Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Conquest of Planet Earth

CONQUEST OF PLANET EARTH
by Flying Frog Productions                 Published in  2011

Conquest of Planet Earth is one of those games where players are the bad guys - always a very intriguing setting. It's 1950s, and Earth (or actually, it seems that just US) is under attack from the outer space. The aliens are strong, but the humans have formed a resistance to fight against this intergalactic menace, and the resistance has plans on creating a Super Cannon that could blow the aliens away from the Earth's orbit. And the resistance even has a superhero on their side; Captain Fantastic!
So will the aliens be able to inspire enough terror to conquer planet earth, or will the resistance finish their secret weapon and drive the alien armada back!


The game board is made from several identical boards with very little details on them: Only 6 empty spaces for locations and a central space with a special meaning. But during the game the aliens explore the surrounding areas and discover different kinds of locations, filling the boards with colorful cards. The gaming area is not very large, but this serves well for keeping the game duration relatively short.
For the aliens it doesn't matter how the required Terror Level is acquired, but in the middle of the resistance-controlled territory stands a Historic Monument... Capturing this structure would be a great victory for the aliens.

The aliens I have chosen for this game are known as "Fome Guild Mages". The following description is from the rulebook of the game:

"Some of the most powerful sorcerers in the known universe, the mages of the Fome Guild specialize in the necromantic arts; raising legions of the dead to fill their armies. Ominous and silent, they float through the air as though suspended by their massive heads; their futuristic silver robes dangling beneath. The Fome Guild has a bitter rivalry with the sinister Menthalars that stretches back eons. No one knows exactly why, but many have guessed it has to do with competition over the title of "Most Evil" race in the galaxy"







So now the Fome Guild has brought their first wave of four ships down to the landing site, and it is time to start looking for some humans to enslave. But the resistance is also ready, and they already have some initial units placed around the surrounding areas.

THE GAME BEGINS:




The invasion begins with gearing up. A Death Ray is found... this weapon is very good at destroying armored targets.
This will surely come in handy when the Mages meet some of heavily armored vehicles the humans so much like to use.




The Mages also begin feeding on the dead they leave in their wake, increasing their Terror Level.

A medium sized town is found from nearby. Three ships attack the town, easily defeating the infantry unit that was defending it. A fighter plane attacks the ships, but it is zapped away with the Death Ray.


The only remaining resistance in the town is an angry mob with a geologist helping them in their desperate effort. They fight valiantly, and in a crushing victory they manage to destroy one of the Mages' ships, just before the other two ships wipe the pesky humans away.

The Guild now controls the town!




The resistance unites their defenses and deploys paratroopers near the Guild's landing site. They also manage to capture some of the Mages' technology, improving their weapons with some reverse engineering. However, an Overseer intervention is called in and the humans lose their new technology... No alien tech should be allowed to end up in their hands.

Situation check:
Terror Level: 3/8
Resistance activity: Low, few tanks and helicopters are defending the Historic Monument. Paratroopers lurk near the Guild's landing site.

Three ships are sent west from the town, but nothing of value is found from there, just hills with no humans living in there.


An unexpected chemical reaction weakens all the aliens for a while. Also the resistance paratroopers advance to the Mages' landing site.






The Fome Guild Mages now have "endless waves". This allows them to bring in new ships with no cost.


The paratroopers at the landing site are ignored, and the three ships continue searching through the surrounding area. An electric power plant is found. This dangerous location has some infantry guarding it, but they are quickly defeated with the help of "battle frenzy".







Suddenly Captain Fantastic arrives! This earth's greatest superhero easily overwhelms the Guild's weakened ships... but then the Mages remember their special weapon, the Death Ray! Not even the mighty Captain Fantastic can survive long against a terrifying device like that!

The Captain is defeated (but most likely not killed) and the Guild assumes control over the power plant.



Situation check:
Terror Level: 5/8
Resistance activity: Moderate, fighter planes are patrolling around the territories controlled by the Guild, and an artillery unit is deployed to keep the aliens away from the Historic Monument.
The resistance is now half way through in developing their Super Cannon.

A new ship comes down to the landing site, where it is immediately engaged by the resistance paratroopers.

Meanwhile, the other three ships attack the fighter planes above a mountain range leading towards the Historic Monument.






The paratroopers are easily killed. The planes pose more threat, but the trusty Death Ray takes care of them.

The resistance strikes back! Freedom fighters surprise the Fome Guild's ships in the mountains and destroy two of them with a sudden attack. The last remaining ship is gunned down by artillery fire from the nearby battery.


Situation check:

Terror Level: 5/8
Resistance activity: Moderate, more tanks arrive near the Historic Monument.


Seeing how well the Historic Monument is protected, the Guild brings new ships down to the landing site and sends them east to look for easier targets. Another town is found.





Another artillery battery is protecting the town. The aliens try to take it out with the Death Ray, but this time they miss. The artillery fires and destroys one of attacking ships. After this setback, the artillery is destroyed with conventional weapons.

Next, some paratroopers land into the town, and the local Sheriff assists them in leading a counter attack against the two remaining Guild ships. The resistance special forces attack hard, and the Mages are facing a defeat...
but then the Guild taps into their horrifying magical powers, sending a Warp Blast at the resistance. There are no survivors, and the town is taken over by the Guild.

The Fome Guild Mages now control most of the area surrounding their landing site. Their victory is near.

Another team of paratroopers moves into the landing site, where one Fume ship was waiting. The resulting fight would have ended in paratroopers' victory, but another Warp Blast takes care of them.

The magik of Fume Guild Mages is not to be underestimated!


The resistance comes up with new technology: Guided Missiles. These missiles are quickly delivered to each aerial resistance unit around the area, making them considerably more dangerous, and also increasing their range.

Situation check:
Terror Level: 7/8
Resistance activity: High, the Historic Monument is heavily protected with tanks and aerial units. Some tanks also appear to the last unexplored location around the Guild's landing site.

The Guild is now very close to their goal, so they send all of their four ships to the unexplored location southeast from their landing site. But there is nothing but forest... and the tanks, but they are easily destroyed with a fleet this big.


The resistance developes Advanced Communications, significantly increasing the effectiveness of their combat. Also, the Super Cannon is nearly ready, so the Guild must make fast decisions...
They cannot gain any more Terror from their territory, so a quick attack must be made towards the Historic Monument. The resistance is powerful there, but the Mages also have some tricks up their long sleeves.


The aliens are far away from their target, so all the Guild can come up with is a mere one-ship at the location of the resistance artillery battery. This brave ship is packed with all the nastiest of attacks that the aliens have at their disposal; Death Ray, Contagion Bomb, and the ability to create a Warp Blast.


The artillery was stationed in a small college town. This location doesn't have a lot of population, but conquering it would be just enough to reach the ultimate victory.





The lone Fume Guild ship deploys the "Contagion" into the town. The artillery crew is incapacitated by the contagion before they have a chance to start firing. With the real resistance gone, only some local police forces are standing between the Mages and their ultimate victory.

One ship is not very powerful on its own, but the Mages are known for their necromancy... While the cops are fighting against the alien ship, they are totally surprised by a team of undead paratroopers, driven by the evil will of Fome Guild Mages! With the help of these new allies, the Guild conquers the small college town.

Now they have invoked enough terror amongst the population to claim the whole planet under their rule!
The Planet Earth has been Conquered!






CONCLUSION:

Well, a successful game, though not a very interesting one. The whole first half of the game was very easy, reducing the level of enjoyment a little bit. But "luckily" at the end I almost ran out of time, so I had to make some desperate moves... and desperate moves always spice up a game like this!
Necromancy, which is the trademark ability of Fome Guild Mages was only used once during the game. This was simply because there were not much dead "soft resistance" with which this ability could've been used. Also, I personally like the Allies that may be recruited during the game, but none of them were seen here.

Conquest of Planet Earth has two very different gaming modes: Cooperative mode, which I played here, and a Competitive mode. In the competitive mode the players rival each other, and the resistance is much less active - no Super Cannons, no advanced resistance technology and so on. On the other hand, the competitive mode offers the players a chance to fight each other, and play nasty event cards to hinder the progress of other alien races.

CoPE is said to be too easy in its cooperative mode. I wouldn't say that, but what I would say is that the diffulty varies a lot, perhaps too much. Some games offer no challenge at all, while some games are pretty much doomed to fail, due to some particulary hazardous event cards and  too many locations with no population. But most of the games still rank in somewhere between these two, and those games are usually very much fun.

Artwork of the game is detailed, yet interestingly cartoonish. In a Flying Frog Production's fashion, every single card has somekind of a picture, and their style suits the game theme very well. Also, all the cards and components are very durable.
This game, like all FFP games, comes with a soundtrack CD, which is a nice addition for building up the mood.

RATING: 8 /10

SOLO RATING: 8 /10

Solo CoPE is a very nice game with a shorter-than-average duration. I don't think it really has anything that makes it one of the best games I know of, but it doesn't have any major flaws either.
And the theme is very nice :)

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