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Chaosmos» Forums » General

Subject: some random thoughts after my first 2 plays rss

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Robin Zigmond
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Hi everyone,

I was very excited to finally receive my Kickstarter copy of Chaosmos on Saturday - well worth the wait I've played twice already (once with 2 and once with 3, the 2p was mainly a learning game as I didn't think this would be a very good 2p game, but it worked well), both with the "first game" setup, and love it - although I don't think anyone else I've played it with has loved it as much (although no-one seemed to dislike it either, so hopefully I can persuade them to play again).

Anyway, I wanted to just put down a few thoughts I had - one is a rules question, the others relate to strategy (unfortunately I can't put this in both "rules" and "strategy" forums, so "general" it is):

1) The rules question relates to the Signal Jammer card, and its ability to ignore the effects of traps. Clearly the player who triggers a trap but then plays Signal Jammer gets to stay where he is, look in the envelope and take/leave any cards he wants, just as if the trap wasn't there. But does the trap still get discarded? I was surprised that I couldn't find anything in the rules that would address this. In the end I decided it probably shouldn't be discarded, because on the player aid card it lists discarding the trap as one of the effects of triggering it. Is this correct? And if so, would the player be able to choose (secretly of course) to deactivate or reactivate the trap when he leaves, or of course to take it into his hand instead?

2) Actually, I now remember another rules question, relating to combat. The rules specify that you go on playing combat cards until your total becomes higher than your opponent's - but what if you can only make it a tie? Since the rules do include the possibility of a tie in combat (in which case it seems nothing happens, no spoils get taken and no-one gets banished, and the defender stays in control of the envelope), I presume this is a small inaccuracy in the printed rules and that you can stop and "pass" when you reach a tie? (And presumably play more cards next round if you want. Perhaps your opponent next plays a +2 weapon, allowing you to play the counter.)

3) On to strategy matters now - and weapons in particular. I really like the balance of these, on the whole. In my first game I regarded the "+1" weapons as basically junk - why should I use an extremely valuable hand space for such a marginal benefit? My wife showed me my error in the very first game - the mere fact that you can hold on to them and play them every combat if needed, as well as the fact that they have no counters, makes them pretty useful. The +2s are of course even better, but you have to watch very carefully for where the counters are!

But the other permanent weapons - namely the Imps and Spores - didn't see any play in either of my games, and I can't really see that either would make a viable plan. OK, the Spores might just - if you have all 3 then they are +2 each, which makes them similar to the "advanced" weapons. But they still have a counter (albeit not as devastating a one), and it will counter them all at once. If you have just 2, then they're just a +1 each, but one which has a counter, which makes them worse than any of the basic +1s. And one spore is of course just a dead card.

As for Imps, I really think we must be missing something here (as I've discussed it with my wife, and she couldn't see any additional incentives to use them). Again there are only 3, and these don't even scale in proportion to the number you have. Each is simply a +1, and in addition it has a counter. To make them seem good, you'd need all three, plus the Imp Food - but that's still more than half of your hand taken up, and you can bet that if you win a combat this way your opponents will be doing everything they can to find the Imp Immunity, which will render you powerless in battle against that player. I can see this perhaps being a good option for the alien who can hold 9 cards but can't use the +2s (not that we've played with him yet) - but even then you have to collect 4 different cards to make this worth, and is there time for this in a game with so many vital cards and a clock which is forever ticking down?

Admittedly I haven't yet looked at the 14 cards which we're told to remove for the first game - does one of these boost Imps at all? And if not, what am I missing which makes Imps - and indeed Spores - a good combat strategy?

4) More of a random musing than a genuine strategy question - but I wonder how many games end without the Temporal Displacer (or whatever it's called) being played as the final act? Both of my games have ended this way, and it seems just such a vital card to have in your hand as the clock gets below about 12, whether you have the Ovoid or not. The only way I can see it not getting played to end the game is if the player who has it is not able to get his hands on the Ovoid before time runs out. (I won yesterday's 3p game despite not having even seen the Ovoid until I won it in combat with the clock on 7, and then played the Temporal Displacer which itself I'd only found a few turns back. I was playing Gazmae, but the ability to steal 2 cards wasn't really relevant at that point ) Even as a noob, and not knowing where the Ovoid was (although I was pretty sure one of the other players must have it in their hand), it seemed obvious to me that I had to take the TD into hand as soon as I found it. I'd be a little sad if one card was such an "autokeep" as that would seem. (Except for the Ovoid itself, and even there I feel I can leave the Ovoid out of my hand until pretty late, if I know where it is - even if another player gets it I can build up my combat strength and attack them, whereas letting another player get the TD just feels like taking the game outcome out of your own hands.)

Thanks again to the guys at MirrorBox for the really interesting game (too early to call it great, but I think it may turn out that way!), and for any interesting discussions which may result from this post. And apologies for the long post
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Lance Codarin
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1) the trap gets discarded. thematically the trap still activates as normal but it doesn't affect you who played the signal jammer

2) there's no reason at all to tie unless you are atturnuk who wins ties or you can't afford to lose... if you, by playing a card, enter in a tie it's up to the other player decide what he wants: he can still go up and then you can counter continuing the "bidding" or he can accept the tie and nothing happens (an effect of this is he can't attack you again in his turn... if you were the attacker instead in his turn he can attack you)

3) the "set weapons" as i call them are actually the most powerful weapons in the game, at least if you have 2 or 3 of them (that's because if you have a complete set EACH ONE of them is worth +2). knowing where is the counter is part of the strategy and if you can get a hold of the counter you can basically steamroll quite everything (of course there's a counter to this too)... also you could lock the immunity in a safe if you don't wanna carry it with you... also keep in mind that this game incentivates changing your hand and adapting so if you see a player holding a spore immunity... you can either give up your spores and get other weapons or attack another player get his weapons and then come back at him and steal the spore immunity...

4) Vlachos could destroy that card if he wants to prolong the game... but i think this card was INTENDED to speed up the game and ADD a layer of tension towards the last 10 turns: for example you know who has the ovoid but you don't know whatever he has temporal displacer or not... so at this point you can try exploring the planets in which he landed before or you can attack him and try to steal it... the choice is yours!

also you could use the landing flags to help your game... i would never play without them!

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Robin Zigmond
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Hi Lance, thanks for the reply

Darklaw90 wrote:
1) the trap gets discarded. thematically the trap still activates as normal but it doesn't affect you who played the signal jammer


That would certainly make sense, and be a bit "cleaner", but I don't see a basis for it in the rulebook or in the wording of either the signal jammer card or the trap card. Would be nice to get an official ruling on this from one of the MirrorBox guys.

Quote:
2) there's no reason at all to tie unless you are atturnuk who wins ties or you can't afford to lose...


That's my point though, of course you would rather win, but drawing is a lot better than losing - especially late on if you've got the Ovoid. What if your only way to get ahead is to play a +2 which your opponent might have the counter to? (Of course, you risk the opponent being happy with the tie and ending it there, but the assumption is that you are mainly just trying not to lose.) And of course you might simply not have anything else to play to give you the lead. I don't think there's any non-obvious strategy here, I'm only asking because, if you read the printed rules strictly, it would not be allowed to play cards to tie and then end your combat turn - you have to either beat the opponent's current total, or pass and accept defeat. I'm sure this is not what's intended, but again it would be nice to have official clarification.

Quote:
3) the "set weapons" as i call them are actually the most powerful weapons in the game, at least if you have 2 or 3 of them (that's because if you have a complete set EACH ONE of them is worth +2).


That's true for the Spores, but not the Imps. They are all simply +1, or +2 if you have the Imp Food (but that's another card that you have to both find and then carry around in your hand). Since there is a counter to them, the Imps in particular don't strike me as being worth having - even if you can find the Imp Food plus all three.

Quote:
knowing where is the counter is part of the strategy and if you can get a hold of the counter you can basically steamroll quite everything (of course there's a counter to this too)... also you could lock the immunity in a safe if you don't wanna carry it with you... also keep in mind that this game incentivates changing your hand and adapting so if you see a player holding a spore immunity... you can either give up your spores and get other weapons or attack another player get his weapons and then come back at him and steal the spore immunity...


I understand all of that, I was just saying that both Imps and Spores don't seem to have a big enough payoff to justify all the time spend investing in the full set, and the handspace needed to keep them all, especially since an opponent just needs one card to counter your entire hand. As I already said, I think this is a particular problem for the Imps.

(While we're talking about stealing counters and the like, one particularly fun moment for me in yesterday's game was when I won a combat and had to give a card back - I stole one of the counters while handing back the very weapon in countered! He of course realised what I'd done and seemed to appreciate it )

Quote:
4) Vlachos could destroy that card if he wants to prolong the game... but i think this card was INTENDED to speed up the game and ADD a layer of tension towards the last 10 turns: for example you know who has the ovoid but you don't know whatever he has temporal displacer or not... so at this point you can try exploring the planets in which he landed before or you can attack him and try to steal it... the choice is yours!


Again, I agree and do like the tension that the card adds to the endgame - I'm just surprised at just how the entire endgame seems to revolve almost as much around that card as around the Ovoid.

Quote:
also you could use the landing flags to help your game... i would never play without them!


Funny thing, I have mentioned the landing flags to both the groups I played the game with, the one yesterday didn't seem to have much opinion, but my wife is dead against using them as she says it's supposed to be a memory game. I've tried to explain that there is already loads else to keep track of, but she seems convinced she doesn't ever want to play with them
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Matthew Austin
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In combat, you may pass at any time, including when you are tied. However, if you choose to pass when you are tied, and the other player also passes, you do not get another chance to play a card and win the combat.

Imps can be a very effective weapon when used correctly. If you leave it up to chance whether an opponent has the Imp Immunity, then you are probably not going to like them very much. However, if you can hide the Imp Immunity somewhere (preferably under a Trap or Vault), then you know all +6 combat strength in your hand is safe to play. Compare that to holding three Advanced Weapons, where you need to track down and hide all three defenses for your weapons in order to be safe.
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Brook Gentlestream
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The balance of cards in this game is self-regulating and kind of weird. On first glance, one or two of these combo-cards could feel useless but as long as you have it, no one can complete the set. That's power (and potentially control) you have over others. Likewise, it may seem weird having to collect them all to make them useful, but its not like you have to store them in your hand. You can hide them somewhere until you need them, while still denying them from other players.

Saying there are only 3 or 4 of them may not seem like a lot, but the number of cards really doesn't matter that much. It doesn't matter if there's three cards or a dozen of them - there's only about 10 places those cards can hide on the board, and you will usually visit all of those places during the first half of the game, so there's literally no way you CAN NOT achieve a full set if you want one, unless other players have cunningly denied you in some way.

If you have gone through the first third of the game without building a set, it's because you haven't been trying or because soemone has been trying to stop you -- either by hoarding them in hand, secreting them away behind traps, keeping them in a base, or moving them from place to place. And aside from this last part, none of those security measures are foolproof.

As you secure a couple of these cards away from other players, it becomes a small step later to build a full set for yourself if someone else give up on it.

I call this little pursuit/denial one of the "dramas" of the game, because it comes about from the players actions. The game has several little 'drama' systems - as you noted, the weapon/defense collection issue is another little drama build into the game. So is the race to collect or hide these superweapons. Another one involves the building of bases. Another involves trying to steal and hold the time card. I like all these little potential dramas / mini-games that are built in, and come about solely because of the players actions made without total knowledge (but with partial knowledge and deep suspicion) of other players activities and motives.
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Joey V

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-----

Thanks for the questions Robin. I agree with Darklaw90 and LordRahvin on pretty much everything, but I'll put my 2 cents in there, as an "official" response, as requested.

robinz wrote:
1) The rules question relates to the Signal Jammer card, and its ability to ignore the effects of traps. Clearly the player who triggers a trap but then plays Signal Jammer gets to stay where he is, look in the envelope and take/leave any cards he wants, just as if the trap wasn't there. But does the trap still get discarded?


The Signal Jammer cancels the Trap, and since Traps are single-use (yellow, and with the Void icon), it is discarded. We avoided turning "cancel" into a keyword term since we felt most people would assume that "cancel" meant the use of that card or ability was nullified – for example, if your opponent uses Ion Shield to cancel your Ion Grenade, obviously the grenade don't go back to your hand.




robinz wrote:
2) Actually, I now remember another rules question, relating to combat. The rules specify that you go on playing combat cards until your total becomes higher than your opponent's - but what if you can only make it a tie? Since the rules do include the possibility of a tie in combat (in which case it seems nothing happens, no spoils get taken and no-one gets banished, and the defender stays in control of the envelope), I presume this is a small inaccuracy in the printed rules and that you can stop and "pass" when you reach a tie? (And presumably play more cards next round if you want. Perhaps your opponent next plays a +2 weapon, allowing you to play the counter.)


This is written with that wording because combat is described from a neutral position (regardless of whether you are the attacker or defender). Page 9: "When the score is tied, the attacker plays... once their score becomes higher than their opponent's, the opponent plays combat cards..." Thus, there are essentially ROUNDS of combat, each "round" ending when one player passes and chooses not to play more cards (either because they are conceding defeat, or because it is tied and they are putting the onus on the other player to end combat as a tie or proceed playing more cards, thus creating a new "round" of combat). Hope this clarifies it!

robinz wrote:
3) But the other permanent weapons - namely the Imps and Spores - didn't see any play in either of my games, and I can't really see that either would make a viable plan. OK, the Spores might just - if you have all 3 then they are +2 each, which makes them similar to the "advanced" weapons. But they still have a counter (albeit not as devastating a one), and it will counter them all at once. If you have just 2, then they're just a +1 each, but one which has a counter, which makes them worse than any of the basic +1s. And one spore is of course just a dead card. As for Imps, I really think we must be missing something here (as I've discussed it with my wife, and she couldn't see any additional incentives to use them). Again there are only 3, and these don't even scale in proportion to the number you have. Each is simply a +1, and in addition it has a counter. To make them seem good, you'd need all three, plus the Imp Food - but that's still more than half of your hand taken up, and you can bet that if you win a combat this way your opponents will be doing everything they can to find the Imp Immunity, which will render you powerless in battle against that player. I can see this perhaps being a good option for the alien who can hold 9 cards but can't use the +2s (not that we've played with him yet) - but even then you have to collect 4 different cards to make this worth, and is there time for this in a game with so many vital cards and a clock which is forever ticking down? Admittedly I haven't yet looked at the 14 cards which we're told to remove for the first game - does one of these boost Imps at all? And if not, what am I missing which makes Imps - and indeed Spores - a good combat strategy?


I think the others answered this pretty well. In a 4 player game, if all four players happen to be going for a combat hand, you sort of take what you can find, weapon-wise. Spore Immunity is often a must-carry card since 3 Spores are so powerful. So the powerful Spores aren't so powerful unless you're holding the immunity, or have hidden it. Imps are great to carry because they seem as weak as other +1 weapons, but they might possibly turn into +6 total in combat if you manage to collect them and the food later in the game. And the Imp Immunity is not as holy awesome as Spore Immunity, since Imps are harder to collect. So people are less likely to hold it throughout. So a full hand of Imps and food is a safer bet than Spores, and a nice surprise at the table if you can get them all. The Bases in the advanced game let you stash weapons on planets, so Imps and Spores can be Hypertubed to your Base remotely, making it easier to collect trilogies of creatures!

robinz wrote:
4) More of a random musing than a genuine strategy question - but I wonder how many games end without the Temporal Displacer (or whatever it's called) being played as the final act? Both of my games have ended this way, and it seems just such a vital card to have in your hand as the clock gets below about 12, whether you have the Ovoid or not. The only way I can see it not getting played to end the game is if the player who has it is not able to get his hands on the Ovoid before time runs out. (I won yesterday's 3p game despite not having even seen the Ovoid until I won it in combat with the clock on 7, and then played the Temporal Displacer which itself I'd only found a few turns back. I was playing Gazmae, but the ability to steal 2 cards wasn't really relevant at that point ) Even as a noob, and not knowing where the Ovoid was (although I was pretty sure one of the other players must have it in their hand), it seemed obvious to me that I had to take the TD into hand as soon as I found it. I'd be a little sad if one card was such an "autokeep" as that would seem. (Except for the Ovoid itself, and even there I feel I can leave the Ovoid out of my hand until pretty late, if I know where it is - even if another player gets it I can build up my combat strength and attack them, whereas letting another player get the TD just feels like taking the game outcome out of your own hands.)


I think about 75% of my games end via the Displacer. But I NEVER hold the Displacer other than to hide it, and very few of the "hardcore" players I know do either. It's too easy for one combat to go south in the last 8 turns and the guy with the Ovoid takes the Displacer from me! (If you are first in turn order, it might make strategic sense to use the Displacer near the end of the game to give yourself the last turn, rather than use it late in the game to end the game. It doesn't have to take the clock down the full 8.) The TD costs an action to play if the clock is at 9 or above. If the clock is at 8 or fewer, whoever has the Ovoid can attack you and win the game if they take the TD! Better to know where everything is than carry it all. It helps to use landing flags so you can remember where you've been.

Thanks for the great questions! Try different card strategies and develop your group naturally and use the more complex cards only when you feel you are ready. Have fun with it. Cheers!

-joey
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Robin Zigmond
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Many thanks for the replies everyone - especially Joey. I can see that I have a lot to discover as I explore this game
 
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