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Thread: Where to start?

  1. #1
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    Default Where to start?

    With the different versions of Level 7, is there a better base game (i.e. Escape, Omega Protocol) to start with? I've heard that the game improved with Omega Protocol and that a big problem with Escape was its rule book, but was curious to see what others thought. As always, any help or info is much appreciated!

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    Annihilator Tempests_Wrath's Avatar
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    If you are interested in the entire story, and the evolution/increase in scale of what you are dealing with then starting at the beginning with Level 7 Escape, followed by Level 7 Omega Protocol, and finally Level 7 Invasion. But for gameplay the story arc is largely irrelevant. Playing them in any given order wont change your enjoyment of the subsequent or future games in the setting, depending on where you start. None of them use the same game system so its a matter of what kind of game you want to play with your friends.

    Escape (and its expansion Lockdown) you play as a group of terrified individuals who begin the game having to pull all sorts of unpleasant bits out of yourselves as you are functionally ejected from a test tube and wished luck with nary a cent to your name. I found the basic game to be similar to Betrayal. You move to explore a new room and put down a card. Things can go bad fast and the characters you play are (normally) not unkillable powerhouses. Just randomly getting completely wrecked (you can at least play cautiously to mitigate this a lot) is a thing that can happen to your normal human avatar as they try and escape the multilevel dungeon. When I played there was always pressure, and the need to communicate to figure out optimal moves if we wanted to win.

    You play against the board here, which is probably my favorite type of 3+ person game. I found the scaling works well within any point 2-4 player guideline, it doesnt (depending on the group) drag on much as the turns go by, and the challenge level isnt pathetic on one end of the spectrum or absolutely overwhelming on the other if you dont have the optimal player number. Your characters are generally capable of solving any given challenge they come across based on their (normally randomized) stats and perhaps the right item but there is almost always the feeling of racing against the clock with an avatar at least slightly out of their league. I never felt like i wasnt given appropriate resources in any premade-mission to solve the game, but I was always very well aware that that one marine down the hall could absolutely ruin my day on a whim but being too careful would get me killed.

    The rules are abusable of course, probably more so than most high end board games (but certainly less so than others), and getting a firm grasp of the rules took longer than normal for a game its size (I had to re-read the rule book a few times to get all the back and forth down pat). I mentioned its similar to betrayal in a lot of its mechanics, but unlike betrayal in the games I played there wasnt really a "well, we all just lose because we couldnt find the basement before the dire elk vampire ate our spleen." And playing against the board just feels better when with a group of friends since no one gets left out to dry either against or as the only powergamer in the group.

    Omega Protocol isnt one ive had personal experience with. Not because im not incredibly interested in it, and not because i havent read the pdf rulebook or watched tutorials.. its because if I buy it ill always have to GM it. The rules here are more solid, the game looks better at setting up its own atmopsphere and instead of Invasion to Betrayal this game looks a lot more like Space Hulk. Your characters (for those of you who are not the GM) are absolutely not random dudes off the street. The systems works out to them feeling capable and powerful, less hiding more directly confronting the problem as they punch through level after level of the dungeon. The GM mechanic looks fun and particularly well executed for a '4v1' game, but that always leaves an odd man out which (since id normally have to be the GM) is the only reason I havent bought it myself.

    Its an incredibly different game than Escape. Really the only thing they share is the setting, dice, and the dungeon crawly nature of the experience.

    Level 7 Invasion: With 5 players this is perhaps one of my favorite games. The rules could be cleaner and took quite a few turns and restarts carefully reading the rulebook trying to determine intent, but once you get the hang of it its actually pretty smooth given the scale of what you are working with. There is no slow buildup though, You are thrown right into the deep end with no buffer level to get the mechanics down pat before trying bigger challenges so the first playthrough can be a little rougher. But the game reaches a whole new scale (world wide in fact) and frantically trying to hold your faction together while sending whatever troops or resources you can spare to your neighbor to stop their faction from collapsing and creating a foothold for the enemy to reach you was just.. Look im a fan, it had a lot of good times.

    This is in no way a dungeon crawl. It uses dice, it has the same setting. But this is entirely a management game. It feels like a board game version of the XCOM setting (without the carefully controlled save scumming of an elite shock force. See Omega protocol) or maybe something sorta similar to pandemic (for purely the management and needing to recognize a bigger threat while stomping out smaller fires). You need to keep your territories from getting overrun but with limited resources and troops each turn and you always have more options than you have resources.

    You can also play factions in different ways focusing on different branches of research based on what you need, and how you want to play. You could just go all in on your military for example, but you better hope your allies have your back in other areas (so you can have theirs) because your other infrastructure is very likely to suffer from constant planetary bombardments. Troops are only good when they have something to fight after all! Alternatively you could pay your friends off with in game resources (so they can keep teching up military or.. you know. Not starve.) to defend you with smaller numbers of superior troops backed by the rest of your army, and tech up your industry and other defenses.

    I have a hard time being unbiased talking about this one.. But one specific note is that if your group doesnt generally like management games (teamwork is.. encouraged here, but if your friend wants to be a xenophobe.. meh, as long as he pulls his weight you dont have to worry about his starving population if you dont want to) or if you cant get the full 5 players for the game reliably enough to play it.. id probably pass on it. The only consideration given for having 4 instead of 5 players is functionally: "Have one player run 2 factions" which.. it gets old fast.


    TL;DR: You dont need one game to enjoy the others, and if you dont want to go blow by blwo with the story as it unfolds you can read the text/story blurbs (preferably out loud) to set the atmosphere and you wont be missing much from one game to the other. If you are wanting to get just one of the three titles its really all in "What kind of game do you and your group want to play?" A survival/exploration/scenario solver playing against the table with a noticeable time crunch to raise your blood pressure? A kick in the door dungeon crawl where the more you do the more the GM can do back to you? Or a semi-cooperative survival/management game with a time crunch to build up the pressure as you try and make deals and fight off an alien fleet to stay alive?

    If you dont care about any of that and you only want to consider the strength of the game mechanics.. i hate to say it but you can safely skip Level 7 Escape/Lockdown. Omega protocol looks sturdier between it and Invasion, but both are solid (IMO).

    Also: Yeah.. replies are going to take a while for Level 7 on these forums. Level 7 definitely isnt as popular as some (one in particular) of PP's other games, and they are now old enough to have largely fallen out of common discussion on other sites I check for board gaming discussion. Which is a shame since I absolutely adore them so far.
    Last edited by Tempests_Wrath; 08-10-2016 at 07:58 PM.
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  3. #3
    Destroyer of Worlds tutenkharnage's Avatar
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    Tempest, I believe you mistakenly labeled your Escape description as "Invasion." Just an FYI.

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    Annihilator Tempests_Wrath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tutenkharnage View Post
    Tempest, I believe you mistakenly labeled your Escape description as "Invasion." Just an FYI.
    I absolutely did. Fixed it, thanks for catching it for me!
    "A weapon is a means of transferring energy from the source to the target until the latter breaks."

  5. #5
    Destroyer of Worlds tutenkharnage's Avatar
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    You're quite welcome! I just didn't want any of us adding to the OP's confusion

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    Hey, thanks for the very detailed information! I really appreciate it and it really helps to clarify what I want to do. And no worries about the slow response times, I saw the age of the posts on the front page and figured there would be a delay too. I think based on your descriptions I will likely start with Escape since that will meld best with the preferred play styles of my main group of friends who I would be playing with, then, hopefully I might be able to get them into the others!

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