Megagame Makers: Watch The Skies 2

I have very little idea of what just happened.

Last Saturday, I was lucky enough to be able to go along to Megagame Maker’s Watch The Skies 2. Before I go any further, I heavily recommend you go and watch the Shut Up and Sit Down video on the first one, as it will explain the basics far better than I can. Essentially it’s a mix of LRP and a (huge) board game.

The basics are this: Everyone is assigned a role to play for the duration, which could be:

  • A member of one of the countries governments
  • A member of one of the large press corporations
  • A member of one of the large weapons manufacturers
  • A member of a charity called “humanity first”
  • A member of one of the alien factions.

Aliens have been visiting earth, and the game is to deal with the continuation (and escalation) of that.

I was to play the President of Venezuela. I would be working with a Head and Deputy Head of the military, a foreign minister, an ambassador and a head of applied science. We were to represent and steer Venezuela through these difficult times.

Everyone turns up on the day to a huge hall set out with a table for every country, roughly grouped around a table with a map of their continent. The day was split up into turns, during which there were things you could and couldn’t do.

The whole experience was… frantic. We were running around constantly and my brain took a long time to come down from “crisis management” mode. It was amazing.

Roughly what I can remember from the day:

We had previously decided that given our lack of a huge military, we would try and enter some kind of agreement that would help protect us from bullying from the big boys, political or military.

Luckily it seems like Brazil and Argentina had had a similar plan, and soon we formed the Latin American Treaty Organisation (LATO) with the blessing of the pope himself.  The first few turns were spent setting this up, and ensuring the smaller NPC countries around us were in line. This involved sending secret agents into them, to infiltrate their governments and help things to go our way, and then spending political influence on them to make them formal allies.

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Left to right: Myself, the president of Argentina, and the president of Brazil

During this time our Head of Applied Science was making waves in the science community developing improved vaccines and drug delivery systems. Unfortunately this meant presenting a paper at a conference on why eugenics is a good thing. I don’t know why.

One of the things about being president is that I saw the broad strokes of what went on, but not much of the fine details.

It was about this time that Bolivia decided it was a good idea to invade Paraguay,  because they had some prime fracking land. At roughly the same time, we have some UFOs come down and start abducting civilians. This massively hit our bottom line and good will in our own population. As a result we started receiving less and less cash each turn, and found ourselves severely broke.

Our Science guy came to the rescue however, and managed to flog some Science to a few other countries. This cash was invested in PR and we managed to get things back up to normal. During this time, we also signed an agreement with GMIC, one of the weapons manufacturers, agreeing that we would only deal with them, in return for cheaper prices. And a small back hander. Yay corruption!

Because we had been so poor we started talking to Humanity First about getting aid to our people. In addition LATO and the pope were (apparently) going to go and meet some of the aliens, and as president, apparently I was the one going. Exciting! Time to go and negotiate release of our civilians. I could just see the news headlines…

Oh I should mention that the pope was moving the vatican to Brazil, because Italy weren’t being very nice to him anymore, or something. So we were all best buddies (or so it seemed). While this was going on, Humanity First also came to tell us that they could set up a meeting with the aliens, which we also jumped on.

Queue a lot of waiting for aliens to come say hi.

Eventually, we saw the pope being led away with some aliens. Without the rest of the LATO. No idea what happened there, but we never saw him face-to-face again.

Shortly after myself and my deputy head of the military got our first meeting with an alien, set up by Humanity First. The alien seemed very friendly, and interested in gaining knowledge. Also they weren’t the ones abducting our civilians. A bit of a disappointment, but communication had been made, and hopefully trade routes opened.

Then, suddenly, the UN disappeared. The whole lot of them. The whole of the United Nations Security Council had been abducted. Including our foreign minister. I think this was the final turn of the game, it’s all a bit of a blur, but during all this there was a large space battle in the skies over Brazil, that none of us knew anything about, and Tokyo got blown up.

I’m 100% certain that there is stuff that I’ve forgotten to include in this, and there was a whole huge sections of the game I never saw.

Massive thanks to the rest of Team Venezuela, the rest of LATO, the Vatican, GIMC and, of course, everyone all the Control guys for running the event.

If you get a chance to do one of these, do it. It’s an experience you won’t get anywhere else. You can find their website here: http://megagames.org.uk/

Good things:

  • Immensely fun and exhausting day
  • Military and Politics worked well together, and were really exciting.
  • The Science game looked awesome. It felt slightly removed from everything else, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
  • The aliens felt suitably alien.

Constructive criticism:

  • A fair amount of stuff was unclear:
    • The news corps were on Twitter, which had we known about in advance could have prepared for. This wouldn;t have been as much of an issue if their printers hadn’t been broken)
    • It was really tough to distinguish the news corporations from each other, and the weapon manufacturers from each other. This feels like information that we should have known.
    • Some of the more specific mechanics were not obvious as well. We missed out on a few turns of bribes because we didn’t know how to collect them.
  • As a smaller nation, we didn’t have a lot of clout. We really enjoyed feeling like a small fish in a big pond, but others may feel frustrated.
  • Everyone was too nice! More reason not to cooperate with countries may increase feelings of paranoia.

Everyone is going to have a radically different view on this, so this is a list (that I’ll keep updated if possible) of the other blog posts about WTS2:

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