So, you may remember back in March I went and took part in a MegaGame called Watch the Skies 2. It was an all-day experience where 300 people pretended to be nations and companies of the world in 2025, where Aliens were very much a real thing. It was flawed, but fantastic.
This weekend just gone, I took part in the sequel – Watch the Skies 3: Global Conspiracy. This time it was simply a fantastic experience. Sure, I can objectively look at certain points and say “This could probably be better”, but I came away with so many more positive feelings.
Here is an account of that day.
As the ‘Giant of Africa’, Nigeria was in a pretty sweet position. We had an ok Army, decent income, a fair bit of a political clout… even a scientist! There were a lot less scientists in this game. Fifteen in total I think, and the African region itself only had two of those.
Watch the Skies 3 was a de-facto sequel to Watch the Skies 2, so the timeline had advanced by a couple years, key events of the past game stuck through to this game (such as Tokyo being bombed out of existence, for example) the presence of sentient whales in the form of the Atlantic and Pacific Cetacean Conclaves, and of course Aliens. Everyone knew aliens existed in this game, so the dynamic had shifted more towards “what do they want?”.
Nigeria got of a hilarious, if cautious start. A stroke of genius on the way up lead to one of our Senior Ambassadors coming up with a proposal to bribe FIFA into hosting the 2030 World Cup in Nigeria, which was a great success. The funniest thing about it is that we paid about 1 – 3 million up front (pocket change, as far as the game is concerned), and that we promised to pay “The Rest” (I don’t know how much) when the World Cup actually happened in 2030. The game only lasts until 2027. Score!
That was only Turn 1. Our early turns were fairly occupied with dealing with the two big challenges our local controllers had set us. The first one was famine in Uganda, and then there was a long-term challenge of dealing with rising pollution in our ocean. The Glorious Nigerian Grand Navy was on the scene instantly, methodically and carefully clearing up the waste as best it could. It was a costly process, as it costs 2 Million to deploy a fleet, and then three million per box of sewage we clean. What we didn’t realise until Turn 2 is that pollution was so bad that one block of sewage goes on every turn. FFS.
The next few turns on that matter saw an epic whip-round from our diplomats on raising money to help fight the pollution, and we were knocking the blocks down like the cleaning-heroes we were.
I’m not sure if we had much effect on the Ugandan thing, but our strategy was allying with countries around us and asking them to let in refugees. That was solved relatively quickly, and then a new crises emerged – Zimbabwe was building nukes.
In the meantime, Alien Saucers were coming and going but we weren’t really in a position to do anything about it, with only one interceptor. None of the saucers went near us or our allies, although they visited Angola and Egypt a ton, as well as mining resources in other places.
Poo Wars 2: Poo Strikes Back
Since our Alien game had fallen behind and we weren’t really sure what to do about it, we decided to take a different track. We’d given our science-guy a mandate to be really good at One ThingTm and he chose Fish. For some reason. On the way, he managed to get access to the ‘Speak to Cetaceans’ card, something which we realised no one had, or was even close to getting. With that in mind, we decided to talk to the Cetaceans instead, and by the sounds of things (at least as far as the Atlantic Conclave is concerned) we were one of maybe a handful of entities that could. Before getting the tech, we actually spoke through intermediaries in the ‘Ordinary Humans’ group (who later turned out to be the ‘Deep Ones’ – a team previously known only as The Others), but I think the Cetaceans had a bit of a rough game. In a setting where you have aliens and wondrous being visiting you from above with shiny tech, why would you bother putting the time in to talk to Whales?
We only did it because we fell into it, but I’m glad we did, as it gave them someone to talk to and we got some stuff out of it.
Meanwhile, I sent in my Spy to blow up Zimbabwe. The country was in state of turmoil and this nuclear thing was getting everyone on edge. Us, South Africa and Britain all went in first with spies, but because there were three of us we tripped over each other and didn’t find out anything other than there were suspicious facilities about.
I managed to get GB and South Africa to stand down, and they even paid for the spy’s upkeep next turn. I also got budget from the Government for the spy, so I pocketed the extra money to fund my private army upgrade. The next turn frustrated me a little – the UN wanted hard evidence, but my spy couldn’t find anything, so the UN wouldn’t budge on sending us hep. So I blew up the suspicious facilities, and my diplomats spent the next few turns calming the political situation down.
That one I’m pretty sure was all down to us – after I spread the information that the nuclear program was taken care off, everyone kind of forgot about the other half of the problem, so it was just my diplomats taking care of things there. Turns out the nuclear technology came from China – who knew?
Meanwhile, Ian, our other diplomat, made a herculean effort and managed to raises a whopping 9 million in donations to clear up the last of the poo. Unfortunately, the Poo was fighting back.
Turns out that the reason it was going up one a turn, was that everyone was polluting too much. In game terms, this meant that all of the nations of Africa had to agree to cap their PR at 6. At the time, as far as I remember, Angola was the only one above 6, and naturally they wouldn’t budge because they felt ‘victimised’. I left it to the diplomatic team to sort out, and braced myself for the next crises to emerge – Boko Haram.
This was nice because I actually had a fight on my hands – the insurgents had carved out a new nation for themselves which encompassed the northern part of Nigeria. Using some bribery and some overwhelming force, I rolled over them within a couple of turns, re-securing our borders. There was a military unit in Niger, which Algeria and Egypt took care of, and then there was the insurgency in Chad. I would have gone in and sorted it out myself however the UN had already sent peace keepers in and were basically just fannying about, so I didn’t deploy into that region for fear of ticking off the UN. The crisis was prolonged a turn or two more than it needed to be though, because of this. The Americans eventually went in and I believe struck the final blow. Whether they did or not isn’t important, but I want to mention now because it gets better later.
With my part over though, I was keeping an eye out for the next challenge, which came from a most unexpected source – The United Nations.
Poo Wars 3: The UN Are Dicks (And Seriously Angola Sort Your Shit Out)
So, the UN ended up sanctioning the entire African Continent because we were polluting too much. Never mind that Nigeria had single-handedly reduced an entire pollution block down to zero (thanks to some donations), and never mind that the money we gave to the UN for the global effort was actually spent on everywhere BUT Africa. They sanctioned us anyway.
Remember that PR Cap I mentioned? Turns our Angola wouldn’t budge. At this point everyone was hovering on 5 or 6, with Angola on 7, and they felt they were being singled out because their nation was poorer. I was getting cross at this point because the Glorious Nigerian Navy had spent six whole turns clearing up poo. SIX TURNS. I’d even stopped our PR going up to 7 (we’d had a good news round somehow) just so we weren’t violating the pollution rule.
It got to a point where I asked control if I could use my Navy to seize the Angolan coast-line to forcibly stop them polluting the ocean. I didn’t go through with it though. (They said yes I could, but It would mean War, obviously).
Angola however said that they were using their alien friends (they made friends with the aliens really early) to come up with a solution. I THEN heard from my scientist that they were building a Hell Laser. Something that’s used on a Space Battleship and has nothing to do with pollution solving.
Going over to the operation map, I sent my Spy into Angola. I then told control I wanted to find their Hell Laser project and blow it up. This involved a dice roll…
** Rolls a 1 **
Control: Ok, you see some large infrastructure buildings.
Me: I blow it up
Control: It’s blown up
**Some Time Later **
Me: What did I blow up?
Control: An Angolan Power Station. There were civilian casualties and major black outs. That Hell Laser thing didn’t actually exist.
Oops. The next turn, Angola announced they’ve solved the pollution crises. True to form, the pollution blocks disappear. I felt kind of bad, but I was really getting tired of cleaning up their shit. Literally. And I got their PR down to 6, which made me happy.
As the game was coming to its twilight stages, a weird lull fell about the game for me. A new crises in the form of a Zombie Virus outbreak emerged near to us, but we traded in some Red Mercury to some aliens who sorted it out the next turn. No new challenges emerged.
We’d had pretty much no contact with the Aliens all game. This didn’t bother me, as we were having a fantastic time over all. The closest we got was that we stole some resources (including the afore-mentioned Red Mercury) from some aliens trying to mine our resources. They never came back to our region of Africa after that.
Meanwhile our Cetacean relations were stagnating. We were on extremely good termss with them, and we were harvesting a lot of fish to trade with them, but they were running out of things to trade back. Meanwhile we were representing them at the UN as much as we good, and cleaning up the waters for them – but their… usefulness kind of ended there.
Lots of people tried to get our Cetacean Language ability off of us, but we get it a closely guarded national secret. In hind-sight we should have charged, but there you go. A UN representative even came up to me and was like “we’d like to trade for your Whale Tech”. Given we were still under sanctions, I told him in no uncertain terms that we’re not even talking with them until those are lifted.
Egypt built a space port, which was blown up by the same aliens who built it, and Angola nearly went to war over Egypt at one point over a saucer they wanted to shoot down, but things seemed to be almost winding down for us. I’d managed to privately fund an army upgrade so that we ended up with One Modern Tech, One Old Tech and a Militia, having started with 2 Militia and an Old Tech.
Corruption was given more of an emphasis this game, although with no way of tracking it (and it not *really* meaning much), the degree in which our team interacted with it differed. I engaged in ‘practical’ corruption, in which I lied, cheated, begged an borrowed money where I could, but I ploughed it into the military to get a shinier army. Jamie, one of our ambassadors, took a 10 million bribe in a bit of Last Turn Madness, because he hadn’t done anything all game. God knows how much our leader pocketed, but I don’t think it was that much, ultimately.
Anyway, I eventually noticed something peculiar – a US Old Tech Unit still in Chad. I remembered that the American had deployed to sort out the insurgency, but that was a few turns ago and they must have forgotten about it, so it was just sitting there. Crucially, the upkeep on it wasn’t being paid. This lead to the greatest thing I did all day (in my view):
Me: See that Army Unit.
Me: It’s been sitting there a few turns now. The US never came back for it, and the Upkeep isn’t being paid.
Control: … Yes?
Me: Can the Nigerian Military take control of it? It’s clearly been abandoned.
Control: … !?
It’s worth pointing out a couple of things. One, Control was grinning ear to ear as I explained this, and two, it’s impossible to grow your conventional armed forces in the time-frame of the game. By the end of that turn I expanded our forces by 33%. I achieved the impossible.
After checking with various control members, they let me make a roll, and pay 5 Million in bribes. I like to think I made a convincing case – control was positing that the US wouldn’t just leave all the tanks there, but I stuck fast to the line that if the US hadn’t informed Control what they were doing, then you can’t assume that. Upkeep wasn’t being paid, which means the soldiers weren’t being paid. I proposed that many had abandoned the army and gone home. Regardless, the unit was technically illegally placed, so it didn’t matter, it shouldn’t still be there.
After my successful gambit, I took one of our “Allied to Nigeria” stickers – usually used for marking NPC Nations – and stuck it firmly over the US army unit, then moved it within Nigerian borders. The rest of my team cracked up laughing. I’d won the game. Time to go home.
I then sent an email to the US Armed Forces saying “Thanks for the Tanks!”.
This is a very narrow view of how the day went, and focuses stuff I was directly involved in, I’ve already forgotten so much of what happened that day, and there’s so much that went on I wasn’t even aware of.
The team I was part of tough was amazing, and did far better work than I did – Darren was a great leader, and gave me enough freedom to try and get away with whatever I could, and used the resources I gave him to excellent effect.
Tom, as always, was the master diplomat, and represented us extremely well at the UN.
Ian and Jamie were amazing Ambassadors, keeping everyone in the loop, pushing our local agenda, and helping me on the operational map when I needed them. A lot of the stuff I did was thanks to them paving the way – especially the getting the pollution donations.
Best props goes to Alex, our Scientist, who despite being seconded into the role that morning (our original person fell Ill, leaving us a man down), he bossed science, making us the Cetacean’s best friends, the masters of fishing AND winning the ultimate science award.
Super-Special mentions go to:
Matthew and Keith, our Control Team in Africa, who were an absolute pleasure to work with and really responded well to all Nigeria’s crazy ideas. I’d like to think we were their favourite.
Brad, Defence mogul of Angola, who is my personal hero. The amount of private funding and wheeler dealing he did puts my efforts to shame. By the end of the game he was sitting on a fully modern army, SIX Interceptors, and a metric ton of other back-hand cash. Legend.
My next post will do with some of the objective critiques I have on the game, as well as some suggestions, which I will also email to Jim in due course.