Watch the Skies: Cold War

Watch the Skies: Cold War

A Megagame for 20-60 players, Saturday 2 June 2018, in Wellington, starting at 11am and finishing before 6pm. Cost for the weekend at Wellycon is NZ$33. If you are coming just for Saturday expect it to cost $19. For booking go here. To register for casting you must signup at the event page.

Player Briefings






It is January 1962, Kennedy is President of the United States, and Kruschev is premier of the Soviet Union. An iron curtain divides Europe, and proxy wars are fought in several battleground countries as the threat of nuclear armageddon grows. Unknown to all but a few government officials in the Super Powers and their closest allies, aliens have been visiting Earth for unknown reasons.

Now the trumpet summons us again–not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need–not as a call to battle, though embattled we are– but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle… – John F. Kennedy, Inauguration Speech 1962.

U.S. Air Force photo.


Watch the Skies: Cold War is an adaptation of Jim Wallman’s megagame of alien terror. It draws inspiration from TV series like X-Files and Gerry Anderson’s UFO series in the 1970s, movies like Dr Strangelove, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, and War of the Worlds, and computer games like UFO Enemy Unknown.

It’s not just a game … it’s a megagame

Megagames contain elements of roleplaying, live action, and board games. The key elements of a megagame are:

  • a large number of players
  • players are organised in teams with collective goals
  • players have a role in the game, and the role may have its own goals
  • while a Control team moderates the game, players have the freedom to be creative and to suggest actions not covered in the rules
  • strict adherence to the game timetable, neither Control or the other players are required to wait for you to make your decisions
  • victory is subjective – if you had a fun time playing the game you win.
UN Security Council meeting

The fate of the world is in your hands

The primary objective of all participants is to enjoy an experience that becomes greater than the sum of its parts of alien terror, cold war paranoia, and the threat of human extinction. The objective of the human teams is to have more influence and bases around the world at the end of the game than other teams. Megagames embrace emergent narrative, and the end of the game is not scripted. For WTS Cold War if a global thermonuclear war breaks out at DEFCON 1, the team responsible will be judged to have lost, and their opponents will be granted a moral victory.

PX 96-33:12 03 June 1961 President Kennedy meets with Chairman Khrushchev at the U. S. Embassy residence, Vienna. U. S. Dept. of State photograph in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston.


Players can be cast into any role or team. Yes, this means we could have women as leaders of the super powers, or any other role in the game, despite the historical roles in the 1960s being dominated by men. The main roles available in WTS Cold War are:

  • Head of State
  • Foreign Minister
  • Intelligence Minister
  • UN ambassador
  • Science advisor
  • Military commander
  • independent Media
  • Corporate leader
  • Revolutionary leader.
Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.

The main teams in the game are:

  1. The mysterious aliens
  2. The two super powers – the United States and the Soviet Union
  3. A third bloc of Non-aligned Nations (China, Egypt, India, Yugoslavia)
  4. The old colonial powers – the United Kingdom and France
  5. The new powers – Corporations and Revolutionaries.

A limited number of walk on players can be added after casting is completed. Walk on players will be given supporting roles as NATO or Warsaw Pact leaders who take direction from the USA and USSR, or may be given a Media role.

Margaret Hamilton, computer scientist on the Apollo space program.


Costume is not required. If you do want to dress up, you have a range of options from conservative suit and ties, through to the the more colorful attire of 1960s counterculture.