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Subject: Modifying your total when you've revealed a Negotiate? rss

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Just a Bill
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While reading another thread about Human, Zaps, and Emotion control (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/444835), I was alerted to the puzzling fact that Human can zap himself if he has revealed a Negotiate. The FAQ clearly allows this:

Quote:
Q: Can Human be zapped to win if both cards are Ns?
A: Yes. And yes, his opponent will receive compensation if the opponent loses ships to the warp.

But you can't zap nothing; you have to zap the use of a power. So the FAQ is clearly implying that Human can add 4 to his total when he reveals a Negotiate. But I ask, his total what? Is he adding 4 to his Negotiate total? Admittedly, the FFG rulebook never uses the term "attack total", but that's what I've always understood the total to be -- and I don't see anywhere in the rulebook where my total is even defined when I've played a non-Attack card ... but the FAQ ruling seems to suggest that it is.

If all of this is true, then I can also play Reinforcement cards on a player who revealed a Negotiate. Seems ridiculous to me, but that is the inevitable (messy) conclusion from the Human ruling. Or am I missing something here?

This is a new reason not to like Human. The farther in I drill, the more I feel like it is curdling the elegance of Cosmic Encounter.
 
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Jack Reda
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Human's adding 4 is mandatory- so it happens no matter what. And yes, the consensus is that you can toss down some reinforcements even if one or both main players negotiated, to get them out of your hand. That latter ruling is completely independent of the Human's power, so you can't blame him for that bit of "inelegance".
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If it bothers you that much, just add an implicit:

"You are assumed to be continuously using the Human power during the Reveal stage for the purposes of being Cosmic Zapped."

Because effectively, you are the Human. And eating that Zap for the win is part of your power.

Even if the wording is imprecise regarding the timing of "using" Human and the Cosmic Zapping, the effect is clear. Nobody is adding 4 to a Negotiate, as that just doesn't make sense.
 
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Steven
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The Warp wrote:
And yes, the consensus is that you can toss down some reinforcements even if one or both main players negotiated, to get them out of your hand.

Wait, really? Wow, that would have changed some results in our most recent game!
 
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Just a Bill
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The Warp wrote:
And yes, the consensus is that you can toss down some reinforcements even if one or both main players negotiated, to get them out of your hand. That latter ruling is completely independent of the Human's power, so you can't blame him for that bit of "inelegance".

Okay, thanks for the clarification on where the inelegance is coming from ... but that doesn't make me like it any better.

EDIT: I guess I'll blame Mayfair. Never cared much for Reinforcements, anyhow; the only reason I like them is because they make Reserve possible.

Not Sure wrote:
Nobody is adding 4 to a Negotiate, as that just doesn't make sense.

Then what are they adding 4 to? (That was rhetorical.)

I guess I just have to get over my 1982 concept that I have an "attack total" when I reveal an Attack card, and instead consider that
(a) I always have a (generic) "total" and
(b) this total is generally irrelevant when I reveal a Negotiate, but
(c) I can still modify the total in all the normal ways.

Kind of fiddly and counterintuitive, but it does seem to reconcile the rules, cards, and FAQ.
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Bill Martinson wrote:
If all of this is true, then I can also play Reinforcement cards on a player who revealed a Negotiate. Seems ridiculous to me, but that is the inevitable (messy) conclusion from the Human ruling. Or am I missing something here?


Yeah, it's a common tactic, usually by the player about to have cards taken from him for compensation (or other reasons). Dump as many cards are you can so the other player doesn't get them.

Quote:

This is a new reason not to like Human. The farther in I drill, the more I feel like it is curdling the elegance of Cosmic Encounter.


Elegance? CE is all about powers messing with other players. How elegant is the Schizoid? The Snivler? Witch/Force/Lloyd? etc.

CE isn't about being elegant, it's about having fun. Just roll with it and enjoy life

-shnar
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Just a Bill
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shnar wrote:
CE isn't about being elegant, it's about having fun. Just roll with it and enjoy life

Oh, I strongly disagree: there is profound elegance underpinning the chaos. I think many people don't realize the magnitude of what the original Eon guys pulled off. Sure, there have always been ruling questions, but when you look at them in the context of a base game and nine expansion sets, and compare to the rules burden of most modern CCGs, and remember that those guys were blazing the trail ... what they accomplished is nothing short of remarkable.

There is tremendous elegance in this game system, and that's part of the reason it is an enduring classic.
 
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Bill Martinson wrote:
The Warp wrote:
And yes, the consensus is that you can toss down some reinforcements even if one or both main players negotiated, to get them out of your hand. That latter ruling is completely independent of the Human's power, so you can't blame him for that bit of "inelegance".

Okay, thanks for the clarification on where the inelegance is coming from ... but that doesn't make me like it any better. :what:


If it makes you feel better, that baffles me too. I'm going to have to digging for the consensus here. Adding Reinforcements when both players played Ns bothers me as well. I can see the useless case of N-vs-number for card dumping, but both Ns?

Jack, do you have some pointers for where that's stated?

Quote:

Not Sure wrote:
Nobody is adding 4 to a Negotiate, as that just doesn't make sense.

Then what are they adding 4 to? (That was rhetorical.)

I guess I just have to get over my 1982 concept that I have an "attack total" when I reveal an Attack card, and instead consider that
(a) I always have a (generic) "total" and
(b) this total is generally irrelevant when I reveal a Negotiate, but
(c) I can still modify the total in all the normal ways.

Kind of fiddly and counterintuitive, but it does seem to reconcile the rules, cards, and FAQ.


Still seems bizarre to me as well. My best reconciliation was what I attempted above. Adding numbers to Ns just seems wrong, whatever the mechanic behind it is.
 
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Jack Reda
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You can also look at it this way, you have ships in the encounter, and those are essentially added as well... normally to your attack total. The Human +4 is added to that ship value, but when it comes to Compensation, Human, like most other aliens only collects for each "ship" lost. I might have been tempted to alter Human's ability to adding the +4 to compensation as its boost rather than the auto win from the Zap. But that's just me.

I think the basic philosophy behind what aliens to have in CE is "Would I want to play this alien?" or "Is this alien any good?" The +4 alone is probably just shy of being terribly desirable in the alien. But knowing you can win an encounter automatically by being zapped is just enough to make people think "Yeah, this would be great to have!" Since there are only 2 zaps in the whole deck, it can generally only happen twice in a game, and that's only if the holder of the zap is either the Human himself or someone allied with him that doesn't want to save the zap for anything else. I think it's rare enough that it doesn't really have a major effect on the game. And, as has been mentioned, the notion of turning something on its ear is the essence of CE. There's nothing truly sacrosanct in this game.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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The Warp wrote:
And, as has been mentioned, the notion of turning something on its ear is the essence of CE. There's nothing truly sacrosanct in this game.


Thank you. That, to me, is Cosmic Encoutner: the game that breaks its own rules! Love it

-shnar
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Jack Reda
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The official FAQ from FFG mentions playing reinforcements when you have a lien on your hand, as well as playing them in an Attack/Negotiate situation. It doesn't specify a double Negotiate situation (although in that case there is no lien, and you wouldn't be compelled necessarily to put any of your Reinforcement cards at risk). Still nothing in the rules specifically seems to forbid playing them this way (simply: played after encounter cards are revealed).

Jack Kittredge once wrote in regard to liens on the hand that you can always play whatever you want when applicable to get it out of there, and that was quite cosmic in nature.
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Just a Bill
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The Warp wrote:
Since there are only 2 zaps in the whole deck, it can generally only happen twice in a game

Notwithstanding Vulch, Mesmer, reshuffling the cosmic deck, Wild Filch (the good one), Wild Clone ....

Just imagine having a good, consistent alliance with Vulch, or (cosmos forbid!) being both Human and Mesmer in a multiple-power game. That'll give Loser and Virus a run for their money!

The Warp wrote:
And, as has been mentioned, the notion of turning something on its ear is the essence of CE. There's nothing truly sacrosanct in this game.

True enough, but there are both elegant and inelegant ways to turn things on their ear. "Anything goes" in CE ... but (for example) I don't think anyone wants an alien power that says "You have the power of luck. If another player's cell phone rings during the game, you win." If anything can be art, then nothing is art. There are boundaries, albeit subjective ones.
 
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Just a Bill
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The Warp wrote:
The official FAQ from FFG mentions playing reinforcements when you have a lien on your hand, as well as playing them in an Attack/Negotiate situation. It doesn't specify a double Negotiate situation (although in that case there is no lien, and you wouldn't be compelled necessarily to put any of your Reinforcement cards at risk). Still nothing in the rules specifically seems to forbid playing them this way (simply: played after encounter cards are revealed).

Jack Kittredge once wrote in regard to liens on the hand that you can always play whatever you want when applicable to get it out of there, and that was quite cosmic in nature.

I think the key phrase is "when applicable". Nobody is questioning the playing of cards when there's a lien; the question is whether it is even applicable in the first place to play a Reinforcement card when there are only Negotiates on the table. I'm not claiming to be the smartest guy around, but I've played CE since 1982 and it would never have occurred to me that this would be allowed -- and it looks like I'm not the only one around here who's surprised by this.
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Oh, I'm sure it'd be pretty rare, especially with two compromises, but I don't see any reason why you would disallow it?

-shnar
 
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Ken H.
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Bill Martinson wrote:
The FAQ clearly allows this:

Quote:
Q: Can Human be zapped to win if both cards are Ns?
A: Yes. And yes, his opponent will receive compensation if the opponent loses ships to the warp.

But you can't zap nothing; you have to zap the use of a power. So the FAQ is clearly implying that Human can add 4 to his total when he reveals a Negotiate.


I don't see how that follows. The +4 and the "win on zap" are two different aspects of the power. The FAQ is only referring to the second ability. Just because that one works on a Negotiate doesn't mean the +4 works. I would just assume the +4 doesn't do anything when you play N (and Warrior wouldn't add anything, etc.) I can't think of an example right now, but there must be other aliens that have 2 or more discreet aspects to their power that work in different situations.

When FFG says "Alien X works in situation Y", you can't necessarily read into it that a mostly irrelevant aspect of Alien X should work in a situation that makes no sense. I think you have to look at the context of the question, which was solely limited to the auto-win ability.


Regarding the card dumping strategy, here is an early thread on this subject (early in terms of the FFG edition at least). It ends with Zach (I think) quoting multiple designers as saying it is a legal play. Still bugs me though. What if Warrior or Warpish or one of the big power houses wins against a Negotiate. You could then Cosmic Zap yourself, still win, and prevent your opponent from getting the zap (which he desperately needs in order to beat you in the next challenge). Not sure if "lame" or "cheese" is the better word to describe this. Maybe both! Lame cheese indeed.

 
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Barney Bustoffson
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Humans power reads "As a main player or ally, after encounter cards are revealed, use this power to add 4 to your side's total..."

All that is required are "encounter cards", which includes a negotiate. And since it is "Use this power" as opposed to "you May Use this power", the +4 is automatic. It's just there, even if you don't want it or need it.

And since the power is used automatically when the cards are revealed, it can be zapped.

In the olden days of CE, we just zapped powers willy nilly... even preemptively (like Silencer). I don't know if it was right or proper, but it made sense to us. I don't have a problem zapping Human in a double Negotiate scenario.
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Just a Bill
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Rubric wrote:
Bill Martinson wrote:
The FAQ clearly allows this:

Quote:
Q: Can Human be zapped to win if both cards are Ns?
A: Yes. And yes, his opponent will receive compensation if the opponent loses ships to the warp.

But you can't zap nothing; you have to zap the use of a power. So the FAQ is clearly implying that Human can add 4 to his total when he reveals a Negotiate.


I don't see how that follows. The +4 and the "win on zap" are two different aspects of the power. The FAQ is only referring to the second ability. Just because that one works on a Negotiate doesn't mean the +4 works. I would just assume the +4 doesn't do anything when you play N (and Warrior wouldn't add anything, etc.) I can't think of an example right now, but there must be other aliens that have 2 or more discreet aspects to their power that work in different situations.

I think you are missing the point. The two parts of the card are closely related, and the second is totally dependent upon the first. Here's the logic:

1. An alien power can be zapped only when it is being "used".
2. Powers clearly indicate zap-windows by rendering use or may use in bold italics.
3. The only zap-window on Human is in the phrase "use this power to add 4 to your side's total".
4. Therefore, the only chance for anyone to Zap the Human is just as he adds 4 to his total.
5. The FAQ states that Human can be zapped even if both cards are Negotiates.
6. Therefore, the FAQ is clearly defining that Human adds 4 to his total even when he reveals a Negotiate.

If you believe any of those statements are incorrect, help me understand why.

EDIT: To put it another way:

If, when you reveal a Negotiate, you are NOT using your power to add 4 to your total, then how can you possibly Zap yourself? The power does not say you can play a Zap (incorrectly) TO win the challenge; the power says IF you are zapped (correctly) then you win the challenge. Big difference.

(Man, this really is going to be one of those problem-child powers, isn't it?)
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Big Head Zach
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It could be reasoned that you always have a combat total (you have one the moment you launch ships, to be honest), but that the playing of a Negotiate means you are waiving that total in the default Win Determination Clause. It doesn't count as 0, it simply says, "I am not using my total in the determination of a win." It's like bringing your army to the field, and your commanders/captains discuss the terms in the center of the field - but you end up possibly not fighting, but the other side may impolitely disagree. Like the first battle in Braveheart; Longshanks plays an N, but William Wallace plays an Attack 10.

In one of the later battles, the English know they are winning and decide to play Reinforcements anyway ("Send in the rest!")

Just another perspective to the discussion.
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bhz1 wrote:
It could be reasoned that you always have a combat total (you have one the moment you launch ships, to be honest), but that the playing of a Negotiate means you are waiving that total in the default Win Determination Clause. It doesn't count as 0, it simply says, "I am not using my total in the determination of a win." It's like bringing your army to the field, and your commanders/captains discuss the terms in the center of the field - but you end up possibly not fighting, but the other side may impolitely disagree. Like the first battle in Braveheart; Longshanks plays an N, but William Wallace plays an Attack 10.

In one of the later battles, the English know they are winning and decide to play Reinforcements anyway ("Send in the rest!")

Just another perspective to the discussion.
And a very good one. Even though your attack total is not used when you negotiate, it's always going to be there. It might not be immediately obvious but that is what the original question was about. Human adds +4 regardless of other effects, such as whether or not they play an attack card. It's just that the attack total is not used.
 
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Ken H.
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Bill Martinson wrote:
If you believe any of those statements are incorrect, help me understand why.


I guess the statements are correct. But this:

Quote:
5. The FAQ states that Human can be zapped even if both cards are Negotiates.

appears to be an exception to this:

Quote:
2. Powers clearly indicate zap-windows by rendering use or may use in bold italics.


Interpreting the rules to say that you can add +4 to a non-numerical value makes no sense. For example, what is 3 + red? Or 4 + gravy? Apparently it is FFG's intent that this play works, but I don't think it should work by doing something that is mathematically impossible.

I guess my preference would be to have the FAQ clarified to say that the Human uses his power even on a Negotiate, although the Negotiate is not actually modified in any way. In other words, the Human's power is twofold: "(1) Use this power to add +4 to an Attack card on your side when you are main player or ally, AND (2) use this power to allow yourself to be zapped (and win) any challenge in which you are involved regardless of whether an Attack was played."

In any event, I think it is a fairly minor point. The main rule to remember is that Human can be zapped on N, even though it may cause some logic problems.
 
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mar hawkman
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Like I said above, the game does keep track of your encounter total when you play a negotiate. It just doesn't use it.
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Just a Bill
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Rubric wrote:
But this:

Quote:
5. The FAQ states that Human can be zapped even if both cards are Negotiates.

appears to be an exception to this:

Quote:
2. Powers clearly indicate zap-windows by rendering use or may use in bold italics.

I don't think it's an exception at all. I do not interpret the FAQ to be saying "we are issuing errata for Human that allows other players to zap him when he is not using his power". I interpret the FAQ to be saying "yes, the Human is still using his power even when he reveals a Negotiate, so you are free to zap away."

The FAQ answer would have been much more clear to me (and more broadly useful) if the question had been "is Human still using his power when he reveals a Negotiate" or "do players still have a 'total' even when they do not play an Attack card".

Where I think I went astray was in my original (incorrect) conclusion that FFG was implying that the Human "adds 4 to a Negotiate". This was just plain stupid on my part ("adding to your total" has never meant modifying your card; it has always meant modifying your total). As you and others have pointed out:

Quote:
Interpreting the rules to say that you can add +4 to a non-numerical value makes no sense. For example, what is 3 + red? Or 4 + gravy?

I agree, and did so from the beginning, which is why I struggled at first with the ruling. But my premise was flawed. A bit later on I started to realize my error and began correcting myself, but I think it got lost in the ether (look back a few posts and you'll see where I dumped my attack total concept in favor of a generic total). This, then, implies that the Human is really always combining the 4 with his ship count, not his encounter card.

Quote:
I guess my preference would be to have the FAQ clarified to say that the Human uses his power even on a Negotiate, although the Negotiate is not actually modified in any way. In other words, the Human's power is twofold: "(1) Use this power to add +4 to an Attack card on your side when you are main player or ally, AND (2) use this power to allow yourself to be zapped (and win) any challenge in which you are involved regardless of whether an Attack was played."

I recommend against that, because it's an erratum. We don't need errata, we just need a clarification on how all the parts fit together, and some slightly more specific terminology definitions, which (I think) I now understand. Try this on for size:

You always have a "total". It starts with your ships, and it can start at zero (or negative if you are Anti-Matter). Then other things can add to that total, such as allies and powers (including Human's +4) and Attack cards and whatnot. Whether your total is actually used or ignored in the Reveal phase depends mainly upon the type(s) of encounter card(s) revealed -- but the total always exists and can be modified.

Thus Human is using his power to modify his "total", regardless of his encounter card (and regardless of whether he even gets to play one).

I believe this view reconciles the rules, the power, the FAQ, and the way we have all been playing all along -- without any nasty old errata. I'm sorry my old 1980s-centric "attack total" concept muddied up the waters.
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Adam McLean
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Both the attack and negotiate cards are "encounter" cards ... attack cards add to your total while negotiate cards do not. I see the argument for both sides, but we play it (thematically speaking) that you have still brought your ships to attack or defend no matter what card you play, the card you choose is just how you've chosen to fight that particular battle.

So we play that you can zap the human if two N's are played.
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Barney Bustoffson
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I think William Wallace probably played an Attack 15. And come to think of it, he was probably using the Eon edition, so it may even have been an 18.
 
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Ken H.
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marhawkman wrote:
Like I said above, the game does keep track of your encounter total when you play a negotiate. It just doesn't use it.


Okay, I see.


Bill Martinson wrote:
Try this on for size:

You always have a "total". It starts with your ships, and it can start at zero (or negative if you are Anti-Matter). Then other things can add to that total, such as allies and powers (including Human's +4) and Attack cards and whatnot. Whether your total is actually used or ignored in the Reveal phase depends mainly upon the type(s) of encounter card(s) revealed -- but the total always exists and can be modified.

Thus Human is using his power to modify his "total", regardless of his encounter card (and regardless of whether he even gets to play one).


Sounds good to me. I've always thought (and explained the rules as being) that your tokens add to your Attack card. What you guys are saying is that your Attack card actually adds to your total, instead of being the baseline. And Negotiate just ignores your total, but the "total" is still there and subject to modification.

Makes sense and seems to solve the logic problems.
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