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Subject: Musing on the Seeker rss

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Eldritch Cheese
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I had been thinking on the various questions and types of questions that could be asked by the Seeker, and am not sure how exactly to interpret some of the possible questions. When the precise wording is important, I will use the FFG. I'm building up to my question, so I apologize if this feels like an overly wordy question.

1. Questions about unrelated, but known, information. "Are we currently in the state of Vermont?" "Are we playing Cosmic Encounter?" These are simple yes-or-no questions that would fall under the description of possible

2. Current information of the game. "Do you have an attack card higher than a 15?" "Do you have a Negotiate card?"

3. Questions about the intentions of the player. "Will you play an encounter card higher than 20?" "Will you play a Negotiate?" From the power description, this sort of question is explicitly allowed, and the answer given must be "abided by".

4. Questions about the asker's intent. "Will I play a Negotiate?" "Will I use my power as Chronos?" "Will I touch my nose within 15 seconds after you answer my question?" These are out of the control of the player, and so can be answered in any manner. In addition, these do not "involve the player's intentions", and so are not binding.

5. Combinations of 1-3, using boolean logic. "Do you have an attack card higher than a 15, or will you play a Negotiate?" Yes, one of those two is true. No, neither of those is true. "Are you in the state of Vermont and going to play a negotiate card?" Yes, both of these are true. No, one of those is false. These are still yes-or-no questions, and so would be allowed.

6. Combinations of 1-3 using xor. I put this in a separate category because it is will be important coming up. "Do you have an attack card higher than a 15, xor will you play a Negotiate?" Yes, exactly one of those statements is true. No, zero or two of those statements are true. This is a trickier question, but is still formed using only boolean logic, and so would be allowed. These can also be rephrased as "Is exactly one of the following statements true? You have an attack card higher than 15. You will play a negotiate."

7. Combination of 3 and 4, using the method of 6. "Is exactly one of the following statements true? I will play a kicker. You will accept my offer in negotiations."

It is this last form that I am unsure about. The question does "involve the player's intentions", and so it is a binding question. In addition, the truthfulness of the question can be controlled by the player. This is easiest to demonstrate in the following example.

I, Seeker, as main player, ask the question in #7. The answer "Yes" is given. I do not play a kicker. I play Emotion Control to force a negotiation. In order to make the answer be correct, you must accept whatever offer I give. Alternatively, the answer "No" is given. I play a kicker. In order to make two of the statements be true, and thus have the answer of "No" be correct, you must accept whatever offer I give.

This feels very overpowered, since you can force the opponent to take any action during the encounter, and entirely against the spirit of the rules, but I can't find a way around it. The question involves the player's intention, and is something that the player can control. I don't think that an "I don't know." answer would be acceptable, since otherwise "I don't know." or "I haven't decided yet." would be acceptable answers to questions of type 3.
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Ido Abelman
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The seeker is probably the most "open-ended" of all of FFG's aliens. You can get as creative as you want with your questions. Your question is a very creative idea - I don't think it's overpowered.
A smart opponent won't answer "yes" but "no" and then you need to play a kicker and an emotion control - two rare and powerful cards. And what can you get out of an accepted offer? The maximum is getting a colony and cards and giving away your bad ones. Very powerful but it can be dealt with.
 
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Shawn Garbett
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The more clauses one strings together in logic to get an answer, the less solid information you get from an answer.

Example:

"Will you play your flare card on this encounter and an attack card greater than 20?"

If Yes, then you actually know something very specific, if No, then the player could still play a flare card or an attack card greater than 20 but not both.

Change it to an 'or'?

"Will you play your flare card on this encounter or an attack card greater than 20?"

If No, then you actually know something very specific. If Yes, then you don't know if it's both, a flare card or an attack card.

Change it to an 'xor'?

"Will you play your flare card on this encounter exclusively or an attack card greater than 20?"

If No, then one knows it's neither. If yes, only one will be played but one wouldn't know which.

If you add another logic clause, then it gets even more diluted it's hard to tell. However, there are those instances when the power can nail something down that's essential. Then there's those times the other player throws a curveball, and one is caught with pants down, because your question revealed information to the other player just by asking it!
 
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Roberta Yang
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Yes/no questions can be extremely powerful if you construct them cleverly. The logician/mathematician Smullyan had a puzzle about a cleverly-constructed question which, if you agreed to answer "yes" or "no" and were permitted to answer either truthfully or falsely, would force you to pay him 2 million dollars (or otherwise submit to any demand he cared to name).

As a simple example here, where the opponent must tell the truth, "Will you [play a Negotiate and accept my deal] if and only if you answer 'yes' to this question?" forces the opponent to play a Negotiate (if able) and accept your proposed deal (if any).

Personally, I think questions like these, which force the victim to do something regardless of their answer, are outside the purview of the Seeker's power. For example, the one I constructed makes the Visionary strictly worse than the Seeker.
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Eldritch Cheese
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CBpegasus wrote:
The seeker is probably the most "open-ended" of all of FFG's aliens. You can get as creative as you want with your questions. Your question is a very creative idea - I don't think it's overpowered.
A smart opponent won't answer "yes" but "no" and then you need to play a kicker and an emotion control - two rare and powerful cards. And what can you get out of an accepted offer? The maximum is getting a colony and cards and giving away your bad ones. Very powerful but it can be dealt with.


I picked that particular phrasing as an example. The following question would have the same effect, but with a much lower cost.

"Is exactly one of the following statements true? I will touch my finger to the tip of my nose within 15 seconds of you giving your answer. You will play a negotiate or morph card and accept the deal that I offer in the negotiations."

The cost is then zero to force the other player to follow any set of directions for the rest of the encounter.

CyberGarp wrote:
If you add another logic clause, then it gets even more diluted it's hard to tell. However, there are those instances when the power can nail something down that's essential. Then there's those times the other player throws a curveball, and one is caught with pants down, because your question revealed information to the other player just by asking it!


This is true. However, the difference here is that the question depends on future information. The answer must be decided when the question is asked, but the meaning of the answer is decided by the Seeker afterward. This, in essence, allows the Seeker to force the other player to answer "yes" to any question, while still maintaining the form of a yes-or-no question.
 
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Eldritch Cheese
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salty53 wrote:
Yes/no questions can be extremely powerful if you construct them cleverly. The logician/mathematician Smullyan had a puzzle about a cleverly-constructed question which, if you agreed to answer "yes" or "no" and were permitted to answer either truthfully or falsely, would force you to pay him 2 million dollars (or otherwise submit to any demand he cared to name).

As a simple example here, where the opponent must tell the truth, "Will you [play a Negotiate and accept my deal] if and only if you answer 'yes' to this question?" forces the opponent to play a Negotiate (if able) and accept your proposed deal (if any).

Personally, I think questions like these, which force the victim to do something regardless of their answer, are outside the purview of the Seeker's power. For example, the one I constructed makes the Visionary strictly worse than the Seeker.


I certainly agree that it is against the spirit of the power. I'm trying to figure out if there is any way to prevent this within the rules as written, rather than houseruling it.
 
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Roberta Yang
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"Don't be a dick" shouldn't be considered a houserule. I think the line between a proper question and an abusive question is pretty visible and not very ambiguous.

But no, the power as written does not include a "no asking questions with logical conjunctions that cause the other players' future actions to dictate the opposing main player's actions, no asking questions that refer to themselves or to the opponent's answer to themselves, no asking questions with logical conjuctions that cause hidden information not yet available to the opposing main player to dictate the opposing main player's actions, no reaching across the table and punching your opponent in the face" clause.
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Greg Filpus
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To throw a small wrench into things, one of my examples of a tricky question (To Magician, "Will you choose the card I put down on the left?") is nasty for the same reason as the XOR examples in the OP. But I think most people would agree it's legit.

The thing about Seeker balance-wise is that if you don't use some sort of tricky questions, it's just Oracle lite or Mind lite. Granted, those are two really strong powers, and the ability to choose which one you want to use in this situation or be Oracle as an ally makes it not strictly weaker. It just starts to feel like Plant, where it only really shines with certain powers to work against.
 
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Just a Bill
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This kind of rules-lawyering is what makes a power like Seeker stop being fun, and leads some to put it up high on the time-out shelf.

You don't need a house rule to prevent the XOR question here. "Will I play a kicker?" is not a valid question in the first place; and it doesn't magically become valid when you make it more complex by wrapping a Boolean expression around it. This is simply an attempt to pass off as a question something that is really a command.

If a Seeker asked me that question, I would decide that my intention is that he is going to play a kicker and I am not going to accept his offer, and I would answer "yes." Regardless of whether he then plays a kicker or not, it was my intention at the time that he would, and that I would reject his offer, and I must abide by these intentions. The power neither requires nor allows me to recalculate those intentions later based on new information; I must simply abide by them. (Thus his question has been reduced to "Will you accept my offer?") So then I simply reject his offer. Now, if it was a good offer, I might propose a new offer of my own that may be substantially similar to his offer, or possibly even functionally equivalent (but I'm pretty confident I can make it demonstrably non-identical), and then we see whether he accepts my offer.

So two can play the sophistry bullshit game. But I'd rather play Cosmic Encounter.

The purpose and intent of Seeker are to gain information about what the other player intends to do; not force him to do something he doesn't intend to do. It isn't the Puppetmaster or the Bodysnatcher or the Rules Lawyer.

I guess if you have a player who can't use the power as it was intended, then you can remove the power from the game or remove the player from the group. I generally put this kind of nonsense in the same category as the guy who thinks he's brilliant when he writes down an Eon Schizoid win condition of "one foreign colony and stick your fingers in all of my ears and nostrils." If some ding-dong persisted in that kind of nonsense around here, after a while he just wouldn't get invited back.
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Ken H.
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salty53 wrote:
As a simple example here, where the opponent must tell the truth, "Will you [play a Negotiate and accept my deal] if and only if you answer 'yes' to this question?" forces the opponent to play a Negotiate (if able) and accept your proposed deal (if any).


I don't see it. Am I missing something? Why can't I just answer "no" to that question?



EldritchCheese wrote:
"Is exactly one of the following statements true? I will touch my finger to the tip of my nose within 15 seconds of you giving your answer. You will play a negotiate or morph card and accept the deal that I offer in the negotiations."


I think it's implied that the person answering is only obligated to tell the truth about what he knows, or what his own intentions are for the current encounter. Whether the Seeker will touch his nose isn't one of the things he has to be honest about. It's no different from asking "Am I going to play an Attack card?" Answer: How should I know? The obligation to tell the truth is waived when it's impossible for the target to know the true answer.

Of course, that opens a whole other can of worms, which has been discussed at length elsewhere. Like "Are you going to use your power?" Answer: How should I know -- I might get zapped.
 
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Eldritch Cheese
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Bill Martinson wrote:
This kind of rules-lawyering is what makes a power like Seeker stop being fun, and leads some to put it up high on the time-out shelf.

You don't need a house rule to prevent the XOR question here. "Will I play a kicker?" is not a valid question in the first place; and it doesn't magically become valid when you make it more complex by wrapping a Boolean operation around it. This is simply an attempt to pass off as a question something that is really a command.

If a Seeker asked me that question, I would decide that my intention is that he is going to play a kicker and I am not going to accept his offer, and I would answer "yes." Regardless of whether he then plays a kicker or not, it was my intention at the time that he would, and that I would reject his offer, and I must abide by these intentions. The power neither requires nor allows me to recalculate those intentions later based on new information; I must simply abide by them. So I then reject his offer, and (if I like) propose a new offer of my own that might be substantially similar to his offer, or possibly even functionally identical (but I'm pretty confident I can make it demonstrably non-identical). Now we see whether he accepts my offer.

So two can play the sophistry bullshit game. But I'd rather play Cosmic Encounter.

The purpose and intent of Seeker are to gain information about what the other player intends to do; not force him to do something he doesn't intend to do. It isn't the Puppetmaster or the Bodysnatcher or the Rules Lawyer.

I guess if you have a player who can't use the power as it was intended, then you can remove the power from the game or remove the player from the group. I generally put this kind of nonsense in the same category as the guy who thinks he's brilliant when he writes down an Eon Schizoid win condition of "one foreign colony and stick your fingers in all of my ears and nostrils." If some ding-dong persisted in that kind of nonsense around here, after a while he just wouldn't get invited back.


This isn't something that I would use in a game. However, I would like to have an answer within the rules as they are written to forbid this behavior. That way, there are clearly defined limits to each power. If you need to fall back on the metarules of "We are playing a board game, not debating logic.", then the rules of the game are not clearly defined.

To respond to your interpretation, the wording doesn't say that the player must abide by the intention. The wording says that the player must abide by their answer. Since you answered a certain way, regardless of how you intended the answer, you must abide by it.

Rubric wrote:
salty53 wrote:
As a simple example here, where the opponent must tell the truth, "Will you [play a Negotiate and accept my deal] if and only if you answer 'yes' to this question?" forces the opponent to play a Negotiate (if able) and accept your proposed deal (if any).


I don't see it. Am I missing something? Why can't I just answer "no" to that question?


Oh, certainly you can answer "no" to it. However, that gives the exact same result. To rephrase the question, you could ask "If I were to ask you to play a negotiate card, would your answer to that question be the same as your answer to this one?" If you say yes, then you will play a negotiate, and if you say no, you will play a negotiate.

Rubric wrote:
EldritchCheese wrote:
"Is exactly one of the following statements true? I will touch my finger to the tip of my nose within 15 seconds of you giving your answer. You will play a negotiate or morph card and accept the deal that I offer in the negotiations."


I think it's implied that the person answering is only obligated to tell the truth about what he knows, or what his own intentions are for the current encounter. Whether the Seeker will touch his nose isn't one of the things he has to be honest about. It's no different from asking "Am I going to play an Attack card?" Answer: How should I know? The obligation to tell the truth is waived when it's impossible for the target to know the true answer.

Of course, that opens a whole other can of worms, which has been discussed at length elsewhere. Like "Are you going to use your power?" Answer: How should I know -- I might get zapped.


And that is why I think the "I don't know." answer doesn't make sense, because it would be a valid response to any questions about intentions.
 
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EldritchCheese wrote:
If you need to fall back on the metarules of "We are playing a board game, not debating logic.", then the rules of the game are not clearly defined.

Oh, you can be sure that the rules of the game (and the cards) are not clearly defined; they are full of holes all over the place.

EldritchCheese wrote:
To respond to your interpretation, the wording doesn't say that the player must abide by the intention. The wording says that the player must abide by their answer. Since you answered a certain way, regardless of how you intended the answer, you must abide by it.

Hmm, quite right. (I knew it was going to be a mistake to indulge in the double-sophistry side-trail.) So I'll do what I should have done earlier and refer back to the solution I stated the last time this discussion came up:

1. Some of the questions proposed for Seeker simply are not valid yes-or-no questions.
2. When Seeker asks an invalid question, an allowed answer is "That question is not valid" or "I don't know" — whichever is truthful*.
3. Seeker should not ask invalid questions, since this wastes his power.

The example question was, "Is exactly one of the following statements true? I will play a kicker. You will accept my offer in negotiations." This is not a valid yes-or-no question, because it cannot be answered with only a "yes" or a "no." It involves information the interrogee does not have about intent the interrogee cannot control. In this case, the interrogee is free to answer "I don't know" or "the question is not valid."

Note that the power says "If your question involves the player’s intentions during this encounter (such as 'Are you going to play a negotiate this encounter?'), he or she must abide by his or her answer." It does NOT say he has to abide by his answer if the question involves your intentions. The kicker part of the question is about Seeker's intentions, and therefore does not force the interrogee to decide/abide. What it does do is make the question not a yes-or-no question.

Now, others will argue (and have argued) that the interrogee is forbidden to say anything other than "yes" or "no," but this is demonstrably false. If a smart-aleck Seeker asks Bob, "are you going to cheat on your girlfriend with Linda after your normal Thursday cheat with Sally," unless Bob has actually been cheating with Sally he simply cannot answer "yes" or "no." He has to answer "I have not been cheating at all" (or whatever is truthful*) or even just "the question is not valid."

* Note that Seeker's power does not actually limit the interrogee to answering "yes" or "no"; it requires him to answer truthfully. However, it does require Seeker to ask a valid "yes-or-no" question. Thus it is Seeker's responsibility to craft a question that can be answered only "yes" or "no." Once we understand this difference (that the boolean limitation constrains the question, not the answer), we can resolve the problem by recognizing that not all questions are valid yes-or-no questions, and the interrogee can thus answer "that question is not valid" if this answer is truthful.

You won't find this level of detail in the rules, just as you won't find dozens (if not scores) of other necessary things in the rules. If you are looking for an answer that exists entirely within the written rules and does not rely on humans to use their brains, you won't find it. It sounds like you're playing with players who refuse to listen to reason unless you can show them a paragraph that specifically forbids their exploitative interpretation. If so, then unfortunately you're probably in for more unpleasant arguments like this.
 
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EldritchCheese wrote:
"If I were to ask you to play a negotiate card, would your answer to that question be the same as your answer to this one?" If you say yes, then you will play a negotiate, and if you say no, you will play a negotiate.

Not a valid question, and clearly outside the scope of Seeker's design intent. Anybody who refuses to see that is just being obstinate. We can make these kinds of nonsense questions all day long.

If somebody wants to argue that the rules don't say he can't ask logically invalid questions, point out that the rules also don't say he can't punch you in the face, or use your back yard as a toilet. They don't even say he can't steal your cards when you aren't looking, or put one of your ships down the garbage disposal. At some point, we have to be able to expect players to act like responsible adults without needing to cite the rulebook.

Rubric wrote:
The obligation to tell the truth is waived when it's impossible for the target to know the true answer.

I don't think truthfulness is waived. The truthful answer is "I cannot answer that question." This is the whole point.

Rubric wrote:
Of course, that opens a whole other can of worms, which has been discussed at length elsewhere. Like "Are you going to use your power?" Answer: How should I know -- I might get zapped.

No, this is not the same thing. Seeker is clear on this point: That question involves your intentions, so you must decide and abide.

EldritchCheese wrote:
And that is why I think the "I don't know." answer doesn't make sense, because it would be a valid response to any questions about intentions.

No, it would not. You don't get to answer "I don't know" about your own intentions, because in that case Seeker expressly requires you to abide by a decision. You only get to answer "I don't know" if Seeker is stupid enough or obnoxious enough to ask a question that you cannot know the answer to and cannot make an intention-decision about. It's actually quite simple.
 
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GregF wrote:
To throw a small wrench into things, one of my examples of a tricky question (To Magician, "Will you choose the card I put down on the left?") is nasty for the same reason as the XOR examples in the OP. But I think most people would agree it's legit.



As Magician, I would then decide to flip a coin to decide which card I will pick and then truthfully answer Seeker's question with, "I do not know."
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willyum wrote:
GregF wrote:
To throw a small wrench into things, one of my examples of a tricky question (To Magician, "Will you choose the card I put down on the left?") is nasty for the same reason as the XOR examples in the OP. But I think most people would agree it's legit.
As Magician, I would then decide to flip a coin to decide which card I will pick and then truthfully answer Seeker's question with, "I do not know."

At first I thought willyum was just being a smart-aleck, and I was about to agree with Greg, but upon further reflection I believe willyum is correct.

Magician's power literally forces him to choose one of Seeker's two cards at random; thus flipping a coin, or "shuffling" the two cards, or using any other method to make a randomized decision is not only allowable but technically required. Magician cannot commit to choosing the card on the left because he would then be violating the requirements of his own power. Trying to force Magician to make a non-random card choice is like trying to force Macron to send four ships to the gate; Seeker lacks the authority to do either.

So this would be, once again, Seeker asking a question that is not a yes-or-no question: the interrogee cannot know the answer and cannot form advance intent.
 
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Bill Martinson wrote:
EldritchCheese wrote:
To respond to your interpretation, the wording doesn't say that the player must abide by the intention. The wording says that the player must abide by their answer. Since you answered a certain way, regardless of how you intended the answer, you must abide by it.

Hmm, quite right. (I knew it was going to be a mistake to indulge in the double-sophistry side-trail.) So I'll do what I should have done earlier and refer back to the solution I stated the last time this discussion came up:

1. Some of the questions proposed for Seeker simply are not valid yes-or-no questions.
2. When Seeker asks an invalid question, an allowed answer is "That question is not valid" or "I don't know" — whichever is truthful*.
3. Seeker should not ask invalid questions, since this wastes his power.

The example question was, "Is exactly one of the following statements true? I will play a kicker. You will accept my offer in negotiations." This is not a valid yes-or-no question, because it cannot be answered with only a "yes" or a "no." It involves information the interrogee does not have about intent the interrogee cannot control. In this case, the interrogee is free to answer "I don't know" or "the question is not valid."



I'm not sure there, since I would interpret "yes or no" question as any question which can be answered using either "yes" or "no". There doesn't seem to be any easy way to define what a "valid yes or no" question is, nor does the card refer to the allowed questions as such.

Bill Martinson wrote:


Note that the power says "If your question involves the player’s intentions during this encounter (such as 'Are you going to play a negotiate this encounter?'), he or she must abide by his or her answer." It does NOT say he has to abide by his answer if the question involves your intentions. The kicker part of the question is about Seeker's intentions, and therefore does not force the interrogee to decide/abide. What it does do is make the question not a yes-or-no question.



You are correct that the rules do not state whether the player is bound when the question involves the Seeker's intentions. However, when stating that questions involving the player's intentions are binding, it does not say the questions must solely involve the player's intentions. The question involves the player's intentions; it just involves more than that as well.

Bill Martinson wrote:


Now, others will argue (and have argued) that the interrogee is forbidden to say anything other than "yes" or "no," but this is demonstrably false. If a smart-aleck Seeker asks Bob, "are you going to cheat on your girlfriend with Linda after your normal Thursday cheat with Sally," unless Bob has actually been cheating with Sally he simply cannot answer "yes" or "no." He has to answer "I have not been cheating at all" (or whatever is truthful*) or even just "the question is not valid."

* Note that Seeker's power does not actually limit the interrogee to answering "yes" or "no"; it requires him to answer truthfully. However, it does require Seeker to ask a valid "yes-or-no" question. Thus it is Seeker's responsibility to craft a question that can be answered only "yes" or "no." Once we understand this difference (that the boolean limitation constrains the question, not the answer), we can resolve the problem by recognizing that not all questions are valid yes-or-no questions, and the interrogee can thus answer "that question is not valid" if this answer is truthful.


I think that I like part of this answer, but will say it slightly differently. (Note that my semantic interpretation is different from yours, though the in-game effect is very similar.)

The Seeker may ask any question that is capable of being answered with "yes" or "no". However, other answers may also be possible, and the responder is not limited to responding only with "yes" or "no". The responder needs only to respond truthfully, and to answer the question. Therefore, a question such as "Are you going to play a negotiate if and only if you answer 'yes' to this question?" could be answered with "yes", "no", or "I am not going to play a negotiate.", as each of these could be a truthful answer. However, whatever answer is given by the responder must be abided by.

Bill Martinson wrote:


You won't find this level of detail in the rules, just as you won't find dozens (if not scores) of other necessary things in the rules. If you are looking for an answer that exists entirely within the written rules and does not rely on humans to use their brains, you won't find it. It sounds like you're playing with players who refuse to listen to reason unless you can show them a paragraph that specifically forbids their exploitative interpretation. If so, then unfortunately you're probably in for more unpleasant arguments like this.


My group tends to accept shenanigans when they come up the first time, then afterward search for interpretations of the rules that prevent it for the next time. Something that is fun to see the first time is not fun at all later on, and that provides a good balance between "I wonder how creatively I could use this power." and "I can't use this power at all because anything decent would go against the spirit of the rules.". This didn't come up in a game, but in a discussion on how one would stop a Miser+Machine combination in a double-power game.
 
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Mi Myma
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Why is there no Word Games Forum or Subdomain?
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There should be a Word Games Subdomain, or at least a Word Games Forum!
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Stupid.

#4.

If you ask a question about your own intent (Am I going to play a Negotiate?), or information that the player couldn't possibly have (Do I have a Negotiate in my hand?), the player is perfectly justified in answering, "I don't know". And if you insist on asking such stupid questions, I would consider it a blown opportunity to use your power. Too bad for you.

And if you ask a question that is a Boolean expression including such a #4 type question, they would still be justified in answering "I don't know" if that's what the expression comes to. And you wasted your power for this encounter. Your fault, your loss.

If the Boolean expression can be answered despite the Stupid Clause, then the player still has to answer it, but it's essentially the same as having asked the question without the Stupid Clause. For example: "Is at least one of the following statements true: You have an N in your hand; I have an N in my hand?" The answer is either "Yes" - meaning the player does have an N, or "I don't know", meaning he doesn't. The same information would have been gained if the Seeker had just asked "Do you have an N?"

If the Seeker asks a #7-type question, the answer must always be, "I don't know", giving the Seeker no useful information and wasting his power for that encounter. Proceed with the encounter and hope the Seeker player learns from his mistake.
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Roberta Yang
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Bill Martinson wrote:
Magician's power literally forces him to choose one of Seeker's two cards at random; thus flipping a coin, or "shuffling" the two cards, or using any other method to make a randomized decision is not only allowable but technically required. Magician cannot commit to choosing the card on the left because he would then be violating the requirements of his own power. Trying to force Magician to make a non-random card choice is like trying to force Macron to send four ships to the gate; Seeker lacks the authority to do either.

On the other hand, "at random" in this game is usually defined as "without looking at the cards' faces". At the very least, it should be legal to ask "IF exactly one of the two cards I play is from the Reward deck, THEN will you choose the card on the left?"
 
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Just a Bill
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No, I said "oh, brother," not "go hover."
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I still don't think it's right to try to force a commitment to "left" or "right" when something is required to be a random. But you're right that random selections do have one exception (albeit unwritten) for card-back differences, so I would think Seeker could ask, "If I play one or more reward-back cards, will you choose a reward-back card?" In that case it seems valid for Magician to decide-and-abide, since it is a choice he will have available when the time comes.
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I agree with what you said: as in law, you need interpretation, because all clauses can't be written. There is no "judges" in cosmic so interpretation must be a concerted decision between all player and should take into account: the spirit of the power, the general ruling of cosmic, is it balanced, is it fair and most important, is it fun ? If you can get the people playing with you to agree on what seems to be the best ruling and can't have a player accept the ruling from the others, then you are playing with the wrong people.
I kind of like the idea that the first time it's fun and creative but the second time it's not. We also play a lot that way saying "ok for this time but from now on it should be played that way".
We had a discussion about the virus in my gaming group: does the value of cards count for zero if it's multiply with zero ships ? The idea was fun but it would just make the virus impossible to play. We decided that it shouldn't. This is our jurisprudence at least
For the seeker, I can see that you can allow tricky questions just for the heck of it and then restrict it in order that the power doesn't become unbalanced when it's just not fun anymore for the players playing with the kantian laws abiding seeker...
 
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Traditionally, Virus multiplying its encounter card by zero when it is a main player with zero ships in the encounter is one of the few small drawbacks to what is, by appearances at least, a very potent combat power. Since 1977, it's been an important part of the power, and is clearly part of the design intent. In my many games with the Virus, at least, it's been necessary to the give-and-take of Virus for it to have this Achilles' Heel. It doesn't cripple Virus, or make it a significantly less useful power, it just increases the value (for the Virus) of not losing a single home colony, and creates for Virus the always interesting choice of cosmic zapping itself. In short, it does what all the best powers and effects in Cosmic do, it creates unique and dynamic moments of decision-making for every player.

(Of course these are just my opinions and you are welcome, true to the spirit of the fan community, to omit or change any game effect as you do desire.)
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It's good to know ! It very felt that the virus was over with the zero ship rule but it seems interesting indeed. We should try it after all, if the virus player know the drill beforehand he should be able to manage his ship accordingly. The point made is precisely that the group should decide, not the rulebook... And let fun guide us all !
 
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Just a Bill
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No, I said "oh, brother," not "go hover."
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Moshimon wrote:
We also play a lot that way saying "ok for this time but from now on it should be played that way".

We've done that many times. It's a good compromise: The player gets rewarded for setting up something clever "in the moment" and doesn't have the rug pulled out from under him by the jury, but we still get to avoid legitimizing an ongoing loophole that will become tedious in future games.

This is also a useful thing when teaching newbies. If the guy legitimately thought he could play Mobius Tubes on any player's encounter, and his plans would be crushed because of the oversight, then just let him do it. Once. After that, everyone will remember the correct usage, and it's better if the newb had a positive experience and made his combo work.
 
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In fact, I've realized talking with you guys that we got a very basic rule wrong from the beginning. I checked because of the virus discussion, as it seemed unplayable for me with the zero ship clause: the reason is that we launch ships only from home colony ! And it seems you can launch from any of your colony home or foreign.

I can't really explain why we got this one wrong but it seemed logical that you have to launch from your system. And the reason why we kept with this rule is that it didn't break the game, as weird that it may sound.

We will try the real rules next time but if you want some comments on this "variant":
-you have to be very careful with the number of ships you put in offense as you don't only risk to lose them in the warp: the ships in the colony are as dead. So we always try to send as little ships as possible. It's quite interesting as you are always weighting the cards you have to just put one ship less. And we all know that in this game, one ship is often all you need to make the difference.

-at the end of the game, pretty much all the planets are stripped down with all players having colonies with dead ships on it. It makes the offense job easier in the end game, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

- we usually lost our power in the end games. Which is also interesting as the final blow is using the last ships of all players.

We will go back to the official rule but I just wanted to let you know that it's playable this way and doesn't feel broken as we never felt that we should change the rule. Still, I can see know that some aliens that we felt weak, strong or unbalanced would be now be seen differently by my group as we play the game correctly. More fun in perspective in fact !
 
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Andy Leber
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After rereading this thread again, I feel like weighing in on Seeker. Specifically on if you an force an opponent to commit to a yes or no answer against Magician (for example).

I was initially in favor of forcing the Magician to choose the left/right in advance. Although I felt it might have been something that was outside of the scope of the original designs intentions, I kind of liked the chaos, and the way it changed the way the opponent had to behave.

But the more I think about it, I'd have to say Bill convinced me otherwise. It got me thinking about other scenarios that just seemed uglier and uglier. For example: "Are you going to take the far left card in my hand during compensation". It just seems to go too far allowing you to destroy things that are supposed to be "random".

I guess I was initially thinking of the Magicians choice as a different "type" of random, compared to compensation, for example. But whether it is or it isn't, you can't really allow one without the other, and I really dislike the slippery slope it creates.

/two cents.
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