“OrgCrime and these Human First activists have gotten out of hand,” began Yuri Talunik, owner of the well renowned Melange Mining Corp, “and they must be dealt with. We must organise a Prisec unit to remove them at once, or they’ll wreak havoc on the city!”.
Farid Ahmadi of the Weyland Consortium, a company infamous for its brutal streaks, agreed that the time for “pacification of threats to stability” had come. “The city may have a host of issues, but we at Weyland stand with Melange Mining on this one”. That the personal relationship between Farid and Yuri was one of close friendship was “most assuredly not a conflict of interest”, they assured.
Even Victoria Jenkin, the CEO of NBN, who had greenlit many a story on the “evils of Weyland”, couldn’t deny that the citizens were out of hand. All that was left was to convince both Lidiah Maucher of GlobalSec and Satoshi Hiro of Jinteki of the validity of the plan. That, however, proved to be challenging.
“As the leader of our fine city’s security division, even I find the arrests of these people to be a little extreme. We should be preparing to deal with the illnesses rampant in our streets, and who better to do so than Jinteki?”. All eyes in the room turned to Satoshi, who showed no emotion at all to the proposal. He couldn’t let slip that there was something else at work here.
“We must provide Jinteki with more options to deal with these diseases plaguing our streets. I propose that this is of far more importance than dealing with a few protestors and miscreants”. With that, Lidiah signed the proposal to move forward with Jinteki’s research funding, offering the pen to the table. Ultimately, despite the protests of Weyland and CEO, Jinteki and GlobalSec’s influence proved to strong, and the proposal went forward.
That night, as the Root burned under the fires of crime and passionate activism, Gurren Imaishi, the treasurer of Jinteki, transferred 50 million credits into the accounts of GlobalSec. Everything was going according to plan, Lidiah thought to herself.
This is the type of experience you too can have by playing Fantasy Flight Games’s latest addition to the Android universe; New Angeles, a semi-cooperative negotiation game of hidden agendas and capitalism gone mad. As stated on one of my list of Top 10 Games on my Watch List, this one came in VERY highly at number two (with number one going to Pursuit of Happiness).
Coming back from my trip to Malaysia to find this on my desk as a Christmas present, I couldn’t wait to get it to the table. On my recent trip to the annual game convention in Canberra, Cancon, I had the perfect opportunity to. What did I think? Well, let’s not wait any longer!
What I Expected Going In
From all of the preview articles Fantasy Flight had provided, I was expecting a main course of heavy negotiation flavoured and spiced by hidden agendas. I thought the greatest tension would be in balancing the pursuit of your own goal whilst also ensuring that the game is not destroying you. In that sense, reminded me a fair bit of Dead of Winter (which I thought was rather ordinary) and Archipelago (which I love), but as opposed to going about the board and doing stuff, the game sounded like it was almost purely going to be negotiation. Given my inexperience with such games, I was very excited to say the least.
New Angeles sounded like it could be really vicious, however. The traitor mechanic, coupled with the fact that it was certainly impossible for everyone to win no matter the setup, indicated to me that this was the type of game that needed the right audience. Played with people not willing to negotiate, and it would fail to entertain. Played with people who feel attacked in arguments or because people are targeting them in games, and you’d have upset players. I felt that those I game with often fell into neither of these categories thankfully, but I was curious to see just how mean megacorps could be.
The final part I was curious about was primarily concerned with the necessity of lying. I personally avoid games were lying is a necessary part of gameplay, or incredibly heavily encouraged. Therefore, a big make or break point for me would be whether New Angeles required lying or not.
What I Got Coming Out
The shortest way I can summarise New Angeles is that it’s like being in a constant argument for three hours or so. As your friends around you offer ridiculous deals that benefit neither the city or yourself, you’ll constantly find yourself having to argue and convince those around you of the benefits of letting you control the action.
It’s also absurdly entertaining.
Every single moment of New Angeles had be invested. Despite me personally only having around five turns in the game, the negotiation and free trading options mean that you’re always invested in what’s going on. Even if you’re not trying to pass your own legislation, you’re being solicited by the powers in charge for your vote. Otherwise, you’re making a case for why curing disease must take a backseat to wiping out a district of the city with a scorched earth policy.
I was so caught up in achieving my own ends and ensuring the city didn’t collapse that I didn’t even have time to try and work out what everyone else was trying to do. I also never felt that the game forced me to lie; I was able to play the entire game with integrity and honesty, while I secretly tried to fulfil my goal.
The game does a good job of providing a cover for the traitor by use of “Investments”. These individual goals, which alternate every other round, often require corps to allow the city to suffer a little for personal gain. However, by allowing the city to burn a little, you’re inevitably going to encounter problems. That’s when you have to make the call; do you forgo personal gain to help the city, or do you be selfish and hope that you can still be king of the ashes?
I cannot recommend New Angeles enough. Had I played this in 2016, it would have been very close to my top game of the year (nothing was gonna dethrone Star Wars: Rebellion). The shifting agendas mixed with the long term goals of the players mean that there’s always a new discussion to be had, and you’ll always have something to talk about. Oozing with flavour and fun, with only a very minor hiccup here and there, New Angeles is a game that will be an absolute hit…
With the right playgroup. I really need to stress that you’re going to be arguing in this game. A LOT. If you or your friends are the type to take things personally, or get upset easily at conflict, this is not the game for you. In addition, it’s a long one, even longer if you let discussions take too long. If none of those things bother you, get this one. Now.
The Aficionado LOVES this game!
Sound like your kind of game? Check it and the other games mentioned in the article out here!