Monday, August 16, 2010

Gencon 2010: Flying Frog Productions

I am not going to sugar-coat this fact, I LOVE Flying Frog Productions. Maybe it is just that they start with FF like many other things I love, Fantasy Flight Games, Fantastic Four, Final Four, Frozen Four, you get the idea. I did not see an expansions that were designed primarily for either of FFP first two games, Last Night on Earth: The zombie Game or A touch of Evil (or what I like to consider, Arkham Horror Light/Competitive, a compliment to FFP, not a crtique of AToE).

The bonus is that the new game Invasion from Outer Space: The Martian Game will have cross-compatible components for use with LNoE and vice versa. I cannot wait to have the dancing bear fighting zombies! I didn't actually take the time to play this game at GenCon, but I did talk with its designer, Jason Hill to get the information above. Since both run on the same engine I decided to focus more on FFP's other new game. Before I get to that, I want to insure everyone that Invasion has the same high quality pieces and pictures as other FFP games. I am eagerly anticipating this game's release. For some additional hype, here are the pictures I took of the game (sorry about the glare on the game board):

The game I am really excited about is Conquest of Planet Earth. The Goal: conquer more locations on planet Earth than the other alien races. First one to a set number of points (8 in the standard game), wins. Conquest uses an action point system for each Alien race. All races start with the same choices for action points. Players choose a cardboard chit numbered 2-6 or d6. Once a number is chosen, it is set aside until all the other chits are used. The d6 indicates a roll of a d6 for activations. The player that chose the lowest number of action points goes first and then the player to their left and so on. Each player starts with a unique alien race that has special abilities, a strength number, and and an intelligence number. Each race also starts with four space ships in their starting location on the center of one of the outside boards. Strength represents the strength of each ship participating in a conquest while intelligence indicates the number of cards you draw up to at the beginning of each round.

On a player's turn, they can move a ship to an adjacent space for one action point. If a player's alien race has conquered an adjacent location, ships can move any number of spaces until they reach a location that is unconquered or controlled by an opponent for one action point. The center location is the Capitol, worth 5 conquest points and the farthest from the starting points. A player can also spend two action points for an alien token, used for various powers on the Alien race sheet or to pay expenses for event cards.

Once a player has spent their action points, a new location is revealed for each empty space. The location has two numbers, victory points and resistance number. The victory points number obviously shows how many points the location is worth (some are worth 0). The resistance number is how many cards from the resistance deck the aliens need to face before conquering a location. Resistance cards can be anything from foot soldiers to paratoopers to tanks or heroes. Each resistance card has a strength number that is compared to the aliens total strength. Event cards can be played to alter the numbers, force betrayal, etc. Once the numbers are added up, the active player rolls a d6 while an inactive player rolls a d6 for the resistance. If the total of the Alien race strength plus d6 roll beats the resistance, another resistance card is drawn or the location is conquered. A roll of "6" on the d6 is considered a crushing victory and beats the other side automatically. If the aliens lose, once ship is destroyed and the active player decides whether or not to continue fighting if any ships remain.

In the demo I played, the event cards can really help you hold other players back. Also, the locations often have additional abilities that can affect the game. I drew a power station that destroyed alien ships on a roll of 1 or 2, costing me one of the two ships at that location. Certain event cards also bring in additional monsters/weapons that have miniatures in the game. None of these came out in the demo, but from the pictures you can see how cool these look(grey minis by the spaceships).

I had a chance to discuss the co-op version of the game with Jason Hill, but not a chance to play it. In the co-op game, the human resistance cards stay in play with various tokens for each location. Also, the humans have a tech track (somewhat similar to the turn markers in LNoE and aToE). The tech track empowers the resistance and demonstrates the humans ability to copy alien tech or develop their own weapons systems. The end of the tech track is a supercanon that ends the invasion.

I really enjoyed this game, especially the ability to play competitive or co-op. I know a lot of casual gamers prefer co-op games and working as a team against the system. I will be picking this game up sometime after its scheduled release in December. I only had a chance to play a mock up of this game at GenCon, but I did confirm that this game is FFP's first game not to feature their distinctive photo art. I think this approach works well for Invasion and am glad to see the photos continue with Invaders.

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