6 April 2016 | Android: Mainframe

The Heist

A Look at Scoring Your Games in Android: Mainframe


::Noise laughed at the partition before him. Someone had evidently meant to lock him out of this section of Titan Transnational's servers. But that individual had obviously never met Corroder. Two clicks, and the partition crumbled. Noise swaggered in for a look and began anchoring an access point. Common stuff, but suddenly his console was blaring, alerting him to the fact that someone had repositioned several of his access points. He was trying to figure out who had outmaneuvered him when his stomach jolted, and he found himself in a completely different region of Titan's server. Again, Noise had to laugh. Whoever had pulled off that maneuver was good—very good—maybe even a worthy rival. It was time, he decided, to deploy the Parasite::

The world's greatest hackers go head-to-head in Android: Mainframe, the data heist game in which two to four rival runners ransack Titan Transnational Bank for all it's worth.

In our announcement of the game and in our first preview, we addressed the ways you access and secure zones within Titan's server. We also stated that in order to win Android: Mainframe, you need to secure enough of Titan's mainframe to score more victory points than your opponents. After that, we looked at two of the game's runners' signature programs and the ways that they presented alternate paths toward the same overall objective.

Today, we take a closer look at the game's scoring system and follow it up with a look at the signature program suites for two more of the game's runners, Ji "Noise" Reilly and Olivia Ortiz, better known as "Chaos Theory."

The Path to Riches

As we have noted many times, the goal of Android: Mainframe is to get rich by accessing and securing portions of the server within Titan Transnational Bank's mainframe. To secure a zone, you need to close it off so that it contains only your access point—or access points. Whenever you secure a zone in this fashion, you flip any and all access points within it facedown. This is important because once the game ends, only your facedown access points can help you toward victory. Your unsecured, faceup access points are worth nothing.

As soon as Chaos Theory places the partition that closes off the zone around her access point, she secures it and flips her access point token facedown.

Naturally, you want to secure as much of Titan's mainframe as possible, but you won't necessarily win simply by grabbing more server space than each of the other players. Instead, during the endgame scoring, you score victory points for each of your facedown access points, and each is worth a number of victory points equal to the spaces within its zone.

For example, if you had four facedown access points, each of which occupied one space, you would score the same four points as someone who had only one facedown access point, but in an area of four spaces. Alternatively, you could score four victory points by scoring just one zone of two spaces, but with two facedown access points, each of which was worth two victory points.

In short, this means that you're not just competing for quantities of space, but qualities, too. Larger areas with multiple access points are worth significantly more than smaller areas with solitary access points. But, of course, they are also harder to establish.

If there's a tie, the first tie-break is won by the player with the larger number of secured zones. If necessary, the second tie-break is won by the player with the single largest secured zone. The third tie-break is won by the player with the second largest secured zone, and these tie-breaks continue until either one of the tied players has a larger secured zone or both players claim an equal stake to fame and fortune with a true tie.

Example of Scoring

  • The Andromeda (purple) player has four facedown access point tokens on the board. She earns three points for each token in the zone on the right of the board, one point for her token in the single-space zone in the middle of the board, and three points for her token in the zone at the top of the board for a total of ten points.
  • Chaos Theory (green) earns four, two, and one points for her three zones for a total of seven points.
  • Kate scores the most facedown access point tokens, but as they are only worth two, two, two, one, and one victory points, she ends with a total of eight victory points.
  • Meanwhile, Noise scores only a single zone, but he has two facedown access points within it, each of which is worth five points, meaning that he ties with Andromeda at ten points.
  • Because she has more secured zones than Noise, Andromeda wins.

Again, it's worth noting that in this example of scoring, Noise has secured the fewest total spaces—just five—while both Andromeda and Chaos Theory have scored seven spaces, but the end score ultimately reflects the greater value of those zones that house multiple access points.

The Punk and the Wonder Kid

There are six different runners in Android: Mainframe, and each presents a different playstyle, promoted by its signature collection of five unique programs. In any given game, though, you'll only use three of these programs, chosen at random, and you'll place the others back in the box.

While that may appear to take something away from the variation between the runners' playstyles (as it reduces the number of their signature programs that they can play), it actually serves to amplify the impact of each unique program. If you were to start with all five of your unique programs, then as you and your opponents became more and more familiar with the game, you'd memorize the abilities of all your opponents' unique programs, and you'd do your best to play around them.

As the game stands, though, you won't know which programs your opponent has in his hand, nor will he know which you hold in yours. Accordingly, the element of hidden information is preserved and heightened: the only way your opponent will know for sure which unique programs you drew during setup is for you to play them.

That said, as you become more experienced, you'll still be able to make a pretty educated guess about how your opponent is likely to use his or her runner's unique programs. This is because they each aim at different aspects of the game. Last week, we saw how Kate "Mac" McCaffrey's signature programs reinforced her tinkerer's advanced knowledge of programs—both hers and her opponents'—and we saw how Nero Severn's program suite was geared to keeping him supplied with more hidden information than each of his opponents.

But mastering programs and hidden information aren't the only aspects of the game at which your runner can excel…

Ji "Noise" Reilly

What others can build, Noise can tear down. Of his five signature programs, four focus not on building, but on destroying. Furthermore, his destruction is somewhat indiscriminate and can target both partitions and access points.

There are a number of generic programs that allow players to swap access points, but Noise's Djinn goes one step further. It allows Noise to remove one of his opponent's access points and then replace it with his own. Likewise, Wyrm also targets access points. It allows Noise to remove one access point for each player in the game, which can be an extremely handy ability if it suddenly leaves him in control of an enclosed zone that had previously been contested.

Two of Noise's other programs, Yog.0 and Corroder , allow him to remove partitions from the board. In turn, this hinders his opponents' designs by making it harder for them to secure the zones around their access points. Moreover, since Noise gets to choose which partition or partitions he removes with these programs—and because he can do so with full knowledge of the generic programs in the program suite—he can elect to create gaps in his opponent's zones that they won't be able to fill with the generic programs currently available to them.

While the last of Noise's five signature programs doesn't tear anything apart, it is at least as disruptive as the others. His insidious Parasite allows him to replicate any program that another runner executes—immediately after that runner executes it. Though Parasite also costs Noise his next turn, he'll only play it when it can make the difference between a high-value, secured zone and an unsecured zone, and the fact that he can play it outside of his normal turn order makes it extremely difficult to predict and prevent.

Chaos Theory

While Noise is fairly straight-forward with his slash-and-burn approach to the game, wünderkind Chaos Theory is far more enigmatic. Android: Mainframe is a game about scoring loot from a vulnerable bank mainframe, but Chaos Theory seems to treat it like more of a playful romp than a high-stakes contest. Her suite of signature programs does nothing to seal off server space or breach an opponent's line of partitions; instead, her unique programs focus solely upon creating, moving, and manipulating access points.

In many ways, one might be led to think that Chaos Theory is simply entering this runner-versus-runner contest just to show off her talents. After all, while any runner can take an action to discard the top card from the program stack in order to place an access point, Chaos Theory can place two at a time with both Indexing and IQ . While both these programs grant her the ability to fill a zone with multiple access points before it's secured, she'll want to use Indexing more aggressively to load her own zones before scoring them. IQ is better suited to defense, allowing Chaos Theory to force two of her opponents to contest a single zone, even as she accesses more of the board for herself.

Davinci also allows Chaos Theory to place an access point, but unlike the other programs, it doesn't grant her the same action advantage. So why would she play it? The answer is that it allows her to minimize her opponent's ability to interfere with the access point she just placed. After all, there's little sense in expecting that you'll be able to keep your access point in a key location if there's a Shift or Swap in the generic program suite, but since Chaos Theory can use Davinci to toss out either of these programs, she can challenge her opponents to use partitions that can slow her down or to make them execute programs from their hands.

Finally, her last two programs, Snowball and Deus Ex , are effectively amped-up versions of Swap , and whereas Noise could potentially use Wyrm to take control of a contested zone, Chaos Theory could do the same with either of these programs, but in a manner that makes that zone worth even more points.

Chaos Theory appears to have no stake in the four-space zone contested by Noise and Andromeda. However, through clever use of Snowball, she swaps one of her access points for Andromeda's. She then swaps another of her access points for Noise's, and suddenly the eight-point zone is hers!

It Pays to Be Prepared

You can't expect to get rich in Titan's mainframe if you can't get ahead of your opponents. Accordingly, you need to know your strengths and how to use them, even as you keep an eye to the different ways your opponents might be trying to shut you out.

To that end, you'll want to keep your eyes open for our next preview, in which we'll post the rules for download and take a look at the final two runners, Adam and Andromeda!

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