Game Buzz: Under Falling Skies

Over at BGG, design contests are constantly popping up. Last year, I entered one called the 9-Card Game Print and Play Contest. I’ve talked about this before on the blog – I entered with a game called Tic Tac Tactics, and it got mostly ignored. Which is fine – there were over 100 games that entered, and it’s really hard to find the best out of that. A winner did emerge however, which led to a publishing contract that is about to produce

image by BGG user uhlik

Under Falling Skies is a solitaire game designed by Tomáš Uhlíř that is soon to be published by Czech Games Edition. The basic theme is that aliens are attacking earth. Humans are hiding deep underground, but they’re also starting to try to fight back. The game comes with a campaign mode, so there are a number of different missions to complete.

In the initial game, the board is made up of tiles – a mothership, four sky tiles, the Roswell city tile, and two base tiles (A and B). There is an easier and a more threatening side for the sky tiles, and a correct side for the base tiles. Additionally, five purple ships start on the mothership. You’ll five dice available – three gray and two white. An excavator marker starts on an indicated space of your base, your energy is set at two, and your damage marker is set at the top of its track.

image by BGG user JanaZemankova

A round follows three phases: Dice, Rooms, and Mothership.

DICE PHASE: Roll all five dice. Each die should be placed in a different column of your ship (there are five). Whenever you place a white die, you must reroll all unrolled dice. When you place a die in a column, the alien ships in that column move down a number of spaces equal to the number you placed. This could trigger an effect – move the ship into a new column, or move the Mothership down. If an enemy ship makes it below the sky, you take a damage and the ship returns to the Mothership to respawn later.

Generally, you cannot place beyond the excavator as you have not dug down that far yet. But you can place one die beyond the excavator as long as you place it a number of spaces equal to the value of the die (or less).

ROOMS PHASE: The spots where you placed the dice will now activate. Some have a cost in energy, which you must pay to use them, though you can choose to just skip it. Some rooms have modifiers that will affect the value of the die placed there. There are a number of different rooms:

  • AA Gun Rooms: Placing here slows down the enemy ships of that column by one. This is applied during the previous phase.
  • Excavated Tunnels: No effect.
  • Energy Rooms: Increase your energy.
  • Jet Fighter: Destroy all enemy ships on an explosion space that has a value less than or equal to the value of the die placed here. Purple ships return to the Mothership, white ships are removed from the board entirely.
  • Research Rooms: Move up on the research track according the the value of the die placed here.
  • Excavator: Pay one energy to move the Excavator up to the number of spaces shown on the die you placed beyond it.

MOTHERSHIP PHASE: Move the Mothership down to the next row. If there are any ships there, they are placed back on the Mothership. Perform the action as shown – move the excavator backwards, move your research marker backwards, add white ships to the Mothership, or you lose the game. Finally, respawn ships in columns with no ships, filling in drop points far away from other ships next.

You win if you make it to the top of the research track. You lose if you reach maximum damage, or the Mothership makes it to the instant loss point.

image by BGG user uhlik

I’ve been following CGE for a long time, and I feel like this is their first purely solitaire game. And it’s a doozy. It’s got a cool theme, high stakes as you’re fighting off an invasion, great production, and so on. Basically, it’s what you would expect from CGE, and I really want to play it. I never got to play the original PNP because I have printer problems, which is a bummer because I really like PNP games. This is definitely one I want to check out.

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