Around the time Android: Netrunner was taking Gen Con 2012 by storm, another game set in that same Android universe was making its debut. Infiltration puts its players in the roles of high tech thieves, competing to steal valuable secretes from a high security corporate headquarters. Players have to steal as many secrets as they can before the police arrive and lock down the building.
Infiltration is a face paced, easy to learn, press-your-luck style of game. It plays in about 45 minutes and can accommodate 2-6 players. I would recommend only playing it with at least 4 or more players though.
As mentioned already, Infiltration is a press-your-luck game at it’s heart. The players take turns using their actions to move around the facility, download data, play cards and try to escape before time runs out.
Time is tracked with a counter that counts up until the police arrive and lock down the building. When that happens, anyone still in the building is arrested and ends the game with zero points. Each turn, the counter will tick up a number of increments, usually going faster as the game progresses. Players have to use their best judgment on how many turns they have left before the lock down. Wait too long and you’ll be arrested and out of the running. Exit too early and you might not have enough victory points to win.
Fantasy Flight Games is known for having high quality components in their games and Infiltration is no exception. Infiltration comes with a few decks of cards (room cards and player action cards), as well as a large quantity of tokens. The tokens consists of room interface tokens and a very large pile of data tokens (each of which has a number of victor points on the back side). There is also a large security tracker dial that the players will use to track the games progress.
One of the best things about Infiltration is its artwork. Like the other games set in the Android universe, the artwork is gorgeous. Set in a dystopian, cyberpunk future, the artwork really helps to tie the theme to the game. If you were a fan of the artwork in Android: Netrunner, then you will like the art in Infiltration.
How To Play:
The actual game play of Infiltration is easy to learn and surprisingly fun. The board consists of a dozen cards arranged in a “V” shape. These are randomly dealt from a pile of room cards (you won’t use them all) and represent levels 1-12 of the headquarters. Players will explore the headquarters one room at a time. Since all the cards are dealt face down, a player never knows what’s in the next level of HQ.
A round of Infiltration is played out in 4 phase:
- Selection – Choose your action card for the turn (all players do this at the same time)
- Resolution – Starting with the first player, reveal and resolve your chosen card
- NPCs – Any NPCs in play will follow their specific rules
- Security – Advance the security tracker by rolling a die and adding the alarm value to the result.
A player has 5 action options on their turn Advance, Retreat, Interface, Download or play an action card. Advance and retreat let a player move forward or backward 1 room card. Interface lets a player interact with the special action in the room, while download will let them take DF tokens (VPs chips) from the supply in their room.
Those 4 actions are the default one that anyone can play on their turn. The players can also play an item card in their hand as an action. These cards have unique actions on them, such as killing NPCs or jumping ahead multiple room cards.
The game play moves very quick and after a couple of turns, everyone should know what needs to be done.
I wasn’t sure at first if I’d like Infiltration. I’ve heard the game play is somewhat simple. However, I am a big fan of the Android universe, so the theme convinced me to buy the game. After a couple of plays, I quickly realized that the game is not very deep, but it works well. And that’s ok. Not every game has to be a 4 hour strategy session. Sometimes those quick games are a lot of fun to play. And that’s Infiltration. It’s fast, you have some tough decisions to make at the end and the theme is really my favorite part. Infiltrating a high security corporate headquarters to steal their secrets is in interesting role to play.
When playing Infiltration, turns go by very quickly. By the time you are halfway through the game, the selection phase should only take a few seconds as people start planning out their turns well in advance. Since your options are somewhat limited each turn, “analysis paralysis” is almost non-existent in this game.
The best part of the game is the tension that builds. The Security Tracker, while not a concern early in the game, is the main focus of the last few rounds. It starts off slowly ticking up, maybe only a couple of numbers in the early turns. But as the alarm dial increases, and the counter starts jumping up 6-10 numbers a turn, the tension builds. You can see people estimating how many turns they will have left before the counter hits 99 and the building goes into lock down. Players start wonder if they can squeeze just one more turn out of their run.
And that’s where the true fun in Infiltration lies. The tension of the Security Tracker. It’s a classic press-your-luck game. Do you get out early and play it safe or stay one more round for that big score. Everyone’s VP pile is kept a secret, so you will never quite know if your score is high enough. It’s those decisions a player has to make that will keep them coming back to the game even after they ended up with a big fat zero.
I do however think that the game could have done a few things better. One of my biggest gripes is the player characters. Each player gets a card to represent their character and a token. However, other than the artwork and flavor text, they are all the same. Fantasy Flight could have just as easily put a generic pawn as your player and the game play would be unchanged. It would have been nice for each character to have a unique special ability, even if it was only a minor one.
My only other concern is that the movement actions are somewhat unsatisfying. Having your whole turn consist of moving from one card to another is not very exciting. I would rather they had every character able to move one room a turn as part of a separate movement phase. It would have allowed for a bit more action during the game.
Even with these minor gripes, we all still really enjoyed playing the game. Our first game ended up with the alarm dial shooting up quickly and we all got trapped in the building. Oops. Our second game fared better, with 2 of us making it out safely. It was kind of fun in the second game when people realized they were going to be trapped. Those of us that made a quick exit were able to sit there with a smug grin on our face, knowing we made the right choice. The fact that the game plays quickly, helps players to not be too dejected when they are arrested and stuck with a zero at the end of the game. It’s easy to just start another game.
Despite its minor flaws, Infiltration is still a really good game. If you are a fan of the Android universe or the cyberpunk theme, than this will be an easy sell for you. If the theme doesn’t interest you very much, you might want to look into Incan Gold, a very similar press-your-luck style of game. I’ve played both, and I prefer Infiltration because I like the theme a lot better. But both are quality games.
However, even if you are not a fan of the genre, you can still have a great time with Infiltration. The game play is quick and down time is minimal. Because you only deal out a few of the available rooms each game, that means that every game will be somewhat different. And since all the rooms are hidden until someone enters them, you never know if that secret elevator you are looking for is even in the game. Once again, this game is great at building tension.
So if you are looking for a quick, press-your-luck style of game with some great artwork and high replay value, give Infiltration a try. You just might make it out before the cops show up.
If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, it’s about $25
Final Score: 3.5 Stars – A fast paced, press-your-luck type of game with a great theme. A worthy addition to any game collection.
• Beautiful art and great theme• Quick game play
• Easy to learn rules
• Minimal downtime
• Player characters could use customization
• Movement as an action isn’t very exciting
Sounds like a good wife game – Have you played it with two?
I haven’t tried playing it with two yet, but I’d imagine it wouldn’t be as good as with 4+. With more people, your room options are more limited, and the alarm timer counts up much more quickly between turns. I’d guess you’d lose a good amount of the tension with only 2 players.