So I got to thinking about abzu’s comment that the Usurpation phase is actually the best phase for BE beginners to cut their teeth on, and it makes perfect sense: The Vaylen are actively moving against the humans at that point, there is direct confrontation (albeit more political and interpersonal than running and gunning), the lines are clearly drawn.
My first (failed) BE game started in the Infiltration, with the intent of playing through all three phases. I think one of the reasons the game didn’t go well is the fundamental practical and metagame conflicts involved with running a true Infiltration. As I see them:
The GM’s side (presumably Vaylen) is secretly laying the groundwork for the Usurpation.
The player’s side (presumably Human) is filled with characters whose Beliefs have no narrative rationale for being involved with the coming Infiltration actions.
The Vaylen side’s Beliefs – assuming we’re talking actual Vaylen operatives – have no narrative need to be opposed to the PCFoN’s Beliefs. Vaylen Sleeper Alpha needs to set up a well-hidden landing area and warehouse facility, which has nothing to do with any of the humans’ starting (pre-Vaylen appearance) Beliefs.
If the GM directs his GMFoNs’ Beliefs to oppose the Humans’ Beliefs, therefore creating useful conflicts and tensions, it’s hard for me to imagine them doing so while also fulfilling their required Infection actions.
If the players come up with Beliefs that oppose the Vaylen’s actions, that takes them knowing about the Vaylen actions…which contradicts the point of them being secretive. It makes perfect sense a few maneuvers into the Infiltration (when the gaff is blown and that secret warehouse is stumbled into or unveiled), but for those first few maneuvers, each side is fumbling along doing their own thing (which has nothing to do with the other side’s goals).
For my money, the single most important set of skills in the Infiltration are the ones you tap for the Assess action. If you can’t Assess, you’re left Flak-ing the enemy (which sucks and is terribly slow). That means each side has Building scenes built around: research, cryptography, accounting, streetwise, observation, signals, and investigative logic. Well…the Vaylen obviously are on-mission to Infiltrate so it’s easy for them to watch the enemy using these various skills. On the human side, though, there’s no narrative traction for them to know there’s even an enemy to watch. Well…Vaylen enemies in any case. I suppose you can keep an eye on your opposing Relationships.
So I’m wondering…what are you guys doing with your Infiltration phase? How did you square this circle? Was this a total non-issue for you?