Watch the Skies – Megagame
The megagame of Alien terror.
The most physically and mentally tiring but most fun 7 hours in gaming.
Inspired by UFO Enemy Unknown and the more recent XCOM computer games. Both games, whilst great at the tactical level are naturally thin on high level politics and diplomatic action.
Hence a megagame.
The basic premise is that aliens (The Beta Reticulans or ‘greys’) are increasingly visiting earth to abduct, investigate, terrorise and ultimately to subvert and take over or render earth weak enough to invade.
The main part of the game is about how humanity as a collection of political entities decides to react to this.
On the morning of the game, the alarm woke me up at 6am and we took an almost 2 hour drive to a Town Hall near Telford to play a game… worth it? read on…
The game is played over 12 turns, each 30 minutes in length and there are 6 nations (China, Russia, Japan, India, UK and USA) reacting to increasingly active Alien activity on earth. Each country has their own roles within their respective countries. Head of State, Deputy Head of State, Foreign Minster, Chief Scientist and Chief of Defence. Each given their respective titles depending on their nation.
I was Chief of the People’s Defence Staff: Field Marshal Kang. I’ll get more into that involves when I talk about the roles. But first the venue…
Inside the hall there were tables for each country around the outside of the room and the large Military map in the middle of the room. Up on the stage was a table reserved for the UN meetings and to the side was a lab for the scientists disguised as a kitchen… In the back, behind closed doors was a room for the Aliens to go about their business. In the corner was the office of the GNN, the Global News Network… more on them later.
It was roomy, comfy, warmer than anyone expected and has refreshments which was great.
So more about the roles…
Head of State/Deputy Head of State
Leads and coordinates with all members of the team but most importantly distributes resources and become the main hub of all the information coming in from other areas. You need to remember a lot to do this role well as well as having 3-4 people begging for more resources than you can give out 🙂
You also need to make announcements in front of everyone and a lot of these were entertaining. Also, you need to answer interviews with the press and have your words twisted in each edition of the newspaper.
Attends UN meetings and discusses goings on with other countries. They also need to work with the Chief of Defence to place Agents for various actions. They also need the Defence staff to place Peace Keepers and World Food Program markers on the Military Map.
The Scientists spent most of each turn out in their own little room doing their own thing. They researched tech and gave speeches to each other. They could also win awards.
I don’t really know much about the goings on of the Scientists, all I know is he kept passing me advanced tech making my units more powerful, which was nice 🙂
Chief of Defence
Only Defence players are allowed at the Military map which is why they need to work closely with the Foreign Minister and Leader. They deploy Military, BattleGroups and Fleets on the board and each turn deploy Interceptors, Agents and Assault Teams.
Also, don’t forget the Nukes 🙂
Interceptors have a world wide reach and can shoot down alien ships with a card draw. But to gather tech (for the Scientists to use) from these crash sites you need to have Special Agents in that region. Very hard to do as the Aliens deploy their units after the humans do. In fact, I never got to recover anything all day, clever aliens.
You need to pay to move some units and deploy others. This is where you need to beg your Leader for the funds to deploy everything you have, even if you don’t really need to!
They were divided up into 2 Conclaves but essentially worked as one. They came out to the Military map to deploy their ships. Some were decoys, most were real and those that weren’t shot down got to perform their chosen action such as Abduction or Base Building.
Successful Alien actions raised the terror level which was an end game indicator.
GNN News Team and Game Makers
The people who made it happen. The Game Makers wonder around distributing resources, answering questions and managing the game. The were in control of certain areas and kept in contact of each other. While they did a good job, it was very tough for them with just 6-7 managing 40+ players and all the stuff going on but they did a great job.
The GNN news team released a new edition each turn made up from factual stories and some not so factual. There was a number you could text to leak ‘unconfirmed’ information to the press.
All in all it was an amazing day. The game is great fun and while there were rules it was about the experience and having fun. Most people dressed up which helped with the overall feel of the game.
10 of us went and when we got home to play some more games, we just talked for almost an hour about the day and what happened. Usually, when this conversation is taking place with a game set up ready to play I’m quietly thinking ‘just shut up so we can start’ but this time I didn’t care. I just wanted to relive the day.
I think it was unanimous that, out of the 10 of us that went, all 10 want to do it again.
If you want to see one in action, Shut up & Sit Down filmed their experience. (Contains spoilers)
Spoiler Warning: Below I’m going to mention a few things that happened (mostly to me) in our game. They may or may not happen in your game too so I’m just warning you now. It also includes how the game ended and again, while your story may be different, I’m still giving you a chance to stop reading 🙂
Veto-ld you not to do it
From turn one I was getting leaned on by India. The first issue the UN had to discuss was a food shortage in Uganda. While that’s none of China’s business, Uganda is an ally with India, who borders China…
Still none of my business until the Chinese Foreign Minster vetoed the vote to give aid to the area! He (maybe rightfully) thought that local warlords would get the food rather than those that need it. Say bye to help from India in a military sense for the remaining ENTIRE GAME! 🙂
Abductions are no joke
With a food crisis going on and abductions occurring, the USA Head Chief of Staff made a joke around the Military table about the abductions in Africa helping relieve the food shortage… All funny ‘out of character’ I guess but when I passed the joke on to my Science guy he immediately leaked it to the press and it was in the next edition of the newspaper…
The Head Chief of Staff was quite quiet for the next few rounds…
Whats App is cool isn’t it? It lets you message people via their phone number across devices at the cost of your data plan… but more importantly it let’s you create groups.
We had a group and called it China so with the all the information flying around we wouldn’t miss too much. Russia, who happened to be our friends we went to the event with had their own group too.
But there was a third group called “Alliance” which we were all in. More for convenience than anything else but still, it was there. The press picked up on this and outed us using “Secret communication channels”… oops.
Small in Japan
Aliens in Asia and the Pacific and Japan refused to act against them…
Didn’t trust them for the rest of the day but reminded everyone else every chance I got. They were their own game for the rest of the day really.
Hate Thy Neighbour, Please?
Probably due to the know known alliance between Russia and China, an unknown source tried to tempt us into attacking them in exchange for some very advanced technology… We declined. We never found out who the offer came from…
Russia and China Face Off
In an attempt to stop stories of alliances between China and Russia, both leaders independently visited the GNN headquarters to say they were just discussing their mutual love of Ice Hockey. While this made the paper, I don’t think anyone believed it. 🙂
Not OK in UK
Despite 2 alien ships in their air space, the UK refused helped in eliminating them. The UK had an ‘understanding’ with the aliens so they wouldn’t allow us into their airspace to shoot them down.
Feeling cocky, they awaited to see what the aliens would do, only to see them launch terror attacks in Nottingham. They then didn’t refuse help again.
The Milan Massacre
In order to chase down ALL alien threats, my
blood thirst tactical decision was to invade Italian airspace temporarily ignore regulations and head straight for them. Since the Italians took offence to this and sent up protection of their own, I decided to take them out too… they were clearly working with the Aliens… right?
Not 20 seconds after shooting down the locals I get a message from our Foreign Minister asking why we are shooting Italians down… I turn around only to see my Leader mouthing “What have you done?” 🙂
I made the news AND stopped 2 Alien threats so it was all worth it…
There are so many more stories but here is how it ended and it wasn’t good.
While I destroyed the Aliens base on Earth, and Russia destroyed the bases on the moon we were victorious, for now.
Sadly the Galactic Fleet, far too powerful for us, was already on the way and when it arrived, the Aliens decided to destroy everyone except India.
We don’t know why the Aliens picked India to survive, they just did.
But it’s not about that, it’s about the day as a whole which was a fantastic experience.