Do you remember the arcade classic Alien Invaders? The one where you had to shoot invading aliens out of the sky before they reached the earth in order to save the planet. Were you good at it, and did you like it? Because if you did, you are going to love Under Falling Skies. Czech Games Edition made a solo board game that not only reminds you of the arcade shooter, but that also has a whole campaign behind the game if you manage to save the earth in the first place. But did we manage to do that? Here are our thoughts of Under Falling Skies.
How to Play.
The setup of the base game is pretty easy. Place the mothership at the top, and place five purple ships in a row on the mothership. Then place four sky tiles in a way that the numbers on the left side go up from one to 11. You have a light and a dark side of these tiles. The darker side is the hardest side. Place the Roswell city tile for your first game with the blue side up, and place base tiles A and B. Also place the green research marker on zero from the sky tiles, and the yellow energy marker on two from the base tiles. Lastly, place the red damage marker on the right side of the base tiles in de spot at the top, and put the excavator in it’s starting position on the base tiles. You will also need the three grey dices and two white dices. All of the other components are used in the campaign.
Each round of the game has three phases. The dice phase, rooms phase and mothership phase. In the dice phase you start with rolling the five dices. You can place those dices in a vertical row of your base. Every time when you place a white dice, you have to reroll all the dices not yet placed. In your base you will find your excavator which will follow a path to the bottom of your base. The space after the excavator has not yet been excavated and you can only place one dice there. If you roll a dice with three for example, you can place that dice three spaces away from the excavator. All the rooms in your base have different actions like gaining energy, or damaging enemy ships for example. But beware as each time if you place a die, all of the enemy ships in that vertical row will move as many space down as the amount shown on the dice. Depending on the place they will stop, it might trigger an effect like placing the mothership one row closer to earth. If a ship reaches your the earth and your base, it will hit the city and you gain one damage. If you gain to much damage and reach the skull icon, you lose the game.
After you have placed each of the dice in a column of your base, the room phase will start. Here the effects of the dices placed will be resolved. The value of each room is determined by the dice you have placed on it and the effects of the room itself. A room can have a -1 icon. If you place a dice of four on it, the value of the room will be three for example. Some rooms also have an energy cost. In order to use those rooms, you will have to spend the energy the rooms asks for first. Like I said before, each room has different actions. You can slow enemy ships down, destroy enemy ships, generate energy, or you can advance on the research track. In the rulebook of Underfalling Skies, there are good examples that show wat each room means and how to use it. Lastly, you can expand your base by using rooms placed after the excavator. If you have placed a die after the excavator in the dice phase, and resolve it in the rooms phase, you can move the excavator to the die’s place for one energy. Expanding your base will give you more choices and better rooms to use in your game.
In the last phase of the round, the mothership will move. The mothership will move down with one row, coming closer to earth with each round. If you encounter enemy ships while moving the mothership down, place them in the dark area inside the mothership. If you have moved the mothership, resolve the action to the right of the ship at the drop point. The mothership coming down often has consequences like placing extra enemy ships or moving the excavator a couple of spaces back in your base for example. Now it’s time to respawn new enemy ships. Place the enemy ships on the drop points if there are any. Choose a column with no other ships first and spawn purple ships before white enemy ships. When you place a die in the next dice phase, they will also move down.
You will win the game if your research marker reaches the top of the research track, but you will lose if the mothership descends to the row with the skull or if your base takes to much damage. This is everything you need to know for the first game.
Playthrough of the game.
Even though this is a solo game, we decided to try and play this game together. If you can cooperate well with each other, we found that this was easily playable with two people. The most decisions are made in the dice phase if you place the dices in your base. If you keep communicating and making decisions together, you can play Under Falling Skies together. We were pleasantly surprised by this game as we did not expect such an amazing campaign. After you play the first game, which we saw as a tutorial of some sort, we dived in to the campaign. For each chapter the designers created a short awesome looking comic, introducing you to what will come. You will meet new characters, new threats and will have to save more and more parts of the world. The game also will become gradually harder with each chapter you decide to play, possibly adding new threats to your game.
You also still have quite a lot of control since you can choose where you place your dices in the base and having to reroll each time you place a white dice. You will find that you can replay Under Falling Skies a lot. You can choose your own difficulty an setting, and when you start playing the campaign, you will notice you didn’t even see half of the game and you have so many options to choose from as you go.
Under Falling Skies is a solo strategy game where you have to save the earth from alien invasion. Even though this is a solo game, we found this is also playable with two people as long as you communicate well with each other. We were pleasantly surprised with the amount of challenge, gameplay and changes this seemingly small can brought, and had a lot of fun exploring the campaign. But it doesn’t stop there as you can always choose your own difficulty and scenario for the game you want to play, giving you a lot of replayability. We also found that this is one of the best solo games we have played so far and one game also doesn’t take long depending on how fast you can make your decisions. We found that Under Falling Skies is a great addition to your collection.