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Level 7 [Invasion]» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Level 7 [Invasion] Thoughts on a Cool idea rss

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Rollo Tamasi
United States
Seattle
Washington
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I bought Invasion at Gencon 2014 after a weekend of looking at tons of other games. I enjoyed talking to the designer and hearing his thoughts on board game design and how economics plays a role in this game in particular. I'm posting this in part because I think this game deserves a little more discussion and consideration for your gaming group!

The Cool: I love the world of Level 7- the game board design is great while you're playing a simulation of a grand alien Invasion! I was really sold on the concept. The actual board game dial components reminded me of the Battlestar Galactica Board game (which I enjoyed), and the underlying economics of the game are pretty sound- easily laying out each turn as dudes on a map. Rather than trying to defeat the Invasion you're basically trying to fend them off long enough for you to research a virus to kill them. The tension is great with people willing to spend a whole evening with the theme and be amazed when they're able to fend off an onslaught of forces.

The combat is very easy to get into- no math required, simply seeing who has the largest power in a region and determining who is attacker/defender. That each coalition has a certain personality to it was a big key point to me as well- North America plays a bit differently than Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and just because you can't fully upgrade to the top military doesn't mean you can't have strength in gathering the other upgrade types in bio, social, or communication. It really feels like you can play a bit with how you use your resources in your overall strategy.

The sorta lame: There's a bit of accounting in the game- which if you don't have exactly 5 people it's a lot harder to keep track of which coalition needs what, how you use upgrades etc. I've played the game mostly as a solo endeavor treating it as a co-op experience and the mechanics are there, but the real player number for this game feels like exactly 5 due to the fiddly bits. If there was a dial for money instead of more chits I feel like it could have cut down on some of this downtime making change throughout the game.

While I do enjoy the variations in the coalitions, I find that there's a bit of shortchanging with coalitions better at mining and oil production. It just doesn't seem like these resources are that needed that they are able to trade well throughout the game (if paying as semi-co-op some players may not see the need to trade). Research tokens are a big bottleneck early on so Europe seems to have a huge trade advantage. Africa makes this up by having a larger natural protection on each of their territories as well as a larger MIC dial so this offsets some of that. I still enjoy how each coalition plays out, but it would have been nice to have another use for the mining and oil resources than upgrades. Food and Money (and the MIC dial itself) seem to be much more important.

The terrible: On replay- I enjoy a lot of different types of co-ops. They tend to have different scenarios or objectives to complete as you're buying a thematic sandbox to play in. This really suffers in Invasion as you have only ONE scenario. I really hope that the game designer offers some other play modes/scenarios/devastation event cards so that what happens doesn't become stale and predictable in a metagame sense. Mostly the variation in events is pretty low as it's the same drop ship, move troops into key areas and hope that others aren't overrun, rinse repeat.

There also aren't a lot of choices in the movement of Chronos- as he doesn't offer you many routes as there's only a few efficient choices. Either he's able to make it there safely to do a research each round or you're unable to (and make the game last yet another round).

Lastly, the game is pretty easy. Upon first playing it with 5 people we had some scary sort of moments where things seemed to about tip, but by the end it sort of had a "that's it?" feeling. I feel like the annihilation phase in general needs to be reworked. I like the idea of a lot of guys coming out on the map just at the last breath, but the fact you only have to hold your own capital makes it quite easy. This ruins a bit of the tension that had been through the early rounds.

Overall: I rate this at a 7 currently. Not the best game ever, but it has a lot of neat components and a very unique idea that isn't implemented in any other game I've seen. The simulation is excellent, but some of the actual mechanisms are fiddly. The narrative tension grinds down and you're left leaving this in the closet. I think extra scenarios and maybe a more competitive version would work out where you're trying to expand your force on the map while the invasion is happening. The difficulty level goes up a bit if you do the "Hard" mode mentioned in the rules, but I feel this random dropship should have been a part of the regular rules in the first place, and you may have to change your starting money, etc. to make it the more tense (and fun!) experience that an alien invasion should be. It could also be more streamlined for player numbers solo-4 with the extra money dial I mentioned and perhaps an overall dial/scenario for solo play.

Pick it up- I see it around $60 now so it's much more in the sensible price range for a unique experience.
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Jo Bartok
Germany
Zwingenberg
Hessen
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Interaction leads to Immersion.
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Here it is more like 100 USD+ ... and that's a pass ... and sadly the reason.
 
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PaweĊ‚ Bedz
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Nice, short review. Hopefully it will somewhat work at least fine with 4 (my group = 4 players total)... If not... Well,

Grabbed it for ~30USD here in Poland Even if will not be "our game" (me and my group) for that money - it was a sin to not get it even for pure plastic-inside factor.
 
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