Tiago Perretto
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Thinking about my next move.
So, if my only options are these, then I shall...

About Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space:

1) What is it?
Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space is a hidden movement game in which humans are trying to flee an alien spaceship. In order to do so they must go to the escape pods without being found and killed, while the aliens are actively tracking them down. The spaceship has plenty of places to hide, however, some security is in place, meaning that some of the information given about the position of the players is, actually, true - and some are just plain lies.

Escape from the Aliens pits players in a claustrophobic environment, not only because of the small size of a few scenarios, but also because it is hard to know who is who, maybe until is too late. Aliens have more freedom of movement (because of their bodies or because they know the ship), but the humans have more tricks in their sleeves and can really mess up the aliens chase. The rules are on the easy side: though there are several unique abilities and items, a single person will only need to care to a few of them, and everything is explained clearly in the notepads.

The production value is good: the box is on the flimsy side, and the cards are OK; but the notepads are really well done.

Replay value is high: not only the random nature of the cards make for different plays, even in the same scenario (from the distribution of the teams to the cards drawn while moving), but, as mentioned, the game comes with several different scenarios, going from small and quick, to big and demanding longer to finish.

2) How do you play?
Cards, randomly assigned, form the teams: aliens and humans, and also tells the unique ability of each person. The goal for the humans is to escape; for the aliens is to find the humans and catch them.

The teams start in different places in the ship. Humans move 1 space at a time; aliens move up to 2. Every movement must be called: if moving to a white space, the player says "silence in all sectors", and her turn is done; if moving to a gray space, the player draws a movement card, and accordingly to the color of the card she announces something:
- if white, she says "silence in all sectors" (but players know she drew a card, meaning she moved into a gray space);
- if green, she must say a place in the board that, supposedly, she is in. However, when drawing a green card, she can lie and say anywhere she wants (even her actual place);
- if red, she must tell the truth about the place she just moved in.

Movements are recorded in the notepad - the players can try to keep track of the trail of the others. If an alien moves into a place she thinks a human is, she can call for an attack. If the place is empty, nothing happens, except that everyone now knows that this person is an alien. If there is a human in spot, she is taken and turned into an alien - in the next turn of the captured human, she will start as an alien. If there is an alien in the area, she is killed and the player is out of the game. In both cases, the alien that killed someone, now is stronger, and can move up to 3 spaces - three is the limit, regardless of how many humans/aliens the alien kills.

When a humans reaches an area adjacent to a escape pod, in her next turn she can try to flee: there is a 5 in 6 chance that she will be able to use the pod - if the 1 in 6 happens, she is out of luck and must find another way out. When a human uses a pod or it is broken/absent, the same escape route can't be used by other humans, which means the humans must spread out in order to have a better chance of escaping - however, they can't really discuss that or make a plan about who will go to where.

The victory for the humans, while they are in the same team, is individual. The aliens have a full win if none of the humans escaped - if at least one did, the victory is more in the satisfaction of killing as many as possible.

3) Which are the decisions made during play?
- Where to move. Of course, the most relevant - be to remain hidden, risk detection or go after the kill;
- When to use the unique abilities/items. Most are one-off, and can be key to catching a prey or to escape;
- When attack. Normally just for aliens (is possible to have a human with the ability of attacking). Tends to be just a matter of getting it right: wasting an attack is bad mostly because it shows exactly where you are and that you belong in the alien team.

These are mostly it. Not hard at all - the biggest difficulty I found in the game isn't a decision: is to keep track of the movement of the others.

4) What are the good things in the game?
- Great notepads - very useful and nice to keep track of information and keep secrecy;
- Easy to play and to teach (for the most part);
- Can hold up to 6 players;
- High replay value;
- Has scenarios for shorter and longer plays;
- Good amount of interaction.

5) Which are the bad news?
- For some (me) is truly hard to keep track of all the other movements - sometimes I was playing basically at random, just trying to be around when someone called a given place;
- Has player elimination;
- There is plenty of luck (or lack of) in the drawing of cards, which can, indeed, decide the play.

6) How do you feel while playing?
Like in the film Predator - if it happened in a spaceship. There are invisible aliens chasing the humans: you can't see them until they reveal themselves to attack, likely just showing a red triangular mark on you before blowing you up. However, the aliens are locked in a sort of ritual hunt, and will kill other aliens, mostly by accident - but, maybe, out of spite, to confirm her superiority, alpha status or they are simply stupid - who knows (stupidity is the right answer). Humans and aliens commnunicate by shouts - "I'm in N7! Anyone around? I'm hungry!" - the aliens may use clicks or howls, but the message is the same. Or maybe there are cameras, that the humans learned how to hack with the help of inmate JFFGLDBLM - so both sides can see when the others pop in a corner or coridor.

Escape from the Aliens is a much less involved and, well, even serious hidden movement than Letters from Whitechapel and Fury of Dracula (third/fourth edition) - and it isn't as elegant and tense as the first, nor is such a big hunt, filled with special encounters, fights and powers that one finds in the second. Escape from the Aliens is simpler than both, being also normally faster and, maybe, more "fun" for those than want a game with easier resolution, one that doesn't demand the level of thought and coordination that the other two have. Is almost an everyone for themselves type of deal. Escape from the Aliens works fine enough to be enjoyable, but it doesn't reach the heights of greatness I found in Letters and Fury, likely due to the individual nature of it. In the end, I would play it again, but won't seek it out.


Image credit: W Eric Martin

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