Well, we decided that we would like to do another annual archery event at our range, Ontario Centre for Classical Sport (OCCS) so that we could run one every four months in a year. We already established a Robot event and a Zombie event, so where could we go from here?
Good call weird-hair aliens guy! We did an alien invasion event! Our first Alien invasion was in 2016, and like our other games, had a level of immersion and complexity that participants weren’t expecting! But once it got started, made for a very fun event!
This event was also for teams of two, and once again we took food donations for the local food bank. The amount of food items that a team donated would give them starting bonuses in the game, such as the alien ships starting further away, bonus alien tech cards, or an extra arrow to shoot one time during the competition.
In this event, each team was protecting a different city from alien invasion! A silhouette of the skyline of a city was placed about each team’s target butt to remind them of what was at stake if they failed in their mission of protection.
The target butt itself started without anything to shoot at, but on a moveable foam target in each team’s lane was an attacking spaceship. There were three target areas on the ship that needed to be hit for the ship to be shot down. But they didn’t need to be all hit in the same end; a team could damage a ship by hitting one of the target areas, then finish it off in the next end.
The different sized circles were for the different levels of archer who signed up. At the finish of each end, any alien ship that hadn’t been hit in all three target areas moved up a step. As with the previous events, the steps were indicated by pylons along the sides of the range. There were 4 steps for the ships to advance. If the ship made it past the final step, it dropped off alien troops and went back to get more! The target foam was moved back to its starting position, and any damage to the ship was removed.
If the ship did get shot down, that is, the players managed to damage all three target areas, it also went back to its starting position, and dropped off a number of troops equal to the step it was on when it got shot down. So, for example, if it advanced twice from the first step before it was shot down, it would be on step 3 and therefore 3 aliens would disembark. Just so you know, getting a lot of aliens coming out is bad, as you’ll soon see.
The rules for this game were partly inspired by the setup of the target butts at OCCS. A couple of years previous, the target butts were made from a tight netting with linens behind to stop the arrows. By this point, they had been replaced by a thick self-sealing foam system. Rather than each butt being a big block of foam, however, there were nine squares of the foam tiled to make a larger square. This was quite clever and saved money in the long run, because the centre square tended to get shot to pieces first. As it became more damaged, it could be switched out for one of the other tiles in that butt which had a lot less damage. Thus it wasn’t necessary to replace the entire backing every time one got well-used.
This setup meant there were thin but visible lines between each foam tile. I envisioned these as “sectors” of the city where the aliens could land. For every alien that was deployed from a ship, whether it was because it was shot down, or because it reached its landing zone and dropped all 5 of its troops, a player would roll a ten-sided die to determine where it got placed on the butt. The top left sector was designated “1”, with “2” to its right, then “3”, with “4” starting the next row. You know, like the keypad on a phone. If the players rolled a “0” on the die (the numbers on the die went from 0-9; most games assume the 0 has a value of 10), they could place the alien in whichever sector they wanted.
Placing the aliens was pretty important. Only four aliens could fit in a sector. If a sector was full when that sector was rolled to place an alien, it would just go into the next higher number. But if all nine sectors have at least one alien in it, that city has been overrun and that team loses! Luckily, players could also try to keep their city clear by shooting the aliens!
The aliens were printed on half an 8.5″x11″ piece of paper (two per page, then cut in half). Novice archers only had to hit the page to count a hit against an alien, removing it from their city. More experienced archers had to hit inside a black line drawn around the alien, and the most experienced archers had to hit the drawing of the alien itself.
For this event, rather than getting plain 10-sided dice, or pulling a bunch from my own collection at home, I decided to theme it a bit more. I found online some crystal dice in purple that I thought looked really cool, and had a bit of an alien feel to them. I showed Bill the website I was ordering them from, and he incorporated the look of the dice into the art! You might be able to see on the aliens’ weapons that they have purple crystals attached to them.
We took this a bit further and added extra bonuses for the players in a deck of cards. Every time a team shot down a spaceship, they got to pull a card from the deck. The cards had either a weapon or crystals on them. Each weapon had a specific effect if the team chose to use it, such as instantly destroying a ship if only one target area was hit, getting an extra arrow to shoot that end, or emptying a sector of aliens if only one of the aliens in that sector was hit. But, in order to use a weapon, the team had to have collected the right number of crystals to power the weapon.
We did discover, after the first time, that the teams which were doing the best ended up with all the bonuses, and several of them just gave their cards to other teams to help them out. In the next year we decided to give a card to any team whose spaceship got to the landing zone and dropped off a full 5 troops. They are the ones who actually needed the help, not the teams who were shooting ships down every other turn.
And what of cities that got overrun and the teams defending them? Any team that is eliminated by having aliens in every sector doesn’t have to go home; they can still participate! Of course, having been overrun by aliens, they get mind-controlled by the aliens and start working against the humans!
Mind-controlled players have their spaceship and aliens taken away and get instead as a target more alien tech. Their target is a teleporter to bring aliens down from the mothership directly. In order to activate it, the team must hit both red buttons during the same end. If they do, they get to place an alien on the city of the team with the fewest aliens.
The winning team was the one that had the highest score, counting one point for aliens and 5 points for a space ship, after a certain number of ends. Of course, it is entirely possible that the aliens could win if all of the cities were overrun before that final end!
It’s a shame OCCS closed, for many reasons, including how much I miss the people I worked with and many of the regulars there. But also, we enjoyed running these events very much.
We do hope we get to run these again somewhere (calls us! (well, send u an e-mail if you have an archery range and want to run these events)).