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This was plays 2-4 for me, playing with my brother. After playing solo a couple days ago I was pumped to play multiplayer. These were his first plays.
Game 1, recovery mission, easy mode:
I started him off with an easy recovery map, the same scenario I had done. We got really close to a couple of runners getting to the base camp, but we dealt with them and then were able to wipe out the bosses and get the two crates back with plenty of time.
Wiping out a boss and getting alien technology for it was fun--I really enjoy that detail of the game.
However, we had a little difficulty figuring out the alien weapons that have only a red die on them. The rules are just not clear on these. What we settled on was that the weapons with only one red die can only be used once, whereas the weapons with a red die and 1 or more normal dice can be used multiple times...no idea if that's correct though, so I'm going to post a question in the rules section on BGG.
Game 2, demolition mission, easy mode:
This one was a bit more interesting, both because of the bosses and because of the mission. The objective, for those not familiar with it, is to carry some explosives to two areas of the map, set them, and then escape. Technically the rules say that you win on round 8 when you're in the end zone and no aliens are and the explosives are set. However, we saw no reason to have to wait it out till round 8, once we set the explosives and got back, there was basically no way we could have lost anyway.
What makes the demolitions mission more challenging is that, for each one that you set, you lose a die until the end of the game. This is a bit crippling afterward.
An important note for anyone that does demolitions on easy mode: there is an error in the rulebook. Normally you carry two explosives with each player, but if you are playing on easy mode, then you only carry one explosives per player. The designer has clarified this in a forum post here on BGG.
The idea of the demolotions objective is that the number of objective locations (the places listed as numbers 1-12) is the same as the number of explosives you carry in. There's a 1:1 ratio between explosives and objective locations.
Anyways, the bosses provided us some real challenge because 1) we had the boss who subtracts 20 seconds from the time in the round, and 2) we had another intense boss that we had to deal with, and we had the Myriad. The myriad always spawn as 6, and their speed is equal to the number of them left. They are green specials. Getting those at the same time as a mean boss can really stretch you thin.
Nevertheless we prevailed. My strategy revolved around having Caress, who moves when he kills an enemy at 1 range, with some awesome weapons at 1 range. I got into a groove and slaughtered left and right. My brother adopted a different strategy, he had Robcart, who can basically search wherever he is for weapons, and he got a holster that allowed him to have 3 weapons. Versatility was the name of his game.
We ended up cleaning house and getting back to the launch pad with time to spare.
Game 3, demolition mission, medium mode:
So at this point we should be able to step up the difficulty, right? Right? So we went for medium mode.
Right off the bat I noticed that it is more difficult in two ways. First, there are three more events and one more boss than on easy mode. That means that 6/8 rounds you've got an event or boss, instead of 2/8. Second, there are twice as many demolitions that you have to set.
As it turned out, the second part was the hardest. Every time you set a demolition, it takes away a die for the rest of the game.
I got into my usual groove with melee weapons on Caress, and I have to say, I needed it. The very first event was that, unless dealt with, it would spit out an extra boss at the end of the round. We told ourselves to remember to deal with it...but we didn't. So on round 2 we had two bosses to deal with and still quite a bit of minions, AND we'd BETTER NOT FORGET TO DEAL WITH THE EVENT THIS TIME OR WE'LL HAVE EVEN ANOTHER BOSS!
So we killed it. I started plowing through more aliens per round than I thought possible. One round I remember specifically taking out 8 or 9 minions. Another round I took out a boss from scratch and several other minions. We recognized though that we were stretched so thin, that we really had to let aliens get closer to the endzone than we really cared for, just knowing that they couldn't quite get to the end this round and counting on the fact that we could kill them all next round.
Why? What were these bosses you ask? Well first of all we had Crushox, 9 health and you'd better not end up close to him. Then we also had this guy who moved 4 every round and came back after you killed him. Then later, we drew Cannistar, or whatever he's called...the huge yellow dude. The mega-boss. A ton of health, AND he takes away a die from each player until he's dealt with. Also we made a couple mistakes and both ended up losing a health. Luke set one explosive so he had one die and I had two.
Furthermore I was using this weapon that was, honestly, pretty good, but it locked up a further die to use it. So here we were, both with only 1 die, and tons of stuff to do, AND we had to set three more demolitions in two rounds. Luke kept saying there was no way we did it. But I showed him a plan where it was POSSIBLE. Not much more than that. So we went for it.
I went over and killed the Cannistar huge guy. It's amazing how fast you can actually go with only one die.
So now we got dice back. Great, so I plowed through a couple more minions and got to these two demolition sites. I had three dice but one was locked up on my weapon, so I set the weapon that only required two. The thing was, that meant that next round, even without having my weapon locking up a die, I only had two dice, because remember, every demolition objective removes one of your dice for the rest of the game. So now I had another objective that it was impossible for me to set, and Luke had to set his final explosive on that turn and didn't have enough dice anyway.
So finally we realized, on the last round, that although we got close...we had lost. We did feel good about the amazing amount of aliens we killed though.
So there you have it. The demolitions game is pretty hard because you can't afford to lose any dice due to getting hit by aliens. Realize that before you go into it.
All that being said...we are really enjoying this game. Miniature quality was never noticed by the way, because this is an action game...you don't have time to analyze the exact precise details of these aliens. For what this game is, the miniature quality bothers me 0%. (Which I'm relieved to say, since it obviously was not of the quality originally promised.)
We're really enjoying this and looking forward to future plays. I'm seeing that there is a lot of replayability what with the different mission types, different cards for the different mission types, different difficulties on top of that, and the randomization of 6 decks of cards and the different playing styles of different characters.
I still haven't gotten around to playing all the characters so I'll have to see if I enjoy the other ones as much as I have enjoyed Caress.
I think I'll probably end up rating this game an 8 or 9 out of 10.
I wish I could play more games.
Collecting games is not playing games.
So jealous of people who have their copy, I want to play this game a ton.
How do you compare playing solo with 2-player games?
I just tried the game solo and was not that impressed. I am trying to decide whether I should sell quickly or hold on to the day it will hit the table for multiplayer sessions...