I bought the three web exclusive races for COPE a few months ago because more alien races is always a good thing, but I've been surprised at how little attention any of them get in any session reports. So, instead of working on a resume and cover letter for a job application, I decided to give the Red Menace a chance to follow in the footsteps (tentacle-steps?) of their alien friends.
And, since I really did not want to clean off a table at home, I made a short trip to my local FLGS, Rook's Comics And Games in beautiful Bozeman, Montana, where I found--as expected--tables just begging for games.
Let me also give credit to the previous COPE session writers, since I'm borrowing their format for this report. (Imitation being the sincerest form and all that stuff. )
I played with the base game, Apocalypse, and the three web exclusive races: the Santarri, the Hora'Goth, and (of course) the Red Menace. I also played with the conquer the capital rule and a house rule of my own: If the Tech Track counter isn't about to go onto the Space Cannon, when I get the required Terror Points, I finish the round to give the Humans the chance to fight back. It isn't likely, but, if they pull out the nukes or something like that, they knock the Terror Point total down enough to keep themselves alive.
NOTE: In writing this up, it turns out I misplayed Sneaky Teleport. It can only teleport ships to a location with no enemy counters. Looking at it later, it wouldn't have made any difference, but the mistake should be noted.
The game began with Army Rangers in position 3 defending the Capital and some Marines ready to go all "Shores of Tripoli" in position 6.
The dastardly aliens, the masters of infiltration, the secret ear around every corner, the eyes watching from every shadow, and the race that finished a solid third in the Evil Overlord's last bowling tournament started with the following cards:
Harvest Slaves, Swarm, Misdirection, Second Wave, and Overseer Intervention
Few would have thought, as day to day life in Capital City moved from day to day, that they were being observed from the shadows by a menace unnoticed and unseen. Patiently, they extended their influence throughout the levels of society, using free magazine subscriptions, social media groups, emails from fake Nigerian princes, and clubs of Extreme Couponers. Eventually, after all the pieces of their plan meticulously moved into place, the leadership committee of the Red Menace met over a light lunch, looked at each other, and held the final vote whether to finally launch their attack. (It passed by acclimation with two Nays and four Abstentions.)
"What happens if we run into problems we haven't foreseen?" one middle management committee member asked.
One of the up-and-coming Infiltration Specialists menacingly replied, "Don't worry. I know a guy..."
2 Action Points
1 -- Explored Grassy Field at location 1.
2 -- Explored Small Town at location 2.
Fought SWAT team with Saucers at strength 3. Playing Swarm resulted in a Crushing Victory and a terror point from Harvest Slaves.
Terror Total 2
Refilling event cards caused the Alien Arms Dealer to come into the game.
Unexpected Chemical Reaction drawn, -1 to Strength.
Tech Track to 1
Fighter Planes at Capital location 6.
Heavy Tanks at location 1 blow up saucer in Grassy Field.
Fighters didn't move.
After dealing with all the other items on the preprinted agenda, the leadership committee turned to the status of their invasion.
"Things are going well," the invasion comptroller said menacingly, ticking off the bullet points telepathically projected into each members mind, "our new labor force has been employed clipping coupons for next week's holiday sales, and our conquest of that small town was aided--as predicted--by our influence over the local garden store owner."
An independent auditor menacingly spoke up, "Going well? If it was going so well, why did we have no information about these 'shellfish' scattered throughout our operating zones? Are the Menthalars secretly operating against us in defiance of the Overlords' directives? And why was our saucer destroyed in that previously uninhabited field? What are the humans defending there? Why did we not learn of it earlier?"
"Ship losses were included in Appendix M of the invasion budget and are below projected losses to this point," the menacing explanation came back, "and, as to the 'hives' our forces are experiencing, they are bothersome but they are still capable of continuing. Inhalers and emergency injection pens are being distributed at this time and all should be normal by our next status meeting. As to possible interference by the Menthalars, this is the Time Of Shame when they molt and regrow their mustaches, so any interference by them is highly unlikely. I will request a memorandum of understanding from them after our meeting is over, however.
"Not all our unexpected events have been negative, however. A member of the Intergalactic Peacekeeping Equipment Benevolent Association has completed the final paperwork to be certified as an official supplier for this operation. This is, however, the same individual who offered us that used Apocalypse Cube as a document shredder, so we're recommending a three-fifths super-majority vote to approve any purchases."
"That Apocalypse Cube would have done the job adequately," the document shredding project advocate menacingly spoke up, "and, while that cube was in a used state, its odometer was well below the request for bid's requirements. Also, the offered air fresheners would have dealt with any problems the Cube's previous owners might have left. For all the years I've known this guy..."
3 Action Points
1 -- Saucer in landing zone moves to Small Town
2 and 3 -- Saucers in Small Town move to Capital location 5, exploring Port City
Defeated Tanks (5) with saucers at Strength (2-1+3=4) in a crushing victory.
Artillery -- Played Misdirection to force redraw.
Investigative Reporter plus Religious Figurehead force event card draw.
United Defense pushes Human Tech Track to 3, deploying more Resistance Counters.
Infantry at Capital location 3 push Rangers to Capital City
Captain Fantastic counter at location 4 attacks entire player board, destroying saucer in landing zone.
Riot Police base strength 2 + 3 for being in a city.
Total strength is ((1+2)+2+2+(2+3)=12 vs 8. Defeated but played Overseer Intervention for the win.
Defeated Fishing Boat (3) to conquer Port City
Drew event cards Double Trouble, Distraction, Sneaky Teleport
Terror Total 5
Event Card Teamwork (All resistance strength +X where X is population)
Fighter planes to Capital location 2
Humans develop Force Field Defenses
"Before we are updated on the status of our invasion," the Vice President for the creation of subcommittees stated menacingly, "I have determined that a subcommittee shall be formed to investigate the miscalculations of this operation. For all the resources allocated to infiltration of the Humans, our results have been well below our expectations. Does anyone wish to comment?"
With a touch more menace then was usual, the invasion public relations copywriter shot back, "Well below expectations? Our Terror production is already more than 50% of our goal. While the humans have temporarily achieved an increased level of coordination, our agents have already begun a program of planting the pennant flags of rival sporting teams onto various human dwellings. They assure us this will have the desired effect by our next meeting. The human artillery unit that was planning to defend their Port City was redirected to a nearby vehicle recycling yard because of our influence over the vice president of the city traffic board, giving us the win-win of removing them as a threat as well as increasing recycling in our future conquests. Have you noticed any other issues?"
In a decidedly menacing manner, the Vice President reviewed the stack of memos in front of him before continuing, "I have a number of memos here clearly stating that both the reporter from the Port City Weekly Quilting Informer and the leader of the Church of Continuing Contributions have long since received the hypno-indoctrination required to bend them to our will. Yet, when the time came, neither one of them assisted our forces in any way. If it had not been for the inspectors from Evil Overlord Resources visiting our field operation, our forces could have been destroyed! How do you explain that?"
Sighing in a menacing way, the copywriter replied, "Yes, I admit there was an issue with those two but it was not a fault with the hypno-indoctrination. The activating agent was introduced to the coffee in the Port City by an organic coffee supplier we have influence over. The arrival of the offspring of one of the human's so-called "scientists" thwarted our plans when she insisted everyone exclusively drink something called 'green tea' for its supposed health benefits. Thus the agents' programming could not be activated. The reporter has been instructed to begin a series of stories on the evils of this vile beverage so this will not happen again. And before you ask, we're preparing a memo on this Captain Fantastic we encountered. I will distribute it, along with copies of the insurance loss forms, before our next meeting."
In a menacing way, one of the lower level purchasing managers asked, "What about these force fields the humans have begun deploying? How will these affect our budget estimates and our plans?"
The answer came with a menacing smile, "Ah, yes. The humans believe they invented those force fields. Actually, they were the results of our own agents working in accordance with the Fruggle Avoidance Protocol we developed as a part of our cost/benefit ally analysis. While we currently have no plans to introduce anything Fruggle-related, I have read reports of how counterproductive they can be. You see, I know a guy..."
6 actions plus an Alien Menace Token for originally rolling a 1.
1 -- Second Wave returns two destroyed saucers to the Landing Zone.
2,3,4 -- Buy Splinter Rats from Alien Arms Dealer.
5,6 -- Explored Fairgrounds at location 3, rolling a 5 for strength bonus.
Infantry (Strength 3+3+5) destroyed one saucer but was defeated by a crushing victory thanks to the Splinter Rats.
Discarded Distraction, drew Sonic Blast, Search and Destroy.
Terror Total 8 but Capital unconquered.
Event Card Stolen Technology advances Tech Track but Splinter Rats aren't discarded.
Human Tech Track goes to 5.
Marines arrive at Capital location 4, pushing Fighters into Capital City.
Tanks arrive at location 6, pushing Marines into Landing Zone.
Fighters move to Capital location 3, pushing Rangers into Capital City.
Humans develop Weather Control
The regular invasion status meeting, while still menacing, had just finished a presentation on the care and feeding of Splinter Rats; a series of presentations assuring the attending members that the bidding process had proceeded normally; and that--most importantly--the warranty cards and receipts for the new rats were properly filled out and filed. The assistant purchasing agent for organic defense products, a menacing smile on his face, rose to deliver his report.
"In conjunction with our agents employed at the human Fairgrounds, our newly acquired Splinter Rats proved to be the key in our recent invasion operations. The human infantry unit assigned to defend the Fairgrounds, while filled with patriotic spirit and something called 'funnel cake,' proved to be no match for our agents. Our plan's two prongs were to first encourage various humans to enter something called a 'pie-eating contest,' unaware that the Ladies Auxiliary Pie Baking Society, long since infiltrated by our agents, had poisoned the pie fillings. Between that and our other agents operating a strange human contraption known as 'The Zipper,' the humans were in no state to defend themselves when our ships and rat allies arrived. While it is true the retreating humans captured one ship commander's personal address book, we can find no evidence that any information recovered from that contributed to this 'Weather Control Device' they seem to have deployed. However, that saucer commander has been placed on paid administrative leave, pending a complete investigation."
One of the numerous middle managers asked, somewhat menacingly, "But what about all the human forces concentrating in their Capital City? How are we planning to defeat them? And, if I read the production estimates correctly, it seems we have already reached our goal for Terror production. Do the risk/reward calculations justify carrying on further?"
The director of short-term strategic accounting planning menacingly answered, "I'll take your questions in reverse order. Yes, Terror production has reached our initial goals, however, to be able to amortize the cost of this operation, we will require the slave-housing and city-rebuilding tribute credits granted by the Evil Overlords. Without that, our tribute burden would be much higher. As to your other point, the forces the humans have concentrated in their capital would be a concern normally. Not that we could not defeat them, but that, because of the losses, our saucer insurance premiums might rise. However, the second-in-command of our Earth forces has assured us that he knows a guy..."
1 miserable action made brighter by 1 Alien Menace Token.
1 -- Destroyed Saucer returned to landing zone
Fights Marines at Landing Zone but wrecked by Tornado from Weather Control.
Terror Total still 8 but Capital City still stands defiant!
Event card Uprising adds one counter to each board.
Rangers at Capital location 5 defeated by saucers in the Port City.
Infantry at location 6 push Marines into Landing Zone.
Human Tech Track advances to 7.
Infantry attacks saucers at Port City (Capital Location 5), defeated.
Infantry at location 1 push Heavy Tanks into Landing Zone.
"Our agent did not answer her communication device?" came the menacing growl from the assistant director of internal purges.
"Well, no. She did not," the assistant executive for executive assistance said in the least menacing way possible. "We left a number of things the humans call 'voicemail,' but, so far, have gotten no reply. Until we hear back from her, our plans to conquer Capital City unfortunately cannot go forward."
"Our forward positions are attacked, the saucer we sent as a replacement for our most recent loss was destroyed hours after it landed by a human weather system before it could even engage the enemy, and you cannot contact our agents? Let me remind you that our insurance only covers combat losses! We did not get the weather losses rider because we were told we would not need it for this invasion! If this problem is not sorted out before our next meeting, I will be in touch with the Evil Overlords and there will be changes around here. Why? Because I... I know a guy!"
1 -- Destroyed saucer returned to Landing Zone
2,3,4,5 -- Sneaky Teleport* moves all four ships to Capital City. (The mistake I cited earlier. )
Battle at Capital City starts with a single Infantry (Strength 3) against 4 saucers at strength (2+5)*4=28, accompanied by the Splinter Rats.
While a saucer was sucked up by a Tornado, the Red Menace still won the fight. And, with a Fight Result of (3+3)=6 for the Humans and (28+1)=29 for the aliens, playing the card Double Trouble causes the Red Menace, the tendrils of their evil permeating all levels of society, to triumph in their Battle for Capital City!
Terror Points 13 and Capital City conquered!
Resistance Event Sabotage (No Space Stuff for the next round.)
Human Tech Track advances to 8.
Fighter planes move to Capital location 1.
No new Human Tech.
THE RED MENACE WINS!!!!!
The invasion comptroller was getting ready to attend the human invasion's final status meeting when the director of internal legal grievances came by to visit.
"So," he asked in a moderately menacing tone, "it's done? The Conquest of Planet Earth is completed?"
"Yes, it is," the comptroller replied in an equally menacing tone. "It turns out that our agent was not near her phone because she was taking something called 'her cat' to some place called 'the vet' to be 'dewormed,' whatever that means. Sounds like a sport the Trun would play to me. After our saucers defeated the Human's infantry defenses, our agent called into a number of human radio communications stations saying that a number of their stores were giving away something called a 'double scoop' of something called 'ice cream' to soldiers defending the city. So many of their soldiers left their posts in search of whatever this is that our saucers and Splinter Rats were able to teleport in and conquer the human defenses before they knew what happened. Despite one of their tornadoes carrying away a house and destroying one last saucer, Capital City was very quickly ours. However, that's why I wanted to talk to you before the meeting."
The director of internal legal grievances thought for a moment and menacingly said, "Were you operating teleporters in an unsafe way? Not respecting their minimum safe distance regulations? That can be dangerous, but I believe I can speak to the Arbiter of Base and Expansion Rules and get you a waver for that. Especially as you said that Appendix F of the invasion plans included a viable plan which would achieve the same result. Consider yourself warned, however. We may think of ourselves as a Menace, but we both know who the real menace is: The lawyers!"
* Instead of spending actions the way I did, it would have been possible to move both saucers from the Port City to Capital city for two actions, then move the saucer from the Fairgrounds to Capital City for another two actions. Assuming the rolls were the same, one saucer would still have been destroyed, but the strength total would have been 6 vs 22, still plenty for Double Trouble to be played.