I recently saw Android: Mainframe listed in the new arrivals section of my FLGS’s website. I like the cyberpunk genre in general, and having finally decided to part with my copy of Android: Netrunner (it just wasn’t for me), I delved deeper into Android: Mainframe to see what it was all about. Android: Mainframe is a re-implementation of the game Bauhaus. As I researched Mainframe I found that I was familiar with the mechanics of the game, though I had never played Bauhaus. I think, however, that many of us have played a little game called Dots and Boxes. I didn’t realize that this game even had a name, and I think I just called it Dots. The game (Dots) starts with a grid of dots on the page and on their turn the player draws a single line connecting two dots that are orthogonaly adjacent. If the line closes a box, that player writes their initial in the box and takes another turn. The game ends when all of the possible connections are made and the winner is the player who closed the most boxes.
In Android: Mainframe on a player’s turn they may take one of three actions; establish an access point, execute a program, or pass. Access points are the equivalent of placing your initial in the box to claim that area as yours, however, in Mainframe the difference is that you have to claim a space before it is closed off, thereby allowing the other players to manipulate the area before it is truly locked in as yours. Executing a program is where drawing the lines comes in. Programs are cards in your hand and are a bit more complex than just drawing a line, but in the end, this is where you close off the sections. If a section containing your access point, and only your access point, is closed, then you flip your access point token over, indicating that you control that section. The game ends when there are no legal programs to run or when the program deck runs out. Players score points for each face-down access point, which are worth a number of points equal to the number of spaces of the closed section that they are in. The player with the most points is the winner.
It is so fascinating to me that a game that we played simply to pass the time in lines or at a restaurant has in some way influenced the design of a modern board game. It was the only thing that I could think about as I read about Android: Mainframe. My initial reaction was that I could play this game with a pencil and paper, but upon researching the game and just thinking about it, I realize that there is much more to Mainframe than just dots, lines, and initials. I may just have to check it out. At the very least I’m hoping the game library at any of the FLGS’s around here will have it to try.
Now that I’ve made this connection, I’m going to be on the lookout for more games “influenced by youth”.