The View from the Vice Presidency – A Watch the Skies Dundee After Action Report

This is the second After Action Report from Watch the Skies Dundee II. This is from Debbie Thain, who had served with distinction as Secretary of State in the first game, and stepped up to Vice President and Director of Homeland Security for this one.

Following the speedy impeachment of our former president and myself being appointed the dual role of Vice President/Director of Homeland Security, the first few turns were a bit of a blur as we tried to grasp everyone’s roles and intentions this time around. I found myself taking on the role as a politely vague Vice President as no one was eager to commit to decisions so early in the game. As for my role as Director of Homeland Security, after the first turn at the map I was quick to leave our military might in the hands of our general with simple, if a little paranoid, instruction to “keep them away from our borders!”

Aside from the regular countries, this time around we had the additions of corporations, Bett and Gamble, and Weyland Corp. There was also an additional anti-alien faction known as the Longwatch. Originally these organisations were practically dismissed in favour of meeting fellow countries, but they would come to play a major role later on.

Aliens at the table

It was nice for the Sisters of Mercy to show up

Thankfully we were blessed at the very beginning of the game with the ability to send and receive garbled alien communications. All we needed was for our scientist to give us a location, and voila, we had the ability to talk to the extra-terrestrials that swarmed around our planet!

What aliens were we communicating with at this stage? We weren’t entirely sure. What we did learn was that the UK was also receiving similar messages from the aliens, so similar in fact that when we put our encrypted messages together, we got almost the full message! Despite being dubious of Europe’s alliances, we made quick friends with the UK and soon set up a military treaty that would last the remainder of the game.

Often at the table I was a regular point of contact for other players. The Longwatch congratulated us on shooting down alien craft in Canada, and we became tentative military allies. And military allies only. While we were eager to keep our (the world’s) airspace free of UFOs, we were definitely suspicious of their intentions. Especially so when they announced to us that US citizens had set up their own branch of the Longwatch. We briefly considered using military action against the Longwatch for basically cajoling our civilians into treason. We then realised that this would involve potentially attacking our own citizens. We weren’t prepared to take the PR hit that would cause, but discovered that Germany was experiencing similar issues. We were quick to share information with Germany regarding the Longwatch, and with the global terror track increasing rapidly Germany and the US hauled the Longwatch in for interrogation. Turns out, they legit just wanted to shoot aliens and be recognised by the UN for doing it. Huh.

Meanwhile, we were exchanging garbled communications back and forth with the aliens. We learned there was some kind of extra-terrestrial Federation. They had a list of demands they wanted from us. With the UK’s help, we deciphered the list and it turns out they wanted someone for interrogation. Um, no. It didn’t sound too friendly. However, we also received a warning from the aliens regarding Japan, Russia and [Redacted]. They were apparently dangerous to the aliens and to us. We wanted to check up on this, and this is where Bett and Gamble came in.


A theory of some kind

Their catalogue got a little existential

After the first two turns, Bett and Gamble were always busy. For the right price, they could do pretty much anything. And the best thing about Bett and Gamble was that they could investigate things without the…political ramifications that accompany direct espionage. We kept on their good side and were sure to purchase some extra PR from them and let them set up HQ in the US and a factory in Canada. Canada in this case was a non-player country who we were BFFs with for the entire game. Jointly with the UK, we paid to have Bett and Gamble investigate the countries the aliens warned us about. We ordered the investigation of Russia, of course. The results were… kind of vague. But that wasn’t the point. Russia had been acting pretty suspicious.

A Russian delegate pulled me aside part way through the game. Russia, apparently, had hard evidence that America had never visited the moon in 1969. I asked to see their proof of course. All they could tell me was that Control had assured them the proof was there. Of course, they said, it would be very bad for America if this was to, shall we say, be broadcast. Not wanting Russia to have any leverage, we were quick to hunt down Control, and they told us the exact opposite. America’s head of NASA had hard evidence proving that we did land on the moon. Wanting the ball in our court, we wrote a statement inviting Russia to share their so-called evidence with the world and handed it to the press at GNN. However, this entire fiasco was averted when GNN deemed neither of our stories newsworthy and the whole thing blew over without a hitch. The point of this, however, is that either Control or Russia seemed to be messing with us, and several times throughout the game we would discover that the USA and Russia were supposedly receiving conflicting messages from Control.

With Control and/or Russia deliberately stirring things up, and the USA and Russia having a second space race to set up a moon base, things were pretty interesting. The UN decided to try and meet the aliens (which ones though I have no idea) in Nevada, USA. I was approached again by the Longwatch. Despite a firm warning to the Longwatch not to intervene with the negotiations in Nevada, they scared off the aliens and we missed the chance for peaceful communications and working out the alien’s end goal.

Little did we know that the aliens had also been in touch with the news crew over at GNN. GNN was in touch with the Federation via a UFO in Algerian airspace. Somehow, they’d gotten in a copy of the Federation rules, and after a bit of haggling and pilfering from the budget while Madam President was away (sorry Pauline!), I managed to get a hold of a copy. Basically they were investigating Earth, and the Federation rules were: No AI, no nukes, and no bio-engineering. Resistance to the investigation would be met with force in kind.

So of course, we unknowingly blew up their point of contact UFO in Algeria. The press hated us. The Federation presumably hated us. The Longwatch was impressed. We were front page news. Scandalous.

Suddenly getting attention for all the wrong reasons, when Control announced over two turns that “The Longwatch has AI,” which is totes against Federation rules, we wanted to sever all ties. A quick discussion with Germany regarding the Longwatch revealed that the UN were at that very moment discussing whether to let them become a military alien hunting body under the UN umbrella. Germany didn’t have a veto, but we did. I fired off a message to our diplomat to tell him to make use of it.

Unfortunately, this would lead to the Longwatch throwing all their toys out the pram and assassinating the diplomats who dared to oppose their acceptance into the UN. SORRY MIKE!

Mike Ritchie - RIP

In memorium.

Meanwhile, we had been religiously committed to our mission briefing and thanks to our scientist, finally managed to make a base on the moon! We were delighted. Despite everything else, we had achieved our main objective!

Then everyone started asking what we were doing on the moon. Honestly, I don’t think we had even bothered to think what would happen after we built it, or even for what purpose we were building it. The point is we got there before Russia (HAH!). Everyone was asking, “what’s it for?”, “are there military implications?”, and we were like… “Uh…cos we can? Uh… course there aren’t. Relax, it’s fine.”

Nevertheless, we discovered we now had a simple point of contact with the aliens on the moon! We had a bunch of questions to ask, then the opportunity for contact was handed to us on a platter by France. We’d had very few dealings with France at this stage and so it was a bit odd having them suddenly appear. However, France had apparently been in full contact for a while with a race of aliens called the Reticulans and they happened to be based on the moon. Or crashed on the moon, totes the same thing. Either way they were very eager to get in touch to figure out why the hell we were now also on the moon.

The opportunity to contact the aliens was supposed to be left with our diplomat, but he was in a UN meeting when we got the message from France. I realised he wouldn’t have time to conduct the meeting this turn. As I, the Vice President, was literally just hanging around at the table eating sushi, I quietly snuck into the UN (Homeland Security espionage powers FTW!) and borrowed from our diplomat the bargaining chips we’d intended to use. I think he was still our diplomat – he might have been a reincarnated diplomat. I’m not sure whether he’d been assassinated at this point or not. After that I ran back to find Control so we could finally contact the Reticulans face to face.

We found Control. Or rather Control found us. The Federation wanted someone from the US to interrogate, and Madam President, now a US scientist for the occasion, was spirited away. Thankfully I was able to find another member of Control to arrange the meeting with the Reticulans, and since it was our Moon Base, I was able to bring along our scientist as back-up in case things went south.

Things didn’t go south! The Reticulans were concerned with the level of violence on Earth but other than not letting us leave our own solar system, didn’t seem too inclined to do anything about it. We were like ‘fair do’, and told them our moon base was purely scientific. They seemed happy about that. In a gesture of goodwill, we gave them back a live Reticulan we had been holding on to for forever. We all left happy.

USA military assets

War! What is it good for?

Remember all those pre-planned questions we had to ask them? I didn’t get around to it. The monoliths that had been popping up all over the world and the random temples in Canada, etc? Yeaaah, still no idea. That’s why you send the diplomats.

We liked the Reticulans now, and meanwhile our President/scientist-for-the-occasion somehow managed to brazenly escape the Federation clutches. We now knew which aliens we liked and which we didn’t, and thus formed our military strategy accordingly.

And this is the stage when shit starts hitting the fan. Three nukes are launched in quick succession from France, China and India. At what were they aiming them? I have no idea, but their capital cities were abducted in their entirety, and their leaders were charged for space crimes and put in space jail. This put America in a something of a tricky situation. The Federation had insisted “No nukes allowed”! We had a lot of nukes.

The terror level rose at this point. A Reticulan representative contacted us directly and requested help in defeating turrets in Brazil. Shady stuff had been happening in Brazil since turn one, and with no idea what else to do we were quick to lend our military might. Protect the borders! What happened in Brazil? I think it was nuked to the ground by those in space jail. Meanwhile, those of us unable to go to the map were approached by Weyland Corp.

Honestly, I’d totally forgotten about these guys. After approaching them early on in the game, they basically shrugged us off and said they had enough on their plates. Weyland Corp weren’t prepared to divulge what they were doing and for whom they were working so for all our shady dealings and upgrades we stayed loyal to Bett and Gamble.

And now suddenly Weyland Corp decided to deign us with their presence. They needed money. A lot of money, for an anti-alien non-nuclear weapon. Great! The world is in an uproar and countries are dropping like flies. The only problem is, we liked the Reticulans. It was the Federation that was the problem. We weren’t keen on xenocide unless it was in our direct interests.

Weyland Corp wasn’t impressed with our reluctance to indiscriminately kill every UFO in the sky and went elsewhere looking for funds. Not before telling us we need to hurry and speak to Longwatch.

We weren’t on the best of terms with Longwatch after they assassinated our diplomat, but we were eager to save the world from the Federation. I hurried over to see if the Longwatch had any weapons that might change the tide in the sudden battle that had broken out. As I was doing this, negotiation became a moot point as the Longwatch military was blasted to pieces. Apparently one attack from the Federation took out 16HP (I later learn a ship usually has about 6HP. Gulp.) and the Longwatch’s military force was in shambles.

And like a vulture, in sweeps Weyland Corp.

Weyland Corp found the money they needed from somewhere and produced an anti-Federation bio-weapon of some kind which they had intended to give to Longwatch. The only issue was that Longwatch just got blown out the sky. The only way to deliver this new weapon was via a Sif fighter. The US had three of those.

All previous grudges were forgotten as we scurried the technology to the military map. Longwatch instructed our general what on earth to do with the pieces since I, also the Head of Homeland Security, didn’t have a clue what was going on at the map since turn 1. The word spreads quickly that the US is going to take on the Federation and suddenly, everyone left with nothing to lose starts handing out money and resources to the war effort. France somehow wires us money from space jail, as well as a few other countries rifling their pockets for spare change. The UK donated a generous 5 million and the live Reticulan that would later become the hood ornament of our death payload (Sorry, Mike! I presumed they handed that to me for some military reason!).

The military map became a convergence point as everyone who wasn’t supposed to be there looked on in utter confusion at the giant Federation mothership and its army. We fired everything we had. Everything that is except the nukes. That would have been a bad idea. We’re too cool for space jail.

USA news coverage

We claimed a lot of things.

Half the enemy fleet were gone. But bankrupt and on the brink of civil war, America was faced with a difficult situation. We knew that there was a way to turn this around, but it would be very difficult.

Our unlikely saviours came in the form of GNN news. How much is a moon base worth? Madam President and our scientist ran the numbers. To get our PR back to full level and save our butts, we needed 50 million. The transaction went through with seconds to spare before the game ended.

And the joke is on GNN. Our base had been experiencing some obscure quantum entanglement issues which basically meant that the data was being hacked and sent to Germany. LOL!

So basically, we destroyed everything, ruined the world, trashed the economy, but the people love us. How very American.