12 October 2016 | New Angeles

Pacify the People

A Look at Quelling Unrest in the World's Largest Megacity

#NewAngeles

Tragedy struck today at the New Angeles premiere of the second season of Friendship, Upgraded when violent demonstrators linked to the terrorist Human First movement attacked and badly damaged bioroid star Ronald 5. This is the third time Ronald 5’s public appearances have been disrupted by similar protests.

In New Angeles, you have one overriding goal, and that's to turn your megacorp's gigantic fortune into an even more gigantic and influential fortune. The key, as we touched upon in the game's announcement and our first preview, is to work deals to your benefit. To do so, you might cooperate with the other players, or you might coerce them. The tactics don't matter much—so long as they're effective. Outperform your rival, and your shareholders will happily dub you a winner.

You will, however, find more to consider during your deals than the simple acquisition of capital. Ultimately, the acquisition of capital is what drives you, it's what defines you, and it's the key to your success. But there are threats with which you must deal lest they prompt the U.S. government to rear its ugly head and consider revoking the special business privileges you and the other corps enjoy.

These threats—and your response to them—are the subject of today's preview. In New Angeles, you and your rivals need to work together well enough to keep the city running smoothly (smoothly enough, at least) so that the U.S. government continues directing its attention elsewhere.

What the Others Want

The only thing you "have to" do in New Angeles is watch your bottom line. Still, while you're brokering deals, the other corps are likely to remind you that you "have to" help them meet a set of demands. These demands change throughout the game, fluctuating along with the circumstances of the city, and you'll find them defined by a series of Demand cards.

Like Network Disruption,  each Demand card identifies five different categories of resources—Energy, Consumables, Tech, Entertainment, and Credits—and assigns a target number to each of them. You reveal the game's first Demand card during setup and use these target numbers to set the demand track, placing tokens over the target numbers in each category.

Then, as the game progresses, and you try to manipulate the other corps throughout the Action phase, these target numbers on the demand track provide a haunting reminder of the different expectations other people may have of your corporation. If you can't get the other corps to produce these resources—or don't take action yourself to ensure that they're produced—the city's threat rises by the indicated amount.

It's important to remember, here, that if the city's threat ever reaches twenty-five, you lose (unless you're the Federalist ). Accordingly, you find yourself under a certain amount of pressure to acquiesce to the demands of others and to contribute to the city's well-being, even if it's absolutely clear your efforts should never be mistaken for altruism.

You don't check your production against demand every round, only in the special demand rounds indicated by the board's demand spaces.

Maintaining Production Values

New Angeles is divided into twelve districts, but only eleven of them are found on Earth. The twelfth is Heinlein, on Luna, which was reaffirmed in its status as a part of New Angeles by the Treaty of Heinlein. Of New Angeles' eleven terrestrial districts, ten are represented on the New Angeles game board, and these are divided into three "tiers," each of which is identified by a different color outline. Tier one is blue, tier two is yellow, and tier three is red.

As one might expect of these districts, they don't all produce the same resources. Each produces a different set and number of resources as indicated by the icons and numbers at the top of the frame. However, to produce the resources from any of the city's districts, you'll need a workforce—only districts marked by an android token actually produce any resources when you complete the Action phase and make your way to the Production phase that follows.

Accordingly, you want to exploit the right districts each round so that you can meet your production demands. Likely, this means making deals with Efficiency Experts or devising other Labor Solutions during the Action phase.

It also means that you'll want, at times, to deal with the orgcrime units that block a district from producing its primary (left-most) resource and to resolve any strikes or outages that would completely shut down the production within a vital district. But the real trick, of course, is to get the other corps to deal with these problems while you focus on more profitable endeavors.

No Battle Plan Survives Contact with the Enemy

The standard round in New Angeles moves from the Action phase to the Production phase, and then it moves to the Event phase. Here, you'll encounter any number of unpredictable and generally hostile influences upon your regular production schedule.

During the Event phase, you reveal and resolve the top card of the event deck, and as with Crumbling Infrastructure,  each Event card introduces both a certain measure of the flavor of the Android universe, as well as a number of Human First units, orgcrime units, outages, and illnesses. You'll find these are all accompanied by the districts on which they are to be placed.

Additionally, the top half of each Event card outlines a potential threat increase. If you fail to avoid the trigger—such as spotting an orgcrime unit when Pistoleros Hit Squads Strike! —then you'll be forced to raise the city's threat by the indicated amount.

Finally, each Event card indicates the number of players who will take turns in the following round. This is notable because your game rounds in New Angeles can be of varying lengths. While the active player always passes clockwise from player turn to player turn, there's no guarantee that each player will be the active player in a given round.

This is not to be confused with the idea that you can't play an active part in the deals being brokered!

You can always bribe, bluff, and badger your fellow corps. So long as you have an Action card in hand, you can always propose a counteroffer to someone's deal or lend your support. But you are likely to play through rounds in which you don't make the initial offer. And this only serves to reinforce the importance of your negotiations and coercion.

Outsource the Dirty Work

Unless you're the Federalist, you're going to need to invest some time, energy, and resources into managing the city's health and mollifying its populace. Of course, the question is always how much you should be responsible for matters versus how much the other corps should be taking the lead.

Can you convince a room full of corporate CEOs to do your dirty work for you? If so, you should play New Angeles. Head to your local retailer to pre-order your copy today!

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