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Subject: [WIP] DISTRESS SIGNAL: INFESTATION PROTOCOL rss

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Richard Adkins
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DISTRESS SIGNAL: INFESTATION PROTOCOL

Greetings,

The following information is for a game I have created with the help of a few friends. We have been playing and refining it for a few years and now have it in what we think is a stable form. Additional material may be tested at some point, however, we have no immediate plans for such things. The only item we currently have on our radar is to test how to allow player counts other than 4.

This is a game we made the way it is quite intentionally. We greatly enjoy everything about it and are not looking for recommendations on modifying it into something else, it is what it is. This is not to say that the game is perfect, we fully expect that others may well find errors, oversights, omissions, mistakes, balance issues or points of refinement and we happily look forward to such input.

Below you will find some preliminary information regarding the game. I am working with a couple of friends to create print and play files for the cards, ship schematic, hive board, MCaTTs, and tokens. Input regarding these files is welcome as we have never attempted such an endeavor.

I will make a genuine effort to read any comments here and update the information as we progress. I suspect this will take some time even though this game is virtually artwork free as a style choice.

Thank you,
Rick

Sci-fi
Cooperative
Strategic “dungeon” crawler
Resource management
Worker placement
Dice rolling
4 players
4-8 hours

Back story:
Mankind has quickly expanded into the solar system and established many colonies. Populations rise and an extreme demand on natural resources forced us to look deeper into space for them. Long range analysis of the asteroid belts seemed to hold the answers we were looking for, and more.

Deep space resource mining was pushed into action. Large mining operations were established near high concentrations of desired materials within the asteroid belts. This material was hastily processed into chunks that would barely fit in the largest freighters we could build. These heavily burdened freighters then made their best speed for colonized space carrying the much needed payloads.

As time passed, mining operations grew and dug deeper into the asteroid belts. The steady stream of material allowed mankind to flourish like no other time in history.

Then, occasionally, a scheduled ship would not arrive. Slowly, this became more frequent and the ever increasing demands for resources became critical. Safety features were investigated and installed on the ships to improve delivery reliability.

Even with these efforts, ships were still being lost at an unacceptable rate. Active investigations were initiated, however, limited data was to be had until the cause fell into our lap.

A ship, several years lost, was discovered drifting into colonized space. Completely unresponsive and dark, the ship was towed to the nearest station. Eagerly looking forward to the unexpected bounty, the ship was entered.

The entire station was lost to an infestation of an alien life form. The ship was a teeming colony of 40ish pound insectoids that quickly and viciously took over the station. The station lost power and sank into the gravity well of Jupiter and burned up.

Present day:

Mining operations are now a self contained element of the new generation of modularly designed freighters. This new breed of gargantuan ships even have resource processing modules which allows refined material to arrive in colonized space. However, the extreme demands placed on volume make cutting safety corners a regular occurrence. Approximately 1 in 50 payloads are infested to the point of complete overrun of the ship.

Due to the frequency, ships have been programmed to emit a special distress signal and follow a security lockdown protocol. This signal is monitored and responded to by a special forces branch of the military.

A rescue attempt of the ship is made based on the overwhelming value of the assets as a whole. If the operation fails, the ship is routed into the nearest stars gravity well.

You are 1 of the 4 commanders leading this rescue mission.

Game synopsis:

DISTRESS SIGNAL: INFESTATION PROTOCOL (DS:IP) puts the 4 players into the roles of the special forces commanders in charge of the mission. This game is designed with the intent on keeping you in the commanders chair, orchestrating the “big picture” plans. Some mid-level and low level information is present to help the thematic immersion.

Choose the resources you want to bring on the mission, rally your troops and stow your equipment on your MCaTT (Mobile Command and Troop Transport). A frigate will haul your MCaTTs to the point of contact for the mission and launch you toward the ship emitting the distress signal.

Your MCaTTs swoop into the docking bay with external anti-personnel weapons blazing and begin to transmit an alternating sonic “anti-bug” field.

From the command chair of your MCaTT, you will feel the growing pressure of managing the mission. Troop deployment, establishing priority objectives, operator assignments on the MCaTT, ship module malfunctions, allocating support for your troops activities, troop combat with the bugs and more. All this while trying not to befoul your fellow commanders efforts with several key objectives in mind at all times:
1. Locate and save remaining crew.
2. Locate and destroy bug nests.
3. Restore power to the ships 12 main systems and repair any damage.
4. Scan the 15 ship modules and repair any damage.
5. Destroy the cohesive nature of the hive mind infesting the ship.

Don’t forget, the clock is ticking.....

Game overview:

DISTRESS SIGNAL: INFESTATION PROTOCOL (DS:IP) begins exactly where the present day portion of the back story ends.

The players choose some difficulty settings including the optional “conference time” rule and begin to plan their mission. The customization of each player’s resources is accomplished through a card drafting secession. Troop type, assault pods, deployable assets, enhanced MCaTT (mobile command and troop transport) functionality, mission specialists, special sonic and concussive barrage weapons and more.

This draft secession is often done in advance of sitting down to play in order to reduce the game duration as the draft can take 15 to 30 minutes. The draft duration heavily depends on the players of course. The draft in intended to be done with no actual collaboration between players other than seeing who drafts what resources.

The draft is done from a common pool of cards one at a time in player order as a snake draft (1,2,3,4,4,3,2,1...) until all players have spent their allotted points.

Once complete, the board and other components are set up and the first turn begins.

The game is 10 turns long as a default with the players able to unlock up to 2 additional bonus turns.

TURN SEQUENCE:

1.) PLANNING PHASE:

Raise shields
Man MCaTT stations
Lower shields

2.) PREP PHASE:

Establish turn order
Determine conference time (optional)
Determine who can actively participate in conference (optional)

3.) CONFERENCE PHASE: (optional)

Discuss strategy

4.) MOVEMENT PHASE:

In turn order, each player resolves the following sequence:
Move squads on the board
Debark squads to the DOCKING BAY from MCaTT
Embark squads to the MCaTT from the DOCKING BAY
Refresh chosen squads with C&C actions

5.) RECOVER PHASE:

Aliens recover
Miscellaneous

6.) ACTIVATION PHASE:

The current first player selects a module or feature to activate or passes.
Passing moves his player marker to the end of the turn order track.
Repeat this phase until all activations are complete or all players pass
consecutively.

7.) UPKEEP PHASE:

Check for and resolve any unsupported combat
Check for victory conditions
Refresh squads
Remove ACTIVATED tokens from modules and other features
Remove any remaining operators from all MCaTTs

8.) ALIEN PHASE:

Hive reaction cycle
Concealment
Aliens move
Aliens spawn

The meat of the turn is the ACTIVATION PHASE which mostly consists of activating modules on the ship.

MODULE ACTIVATION SEQUENCE:

1.) ACTIVATION:

The current first player places the ACTIVATION pawn in the module he wishes to activate, this is now the "active module".

2.) OPEN COMMUNICATION CHANNELS:

In turn order, players have the opportunity to spend one COMM action to open communication channels. If the opportunity is taken, communication channels are open for the activation and the module is marked with the OPEN COMMS token.

3.) PERSONNEL CHECK:

If there are no squads in the active module or it's adjoining airlocks, skip to REMOTE ACTIONS (step 10).

4.) MODULE STATUS:

If there is a MODULE STATUS token present and there are squad(s) in adjoining airlock(s), reveal the token.
- If it is a green dot, discard this token
- If it is a red dot, draw a MODULE MALFUNCTION token and use it to replace the
MODULE STATUS token.

5.) ALIEN PRESENCE:

If SWARM token(s) are present and squad(s) are in adjoining airlock(s), resolve all SWARM tokens.

6.) COMMITMENT:

Commit squads to the activated module from adjoining airlock(s) by placing them in the open area of the module. This does NOT require the squad(s) to spend an action.

7.) SITREP:

If both a SITREP token and squad(s) are present in the active module, draw a SITREP card and resolve it's effects, then remove the SITREP token.

8.) DEPLOYMENT:

In turn order, each player may apply ASSETS to the MODULE within structural limits.

In turn order, each player may DEPLOY his squads to locations within the MODULE.

9.) ACTIVATE SQUADS:

In turn order, each player selects one squad at a time to activate.
-some activations allow multiple players to participate simultaneously
-if the OPEN COMMS token is present, players may support any squad

10.) REMOTE ACTIONS:

In turn order, players may perform remote actions within the active module.
-if the OPEN COMMS token is present, players may ignore turn order

11.) COMBAT:

If both aliens and squads are present in the active module, conduct combat.

12.) CLEAN UP:

Replace the ACTIVATION pawn with an ACTIVATED token and remove the OPEN COMMS token from this module if it is present.
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Richard Adkins
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Greetings,

Here are some pics of the game all set up before the player elements are added to the table.

Here is a view of the entire setup:






Focused in on the ship map:






Draw bags, combat strength tracker and module malfunction cards:






Intel menu, hive board and hive reaction cards:






Hive mind, alien menace, “bug bowls” and some player tokens:



Lots of stuff in this pic:

Pink brains represent the 20 points of “hive mind”.
10 sided die is the current alien menace.
Orange cubes are a single combat strength of bugs.
Red cubes are 5 combat strength of bugs.
Red glass beads are bug swarms, unknown strength 0-6.
Red chips are threat tokens.
12 sided die is the turn tracker.
Orange pawn is the activation marker.
Plastic “radar” is the open comms marker.
Brown plastic stacking tokens are activated markers.
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Richard Adkins
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Greetings,

Here are some pics of various components we use in the current prototype:



Search tokens from the green draw bag.


75 total tokens in 5 types(left to right):
ANT(alien nexus token)- you have uncovered the ANT in the module.
Crew- you have found a small pocket of survivors.
Bug nest- you have found a local nesting site.
Search event- draw a search event card.
Nothing-




ANTs from the red draw bag.


When destroyed, will inflict the red value to the hive mind and will provide the blue value in INTEL.




Module malfunction tokens from the blue draw bag.


When a module is found to have a malfunction, draw and apply one of these. This will indicate what major function is in need of repair.





Alien strength tokens from the black draw bag.


When a swarm is resolved, draw one of these and apply bugs equal to the value shown.




Squad pawns(small) and a mission specialist(large).


These pawns represent your 5 man squads on the ship and in your MCaTT.




Squads in the docking bay.


This shows(left to right) a squad with 2 actions, a squad with 1 action and an exhausted squad.




MCaTT(mobile command and troop transport) boards used by the players.


The top MCaTT is the default type while the other 2 are available by purchasing upgrades in the draft.

Each turn, commanders place squads on the various consoles to have access to their capabilities or in the case of the debarking zone, debark squads onto the distressed ship.
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Stephen Woll
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Just a bump for this and some comments.

1. I like to think of myself as an avid playtester for this, having played ~6 times. It is excellent and have a "please tell me when you want to get this to the table again" feeling towards it.
2. It is currently an epic game in terms of time with comparisons to Twilight Imperium and High Frontier for the lenghth. I enjoy this feature as it allows several hours of companionship all working towards the same goal.
3. Easily my favorite co-op surpassing Pandemic Legacy, LotR, and others I've played. PL:S1 is obviously easier to get to the table and does more often, but the plays aren't as memorable for me.
4. It's so fun! My last play came down to not being able to do enough damage to the hive mind before the time ran out. (Read: we had spent too much resources and needed to abandon ship before things got out of hand) We hadn't used our squads efficiently enough and spent too much time focused on the possible negative effects of doing certain tasks, instead of just going for it. (My opinion)
5. Remember, the small fights are the worrisome ones!
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