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A Study in Emerald (second edition)» Forums » General

Subject: 2nd Edition Rules now avaliable rss

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Kristian Petersen
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The rules for The Second Edition, along the ones for the new "Ships", are now online over at the Treefrog homepage.

http://www.treefroggames.com/wp-content/uploads/rules/asie-r...

Out in time for an Essen release?
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Jimmy Okolica
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So, it's been a long time since I played ASiE. Can someone spell out the differences...

1. Royalty works a bit differently. There's a delay before they can be assassinated
2. The spatial element is gone. Agents can move freely between cities.
3. Vampires are simplified
4. Player assassinations with the VP swings looks less strong.
5. Those 3 cards off to the side (can't recall their name) are gone.

In short, the game looks more streamlined and probably a bit simpler, but reading it, it looks very close to the original. What I thought was great about the original was the secret identity/ game race but not race. That seems like it's still there.

Am I missing something big?
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Rich P
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Here are the changes I spotted on a first scan through the rulebook:

Cities
• Fewer cities
• All cities are considered to be one space away from each other for movement purposes
• No longer possible to wrest control of a city from another player

Cards
• Royalty and City cards randomly mixed in with game cards
• To claim a card, you need to play a card with the Claim symbol
• You can claim multiple cards with a single action if you play a card with the Claim symbol for each of them
• Some cards are Interrupts and can be played out of turn
• VPs on cards are scored as soon as you claim them
• Effects of many cards have changed: Dr Watson, Duchess D'Uzes, Fenians, Holy Brotherhood, Lestrade, Irene Adler, People's Will, Pinkerton Agents, Sherlock Holmes, Sigmund Freud, Third Section, Vampires, Yog-Sothoth, Zombies

Agents
• You start with two agents on the board, none are Main Agents
• Agents on the board are no longer unique (no tracking of precise locations, no discarding agent cards when they're assassinated)
• Agents no longer break ties when determining who can claim a card

Influence Cubes
• You only place Influence cubes in cities, not on cards (although now the City card is in the same stack as the other cards)
• All unavailable cubes start in Limbo. You only get new cubes via the Retrieve Influence Cubes action (no longer using coins)

Sanity
• The old Sanity counter system has been replaced with a Sanity die roll

War/Revolution
• War and Revolution tracks are now called Loyalist and Restorationist tracks for clarity
• When markers are moved on these tracks, ALL players score the difference between the two markers (these points are deducted at the end of the game if you're not on the team with the higher marker)

Assassinations
• Assassination action now covers both Agents and Royalty
• You need to have more pieces in a city than another player to attempt an assassination there
• All assassination cards are one-use
• Assassination removes all cubes from a city (yours to Limbo, other players' to their stock)
• You can perform multiple assassinations with a single action if you play a card with the Assassination symbol for each of them

Game End
• Revealed Loyalists top up to three agents on the board
• No more auto-loss for the side with the lowest scoring player, instead they lose 5 VPs

Other
• No blocking discs, no double agent tokens, no Permanent Effect cards (now mixed in with other cards)
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Rauli Kettunen
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Looks like you can now claim multiple cards with a single claim action, but in order to claim even one card, need most influence + a claim card. Also, can do free actions prior to claiming, in the 1st edition, no free actions if you wanted to claim. No more claiming back cities from other players.

Revo/War Tracks immediately add points to all players. Also, in the first edition, it took 15 moves to reach the final space of one of the tracks, here only 10.

Assassinations now require "control" of the space similar to claiming a card, but can achieve it through agents only. Assassination triggering cards are removed from play (not discarded), so they are one-shot, 1st edition had agent killers and even royalty killers could be re-used if they didn't go insane. Royalty assassinations remove all influence from the city, for all players. Multiple assassinations with one action is possible.

VP requirements to end the game have been reduced by a few points each.

With potential points eliminated, no more reveal secret identity action.

Double Agents have gone poof.
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John R.
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Having now read the rules for the second edition, here are the major differences that I can see (clearly, several of us were doing this at the same time! ):

1 The number of influence cubes per player is reduced to 10 (from 20) and the number of agents from a possible 15 to 10. You place an agent when you buy a card with the agent symbol but agents are no longer linked to the card, i.e. assassination of the agent doesn't cause you to lose the card (which may still be played for its other icons).

2 All victory points gained/lost are immediately marked on the VP track (e.g. assassinations, Loyalist/Restorationist track movement, specific cards).

3 Cities and royalty are represented by cards that are mixed into each city's draw pile. Royalty therefore can't be assassinated, or a city bought, until the appropriate card has been drawn.

4 Cities are now not 'controlled' but are bought for VPs just like any other card (when they come up) and can't be lost once purchased. They are just point cards now, so there's no fighting over cities (but see below).

5 Assassination (of agents or royalty) requires a majority of the pieces in the city plus the required number of bomb cards. Assassinations are (so far as I can tell) one-use cards and points are gained on the VP track immediately regardless of team (though they may be lost in the end-game count).

6 Claiming a card requires playing a card with a 'claim' symbol as the first action of the turn (though one can now perform free actions beforehand) and a majority of pieces (at least one of which is an influence cube) in the city. A player can claim multiple cards through this action by playing multiple cards with the claim symbol.

61 Sanity loss when buying a card with a sanity icon is based on a random die roll.

62 There is no cost, other than playing a card with a movement icon, to move an agent between cities. All cities are equally accessible.

63 Revealed Loyalists immediately gain agents to bring their total on the board to three.

64 'Vampires' is now a one-use action that either prevents one of your agents being assassinated or changes another player's agent into one of yours. The agent you use the Vampire card on can later be assassinated as normal. Vastly underpowered relative to the original game.

65 The zombies, as before, automatically kill one enemy agent in each city in which they are found. However, they now cannot themselves be killed and can only be removed from the game by the Society of Leopold card (or from a single city by Cthulhu). There is no way to fight them and, because all cities are connected, they may be placed anywhere. Significantly increased in power relative to the original game, though there are only six now rather than eight.

66 Once all VPs have been scored, every player on the lowest-scoring team loses 5 VP. It is therefore possible (though not likely) to win if your team has the lowest-scoring player.

City control is one of the major changes. As before, control determined who could buy cards, but now it is also important for deciding who may assassinate whom, which makes assassinations more challenging. I suspect that some players might be encouraged to take individual cities as strongholds and pile influence/agents there to discourage others from entering (on pain of assassination), thus restricting access to that city's cards to themselves (sort of a limited Bismarck). This may reduce overall player interaction by reducing the number of assassinations and, because cities are now just point cards that go to the buying player when purchased, the player interaction that occurred by fighting over cities is now also eliminated.

The method of claiming cards is another significant change. Of the 29 cards for which detailed descriptions are given, (only) 12 allow you to claim cards when played (though I don't know how many there are of each). In order to claim cards, though, you need to buy other cards that let you do so (at least one of your starting cards lets you claim others). Obviously, you can still buy one card per turn (if you have one in your hand with the claim symbol), but this at least opens up the possibility of grabbing several at once by having majorities in several cities. I suspect that this will not happen often, though, because of the reduced number of influence/agent markers, the hand size limit and the requirement of playing cards with the claim symbol. A major negative that I see here is the potential for a player to be badly screwed if they can't buy claim cards.

The rules for end-game points - specifically, the Loyalist/Restorationist tracks - are unclear to me as written. They state that each side loses any VPs that are not specific to their team (which would presumably include any points they've scored from the other team's track) but then also suggests that the team with the lower track total also loses the difference between the tracks. The example doesn't seem to help. Perhaps someone else could clarify this.

As a fan of the original ASiE who acknowledged its imperfections, I was (and still am) prepared to give this version a shot. So far, though, it looks as if the second edition reduces player interaction through the changes to city control and restrictions on the ability of players to assassinate other agents and royalty. The requirement to play cards in order to claim new cards would also seem to harm playability by preventing you from buying new cards if your draw doesn't give you what you need. Finally, the player with the zombie card gains a significant advantage in terms of limiting access to cities, especially if they also hold the Society of Leopold; this particular combo may be a game-breaker, especially if it comes out early.
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Jimmy Okolica
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John,

Thanks so much for the summary. I'd missed the city cards being permanent and the change in the zombies. Both have a lot of potential for changing game play. I agree the city control back-and-forth was one of the big things in the 1ed. Definitely something to consider.
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John R.
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In my experience the original game often played out in two phases: 1) grab cards, 2) fight for cities (often with lots of assassinations). I'm guessing that the changes in the second edition will smooth out that difference between the early and late games, but to me that just wasn't an issue. Often part of the tension of the game was exactly when the nihilistic free-for-all would start and trying to position yourself to best take advantage of it. In that sense, the first edition often rewarded aggressive play, whereas this version largely removes that.

The possible problem with the zombies aside, I think that the new mechanic for claiming cards by playing other cards will limit your ability to do other things by draining cards from your hand and will thus slow the initial (card-acquisition) phase of the game. While wars over especially desirable cards will no doubt continue, the reduction in the number of influence tokens (all of which start on the board, btw) means that you can't be in more than a few places at once, especially with five players. This may encourage some Bismarcking, as I mentioned above - claim control of a city, work through the pile as quickly as possible and hope to get something good out of the 3-5 cards there, then move on to another. There may also be a tendency to park oneself on the higher-valued cities to grab those cards when they come out.

Because the overall game duration is reduced by the decreased length of the Loyalist/Restorationist tracks and the fact that the end-game point triggers have been dropped by 2-6 points (depending on number of players), I think that, overall, these changes will have the effect of reducing the game to a slower version of the original's first phase - the card acquisition/deck building part. Having city cards as points and counting everything on the VP track will cause scores to inch up more regularly over time, and once players start actively ramping up the team tracks there won't be enough time to do much else before the end-game point trigger is reached. The original's second phase will therefore be mostly or entirely curtailed.

To me, then, it seems as if much of the conflict of the first edition has been stripped out in favour of a slow and steady accumulation of points with little player interaction. I could be wrong, and I'll have to try it to see, but I'm not as enthusiastic about the second edition now that I've read the rules.
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Kristian Petersen
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timeodanaos wrote:

5 Assassination (of agents or royalty) requires a majority of the pieces in the city plus the required number of bomb cards. Assassinations are (so far as I can tell) one-use cards and points are gained on the VP track immediately regardless of team (though they may be lost in the end-game count).
'

This is the only new rule that kinda rubs me the wrong way, thematically. Why do you need majority to assassinate? Killing royalty/agents is hard enough in the 1st edition, where you need enough bombs alone, but it also seems to go against the games spirit, I think.

Assassinations should/could be done by sneaking a lone bomber-anarchists into the palace, office or bedroom of the target, loaded with dynamite'n'elder signs - no need for a lot of presence, agents or power (cubes) in a city to make a hit on an enemy.

Or is it just me?
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Juan Crespo
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kinkymachine wrote:
timeodanaos wrote:

5 Assassination (of agents or royalty) requires a majority of the pieces in the city plus the required number of bomb cards. Assassinations are (so far as I can tell) one-use cards and points are gained on the VP track immediately regardless of team (though they may be lost in the end-game count).
'

This is the only new rule that kinda rubs me the wrong way, thematically. Why do you need majority to assassinate? Killing royalty/agents is hard enough in the 1st edition, where you need enough bombs alone, but it also seems to go against the games spirit, I think.

Assassinations should/could be done by sneaking a lone bomber-anarchists into the palace, office or bedroom of the target, loaded with dynamite'n'elder signs - no need for a lot of presence, agents or power (cubes) in a city to make a hit on an enemy.

Or is just me?
But without a double agent mechanism in place in 2 ed., it would be rather deterministic if you can kill anyone when you get the right amount of bombs. It helps to think of the need to have a majority the other way around: the presence of high number of opposing agents acts as a deterrent against any assassination plot. Protection in numbers. Now, in this version it makes managing the reduced number of available influence cubes even more important. You can't have all your influence spread out everywhere, as it makes you vulnerable to an attack.
 
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Mr Avers
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I have not played the first edition, but from what I've read it did not work as a 2-player game. Is anyone able to determine from the rules if the 2nd edition will be more 2-player friendly?
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Kristian Petersen
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timeodanaos wrote:
But without a double agent mechanism in place in 2 ed., it would be rather deterministic if you can kill anyone when you get the right amount of bombs.


True, but with the introduction of "interrupt"-cards, that can be used to block actions, I think you could have dealt with it that way - sort of double-agent-ish.

And while it is true that strength in numbers, having a lot of power in a a city, could be seen as a way to dissuade wannabe assassins, I also like the idea of lone nihilistic gunmen pulling of murdering Azatoth in a city filled with his cultists and/or agents
 
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John R.
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The rules booklet only shows two cards listed as interrupts - the Vampires and Sherlock Holmes - and both of them stop you from losing an agent (there may of course be others). Also, many (15/29) of the cards appear to be single-use actions; having to discard a significant portion of the cards in order to use their special abilities may mean that decks cycle faster... at least once you've decided that it's worth destroying the card instead of keeping it for its other repeatable effects.

I'd love to hear from playtesters, assuming they aren't bound by NDAs or some such.
 
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Juan Crespo
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kinkymachine wrote:

timeodanaos wrote:
But without a double agent mechanism in place in 2 ed., it would be rather deterministic if you can kill anyone when you get the right amount of bombs.


True, but with the introduction of "interrupt"-cards, that can be used to block actions, I think you could have dealt with it that way - sort of double-agent-ish.

And while it is true that strength in numbers, having a lot of power in a a city, could be seen as a way to dissuade wannabe assassins, I also like the idea of lone nihilistic gunmen pulling of murdering Azatoth in a city filled with his cultists and/or agents
another reason it wouldn't work is that now there's no spatial component. So agents being able to teleport to any city and assassinate would be too strong without a map.
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Rich P
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timeodanaos wrote:
The rules for end-game points - specifically, the Loyalist/Restorationist tracks - are unclear to me as written. They state that each side loses any VPs that are not specific to their team (which would presumably include any points they've scored from the other team's track) but then also suggests that the team with the lower track total also loses the difference between the tracks. The example doesn't seem to help. Perhaps someone else could clarify this.


Check the example for moving tracks too. When tracks are moved, everyone scores the difference between them. At the end of the game, only the players on the team with the higher marker on a track will keep those points, the other team will lose them. It works out the same as the 1st edition in terms of points but removes the concept of "potential points".
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Kristian Petersen
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juanma99 wrote:
another reason it wouldn't work is that now there's no spatial component. So agents being able to teleport to any city and assassinate would be too strong without a map.


Yeah, I know. My issue is purely conceptual/thematical - it might work perfectly game/rule-wise.

Also, I couldn't find a mention of G.K. Chestertons "The Man Who was Thursday" in the rules, which is a bit of a shame, as ASiE was the way I heard about this fine little novel.
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The wholesale rule changes definitely make this a completely different animal than the original. It may play well, but without Double-Agents, and the inability to recapture a city card once taken, and no last place faction losing mechanic, it's hard to see how it can capture the 'feel' of the original.
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Ryan Keane
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bamonson wrote:
The wholesale rule changes definitely make this a completely different animal than the original. It may play well, but without Double-Agents, and the inability to recapture a city card once taken, and no last place faction losing mechanic, it's hard to see how it can capture the 'feel' of the original.


I'm fine with no double agents - they always seems just total luck if you got to steal someone's agent - but no city recapture totally changes the dynamics of the game. Are the city VP's the same? If they are lowered, like to 2 or 3 (and presumably printed on the city card like some of the Restoration agents), then I might be ok with the change, but if there are still 6 point cities and they can't be stolen, I don't think I'll like the new version.

It's hard for me to imagine without seeing the new team dynamics in action whether the -5 VP for losing team will be significantly different, or worse, then the auto-loss rule.

Edit: Ok, just looked at the board, so the cities are now 2-5 VP. 5 VP seems a lot for a card that can't be stolen and can be claimed just as easily as any other card. Since the city cards are now randomly shuffled into each city's deck, it seems that each time a city card appears on the top of the deck, there's going to be a big cube build-up there to fight for it.
 
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The point of the double-agents isn't whether you can use them, but rather the threat that someone might. "The threat" as they say in chess, "is stronger than its execution." I found double-agents one of the most intriguing (and cool) aspects of the game.
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bamonson wrote:
The point of the double-agents isn't whether you can use them, but rather the threat that someone might. "The threat" as they say in chess, "is stronger than its execution." I found double-agents one of the most intriguing (and cool) aspects of the game.


I guess I don't understand how the threat has any effect on your gameplay. For us, players go after the agent card they want and use them to initiate actions as they need - it sucks if someone steals one from you at a key moment (e.g. during an assassination), but the "threat" of that possibility doesn't prevent you from proceeding as you would normally. But I've only played a few times, so probably I am missing some nuances.

The most interesting aspect for me is trying to subtly encourage other players to claim an agent you have the double agent for. But this only happens if the cards for your double agents appear, so often you won't get the opportunity.
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Ryan Keane wrote:
bamonson wrote:
The point of the double-agents isn't whether you can use them, but rather the threat that someone might. "The threat" as they say in chess, "is stronger than its execution." I found double-agents one of the most intriguing (and cool) aspects of the game.


I guess I don't understand how the threat has any effect on your gameplay. For us, players go after the agent card they want and use them to initiate actions as they need - it sucks if someone steals one from you at a key moment (e.g. during an assassination), but the "threat" of that possibility doesn't prevent you from proceeding as you would normally. But I've only played a few times, so probably I am missing some nuances.


If your assassination attempt required the skills or bomb(s) the agent has then it most certainly can prevent the assassination. So unless you brought extra bombs or AA/R cards to assure success you're at risk of being thwarted by the Double-Agent.

Moreover, it's a free action for him to do so. So in addition to screwing with your plans, he acquires that agent without expending an action himself. And actions are a premium in this game.

I've also seen it happen that after preventing some action with the Double-Agent, the new owner then turns around and immediately uses that agent to assassinate the former owner's Main Agent which was conveniently sitting in the same location. ninja



 
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bamonson wrote:
I've also seen it happen that after preventing some action with the Double-Agent, the new owner then turns around and immediately uses that agent to assassinate the former owner's Main Agent which was conveniently sitting in the same location. ninja


This. Was also the reason for my shortest ever game, 2 turns:

Turn 1

Wednesday
Action 1: Place influence on Louise Michel
Action 2: Place inf on Duchess de Uzes

Friday
Action 1: Buy more influence
A2: Place influence on Infernal Machine

Turn 2

Wednesday
A1: Claim Michel (making him KttA due to potential points)
A2: Blocking Disc on Infernal Machine

Friday
A1: Flip Louise Michel Double Agent token
A2: Assassinate Wednesday's Main Agent
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Ryan Keane
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bamonson wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:
bamonson wrote:
The point of the double-agents isn't whether you can use them, but rather the threat that someone might. "The threat" as they say in chess, "is stronger than its execution." I found double-agents one of the most intriguing (and cool) aspects of the game.


I guess I don't understand how the threat has any effect on your gameplay. For us, players go after the agent card they want and use them to initiate actions as they need - it sucks if someone steals one from you at a key moment (e.g. during an assassination), but the "threat" of that possibility doesn't prevent you from proceeding as you would normally. But I've only played a few times, so probably I am missing some nuances.


If your assassination attempt required the skills or bomb(s) the agent has then it most certainly can prevent the assassination. So unless you brought extra bombs or AA/R cards to assure success you're at risk of being thwarted by the Double-Agent.

Moreover, it's a free action for him to do so. So in addition to screwing with your plans, he acquires that agent without expending an action himself. And actions are a premium in this game.

I've also seen it happen that after preventing some action with the Double-Agent, the new owner then turns around and immediately uses that agent to assassinate the former owner's Main Agent which was conveniently sitting in the same location. ninja





Yes, I understand all that. It can cancel your action. I said it sucks.
But it's just as likely no one has the double-agent for my agent. I'm not going to sit there in fear of the threat of double-agent and never get an agent, so I don't see how it affects my play, apart from the fact that I like to have at least 2 non-main agents in separate locations.
 
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Michael Norrish
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kinkymachine wrote:
timeodanaos wrote:

5 Assassination (of agents or royalty) requires a majority of the pieces in the city plus the required number of bomb cards. Assassinations are (so far as I can tell) one-use cards and points are gained on the VP track immediately regardless of team (though they may be lost in the end-game count).
'

This is the only new rule that kinda rubs me the wrong way, thematically. Why do you need majority to assassinate? Killing royalty/agents is hard enough in the 1st edition, where you need enough bombs alone, but it also seems to go against the games spirit, I think.

Assassinations should/could be done by sneaking a lone bomber-anarchists into the palace, office or bedroom of the target, loaded with dynamite'n'elder signs - no need for a lot of presence, agents or power (cubes) in a city to make a hit on an enemy.

Or is it just me?


You need to have a plurality, counting all “bits” (agents and influence cubes), so I guess that if you don't have a whole heap of your own people in the city, you have to spend more time preparing the hit in advance (by putting down your influence cubes there).

I haven't played the game, so I've no idea how it would work out in practice, but this actually seems reasonably thematic.
 
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timeodanaos wrote:
'Vampires' is now a one-use action that either prevents one of your agents being assassinated or changes another player's agent into one of yours. The agent you use the Vampire card on can later be assassinated as normal. Vastly underpowered relative to the original game.



Definitely a defanged version of the once powerful Vampires. Actually, I don't really see the vampires element. It seems more of a marriage between Master of Disguise and Double-Agent tokens rolled into a 'single-use' action.

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Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
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Defanged!
 
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