Game day comes around again, and today I’m shining the spotlight of awesome over one of my very favourite games. It’s time to embrace your inner-alien, as we look at Conquest of Planet Earth!
Published by Flying Frog Productions, this game is a bit of a departure for them in some ways, but in terms of components and even some mechanics, it’s very much up to their usual top-quality work.
You take the role of an alien race, represented by the usual over-sized, thick card stuff:
These cards look pretty straightforward, but tell you some very important stuff – your strength, and your intelligence. At the start of the game, you draw Event cards equal to your intelligence, and these allow you to alter the flow of the game in various ways:
The object of the game is to, well, conquer planet earth – represented by a number of locations laid out across a number of game boards. This is really where this game becomes really different for the company (aside from the fact it uses art rather than photographs, of course). On your turn, you have a number of actions you can take, such as moving your aliens or landing reinforcements if you’ve had anyone destroyed. Some Event cards will have a cost to play, and gaining Alien Menace tokens to trigger your race’s ability will also cost you. You roll a d6 to determine how many Action Points you have, which you can then spend on your turn.
I’m using the single-player set-up for ease of reference here. You start the game with your own board and a central board that has the Capitol City location at the centre. As the game progresses, you move your aliens (the flying saucer markers) around the board, revealing locations and fighting the resistance there. So the board will change with each game, as you draw different locations to populate it.
The locations have two things in the bottom corners – a population total in the left, and a resistance value in the right. When you move any number of aliens into the location, you must fight a number of times equal to the resistance value. To do this, you draw a Resistance card – in the above example, I’ve got the awful luck of the US Army Artillery. They have a strength of 4, and my Vyborian Arbiters each have a strength of 3, but additionally, the Artillery has a special effect of its own, which can potentially wipe my aliens out before the combat has begun!
To fight, I roll a d6 for the aliens, and another for the Resistance – the game handily comes with 8 white and 8 orange d6s, so you can do this at the same time. We then each add our total strength to the result, and if the Resistance wins, the aliens are destroyed and removed from the table (they can come back, as mentioned earlier). If the aliens win, however, and there are no more fights left to happen at that location, they can place a Conquest marker there, which gives them Terror points equal to the location’s population (the bottom-left icon). You need 8 terror points per player to win, so playing a 4-player game, you need 32 points.
There are also Resistance Heroes, such as the War Veteran shown above. When you draw a Hero, you continue to draw until you get what’s termed a ‘full Resistance’ card, which can sometimes lead to you having multiple cards contributing to one battle. However, hope is never lost, because if you roll a natural 6, it counts as a Crushing Victory and will defeat the opponent no matter how highly they rolled, so even with one alien against a whole load of Resistance fighters, you can potentially carry the day! Also, remember those Event cards the aliens have? There’s one in there called ‘We Come In Peace’, which lets the aliens automatically win the combat!
However, aliens aren’t the only ones with Event cards, and once the alien turn is over, a Resistance Phase happens where the Earthlings try to fight back! An Event card is drawn from a separate stack, with the red text happening (always bad for the aliens), as well as a number of other horrible steps, such as liberating locations (removing Conquest markers), and the even-worse Tech Breakthrough. The humans have a deck of Human Tech that can provide significant buffs to their Resistance, which is just awful when you’re trying to conquer the planet…
Aliens have access to similar stuff, though – the aptly-named Space Stuff deck that allows you to gain additional effects, useful allies and upgrades, and even bonus Terror Points. Very handy!
The game is reasonably straightforward to learn, and like FFP’s other titles, has a multitude of optional extras. I’ve been going through the Co-Op game in this description, which pits the aliens against Earth’s heroes; the Competitive game is broadly similar, though without the whole Resistance phase as you’re fighting against the other aliens to conquer as much of the planet as you can (first to 8 Terror Points wins). In addition to the usual shenanigans involved in competitive games, there are also some small differences, such as the Event cards all forming one big deck, and the use of Command Tokens rather than rolling for Action Points. These tokens determine the first player in the round also, with the lowest-revealed token going first. So it’s sometimes a trade-off to go first but have fewer options available to you. That said, there’s also an Event card that will give you +2 Action Points, so you’re never truly stuck…
This game is just great! I bought it nearly two years ago now, having previously not really bothered all that much with it, thinking it wasn’t as good as FFP’s other offerings. How wrong I was! True to form, the game embraces the beloved 1950s sci-fi B-movie awfulness with gusto, and if you get into the spirit of a ridiculous alien race blasting through the Resistance as you try to overcome the planet, it can be a really hilarious experience! It’s a really straightforward area-control game, and plays relatively quickly, helped mainly by the clear rules. As ever with FFP, the focus is most squarely on theme and gameplay fun rather than overly-complex rules systems.
There has thus far been one expansion released, Apocalypse, which I’ll take a look at in another blog, as well as three new alien races in webstore exclusive packs. All of this adds nicely to what’s already there, anyway, making a great game just more enjoyable.
I’m not sure how many other ways I can say it, though – it’s a great game, and you should definitely investigate it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!