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Subject: Session Report and resulting rules questions (long) rss

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Michael Marvosh
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Hi all,

While it's fresh in my mind, I wanted to post about our game tonight, summarize what happened, and then ask as many of the rules questions as I can remember. I know that as the judge, matters of opinion were mine to resolve, but there were mistakes I made, and in situations that I adjudicated that seemed too powerful or counterintuitive, I would like the creator's/community's opinions (my friends and I had a great postgame discussion, but it was their first time, so they could really only give impressions).

McCray set up in the command pod, with the artifact on his person, along with a fake one. He didn't understand the strategic implications of that, and I didn't notice until it was too late. He had with him his securibot and doc bot to defend and heal him. He thought that he was holing up in a secure location, not realizing the room he was in was surrounded by glass. Slavin manned the computer terminal in astrophysics and began with computer control.

Pirates did their normal pirate thing.

Phone Company was the G-men, and they started in stateroom 2 with their spacesuits donned and their trusty acid bot watching their backs. Orlov was their informer.

The two zombies started the game in the two ring sections containing the hatches to the lifts.

As the pirates deployed into the hallway, the G-men and their acid bot quickly moved into the galley, while the zombies scanned their section for the artifact, to no avail. McCray used two Snoop actions to examine the two ring segments containing the airlock to the lift cars...

RULES QUESTIONS: If Slavin had computer control, could he do a security action then freely pass control to McCray to do a second security action on the same turn? If so, are the results of the first security action made known to the player before the second action begins? Additionally, the rulebook says this about Snoop actions: "Observe everything within one station segment. Then either toggle on/off all of the segment's lights or hatch locks." This seems to imply that a snooping player gets to see the results of his snoop before having to decide whether or not to turn off the lights and lock the hatches. But that would seem to contradict the turn order, in which a player must resolve all of his actions before he can see the results of any of them. How do Snoop actions work when only one is performed? How do they work when two are performed?

The Scientist player saw the zombies in the two segments he had examined and decided to completely lock them in, sealing off all hatches to those segments.

As the judge, I anticipate that the zombies would have a rough time, so after a couple more turns when they encountered their first locked hatches, I encouraged them to negotiate their way out of their tough spot.

Meanwhile, the pirate player slowly deployed his troops into the hallway outside his cutter.

RULES QUESTION: Movement in zero-g is painfully slow. 2 MP per turn essentially means one space per turn in most situations. Having to spend one of those two movement points turning also meant that most turning was forgone; players opted to "strafe" around. This felt really weird and I wasn't sure how to handle LOS. In general, LOS during movement was difficult to interpret as a judge. Should I assume that characters automatically turn to face the direction they are moving, unless they decide to back up? It is weird to have characters moving around without changing their facing. Did we play this correctly? It took our players forever to even get anywhere in the main section of the ship.

It was pretty boring first half of the game for the pirates, slowly creeping from space to space, and finding many of the hatches locked by subsequent Scientist Snoop actions, so as he started cutting through hatches (I modified the rules of this so that subsequent torch rolls became easier to succeed on, as waiting to roll a 6 is pretty boring), so he eventually just started firing needle beams at the computer room in the ring. His rolls were ridiculously lucky, exploding one computer and causing a chain reaction that exploded a terminal. The next turn, he exploded the other terminal, which exploded yet another space, which in turn disabled the lights in the ring section containing the computer room. At this point all the other players heard was a series of explosions, and the lights on the ship flickered as one of the two critical terminals failed.

The G-men had moved on to the lower part of the other half of the ring section, and both stood at the computer terminal in the biolab, hoping to remotely activate the tech bot they noticed as they passed the machine room. Their acid bot stood guard by the door.

RULES QUESTION: Can two characters hack at the same terminal in the same turn? The G-men spent a large portion of the game doing just this.

Over the next few turns the G-men and McCray fought for control of the ship's computers. This was also not particularly interesting. Two characters would declare hacker actions in the hopes that one of them would succeed the roll. When one did, the other action was wasted, and they couldn't do anything with their computer control until their next turn. Frequently, by the time their next turn rolled around, computer control had been wrested away from them.

RULES QUESTION: The rulebook says that a hacking action is an entire action. Is that really the way it works? It seems like hacking would inevitably devolve into the Scientist player and the G-men player trying to take the computer away from each other, having to spend both characters' actions making the 50% attempt. The only way they would actually get to do a security action is if the other player got unlucky and failed a roll for a turn or two. This happened a few times, so the players got a little bit of information from snooping, but it wasn't very dynamic, and seemed pretty limiting. Did we do this right?

During the hack-war, the G-men came up with the bright idea of strapping a thermite mine to the acid bot and sending it up the hallway toward the life support room. They were, after all, wearing spacesuits, and wanted to put some pressure on the pirates and McCray.

Meanwhile, the zombies had convinced McCray to let them into the section containing the G-men. The zombie ran smack into the acid bot as it came through the recently unlocked hatch. Then the lights went out (another snoop action from McCray). The acid bot got first shot, but had to figure out what to do about the darkness first.

RULES QUESTIONS: Regarding darkness, it seems like characters can only walk and see things in their own square when in darkness. Now, zombies have IR vision, and the acid bot does as well, so they are less limited. But the rules seem to imply that they are still super limited. Their choices are that they can jog instead of walk, and can choose a single square to see into. I interpreted this to mean that it did not take an action, since that would seem silly. Was that a correct interpretation? That is, a player with IR or flashlight could choose a square, and if they saw an enemy in that square, could choose to shoot at them? But doesn't this again violate the timing rules, where map updates are not made during players' turns? Now, assuming that examining a square in the dark does not take an action and does give in-flight map updates, why is seeing in the dark so limiting? If I have IR vision, can't I see everything in my field of view relatively well? Why can I only examine one space? If I have a flashlight, won't that illuminate an entire row or cone of squares? What is the reasoning behind the counterintuitive darkness rules? Did we play them correctly?

So we decided that the acid bot had to choose a square and hope the zombie was still there after the darkness hit. The zombie was, and the acid attack lightly wounded the zombie. After this, the zombie had to find the acid bot in the dark, and got a lucky guess as to where it was standing, but after making a pact with the G-men, decided to walk past it without attacking. The acid bot continued down the hallway toward life support, and the zombie walked in the backdoor of the biolab, unbeknownst to Pruett and Osorio who were both still working away at the computer terminal (cUZ BETRAYAL!!!).

The pirates by this point had managed to cut through the hatch into the hallway, the hatch across the hallway into the phone company lorry, and the hatch in the direction of the ring section. They started to cut through the hatch to the command pod, but after some fierce negotiation which McCray backed up by having his robots in the command pod overwatch on the hatch, backed off.

RULES QUESTIONS: So overwatch is tricky. The robots were standing right behind the hatch, and wanted to overwatch on the space on the other side of the hatch. Can they do that? Target a square they can see? When the pirate player finally made it through the door (later), the overwatch went off, but here's the weird part. The hatch got opened on the pirates turn and he was informed that he was getting shot at. At the end of his turn, the hatch is supposed to close. But then I needed to resolve the overwatch fire on McCray's turn... when the hatch was already closed??? And THEN, the effects of that fire weren't even made known to the pirate player until the beginning of his next turn??? That entire time-bending scenario was tough to figure out. I ruled that the hatch remained open to resolve the overwatch fire until the end of McCray's turn, but that violates the rules, so I'm not sure I did it right.

Anyway, after not getting what he felt like was enough cooperation from McCray, the pirate player turned the cannon around to point toward the front of the ship for the first time... and noticed that the command pod was brightly lit and covered with windows, and standing in the middle of it was McCray holding two suitcase-sized artifacts! The pirate player and I deliberated for a while if there was any way for him to shoot McCray without blowing a hole in the glass and losing the artifacts to space. We finally decided that an anti-personnel shot had the ability to pass through a window, since it used the "hits to map features" rules.

RULES QUESTION: Did we play this right? Eastwood got a lucky roll and melted McCray instantly, but he had to roll a miss on the glass first (1, 2, or 3). Is this how the AP mode works? Or does it automatically break any glass the pirate player tries to shoot through?

McCray, realizing that he could not win the game (all his objectives require him to survive), had his securibot turn around a shoot a grenade at the front window of the command pod. He hit the computer, which exploded, causing yet another crazy-lucky string of chain reaction explosions down the entire left side of the command pod, blowing out the window in multiple places. The two artifacts, both robots, and the pirates who had just walked in the room through the hatch which had only immediately previously been unlocked by the G-men who had taken computer control from Slavin in the nick of time, were also blown out into space. In fact, the timing was that the overwatch attack happened from the doc bot, which lightly wounded Kyoshi, who was then killed by the computer around the corner exploding, and whose dead body was then sucked out into space. The other pirate who had been standing next to the hatch was also almost sucked out, but managed to get back through the airlock before it locked, and a good thing, too, because she had no suit. In the aftermath of this chaos, Eastwood, wearing a sneaksuit, sprinted into the command pod before the hatch locked. He managed to grab the two artifacts before they drifted too far from the ship. The doc bot, surviving the explosions and then floating in space, couldn't do anything since Eastwood was sneaksuited, despite the fact that it could see the artifacts moving around. The rest of the pirates swarmed back up the hallway and into the two spaceships.

Meanwhile, the G-men's plan to blow up the life support using the thermite mine strapped to the acid bot worked flawlessly, and only lightly damaged the acid bot. The main corridor of the Feynman filled with knockout gas, but the pirates managed to escape into their shuttles before suffering any ill-effects.

While Pruett and Osorio were hacking the console, the zombie had finally managed to sneak up right behind them. Pruett left the room, but because off how I interpreted facing changes to work (I tried to keep track of them during movement, though it was onerous and counterintuitive), he didn't see the zombie there. Stepping forward, the zombie reached for Osorio... but tripped and failed to do any damage. Osorio immediately called for help and Pruett took two steps backward and fired a single pistol shot into the zombie's head, killing it. The acid bot begain to make its way back toward the lift hatch (not realizing it was still locked).

The other zombie found a way through the hatch in the other half of the ring (I actually forgot it was locked), down the lift car, seeking pirate brains.

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention earlier. Prior to blowing out the windows in the command pod, the securibot had stepped to the computer terminal and initiated the self-destruct with the minimum delay of three turns. Everybody panicked, but the G-men managed to disable the sequence at the last moment, right before getting attacked by the zombie.

RULES QUESTIONS: Regarding the self-destruct, the Scientist's robot set it because he couldn't win the game anymore, so he figured he might as well kill everyone. The minimum number of turns' delay for self-destruct is 3, but the global updates phase immediately followed the scientist's turn. That means that everyone else only had two turns to shut down the self-destruct or get off the ship. Pruett and Osorio didn't have computer control that turn. They had to take it from Slavin, which succeeded. But then he got a chance to take it back. If he was successful, there would be no way to stop the self-destruct. Thankfully, he failed, and they succeeded in their next turn hack to shut it off. Did we time this correctly? If the self-destruct is set for 3 turns, does it really decrement in the global updates phase following the setting? It seems to give the other players precious little time to do squat about it, especially with the weird I-hack-you-hack-back rule.

With disaster averted, almost everything was done but the shouting. Orlov had boarded the phone company lorry, and when he tried to pilot it away from the station, the G-men had him play the turncoat, execute the other pirate in the shuttle with him, and then considered trying to run into Eastman who was floating on the other side of the command pod with the artifacts. But they ultimately didn't have time, as the pirate cutter was expertly piloted so the airlock lined up with Eastman's position, and he was able to climb inside easily. One quick shot from the cannon at the remaining main computer terminal in the command pod, and the shield dropped, allowing the pirates to escape while the G-men futilely tried to get to the lift car and make it to their lorry, the zombies ineffectually stumbled around in search of the brains that were no longer near enough for them to feast on, the doc bot attempted to sprint down the hallway to the engine room in a last-ditch effort to blow up the ship, and Slavin suffocated in the astrophysics lab.

The pirates, largely through McCray's ineptitude, ended up with their #1 victory condition, while the G-men only got #4. McCray and the zombies didn't accomplish any of theirs.

I posted a few questions earlier as I was reviewing, and I will recount them here briefly, and then ask a few more.

RULES QUESTIONS:

1. Zombies seem very bad. They are too slow and too few to be any kind of a threat to actually kill people, and they are even forced to spend their entire turn searching for the artifact using the built-in Geiger counter. Did we do anything wrong, or do these guys need some houserules or advanced strategies to be competitive?

2. One thing I noticed about the bug aliens is that there doesn't seem to be a way for them to ever get more than 2 on the board at the same time. Is that correct?

3. If the phone company chooses Museum, their #1 victory condition is that they capture a living alien. If the alien player chooses zombies, then it hoses that victory condition. Subduing a live zombie is so convoluted as to be impossible, with them recovering every turn. Is that correct?

4. Pretty sure we played it correctly that the securibot could activate self-destruct. Even though it says the access code key is "mechanical and does not need any skill other than hands to operate," it doesn't seem to make sense for a bot to have the thing if it can't use it.

5. The pirate cannon seems ridiculously overpowered. Being able to shoot into the command module was kind of dumb. I'm thinking of restricting it next game to only be able to shoot at the ring and the astrophysics lab, and that it can't depress its angle enough to shoot at anything on its own hull of the Feynman. But, if others agree that this is a reasonable restriction, it seems very very easy to destroy the cannon. Just start the sailmaker robot on the hull of the Feynman near the cutter, walk it around the bottom of that ship, plant a termite mine on the dome of the gun itself, and blow it up. Right? That costs McCray or the phone company all of 5 credits and removes a significant threat, and there is no counter or recourse for the pirates. Am I missing something here?


At the end of the day, it was mostly fun, though mentally taxing. I expect that to diminish with multiple plays, and really want to play again soon, so I'll push for making that happen. Now that there's the new computer app, I think I'll shoot for using that to help organize things, but I do want to figure out which things we did wrong according to the rules, which things other judges would adjudicate differently than I did, and ways to make the game feel just a little more intuitive (perhaps tweaks to the movement rules).

Thanks for reading!
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Michael Marvosh
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Had a couple other thoughts to add.

1. If the guy who played McCray comes in here, I don't want him to think that I am badmouthing his gameplay. He played fine, he just had some unfortunate assumptions about the size of the artifact and the safety of the command pod. This is at least partially my fault for not explaining that well enough at the beginning of the game.

2. While I think that the pirate cannon shooting into the command pod was dumb, it was also a way for me to break the deadlock that we had there. McCray wasn't going to let the pirates in, and the pirates weren't going to open the door, so they came up with a creative alternative solution, and I let it happen. Not sure it was a good idea, but also not sure the game would have ever ended without it.
 
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Michael Marvosh
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One more occurred to me:

Can a player do a snoop action then unlock the doors to let his own people through? The timing of a turn would suggest that no, no results of anything are put in place until after all actions are complete, but that seems weird.
 
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Andrew Busam
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Drinkdrawers wrote:

RULES QUESTIONS:

1. Zombies seem very bad. They are too slow and too few to be any kind of a threat to actually kill people, and they are even forced to spend their entire turn searching for the artifact using the built-in Geiger counter. Did we do anything wrong, or do these guys need some houserules or advanced strategies to be competitive?

2. One thing I noticed about the bug aliens is that there doesn't seem to be a way for them to ever get more than 2 on the board at the same time. Is that correct?

3. If the phone company chooses Museum, their #1 victory condition is that they capture a living alien. If the alien player chooses zombies, then it hoses that victory condition. Subduing a live zombie is so convoluted as to be impossible, with them recovering every turn. Is that correct?

4. Pretty sure we played it correctly that the securibot could activate self-destruct. Even though it says the access code key is "mechanical and does not need any skill other than hands to operate," it doesn't seem to make sense for a bot to have the thing if it can't use it.

5. The pirate cannon seems ridiculously overpowered. Being able to shoot into the command module was kind of dumb. I'm thinking of restricting it next game to only be able to shoot at the ring and the astrophysics lab, and that it can't depress its angle enough to shoot at anything on its own hull of the Feynman. But, if others agree that this is a reasonable restriction, it seems very very easy to destroy the cannon. Just start the sailmaker robot on the hull of the Feynman near the cutter, walk it around the bottom of that ship, plant a termite mine on the dome of the gun itself, and blow it up. Right? That costs McCray or the phone company all of 5 credits and removes a significant threat, and there is no counter or recourse for the pirates. Am I missing something here?




There's a whole bunch of stuff here, and I'll respond to it as I have time. To start:

1. I had some of the same kinds of reservations about the Zombies when I first played them. It seems to me that the zombies require the player to understand that their best use is as a tilt to other players, and position themselves as such. If they go it alone, they're going to get shut out.

2. Correct

3. If the pirates brought the herbivore, that's an option, too. It's not that hard to capture a zombie, though. They only regenerate one step a turn, so it's easy to keep them incapacitated once they're down... so long as you can keep an eye on them ;)

4. The section of the rules on robot skills and equipment (page 7) is what you want to review here. A robot can use any equipment it has regardless of whether it has the relevant skill.

5. I've never found the Plasma Turret particularly overpowered. As you note, it can be easy to take out if the pirates get trigger happy. In my games its use is key in negotiations, and, except for disabling systems, is only used as a last resort. After all, the pirates certainly don't want to blow the artifact into space accidentally.

I'll handle more questions as I get the chance.
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Michael Marvosh
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ambusam wrote:
There's a whole bunch of stuff here, and I'll respond to it as I have time. To start:

1. I had some of the same kinds of reservations about the Zombies when I first played them. It seems to me that the zombies require the player to understand that their best use is as a tilt to other players, and position themselves as such. If they go it alone, they're going to get shut out.

2. Correct

3. If the pirates brought the herbivore, that's an option, too. It's not that hard to capture a zombie, though. They only regenerate one step a turn, so it's easy to keep them incapacitated once they're down... so long as you can keep an eye on them

4. The section of the rules on robot skills and equipment (page 7) is what you want to review here. A robot can use any equipment it has regardless of whether it has the relevant skill.

5. I've never found the Plasma Turret particularly overpowered. As you note, it can be easy to take out if the pirates get trigger happy. In my games its use is key in negotiations, and, except for disabling systems, is only used as a last resort. After all, the pirates certainly don't want to blow the artifact into space accidentally.

I'll handle more questions as I get the chance.


Thanks so much! There is no hurry at all, and I will probably keep the discussion going as well

1. Zombie's objectives are 1) eat the artifact, 2) blah (I'll fill this in later--I'm away from my game right now), 3)blahblah (same), 4) turn 2 humans to zombies. Goal 1 is only going to be possible if they are lucky enough to start the game within a section or two of the artifact (they're too slow to move much farther than that in a game) AND the scientist is remiss in keeping them away from it (via snoop actions and locking hatches). Goals 2-4 all involve getting close enough to humans to actually attack them. This happened once in our game, and it was a fluke.

3. Here's the only way I can figure that capturing a zombie is possible, as simply as I can describe it. Turn 1, shoot zombie, K result. Zombie regenerates to S. Turn 2, walk to zombie. Zombie regenerates to L. Turn 3, shoot zombie in same space, K result. Zombie regenerates to S. Turn 4, pick up zombie body. Zombie regenerates to L (what happens when carrying the body of a character who doesn't want to be carried?). If the carry isn't an issue, then Turn 5, drop zombie body. Zombie attacks and regenerates to healthy. I must be misunderstanding some basic mechanic of the game, because as far as I can imagine there simply isn't enough time and/or actions aren't extensive enough to carry a zombie any distance at all before it regenerates to the point where it can start attacking. And they're supposed to carry it all the way back to their shuttle from the ring? That could take 40 or 50 turns with perfect shooting rolls!

5. Thanks. I think we had a particularly bad combo of trigger-happy pirate and recalcitrant mad scientist, which just resulted in a negotiations breakdown. In your games, what parts of the ship can the turret shoot?
 
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Andrew Busam
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More answers:

RULES QUESTIONS: If Slavin had computer control, could he do a security action then freely pass control to McCray to do a second security action on the same turn? If so, are the results of the first security action made known to the player before the second action begins? Additionally, the rulebook says this about Snoop actions: "Observe everything within one station segment. Then either toggle on/off all of the segment's lights or hatch locks." This seems to imply that a snooping player gets to see the results of his snoop before having to decide whether or not to turn off the lights and lock the hatches. But that would seem to contradict the turn order, in which a player must resolve all of his actions before he can see the results of any of them. How do Snoop actions work when only one is performed? How do they work when two are performed?

There’s nothing I see in the rules about having to resolve all actions before seeing the results of any of them. Did I miss something, or do you see that somewhere? The only thing I see in the turn order is that map updates based on movement are placed after that is complete.

On page 5 under actions it says that each character completes their action entirely before another character takes their action. This would mean that when the player takes their Snoop action they get the results, then can chose to turn on/off lights and/or lock doors, then the next character can act.

Since computer control can be freely given, and it does not require an action to do so, passing it off to another character who meets the requirements after taking your Snoop action would be fine.


RULES QUESTION: Movement in zero-g is painfully slow. 2 MP per turn essentially means one space per turn in most situations. Having to spend one of those two movement points turning also meant that most turning was forgone; players opted to "strafe" around. This felt really weird and I wasn't sure how to handle LOS. In general, LOS during movement was difficult to interpret as a judge. Should I assume that characters automatically turn to face the direction they are moving, unless they decide to back up? It is weird to have characters moving around without changing their facing. Did we play this correctly? It took our players forever to even get anywhere in the main section of the ship.

I don’t think you did anything wrong here. The rules make no mention I can see about a character having to face the direction they’re moving. Their LOS would still be that front arc.

If the players are finding turning slow, maybe they should have invested in some suits with thruster packs.

Also keep in mind that characters can run in zero-g. You only need one character with LOS to walk or jog to get an update for an area at the end of the turn, so have one do that and run the rest into position.


RULES QUESTION: Can two characters hack at the same terminal in the same turn? The G-men spent a large portion of the game doing just this.

Sure

RULES QUESTION: The rulebook says that a hacking action is an entire action. Is that really the way it works? It seems like hacking would inevitably devolve into the Scientist player and the G-men player trying to take the computer away from each other, having to spend both characters' actions making the 50% attempt. The only way they would actually get to do a security action is if the other player got unlucky and failed a roll for a turn or two. This happened a few times, so the players got a little bit of information from snooping, but it wasn't very dynamic, and seemed pretty limiting. Did we do this right?

You played it right. Keep in mind, though, that one character could hack to take control, and pass it to another character who could use it in the same turn.

If there keeps being a back and forth, that seems like a great time for some negotiating. If the two parties are spending their time hacking, they’re not likely watching their back. “Hey Zombies, can you pop into the computer room and see if you find anyone delicious?”


RULES QUESTIONS: Regarding darkness, it seems like characters can only walk and see things in their own square when in darkness. Now, zombies have IR vision, and the acid bot does as well, so they are less limited. But the rules seem to imply that they are still super limited. Their choices are that they can jog instead of walk, and can choose a single square to see into. I interpreted this to mean that it did not take an action, since that would seem silly. Was that a correct interpretation? That is, a player with IR or flashlight could choose a square, and if they saw an enemy in that square, could choose to shoot at them? But doesn't this again violate the timing rules, where map updates are not made during players' turns? Now, assuming that examining a square in the dark does not take an action and does give in-flight map updates, why is seeing in the dark so limiting? If I have IR vision, can't I see everything in my field of view relatively well? Why can I only examine one space? If I have a flashlight, won't that illuminate an entire row or cone of squares? What is the reasoning behind the counterintuitive darkness rules? Did we play them correctly?

Like above, I don’t see any turn order contradictions here. Map updates as defined in the turn order are only for changes due to movement and facing changes. The flashlight and IR abilities (which are not actions) would give immediate information.

As to why the rules work that way, we’ll have to see if the designers weigh in. It’s your game, though. If it makes more sense to you to house rule something, go for it. Just be sure to keep it consistent, otherwise players get annoyed. ;)

RULES QUESTIONS: So overwatch is tricky. The robots were standing right behind the hatch, and wanted to overwatch on the space on the other side of the hatch. Can they do that? Target a square they can see? When the pirate player finally made it through the door (later), the overwatch went off, but here's the weird part. The hatch got opened on the pirates turn and he was informed that he was getting shot at. At the end of his turn, the hatch is supposed to close. But then I needed to resolve the overwatch fire on McCray's turn... when the hatch was already closed??? And THEN, the effects of that fire weren't even made known to the pirate player until the beginning of his next turn??? That entire time-bending scenario was tough to figure out. I ruled that the hatch remained open to resolve the overwatch fire until the end of McCray's turn, but that violates the rules, so I'm not sure I did it right.


There’s no restriction on what squares can be targeted for opportunity fire, so picking one outside of LOS would be fine. The character needs LOS to the target in order to fire on anyone entering, though, so there would need to be a situation like your hatch example to make it worthwhile.

The timing of when the die rolls are made do not necessarily have to be when the action occurred narratively. The designers can weigh in here again on their intention, but I’ve always assumed that in a case like you describe the firing would take place when the door opened. The fact that dice are only rolled on the firers turn are a necessary conceit of the game to prevent the Judge from having to run between multiple players in a single turn.

So, narratively: Bot watches the door to fire on whoever opens it. Pirate opens the door, and the bot fires.

Mechanically: Bot declares Opportunity fire target on the opposite side of the door. Pirate opens the door, is informed that they are interdicted due to being fired upon. Bots turn, the combat rolls are resolved. Pirates turn, they are informed of the results of the shots that interdicted them last time.


RULES QUESTION: Did we play this right? Eastwood got a lucky roll and melted McCray instantly, but he had to roll a miss on the glass first (1, 2, or 3). Is this how the AP mode works? Or does it automatically break any glass the pirate player tries to shoot through?

I can see how confusion could arise from the way this is described in the rules. The way I read it, though, is that you can shoot through glass, but you need to penetrate it to hit anything beyond. So, it would be the opposite as to how you played it. The pirate could target McCray, but would need to roll 4, 5, or 6 to penetrate the glass (also resulting in the command pod depressurizing). Rolling 1, 2, or 3 would mean the glass dissipated the plasma and nothing happened.

RULES QUESTIONS: Regarding the self-destruct, the Scientist's robot set it because he couldn't win the game anymore, so he figured he might as well kill everyone. The minimum number of turns' delay for self-destruct is 3, but the global updates phase immediately followed the scientist's turn. That means that everyone else only had two turns to shut down the self-destruct or get off the ship. Pruett and Osorio didn't have computer control that turn. They had to take it from Slavin, which succeeded. But then he got a chance to take it back. If he was successful, there would be no way to stop the self-destruct. Thankfully, he failed, and they succeeded in their next turn hack to shut it off. Did we time this correctly? If the self-destruct is set for 3 turns, does it really decrement in the global updates phase following the setting? It seems to give the other players precious little time to do squat about it, especially with the weird I-hack-you-hack-back rule.

On the first Global Updates phase after an action is taken to initiate the self destruct is when the timer starts. So, that first Global Update is “3”, then the first round of player turns, “2”, then second round of turns, “1”, third round of turns, detonation. Each player gets a number of turns equal to the timer to act.
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Michael Marvosh
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I'll read it more in-depth soon, but knee-jerk reaction is that boy did I misunderstand the rules. I thought that all the results of player actions were only revealed to the player after they had completed all of their actions for the turn. As I read page 4 more carefully, it looks like I extrapolated a little too much from the interdiction and final map updates rules.

I'll need to give this some more thought...


Thank you so much for your help! I hope that we can continue the discussion, and that I can learn more through a PBEM or another F2F game soon!
 
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Michael Marvosh
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If there are certain actions that can get you information during your turn that you didn't have at the beginning of it, then can you react to that information?

Another way to ask the question: do players have to declare all of their characters' actions before starting to resolve any of them?

The scenario I'm imagining is this:

McCray is in the command pod with computer control. Slavin is in the astrophysic lab, facing in such a way where an enemy walked in the door the previous turn without him noticing.

McCray uses his action to Snoop the astrophysics lab, and the enemy is placed on the map. Can Slavin then choose to turn and attack? Or would he have had to declare his action previously (a security action, for example) and therefore be bound by that declaration?
 
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Michael Marvosh
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To answer my own question, the rules say this:

"The player must tell you what action he is attempting with each character, then resolve them in any order."

So it sounds like characters have to pick which action they're going to do with the information they have at the beginning of their turn, then just squirm if they learn something that means they made a bad decision.
 
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Andrew Busam
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Happy to help. I'll pass on a few more thoughts:

You've correctly identified that all actions are declared, and then resolved one at a time. This has a few ramifications.

1. In an earlier post you ask about Snoop actions and unlocking doors for your team. This would be possible as long as you chose to resolve the Snoop action before the movement action for the character that tried to open/move through the door.

2. It would not be possible to have one character Snoop their own space, then have another character turn around and shoot someone behind them. That second character would already have their action specified by the time the Snoop action resolves. As a Judge I suppose you could allow the character to specify their action as "Slavin is turning around and shooing at anyone there", but that seems counterproductive as a tactic.

To address the actions necessary to capture a 'live' zombie, there are a number of things that could be done. There's no rule that I see that says you can't shoot an S status character. Have the person carrying the zombie use the Move/Attack action every turn to keep the zombie at 'K'. Team up for better chances of that working. Otherwise, think outside the box. Can you lure a zombie into a shuttle or the command pod and launch it? Can you fly the pirate cutter around, blow a hole in the hull near a zombie, then fly to where they are drifting and pick them up?

Speaking of the cutter; technically, it can fire anywhere if you maneuver it around. Stick a pilot in the chair, detach from the station, and you can hit just about anything you want. Keep in mind the area you can maneuver is limited while the shields are up. As far as what it can hit while docked in its initial position, I usually say that anywhere along the hub, the dorsal side of the exterior, and the 'right' side of the ring is fair game. The command pod is a big dome of glass, so that's no problem. The only things you couldn't shoot are the glass section of astrophysics, the drive room, and the 'left' side of the ring, since those targets would require you to pilot the cutter around to the other side of the station, which can't be done while the shields are up (though it's possible once they are down and the cutter can get around the ring).
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Michael Marvosh
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I just worked my way through another problem I had with shooting things that aren't visible at the beginning of the turn.

On page 7 of the rulebook it says "attack actions are only allowed against targets already on the map from the player's Initial Map Update."

So the only way that I can think to actually accomplish "shooting at anyone there," as it were, would be to shoot at a wall or other object that you anticipate the character to be in LOS of, hope to miss your target, and subsequently "accidentally" hit the character. Counterproductive, indeed.
 
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Michael Marvosh
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ambusam wrote:
RULES QUESTION: The rulebook says that a hacking action is an entire action. Is that really the way it works? It seems like hacking would inevitably devolve into the Scientist player and the G-men player trying to take the computer away from each other, having to spend both characters' actions making the 50% attempt. The only way they would actually get to do a security action is if the other player got unlucky and failed a roll for a turn or two. This happened a few times, so the players got a little bit of information from snooping, but it wasn't very dynamic, and seemed pretty limiting. Did we do this right?

You played it right. Keep in mind, though, that one character could hack to take control, and pass it to another character who could use it in the same turn.


Ok, so as I think about this more, there are some ways in which I get more confused. This is a perfect example.

If I have to declare all my actions before resolving any of them, then what you suggest seems like it wouldn't be possible.

If I have two characters and I need to maximize my chances of taking computer control, then I have to say that they will both hack. I can't declare an action that one of the characters can't do in the anticipation that he will be able to do it once his turn rolls around, like doing a security action when he doesn't have computer control. Wouldn't that be the same thing as shooting at someone who isn't there at the beginning of the turn?

How/why is hacking different? And if I can declare a security action without having computer control at the beginning of the turn, then what happens if the hacking roll fails? Does the other character's action just fizzle?


The more I think about this, the more it seems like we're proposing to treat some actions one way, and some the other, and that's very confusing.


I look forward to seeing how we handle stuff in the PBEM game!
 
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I think a lot of your confusion will be cleared up by actually playing the game. Although I don't know that there's anywhere that addresses this directly, many actions actually done in the game are anticipatory in nature. There's nothing I see that prohibits you from declaring a characters action with an anticipated requirement.

Consider something simple like moving through a hatch. If you have two characters who move through the same hatch in a turn, who pays the movement points to open it? If you could not anticipate that one character would open it, and another would move through, then both characters would have to pay. Obviously that doesn't make sense. It's implicit in the rules that one character can anticipate another opening the door for them.

There's no reason hacking can't work the same way. One character declares a hacking action and a passing of control, the other character declares a security action contingent on the first characters action. If the first characters action fails, so will the second characters.

If you want to maximize your chances of successful hacking, go ahead and declare that to be both characters actions. If the first succeeds, you've wasted the seconds action.

Also bear in mind that this game is part RPG in nature, and puts the onus of handling novel situations on the Judge. Just about anything can happen in this game. Running it isn't simply just applying rules. There's art as well as science here.

 
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Oh, if you haven't read it yet, check out this thread:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1076723/losevaship-cannondes...

It has some of the powers that be commenting on some of the things we've been talking about. I'm only minority contradicted in a couple instances, but I think the end results are more or less the same. ;)
 
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Thanks, I had read that thread. There's definitely some familiarity needed to get used to these things, I'm just trying to minimize my bumbling during games by figuring things out now. I know it's an RPG, but consistency (as you pointed out earlier) is important to everyone enjoying themselves, and the best way I know of to deliver consistency is to have a consistent mental model about what's going on, and I don't have that right now.

In fact, in re-reading the rulebook just now, I noticed in the game example that, apparently, map updates are made each time a walking or jogging character moves a single map square! I'll explain later why this caught me entirely by surprise.

Page 12 says, "Since she [Osorio] is not running, she can see about her during movement and the Judge places the Artifact counter in its proper place on her map as soon as she enters the doorway. Osorio is pleased, not realizing she has discovered a fake, and moves to pick it up."

While the mechanic of getting map updates real time as characters move makes sense to me, this example makes me question the existence of the "Final Map Update" entirely! If counters are placed (and therefore I assume removed) during movement of characters, then what would be the situation where there would need to be a step to do that? Only if the Judge forgot (which is likely, but shouldn't need a rule, right?).

I think that portion of the turn is largely what is causing all the confusion for me. It seems that some things are intended to be updated as close to real time as possible, while others are deferred to the end of a players actions, and I cannot figure out based on reading the rules which are which. So I realize I've been trying to come at this deductively. Instead, maybe I should get a better understanding of what the designers intended in their design, so that I can draw conclusions based on induction--which would be conclusions I would feel much more confident in.
 
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Hm, interesting. I know I've read the example section before, but likely only once, and certainly not thinking about rules interpretations at the time.

I've never played it as the example describes on page 12, since that's the opposite of what is stated in the earlier rules. To re-iterate my interpretation, what is stated in the rules is that map updates based on movement or facing changes (except running) are only done during the Final Map Update.

(Note: Based on Neal's comments in the other thread, incidental information, such as the results of a Snoop action, are meant to be conveyed verbally immediately, then followed up with token placement in the Final Map Update)

I know that the rules document has gone through a number of iterations and versions. As I understand it, the original "The Artifact" game was more or less a labor of love by the Eklunds, and the rulebook was revamped by Neal Sofge when the kickstarter was done to publish it a few years ago. It could be that the example description is a hold-over from something that existed in the earlier version, but was dropped in the re-vamp? That's my best guess.

If either of the Eklunds or Sofge wants to set us straight on how they intend it to be played, I'm all ears. Otherwise, I'm inclined to dismiss the example section as a lesser authority than the preceding rules sections.

I'll also throw out there that some of these rules exist in order to help streamline physical gameplay. Restricting the placement of tokens on a board to certain times is part of this (helps to speed things up and keep things organized). When playing with the online client many of these design worries are gone. I suspect there's plenty of design space there to revisit some rules. If the online client gains some popularity, maybe it will be worth the effort to revamp the documents again, or at least create some kind of official addenda.
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Neal Sofge
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I'm sorry I haven't had time to respond to this, but your questions are long and my time is usually short. I'm thinking it will take at least an hour or two to unsnarl the answers, especially since I wrote those rules over two years ago. Please drop me a GM if I haven't gotten back to this thread by April 16.
 
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Drinkdrawers wrote:
While I think that the pirate cannon shooting into the command pod was dumb, it was also a way for me to break the deadlock that we had there.


I realize I'm super late to this, but this was not dumb.

I just wanted the deal to go smooth and when that doesn't happen I tend to put bullets (or... lasers or whatever this was) into those who are cooperatively challenged. I sat there attempting diplomacy for two rounds after it became obvious he wasn't going to sell me the artifact before I freed McCray's electrons.
 
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Michael Marvosh
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KBTibbs wrote:
Drinkdrawers wrote:
While I think that the pirate cannon shooting into the command pod was dumb, it was also a way for me to break the deadlock that we had there.


I realize I'm super late to this, but this was not dumb.

I just wanted the deal to go smooth and when that doesn't happen I tend to put bullets (or... lasers or whatever this was) into those who are cooperatively challenged. I sat there attempting diplomacy for two rounds after it became obvious he wasn't going to sell me the artifact before I freed McCray's electrons.


For what it's worth, I only meant mechanically/thematically dumb
 
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Drinkdrawers wrote:
For what it's worth, I only meant mechanically/thematically dumb



What else is a game, except mechanics and theme?
 
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Michael Marvosh
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KBTibbs wrote:
Drinkdrawers wrote:
For what it's worth, I only meant mechanically/thematically dumb



What else is a game, except mechanics and theme?


Ignorant newbie GMs awkwardly telling stories!
 
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