E.T.I. Frequently Asked Questions

Ok, Nickel might be from Nature of the Beast, but he’s been around long enough to know that there is something out there waiting to invade the Earth. Though he might not know how to Estimate the Time to Invasion, Nickel will sure try to answer your questions.

The ISSA Presidency

“Nickel, what happens in a tie vote? I could have sworn that the president breaks tie votes.”

You swore correctly. Potty-mouth. The ISSA president breaks ALL ties as stated at the bottom of page 4. If there is a tie in a vote, the ISSA president decides the winner.

“Several events say to give a reward to the player with a certain highest trait or lowest tech level, etc. What if two or more companies equally meet the condition?”

Same situation. If an event could be given to more than one company, then the ISSA president decides.

“There are several cards that tell the president to pick a project no higher than his highest tech level. However, what if there are no projects left in that range?”

Then you draw one from the lowest tech level still available. This is explained on page 7, but only in regards to drawing projects at the end of a turn. Still, same rules apply.

“I assume if the president reveals himself as the alien conspirator then the presidency immediately passes to the left.”

You are a quick one. If the new president reveals himself (or herself for that matter) as the alien, he is quickly impeached. The next human becomes the ISSA president for that turn.

“For the events where the president picks a card and chooses who gets it, do the other players get to see the card before the negotiation and assignment?”

Yes. Before any banter takes place, the president shows everyone what is at stake. (If I am bribing secret ISSA committees, I would want to know what I am spending my employees retirement funds on.)

Event Cards

“The event card ‘Hand-Me-Downs’ states, ‘give another company one of your public domain projects…’ What if you don’t have any?”

Then that event card is wasted. Go staight to agenda selection and think about not being so secretive in your research!

“Some event cards cause a brand new project to be taken and awarded to one of the players immediately. Do these projects also count against the project threshold?”

Yes, but not until the next turn. Remember: an alien must reveal itself before the event card is drawn. So if an event puts you over the threshold, the alien still has to wait until next turn.


“Nickel, some technologies give improvements to your staffing and other traits. Do you receive these improvements only when you discover the technology, or any time you get a technology, even in trades or event cards?”

If you have the project, you get the facility upgrades associated with it no matter how you came about it (research, trade, event, or bribe). If you ever lose a project (usually to give it to another player in a trade/bribe/event), you lose any upgrades that were associated with it as well!

Agenda Choices

“I originally misread the rules to mean that switching projects to an unrelated field of study reduced research by 50% and that left me thinking that switch projects only had marginal use. I just realized that you can keep all of your research, but you can only start with 50% of the new project’s difficulty (and that is only if it from a different field of study). Big difference!”

Right, it is a great strategy to switch to higher value projects since more data can be transfered, especially in the same field of study.

“If you choose to switch projects are you required to switch to a different project? Last night, I played switch projects because I figured I was about to be scooped. However, my competitor totally bombed when submitting findings, turning 12 research cards into 30 points! At that point, I realized that my best play was to switch to the project I had just left.”

Alas, if you chose to switch projects as your agenda, then you must really switch projects. But page 3 states you could switch back to your old project later if you have regrets. Take it from a rat… sometimes that you jump ship, only to discover the darn thing wasn’t sinking. The silver lining is that you can jump onto any new projects that may be brought out at the end of the turn.

What happens when two or more multipliers line up during a standard research submission? We had a situation in which a number card was followed up by a x2, then a x0. I would assume that the result for the three cards would be zero. Would adjacent x2 and x3 cards multiply by six?

Right on both accounts. Give the kid a prize. Multipliers multiply… for better or for worse.

“If two players on the same project both submit findings at the same time, what is the ordering? I assume the player closest to the president must declare safe or standard method first. But can the other player wait until the first player has calculated their total before deciding, or do they both have to decide before calculating?”

Officially, the declaration of safe or standard would start with the president and work around the table. Then all players can simultaneously determine their research totals. So if you really want to, you can wait to see how players choose to submit their research, before you choose your method, but you cannot wait to see how successful they were. Most of the time, however, simultaneous research submissions are preferable to save time.

“Do you have to use the safe method when being scooped?”

It depends. If you get scooped while conducting research, you must safely bank your research before picking a new project. If you get scooped while submitting, you can choose either method. You cannot get scooped when you switch projects. You safely bank research and there is no 50% data loss penalty. (We are going to run under the assumption you are using the revised scoop rules posted in the ISSA Notebooks).

“If you submit findings and complete the project, do you get to keep the excess research for your next project?”

Not going to happen. You start off with a clean slate after you complete a project, whether you used any banked research or not.

“If you submit findings and do not complete the project, do you get to bank 100% of your research?”

Right, as long as you weren’t scooped.

“If you submit findings, but are scooped in the same turn, do you bank your research first and then reduce your databank (including the new research) by 50%?”

Right. (Again using the revised rules.)

“If you switch projects and the new project is in the same field of study as the old project, you must bank your research using the safe method (10 points per card), but you get to keep 100% your research, right?”

Right. A very powerful option.

“If you use switch projects and the new project is not in the same field of study as the old project, you must bank your research using the safe method, but your data bank cannot exceed 50% of the difficulty of the new project – it is reduced to this figure, right again?”

You are on a roll.

“If you choose to conduct research, but are scooped, you bank your research using the safe method, and then reduce your databank by 50%.”

Left. Just kidding. Right.

The Endgame

“The ISSA Presidency continues to rotate after the alien has revealed itself, only stopping when the actual attack is carried out, correct? Does the alien player still take a turn as ISSA president after it has been revealed as the alien, or does that player simply spend the time heckling the futile last struggles of the pathetic humans?”

Heckle away, alien scum. The presidency does continue to pass, skipping the alien (they kicked him out of the meetings). The rest of the players continue as normal. So events are still drawn, but the alien cannot be the recipient of an event, vote, etc. All he does is plan the imminent destruction of the human race. The alien should be using the downtime to size up his opponents’ defense values. Play continues until either the ETI time runs out or the available projects are claimed. Once the last turn of competition for projects ends, the presidency rotates one more time. That fresh young feller is the final ISSA president and will decide the final winner of the game in case of a tie.

“Is the research discard pile shuffled into the draw pile one last time before dealing them out as attack cards? Do all the research cards still around players’ game boards get gathered up as well?”

Yes. All the research cards are gathered together from the gameboards, discard pile, and draw pile. Shuffle them all together and… presto… they become the alien attack card deck.

“Does the alien player get to look at the attack cards from project mashes before placing them, or are they placed blind? If the latter, could the alien reserve some intel points and use them for these cards?”

The alien uses up all of his intel first. After all of that is done, he can place any attack cards gained through project mashes. He can have no more than one per remaining company (i.e. in a four player game, an alien could have no more than three bonus attack cards from project mashes). You can house rule that the alien play these anyway he wants, however, so if he wants to throw them all on one company, or spread them out, it is his call.

“But can the alien look at the bonus attack cards before he places them?”

Nope. They are placed face down at the human company(s). Their values are revealed at the end when the human companies figure out if they survived or not. The alien cannot peak ahead of time. That being said, feel free to try out your variant, just clear it with your group beforehand. Letting the alien see the values of the bonus attack cards would give him a sizable advantage. If the alien player is having trouble winning, that could help.

“I understand any alien attacks that the human was immune to becomes an alien tactics as the alien in the endgame. Are these used with the attack cards during the invasion?”

Yes. During the game, they are research cards and the alien cards are threats to research. During the endgame, the cards are known as attack cards. The alien cards become the alien’s tactics. So if a player was immune to abduction during the game and became the alien, that player would gain abduction as an alien tactic during the endgame. If that card came up as an attack cards against a human company it would do 25 or 50 points depending on whether or not that company was immune to it through upgrades in security.


“Do you recommend the new scoop rules as a better alternative to those in the rulebook, or are they simply an option to give a different feel to the game?”

The company recommends you play with all the variants listed in the ISSA Notebooks, but especially the scooping change. The reasons are: a) It matches up with other rules where values are halved. b) It teaches players the danger of getting scooped right away. The older variant protected players from the sting of it early in the game. c) Later in the game, it helps protect larger data pools. This equals quicker gameplay. d) It’s simpler.

“Nickel, do you think there really are aliens out there?”

Arthur C. Clarke said: ‘Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.’ I can’t say it any better than that.

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