A group of friends and I managed to get tickets to the Watch the Skies event. Others that have participated in this or any other megagame, what can we expect?
Hey! Tim from Chicago Megagames here, I'll be running the event as Game Control - basically GMing the GMs.
At a basic level you should expect:
Past that, when you arrive you'll get a packet of materials (briefings, nametag, some notecards), we'll teach you the rules and set up the basic premise of the game before it starts, then off we go!
Megagames are interesting mix of boardgaming and roleplaying, so if you want to just go through the motions and play within the rules each turn you can, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should. You'll get a ton more fun out of the game if you jump into character as the President or the UN Delegate and try to think outside the rules. Look at the game as it progresses, see what's happening, and see how your nation can bite off the biggest piece possible piece of the pie.
For example at the beginning of the game, you learn of this mysterious alien threat somewhere in the solar system, so, obviously the answer to the question of "What to do?" is "Build Giant Space Laser". It's an open world scifi game, what else are you supposed to do, your hands are tied here... Now, of course we don't have rules for any arbitrary space laser in the game - but YOU DO - and we want to make it happen for you!
However, the one thing that sucks about this is that not only do YOU have plans for a Space Laser, so do about 15 other people. And a dozen other people than those have yet another plan, and a handful of others have more ideas still, and then --- it really just gets chaotic for us GMs. Myself and the Control team do our best to keep the story straight, but sometimes things get messed up. Sometimes it's actually a player's doing; The Chief Scientist of India sabotaged your Space Laser and stole the plans and now his team is launching it, and you're left in the space dust.
You should be ready to alter your plans, and not be disappointed if they fail for X, Y, Z reasons. It's a big game -- er, well, a MEGAgame -- and things can and will go wrong. If a plan fails, you should be prepared to take it in stride and move on to the Next Big Thing.
Does that help? Lemme know if I missed anything you really wanted to know about.