The fun is in just trying to hold everything together while making progress on the only thing that can fix the problem: Cronos project research.
Publisher: Privateer Press
Designer: Will Schoonover
Artist: Michael Jenkins
Game Type: Area Control, Cooperative Play, Dice Rolling
Game Type: Trading, Simultaneous Selection
Initial Year of Release: 2014
Age Range: 14+
Expected Playtime: 120-240
Number of Players: 5 (Variant for less)
Theme and What is it?
Level 7 Invasion is the third game in the Level 7 series. It plays fully stand alone but gives the play more context on the conflict if they have played Level 7 Escape and Level 7 Omega Protocol. After a devastating orbital assault and the launch of a viral attack on food supplies, the warlike alien race known as the Hydra are attacking Earth.
The only way Earth can hope to survive is to hold on long enough with support from the Ghin, another alien race, so that Dr Cronos can finish his advanced weaponry research. The game claims to be semi-cooperative but players can ignore individual win conditions and attempt to use the world’s resources fully cooperatively to win as a team. I prefer pretending everyone has a shared fate. This is far better than someone playing South America and being left without support soon into the game.
The game is played in a series of phases: Development, Warfare, and Maintenance. In all Level 7 Invasion games, all 5 of Earth’s prepared continents must be played. This means some players may control more than one country if less than 5 people are playing.
During the Development Phase, players recruit mercenary alien troops, pay to deploy more units on the map, research new critical abilities, attempt to complete the Cronos Project step, and take income. The Cronos Project is how players win the game and being in a position to advance the project during the development phase as fast as possible is critical to avoid being overwhelmed by the alien invasion forces.
During the Warfare Phase, players move troops, resolve a clever event system, roll dice to battle invaders, and then suffer the enemy units response. The Maintenance Phase makes countries increase terror level for rampaging invaders in their lands, suffer damage to their military industrial complex, and pay upkeep food to keep their countries from collapsing entirely.
Level 7 Invasion is an epic quality and scope battle simulation between the world’s coalitions trying to repel the Hydra invasion. It hogs much of my usually sufficient table space and packs a great deal of tactical decision making into each inch of that space.
Game Build Quality
Level 7 Invasion has a great deal of quality in its construction. The player boards are thick and solid. Each board has 4 wheels for tracking the various resources. The alien invader miniatures and drop ships are excellently made and make a fearsome block of red as they swarm the main map.
Level 7 Invasion has artwork focused on warfare and impending doom. The board state gets cluttered and looks like the Earth is really just drowning in invading aliens. Exactly like it should during an invasion. There is less thematic art on the event cards and research than I would prefer but it really isn’t necessary to have more anyway.
Level 7 Invasion has an epic feel to the campaign. Everyone is trying to get strong enough to battle invaders. They continually have to roll dice in combat while crossing their fingers that they not be wiped off the map… again. The fun is in just trying to hold everything together while making progress on the only thing that can fix the problem: Cronos project research.
Age Range & Weight
The game is played in a huge number of phases that seem daunting at first. They get much easier to flow through once the concepts start to make sense. But the sheer number of step by step phases made the mechanics a chore to learn at first. 14+ is a solid rating given the theme and complexity of the game.
Level 7 Invasion is not made for every gamer out there. It is an excellent experience for players who want a game that makes them balance all sorts of decision making while wading through legions of opposing soldiers. It is an excellent experience for players that like cooperative games where each player is fully engaged and thinking. If you don’t like at least a few hours of game length and a fair bit of explanation just to get the game launched and running, it will be less of the ideal experience for you.
Where it really shone for me was in how it does events. Each country draws an event card. On the card they get to pick between an alpha event or a bravo event. Each of the choices have different outcomes. Sometimes you sacrifice a huge blow to a single country in exchange for not having a numerically larger blow being distributed to everyone. Other times, you try to avoid things that complicate things in the region Cronos is attempting to navigate through safely.
Once all players have made their decisions simultaneously, the events are shuffled by alpha and bravo type then revealed and resolved one by one. You might have picked to suffer a huge number of troops moving into your own area knowing you could handle it. But what if other players also had extra troop deployment cards and also picked you as the target? Suddenly you don’t have 2-3 new things you could handle but 9 enemies trampling your door down. This mechanic was my favorite aspect of Level 7 Invasion.
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