(2014 – Stronghold Games)
In the year between filming Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi, Harrison Ford found time to star in a little film in 1982, entitled Blade Runner; based off of the short novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by science fiction master, Phillip K Dick. While it heavily underperformed in the theaters, Blade Runner has since set the precedent for the science fiction-noir genre (used most recently in the television series, Almost Human). I mention this, because many will reference the film in relation to designer David Ausloos’ (Panic Station, Dark Darker Darkest) new title, Rogue Agent. As with Ausloos’ other designs, Rogue Agent provides a dark, dingy atmosphere, fused with a setting full of androids, agents, and a corrupt city ensnared within a futuristic dystopia. A package that will no doubt intrigue the Blade Runner addicts.
Rogue Agent is set in Rain City; a futuristic, corporation-controlled, dystopian metropolis, plagued with crime and injustice. Players are agents, employed by the Agency to help clean up the city, as well as prevent such things as assassinations and terrorist bombings. However, the corrupt government, along with its partnered corporations have secretly sent Androids, disguised as human Agents to infiltrate the Agency, and tear it down, one piece at a time. It is possible that some players may in fact be one of these “rogue agents”, attempting to deviously sabotage other players and seeking to destroy various sections of the city.
Players will take turns moving throughout the abundant locations of Rain City, performing actions such as arresting criminals, buying supplies, upgrading items, and diffusing bombs. Players can also send out Informants to check in on certain parts of the city for them. Players will gain Influence throughout the game for successfully resolving these various actions, and the player with the most Influence (whether Human or Android) at the end of the 8th Round, wins the game.
– City Location Tiles
– Influence Board
– Bomb Defuse Board
– Player Boards
– Agent markers (one for each player color)
– Police Squad marker
– Informant markers (one for each player color)
– Bomb tokens
– Assassin tokens
– Criminal tokens
– Criminal cards
– Action Dice
– Standard Dice
– Player Board markers
– Influence Board markers
– Round marker
– Investigate tokens (one for each player color)
– Identity tokens
– Clock tokens
Rogue Agent can be played in one of two modes; Agent Mode (basic game), and Android Mode (advanced game). Agent Mode is played over 6 Rounds, while Android Mode consists of 8 Rounds. So that I can cover all aspects of the gameplay and mechanics included, I’ll be covering the Android Mode version of the game, which basically consists of Agent Mode with a few extra advanced rules for including possible Android players in the game.
Various city locations will make up the main game board on which players will use to move their Agent and perform actions on during the game. There are two types of location tiles. Standard locations represent the major shops, businesses, and buildings in River City. Precinct locations represent the six various precincts found in the city. All of these locations together will create a grid, and the overall game board once placed together:
– To begin, the Headquarters location is placed in the center of the play area. All Agents are placed at this location to begin the game.
– Next, the six Precinct locations are shuffled and placed randomly around the Headquarters, in the pattern seen above. A six-sided dice is then rolled, and the Police Squad is placed onto the Precinct space that matches the rolled number.
– Finally, the rest of the Standard locations are shuffled and placed to fill in the remaining areas, to create the final layout of River City.
Each player receives a player board that consists of tracks for different supplies and upgrades, as well as a health track along the far right side of the board. At the beginning of the game, markers are placed on the 3rd slot on the resource rows for Fuel, Ammo, and Evidence of each player’s board. Markers are also placed on the 0 slot on the upgrade rows for the player’s Vehicle, Weapons, and Armor, as well as the top slot of the Health track. Along with his player board, each player also receives seven Informants, five Investigative tokens, and four credits (blue credits are valued at 1, red credits are valued at 5).
The game includes a set of Assassin tokens, a set of Bomb tokens, and two sets of Criminal tokens (with a gray side and a opposing red side). One of the Criminal token sets (numbered 1 – 6) are placed to the side of the city, along with the facedown deck of Criminal cards. All remaining token sets of Assassins, Bombs, and Criminals are placed into a cloth bag.
The Bomb Defuse and Influence boards are placed near the city as well. The Bomb Defuse board will be used during the game in order to roll action dice in the attempt to cut wires on the bomb before it explodes. The Influence board will keep track of each players accumulated Influence during the game, as well as keep record of the number of Rounds left in the game. It also provide a summary reference for what order actions are resolved in during a Round. Players will place each of their Influence markers on the 0 space of the board. The Round marker is placed on the 1st space to represent beginning the 1st Round.
Each player is dealt 3 Identity tokens, which they will keep secret from all other players. Players may be required to reveal their Identity tokens throughout various times during the game. If at any point, a player has revealed two Android tokens, he has been unmasked as an Android. Until this point however, the player is considered a human player, and may finish the game as a human player if two of his Android tokens are never revealed. This also means that if a player only receives a single Android token during setup, that he can never be revealed as an Android, even if he is forced to reveal all three of his Identity tokens during the game.
Finally, the remaining components are placed near the play area, including the Action Dice, Standard Dice, Clock tokens, and remaining Credits. After setup, the play area should look something like this:
In Rouge Agent, players will complete 8 full Rounds. The player with the highest accumulated Influence at the end of the 8th Round, wins the game. Each Round consists of 3 Phases that are completed in order; the Time Phase, the Action Phase, and the City Phase. Let’s take a look at the mechanics included in each of these phases and how they resolve.
The Time Phase – At the beginning of each Round, new Criminals and Assassins emerge from the underworld in various sections of the city. It’s also possible that terrorists will plant Bombs around River City during this phase. After the start player has increased the Round marker on the Influence board to represent the current Round, he will draw a number of tokens from the cloth bag, depending on the number of players in the game:
– In a 4-player game, 3 tokens are drawn from the bag.
A Standard dice is rolled for each token drawn, and the token is placed onto the Precinct location that matches one of the dice. If the token was a planted Bomb, another Standard dice is rolled and then placed on top of the Bomb token. This represents a timer for the Bomb, and this timer will slowly count down to 0 before exploding. Players must hope that they can diffuse the Bomb before this happens.
If the token was a Criminal, it is placed into the city on its gray side. This represents that the Criminal is roaming and active in the City. Placing it on its red side will represent that it has been subdued (but we’ll cover this later on). When a Criminal token is placed in the City, the top Criminal card is taken off of the Criminal card draw deck and kept face down next to the city. Then the matching Criminal token to the one placed in the city is placed on top of this card to show that the Criminal card represents this particular Criminal in the city.
The Action Phase – After the various Criminals, Assassins, and Bombs have been placed into the city, the majority of the game will now take place within the Action Phase. During this phase, each player will perform numerous actions (beginning with the start player). Once they have completed and resolved these actions, the next player will then take his own actions, and this will continue until each player has completed this step. There are four main actions that a player can choose to perform in any order; a Cruise action, an Investigate action, a Recruit action, and Justice actions. Note that although these actions can be performed in any order the player chooses, once a Recruit action has been taken by the player, no other actions can then be performed, and thus his turn has ended. In addition, once a player has performed a Justice action twice, he can only perform a Recruit action before ending his turn. Let’s break down how each action works, including the various options included with the Justice actions:
1.) Cruise Action
By taking a Cruise action, the player is able to move his Agent to the numerous locations within River City. An Agent can drive to locations that are directly adjacent to his current location (cannot move diagonally) and can drive to any location that is within two spaces of his current location. Since Agents are bound by the code of ridding River City of the crime and filth within its borders, Agents cannot ignore any thugs they may come across, and must deal with them before continuing their movement.
Each Precinct location has a number of Thug icons in the top left corner of the tile. The player will lose a point of Health for each Thug in the Precinct. He can ignore the Health loss from a Thug for each Informant he has located on the Precinct tile, and/or alternatively can spend a point of ammo in order to ignore each Thug. Note that if a player loses his last Health point during the game, he must reveal one of his Identity tokens, is placed on the Hospital location, and loses 1 Influence. If the Police Squad is located in the Precinct, Thugs can be ignored altogether, as the Police Squad is currently dealing with them. If a player wishes to move to additional locations on his turn, he can choose to spend 1 point of fuel to take another Cruise action, and can continue to do this as long as he has fuel to spend (referenced on his personal Player board).
Player A decides to take a Cruise action in order to drive from his current location at the Headquarters to the Ammo Supply. Because the Police Squad is located in the 4th Precinct that connects these two locations, he will not be required to stop and deal with the Thugs there.
After resolving an action at the Ammo Supply location, Player A decides that he wants to drive East towards Rico‘s Gas Station. He spends 1 Fuel on his player board and moves through the 3rd Precinct which is located in between the Ammo Supply and the Gas Station. He must deal with the Thug located on this space. If he cannot, he will lose a point of Health. Since he does not have any Informants located at this Precinct, he could choose to spend a point of Ammo on his player board to ignore the damage dealt by the Thug, and does so. Then he continues on to Rico‘s Gas Station, resolving another action when he gets there.
2.) Investigate Action
When players attempt to capture Criminals in a location, the player must be able to do enough damage to the particular Criminal in order to successfully subdue them. If unsuccessful, the Criminal will retaliate against the Agent, causing him specific negative bonuses. The Criminal may also contain a nasty (or positive) reveal effect that will resolve before the Agent attempts to subdue him. We’ll discuss more about resolving Criminal cards in a bit, but you can see how important it is have knowledge of what is included with a specific Criminal card before attempting to subdue that Criminal.
Players can gain this knowledge by taking an Investigate action. To do so, players will need to spend two Evidence points (referenced by the magnifying glass icon on player’s board). This will allow the player the ability to peek and examine one of the facedown Criminal cards of his choosing. He must be on the same location of the Criminal, or must have one of his Informants on that location, in order to take this action, and after doing so will place one of his Investigate tokens on the Criminal card in order to remind himself which Criminal he has previously examined.
3.) Recruit Action
As mentioned before, Agents can send Informants out amongst other locations within River City. Informants can be placed into any of the city’s locations except for the Hospital and the Headquarters. Each of the other locations have a pair of spaces in the top right corner of the tile, dedicated to the placing of Informants.
The player will pay two Credits in order to place one of his Informants onto the topmost available Informant space in his current location. Having Informants at a specific location can assist in dealing with Thugs, investigating Criminal cards, resolving attacks with Assassins, among various other uses. They are also worth 1 Influence for each Informant that remains in the city at the end of the game. Remember, that once the Recruit action has been taken, the player must end their turn.
4.) Justice Actions
There are eleven different options to choose from when taking a Justice action, (seven normal Justice actions and four tied specifically to the Android player) and players are allowed to perform up to two Justice actions per turn. While players can choose to perform the same Justice action twice, they cannot do so on the same exact location, or on a location where the Police Squad is present. The first four Justice options are related to dealing with Criminals, the next two deal with gaining new resources and upgrades, the next option has to do with diffusing Bombs, and the final four are used in conjunction with a revealed Android player. Let’s briefly take a look at each one.
Attacking a Criminal – The player can choose to attack an Assassin or Criminal in his current location. When doing so, if attacking a Criminal, the player will first flip over the Criminal card corresponding to the numbered Criminal he is facing. Each Criminal card contains the following information:
– A reveal effect above the Criminal’s picture.
– A Syndicate icon to the right of the Criminal’s picture (important for final scoring purposes).
– Below the Syndicate icon is the number of Credits that will be earned for turning the Criminal in.
– The Criminal’s health value is listed to the left of the Criminal’s picture.
– At the bottom of the card is a possible retaliation effect that will trigger if the Agent fails to subdue the Criminal when attacking. Some of these retaliation effects have a clock symbol, which players will have to keep a Clock token on their player board to represent the effect until the effect has worn off.
The player must first resolve any revealed effects on the Criminal card. Revealed effects with a white spyglass icon are positive effects that will assist the player in subduing the Criminal, and only trigger when the player has previously investigated the Criminal. Revealed effects with a red spyglass icon are negative effects that can harm the Agent, and only trigger when the player has not previously investigated the Criminal. Taking a look above, we see that the Criminal card for the criminal named Brenner has a negative reveal effect that will trigger if the attacking player had not investigated him before attacking. His reveal effect states that he will escape to the next adjacent location, thus the player would not succeed in being able to subdue him using this action.
In order to successfully overpower the Criminal, the player must do at least an amount of damage equal to the Criminal’s health. The player will roll a pool of Action Dice containing various symbols, of which each Blast symbol (seen above, on the left) equals 1 point of damage to the Criminal. Additionally, each Boost symbol (seen above, on the right) will increase a single Blast symbol’s damage by 1 point. When attacking a Criminal, the player will always roll three Red Dice, but can add a Black Dice for each ammo spent on his player board, and can also add a Green Dice if he has upgraded his weapon enough (I’ll cover upgrades in a bit).
If attacking an Assassin, the Assassin is killed if he takes two or more damage. If the player successfully does so, he will gain 1 Influence. However, if he fails to roll two points of damage, the player will lose two points of Health. If attacking a Criminal, the player must roll enough damage to equal to exceed the health number listed on the Criminal’s card. If the player successfully does so, he will flip the Criminal token to it’s Red “subdued” side and gain 1 Influence. However, if he fails to do enough damage, the Criminal may have a retaliation effect that will trigger, as listed on the particular Criminal card. Some retaliation effects may cause the player to reveal an Identity token.
Player B has currently found himself in the 6th Precinct with Criminal #3. He decides to take a Justice action and attempts an attack on the Criminal, and flips over the Criminal’s card. On a previous turn, he took an action to Investigate this Criminal, therefore he had previously identified the Criminal as one simply known as “The Guru”.
The Guru is part of the Green Syndicate, has a total of 2 Health points, and will earn the Agent a total of 3 Credits when turning in the criminal. The Guru also has a white reveal effect (white reveal effects occur only if the Criminal was previously investigated by that player; red reveal effects occur only if the Criminal was not previously investigated by that player). This reveal effect states that Player B may add an extra Green Dice when attacking this criminal. Since it was a white reveal effect, and Player B previously investigated the Guru, this reveal effect would occur.
Player B takes 3 Red Dice, a Green Dice (from the reveal effect) and spends one Ammo from his player board to add an additional Black Dice. Rolling these five dice results in 1 Blast symbol, 2 Boost symbols, 2 Heart symbols. The Heart symbols are not used for attacking purposes, so they do not resolve. The Blast symbol however, provides 1 point of damage. Since a Boost symbol will increase a Blast symbol’s damage by 1, the total amount of damage done to the Guru is 2 points of damage. Notice, that although Player B rolled 2 Boost symbols, he only rolled 1 Blast symbol, therefore he was only able to “boost” 1 Blast Dice. The other Boost symbol had no remaining Blast symbols to boost, therefore was not used.
Since Player B supplied 2 points of Damage to the Guru, the criminal has been subdued and his token is turned to the Red facing on the game board to represent this. If the player had failed in his attack, the Guru would have retaliated against the player, as referenced on the Guru’s criminal card. His retaliation effect is that the player’s Agent would have lost 2 stamina (health points) and would be sent to the City Hospital location.
Arresting a Criminal – After a Criminal has been successfully apprehended, and his token turned to its red facing, an Agent can take a Justice action by arresting the Criminal. The Agent does this by placing his Agent marker on top of the apprehended criminal token. From this point on, wherever the Agent moves, the arrested criminal will move with him. Remember that a player can only take two Justice actions during a turn, so the player will have to spend both actions to both successfully attack and then arrest a criminal on the same turn.
Turning in Criminals – Once the Agent returns to the Headquarters location, he can take a Justice action in order to turn in any and all criminals that he has arrested. The player will earn a number of credits as referenced on the criminal’s card. In case of the Guru criminal we looked at earlier, Player B would have earned 3 credits for turning him into Headquarters. The Criminal card is then placed in front of the player for end-game scoring purposes.
Seizing a Criminal – Though Credits are the monetary source in River City, they are limited and scarce. Therefore, though they may be on the same side of the law, Agents may attempt to seize Criminals from other Agents in the attempt to turn them into Headquarters themselves for the reward. If a player is in the same location as another player, he can choose to take a Justice action and attempt to seize the arrested criminal from the other player.
When doing so, the seizing player can take up to a maximum of 3 Green Dice, by spending 1 Fuel for each Dice. After that, the defending player can choose any remaining Green Dice by spending 1 Fuel for each Dice. Since there are only 3 Green Dice in the game, the seizing player can keep the defending player from being to defend at all, by simply taking all 3 Green Dice, though it will costs him a total of 3 Fuel, which may not be the best strategy. After both players have rolled their Dice, the total number of rolled car icons are totaled for each player. The seizing player is allowed to seize one criminal for each car icon he has in excess of the defending player.
Explore Locations – When a player is in a Standard location, he can choose to take a Justice action to examine and explore that location. By doing so, he may find various items that will help him throughout the game. Each Standard location has a reference in the top left corner of the tile showing which colored Dice are to be rolled when searching that location, as well as the number of dice to roll.
For instance, taking a look at the Training Center, we can see that when searching, the player will roll 2 Red Dice, 1 Black Dice, and 1 Green Dice. After the player has rolled these Dice, he can choose to reroll any or all Dice a 2nd time, but after so must resolve the various facings. Let’s briefly take a look at what each facing provides:
When resolving a Car icon, a Weapons icon, or an Armor icon, the player will increase the marker corresponding to that track on his player board. These are the various Upgrade tracks found on the player board. Once a player has increased one of these tracks far enough, he will gain a ongoing upgrade for the rest of the game. For instance, if the Weapons upgrade is increased far enough, he will be allowed to roll additional Green Dice when attacking Criminals and other Agents/Androids.
When resolving a Fuel icon, an Ammo icon, or an Evidence icon, the player will increase the marker corresponding to that resource’s track on the player board. Unlike upgrades, resources are spent during the game and must be replenished in order to use them again. A player can never increase or decreased the marker on the resource track beyond its limited spaces.
The player may find stashes of Credits when exploring a location, whether they were left behind in a drug bust gone bad, or gained through a tempting bribe. For each Credit facing rolled by the player (as seen above), the player will gain 2 Credits.
Med-kits can be found throughout River City, if one knows where to look. These kits can help mend an Agent’s wounds as he delves into the dangerous underworld. For each med-kit facing resolved, the player will increase 1 point of Health on his player board.
Blast & Boost Facings
Of course, exploring a location can come with a price. You may just find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. For each Blast facing rolled, the Agent encounters a Thug and must lose 1 point of Health for each Thug, unless he can defend the attack using a Boost facing or spending an Ammo from his Ammo track. If a player has any Boost facings that he did not use to defend against a Thug, he can use this facing to double any of the other Dice abilities when resolving them.
For instance, if the player rolled the 2 Red Dice, 1 Black Dice, and 1 Green Dice at the Training Center, and rolled a Boost icon, but did not encounter a Thug with a Blast icon, he could choose to resolve the Med-Kit facing twice (or the Fuel facing, or the Credit facing).
Purchase Items – Sometimes an Agent may need a particular item or upgrade and does not want to take the chance of searching the alleyways and abandoned buildings for something he may or may not come across. Items and Upgrades can be purchased at each of the Standard locations in River City as noted by the icon on the bottom left portion of the location tile. Above the icon is listed the cost for the item or upgrade being purchased. For instance, an Agent can purchase 2 Ammo from the Ammo Supply location (seen below) by paying 1 Credit. Similarly, an Agent can provide 6 points of Evidence in order to gain 1 Influence from the Headquarters location.
Defusing Bombs – As mentioned earlier, Bombs can be placed throughout the River City and will explode if their timer reaches zero before they are defused. When a Bomb explodes, it not only impacts the location where to Bomb went off, but also all directly adjacent locations. When exploding, all Informants at the Bomb’s location are killed, and removed from the game (they can never return). Unless shielded, each Agent at the Bomb’s location will lose 4 points of Health, while each Agent at an adjacent location will lose 2 points of Health. An Agent that loses Health from a Bomb also loses his arrested Criminals. As you can see, it is quite important for players to keep a Bomb from detonating in the city.
As a Justice action, a player can attempt to diffuse the Bomb by rolling a resolving dice on the Bomb Defuse board. Players will attempt to cut a certain number of wires on the Bomb, before they run out of Dice. To do this, the player will first place the Bomb’s timer dice on the board to show how much time is left before the Bomb explodes. Next, he will roll all of the Action Dice, and all Dice containing a Blast facing or a Boost facing must be placed on the board. Dice are placed into columns, starting at the topmost space, and a new column can only be started when either all four Dice have been placed in a column, or the lowest Dice in that column is a Boost icon (“X”).
After a Boost icon has been placed in a column, no more Blast icons can be placed in that column. The player can either add more Boost icons to that column, or start a new column with a Boost icon or Blast icon. All Boost and Blast icons that were rolled must be placed before the player can choose to roll the remaining Dice again and add them to the board. After the first column, each additional column started causes the Bomb’s timer to tick down by 1. The player has successfully defused the Bomb if he is able to connect 3 Boost icons in a row, either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. However, even if the Bomb is defused, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will not go off (the wrong wire may have been cut). To check this, the player will take a Blast Dice from each column where that Dice is the lowest dice (only possible in columns that were filled and included no Boost Dice). This must also be done if the player decides to stop attempting to cut wires on the Bomb before the timer runs out. The player will roll these Blast Dice and continue to roll them until either the Bomb explodes or the Bomb shut off. If at least 1 Blast is rolled, the Bomb explodes. If at least on Boost icon (“X”) is rolled and no Blast icons, the Bomb has been successfully shut off. If the player can successfully shut the Bomb off, he will earn 1 Influence.
Player C decides to take a Justice action and attempt to defuse the Bomb located in the 2nd Precinct, whose timer is currently at 3.
The Dice among his first roll includes 1 Blast facing and 2 Boost facings. He decides to start the first column with the Blast facing and then place the other two Boost facings below it.
He then rolls the remaining Dice again and receives 1 Blast facing and 1 Boost facing. He could choose to place the Boost Dice beneath the other two to complete a wire cut, however remember that he must place all of the Boost and Blast Dice that were rolled. Therefore, by doing this, he would need to place the Blast Dice in a new column, thus causing him to roll this Dice and take the chance that he won’t roll a Blast icon before a Boost icon, thus accidentally detonating the Bomb anyways. He could attempt it, but it is risky. Therefore, instead he chooses to start the new column with the Blast icon and place the Boost icon beneath it. This now lowers the Bomb’s timer to 2, since a new column was started.
The player then rolls the four remaining Dice and receives a single Boost Dice. He can now place this Dice in either the first column beneath the other two Boost Dice, or he could lower the timer by 1 and start a 3rd column by placing the Boost Dice in the first slot there. In either case, he would complete three Boost icons in row, and defuse the Bomb before the timer went to 0. Since there are no Blast icons at the bottom of any columns, he would not need to roll Dice to check and make sure that the Bomb was shut off. He would automatically be successful since all of the columns had only Boost icons at the bottom. Player C would then receive 1 Influence.
Scan Action (Android Mode) – During the Action Phase, the player is allowed to spend 4 Evidence points from his player board, in order to force another Agent player in his current location to reveal one of his Identity tokens. The player can also force an opponent to do this if he is not in that player’s current location, but does have an Informant there. If the Agent is revealed as an Android, the player taking the Scan Action receives 1 Influence and the Android player loses 1 Influence.
Specific Android Actions – When an Android is revealed, the Android player can still perform Cruise actions, Explore Locations, and Purchase Items. Instead of Attacking Criminals however, the Android player can take actions that will attack other Agents as well as attack various Locations. Although the Android player can no longer attack and arrest Criminals, he will still keep the Criminal cards he accumulated up to this point, for end-game scoring purposes.
Android vs Agent Attacks – When an Android player attacks an Agent in the same location, the rules apply as attacking a Criminal. The Android will roll 3 Red Dice and an additional Black Dice for each ammo spent (also may roll additional Green Dice if the Android player has Gun upgrades), counting Blast icons as damage. The defending Agent player will roll any remaining Green Dice left over, spending 1 Fuel for each used. The Android player total damage using the normal rules for Blast icons and Boost icons. The Agent player will count Car icons as defense against the Android damage. The Agent will lose one point of Health for each damage he was unable to deflect. If the Agent loses his last point of Health, he is sent to the Hospital, and the Android player receives 1 Influence.
Agent players are given the opportunity to attack Androids as well. By taking a Justice action, the Agent player can attack an Android player at his current location, using the same rules found when an Android attacks a player, only with the attacker and defender roles reversed. This time, the Android player loses Health for each unblocked point of damage, and if the loses all Health, the Agent player receives 1 Influence.
Attacking Locations – An Android player may attack the Location he is currently in, as long as it contains slots for Informants (therefore, he can not attack the Headquarters or City Hospital locations). As with attacking Agents, he will roll 3 Red Dice, plus additional Black Dice for each Ammo spent, along with any Green Dice from Gun upgrades. As with normal attacking rules, Blast icons and Boost icons resolve for the total amount of damage done. Informants at the Location can help to cancel hits, however if the location takes at least 2 points of damage, it is destroyed and the Android player gains 1 Influence. The location is flipped to its opposite side, showing that it has been demolished. Destroyed locations can not be explored and players can not purchase items from them either. Also, each time a Agent moves onto a destroyed location, he loses 1 point of Health, however an Android can move through them with no negative effect.
The City Phase – After all Agents have performed their actions, it is now time for the Criminals, Assassins, Police Squad, and Bombs to resolve their own actions. Each part of this phase resolves in order, beginning with the Criminals.
Each Criminal that has not yet been apprehended (Criminal tokens on their gray sides), will move throughout River City during this part of the City Phase. Beginning with the lowest numbered Criminal, each Criminal will move in clockwise path around the central Headquarters area. This is a predetermined path in which if completed from beginning to end, the Criminal will pass clockwise through every location once, without backtracking while moving around the Headquarters location, before eventually leaving the City from the Precinct space directly north of the Headquarters. When resolving a Criminal’s movement, the criminal will move to the next directly adjacent location in the path. (See the picture below as a reference to the path that Criminals and Assassins take when moving. Beginning with the gray #1 token and ending with the red #6 token.)
If an Assassin token is present at this new location, the Assassin token will move along the path until it either leaves the city, or enters a new location without an active Criminal. If a Bomb is present in the new location, its timer will count down by 1. Each Criminal resolves in this way until all are done.
Next, each Assassin present in the city will resolve in the order that the start player decides. First the Assassin will attempt to assassinate the Agent and any Informants in his current space. He will only do so if the Police Squad and other active Criminals are not present. Each Agent present will lose 2 Health (unless a Informant is able to protect him here). The topmost Informant on the location is then killed, and the Informant (if any) that was on the bottom Informant space will take its place.
If an Agent took damage, that Assassin’s activation will automatically end. If there was no Agent present, or the Agent did not take damage, the Assassin will then move to the next location on the path and attempts an assassination action if there is an Agent and/or Informants present. Again, if an Agent took damage during this action, the Assassin’s turn ends.
Finally, if there is an Agent in the next location along the path (and the Assassin has done no previous damage to an Agent thus far), he will move to that location and perform an assassination action. If however, there are no Agents in the next location, he will remain in his present location.
The Assassin starts his turn at the Training Center. He would then assassinate Player C’s (yellow) Informant, thus Player B’s (gray) Informant would move up and replace this Informant slot.
Since there were no Agents present at the Training Center to deal with, he the moves left to the 4th Precinct, which includes Player A’s (purple) Agent. Player A has no Informants present at in the 4th Precinct to protect him, therefore he would receive 2 points of damage. There are no other Informants present at this location either, so the Assassin does not kill any Informants here. Since the Assassin has inflicted damage to an Agent, that Assassin will end his movement here.
The Police Squad only moves from Precinct to Precinct, and will always move in increasing numerical order. When activating this portion of the City Phase, the Police Squad is placed into the next Precinct, 1 number higher than the Precinct it is currently in. For instance, if the Round started with the Police Squad in the 2nd Precinct, it would now move to the 3rd Precinct location. Any Assassins or Bombs present in the Precinct when the Police Squad enters are automatically removed from the board and placed back in the cloth bag.
Whenever there is an Agent in the same location as the Police Squad or in an directly adjacent location, that player has to reveal one of his Identity tokens. Note however, that a player can only reveal 1 Identity token per Round, so if he was forced to do so earlier in the Round, he would not need to do so here.
Next, each Bomb’s timer will tick down by one. If a Bomb’s timer reaches 0, that Bomb explodes and players will resolve such action.
After the City Phase has been completed, the Round marker is increased by one on the Influence board to represent the starting of the new Round, and the player to the left of the start player from the previous Round, becomes the new start player. Play continues until 8 full Rounds have been completed (6 Rounds if not playing Android mode), at which point the game is over, and end-game scoring is tallied.
Each player will total up their Influence by adding together their Influence gained according to the Influence track, adding 1 Influence for each of their Informants still present in River City at the end of the game, and will also gain a bonus for Criminals they’ve turned in with the same Syndicate icon. Players will earn Influence from a Syndicate bonus in the following way:
– 2 matching Syndicate symbols on their Criminal cards is worth 3 Influence.
– 3 matching Syndicate symbols on their Criminal cards is worth 6 Influence.
– 4 matching Syndicate symbols on their Criminal cards is worth 10 Influence, plus 5 Influence for each additional matching Criminal card beyond that.
The strength of Rogue Agent’s game design is that it provides a wealth of strategy and in-depth gameplay, while being a game that can be completed in just over an hour. And while the game functions rather well in Agent mode, the inclusion of Android mode is where the elements and mechanics really shine, instilling a whole new level of strategy and tension. Players must balance the likelihood of becoming an Android later in the game, and in some cases a player may attempt to set themselves up with having to reveal themselves, by resolving negative actions that would require them to reveal their own identity tokens.
Rogue Agent is most likely not a game that players will necessarily grasp the strategies right out of the box. It may take a few plays of fumbling through turns and rounds to really understand how to set an Agent up for success and compile influence efficiently. One strategy we missed during our early sessions was just how important concentrating on upgrades was in the beginning rounds of the game. Being able to gain the armor upgrade (to ignore thugs), or the dice upgrade (for rolling an extra green dice during certain actions) can really give one an advantage. It’s essential to plan out a few turns in advance. Since influence is so difficult to acquire throughout the game, trying to react to the ever-changing items on the board on the fly simply won’t work. Some may criticize the game’s focus on luck of the die roll for successfully resolving actions, however the game provides a wealth of opportunities for players to increase their odds in these areas. It’s simply up to the player to manage and prepare ahead of time in order to obtain these advantages. In addition, thought should be put into when and where to place informants. Since these are worth 1 influence a piece for each remaining in the city at the end of the game, their placement and ability to protect them throughout the game is important.
The inclusion of the defuse bomb mini-game is a stellar addition and one that mixes tense dice rolling in a creative, thematic way. Rogue Agent provides a nice mixture of player interaction, even without Android mode. For fans of Panic Station and Dark, Darker, Darkest, the artwork from designer Davis Ausloos is as great and stylistic as ever. His use of shadows and low-key lighting, really lends itself well to the neo-noir feel in Rogue Agent. The game can be unforgiving until players learn how to efficient use their agents to successfully interact with the various elements within the city, and prioritize which actions they’ll use on any given turn. Once players are able to master this however, Rogue Agent is a smooth, in-depth, strategy title that provides a wealth of replayability.