The Let's Play Archive

Covert Action

by Frankomatic, Jade Star

Thanks! We like it too.Why not check out some similar LPs from our recommendations?
What would you like to tag this LP as?

Original Thread: Spy vs Spy vs Spy: Let's Play Covert Action



Way back in the days of yesteryear, Jade Star and I took on the impossible and somewhat stupid job of playing a full career of 50 Mission Crush, or dying in the attempt. Now, with the help of Cemetry Gator bringing the game up in the Short Game Theater thread, we've decided to take on the impossible once again, along with Cemetry Gator, this time in the world of espionage:

Let's Play Covert Action

Covert Action is a game created by Sid Meier much earlier in his career. Akin to Sword of the Samurai, the game itself is broken up into several different game type, of which will probably be described in at least one of the three main contenders videos at one point or another. I can also make an infodump post on gameplay mechanics on request, but I'd like to save real estate in the OP for the moment. Most of the games are fairly simple exercises as it is.

Under normal circumstances, it's pretty much impossible to actually lose this game, which makes it different than the 50 Mission Crush challenge we undertook. If you're captured by the enemy, you can normally just wait it out and escape. if you fail a case, you get a slap on the wrist. Nothing truly bad ever happens. We've decided to change this:

The Rules
1. All Agents will start on National Threat difficulty.

2: If an agent is captured, they are considered dead. The game is over... UNLESS you have uncovered a CIA Double Agent in the case you are currently working on. IF you have uncovered a Double Agent, you may make an 'agent exchange', which will either release someone you've previously arrested, or set out more CIA Double Agents. One exchange is permitted per Double Agent, and they do not carry over to future cases.

The reason we're only allowing this if Double Agents have been uncovered is because it's pretty easy to just go nab a regular enemy agent that's part of the current case. That wouldn't make things very interesting.

3: If an agent fails to stop any THREE cases during their career, they are removed from active duty. This is any three cases over the course of the entire challenge.

4: At our discretion, if things are beginning to feel too simple, we may choose to up the difficulty level after the next Mastermind is captured. Note that since capturing Masterminds is never guaranteed, we may be playing on different levels at any time. Also, check out the 'Other Submissions' section for some videos by Cemetry Gator showing off how painfully difficult this game can get at the highest levels.

5: On the off chance someone manages to capture all 26 Masterminds, they will be dubbed the Spy Master. Also they win.

The Warning
Cases in this game can run pretty damn long sometimes, depending on how complex they are and the quality of the clues that can be dug up. I am personally splitting my cases into multiple parts of smaller length for those on the go. I'm not 100% sure on how Jade and Cemetry are going to handle it, so I just thought I'd give a heads up either way. Also, the main competition update schedule might be a little on the slow side, due to other obligations, case length, laziness, what have you. I'll keep the ToC as updated as I can though.

Other Submissions
The more people that take a shot at this, the more fun it'll be for all involved. We're allowing submissions from anyone who wishes to play, and I will add them into an 'Other Submissions' section in the TOC. You can follow the same rules we've set up, or just play however you want. This is a game that is made for all to enjoy.

With that out of the way, I'm going to place my first case into the OP. I will be grabbing the second post to make a more detailed table of contents, at which point I will probably remove the links from here. I may add the mechanic dump to this post after that as well, as I have some screenshots handy. Without further ado:

Frankomatic Case One Part One
Frankomatic Case One Part Two
Frankomatic Case One Part Three
Frankomatic Case One Part Four

Gameplay Mechanic Explanation

There are a few major things in this game to discuss, now that I've got the preliminary work out of the way, I'll put it in here.


You begin each new career with four skill points, and four skills to place them in. More skill in a particular category has the effect of making its related game easier in the following manner:

0 points: Game is slightly harder than it normally would be for your selected difficulty.
1 point: Game matches the difficulty level.
2+ points: Game becomes easier than it normally would be.

This allows you to customize your difficulty a bit more than the 4 selectable levels would.


Each case has you travel a portion of the world to look for clues. You will see the following in every area you can visit:

CIA Building: Your home base, available everywhere unless you falsely accuse a Double Agent of being there, then you lose access in that city.
MI6 and Mossad: Per the manual, these are the British and Israeli versions of the CIA building. You can still wiretap and break into them if you like, and occasionally people from there might be in on a crime.
Other Organizations: What you see depends on what you know about the various organization. If you know they have a location in a city, you'll see it. If you don't, you won't.

Going to a building provides you with more options: Wiretap, Break In, or Watch the Building. The CIA building has its own unique options, but it's mostly data referencing.


You get this game from either electing to Place a Wiretap, or to Watch the Building and then Tracing the Car. The object of this game is to cut the flow of power to the right side of the chip. The bells are alarms, if power gets to them, bad things happen. The other icons will either be Phones, if you're wiretapping a building, or radio things if you're tracing a car. You interact by swapping circuits around, being able to swap the one at the bottom for any one on the board. Usually. As the difficulty goes up, Inverter chips (send out power when no power comes to them, don't send out when it has power) chips you can't see the picture on the label of, and fixed chips start popping up.


By watching a building and then following a car, you get to play this game. The object is to follow the suspect to a new building... or if you're feeling ballsy, to try and cut then off and arrest them. Both of these things are very, very difficult and you tend to get nothing for your trouble if you screw up. It's usually just a huge waste of precious time.


Breaking into a building brings you to this game. Before you get the exact screen above, you have to select up to five items to bring with you. The list is as follows:

Uzi: This lets you draw an accurate bead on enemies faster than the pistol. Has no real downsides if you're planning on a firefight.

Bugs: You can place these on things, and they'll show you guard movement in that room while you're in the building. They can also provide you with clues later on, but it's fairly rare.

Camera: You use this to take pictures. What are you, stupid? Seriously though, if you don't bring this you can't gather any clues in the building. You'll almost always want this.

Various Grenade Setups: There are a few to choose from, offering differing amounts of the three grenade types. There are Frag Grenades, which kill people, Stun Grenades, which stun people in a small radius, and Gas Grenades, which stun a whole room over time. You can find grenades in safes and on defeated guards as well.

Motion Detector: This shows you guard movement on your map within a certain room radius of you. I don't know how far it reaches exactly.

Kevlar Vest: With this, you can take 4 shots before going down. Without, you can only take 2. You always want this.

Safe Cracking Kit: You need this to open up safes. Safes tend to have really good information in them, so this is usually worth it if you're info hunting.

Gas Mask: Protects you from Gas Grenades. Can be found in buildings sometimes.

The object of this game is to find clues hidden in various things, not get shot in the face, and usually to grab a suspect to arrest them. If a guard sees you for too long, he'll set off an alarm which will draw more guards to the area you were in at the time. This will turn off over time if they don't find you again. If you kill a guard without them noticing you, you can take their clothes as a disguise. As long as you're disguised, guards will leave you alone as long as they don't see your face and as long as you don't do something stupid like take a picture or shoot randomly. This tends to be both the most dangerous and most rewarding part of the game.


No picture for this one. If you get a coded message, you can try to decode it in the CIA building. It's a simple letter substitution cipher. As it gets harder, you lose the spaces between words and letters may be used to substitute for more than one letter (IE A could be both E and T in the message). Decoding messages can be time consuming, but usually gives you pretty good information on two people in the crime.

Table of Contents

Agent One: Frankomatic

Codename: Agent Keene
Cases Failed: 1/3
Skills: Good Combat, Good Cryptology, Excellent Wiretapping
Masterminds Captured: 5
Case Files: Case One: One Two Three Four
Case Two: One Two Three Four Five Libyan Embassy Shut Down
Case Three: One Two Three
Case Four: One Two Three Four FLN Shut Down Moved to Regional Crisis
Case Five: One Two Three Four Five Got a bunch of people killed at a parade due to failure
Case Six: One Two Three Four Five Six
Case Seven: One Two Three Four Five Six Marxists Shut Down
Case Eight: One Two Three Four Five Six
Case Nine: One Two Three Four Five PRC Shut down
Case Ten: One Two Three
Case Eleven: One Two Three Four Mercenaries shut down
Case Twelve: Part One Part Two

Agent Two: Jade Star

Codename: Agent Duchess
Cases Failed: 1/3
Skills: Excellent Combat, Excellent Wiretapping
Masterminds Captured: 5
Case Files: Case One
Case Two Libyan Embassy Shut Down
Case Three
Case Four Amazon Cartel Shut Down
Case Five: One Two Three Four Marxists Shut Down Moved to Regional Conflict
Case Six
Case Seven PFO Shut Down Forgot to stop them from actually kidnapping the guy though
Case Eight
Case Nine
Case Ten Haitian Junta shut down
Case Eleven

Agent Three: Cemetry Gator

Codename: Agent Smart
Cases Failed: 0/3
Skills: Excellent Combat, Excellent Wiretapping
Masterminds Captured: 0
Case Files: Case One: One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight
Case Two: One Two Three Four Shot down in his prime... maybe.
Archive Index