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Subject: Seeker and Cosmic Zap Question rss

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J H
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I have been playing Cosmic for a few years, and got most of my friends into it last year.

An interesting scenario came up the other night involving the seeker power. The question my friend asked me was "Are you going to use a Cosmic Zap this turn?" (I was the Vulch so he knew I had zaps).

The obvious outcome of this if I say no is that I cannot use a cosmic zap that turn. But I am unsure as to what happens if I say yes. A couple of possibilities come to mind:

1) Is this question even valid?

2) If I say yes, and nobody uses a power, did I break a rule?

3A) If I say yes, do I have to zap the first power that gets used from that point on?
3B) If I don't zap the first power, and no more powers are used, have I broken a rule?

We are generally very good about making house rules, but I wasn't quite sure how to tackle this one and my friends can be extremely hot headed if they don't agree on a ruling. Also, he was the Super Seeker at the time, but still asked me a yes or no question so that was irrelevant.

I've been reading the forums for answers for quite a while and hopefully some of you experts can help me out a bit here
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Ian Toltz
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This is an interesting situation. Ignoring the super seeker, here's how I'd rule.

My answer would be: you can answer yes; if you do, you may not pass up an opportunity for a cosmic zap unless, given the currently-available information, you can be positive you'll have a chance to use it again later. For example, if there's a mandatory resolution-phase power, you could opt not to zap a power used during the planning phase, since you know you'll be able to zap the power during the resolution phase.

Now, of course, the game might end up in such a way that you no longer have the opportunity to zap the power, but the important thing here is that you never put yourself in a position where you thought you wouldn't get a chance to zap.

A bigger question with the Seeker, in my mind, is whether you could do something unrelated to the Seeker's question, but which intentionally puts you in a position where you can no longer abide by the answer you gave the Seeker.

For example, let's say the Seeker asks if you'll play a Negotiate, and you say you will. Then, before encounter cards are selected, you have an opportunity to discard cards. Could you choose to discard the only Negotiate in your hand?
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J H
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Now that is an interesting question as well!

The Seeker power is binding you to do what you agreed to do, as long as you still have the option to do so. If the opportunity comes up to discard the negotiate, I am inclined to think you do have to hold onto it so you can play it. You stated you would do so, so I don't believe any actions can be taken to directly prevent you from fulfilling that promise.

Now, if you had to discard randomly, or someone else drew the cards from your hand for you, all is fair if you lose your last negotiate that way.

Back to the initial question: What if no powers are used at all for me to zap?

I am not sure I agree about the need to use the zap on the first power played. I don't like how easily that can be abused (someone activates a power that would have very little affect at the time just to force me to zap it), and I feel that it takes away from the freedom to choose what you want to zap. Sure, I have to zap something this turn, but nothing has forced me to choose what to zap, and so why can't I wait for something worthwhile? If nothing else comes up, that isn't my fault.

Really, my issue is that the question being asked is forcing me to make a decision that is beyond my knowledge of the game. It wasn't "will you zap the next power that is used?" or "will you play X card?", both of which I can act upon without any ambiguity. It's asking me to choose an action before knowing if it is something I will have an opportunity to act upon.
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Jeremy Diachuk
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1) It might be. The answers will depend on the situation. These are the possible answers:

Yes: If there is a Mandatory Power that you know is going to be used and you plan on using the Cosmic Zap on that Power.

No: If you won't use a Cosmic Zap (even if the opportunity does end up presenting itself)

I don't know: If there are Optional Powers that you might Cosmic Zap if they get used, but you have no way of knowing if one will get used or not.

While the question has to be a yes-or-no question, the answer does not have to be yes or no. By answering "I don't know" it still tells the Seeker some information: First, they know you have a Cosmic Zap, or you would say "No" (although you might also answer "I don't know" if you think you might be able to obtain a Cosmic Zap this turn by drawing cards or whatnot..) and secondly, they know that there is some condition that would cause you to use the Cosmic Zap, so you'd be zapping an optional power or one that triggers on specific events.

2) If you say Yes, and nobody uses a power, you probably shouldn't have said Yes. If you say Yes and then the Mandatory Power you were planning on zapping gets zapped by someone else, or they lose their power through some other means, then you are simply no longer able to abide by your answer, so you simply don't have to play the Cosmic Zap.

3A) No.

3B) No, although see above.

Your friend should ask "Do you plan on playing Cosmic Zap this turn?" or "Will you play a Cosmic Zap on (target Alien)'s power this turn?" or something more specific.

Also, regarding Asmor's question: You are allowed to discard the Negotiate. You only have to do what you answered as long as you still have the option to do so when the time comes to do it. If you lose your Negotiates, you are no longer able to play it, so are no longer bound to do so.

Basically, if the Seeker asks you an event about the future that you can in no way be certain if it will occur, you are free to answer "I don't know". If the Seeker asks "Will you play a Negotiate?" then if you say "Yes" you can still do something like play the Loser Wild Flare, making both sides lose the encounter without playing a Negotiate at all. You said you would play a Negotiate in the Planning Phase, but you ended up skipping that phase by using the Loser Wild. However, if someone were to then Card Zap your Flare, forcing you to pick a card to play, you would then have to play a Negotiate if you have the option of doing so.
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Dan Stokes
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My opinion is that if a power that you don't want to zap is played, but there's the possibility that another power may be used but isn't guaranteed (it's optional or dependent on allies), you'd still have to zap the first power. Your answer to the seeker is binding, and by choosing not to zap that first power, you're choosing to put yourself in a position where you don't fulfil that promise.

If, when the question's asked, there's no guarantee that a zappable power will be involved in the encounter, I'd question the seeker's ability to ask that question. They could rephrase it to 'If possible on this turn, will you play a cosmic zap?' or something, but a straight up 'Will you play cosmic zap this turn?' means that you can't answer yes, because you can't know that you definitely will.

Maybe I'm thinking about this too much. Really, you just need to reach an agreement with your group.
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Spinach Fell Nimh
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Shadowwolf wrote:
1) Is this question even valid?

Yes, probably not a particularly good question to ask for strategic reasons, but valid.

Quote:
2) If I say yes, and nobody uses a power, did I break a rule?

IMO, no. Despite how the Seeker's power is worded, there are any number of scenarios where you can honestly answer a question about intentions in good faith, and then not be able to fulfill the "promise" when the time comes.

A few that come to mind are:
"Are you going to play a Negotiate?" "Yes." - Then Loser declares Upset.
"Are you going to use your power?" "Yes." - Then someone zaps you.

Quote:
3A) If I say yes, do I have to zap the first power that gets used from that point on?

No. The question was not "Are you going to zap the first power that gets used?"

Quote:
3B) If I don't zap the first power, and no more powers are used, have I broken a rule?

No. IMO, as long as it was reasonable to believe that a power would be used that you would want to zap at some time later in the encounter, it was a good-faith answer. For example, you may have assumed that the Sorcerer was going to switch the encounter cards played, and are expecting to zap that use of the power, then when the time came, Sorcerer didn't use his power.

You might say that this kind of renders Seeker's question useless. And you're right, but IMO, it's Seeker's fault for asking a question that was so open-ended and so easily subject to being unfulfilled. Next time, ask a more useful question.
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Jeremy Diachuk
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mupdan wrote:
My opinion is that if a power that you don't want to zap is played, but there's the possibility that another power may be used but isn't guaranteed (it's optional or dependent on allies), you'd still have to zap the first power. Your answer to the seeker is binding, and by choosing not to zap that first power, you're choosing to put yourself in a position where you don't fulfil that promise.

If, when the question's asked, there's no guarantee that a zappable power will be involved in the encounter, I'd question the seeker's ability to ask that question. They could rephrase it to 'If possible on this turn, will you play a cosmic zap?' or something, but a straight up 'Will you play cosmic zap this turn?' means that you can't answer yes, because you can't know that you definitely will.

Maybe I'm thinking about this too much. Really, you just need to reach an agreement with your group.


You're allowed to put yourself into a position where you cannot fulfill the "promise". But if someone asked "Will you play a Negotiate this encounter?" it is hard to avoid being able to fulfill that, unless you don't have the right cards.
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Just a Bill
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This ...

taggedjc wrote:
These are the possible answers: ... Yes ... No ... I don't know

(To which I always add the fourth logical possibility, That question is not valid.)

taggedjc wrote:
While the question has to be a yes-or-no question, the answer does not have to be yes or no.
taggedjc wrote:
Your friend should ask "Do you plan on playing Cosmic Zap this turn?" or "Will you play a Cosmic Zap on (target Alien)'s power this turn?" or something more specific.

And this...

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
IMO, it's Seeker's fault for asking a question that was so open-ended and so easily subject to being unfulfilled. Next time, ask a more useful question.

This I think is the core principle for resolving most of the weird questions with Seeker. If you ask a tricky, convoluted question that raises ambiguity or attempts to unrealistically bind the other player, then you should expect an answer like "I don't know" or "That question is not valid." (And no, you don't get to ask a second question, unless it was a legitimate mistake.)

It's the Seeker player's responsibility to ask a question that is unambiguous and provides useful information.
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Jeremy Diachuk
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Bill Martinson wrote:
This ...

taggedjc wrote:
These are the possible answers: ... Yes ... No ... I don't know

(To which I always add the fourth logical possibility, That question is not valid.)


I don't think that's a possible answer to "Are you going to play a Cosmic Zap?" which is what I was listing the possible answers to.

 
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Just a Bill
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taggedjc wrote:
Bill Martinson wrote:
(To which I always add the fourth logical possibility, That question is not valid.)
I don't think that's a possible answer to "Are you going to play a Cosmic Zap?" which is what I was listing the possible answers to.

Right ... sorry, I was talking about the general case.
 
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Ken H.
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I agree with Phil's answer, except for the part about whether it's "reasonable" to believe that another power will be used later. I don't think reasonableness is a requirement. If it's possible for another power to be used later, based on publicly known information, then you don't have to zap the first one.

Also, I disagree with the people who are saying that you can answer "I don't know" to a Seeker question. The text of the power says you have to decide. So, while it might be true that you literally do not know what answer is correct, you still have to make a decision and then abide by it. If the circumstances don't allow your decision to come true (including if you conspire to make the circumstances that way), then you are off the hook. As Phil said, Seeker should have asked a better question.

Bill Martinson wrote:
(To which I always add the fourth logical possibility, That question is not valid.


Not sure that's necessary. I guess it's allowed (for example if the so-called question is not even a question), but I don't think it's the answering player's responsibility to point it out. If the question is invalid, you can answer however you like and then do whatever you want, because Seeker hasn't even really used his power. If you're trying to avoid future arguments, however, then it might be useful to point it out. But otherwise it's Seeker's fault.
 
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Ken H.
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Rubric wrote:
I don't think reasonableness is a requirement.


laugh

In case anyone ever wants to quote me out of context, this would be a good one.
 
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Just a Bill
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Rubric wrote:
I disagree with the people who are saying that you can answer "I don't know" to a Seeker question.

"Does Bob have a Card Zap?"
"Will you acquire any new flares during this encounter?"
"Is Alex going to ally with you?"
"Are there any negotiates left in the deck?"

All perfectly valid, game-relevant, yes-or-no questions, all potentially answerable in certain circumstances, and all definitely unanswerable in other circumstances.

How can you ask a question like this and then demand that I make up an answer that I cannot possibly know the truthfulness of?

Rubric wrote:
Bill Martinson wrote:
(To which I always add the fourth logical possibility, That question is not valid.

Not sure that's necessary.

This answer is distinct from "I don't know" because somebody can (for example) ask a question that includes a statement that is not true: "Are you now going to stop trying to do everything in your power to punish Charles?" Yes, No, and I Don't Know are not valid answers if the premise built into the question is inherently false. If somebody asks me a stupid question like that, my answer will be "your question is invalid" and I will go on about my business. Seeker wasted his question.

Some players may wish to give Seeker another chance in those circumstances where his question was not answerable, and I would be fine with that on a case-by-case basis (especially with newbies). But I would never build in a mulligan re-ask officially, because this allows a rules lawyer to actually get useful information from two or more questions. For example:

Seeker: "Will you have a Mobius Tubes in your hand at the end of this encounter."
Noob: (planning to play a negotiate) "I don't know; ask a different question."
Seeker: "Do you have any artifacts in your hand?"
Noob: "Yes."

This gives Seeker two questions' worth of information. Special situations notwithstanding, in the general case he now knows that Noob has one or more artifacts, and that Mobius Tubes is not one of them.

Seeker is an inherent abuse-magnet. I stand by the position that it's Seeker's responsibility to ask a good question, and if he doesn't, then he gets jack squat that encounter. Anything else gets his foot in the door for abuse.

Now, as fun as it is to keep defending what I think is the inherent logic of this situation (not!), really the burden of proof should fall on those who say these other two answers are not valid, by answering these questions:

• What problem arises when "I don't know" or "The question is not valid" is given as the honest answer to the question?

• In what way would this violate Seeker's text (which constrains the type of question, not the type of answer, other than to require truthfulness)?

EDIT: If you are going by the original Eon text, which did constrain the answer to either "yes" or "no," please be aware that both Mayfair and FFG removed that constraint. I believe this was for exactly the reasons we are discussing here.
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Ken H.
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Bill Martinson wrote:
Rubric wrote:
I disagree with the people who are saying that you can answer "I don't know" to a Seeker question.

"Does Bob have a Card Zap?"
"Will you acquire any new flares during this encounter?"
"Is Alex going to ally with you?"
"Are there any negotiates left in the deck?"

All perfectly valid, game-relevant, yes-or-no questions, all potentially answerable in certain circumstances, and all definitely unanswerable in other circumstances.

How can you ask a question like this and then demand that I make up an answer that I cannot possibly know the truthfulness of?


I was thinking of questions that pertain to your future plans for the encounter. Answering "I don't know" would be directly contrary to the alien's text, which says that you must make a decision.

If Seeker wants to ask you about basic game state information that you may or may not know, I guess he has apparently willing to take "I don't know" as an answer. I'm just not sure other players should be required to give that answer since, as you point out, it allows Seeker to gain additional information that was not specifically asked for.

Quote:
Seeker is an inherent abuse-magnet.


It does seems like it in forum discussions. I've seen it played only rarely in games, but it seems to work okay in practice. Then again, games are usually more social and less rules-lawyery than our discussions here.


Quote:
let's turn it around and see if somebody can defend the opposite assertion:

• What problem arises when "I don't know" or "The question is not valid" is given as the honest answer to the question?


Well, first, I wasn't saying to disallow "The question is not valid." In fact, I said it's allowed. I'm only saying that it isn't your responsibility as the answerer to point out that Seeker screwed up. While it's generally polite to point out when an opponent is under some misunderstanding about how his power works, we don't need special rules for it. And I don't think honesty has anything to do with it. You aren't expected to point out your opponent's tactical mistakes. If the opponent doesn't understand the rules, then it's a question of sportsmanship, not honesty.

Regarding "I don't know", the problem lies mainly with questions that pertain to future intent. I don't particularly like it for present game state either, since it is just one more thing that is outside the text of the rules, but it's not really a big deal if people want to allow it for questions that don't require making a decision about future action.

Quote:
• In what way would this violate Seeker's text (which constrains the type of question, not the type of answer, other than to require truthfulness)?


Because separating the type of answer from the type of question is a technicality. To me, it's perfectly reasonable (I know, I know) to assume that a yes or no question should have a yes or no answer. And if the true answer is something other than yes or no, then it's Seeker's fault.

I'll repeat that I don't think it's a big deal. However, if I was going to try to make a case against it, I'd say that the player who is answering should not be expected to divulge any information outside of yes or no. The question "Does Bob have a card zap?" is trying to ask two things: does he have it OR what is my level of knowledge of Bob's hand. You aren't allowed to ask two questions. It is not your privilege to be aware of my level of knowledge, unless that is specifically your question.

So, if you screw up and ask a question that I cannot answer truthfully, we're back to the situation of whether I am responsible for pointing out your mistakes to you.


Edit:
Some more thoughts on this:

Suppose Seeker really fails to understand his power, and asks "What is your highest Attack card?" (I have seen this happen.)

Clearly, you are allowed to say that the question is not a valid use of his power. I believe most players would do that, because people are nice. Then there would be some discussion of the rule, and Seeker would be allowed to ask a different question.

But technically, if you just answered it with some arbitrary number (including a false one), you have not violated any rules. You'd be kind of a jerk in most games, but I'm sure everyone can imagine a situation where the game is cut-throat and players are expected to know their abilities.

Likewise, if I am Clone instead of Seeker, and I ask you if Bob has the Card Zap, you are free to lie. Why? Because there is no rule that says you have to tell the truth in that situation.

So, basically, I think you are assuming that Seeker's power to compel truth applies to any question he asks, even if the question is not valid (and therefore not a true use of his power). That's where we disagree.

 
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Jeremy Diachuk
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Actually, "What is your highest Attack card?" is not a "yes or no" question, so wouldn't be a valid question. Edit: I see that you meant that it would be considered table talk. However, when you use a power, you have to follow all the instructions, and in this case the Seeker actually used his power, so would have to actually ask the "yes or no" question in order to proceed with the game. If you just answer the table talk question and try to move on, you'd be breaking a rule by not actually finishing the use of the power.


On the other hand, it is good to have "That can't be answered" or "That question is not valid" since, for example, "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" is a "yes or no" question (since the answers "yes" and "no" are acceptable - that is the definition of a "yes or no" question) but in most cases it will require the "that question is not valid" as it is assuming something to be true that might not be true.

While asking "Will you play a Cosmic Zap this encounter?" should force the person to "decide" , it's not actually asking just that - it's actually asking "Will there be an opportunity for you to play a Cosmic Zap this encounter where you would play a Cosmic Zap?" to which the answer is clearly that you cannot foresee the future.


The main thing is that the first thing it says about the answer is that it must be answered truthfully. The fact that you have to "decide and then abide by that decision later" comes after that. If the honest answer is "I don't know" then you can certainly abide by that answer later in the turn - when you go to do it, you just say "I didn't know whether I would do this or not".

This does give someone one sneaky workaround. If they have a Negotiate and an Attack, and they are asked "Are you going to play a Negotiate?" you could truthfully say "I don't know" and then, before encounter cards are selected, pick one at random from your hand to play, since that means you truthfully didn't know. Note that you couldn't just say "Well, I don't know for sure until I know all the game effects that happen between now and then" because those are just the things that happen before you make the decision whether or not to play the card in question - and Seeker's power makes you decide such a case beforehand and stick with your decision.

But you can't "decide to use a Cosmic Zap this encounter" because you have no way of knowing if the opportunity will present itself where you will actually play the Cosmic Zap (or even be able to do so). You can decide whether or not you're going to play a Negotiate (in most cases) since there's almost certainly a Planning Phase where you select a card.
 
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Just a Bill
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Rubric wrote:
I was thinking of questions that pertain to your future plans for the encounter. Answering "I don't know" would be directly contrary to the alien's text, which says that you must make a decision.

Sorry, I should have been more clear. I do not intend "I don't know" to include "I don't want to decide." The power text is pretty clear that when the question is about your intentions, you have to make a choice.

Rubric wrote:
If Seeker wants to ask you about basic game state information that you may or may not know, I guess he has apparently willing to take "I don't know" as an answer. I'm just not sure other players should be required to give that answer since, as you point out, it allows Seeker to gain additional information that was not specifically asked for.

Well, you have to say something. You can't just sit there ignoring the question.

All I'm saying is, give the most truthful answer you can that conforms to the alien sheet's text. If that answer is "I don't know" (when you are not being forced to make a choice) so be it. If the answer is "That's not a valid question" or "That isn't even a question in the first place," then so be it.

Rubric wrote:
I'm only saying that it isn't your responsibility as the answerer to point out that Seeker screwed up.

But, again, you have to say something. Are you arguing that when Seeker asks an invalid question, you are free to answer whichever way you think will hurt him the most? This seems inherently problematic to me. I think if the question is not valid, the answerer does have to say so; otherwise he is making an assessment about validity in his own mind that nobody else knows about. Maybe everyone else at the table understood the question, but I heard it wrong or interpreted it differently; that doesn't give me the right to give an answer that misleads Seeker just because I think he asked an invalid question. Shouldn't this all be out in the open?

Rubric wrote:
Regarding "I don't know", the problem lies mainly with questions that pertain to future intent.

As I hope I've now clarified, I don't think IDK is a valid answer when intent is on the line, since the power text requires you to make a choice.

Rubric wrote:
I don't particularly like it for present game state either, since it is just one more thing that is outside the text of the rules

In what way? You cannot honestly give a yes-or-no answer to a factual question if you do not know the answer! It's impossible.

Rubric wrote:
To me, it's perfectly reasonable (I know, I know) to assume that a yes or no question should have a yes or no answer.

I have already demonstrated that yes-or-no questions can have truthful answers other than "yes" or "no." You are arguing against basic logic.

Rubric wrote:
So, if you screw up and ask a question that I cannot answer truthfully, we're back to the situation of whether I am responsible for pointing out your mistakes to you.

But what is the player is supposed to answer? By your statements that this is Seeker's fault and the answerer is supposed to divulge as little as possible, I assume your position is that you think he can give either answer (since both are wrong). For example:

Seeker asks Mind, "Does Bob have a Cosmic Zap?" Mind honestly does not know the answer to this question. I assume you think he is free to say either "yes" or "no" (whichever he thinks hurts Seeker the most, I guess). How in heaven's name is that answering truthfully as required by the text? Both answers are dishonest!

The text requires truthfulness. The truthful answer is "I don't know." Seems pretty simple to me.

Rubric wrote:
Suppose Seeker really fails to understand his power, and asks "What is your highest Attack card?" ... technically, if you just answered it with some arbitrary number (including a false one), you have not violated any rules.

Wait wait wait. You disallow "I don't know" because it is not "yes" or "no," but you allow seventeen? Please explain to me how "attack seventeen" is a more acceptable "yes or no answer" than "I don't know."

Rubric wrote:
you are free to lie. Why? Because there is no rule that says you have to tell the truth in that situation.

Did you miss the word "truthfully" on Seeker's text?

Rubric wrote:
So, basically, I think you are assuming that Seeker's power to compel truth applies to any question he asks, even if the question is not valid (and therefore not a true use of his power). That's where we disagree.

What basis do you have for stating that the truthfulness requirement is conditional?

Even so, I can state my position another way: Truthfulness only applies to valid questions; invalid questions do not receive a response (other than stating that no response is being given because the question is invalid). Same result either way.

You seem to be arguing that the requirement to answer "yes" or "no" is greater than the requirement to answer truthfully. The evidence against such a position is that FFG kept the requirement to answer truthfully and deleted the requirement to answer only "yes" or "no."


Seriously, man ... a truthful "I don't know" is bad but a lying "attack seventeen" is good? I really think you have argued yourself into a corner here.
 
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taggedjc wrote:
This does give someone one sneaky workaround. If they have a Negotiate and an Attack, and they are asked "Are you going to play a Negotiate?" you could truthfully say "I don't know" and then, before encounter cards are selected, pick one at random from your hand to play, since that means you truthfully didn't know.

I agree with most of what you wrote, but not this. That question is one of intent, and requires me to make a decision. FFG's text is not especially clear about this, which is why in the Cosmodex I revised it to say "he or she must decide now and abide by his or her answer" (which is basically what it said in both Eon and Mayfair; I have no idea why FFG went out of their way to make this less clear). I perceive, anyway, that most of us agree that this is the design intent.
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Rubric wrote:
I agree with Phil's answer, except for the part about whether it's "reasonable" to believe that another power will be used later. I don't think reasonableness is a requirement. If it's possible for another power to be used later, based on publicly known information, then you don't have to zap the first one.

Fair enough. I guess what I really meant was that, for example, if there are no other powers that are eligible to be activated after the Seeker asks his question, then the answer must be, "No." But in that case, it would have been really stupid for the Seeker to ask that question anyway.

But suppose there is only one power available to be activated, and it is the Human, on the side opposing the Seeker. Then the player could answer "Yes," at which point the Seeker would know that the player is going to zap Human for the auto-win. This would be a case where Seeker would gain useful information - he knows not to waste a good card on this encounter.

However, a much better question for Seeker to as in this case (and just about all similar cases), is, "Will you play a Cosmic Zap on power X if the player attempts to use it?"

Quote:
Also, I disagree with the people who are saying that you can answer "I don't know" to a Seeker question. The text of the power says you have to decide. So, while it might be true that you literally do not know what answer is correct, you still have to make a decision and then abide by it. If the circumstances don't allow your decision to come true (including if you conspire to make the circumstances that way), then you are off the hook. As Phil said, Seeker should have asked a better question.

Agreed. I would also add that you have to give an answer that is at least possible to fulfill at the time. If the Seeker asks, "Are you going to play a Negotiate?", you can't answer, "Yes," if you don't have one, and then claim to be off the hook when the time comes. That would be cheating. If you answer yes, and then cause yourself to lose all the N's out of your hand, then you're a sneaky bastard, but you didn't cheat.

Just for larfs, here's an invalid question: "Are you going to play an Attack card higher than the number I'm thinking of?"

And here's an example of a valid, but stupidly ambiguous question (which a player once asked me in a game, EONs ago): "Are you going to try to win this encounter?" Theoretically, this could be a useful question, but "try to win" is essentially meaningless. If I play an Attack 4, or even an N, I could still be "trying to win," but probably failing at it. Likewise, I could saw no and play an Attack 40. I wasn't "trying" to win - it just happened. As Yoda said, "Do. Or do not. There is no try."
 
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Wow, that was a lot to read through so far!

I have never had the impression that you can answer a Seeker question with anything other than Yes or No. I feel that the entire point of the question having to be a Yes/No question is to force you to give a specific answer. An invalid question would need to be pointed out as there would be no way to properly answer it within a Yes/No structure.

As such, if I am in a situation where I honestly feel I need to answer "I don't know," after all I have read here so far, my hunch is that the question being asked is the problem, not my inability to answer. A proper Seeker question should never leave me in a situation where I can't know how to answer properly.

Also - THIS...So much this!

taggedjc wrote:

While asking "Will you play a Cosmic Zap this encounter?" should force the person to "decide" , it's not actually asking just that - it's actually asking "Will there be an opportunity for you to play a Cosmic Zap this encounter where you would play a Cosmic Zap?" to which the answer is clearly that you cannot foresee the future.


I can't see the future, I can't know what is going to be played or what phase the turn will end at. Asking me if I am going to do something that falls in line with the standard procedure in an encounter (ie. "Are you going to play a negotiate?" knowing that I have to play something in the planning phase) is asking me to foresee an event that is most likely going to have to occur.

Asking me if I am going to do something that is outside of the standard procedure (ie. "Are you going to play a cosmic zap?" when there is no guarantee anyone will use a power) is asking me to foresee an event that has too many factors acting upon it. It's impossible to predict.

Should I have to decide on what I would do regarding an impossibility? I don't know what other people will decide to do, and the action I am being asked about relies on their choices as much as mine.

So when do we decide that a question is to vague/ambiguous/unpredictable to be valid?
 
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
However, a much better question for Seeker to ask in this case (and just about all similar cases), is, "Will you play a Cosmic Zap on power X if the player attempts to use it?"

I think being clear in the question like this cleans up a lot of issues.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
If the Seeker asks, "Are you going to play a Negotiate?", you can't answer, "Yes," if you don't have one, and then claim to be off the hook when the time comes. That would be cheating. If you answer yes, and then cause yourself to lose all the N's out of your hand, then you're a sneaky bastard, but you didn't cheat.

I agree with all of that. Your answer must be honest based on the game state and/or your intentions at the time you give it. You can't just change your mind later, but if you can contrive to change the game state such that it is no longer possible to honor your original intent, well that seems to me like clever play.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Just for larfs, here's an invalid question: "Are you going to play an Attack card higher than the number I'm thinking of?"

My lust-for-larfs response: "I've thought about this for 100 milliseconds, and my 100-proof answer is no, I am 100% sure I am not going to play a card higher than the number you are now thinking of." ;-)

Shadowwolf wrote:
if I am in a situation where I honestly feel I need to answer "I don't know," after all I have read here so far, my hunch is that the question being asked is the problem, not my inability to answer. A proper Seeker question should never leave me in a situation where I can't know how to answer properly.

This works too, mechanically, but I feel like it restricts the Seeker unnecessarily. There are some questions that you might know the answer to, and might not know the answer to, and I feel like Seeker should have the freedom to take a chance on the question, knowing that he may learn something useful or he may waste his question.

Shadowwolf wrote:
So when do we decide that a question is too vague/ambiguous/unpredictable to be valid?

I think it is Seeker's responsibility to put the question in the proper context, using if clauses when necessary. For example, these probably are reasonably unambiguous:

• If Jeremy uses his power this encounter and you have a Cosmic Zap, will you play it on him?

• If anybody uses their power this encounter and you have a Cosmic Zap, will you play it at your first opportunity?

• Will you play any and all cards necessary from your hand, if you have any, to stop Phil from using his power or benefiting from its result?

• If you can turn a loss into a win by playing one or more Reinforcements, will you play enough of them to do so?

• Do you intend to play a negotiate if Loser doesn't declare an upset?

If Seeker just says "will you zap somebody this encounter?" I think you can honestly say, "that question is too vague for me to answer." Try harder next time, Seeker.
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Gahhh! Thousands of words in response....

Apparently the edit at the end of my previous post wasn't clear since two people have misunderstood it.

What I meant was that if Seeker asks you an invalid question (like what is your highest attack card), then he has not made a valid use of his power. If he has not made a valid use of his power, then he has not used his power period. And, if the power was not used, then there is no game effect that compels me to answer truthfully. Yes, my opinion is that in that situation I am allowed to lie and/or try to trick you.

In other words, I can lie about my Attack 17 because nobody has used a power that forces me to tell you what is in my hand.


I can't really spend too much time on this, so I'm going to haphazardly respond to some individual points:

taggedjc wrote:
While asking "Will you play a Cosmic Zap this encounter?" should force the person to "decide" , it's not actually asking just that - it's actually asking "Will there be an opportunity for you to play a Cosmic Zap this encounter where you would play a Cosmic Zap?" to which the answer is clearly that you cannot foresee the future.


As the answering player, do I have the obligation to answer the question I think you meant, or the question you specifically asked?

If I do not have a Cosmic Zap in my hand, the true answer would be NO. If I do have it, the text says that I MUST decide now. Claiming that I can't foresee something is not a decision. The paradox you suggest comes up only if I answer YES (and even then, it only comes up sometimes). However, NO would be a valid answer that does not require you to predict the future. So, should we say that IDK is required over NO? Isn't it my decision?

If somebody does ask "Will you play a Cosmic Zap", are you saying I am required to claim I don't know? Are there any circumstances where I am allowed to answer YES to that question? Or does my truth obligation require me to lecture you on the logical loopholes in the question?

Quote:
This does give someone one sneaky workaround. If they have a Negotiate and an Attack, and they are asked "Are you going to play a Negotiate?" you could truthfully say "I don't know" and then, before encounter cards are selected, pick one at random from your hand to play, since that means you truthfully didn't know. Note that you couldn't just say "Well, I don't know for sure until I know all the game effects that happen between now and then" because those are just the things that happen before you make the decision whether or not to play the card in question - and Seeker's power makes you decide such a case beforehand and stick with your decision.


Case closed! Obviously the design intent is that you must answer yes or no, even though the text doesn't require it. I should stop posting now.

If IDK is a valid answer, then Seeker's best hope is to compel you to make a random play. If this is allowed, I would also suggest that even when questions don't pertain to future plans, you probably shouldn't look at your hand until after alliances, so that you can legitimately deny knowledge of the game state. In fact, why not just turn your chair around so you can "truthfully" claim you know nothing about anything.

What's the meaning of "truthful"?

Does it mean "honest"? So, I should always be sure to answer in a flat tone so I don't accidentally trick you with my inflection or body language.

Does it mean "in good faith"? So, I should point out that not only was your question invalid, but really not particularly good strategy either. And while I'm being so helpful, perhaps I should be compelled to offer you other tactical advice as well.

Does it mean "to the best of my knowledge"? So, I should be taking notes to make sure I don't forget what's in somebody else's hand.



Bill Martinson wrote:

But, again, you have to say something. Are you arguing that when Seeker asks an invalid question, you are free to answer whichever way you think will hurt him the most?


As I tried to clarify at the top, I'm saying that if Seeker doesn't use his power, I have no obligation to answer truthfully. When Seeker asks an invalid question, it is identical to Clone asking me a question -- no power is being used. I'll answer as I choose. If you are deceived by the answer, be more careful next time.

Quote:
This seems inherently problematic to me. I think if the question is not valid, the answerer does have to say so; otherwise he is making an assessment about validity in his own mind that nobody else knows about. Maybe everyone else at the table understood the question, but I heard it wrong or interpreted it differently; that doesn't give me the right to give an answer that misleads Seeker just because I think he asked an invalid question. Shouldn't this all be out in the open?


Certainly I'm not required to explain every aspect of my mental state.

Yes. No. Two options. We don't need game rules about whether somebody heard something correctly.


Quote:
Rubric wrote:
I don't particularly like it for present game state either, since it is just one more thing that is outside the text of the rules

In what way? You cannot honestly give a yes-or-no answer to a factual question if you do not know the answer! It's impossible.


And thus the question is invalid. Invalid question means you have not used your power.

Why is it my fault that you can't ask a good question?



Quote:
The text requires truthfulness. The truthful answer is "I don't know." Seems pretty simple to me.


Truth is not that simple. If you think Bob probably has the Card Zap, wouldn't the truest answer be "I think so"? Aren't you deceptively leaving out relevant information if you merely claim IDK?

How far should it go? If you think it's 75% likely that he has it, would "probably" be the best answer? Or could you get away with "more likely than not?"

As soon as you allow answers other than yes or no, you are opening up a big semantic can of worms.



Quote:
Rubric wrote:
Suppose Seeker really fails to understand his power, and asks "What is your highest Attack card?" ... technically, if you just answered it with some arbitrary number (including a false one), you have not violated any rules.

Wait wait wait. You disallow "I don't know" because it is not "yes" or "no," but you allow seventeen? Please explain to me how "attack seventeen" is a more acceptable "yes or no answer" than "I don't know."


In my example, Seeker failed to activate his power. I can say whatever I want.

If he had succeeded in activating his power (such as by asking a question that can be answered truthfully with a yes or no), then I would have to answer yes or no.

Quote:
Rubric wrote:
you are free to lie. Why? Because there is no rule that says you have to tell the truth in that situation.

Did you miss the word "truthfully" on Seeker's text?


I don't see the word anywhere in Clone's text, which was the context of that example.

Quote:
What basis do you have for stating that the truthfulness requirement is conditional?

Even so, I can state my position another way: Truthfulness only applies to valid questions; invalid questions do not receive a response (other than stating that no response is being given because the question is invalid).


You answered your own question there. The requirement of truth is conditional on the power being used in a valid way. Or, in other words, it's conditional on the power being used period.



Quote:
You seem to be arguing that the requirement to answer "yes" or "no" is greater than the requirement to answer truthfully. The evidence against such a position is that FFG kept the requirement to answer truthfully and deleted the requirement to answer only "yes" or "no."


Yes or no has the advantage of clarity. Truth has no such advantage, as I hope I've illustrated above.

And, since when do we rely on FFG's decision to leave words out?

Quote:
Seriously, man ... a truthful "I don't know" is bad but a lying "attack seventeen" is good? I really think you have argued yourself into a corner here.


I hope I've made it clear that the lie is only allowed when Seeker has failed to successfully invoke his power.

The truthful IDK is not necessarily bad, it's just requiring the answering player to give more information than Seeker is allowed to have. If you want to know whether I have knowledge of Bob's hand, then ask me that.



Phil Fleischmann wrote:
But suppose there is only one power available to be activated, and it is the Human, on the side opposing the Seeker. Then the player could answer "Yes," at which point the Seeker would know that the player is going to zap Human for the auto-win. This would be a case where Seeker would gain useful information - he knows not to waste a good card on this encounter.


Sounds like a legitimate question. The validity of a question has to be evaluated in the context of the game. The exact same wording might be good on one encounter and bad on the next.

Quote:
However, a much better question for Seeker to as in this case (and just about all similar cases), is, "Will you play a Cosmic Zap on power X if the player attempts to use it?"


And if somebody else uses their power before Player X does, am I now forbidden to zap that person? What if Player X has sworn on a bible that he is NOT going to activate his power?



Quote:
I would also add that you have to give an answer that is at least possible to fulfill at the time. If the Seeker asks, "Are you going to play a Negotiate?", you can't answer, "Yes," if you don't have one, and then claim to be off the hook when the time comes. That would be cheating. If you answer yes, and then cause yourself to lose all the N's out of your hand, then you're a sneaky bastard, but you didn't cheat.


That all seems fair to me. Even though there is probably some slim possibility that you could acquire a Negotiate before the time comes, you aren't allowed to answer Yes if you don't currently have one.

Quote:
And here's an example of a valid, but stupidly ambiguous question (which a player once asked me in a game, EONs ago): "Are you going to try to win this encounter?" Theoretically, this could be a useful question, but "try to win" is essentially meaningless. If I play an Attack 4, or even an N, I could still be "trying to win," but probably failing at it. Likewise, I could saw no and play an Attack 40. I wasn't "trying" to win - it just happened. As Yoda said, "Do. Or do not. There is no try."


But according to other people (or at least according to the words I put in their mouths), your obligation of truthiness would require you to ascertain what Seeker really means, so that you can give the most truthful answer. You should have probably asked the person to clarify the question first, and possibly enumerate some factors that would be indicative of a valid "try", and then you could estimate the correct percentage of factors you intend to meet. Maybe offer him some tactical advice on how to counter your winning chances as well, to make sure that you are being as upstanding as possible. You'll want to get your answer notarized also.




Shadowwolf wrote:
Wow, that was a lot to read through so far!


No kidding...! Who would have thought that "yes or no" could create so much discussion.



Quote:
Asking me if I am going to do something that falls in line with the standard procedure in an encounter (ie. "Are you going to play a negotiate?" knowing that I have to play something in the planning phase) is asking me to foresee an event that is most likely going to have to occur.


Well, as Jeremy suggested, your decision can be that you will flip a coin when the time comes. Thus you can always say IDK to any question Seeker asks about your intentions.

Quote:
Asking me if I am going to do something that is outside of the standard procedure (ie. "Are you going to play a cosmic zap?" when there is no guarantee anyone will use a power) is asking me to foresee an event that has too many factors acting upon it. It's impossible to predict.

Should I have to decide on what I would do regarding an impossibility? I don't know what other people will decide to do, and the action I am being asked about relies on their choices as much as mine.


I'd say you have to make a decision, and give a yes or no answer. Later in the round, if the circumstances work out and your answer is still legal, then you have to do it. But, you have no obligations beyond that.

Quote:
So when do we decide that a question is to vague/ambiguous/unpredictable to be valid?


Before the power is published. Oh wait....

(Yes, I'm being cheeky -- I like Seeker. It's part of what makes Cosmic cosmic.)
 
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Sigh.... There was no doubt in my mind that I would be cross-posting with Bill. I almost waited 30 minutes for that reason.


Bill Martinson wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
However, a much better question for Seeker to ask in this case (and just about all similar cases), is, "Will you play a Cosmic Zap on power X if the player attempts to use it?"

I think being clear in the question like this cleans up a lot of issues.


Ideally, yes. But realistically, the interpretation of the rule needs to acknowledge that Seeker is going to ask ambiguous questions occasionally. If Seeker is being played by a newbie, or if the game is in general not too cut-throat, then Seeker should get the opportunity to rephrase the question if it's too vague. But this is really subjective -- there's no way to explain it on the card.

Quote:
• If Jeremy uses his power this encounter and you have a Cosmic Zap, will you play it on him?

• If anybody uses their power this encounter and you have a Cosmic Zap, will you play it at your first opportunity?


I'm not sure how specifying "and you have a CZ" affects this question. Isn't the answer going to be the same either way? Obviously if I don't have it, my answer is going to be no.

Quote:
• Will you play any and all cards necessary from your hand, if you have any, to stop Phil from using his power or benefiting from its result?


Given that it's Phil, I think we can all probably answer yes to this one.

However, I'm not sure what standards you want me to use when estimating whether Phil will "benefit" from his power. Since I am apparently obligated to truthfully explain my thought process, I'll need you to list out all the circumstances that you would define as a benefit....

Quote:
• Do you intend to play a negotiate if Loser doesn't declare an upset?


Hmmm... is there a semantic error in using the word "intend"? If you are asking about my present intentions, I don't think it necessarily prevents me from changing my mind in the future. I think you have to say "Will you play a negotiate" in order to force me into the path of making a decision about a future action and abiding by it.

I realize there is a very small amount of time between the question and the playing of the card, so it's unlikely that somebody could honestly intend to play one AND honestly change their mind. So it's probably irrelevant.


Quote:
If Seeker just says "will you zap somebody this encounter?" I think you can honestly say, "that question is too vague for me to answer." Try harder next time, Seeker.


I really don't think so. It's a legitimate yes or no question, so to me, Seeker has successfully activated his power. You clearly have to make a decision and abide by it. You can say yes or no to that question, with no dishonest intentions, even if you are aware that a zap may not become possible.

It seems you want to use the truth obligation to avoid the power entirely. In other words, you want to say that since you truthfully cannot anticipate every possible scenario, you are relieved of your obligation to make a decision about a future action and abide by it.


I'm getting confused -- there are two different discussions going on, based on whether the question asks about a future action vs. present knowledge of the game state.

If we prohibit IDK (or equivalent) as an answer, then questions about future actions are more powerful since they can't be dodged by the various methods you guys are advocating. However, questions about present game state are less effective, because if the answering player doesn't know, he has to guess (or make an arbitrary potentially deceptive response to an invalid non-power-usage, in my opinion) in which case the answer is not reliable.

On the other hand, if we allow (or force?) IDK, then game state questions are more reliable, but future action questions become trivial to dodge.

And to complicate further, it's not always easy to tell whether a question is asking about a future action, or a current game state fact.

I guess, for me, it comes down to the fact that Seeker has control over his question. He can ask for game state info that is clearly within the knowledge of the other player, so if he gets a false answer, it's his own fault. And, if you want to ask about something that the player may or may not know, you can avoid IDK by asking "Do you know for certain that Bob has the card zap?" Can anyone think of circumstances where that question cannot be answered?

On the other hand, allowing IDK, especially on future action questions, puts virtually all the power into the hands of the answering player, since whether he is required to answer depends entirely on his own semantic ingenuity.
 
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Rubric wrote:

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
But suppose there is only one power available to be activated, and it is the Human, on the side opposing the Seeker. Then the player could answer "Yes," at which point the Seeker would know that the player is going to zap Human for the auto-win. This would be a case where Seeker would gain useful information - he knows not to waste a good card on this encounter.


Sounds like a legitimate question. The validity of a question has to be evaluated in the context of the game. The exact same wording might be good on one encounter and bad on the next.

Right.

Quote:
Quote:
However, a much better question for Seeker to as in this case (and just about all similar cases), is, "Will you play a Cosmic Zap on power X if the player attempts to use it?"


And if somebody else uses their power before Player X does, am I now forbidden to zap that person?

Of course not. Why would you be? You made no promise about whether you would zap Player Y's power.

Quote:
What if Player X has sworn on a bible that he is NOT going to activate his power?

Who cares? What Player X has sworn to do or not do has no effect on your fulfilling your promise.

Quote:
Quote:
And here's an example of a valid, but stupidly ambiguous question (which a player once asked me in a game, EONs ago): "Are you going to try to win this encounter?" Theoretically, this could be a useful question, but "try to win" is essentially meaningless. If I play an Attack 4, or even an N, I could still be "trying to win," but probably failing at it. Likewise, I could saw no and play an Attack 40. I wasn't "trying" to win - it just happened. As Yoda said, "Do. Or do not. There is no try."


But according to other people (or at least according to the words I put in their mouths), your obligation of truthiness would require you to ascertain what Seeker really means, so that you can give the most truthful answer. You should have probably asked the person to clarify the question first, and possibly enumerate some factors that would be indicative of a valid "try", and then you could estimate the correct percentage of factors you intend to meet. Maybe offer him some tactical advice on how to counter your winning chances as well, to make sure that you are being as upstanding as possible. You'll want to get your answer notarized also.

Nope. It's not my obligation to make sure another player is using his power most effectively. In this case, it's the Seeker's responsibility to make his question clear. Just like I'm not obligated to point out my single-ship colonies to the Bully or Shadow.

Granted, if they guy playing Seeker is a newbie, then you might need to give him a bit of advice on how to ask his questions, but that's not the general case.
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Bill Martinson wrote:
taggedjc wrote:
This does give someone one sneaky workaround. If they have a Negotiate and an Attack, and they are asked "Are you going to play a Negotiate?" you could truthfully say "I don't know" and then, before encounter cards are selected, pick one at random from your hand to play, since that means you truthfully didn't know.

I agree with most of what you wrote, but not this. That question is one of intent, and requires me to make a decision. FFG's text is not especially clear about this, which is why in the Cosmodex I revised it to say "he or she must decide now and abide by his or her answer" (which is basically what it said in both Eon and Mayfair; I have no idea why FFG went out of their way to make this less clear). I perceive, anyway, that most of us agree that this is the design intent.


Yes, but I've decided at this time to play a random card, so I don't know if I am going to play a Negotiate or not.


Also, I want to point out that the argument that "asking a question that doesn't have a yes or no answer isn't a valid use of the power" can give Seeker additional power, since there are questions that can sometimes have Yes or No answers that are also sometimes not valid questions or that are answerable with "I don't know" truthfully.

For example, "Will you play a Card Zap if I play an Emotion Control this encounter?" could be a simple Yes or No. However, if the player in question doesn't have a Card Zap but might be able to get one, they have no way of knowing if they will have a Card Zap to play or not (even if they would like to). They can't just answer "Yes" obviously, but they can't just answer "No" in this case either (unless they wanted to decide not to play the Card Zap should they get one). Whereas if they did have a Card Zap in their hand, the answer is straightforward.

Plus, my counterargument that skipping the question if the Seeker asks an invalid question (and thus being able to answer however you want, since it's a non-power question) is still breaking the rules (since the Seeker's power must be used in full if it is used) has so far been ignored, haha.
 
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Dude, you are stripping me of my Wall o' Text championship belt. Let's see if I can pick up the gauntlet.

Rubric wrote:
What I meant was that if Seeker asks you an invalid question (like what is your highest attack card), then he has not made a valid use of his power. If he has not made a valid use of his power, then he has not used his power period. And, if the power was not used, then there is no game effect that compels me to answer truthfully. Yes, my opinion is that in that situation I am allowed to lie and/or try to trick you.

Okay, I see now the logic you are using; but here's my problem with it: You are creating a situation in which some players think a game action was properly initiated, and other players do not. Some think Seeker has used his power; others think his power was never used (and thus could still be activated after the answerer gives his not-bound-to-truth lie). Seeker has not used his power, but he thinks he has.

Or worse, Seeker knows he has not properly used his power, and after hearing the answer says "oh sorry, that was an invalid question; I didn't actually use my power, so that didn't count. Here, instead I'll ask this valid question." You can't have it both ways: either he initiated his power or he didn't. If he did, I have to give some kind of answer. If he didn't, then I have to inform him that I believe the activation is invalid, so the players can make a decision on what the game-state actually is at that point.

For me, this does not meet the basic working structure of a game; nothing else in Cosmic Encounter causes such a low-level "game engine dysfunction." Or does it? Assuming you are not just advocating a special house rule for Seeker (tell me if I'm wrong), but instead are proposing a general principle for rules adjudication, then let's see what happens when we apply that principle (if I invoke an action incorrectly, you can quietly go along with it and try to punish me for it) to other situations:
• Allies have been determined. Loser declares an upset knowing that I hold some attack cards. I play a negotiate and win. When he protests, I say "Well, you declared your power in the alliance phase, not the planning phase, so it wasn't a proper use of your power and thus I wasn't bound by it."

• Similar abuses are possible with other pre-declared aliens such as Calculator, Mirror, and Graviton.

• Red retrieves a ship from the warp directly to the gate, then encounters Green with just that ship and wins. Green says "Sorry, you improperly placed that ship in the gate; you were supposed to put it on a colony first just in case somebody could play a card to affect it. That placement was improper and thus you don't get a colony."

Schizoid has the "Diplomat" schizoid card face down. Two noobs inadvertently make an illegal deal (trading tech cards, say). Schizoid knows better, but lets the bogus deal stand so one or both of the noobs don't win the game.


This rules-lawyering crap sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? But I am just applying the same principle you are espousing: somebody makes a gameplay error (not just a tactical flub, but an actual illegal move), and instead of pointing it out I figure out how to leverage that mistake to my own advantage.

No thanks! I don't ever want to play a game of Cosmic where I have to micro-analyze and micro-manage every bit of minutiae because other players are just waiting for a technical slip-up they can exploit. In our games, when somebody makes a mistake we point it out gently and discuss it like grownups so the game can move on smoothly; we don't yell gotcha! and bring down the technicality hammer.

Rubric wrote:
Certainly I'm not required to explain every aspect of my mental state.

I didn't say you were; this is a straw man argument.

Rubric wrote:
Truth is not that simple. If you think Bob probably has the Card Zap, wouldn't the truest answer be "I think so"? ... If you think it's 75% likely that he has it, would "probably" be the best answer? Or could you get away with "more likely than not?"

I actually don't have a problem with those kinds of answers. If Seeker asked the type of question whose answer could slide along a continuum, then he should expect that kind of answer, or an answer like "it's not possible to answer that with a yes or no". All of that is preferable to your option of allowing (or forcing) the answerer to tell a lie, based on his (potentially subjective) assessment that the question is invalid.

And trust me, if there is profit to be had in secretly interpreting Seeker's question as invalid, there will be a lot more questions secretly deemed invalid! "Sorry dude, I felt your question was invalid so I lied. Again. Make your questions more valid. What standards? Heck if I know ... all I know is, most of your questions are invalid to me."

You complained about cans of worms, but "secret subjectivity" is far more wormy to me than an open discussion about a vague question that needs clarity.

Rubric wrote:
Yes or no has the advantage of clarity. Truth has no such advantage, as I hope I've illustrated above.

Strongly disagree. Cosmic has always had an honor-system component to it. If we cannot be counted on to judge the truthfulness of an answer, then we have no business trying to use Seeker in the first place. But regardless, you can't wish away the truthfulness requirement; it is printed right on the sheet.

Rubric wrote:
Thus you can always say IDK to any question Seeker asks about your intentions.

:sigh: The only person here who has proposed this, AFAICT, is you.

Rubric wrote:
realistically, the interpretation of the rule needs to acknowledge that Seeker is going to ask ambiguous questions occasionally. If Seeker is being played by a newbie, or if the game is in general not too cut-throat, then Seeker should get the opportunity to rephrase the question if it's too vague. But this is really subjective -- there's no way to explain it on the card.

Agreed, but I don't see that as a problem. It should always be the case that rules are defined tightly to avoid ambiguity, and then players will loosen them up as appropriate. Happens all the time in my house, anyway.

Rubric wrote:
I'm not sure how specifying "and you have a CZ" affects this question. Isn't the answer going to be the same either way? Obviously if I don't have it, my answer is going to be no.

Maybe ... but my goal was to eliminate ambiguity. Redundancy won't get me an A on the English essay, but it doesn't hurt when trying to make a clearly defined Seeker question.

Rubric wrote:
Quote:
• Do you intend to play a negotiate if Loser doesn't declare an upset?
Hmmm... is there a semantic error in using the word "intend"?

Well, the exact word used on the alien sheet when explaining that you have to abide by your decision is intentions, so ... what's the problem?

Rubric wrote:
Quote:
If Seeker just says "will you zap somebody this encounter?" I think you can honestly say, "that question is too vague for me to answer." Try harder next time, Seeker.
I really don't think so. It's a legitimate yes or no question, so to me, Seeker has successfully activated his power. You clearly have to make a decision and abide by it.

Except you don't know what you are abiding by; it is too vague for anyone to clearly say you did or did not honor your statement. Suppose you skip the first zap opportunity while waiting for a second opportunity that you think is forthcoming; only it doesn't come forth. It's not specific enough to be actionable. My while point was that vague questions like this need some conditionality attached so the abiding or failure to abide can be determined.

Rubric wrote:
It seems you want to use the truth obligation to avoid the power entirely.

Then you still don't understand my position.

Rubric wrote:
In other words, you want to say that since you truthfully cannot anticipate every possible scenario, you are relieved of your obligation to make a decision about a future action and abide by it.

No ... but maybe that's what you want me to say?

What I want to say is, if Seeker's question is too vague or too ambiguous or impossible to make a decision on or whatever, then in those cases only, the player can honestly say "I don't know the answer" or "that question is invalid." Nothing I've said is intended to get you out of having to make a hard decision and stick to it in the face of a legitimate question. But some questions simply are not legitimate.

Nothing is stopping Seeker from making his questions understandable and answerable/intentionable. I have no sympathy for a Seeker who tries to ask trick questions.

Think about what you are saying here: in those cases where Seeker's question is not properly formed, you accuse me of wanting to get out of answering — and yet your proposal is that I can LIE to Seeker! You are accusing me of avoidance while trying to replace it with outright dishonesty.

Rubric wrote:
I'm getting confused -- there are two different discussions going on, based on whether the question asks about a future action vs. present knowledge of the game state.

That's because Seeker has two different modes, as recognized by the game text: questions about objective facts, and questions about future intent.

Rubric wrote:
If we prohibit IDK (or equivalent) as an answer, then questions about future actions are more powerful since they can't be dodged by the various methods you guys are advocating.

"More powerful?" No questions can be dodged if they are proper questions.

Rubric wrote:
However, questions about present game state are less effective, because if the answering player doesn't know, he has to guess (or make an arbitrary potentially deceptive response to an invalid non-power-usage, in my opinion) in which case the answer is not reliable.

So ... don't ask game-state questions that the player probably doesn't know the answer to!

Rubric wrote:
On the other hand, allowing IDK ... on future action questions

Allowing IDK on questions of intent is your idea, not mine. I would not allow it.
 
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