?
- Commissioner Dawn : head of the NAPD : Innocent Hunches +2 VP per link
- The Order of Sol : a secretive religious organization : Guilty Hunches +2 VP per link
- The Media : broadcast news corporations : Happy Plot Endings +1 VP per link
- Cardinal Reese : televangelist leader of the Starlight Crusade : Sad Plot Endings -1 VP per link
- Mayor Wells : mayor of New Angeles : +1 VP per Political Favor owned per link
- James Levy : wealthy philanthropist : +1 VP per Social Favor owned per link
- Human First : violence-prone labor union : +1 VP per Street Favor owned per link
- The Mining Bosses : refiners of Helium-3 : +1 VP per Corp Favor owned per link
- Jinteki Corporation (tile) : +1 VP per Jinteki secret owned per link
- Haas-Bioroid (tile) : +1 VP per Haas secret owned per link
How do I incur Trauma?
- Twilight Card effects, Events, and Plots may cause you to become injured/anguished in some way, and give you Trauma tokens.
How do I get rid of Trauma?
- Travel to the Starlight Crusade, then spend an additional 2 Time and a single normal favor of your choice, to remove a Trauma token from your Investigator.
How do I plant Evidence on a Suspect?
- You must examine a Lead by traveling to where a Lead is located and spending 1 Time there. Doing so allows you to draw a random Evidence token and place it, facedown or faceup (usually facedown), in the appropriate area (corresponding to the Lead) on the Suspect of your choice. The Lead is then moved by the player to your right, to a different area of the gameboard ("district") not currently inhabited by the player placing the Lead, onto a Lead-less location of the same color. There are 60 Evidence tokens; 52 of them are numbers ranging from -4 to 5 points, with an average of 0.67 points. There are also 4 Surprise Witness tokens (worth -5), and 5 Perjury tokens (each flips one Surprise Witness or Alibi from -5 to 5 points, if they are also present).
- OR.... You can acquire an Alibi (-5 token) by traveling to the Order of Sol, and additionally spending 2 Time and two normal Favors of your choice. The alibi is placed on the Suspect of your choice, and is public knowledge. An Alibi can be flipped from -5 to 5 points if a Perjury token is placed on the Suspect.
Does Evidence affect Suspects differently?
- Each Suspect has a vulnerability to one type of Evidence, and a resistance to another type. Depending on the type of Lead that was examined (Documentary, Physical, or Testimonial), Evidence is placed on a Suspect's weak, normal, or strong area. When Evidence is totaled at the end of the game, the lowest-value Evidence marker is removed from the Strong area, and the highest-value Evidence marker is removed from the Weak area. (Alibis, Surprise Witnesses, and Perjury tokens are not included in this comparison.) If there is a tie for lowest/highest value, then all tokens of that value are removed. This adds to the uncertainty of a Suspect's total Evidence score.
How does a Suspect die?
- He receives a total of 3 Hit Tokens (orange/blue skulls). Once a Suspect dies, his/her evidence is returned to the supply, and any tokens in play belonging to him/her are discarded. He/she no longer affects or is affected by the game. Players cannot score Hunches for this Suspect.
How does a Suspect receive a Hit Token?
- You may either randomly draw a Conspiracy tile with that symbol, or visit Humanity Labor and additionally spend 2 Time, one of each Favor (Social, Street, Corp, and Political), and sacrifice 2 Twilight Cards. Then you may place a Hit Token on a [still living] Suspect of your choice.
How do I get to see what Evidence other players have placed?
- Travel to the location where reporter Lily Lockwell is. You MUST spend 1 Time there if you have it, but if you do, you then may flip any one facedown Evidence token to the other side, revealing it to everyone.
- OR... Travel to the location where informant Jimmy the Snitch is. You MAY spend 1 Time there if you have it, but if you do, you then may view ALL the Twilight cards of a single player, or ALL the Evidence on a single Suspect - but may not reveal either.
- In either case, the player then moves Lily/Jimmy to a different location in similar fashion to a Lead, but cannot one to the other's location.
How do I get to place a Conspiracy Tile?
- You may choose to "Reveal Information" when checking a Lead (instead of planting Evidence). You then draw a tile from the stack of Conspiracy Tiles that your hero marker is placed next to. The hero marker then resets to the least-important stack.
- OR... Travel to Broadcast Square, then additionally spend 1 Time and one normal Favor of your choice. When acquiring a tile in this fashion, it may come from any stack, and the player's related Hero marker doesn't reset.
- In either case, the drawn tile must either be placed in a way that connects properly (blue lines touching) to at least one adjacent tile, or discarded. The tile itself may contain symbols which allow for additional benefits, such as moving Leads, placing Hits, acquiring Dropship Passes, drawing/placing additional tiles, or establishing Jinteki/Haas-Bioroid as part of the Conspiracy.
- If this draw depletes a stack, other players' hero markers slide to the next most-important stack.
How do I get to draw a Conspiracy Tile from the "more important" stacks?
- You may choose to "Dig Deeper" when checking a Lead (instead of planting Evidence). You do not draw a tile, but instead move your Hero marker to the next most-important stack of Conspiracy tiles (the stacks from least to most important are: Shift -> Favor -> Baggage) .
How does one get Good/Bad Baggage added to their Plot?
- Instructions on the current Plot card indicate a certain game action(s) performed by that player and other players that can contribute to Good and Bad Baggage.
- OR... Travel to one of three nightclubs (The Castle Club, Wyldside, or Memories of Green) and spend 1 Time and one Favor (Street, Social, or Corp, respectively). You then can place one Good or Bad Baggage on your, or any player's current Plot card.
- OR... Draw a Conspiracy tile from the "Baggage" stack (the most-important stack at the start of the game). You then can place one Good or Bad Baggage on your, or any player's current Plot card.
- OR... Certain Twilight/Event cards will reference a keyword that appears on an investigator's Plot card, either in the Good or Bad section. If they match, the player gains the amount specified in Good/Bad Baggage.
What are Twilight Cards?
- Twilight Cards are investigator-specific action cards that players can play to further advance their position in the game, or obstruct other players. There are Light cards (helping yourself), and Dark cards (hindering others). Light cards are only played by the investigator player they apply to, on that player's turn. Dark cards are only played by other investigator players ONTO the investigator they apply to (therefore, you play them when it's the target player's turn, not your own).
How do I acquire Twilight Cards?
- Players start the game with two of their own Light cards, and one Dark card from the player on his left. Rachel Beckmann draws two additional cards (either/both from her own Light deck, or others' Dark decks).
- OR... Travel to a ritzy location (diamond shape), where you may draw a Light card from your own Light deck.
- OR... Travel to a seedy location (triangle shape), where you may draw a Dark card from any other player's Dark deck.
- OR... Spend 1 Time, where you may draw a Light card from your own Light deck, or a Dark card from any other player's Dark deck.
Is there a cost to playing Twilight Cards?
- Light cards automatically require 1 Time to play, as they're played on your turn. Other assets may be required depending on the card text. All Twilight cards require that you "shift" your Twilight Counter in the opposite direction of the Card you're playing; Light cards require you to dark-shift, and Dark cards require you to light-shift. If you run out of "track", you cannot play further cards of that type (and should play cards of the other type so that your Twilight Counter "recharges", in a sense).
Can I affect the cost of playing a Twilight Card?
- By discarding Twilight cards of either type, you can reduce the Twilight Cost of playing a card (1 point per card discarded in this fashion).
- OR... If the color of the Twilight card matches the color of that character's current Plot card (i.e. the card pertains to the Plot), you may increase or decrease the Twilight cost of a card by one point. All other costs remain the same.
Why would I voluntarily increase the Twilight Cost of a Twilight card?
- You may want to shift further in order to set up the playing of a larger-cost card of the opposite type.
Can I affect my/others' Twilight Counters in other ways?
- You can draw a Conspiracy tile from the "Shift" stack, which allows you to adjust any one player's Twilight Counter one step, in either the Light or Dark direction.
Is there a limit to how many Twilight cards I can have in my hand?
- Most investigators have a hand size of six - Raymond may hold seven. You cannot draw an additional card if your hand is full; you must discard at least one card first.
Can I voluntarily get rid of Twilight cards to make room?
- You can spend 1 Time to discard a Twilight card in your hand. It goes face up on the bottom of its respective deck.
- OR... You can discard Twilight cards to help pay the Twilight cost of another card you're playing (reduce the cost by 1 per card discarded in this fashion, down to a minimum of 0). Light/Dark does not matter.
What are Favors?
- Favors are the "currency" of Android, and help you get things done in different circles/realms. There are 4 types of Normal Favors: Street (red), Social (blue), Political (yellow), and Corporate (green). Additionally, certain NPCs may grant "limited wild-card" favors that can be used as multiple types. Many game effects require the payment of certain types of Favors in order to trigger.
- Favors aren't worth anything at the end of the game unless certain organizations are linked to the Conspiracy Eye.
How do I acquire Favors?
- There's likely numerous cards and events that reward people with Favors. However, here are some ways known to us already:
- Hang around the Eastside Tenements for 2 Time to acquire a Street Favor (red).
- Fill out the paperwork at City Hall for 2 Time to acquire a Political Favor (yellow).
- Do research at Levy University for 2 Time to acquire a Social Favor (blue).
- "Awaken the sleeper" at Melange Mining for 2 Time to acquire a Corporate Favor (green).
- Draw a Conspiracy tile from the "Favor" stack to acquire 1 favor of any color.
- Visit Eliza's Toybox and spend 1 Time to exchange 1 favor for another favor of a different color.
How do I travel?
- You can spend 1 Time to move to any location within the range indicated by your investigator's Vehicle Arc. The destination end of the arc must touch within the diamond/triangle/circle icon (or closer) to be considered in range. Travel must always involve a location, never empty space.
- OR... If the destination is on the Beanstalk, you have to get there by moving to it from an adjacent, connected space on the Beanstalk. The Time symbol connecting the two locations denotes the Time needed to travel between them.
- OR... If you have a Dropship Pass (acquired either by being Raymond Flint, spending 1 Time and 2 normal Favors of any kind at the NAPD HQ, or drawing a Conspiracy Tile that shows a Dropship icon), you may spend it, plus 1 Time, to travel to any location on the game board.
Are there exceptions to the "1 Time per move" rule?
- Some influential, high-security locations don't allow nosy cops to walk right in and snoop. These are: Jinteki HQ, Haas-Bioroid HQ, Humanity Labor (a union lodge *cough*crime lair*cough*), and the Order of Sol (a church) - they are marked with a Warrant (hourglass) icon in one corner. These locations cost 3 Time to move "to", regardless of method, as you'll be spending time sweet-talking the reception desk into letting you in.
I'm a police officer. Can't I do better than that?
- If you go to Monroe & Associates and spend 1 Time and a Political Favor (yellow), you can place one of your Warrant markers on one of these locations. From then on, you only need 1 Time to travel there. No one else gets this benefit unless they acquire and place a Warrant themselves.
Are the investigators / player-characters different, apart from their identities?
- Each investigator has their own set of Twilight cards (both Light and Dark), their own Twilight Track, their own Plots, varied lengths in their Vehicle Arcs (some aircars are faster than others), and special effects they have on the game (and the game has on them): [incomplete]
- Raymond Flint, Troubled P.I.: Raymond starts the game with a Dropship Pass, and can have up to seven Twilight cards in his hand. He has a "Wrapped Up In Himself" card that is in effect when the game starts. All other players receive a randomly dealt "Memory" card that can be played on Raymond later on in the game, representing Ray's wartime flashbacks. He only has one Plot to handle over the course of the two week period.
- Louis Blaine, Corrupt Cop: Louis can be in a Good Mood or a Bad Mood, which affects his play. He starts the game in a Bad Mood, with two favors from Mr. Li, and a favor from Sara (his estranged wife).
- Rachel Beckmann, Estranged Bounty Hunter: Rachel starts the game with two extra Twilight cards (Light or Dark). Being a bounty hunter, her gameplay features a "Money" Card (starting at $2,000), which may allow her to earn and spend money to acquire assets and accomplish tasks. Money left over at the end of the game translates to bonus Victory Points.
- Floyd 2X3A7C, Doubting Bioroid: Floyd starts the game with a Warrant at Haas-Bioroid (he can visit without difficulty), and a Director Haas favor. He has three Directive cards which control his gameplay to an extent (and it's implied he can struggle to free himself in some fashion); Directive 3, if it's in play, gives him an additional unit of Time to spend on his turn.
- Caprice Nisei, Psychic Clone: Caprice starts the game with a Warrant at Jinteki (she can visit without difficulty). She has a "Sanity" card (starting at +0) which may affect her abilities both positively and negatively. One of her Plots, "Descent Into Madness", always takes place during the second week of the game.