And here it is, thought Andrew, when he saw first flying saucer on the sky above his house. Moment he has waited for so long and told everyone about it. Nobody believed him. But the spinning circle thing over his house confirmed his truth. They came to take him away with them. This belief lasted for like five seconds in his head, before light blinked from the thing and his house was gone in a second. Vanished from the surface of the Earth.
Andrew woke up a few hours later. Sound of an interviewer in human language came to his ears. He carefully opened his eyes. He found himself among people in the hospital. Above the opposite bed was a television, which transmitted news coverage right now. There were a lot more flying saucers on the news, occupying the entire planet. He knew instantly, what happened. The attack has begun.
There is only one organization between intruders and doom of our planet. Welcome to head post in it. Council for Earth Defense (CED) is composed of some of the biggest brains of the world, who together try to help all citizens, with the help of newly designed radar and combat units. Invaders from space destroyed most defense arsenal all around the world within a few minutes. Now the only option is to build everything from scratch in remote and well-protected place. Some supersecret base.
This is the story told by a new cooperative board game coming from Spain, from Gen-X Games, which are standing also behind the release of great Mecanisburgo (review in Czech). Also this time the game has a sci-fi theme, with a favourite flavor. This topic is currently very popular thanks to new videogame on PC market, which was published in these days. Its a remake of the classic alien invasion strategy UFO: Enemy Unknown from yera 1994 (Microprose). Its reissue was named X-COM: Enemy Unknown in 2012. And about a year before that, Target Earth came to life.
It was inspired by the same game and created by the author Jacobo Cacigal, who created the concept of the game called Target Earth, which was further developed by Daniel Val. Complete illustration of all terrestrial and space machines and creatures attacking us, were created by Sergi Marceta. And in this game, every country is really under attack from space.
Target Earth box will leave no doubt for even a moment, that game deals with the invasion of green men on Earth. There is picture of ugly aliens bent over our blue planet on the cover. The lower part of the image is filled with heroic human soldiers, who are trying to resist them and hold them back. And you will be their leader.
The plot of the game takes place in the year 2030, but it could happen even today, if you prefer it. Basic and largest component is a board to track alien attack and our planet status. Its divided into three parts – large map of planet Earth with countries marked on it. You will distribute triangle tokens of thirty most powerful countries of that time on it. To the right of the map, there is a place for radar, where you will detect new incoming UFOs and below them lies a fighting space. You should use it only, when it comes to ground combat.
Second large board made of thick paper (not cardboard) is full of numbers. It is clear, that its destiny is to watch victory points for you. But because it is (at least in the basic version) cooperative game, there will be only one victory token marking points for whole Earth and the second marks advance of the intruder. In addition to this scale, there are four routes for monitoring the technical development of mankind. Here you will modernize your equipment. At the bottom is last scale for income you receive each round from allied countries.
Large boards are also for individual players. Each of the participants will build his own base, but forces for will add up for all purposes in the game. Each base has 36 squares on the board, and contains also game sequence, so you won’t get lost during your first games. There is also a portrait of the country, which the player represents. Its strengths, however, will apply only if you play advanced semi-cooperative version.
Inside the box there are three card types – allied cards will help players in each round. There is also one space card for each of the three phases of the game, which determines progressively more difficult conditions for flying saucer inhabitants, as they arrive in larger numbers, stronger and with larger UFOs. Last deck contains the secret tasks and is again used only during advanced play.
And then you must endlessly punch out huge number of tokens. One moment you feel like in some wargame from GMT Games – various types of UFOs, units for each player, thirty tokens of countries (triangle double-sided allies and aliens) and thirty rectangular. But also victory points (advanced play), money, and modules for the player base. Oh and there is a pile of other tokens with a specific function – a label for income, bank account, victory points, or level of technology. There’s a lot of indicators.
Despite all these piles of different pieces, Target Earth is somehow not difficult to understand or grasp. Preparation is also quite simple – players will lay base board on the table with second smaller board used to track points and revenues. Each player then gets his board with correspondingly colored tokens (colors are quite hard to bind to board). Now take UFO tiles and divide them into three piles of tokens, according to directions. Each pile is for one of three phases of the game. The first contains only smaller flying saucers, in the second come also larger ones to visit and more recently, there will be flying fortresses filled with aliens coming your way.
Now you will need a bowl or bag to pull UFO out of. However at start, you shall drop only tokens for the first game phase. The other two piles are set aside for now. Because aliens are already among us for some time, they accomplished to get influence in several countries. You randomly draw country tiles to determine, who is on their side. Then you must assign the same number of countries as your allies. The rest of the countries will remain neutral in the conflict for now and it is up to you, to get them to your side.
You add one token for each country, that is not controlled by extraterrestrials, into the second bag. Then you add two tokens for each player base, which is in the game and mix it well. Note that neither of these bags is included in the game, which is perhaps the only lack the processing.
All countries are on the map – some are grey (neutral) and are not covered by control token, others have token with green or blue border. But what remains the same in all states is a trio of numbers on each country – on the peak, there is number of victory points for controlling this country. Yes, also invaders do get victory points! In the lower corners is located number of income, which will this goverment add into your treasury each turn, when you have it on your side.The last number is diplomatic value, which have you (or aliens) roll to persuade country to join your side of conflict.
Players can now set the initial alliance income to twenty (corresponding to countries that are at the beginning of your allies) and treasury value to zero. Each of the players is dealt random four alliance cards. In each round, player will be able to use one of them. Each of the parties to the conflict gets also one more marker for victory points – each side starts in the same position of 24 victory points.
At the conclusion of preparation, each participant gets twelve credits for constructing buildings on the base or the acquisition of combat units. The decision how to build it and which equipment to use, are purely up to the player. Then you only have to specify a starting player and duel with extraterrestrial civilizations may be initiated.
Target Earth is divided into seven major turns. Each of them consists of nine phases, which players perform together, although sometime each does something on his playground. When they spend alliance money for upgrading their base. But we will take everything nicely in order, just as it should be. First phase of a turn is simple collection of money from all the countries, who openly support your fight and thus are marked with a blue frame on the world map. You increase value of your account by this value.
Money can jointly be spend on research in the second phase of the turn. But the technology does not increase immediately, because you have to meet additional requirements, which are strictly given for each level – number of laboratories or knowledge of alien race. These requirements are checked at the end of round, when real improvements happens. Until then, players must make their actions with the old skills. This means, that upgrading technologies in last turn makes little sense.
It is likely, that you have some money left over. These will be divided equally among players. Surplus, which can not be divided, remains in the bank for upcoming rounds. Now each player can with these finances treat according to his discretion, but everyone should still make arrangements. You should have enough of all the buildings necessary for the liquidation of flying saucers.
Last quite phase is the fourth diplomacy. Players can try to convince one country to join their side of battle. It is done with the help of two dice. If players have more, than ten allied countries behind their backs, they gain rolling bonus. You have to roll equal or larger number, than diplomacy value of the country. Yet from time to time you fail to convince hesitant politics. No big surprise in that.
And now finally UFOs appear in the sky. In the fifth stage, you draw a predetermined number of them from the bag. Their amount is given by turn of the game, you are currently in. As time flies more will come for visit each round – four in the first phase, six in the second and eight in the third. Each ship has its own mission on our planet. This means, that for each ship, you pull a country (or base) token from the second bag and specify its target location. In most cases ship is headed to convince people of some country to add to their side. Perhaps we do not need to describe, what means of persuasion will be used.
Now you can try to shoot them down (= sixth phase), but only those saucers, that can be intercepted with your radars. You must have alltogether enough radar in your bases to be able to identify the intruder in the sky. The more to the right ship is, the more radars you need to detect it.
If it works out, you send fighters after them and try to shoot them down. Players can send more fighters and fight is done again by rolling dice. Hits are considered as numbers five or six on the dice. Who accomplishes less hits loses a duel, and has to remove one of the participants fighters – if you managed to hit UFO, you shoot it down, otherwise you lose a fighter. Each unit has a given number of dice, which they add to your roll.
But it is not uncommon, that your enemies manage to fly away. In this case, they succesfully arrive at their destination. You can still follow them and send troops to intervene against them on the ground. In addition, you can try in this phase to expel any alien base from occupied country (make it neutral and lower enemy victory points value), or you could even defend an attack on your own base.
Battles take place on land similarly, except you meet there different types and numbers of aliens, depending on game progress you are in – aliens onboard are determined by phase cards. Saucers carry more and more units as the time goes by and you have to try to outshoot them on the mainland. In case of a successful attack on the player’s base, you have to destroy some buildings.
Conclusion of a turn already takes place peacefully. Surviving units return to base and players evaluate, whether they were able to meet the requirements of technology improvements. You have to check, if it is not the end of the seventh round, or if one of the parties of the conflict did not meet the victory conditions. If not, you can continue the game.
You fight aliens to the end of the seventh round. Victory or defeat can be accelerated, so that game ends sooner, if one of sides has accumulated more than fifty victory points in the value of the controlled countries. If the game reaches up to the referees, the players need to have the highest knowledge of aliens – at level four. There is no way to win, if they do not. But then at the same time, they must also have more victory points, than the raiders. In all other cases, the aliens win.
Target Earth game is doing great job by transfering space combat invasion into board game form. Fans of the UFO and X-COM series will recognize a number of procedures, that are inspired by the computer game. Missions are obviously simplified to a single combat, but it does not matter. It would be complicated to do it any other way. In fact, Target Earth offers really challenging cooperative play, where would not win every game. And if game seemed easy for you, you can even find harder variants in the rules – settings of incoming UFOs for advanced players.
What is different in semi-cooperative version? Each player has a secret mission, which gets him victory points in the end of the game. In addition, each country also has special skills, which may be used during the match. Yet the fact remains, that the players must work together, but also think more back door and do not go with such verve into any fight. Both variants of Target Earth are interesting and each of them will find fans among players.
When you see the impending attack, you immediately see also its target. This is an advantage for you, because you can try to shoot down saucers, which are most dangerous (targeting valuable countries, bases and so on). Then on the ground, you can dispose of others or leave them in peace to complete their mission, because this is country, you are not interested in. So you let the aliens to have a little fun. Already here, strategic strengths of Target Earth can be seen.
And this is of course not the only place. The game is full of constant decision making, despite the fact that in the end of your successes is often decided by luck. But that’s okay, because you are here in order to save humanity and some bad luck could not scare you! Luck is inseparable part of the game and we did not mind it. We can even say, that its valuable part of each cooperative game.
Due to the distribution of money among alliance player, it does not really matter, how many players participate in the game. Fewer players will get more money and more quickly develops their bases, while more players will have to divide their strenghts more. Players are therefore always equally competitive. Preparation differs a little, when playing with other than full strength (4 players), only in a few small things. Impression of the game was not very different, particularly in the cooperative version. Rival variant is interesting, of course, in higher numbers, but does not lose its attraction in two.
Game time is fortunately rounded between an hour to ninety minutes. Length of match depends a lot on luck in the draw from space ships bag, so sometimes prosvištíte play faster and you will destroy emzáky sooner. But usually you get more for that hour and a half, especially if you are playing in a higher number of players and competitively. Cooperative variant is generally shorter.
And one more thing – Target Earth can be played in singleplayer! In this situation, you control two or four bases (depending on your choice). The experience is basically the same, and one could say that Target Earth is originally just for one gamer and it can be played in more. Great! So if you’re looking for a game, that you can play just by yourself without any problems, then this is finally it!
Processing have been praised in describing components. It is really on the level of quality games from GMT Games and still contains a lot of extra components – cards, large boards for each player or shared. A graphic is true sci-fi theme. Everything fits perfectly into each other. Only complaint could go to some tiny marking tokens, which can be easily lost (but also easily replaced in that case).
It is a great pity, that Target Earth is not very well known game. We do not know, why is that, but it has similar destiny as Mecanisburgo. It has an attractive topic, really slick handling and an excellent gaming system in two variants. Moreover, i tis based on such popular game series. Each match is exciting and full of decisions. Of course, it suffers traditional problems of perfect information (nothing is kept secret) of cooperative games, where players can come to a joint decision, but they can be also lead by one player constantly giving advices. This problem changes significantly with semicooperative variant, where everyone plays for himself in the end. We hope, that our review of this game will help inform players about its existence, and make them interested. Target Earth is worth it!
Target Earth is a perfect cooperative game, which will bring you to an alternate reality. Its a place, where visitors from space came to our planet. And they were not friendly. There is nothing less at stake in the game, than saving the mankind, just as in its PC acestor. You build bases, send out aircrafts and landing forces to destroy incoming aliens and try to discover new technologies. Game bets everything on cooperation, because all players have most of the time joint finances and forces, yet everyone manages is own base. So everybody has a feeling, that he is part of the resistence. These bases make also another variant possible – a semi-cooperative version of the game. While you are still defending attack from space, you have to simultaneously follow your own goals and try to beat your fellow partners in arms. Not only you, but also aliens are collecting victory points for seized countries, so game can prematurely end in a win or lose. Both types of battles are resolved by dice. Its the only way to defend yourself in face of incoming flying saucers. Processing is excellent and the only flaw is few really tiny tokens. Alltogether, Target Earth is one of the best cooperative games on the market, while it also contains a competitive variant. It definitely deserves more attention, that it gets.