New Angeles Game
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- "A board game of corporate greed and manipulation in the Android universe for 4–6 players "
- "Balance your efforts to accrue Capital against the measures necessary to maintain order "
- "Secret win conditions lead to rivalries and jostling between corporations "
- "Gameplay forces you to play both your cards and your opponents "
- Features a lavishly illustrated board, twenty-four plastic miniatures, and more than 160 cards
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"Everything's fair in the pursuit of profit… new Angeles is a board game of corporate greed and machinations for four to six players set in the Android universe. You and your friends each gain control of one of the worlds' most powerful megacorporation's. Then you use your wealth and influence to create more wealth and more influence. Make piles of money, outperform the competition, and you'll be a winner. To do this, you'll cut deals and forge temporary alliances. You'll leverage your credits and maneuver for valuable assets. All the while, you'll also need to keep an eye toward the masses, striking deals with the other Corps as necessary in order to keep a lid on crime, disease, and unrest. If you want to maximize your profit, after all, you need to keep new Angeles open for business!".
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One thing that makes New Angeles stand out for me is that it uses only a bit of randomness. There are no dice at all. All card draws are from shuffled decks but that's all the chance you get. Aside from that the meat of the game relies on the communication between players. This means every play-through will be completely different from the last because you make it that way!
On the down side all the times we've played have lasted more than five hours. Some of that is due to a fairly heavy learning curve.
If you pick the right players for the game New Angeles will be a smash hit every time.
In this game, the city of New Angeles has become a special economic zone of the United States (think Hong Kong's relationships with China). In New Angeles the federal government has stepped completely out of the picture and allowed the mega-corporations to rule unhindered- so long as they can meet the megalopolis' insatiable need for energy, entertainment, consumables, and other resources. If they can't, Uncle Sam is ready to step back in and take over.
Four to six players take on the roles of the mega-corporations, each with their own special powers and play styles. The game board is a map of the city sections of New Angeles, with about ten different districts producing one or more resources. There are several tracks along the top of the board, including one for each players' capital (money- think victory points), threat (the federal government's willingness to take over New Angeles), and more. At the beginning of the game each player is dealt a card which gives them their secret objective for winning the game. If the player draws a card that has another mega-corporation's logo on it, they win the game just by having more capital at the end of the game than that player. If they draw their own corporate logo they win by having more capital than at least two other players in a four player game, or three other players in a five to six player game. If they draw the federalist card, they win if the threat track reaches 25 and that player has at least 25 capital, (think the “Cylon” from Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game).
The game takes place over the course of six rounds, with three demand phases after each two normal rounds. Depending on how you set it up, when the game starts the various districts on the board have different problems like labor unrest (which can evolve into a strike), illness, criminals, power outages, or anti-android agitators. Each does something particularly nasty like denying production, increasing threat, and more. There are also three android tokens on the board, which must be present in a district in order for that district to produce.
Players draw investment cards, which tell them how they can gain capital during the demand phase, then players also reveal a demand card, telling everybody how many resources the city has to produce by the demand phase. Players also draw a number of action cards, depending upon what their corporation sheet tells them. These can be things like security, biotech, labor, construction, and more. A number of asset cards (special ability cards) are placed beside the board that tell you how many people get a turn that round (not everybody gets a turn every round- but it evens out throughout the game).
The first asset card is placed on the revealed asset area and the first player plays one of his action cards. This may let him dispatch police to a district to get rid of agitators and criminals, clean up illness, build development (which improves the district's production), move androids to different districts, and more. Then, each other player has the chance to make a counter-offer. Both the offer and the counter offer are placed in marked spots beside the revealed asset. Players choose their cards to help everyone produce the needed resources, but also to fit their own secret agenda. The winner will also get that powerful asset card. After the first counter-offer has been made, another player can place their counter-offer over the preceding counter-offer, but must then discard another card to do so, or more cards if there have been more counter-offers. Players who do not have an active offer or counter offer become supporting players, and may vote for one of the offers by discarding a number of cards and placing them near the offer or counter-offer.
This is the core of the game. Players must negotiate for support for their proposals. Players can trade cards from their hand, offer capital, or pledge support for the other's future proposals. Agreements, however, are non-binding. The winner of the vote then gains the asset card with its special abilities, and then must fulfill the offer's action. This process is repeated several times, with players making offers and counter-offers, negotiating, and moving items around the board. When the asset cards for the round run out, districts that can produce do and the track is adjusted to show that. Then, players draw an event card, which can add more problems to the board, and also tells you how many asset cards to put out for the next round. During the demand phase, players reveal their incentive cards and gain capital form them. Then, players must check and see if they have met the demand for resources. If they have not, the threat track will advance several spaces, bringing the federal government that much closer to control of New Angeles.
After all the rounds and demand phases have been completed, players reveal their secret objectives and see if they have met their victory conditions. It is possible for there to be many winners, but there will always be at least one loser. If the federalist succeeds in getting the threat to 25, and has 25 capital, then he is the winner.
New Angeles is a very inventive and engaging game. My favorite mechanic in modern board games is negotiation, and this is a game built around talking to each other. Every turn of every round you are constantly cutting deals, making (temporary) alliances, offering promises, and making threats. And everyone is constantly accusing everyone else of being the federalist- hidden traitor mechanics also being one of my favorite mechanics. This feels like a cooperative game, as players must work together to meet the demand, but players are also always looking out for their interests, at times putting everyone at risk. Games are close. In my first game, it literally came down to the last event card (which saw threat increase past 25- the federalist won!). The various mega-corporations, asset cards, action cards, and incentive cards ensure that you will never play this game the same way twice. Some people I've seen on line (board game geek), have referred to this game as Battlestar Galactica 2.0. The game certainly feels a lot like BSG in many ways, but still manages to be something new and inventive. You probably don't want to play this game with people who take in-game betrayal too seriously, however. They may not talk to you for a while afterward. With the right people, however, this game is a smashing good time!
At the end of the day I love board games that create passion, and this game offers an intense, heart racing contest to outdo you rival(s). I play a lot of new games every year, and this is one of the best of 2016! Hands down!
The Discriminating Gamer
In fact, the only flaw for this game I can foresee is that the audience for New Angeles is (unfortunately) going to be VERY limited, not unlike Diplomacy and FF's Battlestar Galactica!.