Alien Tactics – “Strength in numbers”

IFOS logo

One of the main strengths of the Martians against the Heroes is how they can overpower the opposing forces by means of sheer numbers. In order to do that, the Martians have to make sure that they keep their numbers up throughout the game, and there are two mechanics that allow the Martians to land additional reinforcements to aid them at this.

IFOS - the martian turn

The first mechanic involves two steps. Right after drawing Martian cards and just before the Command Phase, the Martian player would need to check if they can call additional reinforcements by rolling two dice and comparing the result against the number of squares on the board that is occupied by at least one Martian, including Martian Champions. This is called the “Roll for Reinforcements” phase (number 3 in the image above). Let’s take a look at this example:

IFOS - martian count

There are a total of 11 Martians on the board that are occupying 4 squares (encircled in yellow in the image above). So, in order to add reinforcements, the Martian player must get a result of 5 or higher on the Reinforcement roll. If the Martian player succeeds, the second step occurs just before the end of the Martian turn. The Martian player would need to roll 1 die; the resulting number is the number of new Martians that the Martian player can land, so that’s any number between 1 and 6. This is called the “Land New Martians” phase.

There are several disadvantages to this mechanic. First of all, this mechanic is reliant on dice rolling and therefore, is highly reliant on luck, so you’ll sometimes find yourself either failing the Reinforcement roll even though you only have a few Martians on board, or you’ll end up having low rolls for your Land New Martians roll.

Another disadvantage is that the arrival of the reinforcements happen at the last phase of the Martian turn, so the Martian Player can’t really utilize their added reinforcements until their next turn.

IFOS Command Console 2

The second mechanic, the Immediate Reinforcements option of the Command Console, really helps address these problems. First off, the Command Phase happens before the Move Martians phase so any new reinforcements are immediately involved in the game. Secondly, as long as there are available Martians to call up, Martian players can use this option regardless of how many Martians are already in the game.

The only disadvantage of using the Immediate Reinforcements option is that you’re spending 2 Command Points that could be spent on other things like drawing more cards, summoning Martian Champions, or building Martian Tech. So, when do you spend those command points on getting Immediate Reinforcements, then?

I have to admit, there’s no correct answer to that question – this all depends on the situation that you’re in. But let’s look at dice probabilities first. In the above example, there are already 11 Martians in play, but because they were being kept together as Packs, they only occupied 4 squares. In order to call new reinforcements, the Martian player only needs to get a result of 5 or higher from two dice, and there’s an 83.33% chance that you’ll get that result.

As long as your Martians are only occupying 6 squares on the board, your chance of successfully calling reinforcements is greater than 50%. If your Martians are occupying more than 6 squares, you’re either playing them wrong (they should always, always be in Packs) or most of your Martian Soldiers are already in play and you don’t really need the extra reinforcements.  So, generally speaking, you probably won’t need to get more reinforcements as you’re likely to succeed with your initial recruitment. And if you fail that, it’s probably because you already have a lot of Martians in play.

IFOS poster tiki tiki takA Full Martian Pack ready for action.

Still, there are some situations where calling in reinforcements is a good move. In my opinion, these are the times when you really need to call those extra hands:

1. When the number of Martians in play are dangerously low

If there are no Martians in play, the Martian player automatically loses. But the chances of this happening is very small – if you only have a few Martians in play, then you only need a low result to successfully call reinforcements. Say you have Martians in 3 squares, and you need to get a result of 4 or higher for your reinforcement roll – there’s a 91.7% chance that you’ll succeed. That’s high, and if you’re playing the game right then you should have 6-9 Martian Soldiers occupying those 3 squares (and the occasional Martian Champion). And let me tell you, it’s not easy to kill off 6-9 Martians in one turn.

But if you’re particularly unlucky in a game, and this exact situation happens, go spend those two Command Points on Reinforcements. Paying two Command Points is a measly price just to avoid certain defeat.

2. When the reinforcements can kill a Hero this turn

Sometimes, you’ll find a particularly vulnerable Hero lingering near a Landing Site, someone who’s near death. If this happens, and that Hero is within immediate reach, and you think you can kill that Hero off, go for it. Killing a Hero nets you two Command Points (an immediate return of investment) on your next turn, and moves you one step closer to winning, so I’d say those are well-spent Command Points.

I’m specifically mentioning this turn because it’s not that difficult for Hero players to escape this situation. There are a lot of Hero player tricks, from healing to evasive maneuvers to even manipulating the Martian Soldiers. Calling those reinforcements a turn too early serves as a warning to the Hero player and gives him time to counter. And if he avoids your trap, then that’s two wasted Command Points

3. When the reinforcements will result in a winning maneuver

There’s no other way that I can label this situation, primarily because there are five different scenarios in the game (as of date) and they involve different win conditions. So let’s list them all:

  • Invasion Martians need to kill two Heroes or prevent the Hero from killing 20 Martian Soldiers in 13 Turns. If calling Reinforcements would result in killing a Hero, go for it. Else, you’re just giving the Hero player more targets to kill.
  • Abduction – Martians need to drag 4 out of 6 Ally tokens on the board or kill 4 Heroes to win. If you’re able to place your new Reinforcements near an Ally token. Just to note that in this scenario, effectively moving your Landing Sites and calling in Reinforcements will guarantee a Martian victory.
  • Blow ’em Out of the Sky! – In this scenario, Martians win by killing 3 Heroes or prevent them from destroying 3 Flying Saucers in 17 Turns. The Heroes can destroy Flying Saucers via the use of circus Cannons that are located all across the board (there’s one per L-board). But they can’t fire these Cannons if there are Martians in the same space. So, if a Hero ventures near a free Cannon, you may want to call in some reinforcements to stop that Hero.
  • Wipe Them Out! – In order to win, the Martians need to destroy 4 of the 5 Crowd markers on the board, or kill 4 Heroes. In order to hit a Crowd marker with a ray gun attack or in a Fight, Martians need to roll sixes when doing those rolls. To kill a Crowd marker, it needs to get hit four times. So, when you have more Soldiers  available to attack these Crowds, you get a higher chance at hitting and killing a Crowd.
  • Unleashed The Martians can win this scenario by killing 3 Heroes, or by preventing the Heroes from killing the Super Zard Beast. In order to kill the Super Zard Beast, the Heroes still need to search for its weakness. Calling in Reinforcements may help keep the Heroes from being free to search for the necessary items.

So there you have it. In conclusion, while it’s good that the Martians have the option of calling reinforcements immediately, you probably won’t need to do it. Doing so unnecessarily can be wasted Command Points that could have been allocated for something else.

This post covers the second of five options available on the Command Console. I wonder which of the remaining three is the most helpful?


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Filed under Board Games, Flying Frog Productions

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