Ian K
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I want to stress that this review is only about the co-operative side of this game. I've played at least 20 co-operative games of Conquest Of Planet Earth but I have yet to play any competitve games at all. Therefore, obviously, I am in no position at all to judge this game on its competitive mode and will stick purely to the co-operative.
It may well be that the competitive aspects of this game are so drastically different that everything I am about to say is completely meaningless when applied to that side of the game. But then again, maybe not, I really don't know.
All I will say is that if you - like me - are purely interested in the co-operative side of this game then this review is for you. If you are interested primarily in the competitive side, this review is probably not what you're looking for. If you're interested in this game because it can be both competitive and co-operative, then this review addresses half of that.
Are we all clear on this?
Let me stress it one last time; this review looks purely at the co-operative gameplay mode of Conquest Of Planet Earth.

Synopsis
Each player takes on the role of an alien species that all have, collectively, decided to invade Earth at the same time. Each species has different strengths and weaknesses and they must use these powers to accumulate enough victory points before the spirited Earth Resistance lasts long enough to launch a decisive counter-attack.
To that end, each player starts with 4 Flying Saucers in play and uses these ships to explore strange new worlds locations, to conquer those locations, and accumulate enough victory points so that all players can share a collective victory.

Gameplay
These new locations to enter play are drawn from the location deck each time a space ship enters a blank space on the board, and the drawn location then takes the place of that space and the flying saucers attack its defence value and hope to earn its victory points. But right form the word go, there is a problem.
Almost exactly 1 in 3 of the locations in the location deck are worth 0 points. For a game in which you are severely restricted in the number of turns you can take, this is actually exceedingly crippling. The game can - and indeed often does - reach "time out" before there has been enough points in play for the players to even theoretically win. It doesn't matter how good a player you are, if the points you need to win are never even available to you in the first place then you simply stand no chance.
There is a "Tech Track" that automatically advances every turn and when it reaches 10, the Humans have mastered the technology to defeat the alien invaders and the players all lose. However in addition to the automatic advance every turn, there are also several other ways the Tech Track can advance an additional step. In practice, this means that each game lasts roughly on average 6-8 turns. Given that you need 8 victory points per player to win, a turn in which you get 0 points is annoying. But given the high number of 0 point locations, chances are you'll get a second turn like that, too. And often a third. Leaving you with 3-6 turns to get 8 points. This is usually not enough - particularly at the lower end of that range. For most alien races, this is too high an ask and so the players will lose the game through no fault of their own.
A simple solution to this, surely, would be to take most of the 0 point locations out of the deck, yes?
Well ... that brings us to the next problem with the game.
If you don't draw a 0 point location, then it's far too easy to conquer the location and get the points. The combat in the game is far too easy - the difference between the meta-games of competitive play and co-operative play were not accounted for enough in the game design and this has resulted in no challenge at all in co-op combat.
Consider it like this ... if are playing a competitive 3 player game and start a fight against the Humans, you have 1 hand of events (yours) helping you in the combat and 2 hands of events (your two opponents') opposing you. Yet in co-operative play, you would have 3 hands of events helping you and none at all opposing you. The designers tried to make up for this by giving the Humans cards which, among other really powerful effects ... ... can give the Humans +1 strength in a fight. That's really not enough to make up for the extreme shift in power in the shifted focus of the events. When you have cards that can give you +2 strength or more and let you reroll the dice, and suddenly the number of those events that you have access to has effectively tripled, the Human's +1 to their tanks is so ineffective as to be meaningless.

These two extremes is all the co-operative game ever ends up being. Either it is literally impossible for the players to win because the locations haven't put enough points in play, or the game is too easy because the automated system designed to defend those locations is too weak. There is no happy medium. This game is simply either literally impossible or too easy.

Which is a shame because a lot of hard work has obviously gone into the game, the base mechanics are not flawed at all, there's obviously a good game here somewhere. But the game balance due to the text of the cards and player powers is hideously off.

Presentation
I always maintain that as long as the artwork doesn't ruin the game, it's acceptable. The look is entirely secondary to the gameplay, after all. No one ever buys a game because they've heard it's "got some nice pics, shame about the game but I want the art".
However I mention it in all my reviews because some people seem to want to know. And what I can tell those people is that everything here is hunky-dory.

Summary
As previously mentioned, in co-operative mode this game alternates between two extremes. It's either too easy or literally impossible. There is no happy middle-ground which is, after all, where you would want the game to be.
If this were a race, your opponent would be on a bicycle and you'd either be superglued to the starting line or in a jet plane. And you wouldn't know which until the race was almost over.
I hope that the first (inevitable) expansion brings out some new mechanics and tweaks for the co-operative game to try and balance it better and I will be keeping an eye on any news to see if that does indeed happen. But until it does, this game is not worth playing in co-operative mode.

4 out of 10. Too easy or literally impossible - nothing inbetween. But this review has only been about the co-operative side of the game, maybe the competitive side is much, much better. I defer to other reviewers to tell us.

(edit: changed a couple of sentences around just to make the review flow better)
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Wade Nelson
United States
Golden Valley
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You should remove only a few of the zero location cards if you remove any at all. If there is actually a 1 to 3 ration (I haven't checked), then 12 of the 35 location cards are zeroes. Removing three of them makes it a 1 to 4 ratio, which is a pretty significant change in terms of game balance. You can also adjust which human units are available to tailor the difficulty a bit, and the right combinations of human tech cards can make them pretty formidable in combat.

I have only played CoPE cooperatively, and I quite like it. I'd compare it to Red November: light and quick. Sometimes you get a "bad deal", but the game is quick enough that it's excusable. While I generally disagree with your conclusion(s), I do think you address some issues with the cooperative game. From the game manual it seems to me that the game was designed with competitive play in mind, and the cooperative game is a little bit tacked on. I still appreciate the option to play cooperatively though, and I do enjoy it as a light dice-chucking human-squishing romp.
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Ian K
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wadenels wrote:
You should remove only a few of the zero location cards if you remove any at all. If there is actually a 1 to 3 ration (I haven't checked), then 12 of the 35 location cards are zeroes. Removing three of them makes it a 1 to 4 ratio, which is a pretty significant change in terms of game balance. You can also adjust which human units are available to tailor the difficulty a bit, and the right combinations of human tech cards can make them pretty formidable in combat.

I have only played CoPE cooperatively, and I quite like it. I'd compare it to Red November: light and quick. Sometimes you get a "bad deal", but the game is quick enough that it's excusable. While I generally disagree with your conclusion(s), I do think you address some issues with the cooperative game. From the game manual it seems to me that the game was designed with competitive play in mind, and the cooperative game is a little bit tacked on. I still appreciate the option to play cooperatively though, and I do enjoy it as a light dice-chucking human-squishing romp.


I quite accept that you can introduce house rules and take out cards or tokens or increase the VP requirement to win or do many more things to make the game more balanced and/or increase the difficulty.
But I feel for a Review, I have to consider the game "as is" without any player modifications. The game I look at has to be what comes out of the box otherwise I don't believe my review is fair on anyone - game makers or players.
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James Best
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I very much agree with your opinion of this game. I bought it a little over a year ago having heard all the hype, and after playing the coop game 3-4 times, promptly put it up in a math trade. Never understood the love for this one.
 
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Randall Shaw
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We played the co-op version and, while we had a good time learning the game, we decided the competitive version would prolly be much more fun (still haven't been able to get this back on the table to test our theory out though).
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Matthew McHale
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There are Event cards in the game that allow you to redraw location cards and the Resitance Counters(which you did not mention) are out to liberate locations that have a conquest token on them. So there is some balancing out to the things you mentioned. Yes the game can be stacked against you. More times then not the game is very hard to win its rearly easy. If you just playing this game to win your missing the point of the game: silly sci-fi b-movie fun. Win or Lose.
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Mauricio Zebel
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Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game » Forums » Reviews
Re: 4 out of 10. A review **ONLY** on the co-op side of this game,
So, I just bought this game because all of the great reviews it has, as soon as we opened it we raced to play the so expected cooperative play and as much as we tried it just seemed as if the computer player was running in an old 486 processor, so I thought: so we have 5 players, I've always loved to the be the zombie in LNOE why not give it a try, 4 aliens vs me human. The only change so far I've made is that human player has a hand of 2 cards, but can only play 1 event cards as the rules say. Seems to put a totally new face to the game!! Give it a try before you sell the game!
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Nunya Business
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The expansion that is coming up needs to fix the cooperative game. Competitive is amazing though; its hilarious too!
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yegods
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you played a game that you think is a 4 out of 10, twenty times?? Wow, that's dedication. I am primarily interested in this game as a co-op, so your review causes me concern. Thanks.
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Ian K
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yegods wrote:
you played a game that you think is a 4 out of 10, twenty times?? Wow, that's dedication.


Several reasons for that.
Firstly, I love co-op games and didn't want to give up on it until I'd given it a fair try.
Secondly, I wanted to try every possible Alien race at least once.
Thirdly, I showed it to three different groups of gaming friends to see what they all thought of it.
Fourthly, given the good reviews the game has been getting I wanted to see if I could figure out what the fuss was about.
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Nunya Business
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Stenun wrote:
yegods wrote:
you played a game that you think is a 4 out of 10, twenty times?? Wow, that's dedication.


Several reasons for that.
Firstly, I love co-op games and didn't want to give up on it until I'd given it a fair try.
Secondly, I wanted to try every possible Alien race at least once.
Thirdly, I showed it to three different groups of gaming friends to see what they all thought of it.
Fourthly, given the good reviews the game has been getting I wanted to see if I could figure out what the fuss was about.


I'd have to agree that the co-op needs some work. Then again, co-op is not the default setting for the game. Competitive is the way it is meant to be played.

Try competitive. Its much better than co-op.
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Mayfield
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PrimordialOne wrote:

I'd have to agree that the co-op needs some work. Then again, co-op is not the default setting for the game. Competitive is the way it is meant to be played.


that's not a legitimate excuse. the back of the box advertizes four game types - not just competitive.
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Nunya Business
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mayfield703 wrote:
PrimordialOne wrote:

I'd have to agree that the co-op needs some work. Then again, co-op is not the default setting for the game. Competitive is the way it is meant to be played.


that's not a legitimate excuse. the back of the box advertizes four game types - not just competitive.


It wasn't meant to be an excuse. However, competitive is the default setting for the game. Even the rules state this. Maybe their upcoming expansion will add something to the co-op?

I think out of all of my games its Conquest of Planet Earth that gets played the least.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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I played it both co-op and competitive in a 3 player session, and it worked OK both ways for us. Didn't knock our socks off, but everybody had a good time.
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Derek VDG
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I will point out that there are player cards that add VP. Plus, off the top of my head there is at least one alien race that can score VP off of 0-point locations (the one that can demolish a location and then score VP for demolished locations).

Also keep in mind that the human tech cards, tech track, and resistance counters can all significantly increase the difficulty of the game. The humans are not necessarily pushovers.

Remember, though, that COPE is a "lighter" game than something like ATOE or FANG. It is made to play faster and easier than those other FFP o-op games.

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max reebo
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I play this game solo which is pretty much the same as the co-op game. At first, I rated this game a 5 and had some of the same complaints as you. With the new expansion coming out, I thought I would give it another try, and have changed my rating to an 8.

One of the big mistakes I made in earlier games was playing it cautious and sending a lot of ships to one location. If you send 4 ships to one location, and find that it is a 0 point location, then you end up wasting a lot of time for nothing. So I realized that sending 4 ships to 4 locations helped a lot. Even if they end up getting destroyed, you've scouted out a lot of locations. Thematically, this made sense to me. You send a bunch of alien scout ships to scout out high value targets. And if any come across a small town or something with 1 resistance, you have a fair chance of defeating it.

This may be why the fights with the resistance seem easy to you, if you send a lot of your aliens to 1 location. You increase your chances of winning fights, but waste time on the tech track. Also, keep in mind that a roll of six for the humans is a crushing victory for them, no matter how high your attack value is, unless you rolled a six also.

I don't think I've had a game where I felt like it was unwinnable, but then again, in a solo game you can always go for the Capitol, which will get you 5 of your 8 terror points right there. Also, there are terror points to be gained from the event deck and space stuff deck.

Anyway, just changing up my strategy changed my view of the game, but it seems like you played quite a few games, so it may just not be your type of game. I will say that I feel like many of the flying frog games have a very different feel from the cooperative to competitive style of play.
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Philip Jelley
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Hungerford
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COPE is a fun game and I love it. As an immediate response there is a card that removes all location cards with no alien or alien control marker on them, so abandon the empty lands and they will be replaced.
I use the co-operative game to teach other players, just set up and wade straight in as we can show all our cards to each other and I can tell them what's what. Once past that it's time for the competative game, when players can not only play cards against each other, but can attack each other as well. Regards to a third of the locations being zeros the rest are 1, 2 or 3 strength and the Earthlings draw one defence card for each strength. If you attack with 4 Trun (4x4=16 strength) then sending them to a grassy knoll is disappointing, but a newbie mistake. Trun are very strong, send one to attack each location, if woods or plains at least they live, if something stronger they have a chance of winning anyway. The other races have their own abilities, the Rantillion Beetlemen can move from location to location in your own turn, so spread them out and send those that hit nothing to help those that need it. The Fome Guild Mages and Manthalars need to be more careful with their 2 strength, but have more cards and can use zombies or mind-control to swing things their way. The Vyborian Arbiters love 0 strength locations, they can blown them up for 1 Terror Point each. The aliens have their abilities, use them.

Philip
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LSD
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I couldn't disagree with you more. This is one of me and my girlfriends favorite co-ops. It's truley one of a kind and I think it works best as a co-op and we don't care for the competitive version at all. Our sessions are usually really tense and difficult, and very close to the finish. This is a one of a kind game and we rate it an 8 out of 10.
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