Watch the Skies 3

Most of the people involved in Watch the Skies 3
Most of the people involved in Watch the Skies 3 (image credit: Megagame Makers)

Last Saturday I was control for East Asia for Watch the Skies 3. This picked up where Watch the Skies 2 left off, with some modifications to rules and briefings etc to make it flow much better. There were a number of obvious improvements, the media being a prime example.

Media Coverage

There were more journalists all on the same GNN team and they had the technology to pull it off. As well as a laser printer they also had a projector and screen for their twitter feed. This made it easier for people to follow the headlines. There were also several hardcopy single sheet newspaper issues too. Here are some sample tweets from GNN

Another feature was that everyone knew the aliens were there. So the emphasis of game play was different. There was only one attempted SIF interception in our region. That was foiled by Vietnam escorting the alien shuttles in to land. After a couple of turns people gave up entirely on this and all the SIF where just used to scout.

Cetaceans featured in Watch the Skies 3 also. The aliens had been in contact with them in

English: Spratly Islands military settlements ...
English: Spratly Islands military settlements  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Watch the Skies 2. By the time WTS3 started there was enough translation to allow human – cetacean dialogue, albeit slowly and under controlled conditons. In East Asia this manifested as a Vietnamese embassy to the Cetaceans built in the Spratly Islands.

One thing about both the very large Watch the Skies games is that it is practically impossible to know what is going on. As map control I can only tell you what was going on at my map. I literally have no idea what the player teams for my region were doing away from the map, nor what happened in other regions.

We had two natural catastrophes in our region. There was an earthquake in Taiwan in turn 2 and then around turn 6 another major earthquake followed by a tsunami just off the Philippines.

In the Taiwanese earthquake we had a good international response and more than enough humanitarian assistance. However sorting the cracked nuclear reactor out took longer. The issue was that it needed a scientist to sort it out. So the first scientist along didn’t have anything suitable for fixing up nuclear reactors. He did have  a disaster recovery advance but it was about people and psychology rather than engineering. I ruled that this helped solve the application of aid, but couldn’t solve the nuclear reactor problem. The second scientist just had lots of genetics and biology advances. A third scientist with the advanced disaster recovery, which also included engineering finally fixed it.

When the Philippines tsunami hit it was much worse. Many Cetaceans were washed ashore around the affected area, not just in the Philippines. The scale was larger as well, but fortunately the UN were ready for it. A side effect was also a series of criminal gangs trying to profit from the disaster. The Philippines was offered military aid to deal with this from both Vietnam and Indonesia, which it accepted. It took some months but law and order was restored. Generous donations (49 Megabucks in total, plus four aid teams) sorted out the infrastructure repairs too.

Throughout this there were several other things going on.

  • International cooperation was sorting out sea pollution
  • Covert action stirred up trouble with the Chinese, lots of special actions being used covertly against the Chinese government
  • South Korea attempting to persuade North Korea to re-unify

Sea Pollution

Pollution was a new factor in Watch the Skies 3. This was in part because sea dwellers were now played characters and there was a need to have something that showed human impact on them. The basic mechanism was that each sea area had a counter on it with six strength points. People could attempt to clean up the pollution at 3 Megabucks a time. However unless there was political agreement to limit pollution from all nations bordering a sea area the pollution regenerated a strength box every turn. In practical terms the pollution limitation manifested as a cap on country income (PR) one level above the start level (PR=6).

In East Asia there was a treaty agreed fairly early on, certainly pollution cleanup started during the aftermath of the Taiwan earthquake. I think that this was driven by Vietnam’s diplomacy with the Cetaceans. The PR cap only seriously affected two of the nations in East Asia and then only in one turn. Both it turned out had other things to achieve that cost them a PR level that they offset by their increase. They had deliberately decided to implement the reduction to stay within  the cap when they were next eligible for an increase.

The Koreas

As in Watch the Skies 2 South Korea put a lot of diplomatic effort into reunification. I ruled that they had moved the North Korean officials from being hostile to the idea to where they were prepared to discuss it with the Dear Leader. This took most of the game.

Dear Leader was quite taken by the offer to unify Korea. He had always known that all the people of Korea would welcome him as their Dear Leader. When it was broached that perhaps that wasn’t what the South Koreans were suggesting he was less than pleased. The head of mission found himself facing an anti aircraft cannon.

On realising that the Dear Leader was a major obstacle to reunification South Korea decided to smooth the path. A sniper team were sent North and successfully assassinated the Dear Leader. However, this just enraged the new Dear Leader who mobilised North Korea and started throwing rockets and artillery shells over the border. Fortunately the game ended at that point…

Some other Watch the Skies 3 stories

Lots of discussion on the Megagame Makers facebook group, including some after action comments from various players.

Alien perspective: The Association’s Official Account of their Expedition to Solaris C

Argentina’s View on reddit and many others in the comments thread.

Nigeria’s viewpoint

Words from the Whales in Watch the Skies 3

I’ll add any others I find here, or comment with a link if you have written something up about the game.

About Author:

James has a keen interest in military history, backed with experience as a TA reservist and a 17th century re-enactor. He has designed and run several face to face social games and is the editor of MilMud, the journal of the CLWG game design group. He is currently working on a book on the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution.

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