The Third Kind (TTK) was the Society’s first MegaGame, a political simulation of aliens and intrigue. The game was based on Watch The Skies (WTS), a MegaGame created by the UK MegaGame Makers, inspired by the video game franchise Xcom. Our own game, following the rough foundations of WTS, was homebrewed by Patrick Doyle and run in November, 2014. It was the first game the Society managed and its success lead to the formalisation of the WS MegaGame Society and the development of future games.
Military actions well underway
The Premise of TTK is quite simple – in the modern era, over a period of 3 years, a number of major superpowers on Earth struggle with real world crises while also trying to deal with, and comprehend, the arrival of an alien species on their planet. The rest of the worlds nations, as well as all major events and notable organisations, were run by a team of Moderators. The goal for the players was not to ‘win’ or to achieve a certain victory condition, but to instead simulate a realistic reaction on behalf of their nations to global crises (terror attacks and natural disasters, for example) and the exciting and dreadful realisation that we are not alone in the galaxy.
On the day we had 37 players all up:
<em>The British cabinet pondering their next political move
The Human players were split into 6 teams, each representing a rising or current power player in the global political sphere of 2016 – United States of America, Brazil, United Kingdom, Japan, Russia and China. Each of these nations had 4 players who filled a specific role within the governance structure of the nation. These were:
- Leaders – responsible for resource management and allocation, collation of information from their advisers, and decision making.
- Military Chiefs – responsible for the training, creation and distribution of military forces and covert operations.
- UN Representative – responsible for giving their nation a voice on the United Nations and liaising with other Reps to deal with global crises.
- Science Advisor – responsible for monitoring research projects and interacting with other scientists and entities to give their nation a technological edge.
Hidden away from the rest of the players, the alien team schemes
Working against these human teams (well, at least with their own set of goals) were the Alien team. In our original run of TTK, these Aliens were a (relatively) peaceful species from the Tehrani Empire. Their goal in coming to Earth, regardless of human inhabitants, was to collect valuable resources from the Earths core which they could utilise in overthrowing a merciless regime in their homeworld. The Alien team was broken down into 5 roles, some having more than 1 player filling them:
- Leader – responsible for resource management and team coordination
- Chief of Subterfuge – responsible for covert operations and deception when dealing with the Humans
- Chief of PsyOps – responsible for the management of psychic manipulation and operations
- Chief of Terror – responsible for the regimes military units and operations
- Chief of Diplomacy – responsible for creating and upholding relations with the humans
Amongst all this chaos, we also had a small team of 2 players who reported around the clock on everything that was happening – the World News Media. This duo had the responsibility of taking notes, performing interviews, and producing real-time newsletters with the latest headlines every half hour. This was a great source of information (and misinformation) which a lot of the teams started to rely on as the game go into the more hectic, later stages.
On the day, the game area was split between three rooms and had a number of major locations. Players had rules which defined who could go where, and who couldn’t, and it quickly became evident how important information sharing and collation would be. Leaders who couldn’t attend the UN Security Council would be waiting anxiously to receive news about a recent resolution, while messages were hastily carried between the War Table and the UN as Military Advisors tried to keep up with what their UN Representatives were doing. The main areas of the game included:
- The Nation Tables – each nation had its own table where it could conduct secret business as required. All other Human and Media players were allowed to access these areas, though had to leave if the owners of the table asked them to do so.
- The War Table – sitting amongst the Nation Tables was the map of the world. This is where, once a Turn, Military Chiefs would convene to launch and observe military operations around the globe.
- The United Nations – located in a separate room was a large Council table where the UN Security Council met each Turn. Only UN Representatives were allowed to access this area and spent their time here debating ongoing global crises and how to solve them.*
- The Alien Regime – located in a separate room to the rest of the game, the six alien players plotted over their own documents and resources. Only Aliens and Moderators were allowed access to this room.*
*As our first game showed, these rules were soon
Military advisors watch on as a new Turn of conflict begins
Our first run of TTK, and indeed our first MegaGame at all, occurred on November 22, 2015. The event yielded a full compliment of players (37 including our Moderators) and overall was a great success.
Game day began at 9:30am (earlier for some of us) with setup and arrival. At 10am, the Moderators shared to duty of giving a pre-game briefing. This was entitled: The World of 2016. Our game was to run from January 2016 to December 2018, a three year gap split into 12 turns (each of three months). The world, as it were, was already in chaos:
- Iran-Pakistan border dispute was heating up after soldiers of an Iran border patrol were wounded in an attack by suspected militants operating out of the neighbouring country.
- Previously unknown flu variant had surfaced in Guyana, contained for the time being and supposedly not expected to become a serious regional problem.
- Serious flooding had created disaster in Indonesia – deforestation and unseasonably heavy rains led to unmanageable flooding and displacement. Humanitarian assistance was needed.
From here, the players returned to their tables and started planning out what they had at their disposal to help deal with these issues.
Humanitarian aid headed for a disaster stricken Indonesia
As this was our first MegaGame, many were nervous – Moderators included! However, once the bell tolled for the start of Turn 1, things seemed to take a life of their own and the game was well underway almost instantaneously. Players knew what kinds of relationships they needed to form and underwent diplomatic relations while other hastily set in motions plans of action to help Indonesia in their humanitarian crises.
All the while, the media team managed to keep up and produce a half hourly report of game happenings.
Throughout the day the events and Turns blurred into one. A few highlights, though:
- Earthquakes in China
- Russia confirms alien life forms
- Sarin terror attacks in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan and across Europe
- Earthquake in Turkey
- Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo claims responsibility for terror attacks and forms anti-alien regime
- Australia splits, South Australia claiming itself to be God’s Republic of Australia amid anti-alien rallies
- United States utilising mass resources in joint expedition with UK and China, only to keep the outcomes of technological advancement to themselves
The World News Media hard at work to produce the next turns bulletin
It was a long, hectic, exciting day. By the end of it all, the world was on the brink of chaos with the majority of nations prepared to war against the United States for betraying them, the aliens held a ‘peaceful’ and temporary seat on the United Nations, and it was believed that the Chinese and Russian Governments had been in cahoots with the Alien regime from the start.
“I personally loved playing, and designing, The Third Kind. As our first game I think it ran quite smoothly for the Society and, through feedback and trial and error, we learned a lot about running and designing future games. I’d love to revisit TTK, maybe on a larger scale and with some major overhauls to compensate for the mechanics which didn’t quite work. The setting was great and allowed for some amazing gameplay – I hope our future games can live up to what TTK supplied!”
– Patrick Doyle
Media Articles from TTK, November 2014