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I have to say that Android (the board game) is one of the most thematic, immersive and incredible board games ever created. I think the mechanics and game play are ingenious and it’s one of the most under-appreciated games out there. I don’t think I will ever trade or sell my copy because it has such impressive components and captivating characters and story lines. Even the rulebook is beautiful!

Most folks don’t understand that 95% of the enjoyment of the game requires reading a large amount of text in order to get involved in the story enough to care about the characters and what happens to them. Lots of people don’t have patience for that. In this game, it requires you to follow the current plot of your own character as well as the plots of the other characters being played. Since it’s a different game every time (with different plot trees), that’s an important thing to understand. If it’s a player’s first time with the game, this can be quite overwhelming. That’s why I think it’s best to introduce new players to the game by only playing through one “week” per game session. Maybe split it up and play the second “week” during a different game session or after a nice lunch break.

More importantly, before the game starts, every player needs to spend the time reading their character’s back story and all the plot cards (with all the outcomes). Maybe even skimming through their light cards to see what things they can aim for. Remind them that plots are color coded and light/dark cards will match the colors of the plots. It might also help if the owner of the game has thoroughly read the back story of the Android universe in the rule book (including the small areas of fluff text), and shared the theme and backdrop with everyone in order to set the stage. Players can then go around the table summarize their character’s back story for the rest of the group (just like you would do at the start of an RPG campaign). This should give new players a good solid starting point.

I have actually enjoyed playing the game solo (with 3 characters), even using the normal rules. This helps you get to know the characters really well and it’s similar to a choose your own adventure story. When playing solo, I only draw and play dark cards on the character to the left of the active character. Since all evidence is turned face down, you still won’t know which character had the correct hunch until the end of the solo game! But remember, it’s possible for players to still win the game even if their hunch proves wrong!

One big comment I have to make regarding the “framing” of a suspect instead of proving them guilty. You have to understand that this game experience is built around players being an omnipotent storytelling “creator”. You are not actually playing the character, you are more like some unseen force of fate or destiny that causes the character to go down a certain path (their plot), and at the same time you are affecting the fate of all the other characters in the game. Think about it. Could Raymond Flint (the character, not the player) actually have any way of causing Floyd to experience a bad event (via a dark card)? This would be impossible, especially if it has to do with Floyd’s plot that Raymond knows nothing about. That’s why you have to constantly remind yourself that you are not playing a character, you are only influencing what happens to him or her in the overall story.

You are basically a co-screenwriter of a sprawling epic movie. And with that omnipotent power of insight about all characters in the story, you are making plot decisions organically in real-time. Looking at it in this way you can also easily see that the evidence discovery and placement can be abstracted. The game doesn’t describe what the evidence was or how it is connected to a suspect. You can assume that all those tedious details have been figured out by the character. All you are doing is playing the role of “fate” trying to match up the evidence to the characters hunch. So I see it as a storytelling responsibility and not a “frame” job.

I’m sure alot of people will not agree with me on this, but I believe that is the spirit of what the game designer was trying to achieve. Most gamers like to take on the role of the character they are playing, but that just doesn’t work in this game. You have to approach it with a completely different mindset. And once you do, a whole new world of possibilities and awesomeness of this Android universe come pouring out. If you can just shift your mindset a bit, and show the other players the how to do the same, the entire group will truly enjoy this game and become fully immersed and invested.