The Human Strategy – Escape From The Aliens In Outer Space
Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space (known as EFTAIOS for short) is rapidly becoming one of my favourite games. EFTAIOS is the perfect blend where hardcore gaming and social deduction combine, with one set of players trying to escape from an alien-infested spaceship, with the other set of players trying to hunt them down and make them one of their own. We have played it a few times now, with seven players each time, meaning the game starts with three humans and four aliens. I have been a human every time, and every time I have played a human I have managed to get away.
In this blog, I thought I would share the human strategy I have been using for Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space. Every time we have played EFTAIOS, we have played the very first map, Galilei – however, I believe the strategy is fairly agnostic. For this, I took to www.eftaios.com (the official website), where you can download images of some of the maps for free. From there I simply used a highlighter and a pen to bring you the incredibly detailed diagrams below. So, in advance, thank you to the EFTAIOS website for providing a few downloads I could use rather than highlighting on the game itself.
Sharpie would really wreck the whiteboards.
The Human Strategy
Understand the Kill Zones
To really understand how you can survive Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space, and to develop a really useful human strategy, you first need to understand kill zones. As Humans there is always a kill zone, and this is, on whichever map, the area around the human base. Why? It’s simply because at the start of the game it is the one place the Aliens know where you are.
This means two things. Firstly, and realistically, it takes the Aliens three or four turns (depending on the map) to be able to get to that kill zone. Secondly, depending on the map, the odds are the Aliens will head to that area first. I mean, it’s where the humans are most likely to be, right?
This means that, for the humans, the primary objective is to get away from that kill zone and where the map opens up. Since it will take the Aliens three to four turns (they will likely go the route with the most silent sectors, although this too depends on the map – some maps are also symmetrical) this gives the humans that much time to get as far away as possible.
Using the Galilei map as an example, an alien can get to the edge of the kill zone, in theory, in three turns. It can get into the centre of that sector in five. This gives the player five turns to get as far away as possible.
Understand the Optimal Route
Without being obvious and counting aloud how far it is to the escape pod, on your map work out the absolute optimum route. This is the shortest route between two points. Once again, on the Galilei map, it is 11 or 12 squares to Escape Pod 1 or 2. Escape Pod 1 is always my favoured target because of the mass of Silent Sectors on the other side. As much as Silent Sectors are great for the human strategy, they are also great for the alien strategy as well.
Instead, my advice is this – find your optimal route, and run. Run hard, run fast. Stick to the route. If other players know you are the kind of player to always try and find the optimal route, then pick a secondary route and run. Pick the second most optimal route, and go for it.
Understand What You Need To Track
So, what enemies do you need to track in the game to stand the best chance? The answer is absolutely none in detail. Just so long as the aliens don’t move directly in your way to begin with (which they almost certainly won’t do unless the meta cuts in and your friends start to know your routes) then you don’t actually need to track the aliens. Instead, just focus on your next move.
Be Prepared For Declaring Noise
When you draw a red or green card, in a noisy sector, you need to announce noise. If it is red then you need to tell people where you are. If it is green then you need to declare noise in a sector that is not your own.
This tends to mean that a player picks a random square no-where near them when they pick up a green card. What I suggest, however, is that, as humans, you don’t do this.
The deck of cards is roughly one-third white cards (silent in all sectors), one-third red, and one-third green. This makes it just as likely that you will draw a red or a green card and thus you will be giving away the same amount of information about where you really are compared to where you aren’t.
So, why not, if you are a human, masquarade as an alien?
What this means is that, as you go around the board, making your way down your optimal route, you need to create a fake route around the board for your alien self.
As you can see, those spaces are two apart. If you draw a red card you announce your real position. If you draw a green then you announce your position to be the equivalent to where you would be on the alien route. Notice it focuses around the kill zone because that isn’t suspicious for an alien to be around that area.
If we place the two routes side by side there is something else you will notice.
Yes, the two routes are identical in regards to the types of sector they go through. Where this is a level of detail that may not be needed, it helps add validity just in case anyone works out what you are doing.
There is a problem with using items within EFTAIOS, and that is the second you use them you are announcing to the world that you are human. This is obviously a pretty poor strategy if you use the item too early. Instead, items should be used, as a human player, towards the final sprint. If looking at the Galilei map, it is a risk to using an item before around F06 if you are heading for Escape Pod 1. This is because there is plenty of time for an alien to turn around from the middle of the kill zone and take you out.
Instead, consider using items around E06 or D05. By that point you are close enough that an Adrenaline can really help you out, especially if you use an Adrenaline from C05 to A06. Moving into a silent sector at that point will cause additional confusion, and by then it should be too late. If you don’t need to use an item, if it won’t make your life easier, then save it – just in case you the Escape Pod fails on you.
What to do if the Escape Pod fails/malfunctions?
If the Escape Pod malfunctions then the bad news is all the aliens know where you are and can hunt you down really easily. This is the bad news, and yes, granted, it’s pretty freaking bad.
So, how do you survive? Well, first, you need to work out the optimum route. Then, depending on the meta game you need to decide if you go for that or for the next most likely route. For instance, if the closest Escape Pod to your malfunction is Escape Pod 1, but Escape Pod 4 is also pretty close, then it is worth considering going for number 4, if only because everyone would expect you to go to number 1.
Now you can afford to use every advantage you have. Travel as fast as you can, use your own ability. Use your items. Use everything you can to gain an advantage.
Now you do actually need to track Aliens. Avoid them at all costs by trying to stay ahead of them. Deviate from your ideal route as little as possible, and only do it to throw them off.
When you draw a green card you have two options. Either create a route going to the other Escape Pod and give the aliens locations enroute to that point. Or, alternatively, if there is only one route, give a location close to where you are but not on your space. If you are in D04 for instance, then F04 or E04 are close enough to be realistic, but if an alien pounces on them then you won’t die.
Finally, cross your fingers and hope. It is increasingly difficult as the aliens multiply and as you have to cross almost certainly around double the amount of space to get to another pod. The danger goes up astronomically. Good luck.
Conclusion: In Space Only Those On The Same Comms Network As You Can Hear You Scream (The Human Strategy)
Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space is not an easy game. It is, in fact, the opposite to easy. It is un-easy. That being said, a few simple tricks can increase your human suvival odds no end.
Just remember one piece of advice – you don’t need to track everyone if you are human – just yourself and a fake alien and you should be okay assuming the Escape Pod works and doesn’t malfunction.
I really love this game and am interested in your thoughts. What have I missed out? What do you think is vital to the game? How do you survive? What do you think of the game? Let me know in the comments below.
I remember being super skeptical about this game the first time I played it. It looked dry and… well… it looks like only a programmer or an actuary could have any ‘fun’ playing it. I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong about a game. That’s not to say I don’t find this game brutally difficult. It’s really good though. If only people would give it more of a chance.
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I agree with you there. It’s great fun however, it’s also really easy to judge by the hexagonal grid and white boards. I also know people who have been turned off the game because of it. That being said, such a fun game and exciting when it really gets going! Have you played much of it Jo?
No. Maybe three times. I’ve also never won. I don’t own this one. And the groups that I play with, when faced with a decision between this and something easier… with a more visually appealing board tend to gravitate towards pretty and less cerebral.