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Subject: Cosmic Dominion update rss

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Nathan McCullough
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http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_news.asp?eidn=4838
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Roberta Yang
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In this version, Aristocrat's power looks like it's usable multiple times per encounter. Is that intended?
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Roberta Yang
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Ew, Tourist is just stupid. "Sometimes you randomly receive a free foreign colony, nobody can interact with this in any way."
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Shane Brewer
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Yee haw! I'm liking everything I see so far. The previewed aliens explore such different design space than anything before. And the ship variants? Coolness!

Congrats to the team but especially, Bill, Jack, and Jefferson.
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Mil Myman
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This announcement does not fill me with confidence.

Aristocrat left off an essential "once per encounter" clause. So as written, he can indeed cycle through as many unused flares as he wants until he finds one he likes. Every time he's a main player.

Tourist can just sit his cruise ship in a system where he has no colony until that system inevitably comes up in destiny, when he gets a free colony. Since there are three destiny cards of each color, and only one with a Hazard warning, it's basically: Park the cruise ship in a system where you don't have a colony, and you'll get a colony. It should have been called the Squatter.

The art for the Explorer does not in any way suggest an explorer. And it gets to encounter four empty planets during the game. With a +1 on the first one, a +2 to +5 on the second, +3 to +9 on the third, and +4 to +13 on the fourth. And that bonus applies to all encounters whether on a newly-discovered planet or not. Compare to Human.

The art for the Pirate misses the joke in the history, yet again - just like Mayfair did. And its power isn't really much like a pirate - it's more like the Kidnapper.

The Bride seems pretty much useless. The Bride and the Spouse can show each other their cards and trade a card each encounter, but the Spouse has no incentive to do so. They can ally with each other without being invited, which by itself is an extremely weak subset of the Parasite. And then at some point, the Bride can take half the cards from the Spouse - once during the game, for each player. So the Spouse can really screw over the Genius or many other card-based powers - of which there are many - without ever being a particularly useful power itself.

So 2 good powers (one requiring an erratum) out of 5, so far.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Hm, Aristocrat's power will be tricky if you play with hidden powers...

-shnar
 
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Roberta Yang
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Explorer is a pretty clear case of "We wanted an alien who makes new planets appear but couldn't figure out how to make it an actual power so screw it here's some arbitrary combat +'s".
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Mil Myman
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In a 5-player game, the Tourist has about a 27% chance of getting a free colony on the very first Destiny Phase of the game.
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K
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Tourist can just sit his cruise ship in a system where he has no colony until that system inevitably comes up in destiny, when he gets a free colony. Since there are three destiny cards of each color, and only one with a Hazard warning, it's basically: Park the cruise ship in a system where you don't have a colony, and you'll get a colony. It should have been called the Squatter.


But moving when no hazard warnings came up is Mandatory, and seems the colony-gaining is tied only to no hazard warnings coming up, after Tourist makes (Mandatory) move. So you shouldn't be able to just park and get a colony that way
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SirHandsome wrote:
But moving when no hazard warnings came up is Mandatory, and seems the colony-gaining is tied only to no hazard warnings coming up, after Tourist makes (Mandatory) move. So you shouldn't be able to just park and get a colony that way

It doesn't really matter that you can't park, Destiny targets random systems so bouncing around randomly and getting random colonies isn't all that different from sitting still and getting random colonies.
 
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Mil Myman
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SirHandsome wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Tourist can just sit his cruise ship in a system where he has no colony until that system inevitably comes up in destiny, when he gets a free colony. Since there are three destiny cards of each color, and only one with a Hazard warning, it's basically: Park the cruise ship in a system where you don't have a colony, and you'll get a colony. It should have been called the Squatter.


But moving when no hazard warnings came up is Mandatory, and seems the colony-gaining is tied only to no hazard warnings coming up, after Tourist makes (Mandatory) move. So you shouldn't be able to just park and get a colony that way

Right. I missed that part. But it makes very little difference. You move so that you're next to a system where you have no colonies, as much as you can - or better yet, between two such systems! That way, when no hazard warning comes up, you have a 2-out-of-N chance of getting a free colony.

Just because a power is in a "new design space" doesn't mean it's a good power.
 
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Just a Bill
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Aristocrat left off an essential "once per encounter" clause. So as written, he can indeed cycle through as many unused flares as he wants until he finds one he likes. Every time he's a main player.

According to your intepretation, all kinds of alien powers could be used an unlimited number of times. For example:

Brute could threaten any number of opposing players, repeatedly.
Citadel could play any number of citadel cards each encounter.
Cryo could store multiple cards per turn.
Dervish could rotate players' hands over and over again to see them all, then rotate them some more so he can keep the one he likes the best.
Fido could take and offer all the discarded cards (and his Super flare would be useless).

... and that's just looking at the Optional aliens in the first few letters of the alphabet. There are plenty more examples.

Clearly this is not the intent. I've maintained for some time now that there must be an unwritten rule that alien powers (and other reusable game texts) can be used once per relevant context unless the text specifies otherwise. The relevant context on Aristocrat is "any time before encounter cards are selected," so you can use the power once during that window.

Now it's tempting to think that "once per encounter" should have been thrown onto the text for clarity, but this can actually be counterproductive. The more that phrase gets printed on cards unnecessarily (meaning the required unwritten rule already covers it), the more it leads players to incorrectly conclude, as you do, that the lack of this phrase means an effect is infinitely repeatable. FFG doesn't use "once per encounter" very often at all: I think it appears on only seven published alien powers, and on at least three of those it is actually redundant with the unwritten rule.
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Jack Reda
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I am not sure there is a simple formula for what makes a good power. I would suggest that it might entail being fun to play. I have seen many players enjoy playing tourist, and I think that it presents an interesting challenge for other players to deal with.

It does operate in a different design space, as well as being a little outside of the box. I think Cosmic has plenty of room for outside of the box design, and it's a pretty big box to begin with.
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Just a Bill
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salty53 wrote:
Explorer ... screw it here's some arbitrary combat +'s".

Explorer's bonuses are based on the exclusivity of the colonies he holds, and this then affects a variety of decisions around the table like alliance invitations, redrawing one's own destiny color, and which planet to target as the offense.

Lots of aliens have a combat bonus, but few of them can have that bonus reduced through these kinds of player decisions. In that regard, I see more general interaction consequences with Explorer than with things like Citadel, Fodder, Fury, Human, Industrialist, Merchant, Neighbor, Porcupine, Reserve, Sapient, Warrior, and the like.

Most of those other aliens have smaller or slow-build bonuses that can't be directly messed with a whole lot. Explorer, by comparison, has a faster/larger bonus that others can hack back down through the course of establishing colonies (the thing they need to do anyway to win the game).

It's not the finest alien ever designed, but it's not a "punt," either.
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Mil Myman
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Bill Martinson wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Aristocrat left off an essential "once per encounter" clause. So as written, he can indeed cycle through as many unused flares as he wants until he finds one he likes. Every time he's a main player.

According to your intepretation, all kinds of alien powers could be used an unlimited number of times.
....

Nevermind. You're right. I withdraw my objection.
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Mil Myman
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The Warp wrote:
I am not sure there is a simple formula for what makes a good power.

I'd go even farther and say quite strongly that there is not.

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I would suggest that it might entail being fun to play. I have seen many players enjoy playing tourist, and I think that it presents an interesting challenge for other players to deal with.

I have seen people enjoy a lot of things. So what?

The power gets extra colonies based on luck, with a chance of losing ships to the warp, also based on luck. Yes, that might be a challenge for other players to deal with, just like with Relic, or with any player regardless of power who gets a lot of foreign colonies - that's just the basic challenge of the game in general - stopping other players from winning.

In the case of a power like Relic or Tick-Tock or most others, there are some things other players can do to prevent those powers from getting their gains. They can try to gain additional cards, through compensation, rewards, etc., and try to slow down their hand depletion to prevent or delay Relic getting free colonies. They can avoid making deals or work for offensive wins to slow down Tick-Tock. Such is not the case with Tourist.

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It does operate in a different design space, as well as being a little outside of the box. I think Cosmic has plenty of room for outside of the box design, and it's a pretty big box to begin with.

Agreed. But that doesn't mean that every "outside the box" idea is a good one.

I'm not saying Tourist is a bad power. I'm just saying it's not a good power - or at least doesn't seem like one to me, so far.
 
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Roberta Yang
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Bill Martinson wrote:
According to your intepretation, all kinds of alien powers could be used an unlimited number of times.

The aliens you list all activate at a specific moment in the encounter, so it's easy to infer that that moment only comes once. Can you think of any aliens with an unstated once-per-encounter that can be activated any time you want across a several-phase-long timespan? The only multi-phase aliens I can think of can be used as often as the player wants.

Bill Martinson wrote:
and which planet to target as the offense.

You target the planet where the defense has the fewest ships. Which, hey, is probably the planet where the defense never had a home colony in the first place. It doesn't change the decision at all.

Bill Martinson wrote:
Lots of aliens have a combat bonus, but few of them can have that bonus reduced through these kinds of player decisions. In that regard, I see more general interaction consequences with Explorer than with things like Citadel, Fodder, Fury, Human, Industrialist, Merchant, Neighbor, Porcupine, Reserve, Sapient, Warrior, and the like.

Half of these are by design pure combat powers, and some of the others' combat bonuses are pointlessly tacked-on too: Porcupine wants to be Sultan, and it would be a much more interesting if it just outright were the Sultan instead.

The Warp wrote:
I am not sure there is a simple formula for what makes a good power. I would suggest that it might entail being fun to play. I have seen many players enjoy playing tourist, and I think that it presents an interesting challenge for other players to deal with.

It does operate in a different design space, as well as being a little outside of the box. I think Cosmic has plenty of room for outside of the box design, and it's a pretty big box to begin with.

Nope sorry "sometimes you randomly gain colonies nobody including you can interact with this in any way" is dumb and boring, hth
 
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Jack Reda
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I definitely agree that not every outside of the box idea is a good one... I think this one is good enough to warrant inclusion, and there were certainly other fans who agreed.

Plenty of aliens and other effects depend a lot on luck. Even Disease has to get lucky with destiny in order to use its power to gain a colony.

As subtle as Tourist's interactions are, there is still stuff going on. It isn't simply a matter of "wind it up and watch it go with no decision making at all".

Tourist has to keep weighing options. Moving clockwise or counterclockwise is a decision, and you have to think about the chances of getting into a system more likely to show up in destiny.

You also have to weigh taking a postcard each turn you don't get to disembark. This whittles down your ships, and you need to track how many hazards have come up, because each one will zap a ship from your cruiseliner. Is taking a random card worth it? Depends on what you have in your hand, what you know others have in theirs, or whether it increases the chances of putting them in a weak position. With all the aliens that gain cards (especially with a new reward deck in play), there are even more incentives to take a card rather than hold out for the colony.

In any case, there are few aliens that every player loves, or hates. Even Grumpus has at least one person who likes it.

Tourist isn't a heavyweight, but I do like having it in the set. It represents a very different style of CE, and for me does have appeal.
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The Warp wrote:
In any case, there are few aliens that every player loves, or hates. Even Grumpus has at least one person who likes it.

Glad to hear you've set high standards for yourself
 
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Jack Reda
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I doubt any expansion will reach your personal standards. Fortunately for me, this expansion meets mine.
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Barney Bustoffson
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It's true! When you mention Grumpus by name, Grumpus gets conjured.

So, we have

Angler (guess based on box art)
Aristocrat
Bride
Explorer
Joker (guess based on token art)
Love
Pirate
Tourist

22 more!
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Jordan Browne
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And we have

Alchemist
Doppelgänger
Ace (based on the power description on the partially covered alien sheet)

so, 19 more!
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
The art for the Pirate misses the joke in the history, yet again - just like Mayfair did.

This makes me a little sad.
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Just a Bill
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salty53 wrote:
Can you think of any aliens with an unstated once-per-encounter that can be activated any time you want across a several-phase-long timespan?

If for "several" you will accept two, then Seeker comes to mind; it's optional, multi-phase, and inferrably single-use.

salty53 wrote:
Bill Martinson wrote:
and which planet to target as the offense.

You target the planet where the defense has the fewest ships. Which, hey, is probably the planet where the defense never had a home colony in the first place. It doesn't change the decision at all.

When I draw another player's color, It makes me prefer the undefended home planet with the Explorer foreign colony over the one without, and it changes the alliance dyanmics between me and Explorer. When I draw my own color, it gives me a greater incentive to have a colony in my own system rather than redraw, and a greater incentive to make Explorer the defense over some other player who has colonized my system.

I'm not saying these are the most profound decisions ever; but they are non-trivial.

Some of us find value in it, some of us don't; and that's fine either way. But I don't agree that your dislike for it equates to a demonstration that it's arbitrary or capitulatory. Not all aliens are for all players. I don't like Trickster or Horde one bit, but after some reflection I can understand who they were designed for and what they were intended to do, and see that they accomplish those goals. The goals don't resonate with me, but they do for others.

salty53 wrote:
"sometimes you randomly gain colonies nobody including you can interact with this in any way"

You and I usually see eye to eye on a lot of things, but you're really losing me here with some absolute statements that seem (to me) self-refuting. I wonder if for some of us there is negative momentum carrying over from Cosmic Storm? I certainly still feel that disappointment, and still (if I'm honest) hold portions of that product in contempt.

This expansion is not Cosmic Storm. It ain't perfect, and there's no way that everything in it is going to satisfy you or Phil or me — but it is its own animal, and nothing in it was done cavalierly or apathetically. Details were agonized over, often unreasonably so (as my very patient colleagues can attest). There were designs that made the final cut that appealed to Jefferson but not Bill, and Bill but not Jack, and every other permutation — but ultimately we all agreed that each chosen design offered value to a segment of the player base, had its place in the cosmos, and would contribute to making a diverse product that appealed to the broad spectrum of Cosmic Encounter players.

Imagine a set chock-full of only the kinds of aliens that Bill loves, or Roberta, or Jefferson or Phil or Jack or even Peter. Pick any one ardent, capable player here on BGG to have final control over the selection of all 30 aliens, and I guarantee you'll end up with a crappy product. I think Peter did a very smart thing in forming a selection committee of individuals with diverse needs and interests who could work together.

Cosmic Encounter doesn't need Grumpus, but it does need a few Tourists and Hordes and Tricksters just as it needs a few Viruses and Parasites and a few Minds and Gamblers. You and I don't have to like the randomness for it to have value to the game overall.
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Just a Bill
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Bustoffson wrote:
So, we have...
numerounoarnold wrote:
And we have...

I'm not confirming or denying any of your speculations, but I'll point out that FFG's article also mentioned one more alien that neither of you listed.
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