Infiltration Review

So, when I heard that Donald X. Vaccarino (designer of Dominion) was working with Fantasy Flight to create a new game, I was quite excited.  So, I've been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to write about Infiltration.

Infiltration is a game of "corporate larceny."  Each player takes on a character that is attempting to steal data from an (evil?) corporation (if the corporation isn't evil, then I suppose your characters are; I'm not sure which is true thematically).  However, it's very important to escape after stealing the data - after all, a dead spy that knows a lot is worth much less than a living spy that knows something.  And it sucks to be dead.  Each turn, you may do a few things - you may advance further into the building, retreat closer to the entrance, interface with the computers in a room, extract data that is available, or play an item.  Items can do things like kill Non-Playable Characters (such as the Officer that keeps pressing the silent alarm), break Tech Locks (thus finding more data), kill Lab Workers (another way to find data), slow down other players, etc.  On a turn, players will each select their action, and then in turn order will reveal their action and perform it.  Next, if there are any Non-Playable Characters, they perform their scripted actions.  Finally, you roll a die and add the alarm total to your die roll (that's why the Officer that keeps pressing the silent alarm is annoying), and you add this total to the "proximity dial."  Once the "proximity dial" reaches 99, the security drones arrive and kill everyone still in the building.  At this point, whoever has the most data and escaped is the winner.

The first pro that I found about Infiltration is the press your luck element to the game.  You definitely have to decide how far into the building you're going to go, while trying to balance the fact that you have to escape.  (In your first few games, it might be common for the winner to be the only player that got out in time - of for you to all die.)  Really, what I enjoy about the press your luck element in this game is that it is the central theme of the game, and yet, it isn't the only aspect of the game (like in Farkle, or so many other press your luck dice games).  Yes, you have to figure out how deep to go, and how many turns you will risk being in the building, but you also have to do a lot of strategic actions - the winner isn't necessarily the person that stayed in the building the longest and escaped (pressed their luck the furthest).

The board setup looks cool, too
The next pro that I had for Infiltration is that there is quite a bit of replayability - if you enjoy the game, then you can play it several times, and it will stay fresh.  There are a lot of extra rooms, and each game you shuffle up the order of the rooms, and so the building will be different every time you play it.  Plus, there are enough different items that, though you will see the same ones each game, you will get a different combination of them and in different order.  Finally, there are a few different variants that you can try that deal with item drafting and character specialization, further expanding how you can play the game.

However, with those two pros, the game had some areas where I felt it could have been improved.  First, I felt like the items were just "off."  It's hard to explain what I mean here, and everyone that I played with had this same feeling, and attributed it to different things.  The items were really a crucial element of the game - without them, the game would be very bland.  Yet, there weren't very many ways to get items (I think this is to give them a feeling of scarcity).  There are also several items that seem to be only good in very specific situations, that there is a good chance you will never encounter.  Really, it just felt like many of the items were not valuable enough to fit with their scarcity - if I only get four items all game (which will probably happen to several players in a six-player game), then I want those items to be really good.  But, instead, many of them seemed to be worthless enough that you might not even bother using them (though you will watch angrily as one of your opponents has an item very effectively).

Instant exit - if it's in the game
I think that the other main con with the game is that because of the end of game countdown, the game doesn't really feel like it has time to develop.  One aspect of this is the second floor (each floor consists of six rooms).  In order to get to the second floor, touch it, and then escape the building you must use 13 turns (if I counted correctly) without any special rooms or items.  That doesn't include collecting any data.  The length of the game can vary a decent amount based on what you encounter and how you roll, but if you assume that you roll a 3.5 each turn, then you will get about 28 turns.  Now, if you want to go to the last room in the building and escape, that requires 23 turns.  So, these last rooms are essentially going to be unused.  Now, let's factor in the alarms.  We played one game where the Officer that presses the alarm was in the very first room.  This basically cut our game in half, as we had 5-7 alarms going off before we could deal with him.  If, however, you average having the alarm at 3 all game (which I think is conservative), then that die roll suddenly averages 6.5, cutting your game down to about 15 turns, or, enough to get to the first room of the second floor, extract data twice, and get out.  I realize that there is a lot of variability in this, but I really said all of this to reinforce my main point - it feels like the game doesn't have enough time to develop.  I should also acknowledge - there are a few rooms that help mitigate this; the Loading Dock allows you to escape immediately (it's a first floor room), and the CEO's Office allows you to get a Blackmail File that allows you to escape from any room.  There are also rooms that allow you to move over several rooms at once.  However, depending on where these rooms are placed and if they are placed, they may be incredibly helpful, or incredibly worthless.  After all, a Loading Dock as the sixth room will give you the freedom to explore the second floor quite a bit; a Loading Dock as the first room gives you no benefit whatsoever.

Third, very briefly, I was disappointed that the characters didn't have anything unique about them.  There is a gameplay variant where they are "specialists" and thus two of their four items are pre-selected - but that's it.  One of the things that I really like about most Fantasy Flight games is that they often have this balanced but asymmetric starting position element I like, where you are a character, and it matters who you are (more than just what your piece looks like).  This isn't anything wrong with the game, per se, but it was something that I was disappointed by.

Overall, I give Infiltration a 7.0/10.  I think that it's ok, and I would be willing to play it more if my friends requested that we play it.  However, I was a bit disappointed by it (because I had really high hopes for it), and I will probably wind up trying to trade my copy.

If you like highly thematic games, you might also want to check out Dungeon Lords, Battlestar Galactica, and Mob Ties.


  1. I really wanted Infiltration to be a better game than it was. I love all things Cyberpunk so snapped this one up.
    I just felt like a drawn out game of Incan Gold, with more bits. I probably need to give it a couple more games to give it a chance.
    I only play with the "specialist" variant, it just seems to make more sense.

  2. If you like Incan Gold AND DungeonQuest, you will like this.