Watch the Skies: 1898

by Jim Wallman

30th May - Arc Centre, Islington

£30 Per Player

“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter.”

The Coming of the Martians - HG Wells


Watch The Skies 1898 takes a new twist on the theme of extraterrestrial interference in humanity's destiny. Like the original game, this is a 'what if' scenario – this time “What if the world of the Victorian Age encountered aliens”. The starting background to the game is the real world of 1898. The world is dominated by a single global superpower known as The British Empire. It has Great Power Rivals, namely France, Germany and Russia, who have empires of their own, although with less globe-spanning control and influence. The USA is emerging as a power, but has not yet put forth its economic strength as it will in years to come in the early part of the 20th Century. The Ottoman Empire dominates the eastern Mediterranean and middle east and whilst its power is waning is still a force to be reckoned with on the world stage. These six are the played nations in WTS:1898.

In the rest of the world, China is, to put it bluntly, a basket case in this time period and Japan has yet to emerge as a major power (that is 30 years off). The south American countries such as the Brazilian Empire has yet to become economically strong enough to be acting on the world stage. Africa has been mostly carved up by the imperial powers and colonised and exploited, but still retains some weak independent nations and parts of it remain very rebellious. The European Powers are still looking greedily to extend their colonial control over the vast resources of Africa.



“But the Martians” you ask, “what about the Martians?”. In this variant of Watch the Skies, the Martian team is based loosely on the Martians described in War of the Worlds. BUT... we have changed them, so do not expect a re-enactment of the novel. Their capabilities and intentions are unknown to you, and making assumptions about what they can do, and what will defeat them, would be a very risky strategy indeed. Remember, that they are “intelligences greater than man”.

Are the aliens here to conquer and enslave, or to trade, or to spread their unspeakable alien religion? Nobody knows.

Player Roles

  • The British Empire: 6 Roles : Queen, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Minister of War, Navy Minister, Chief Engineer

  • The French Empire: 4 roles: President, Prime Minister, Minister for War, Chief Engineer

  • The German Empire : 4 roles: Kaiser, Chancellor, Minister for War, Chief Engineer

  • The Russian Empire: 4 roles: Tsar, Minister of the Court, Minister of War, Chief Engineer

  • United States of America, 4 roles: President, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, Chief Engineer

  • The Ottoman Empire: 4 roles: Sultan, Grand Vizier, Minister of War, Chief Engineer

  • The Times of London (Press): 2 Roles: Editor and Chief Reporter.

  • The Martians: 6 Roles: [There are some things humanity is not meant to know]


The structure of the player roles is much the same as in classic WTS, team leader, diplomat, military and science (called engineering in this game). The British Empire has a larger team because of its greater power and influence and it has a lot more stuff to keep track of.




In WTS:1898 variant of the classic science game we will look at how Victorian engineers and scientists can utilise any captured Martian equipment to upgrade humanity's (or at the very least their own Empire's) fighting capabilities. You might imagine that this could evolve into something quite steampunk-y. And well it might – we'll just have to see what happens!

Sign Up to Watch the Skies: 1898

The game is on the 30th May at Arc Centre in Islington, London and we are taking sign-ups now. Just complete the form below letting us know you are interested in playing and if you have any preference in team or role. We absolutely welcome team sign ups too - so if you want to play with a group of friends that let us know all their names and email addresses at the same time.


As with all our games a player role is priced at £30 for the whole day (those selected for Control will play for free) - you can sign up now and we'll ask for payment about two months before the event. This delay is included to ensure players are still able to play the game and avoid unnecessary cancellations. However it is still possible to cancel after payment and you can read our refund policy here.


​As with all our games we will be sending out the cast list a month before the game and handbooks two weeks before the game.

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Thank you for signing up!