Each turn, players roll a six-sided die to determine how many action points they may use that turn. One action point is required to spawn a new spaceship at your landing zone, and also to move a spaceship to an adjacent space. By spending two action points, players can gain an alien menace token; these tokens are used to fuel the most powerful alien powers. Players can also use action points to play Event cards from their hand. Event cards shape the flow of the game, and range from minor effects like dice rerolls all the way up to the epic Atomic Bomb blast.
The combat system in Conquest of Planet Earth is fairly simple. For each alien spaceship present, multiply by that race’s Strength to get the alien total. By drawing from the Resistance deck, the human total can be figured. There are two types of cards in the Resistance deck, military and hero. Military cards have a flat strength value, from low-power infantry to dangerous fighter jets and tanks. Heroes are particularly nasty, since they force an additional draw on top of providing their own strength bonus. You might get several heroes in a row, making even the lowliest troopers a force to be reckoned with. Once you’ve determined the alien and human Strength totals, add one die roll to each side, then compare the totals to determine the winner. If the alien forces lose, one spaceship is destroyed, though players can choose to press the fight if they like. If the puny humans are defeated, then the location is conquered, adding the location’s population value to the aliens’ Terror point total.
All of the components in Conquest of Planet Earth are wonderful. The miniature spaceships are detailed and suitably old-school, and the artwork on the cards is over the top, very appropriate for a game based on shlocky B-movies. Board and card design elements both are pleasing to the eye and easy to use during play. In a particularly unique touch, a CD filled with theme music is included, with tracks based on the different alien races. The music is undeniably campy, but it’s hard not to enjoy the game with the soundtrack playing in the background.
I found playing Conquest of Planet Earth to be a very good time. It isn’t the most strategic game out there, which may drive more cerebral gamers away. Luck plays a huge role in the outcome, as you’d expect in a game with dice and cards driving the mechanisms behind play. However, more than most games, Conquest of Planet Earth is about the experience, and it really delivers. If throwing some dice and talking in alien voices, making threats to the inferior human forces, alongside a few friends sounds like a good way to spend an evening to you, give Conquest of Planet Earth a try. Just watch out for that Land Squid!