After our GCACW game, Mark and I turned to one of the old Microgames. I’ve had my copy of Invasion of the Air Eaters for decades, and I’ve cut all the counters, but I never got around to doing more than pushing the counters around a little bit.

The Vassal module for the game is very old, but competent, just needing a couple of tweaks (notably using layers on the map for industry points). Mark took the defending Terrans, leaving me to draw my plans against the aggressive native life infesting an otherwise useful world.

I took two landers, three bases, two ACs, two crawlers, and an escort to start with, and set down in Rio de Janeiro and Sydney with the bases for the first turn. Then the bases went active, the ACs and crawlers were beamed down, and the landers returned to orbit. Mark transported an army to each base, with combat having no effect. Mark built a new army, started a second, and successfully researched space attack forces and laser batteries.

The mothership finally produced on turn 3 (50% chance), putting together a second escort, while two new crawlers were created on the ground. A second army transported to Rio de Janeiro, while a second moved to protect North American industry. I landed the third base in Antartica, and managed to destroy the industrial point in Sydney. Mark built a pair of SAFs and a pair of laser batteries (in Buenos Aires), and successfully researched disintegrator batteries.

On turn 4, the atmospheric index dropped from 20 to 18, the mothership produced a base, Rio de Janeiro produced a crawler, Sydney produced an AC, the Antartica base got up and going, I beamed the new AC there and the new base was landed in Japan. . Mark sent an army to Antartica, while a second army arrived in Sydney. One SAF went to orbit (for the research prerequisite of orbital combat).

I killed a LB in Rio de Janeiro, but that was the only effective shot on either side. Mark produced four disintegrator batteries, and successfully researched laser tanks.

Atmospheric index went to 16, and I produced two new bases, a crawler, and a lander. The Japan base deployed, while an army transported to it and to the Antarctic base. I devastated two industry in Tokyo, but Mark destroyed the base there, and the Antarctic base. He then produced four disintegrator batteries and successfully researched disintegrator tanks.

Atmospheric index went to 13, and I produced a new base and two crawlers (probably should have reversed that, after last turn’s losses). A new base deployed in western Australia, and Mark sent all his disintegrator batteries to Rio de Janeiro (except one to Antarctica). I landed new bases in central Africa, and near the Urals. Crawlers moved through Japan, and finished off all the industry there, while picking off a DB in Rio, but Mark destroyed everything there, got the AC in Antarctica, and picked off the base in Sydney. Mark produced five disintegrator tanks, but failed his research for atmospheric reconversion.

Atmospheric index hit 12 for turn 7, and my only production was a new AC, while the base in Africa deployed. (New DTs had been built next to the other new base, meaning it would be wise to go elsewhere.) Africa got a big stack, four batteries went to western Australia, and a third army arrived in Sydney.

My crawlers had been… crawling along. The main force crossed to China, and started shooting up the area there. One from Rio finally got up to Florida and got the industry there. Mark got the remaining bases (except the undeployed base, which had shifted to Canada), and the new AC. Mark put out three more DTs, a new SAF and researched reconversion.

While the atmospheric index went to 11, I had no production, and Mark deployed all around my main force of crawlers in China. I devastated two more industry, and killed a DT, but lost the AC and four crawlers. Mark build a replacement DT, two SAFs, and researched corvettes.

I had no production, so Mark redeployed to cover industrial centers and produce three corvettes (and a DT to replace the one a crawler picked off). I moved the undeployed base to under the Pacific, where it deployed the next turn, while I built a new base. The second one landed in the middle of the Atlantic. I killed a DT and a corvette, while Mark picked off both escorts and the Pacific base.


I conceded at that point. My production was crippled, and Mark had every technology and could easily produce everything he needed.

The aliens need to get up and going with some real momentum in the early game, and I was starting to do that. But, Mark making nearly every technology roll cut off that pretty fast. The good units came out, and he got lucky just as they did, and that was the end of my production. I had planned for something like this, with avoiding underwater (and leaving him unable to research improved submarines) until things got hot on land, but it was way too late by the time I did it.

I’d say the main problem with the game is that transport/beaming is too easy, so you don’t really get any chance at a war of maneuver. It does manage some war of position, because there are limitations, but all non-army Terran units moving anywhere for free each turn negates most of the alien’s “high ground” advantage (they pick up some with being able to go last).

Still, it’s a solid SF Microgame from Metagaming, and I’m glad to have finally given it a real try. Even better, it’s easy to think up any number of ways the game could be modified. Using a Traveller-style map (to get rid of the gigantic Antarctica), slightly bigger hex grid and introduce basic terrain—a lot could be done with the framework with just a little effort.