Alien Tactics – “They’re called ‘Flying Saucers’ because they fly”

IFOS logo

To recap my introduction to Alien Tactics, the Martian Command Console offers different strategic options that influence the Martian game tremendously, which is why I want to talk about each option and give insights as to what a Martian player can do strategically with those. Today, I’ll be talking about the first option, which is to Move a Saucer Up to 2 Spaces.

IFOS Command Console 1The Martian Command Console. You’ll be seeing this again at least 4 more times.

Before we go in depth on how this action works, I think we need to discuss what “Saucers” are first. Saucers, also referred to as Landing Sites, are tokens placed on the game board that mark where the Martians land. If you want to nitpick, I’d say the difference between the two terms is that a Saucer floats in mid-air while the Landing Site is the spot on the ground directly below the flying Saucer. Throughout this post, I’ll be sticking to the term Landing Site.

At the start of the game, Landing Sites are placed on specific squares on each L-board. You may refer to the screenshot below, I’ve encircled where the Landing Sites are in red:

ifos board 1

As you can see from the image, Landing Sites are usually located near the outer edges of the board, and usually located outside of buildings. Now, let’s take a look at how close (or more accurately, how far) these Landing Sites are to the nearest Hero, in terms of number of squares. Heroes are encircled in green, and the Landing Site have been numbered from 1 to 4:

ifos board 2

Landing Sites 1 and 4 are both 3 squares away from that pair of Heroes near the north-side of the board. Landing Site 3 is only 2 squares away from the lone Hero near the south. But Landing Site 2? That’s 6 squares away from the nearest Hero. Why is this significant?

Martians can only move 1 square per turn, barring card effects, and they can’t walk through walls. So if you don’t get the right cards, that Martian pack at Landing Site 2 is going to take 6 turns just to get involved in the game (unless there are Heroes who move closer, but you get my point). Imagine all the other Martians that will come from that Landing Site on future turns?

Clearly, the squares where the Landing Sites are originally placed are not all optimal. And that’s my first suggestion for using this Command Console action:

1. Move Landing Sites to better positions for deploying your Martians

So, let’s say we’re playing as the Martian Player in this game. How about we use one Command Point to move Landing Site 2 a little closer to the action:

ifos board 3

At the cost of 1 Command Point, it’ll only take Martian Packs coming from Landing Site 2 just 2 turns to reach that Hero near the south side, 3 turns to reach the Hero in the center, and 4 turns to reach the Hero near the north side.

The tricky thing is, there are no fixed guidelines to determine whether a Landing Site is at an optimal location or not, but here are two general tips, which works especially well for the early game:

When a Landing Site is too far away from the center board. As illustrated above, it takes too many actions/turns to get from Landing Site 2 to where the action is.

When a Landing Site is inside a building. The above illustration also serves a good purpose here, as Landing Site 2 is inside The Arcade. Any Martians deployed there would have to walk through the door way and walk around the corner of the Second Stage Tent before they can be close enough to take part in the game.

It’s different when you get to the middle/late game, when the opposing player has already moved his Heroes. His/her strategy should be apparent by then, with the Heroes lingering in specific areas. Just move your Landing Sites accordingly to ensure that you’ll be able to keep the pressure on the humans.

But these Landing Sites aren’t just landing sites for Martian deployment. Again, these markers also represent flying Saucers, and these Saucers can do more than just land Martians, they can actually fight back too.

2. Surprise your opponents by moving your Saucers and launching ranged attacks

I was contemplating on whether including this here or in the post where we get to talk about Martian Tech, but I think this combo heavily relies on moving your Saucers around the board.

There are at least two Martian Tech cards that cost only 1 Command Point each that will enable your flying Saucers to shoot at the Heroes. The first one is Saucer Blast, which lets you target any square within 3 spaces of a Saucer/Landing Site. This results in an automatic 2 Ray Gun Hits on any Hero or Crowd (both can still use their Dodge abilities) in that square, as well as a Fire starting in that space.

Hero players know that the Martians have cards like these, and so they usually are wary of being too close to a Landing Site. But the cost of Saucer Blast is low enough that without any other card effects, you can move one of your Saucers and play Saucer Blast in the same turn, effectively giving Saucer Blast a range of 5 squares.

The other Martian Tech card that also only costs 1 Command Point is the Death Ray. This card allows you to shoot the Death Ray from a Saucer using the Death Ray Template:

IFOS death ray templateFear the Martian Death Ray.

The Death Ray template is a board piece depicting a ray of energy fired in a straight line. You put the thin end at any leading corner of a square occupied by the Saucer that’s firing the ray. Any Hero occupying a square that the Death Ray crosses over can potentially be automatically hit (no dodging this time) depending on the result of a die roll. See the numbers on the Death Ray? The first segment has “3+”, which means that any Hero in a square within that segment is hit on a die roll of 3 or more. Roll a 5 or a 6 and you’re hitting everyone in that line of fire.

You can use a Command Point to move one of your Saucers (1) closer and (2) in a position where you can shoot at more than one Hero, then use the remaining Command Point to fire the Death Ray and cause major damage to the Heroes. And if you do this wisely, the act of moving the Saucer will actually put it in a better deployment position too. I have to tell you, this is one of the better combos of the game, it feels great when you get to pull it off.

So there you have it, two reasons why you should never ignore the Move a Saucer up to 2 Spaces option of the Martian Command Console. Having to face your regular Martians and Martian Champions is already hard enough for the humans, but when you start utilizing your Saucers more effectively? The human race doesn’t have a chance.

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Filed under Board Games, Flying Frog Productions

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