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Subject: Aliens Under Consideration for the Fan Expansion (Block 1) rss

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Chris O
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My thoughts (in order of best to worst):

Angler - Very fun. Attentive players will do well, and has good versatility of usage and victims. (A+)
Ace - Excellent idea. Adds tons of tension to the game. (A)
Host - Using flares all the time and always having a supply is cool. Like this quite a bit. (A)
Klutz - Fun power. Silly theme but very tactical uses. (A-)
Bride - Sounds like fun. This seems kind of like a remake of the Order (a power which I liked), or perhaps a much better "Toady". (B)
Vanguard - Seems better as a Reverse Hex System. Really should be. (B-)

Engineer - Don't know about Tech powers. In an expansion expansion for sure, but seems a bit out of place. (C+)
Grifter - Seems like Trickster meets Magician. (C-)
Extractor - Seems strictly better than Scavenger, and very similar. No bueno. (D)
Daredevil - Too close to Porcupine for my liking. The whole discard a card at battle end while modifying your total for some gains. (D-)
Muckraker - Do not want. Nerfed Magnet. Bad. (F)
Whirligig - No. Just... wait... maybe-NO! (F)


Also I think the fan expansion should have ZERO classic aliens in it, and Peter and Bill should keep working on an "Eon" and Mayfair expansion that remake all the classics like is happening on Facebook, otherwise we will end up losing fan ideas.
 
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Adam McLean
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Bill Martinson wrote:

[floatright][floatright]You have the power to Extract. You may use this power to target one of the following areas: the cosmic deck, reward deck (if in play), or unused flare deck; one of those decks' discard piles; or one player's hand. Destroy one or more of your ships (chosen from anywhere in play) by removing them from the game. Then look through the cards in the targeted area for up to 30 seconds, take one of them, and add it to your hand. If you looked through a deck, shuffle it afterwards. You may use this power at any time, even during another game effect (e.g., to obtain a zap card to cancel an effect that was just announced). You may not extract the same card (or any copy of it) twice in the same game.

The number of ships that must be destroyed to use this power increases with each successful use: exactly 1 the first time, 2 the second, 3 the third, and so on. You may invite other players to destroy their own ship(s) to help you meet this requirement.

SUPER: If you invite all other players to help you destroy ships and none do, you may choose any players' ships in play to meet your destruction requirement.

I like that better, although still not sold on the 30 second rule, but understand it might be needed in case you have someone trying to read every available flare, for example. I doubt my group would enforce it, but can see why it's in there.

As for the Super, I just think it needs to be clarified a bit ... is it like Vacuum where you would tell X players that they each need to destroy X ships and then they get to choose which ships those are? Or is more like Bully where you decide what ships are are destroyed and where they will come from? Based on the wording I assume the latter, but just wasn't sure.
 
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Adam McLean
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Messianic wrote:
Vanguard - Seems better as a Reverse Hex System. Really should be. (B-)
I think it's been conceded that Reverse Hex has been integrated into the alien powers in this edition (such as Pygmy) ... I think we'd all agree with you on this that a Reverse Hex system would be better, though, but not sure if we'll see it.


Messianic wrote:
Also I think the fan expansion should have ZERO classic aliens in it, and Peter and Bill should keep working on an "Eon" and Mayfair expansion that remake all the classics like is happening on Facebook, otherwise we will end up losing fan ideas.
Also agree with you here, but if all we can get is 1 more expansion, I think there are several Eon/Mayfair aliens that would be nice to make it in.


Just out of curiosity, is there some kind of price point that the 5th expansion is trying to stay within? Are we trying to fit this into a $25 box like the other 4, or will there be some flexibility in this regard?
 
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Just a Bill
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oatesatm wrote:
As for the Super, I just think it needs to be clarified a bit ... is it like Vacuum where you would tell X players that they each need to destroy X ships and then they get to choose which ships those are? Or is more like Bully where you decide what ships are are destroyed and where they will come from? Based on the wording I assume the latter, but just wasn't sure.
"Invite" is permissive; it doesn't carry any connotation of force or require. (When you "invite" allies, do you force them to join and tell them where to take their ships from?)

The intention is that you negotiate this with the other players. (Who can lose a ship? Who can lose two? Great, we've got the five we need!) When you destroy your own ships, you pick where they come from; so naturally when you invite another player to destroy his own ships (note that it is written carefully to make it clear that he is destroying them, not you), then he picks where they come from.

I think at some point we have to be able to rely on people to maybe read the card a second time and think about the normal meanings of the words used; if we spell everything out in explicit detail, the texts won't fit on the alien sheets.
 
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Adam McLean
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Bill Martinson wrote:
"Invite" is permissive; it doesn't carry any connotation of force or require. (When you "invite" allies, do you force them to join and tell them where to take their ships from?)

The intention is that you negotiate this with the other players. (Who can lose a ship? Who can lose two? Great, we've got the five we need!) When you destroy your own ships, you pick where they come from; so naturally when you invite another player to destroy his own ships (note that it is written carefully to make it clear that he is destroying them, not you), then he picks where they come from.

I think at some point we have to be able to rely on people to maybe read the card a second time and think about the normal meanings of the words used; if we spell everything out in explicit detail, the texts won't fit on the alien sheets.

The new Super, though, says that if you invite them to destroy ships to help you but none of them do ... then you choose the players' ships to be destroyed. I just wasn't sure if that meant you choose the player(s) or the ship(s).
 
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Jason Emme
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I'm really liking these powers. The listed aliens alone put the Storm powers to shame.
 
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Just a Bill
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oatesatm wrote:
The new Super, though, says that if you invite them to destroy ships to help you but none of them do ... then you choose the players' ships to be destroyed. I just wasn't sure if that meant you choose the player(s) or the ship(s).
Whoops, sorry ... I thought we were talking about the old Super that got worked into the power; my fault for not actually reading my words you quoted.

You're right ... if nobody is willing to sacrifice at least one ship, then the Extractor gets to pick anybody's ships from anywhere.
 
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Jon Gon
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First of all, I'd like to thank Jack and Bill for all their hard work and dedication to the game we love and also for bringing this discussion to the BGG forums. Here are my opinions:

Ace (Like)

I like this alien a lot. I had already mentioned this alien in the thread dedicated to favorite homebrews. I'm very glad to see it being considered to the fan expansion. This alien adds a lot of tension to the game. I've playtested it few times and never found it overpowered, but make no mistake, everyone will gang up against him. While it's true that Ace steals the spotlight, I see it as the mark of a truly interesting and innovative design. This alien has the capacity of making a game memorable.

Angler (Like)

The alien version of Go Fish. Clean, simple and straightforward. My main concern is if this alien will monopolize the flares too much, causing an undesirable experience for the other players. Also, I'm not a fan of the Wild Angler (it can take too long to search through the deck/discard pile and vote) but only playtesting can answer some questions. Other than that, it looks good.

Bride (Like - Needs Re-theme and Minor Changes)

This alien is very similar to Toady, another alien that I mentioned in the favorite homebrews thread. The main differences are the way it selects his spouse/master and the fact that it doesn't share the victory with his spouse/master. Bride doesn't seem like a good theme to me. I like Toady better, but this is nice too.

Daredevil (Not Sure - Needs Buffs and Changes)

I like the name and the theme, but the power is not that good. However, maybe there is room for improvement. For example, I think there's not enough risk, I would make Daredevil choose a card between 01-08 before cards are revealed. If the risks increases then the reward should also increase, for example, draw a new hand (this is just an example from off the top of my head). Another option to improve the balance would be increasing the margin required for the reward (from 3 to 5 for example).

Engineer (Dislike)

No. First, trust me, it's terribly underpowered. Second, I'm not favorable to aliens that are tied to a specific variant. Third, it is possible make aliens that use variants work in a game where these variants are not being used.

Extractor (Dislike - Can Be Improved)

In certain ways it can be compared to Angler, Kamikaze, Scavenger and Brute. It has the advantage of being able to access card from multiple sources but it has to sacrifice ships. However I can't help but feel that it is to close to already existing aliens.

Grifter (Dislike)

I hate it. This one reminds me of Trickster, one of the worst aliens in my opinion. If this is interesting then why not a power that wins encounter by Rock-paper-scissors, or by Tick-tac-toe, or by flipping a coin? This is really not my cup of tea.

Host (Like - Maybe Too Powerful)

An alien that has access to more flares is something that doesn't overlap any of the published powers. I'm not sure if this is the best form to implement this concept. I would need to playtest it to make up my mind. It is also really hard to evaluate how powerful this alien is due to the randomness of flares. Anyway, I think this one has potential.

Klutz (Not Sure - Needs Re-theme and Improvements)

A power in the spirit of Glutton. While I know that some may argue that it feels very cosmic, I don't really like the theme and name. The power itself seems good; bumping ships off adjacent planets is quite powerful. I would prefer another theme and explore more the effect that affects adjacent planets. The Super is terrible; we don't need Cosmic Catapult (do we?).

Muckraker (Dislike)

I like the concept of voting with cards; I've used it in some of my homebrews. However, I don't like the implementation in this case. This alien is very weak. Let's assume that the players always refuse to discard a non-encounter card (it's safe to assume that this will be the most common reaction). Then, Muckraker’s ability is reduced to nothing more than a crippled forcefield. Consequently, an alien that emulated the effect of a forcefield would be better and I would still call it weak.

Vanguard (Not Sure - May Need a Few Changes)

I like this idea. Making the defensive player receive defender rewards for each ship in his or her Vanguard planet is neat. My concern with this power is the fact that it is a Defense Only power and that means less action for the player. Also, I think that the Super is very weak. Maybe there's room for improvement; I would need to playtest it to make up my mind.

Whirligig (Dislike)

No. Not another alien that mixes and switches hands. This is even worst than Dervish because players lose track of where the cards are. It severely affects hand management and it is completely luck based. Unnecessary.



 
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Sean Franco
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Finally gotten enough time to rock and roll these around my head. I have not read anyone else's comments. I am only looking at powers and not flares.

Ace: Probably the most threatening of the alt-win aliens we've seen, it suffers from three basic issues. One, it doesn't give you any ways to win that one encounter. Two, it gives everyone else ways to deal with you. Neither of these would be a problem if not for: three, you cannot play the game in any way but Ace. Which means if the aliens dealt to you at game start are Locust and Ace, you may not have the CE experience you wanted this game.

Angler: I think the important reason that this alien works is because it says "The more you're involved in the game, the more you draw cards." That's pretty good, even if you are pulling crap.

Bride: This feels like a kitchen sink of so many others things, but I can't really put my finger on any of them other than Parasite or Shadow. I'm actually impressed with how this alien does so much but keeps a pretty clean wording.

Daredevil: I love screwing over unsuspecting allies but playing an N when everyone else has committed lots of ships. I feel like allies might be more suspecting with Daredevil. Seems like an inferior subset of Mercenary.

Engineer: It's neat to make aliens that interact with Modules. I wouldn't want to play with them all the time, but this seems like an interesting interaction with both Tech and the Warp.

Extractor: I find it to be too much hassle mechanics-wise, and too powerful cost-wise. The 30-second clock is annoying to have to deal with. The ability could get easily solved at some point in the future, so that you know which 1, 3, 6, 10, or 15 ships you need to sacrifice to win in any game. So much seems not worth it.

Grifter: So basically, I either give them an extra colony (possibly while they are the defense) or I deprive people of rewards. Seems like a non-power that doesn't really help you at all, just an excuse to put some three-card monte into CE.

Host: This is kinda like having a spell book of effects as a Witch. I kinda like it. I just hope it doesn't cross over too much design space with Aristocrat.

Klutz: At first glace, this reads as a dexterity power. Fortunately, it is not. Then it reads as a card dumping power with a ship killing bonus. Unfortunately, it's not super powerful as either. The card dumping is useful, but in very limited circumstances that can be dictated by your opponents. The ship bumping is very minor except for forcing offensive allies to bring two ships instead of one. It's neat interactions, but it seems a little underpowered.

Muckraker: Do the votes go around the table once? Or until no one wants to play anymore? Either way, it's an interesting mechanic on a weakish effect, much like Grifter.

Vanguard: This alien does slow down some other players from winning, and it can turn into a good draw engine for you. Without that draw, this would be just another alien whose power is "You keep your power."

Whirligig: So this would be better than Trader because of potential card advantage, but also worse than Trader because of the randomness? I guess that makes this different enough to be viable.

.

Aliens worth keeping:
Angler
Bride
Engineer
Host
Vanguard

Aliens that don't sway me one way or the other:
Ace
Muckraker
Whirligig

Aliens not worth keeping:
Daredevil
Extractor
Grifter
Klutz

EDIT: Spelling.
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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- Ace: Can this power be lost after losing 3 planets? Or is this one of those 'power cannot be lost/replaced/copied' type powers? (mainly because it would suck to lose this power, you're suddenly 4 ships lower than everyone else, etc. Otherwise, this would be a very interesting power to play with.

- Angler: Interesting, though seems familiar. Does the Wild Seeker do something like this? Also, I'm not sure how this passes the "unique quality" aspect of gaining/losing cards.

- Bride: If you lose your power, are the 'divorced ships' returned to their owners?

- Daredevil: I think this would be more interesting if you could discard the card to either add or subtract to the total.

- Engineer: I don't think our group has ever played with Technology, so this power has no interest to me. I'm not sure how I feel about powers that require optional things. Guess it's okay (I like the old EON Lucre powers). Just make sure that the card has in bold "Requires Technology".

- Extractor: Reminds me of the Aristocrat but in an interesting way. I do like the 30 second limit, since powers like this add drag to a game with analysis paralysis.

- Grifter: Hehehe, I like this one. Weird mechanics in a CE game? What more could you ask for? The Super needs further explanation for what a "four-card monte" means (English 2nd Language speakers might have no clue what this means).

- Host: No comment, I understand it though not a huge fan of using the unused flare deck, but so be it.

- Klutz: "Adjacent planet" really worries me. Since ships can be aligned any way, at any time during a game, what does this exactly mean? Maybe simplify it to be any planet in the system?

- Muckracker: I like what this power is doing, but limiting it to just the ally feels, well, limiting. I guess that's alleviated by being usable as either main player or ally.

- Vanguard: I like this power, however I don't like the wild. People change their minds as players form alliances, so it's real easy to think you're going to play card A when after allies you want to play card B.

- Whirlgig: Not terrible, this one is easy to understand and play. And since you can get more cards than you had originally, gives it a nice advantage.

-shnar

P.S. Can we use this 'fan expansion' to get letters we're missing, like J and Q powers?
 
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Jack Reda
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In response to some of the recent posts...

Ace: Can definitely lose his power. Choosing to be this alien is a big gamble, but that's part of his charm.

Angler: I find the Go Fish concept to be so pure, for me it excuses adding another card gainer. But that's me.

Bride: Ships on Bride's sheet never return to their owners. Bill equated it with having a collection of old engagement diamonds that the grooms never get back. I found that between Slave, Toady, and a couple others, there was clearly an interest in an alien that did something like this.

Daredevil: Not sure what mean, Sean. I think allies are always keen to gain cards in addition to whatever else is on the menu. Daredevil will probably attract more, which is itself a nice place to start. I wasn't so sure about this one at first, but I do like the idea of an encounter that isn't trying to get the biggest total possible. They want to eek out the win, which is pretty dangerous, since the opposing side could be holding a reinforcement just to drop the hammer.

Engineer: I don't know that it needs "Requires Tech". It comes in the base, so it's reasonable to assume every game has access to it. I don't feel like the other players need to be using Tech at all in the game (and actually would prefer if they didn't). My personal set has hundreds of aliens that require expansions (moons, lucre, and more), and I am used to aliens like this. I understand the FFG rationale for having no aliens that do this, but the idea of a single Tech alien appeals greatly to me. Maybe this isn't the alien to do it, but having a Tech alien would be great.

Extractor: The limited number of uses, I think will make up for any game delays when it's used. No alien has a self-sacrifice mechanic for some kind of gain, so that aspect appeals to me.

Grifter: This would be the most polarizing alien in the expansion. Some people will be very keen to try their hand at it (but then might discover they've made a poor choice of alien). Players that are decent at it will probably love playing it. It's hard to say. A physical mechanic is also pretty new. I have a homebrew called Quake that involves dropping ships onto planets to either knock other ships off or try to gain a colony. It's cheesy as hell, but kind of hilarious to play.

Host: My biggest concern would be giving too much power to Host. Three flares always at your disposal could frequently be gonzo powerful.

Muckraker: This is an alien that could be highly useful, especially in games with a lot of players. But I am inclined to agree with those who have suggested it may need a little more oomph.

Vanguard: I understand the hesitation on the wild flare, but my take is that it forces a very tough decision for the main player (and I love having tough decisions in the game). Committing to a card you may play depending on whether you get allies is definitely a big deal. But I also like flares that really bring tension to the game. I feel like there are too many wishy-washy ones, or flares you can rarely use.

Whirligig: The green alien issue could really make for some unusual decisions. I've been of the opinion that having a lot of green aliens in an expansion is a lot less crucial than the base game. The idea with the alerts was to introduce players to the game with the greens, and then as you get a handle on playing, all of the colors become accessible. If you are adding an expansion to CE, you're most likely ready for a lot of yellows and reds. A group that has the base game and decides to also pick up an expansion immediately, probably isn't ready for the expansion stuff to begin with. Let them stick to the base set's green aliens for their first few games, then they can mix in the WHOLE expansion. But that's just me.

Anyway, there's a good chance we'll see Judge, so "J" is probably taken care of. I renamed Pentaform as Quint in my set, but it's maybe only barely a better name. Q words are pretty challenging.
 
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Sean Franco
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The Warp wrote:
Daredevil: Not sure what mean, Sean. I think allies are always keen to gain cards in addition to whatever else is on the menu. Daredevil will probably attract more, which is itself a nice place to start. I wasn't so sure about this one at first, but I do like the idea of an encounter that isn't trying to get the biggest total possible. They want to eek out the win, which is pretty dangerous, since the opposing side could be holding a reinforcement just to drop the hammer.
Basically (as I said above), I see this as a subset of Mercenary. It draws you cards if it works, unlike Mercenary which simply draws you cards. The "advantage" this has over Mercenary is that allies have more incentive to join you, since they might draw cards also.

My problem is on a couple levels. First, the rewards of being an ally should already be appealing enough; there is no real reason to give extra rewards to other players just to get some potential ship advantage. It seems like you're giving away too much for too little return.

On top of this, the potential that Daredevil has for backstabbing is extreme. I think it's very likely that someone might throw an encounter to screw over the maximum number of players. That would always be in the back of my mind with an alien like Daredevil who can use Ns as well as Risk to do so. The alien who is supposed to appeal more to potential allies makes me doubly suspicious.

Also, this is very potentially a non-power if you never pull A01-A08. Granted, that might be good for you if you never get those cards anyways, but that's not a power; it's luck.
 
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Sean Franco
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Read the flares. Largely satisfied, but three stand out:

Wild Ace: Good Lord. I feel like this could use a little balance...

Super Klutz: If this is the actual super, I'd take this alien out of my set and never use it. There's a reason Chaos Orb is banned in every format.

Super Muckraker: I feel like this is closer to what the actual alien power should be, if toned down a little.
 
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Warren Denning
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Quote:
No. First, trust me, it's terribly underpowered. Second, I'm not favorable to aliens that are tied to a specific variant. Third, it is possible make aliens that use variants work in a game where these variants are not being used.

Quote:
I'm not sure how I feel about powers that require optional things.

As the Engineer was an alien I tossed in to the ring, I'd just like to reiterate/ clarify things:
First, it doesn't require optional things or variants anymore than the Schizoid or Hate does (or any other alien that requires special tokens or cards). I would say just add text (maybe) that the Engineer gets the deck at the beginning of the game but it does not initiate the Technology variant. As stated, the Tech deck came with the base game so everyone has it and doesn't use it (and neither of the 3 tokens for the deck!), so why not give it completely to a single alien. In fact, the flare was written so that a non-Engineer game doesn't have to dig the deck out.

Second, 13/20 Tech cards can be used by this alien with 4 or less ships in the Warp, so the first failed encounter will provide enough ships to allow the use of most drawn cards. Since these cards are not artifacts, few aliens will be able to mess with them.

Third, I dunno about underpowered, 1/5th of the Technology deck allows the following: Create a New Ship (+3 to side's total; almost Macron)(7), Gain Extra Power (9), Destroy Planet (so everyone loses a colony) (8), and Gain Colony (9).
 
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Chris O
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I don't like Muckraker because it is a weaker version of Magnet, but I think something can be done with it to make it stay in theme and be more useful than Magnet:



TRIBUNAL

You have the power of Consensus. During any encounter, after alliances have been formed but before cards are selected, you may use this power to "try" a player on any side. Starting from your left, each player besides the accused player must agree or disagree with you. If the majority of players vote to agree with your accusation, the "tried" player is removed from the encounter. If that player was a main player, he or she loses the encounter, sending his or her involved ships to the warp, and his or her allies return to their colonies.

If a player is removed from an encounter through the use of this power, place a token on this sheet. After using your power you may discard any number of tokens from this sheet to count as votes on your side.




(Now this can be used both when involved in an encounter or not, allows you to target main players, AND as you build up favor you gain more power but it must be spent.)
 
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Just a Bill
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The Warp wrote:
Angler: I find the Go Fish concept to be so pure, for me it excuses adding another card gainer. But that's me.
Same here. In some ways this is the best alien in the batch, for its purity and simplicity.

The Warp wrote:
Daredevil
This one isn't clicking for me at all. However, the main purpose of this thread is to playtest these aliens (with tweaks as needed), not dissect and dismiss them, so I'm trying to reserve judgement until I play it.

The Warp wrote:
Engineer: I don't know that it needs "Requires Tech". ... I don't feel like the other players need to be using Tech at all in the game (and actually would prefer if they didn't).
Agreed. All this really needs is something like "Draw a tech card from the tech deck (whether it is in use or not)."

There have been tech homebrews over the years that did things like put the tech deck on the alien sheet, or require the variant to be in play, or require the variant to not be in play, but none of that is necessary. It's just extra noise on the sheet, and makes the alien incompatible with certain game setups.

The Warp wrote:
Extractor: The limited number of uses, I think will make up for any game delays when it's used. No alien has a self-sacrifice mechanic for some kind of gain, so that aspect appeals to me.
That's what I like, too ... the "push your luck" aspect of how many ships you think you can afford to sacrifice, and the later second-guessing of whether the card you got was really worth it. At first I was worried the balance was erring on the weak side, since only four cards per game seemed a little light. But now that the old Super is merged into the text, I feel better about it. The self-balancing nature of Cosmic is in full effect here, where the other players can not only curtail this power through zaps and home-colony removal, but can also expand its use if the Extractor can apply his power in situations where it benefits more than just himself.

I'm pretty excited about the physical and social mechanics of this one.

Regarding the charge that it's too much like Scavenger, I would point out that the only similarity is that they can both look through the regular discard pile. Everything else about the two powers is very different, and like some other pairs of Cosmic aliens (pre-Cosmic Storm), they have a pretty strong depth-vs.-breadth differentiation; Extractor's scope is far greater, but his cost is considerably higher (and unique). And the social pressures created by the two aliens are like night and day.

The discard pile probably won't even be the dominant destination for Extractor to target in many cases. In the early game he will favor the cosmic deck, and in the mid to late game it will often be other players' hands. And of course if the reward deck is in play, then it (and its discard pile) will be very attractive. The regular discard pile is included here mainly for the sake of elegance and completeness; it isn't a centerpiece.

It's not as if the discard pile is the exclusive purview of Scavenger; we already have plenty of effects that get cards from there (Filch, Fido, Vulch, Space Junk, Wild Cyborg, Wild Fido, Wild Reserve), and some are already a full "look through" (Wild Chronos, Delta Scanners, Classic Wild Filch).

The Warp wrote:
Grifter: This would be the most polarizing alien in the expansion.
This is my least favorite, but again, we're trying to actually test these, not reject them a priori.

The Warp wrote:
I have a homebrew called Quake that involves dropping ships onto planets to either knock other ships off or try to gain a colony. It's cheesy as hell, but kind of hilarious to play.
Super Klutz will probably be a love/hate kind of effect, but when an alien has this theme and name it almost has to do something physical.

Cosmic Encounter, in my opinion, has lost a little of its essence in how much it has been "sanitized" in the modern version, and by the reluctance to incorporate things like moons. The game can benefit by including a few more of those "holy crap, that's completely ridiculous" elements. (Of course I mean ridiculous in the sense of unconventional or over the top, not in the sense of broken-powerful, useless, or derivative.) This kind of thing was a core part of Cosmic's identity, and one of the reasons I fell in love with it.

It may be that Super Klutz is a good place to use the "classic flare" trick and have a more toned-down version for the folks who find this one too silly. But we do need to test it in its current form.

The Warp wrote:
Muckraker: This is an alien that could be highly useful, especially in games with a lot of players. But I am inclined to agree with those who have suggested it may need a little more oomph.
The benefit may or may not be powerful enough, but the mechanic is good. One thing to keep in mind is that that this is not just an effect that kicks one player out of an encounter; it is also an effect that deprives your opponents of their non-encounter cards.

The Warp wrote:
I've been of the opinion that having a lot of green aliens in an expansion is a lot less crucial than the base game. ... A group that has the base game and decides to also pick up an expansion immediately, probably isn't ready for the expansion stuff to begin with.
But the real-life scenarios are not that monolithic. There will be plenty of cases where a player has just acquired a new expansion set and the group is excited to play. But there is a new or casual player who is interested, or that they would like to invite. If the expansion doesn't have enough green aliens to go around the table, then they have to choose between not inviting that new player, or risking making that new player's first experience with the game overwhelming or negative, or setting aside the expansion aliens until a time when they don't have a new player present. I don't like any of those options.

There's really no reason not to have a good selection of green aliens in every set. If we find that we can't do so, then that may be a design discipline issue or an indication that we need to redirect some of the design focus. Just because this set is designed by experienced players, doesn't mean it is designed only for experienced players.

Messianic wrote:
TRIBUNAL
You've eliminated the whole purpose of the power, which is to get people to discard their non-encounter cards. Let's playtest Muckraker and see how it does before we throw it out the window.
 
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Muckraker doesn't make people discard their non-encounter cards, it gives them the option to do so. There's a difference between "bar one ally OR force target player to discard a non-encounter card" and "bar one ally, any player may zap this by discarding a non-encounter card"; one is strictly stronger than "bar one ally", the other is strictly weaker.

In Muckraker's current form, there's nothing to playtest because it is strictly weaker than the already-weakish Magnet. That needs to be fixed before any meaningful testing can be done. If you're going to make a power with the drawback that it can be shut down by any non-encounter card as if it were a Cosmic Zap (albeit one that can be Card Zapped by any other non-encounter card), the actual effect of the power had better have some real teeth.
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Comments on the ones I haven't mentioned yet:


Angler: I don't know. It looks balanced and different. I'm just not excited about it for some reason.

Daredevil: The concept is pretty good, but as written, the only risk is Reinforcements, which affect what, 2-3 encounters per game? I agree with Sean -- increasing the risk level might be worth looking in to.

Engineer: I have no problem with a tech-using alien. In fact, I would like to see one in the set. I agree the text should be clarified to say it doesn't require Tech to be in play.

The problem for me is powers that trigger off of losing are not very interesting. They suffer from the third-home-colony problem that Zombie, Filch and other on-loss aliens have (meaning you lose your power before it fires on that encounter). It's a nice recovery method, if you are going to lose anyway, but giving an incentive to lose encounters is not exciting to me. Also, I'm not sure the existing Tech cards are strong enough to make up for the missed opportunities to gain colonies.

Grifter: I like it. It's a little Trickster-ish, but is massively stronger than Trickster. While Trickster's win rate is only 50%, this alien should win 83% if I've done the math correctly (50% normal wins on average + 2/3 of your losses become wins). Well, a little less than that because you may not have the 2 distraction cards in hand, or they may not be different from your losing card.

I wonder if it might be better as an optional power. Giving your opponent that chance to score his 5th colony for free would be pretty annoying to the rest of the table. Then again, that's Cosmic I guess.


Host: The theme doesn't work for me. "Host" and power to "channel" don't go together. I see the intent based on the history, but it just doesn't fit for me. I think I like the ability though. As others have said, adding more unused flares once in a while is a good thing. With flares, it's highly variable, and hard to evaluate on paper.

Klutz: As others have pointed out, the phrase "adjacent planet" doesn't work in theory. It probably usually works in practice, but I would find it annoying if players started setting up their planets across the room just to avoid this ability. Take off the word "adjacent" and it works fine.

I like the ability and theme though. I can see it being too silly for some, but I think it would be fun. The history is great.

Is it too weak? As somebody already said, killing one ship is easily ignoreable with trivial planning. It becomes better as ships are depleted, I guess.


Vanguard: I like it. I remember this one from Jack's site -- it's been around forever. I have it written down in some notes somewhere, but have never tried it. The original Vanguard had a "no consolation" rule, but I see that has been removed. It's not an issue, but I'm just curious about why.

Doesn't it need to say that allies aren't allowed? It's sort of implied, but could be easily misunderstood. If space is a concern, the final sentence is technically unnecessary (offense ends his turn when he's out of cards regardless).

I like the addition of defender rewards for winning the Vanguard encounter. This takes away the main disadvantage of the original version, which was that the ability doesn't help you enough.





Bill Martinson wrote:
I'm a little surprised by the pushback on the conduit thing, considering that Cosmic has a pretty long history of story words in game text: throw a celebration party, take a spin, loot your opponent's cards, pray for divine intervention, put it in cold storage, infect that player, the planet is then "fumigated," healed player, devour the planet, hired ships, gobble up a card, show of loyalty, activated remotes, the player you flatter, subjugated ships.... [size=7](I refuse to mention the one on Arcade.)

For me, I think it's just the fit between theme and mechanics is not strong enough to justify the phrase. "Form a conduit" is not similar to "throw a party" at all. The latter is clear and common place. The former is ambiguous, jargony, and has nothing to do with "extracting". For what it's worth, I don't like "activate remotes" either.

Quote:
Rubric wrote:
What happens at 31 seconds? I assume the power fails, and you do not get a card.
Once you've invoked your power (and it isn't zapped), then it's mandatory to look through the targeted area and take a card. So if you run out of time, then you just have to grab something.

Oh okay. Obvious now that I think about it.

Quote:
Rubric wrote:
when does the clock start, who keeps track,
this burden needs to be borne by the rules, not each effect that uses a timer.

Yeah, I'm sure "the rules" will get right on that. Maybe it'll be in the next FAQ update.

Quote:
In my experience, nobody enforces this in real time. When a deal is running long, somebody usually just says "okay, it's been more than a minute; make a decision now" and the guy makes a decision now.

I have certainly been in games where people enforced deals in real time, often without announcing they were doing so. It's annoying, but when you're trying to negotiate a deal, you don't have time to explain table manners to them. For deals, it can be resolved by the next game. With a specific alien, the "next" game could be years away.

Anyway, I guess that's all nit-picking. The time limit is needed and should work fine most of the time.



The Warp wrote:
Ace: Can definitely lose his power. Choosing to be this alien is a big gamble, but that's part of his charm.

It's interesting to see an alien with such a strong incentive to regain his power if it is lost.


Quote:
Anyway, there's a good chance we'll see Judge, so "J" is probably taken care of.

Really? I like Judge, but I'm surprised. It's one of the most abusive (though under-rated) aliens ever. I had assumed it was left out deliberately.

It amounts to three or four strong powers rolled into one alien. Due to its flexibility, Judge is better than Winner, better than Sneak, and way better than most aliens that trade hands, steal cards, or get rid of bad cards.



logopolys wrote:

Wild Ace: Good Lord. I feel like this could use a little balance...

I wouldn't necessarily mind this for when Ace is in the game. But since it can come up in ANY game, it's a little concerning. It basically means that forevermore, we have to stop everyone going for Colony #4 instead of #5.

Quote:
Super Klutz: If this is the actual super, I'd take this alien out of my set and never use it. There's a reason Chaos Orb is banned in every format.

Opposite comment from above -- as a super, it only affects a very small subset of games. I don't see a problem.

 
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salty53 wrote:
Muckraker doesn't make people discard their non-encounter cards
I didn't say it forces them, I said it "gets" them to do so, in the same way that Cavalry "gets" players to invite you as an ally. It's an inducement. It induces others to dump usable cards, and it induces main players to invite you as an ally. Cosmic is full of such effects, many of which you quite rightly call "soft advantages."

I think the power does have the potential for real teeth, in its psychology. If you knock an ally out of the encounter, that player is going to want to get back in. Nobody wants to be left out of the expected foreign colony or rewards. There's a pretty strong loss-aversion psychology in most of us that makes people want to get back what has been taken away, even at a cost. (This is why people overbid on eBay; they get emotionally invested in the outcome and then overspend to make it happen.) So that player will have a strong incentive to throw away a non-encounter card, or beg somebody else on his side to do it for him. Sometimes these cards will be junk (kicker x0), but more often they will be good.

salty53 wrote:
In Muckraker's current form, there's nothing to playtest because it is strictly weaker than the already-weakish Magnet.
That seems like an a priori assumption until we know the actual impact from the discarding, and the social dynamics. Certainly there is something to playtest here; it may indeed be too weak, and/or you may not like it, but it's clearly testable, and at least more usable than something like Grumpus or Sloth (which I would have been happy to call "nothing to test").

If you have a suggestion to strengthen it without throwing the core out the window, I'm certainly amenable. Obviously it's not a powerhouse.
 
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Bill Martinson wrote:
If you have a suggestion to strengthen it without throwing the core out the window, I'm certainly amenable. Obviously it's not a powerhouse.

Keep the part about discarding non-encounter cards. Keep it as a debate theme, because that's interesting. But give the alien an actual useful purpose for this process.

The obvious change would be to win the encounter. "As a main player, when you lose, start a debate..." etc. Or maybe start the debate before cards are even revealed.


Edit: I really do like the discarding part. I could also see permanent removal of your own ships as another "debate" method, possibly for the same or different alien. That may step on Extractor's toes too much though.
 
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"It's strictly worse, but that's actually good because maybe your opponents will be dumb and will decide to shoot themselves in the foot for no reason" isn't much of a selling point. If you are the Muckraker, then I can turn your power into a more limited version of the Magnet, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Also, as currently written, the accused isn't able to discard to protect themselves. So you're not going to be trying to psyche allies into paying to remain allies - you're going to be trying to psyche main players into paying to keep their allies around. Better hope they get so attached to those four extra ships that they're willing to ditch a flare to keep them around.

If you take a zappable power and make it unzappable, you're not weakening the power by removing its ability to trick foolish opponents into wasting their Cosmic Zaps.
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shnar wrote:
"Adjacent planet" really worries me. Since ships can be aligned any way, at any time during a game, what does this exactly mean?
Rubric wrote:
"adjacent planet" doesn't work in theory. It probably usually works in practice, but I would find it annoying if players started setting up their planets across the room just to avoid this ability.
Cosmic Encounter already has a planetary adjacency requirement. Lunar Cannon, for one, needs to be placed between two adjacent planets, so the game already expects each player's planets to be in a linear or quasi-linear arrangement.

The rulebook of course screws this up (surprise), by incorrectly stating that you can arrange your planets however you like (yet the illustrations show linear arrangements).

But even more significantly, this is an important concept for keeping design space open. Allowing players to spread their planets out willy-nilly all around the table gains us nothing in gameplay terms, and eliminates all kinds of potentially cool effects that would connect two planets together somehow or move something from one planet to the next, like the old Moon Wraith moon, a concept like Jefferson's Tourist but that moved from planet to planet, the Planet Killer in my Star Trek set, the Black Hole concept that pulls in closer planets, one at a time, forcing ships to leave and take refuge on planets farther away ... and on and on. So many creative possibilities here.

So for me, it's a foregone conclusion that the FAQ or a rulesheet needs to clarify that when the rulebook says "arranging the planets however he or she likes," this really just means that you can make your line straight or curvy and you can put the differently colored planet artwork in whatever order you want; but it still has to be a clearly recognizable sequence of planets because there are a few effects that need to know what the adjacency relationships are.

Otherwise we're just throwing away design space for no good reason.

(I'm not saying Klutz can't be changed; I just want to make sure it's understood what the stakes are on FFG's linearity/adjacency screwup.)
 
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Bill Martinson wrote:
But even more significantly, this is an important concept for keeping design space open.
...
So for me, it's a foregone conclusion that the FAQ or a rulesheet needs to clarify that when the rulebook says "arranging the planets however he or she likes," this really just means that you can make your line straight or curvy and you can put the differently colored planet artwork in whatever order you want; but it still has to be a clearly recognizable sequence of planets because there are a few effects that need to know what the adjacency relationships are.

Oh okay. I'll buy that.

The movable planets have sadly been under-utilized.

And the fact that planets are also reversible has been completely ignored. There's a hook for an alien maybe. I wish the artwork had been consistent across the colors -- that could have been another hook.
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Rubric wrote:
I wish the artwork had been consistent across the colors -- that could have been another hook.
It's not consistent? I thought all the planet colors were completely solid player color on one side and a red/yellow/green/blue/grey pictures of planets on the other side.
 
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Rubric wrote:
The movable planets have sadly been under-utilized.

And the fact that planets are also reversible has been completely ignored. There's a hook for an alien maybe. I wish the artwork had been consistent across the colors -- that could have been another hook.
Agree with all of that. Unfortunately I'm not sure the color differences (whether between a "front" and a "back" or among different "fronts") will always be clearly identifiable to every player, or easy to see from across a large table, especially when a planet is covered with ships. Color-blind players might have some difficulty, but hopefully in those cases the position of the planet helps you know which one is somehow different, once it's pointed out.

I almost suggested that Vanguard could work by having the player declare a "highlight color" to indicate his vanguard planet, but the token approach is cleaner, and having a few tokens in a set adds a bullet point to the marketing sheet.

What I think I'd like to see is some kind of effect where the white-highlight planet in my system is somehow associated with the white-highlight planet in your system, and so on. In effect, we each have A, B, C, D, and E planets, and everyone's A planet is somehow related to everyone else's.

Another challenge is that it may be difficult to write this stuff elegantly ... "the planet with the same highlight color in its artwork in another player's system" ... ick.
 
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