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Subject: BRIGAND -- Steals Opponent's Encounter Card rss

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BRIGAND
Steals Opponent's Encounter Card

You have the power of Robbery. As a main player, after encounter cards are selected but before they are revealed, you may use this power to steal your opponent's encounter card and add it to your hand. Your opponent must then play another encounter card to replace it. If he or she doesn't have another encounter card to play, he or she loses the encounter.

(Main Player Only) (Optional) (Planning)

Wild: As a main player, before encounter cards are selected, you may steal a card at random from your opponent's hand and add it to your hand. (Main Player Only) (Planning)

Super: After using your power, you may replace your encounter card with the stolen card, returning the card you originally played to your hand. (Main Player Only) (Planning)

After reading this analysis of Filch, I wanted to make a power that really felt like theft. This is my attempt.
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Roberta Yang
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It's basically Magician.

I mean, it's arguably a more interesting version of Magician, since the Sorcerer-style "Will they use power?" minigame is more interesting than the Magician's "Left or right?" minigame, since the choice is less arbitrary and more meaningful. And the game does already have a lot of pairs of powers that are basically the same power, like Bulwark and Observer.

But it's still basically Magician.
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Just a Bill
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It's true that it's similar to Magician, and normally I am not fond of such cousinhood, but in this case I would give this design a pass on that particular criticism.

When I first read it, I wasn't really thinking about Magician (which isn't an alien that's strongly on my radar). In that partial vacuum, Brigand struck me as a classic and high-quality kind of design.
• It has a good name.

• The theme is an excellent fit for the gameplay. We meet on the road and in the moment of confrontation the Brigand grabs my flintlock pistol. Perhaps this forces me to resort to my lowly dagger, or maybe the pistol was a ruse, not even loaded, and while he was grabbing it three blunderbusses poked out from behind the curtains of my stagecoach.

• It's simple, concise, and accessibly green-alert, yet it's quite powerful and seems fun to play — all goals I strive for in my quest for "pithy" aliens. There's a lot of good gameplay packed into three relatively short sentences.

• The Wild and Super effects are appropriate, useful, and similarly concise.


Your points are well taken, Roberta, but I guess in this case I am focusing more on the "more interesting than Magician" part. I might even view it as a potential replacement, since from the standpoint of good design it surpasses the prior alien in every category I've mentioned. Both main players are making an interesting do-I-or-don't-I decision, but the randomness of Magician is replaced with a stronger psych game where both players generally have full agency. It seems quintessentially Cosmic.

Magician is an awkward thing, especially with its ugly "I refuse to speak to Oracle" tramp-stamp, but Brigand is one of those rare designs that I would call elegant. I don't like a lot of homebrews, but I like this one enough to overlook the similarity. Rising above "pointlessly derivative" and actually exceeding the quality of the original in several categories, it seems worth a look. This is a nice design, and well presented. I'm inclined to start looking for an image so I can add it to my play set.

If Brigand had come first and then Magician were proposed later, you would probably still say "meh, it's basically Brigand" but then I would pile on the bandwagon with "you're right, and it's a clunky, randomy Brigand at that."
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Roberta Yang
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Yeah, that's a good call Bill. On second look I like this much better than Magician.

The one thing I'm not super keen on is the autowin effect. I think it's already a solid power without occasional random blowouts like that, and in particular if you steal the defense's last encounter card then they -- being the defense during the Planning phase and still needing to play an encounter card -- should be entitled to a new hand. If you remove the autowin clause then the rules take care of the rest*, so it should make the power even pithier than it already is.

*Ignoring that "defense only gets a new hand at the very very start of planning" ruling that never made sense
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The Super is really more like the Magician, since the Magician can use the stolen card in that encounter, if he wants.

I'd call this a replacement for the Magician - pithier, more simply phrased, but it really is almost the same, except for the Magician's ability to use the stolen card immediately, and the Brigand's auto-win. The location of the second card doesn't really make any functional difference, other than whether or not it can be stolen. But two blind binary decisions are not different from one.

I agree with Roberta about not liking the auto-win. Besides, if they opponent is down to his last encounter card, he's likely to lose anyway, since it might be his worst one.
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Just a Bill
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I had the same initial reaction (kill the offensive auto-win), but wanted to take some time to think about it.

The complication, as Roberta points out, is the stupid FAQ ruling. I ignore that ruling myself, but when evaluating an alien in the context of "would this be publishable" then I have to accommodate it. However, I don't think the ruling (which is actually just an ill-conceived patch for a perceived problem with Trader) actually precludes what we think should be the correct gameplay in situations where the defense runs out of cards in the first third of the planning phase.

The ruling states that
The very first thing that happens during the Planning phase is that the defense draws a new hand if needed. No other Planning effects may occur before this takes place.


I will note again that this ruling actually creates a self-conflict. You are allowed to play cards from your hand before discarding it to draw a new one, thus performing "other planning phase effects" before getting your new hand. But for this discussion I will ignore that matter-antimatter explosion.

The germane point is that this ruling does not say the defense can't draw again if he runs out of encounter cards after performing the hand refresh but before cards are played. So I don't see any reason not to allow that (in general), and in fact there are a few situations that require it.

Note that I said "in general." The question we have to ask with Brigand in particular is, are we still actually in the "before cards are played" zone? Probably not. I think we are in the "cards have been played and now stuff like Sorcerer is messing with them" zone. So it's probably just slightly too late for the defense to get a new hand according to the normal rules (or rather, our interpretation of the normal rules in light of the FAQ's meddling).

A similar analysis applies when the opponent is the offense as well. The requirement to end your turn when you run out of encounter cards technically expires when you have played your encounter card. Probably, though, it should expire when you reveal your encounter card, but this might be one of the first times there's been an effect where the difference would matter.

Thus, I think it is appropriate (if not downright necessary) to explicitly state what happens when the opponent is out of replacement cards. Most of us would intuitively apply the normal rules, but I think those rules technically just lost scope a few moments before Brigand's particular effect led to this situation. This actually has kind of a subtle elegance benefit, since the resulting text would then work as designed either way (meaning even if the FAQ ruling were to someday get revoked).

In summary (or as the kids say, TL;DR), this would be my recommendation:
You have the power of Robbery. As a main player, after encounter cards are selected but before they are revealed, you may use this power to steal your opponent's encounter card and add it to your hand. Your opponent must then play another encounter card to replace it. If he or she doesn't have another encounter card to play, that player either loses the encounter (as the offense) or draws a new hand (as the defense).
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I like the auto-win. It happens rarely (less often than Laser's, for example) and I think it fits the theme: the opponent has been robbed of all their valuables and can't respond. But I can understand the objections.

I think that if the defense gets to draw a new hand, the offense should too. I don't like unnecessarily asymmetrical effects, and it makes the text shorter:

You have the power of Robbery. As a main player, after encounter cards are selected but before they are revealed, you may use this power to steal your opponent's encounter card and add it to your hand. Your opponent must then play another encounter card to replace it (drawing a new hand if necessary).

My first design for this alien was very similar, but worked only when Brigand was not a main player. This made rather different than Magician. When I changed it to its current form, I forgot to check again.
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Just a Bill
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SpaghettiToastBook wrote:
"Your opponent must then play another encounter card to replace it (drawing a new hand if necessary)."

Oh yeah, that's definitely better than what I wrote. I was sort of blindly implementing what we intuitively think of as the "natural" thing to do based on the roles, but your version is more elegant.
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Roberta Yang
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Bill Martinson wrote:
Note that I said "in general." The question we have to ask with Brigand in particular is, are we still actually in the "before cards are played" zone? Probably not. I think we are in the "cards have been played and now stuff like Sorcerer is messing with them" zone. So it's probably just slightly too late for the defense to get a new hand according to the normal rules (or rather, our interpretation of the normal rules in light of the FAQ's meddling).

A similar analysis applies when the opponent is the offense as well. The requirement to end your turn when you run out of encounter cards technically expires when you have played your encounter card. Probably, though, it should expire when you reveal your encounter card, but this might be one of the first times there's been an effect where the difference would matter.

I disagree. The drawing new cards rules don't care whether you're in the after encounter cards are selected but before they are revealed zone, what they care about is whether you still need to play a card:

Drawing New Cards, pg 13 wrote:
If the offense runs out of encounter cards later during his or
her turn and needs to play one, the offense’s turn ends immediately.
(This might happen for several reasons, including
paying compensation after an encounter, an alien power, or a
card effect.) If this happens, the offense returns any of his or
her ships on the hyperspace gate to his or her colonies. Allies
also return their ships to any of their colonies.

If the defense has no encounter cards when he or she is
required to play a card in an encounter (normally during the
Planning Phase), the defense must play (if possible) or discard
any non-encounter cards, draw eight new cards, and play
one of them in the encounter. If the defense doesn’t draw any
encounter cards in the new hand, this process is repeated as
many times as necessary.

In particular, the bolded-by-me "normally" implies that the defense can draw a new hand even if they're asked to play an encounter card at an unusual time, such as in another phase, or slightly later in the Planning phase than usual.

SpaghettiToastBook wrote:
I think that if the defense gets to draw a new hand, the offense should too. I don't like unnecessarily asymmetrical effects, and it makes the text shorter:

I don't mind the asymmetry because it's not the power that's asymmetrical here, it's the core rules. Playing Plague on the offense while their hand is small can end their turn, but on the defense will just give them a new hand; that's not because Plague is a biased asymmetrical card but because the game engine inherently treats offense and defense differently. Will you also add text to the Wild Brigand stating that if it takes the offense's last encounter card, they can draw a new hand?

And since the core rules will already let the defense draw a new hand if there's no additional text specifying what happens, the text is even shorter if you allow the asymmetry to exist naturally without spelling it out as Bill did.
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Just a Bill
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salty53 wrote:
I disagree. The drawing new cards rules don't care whether you're in the after encounter cards are selected but before they are revealed zone, what they care about is whether you still need to play a card

Hmm, yeah, I had it wrong. Good catch. So we'll ignore my add-on text suggestions.

This is great ... the meat of the power text could literally be two sentences. I love that.
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Of course the base rules do not require a lose on the part of an offensive player who suddenly finds himself without encounter cards. He just has to end his turn, aborting the encounter. I think that would be a better solution here. If the offense has no encounter card, and still needs to play one, then his turn immediately ends. That doesn't mean he loses the encounter. His ships and all allies' ships return to colonies, and nothing else happens.

How does this power interact with powers that don't need encounter cards the same way other powers do? Like Trickster, Doppelganger, Deuce, Usurper, et al.? And then there's the interaction with Chronos - how much does he get to do over?
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Roberta Yang
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Of course the base rules do not require a lose on the part of an offensive player who suddenly finds himself without encounter cards. He just has to end his turn, aborting the encounter. I think that would be a better solution here. If the offense has no encounter card, and still needs to play one, then his turn immediately ends. That doesn't mean he loses the encounter. His ships and all allies' ships return to colonies, and nothing else happens.

Right, it's not actually a loss -- but failing to get a colony as offense sure feels like one.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
How does this power interact with powers that don't need encounter cards the same way other powers do? Like Trickster, Doppelganger, Deuce, Usurper, et al.? And then there's the interaction with Chronos - how much does he get to do over?

Deuce: you take the encounter card that is their actual encounter card. Deuce is carefully written to make interactions like this unambiguous.

Trickster: if there's no encounter card to take, Brigand can't get blood from a stone.

Doppelganger: usually gets two encounter cards, so it can replace its card just fine. If not, the text "When encounter cards are to be selected, if you have fewer than two encounter cards for any reason (including being zapped), you draw from the deck until you have two, discarding all non-encounter cards drawn. After cards are revealed, return any cards received from the haunted player that are still in your hand to that player" handles it.

Usurpur: Resolve the abilities one at a time by timing rule. After each ability resolves the usurpur will have exactly one encounter card.

All of these interactions are honestly very straightforward. It's not like this is the first alien ever designed that fiddles with encounter cards -- do you similarly believe that Sorcerer is confusing and ambiguously written?
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Usurper's power would always resolve before Brigand's, because Usurper's power is used "immediately after encounter cards are selected (before any other game effects that apply after card selection)".

I believe that Brigand would have to return the stolen card to Chronos unless Brigand used its super flare.

I suppose I should update the power text:

You have the power of Robbery. As a main player, after encounter cards are selected but before they are revealed, you may use this power to steal your opponent's encounter card and add it to your hand. Your opponent must then play another encounter card to replace it.
 
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salty53 wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Of course the base rules do not require a lose on the part of an offensive player who suddenly finds himself without encounter cards. He just has to end his turn, aborting the encounter. I think that would be a better solution here. If the offense has no encounter card, and still needs to play one, then his turn immediately ends. That doesn't mean he loses the encounter. His ships and all allies' ships return to colonies, and nothing else happens.

Right, it's not actually a loss -- but failing to get a colony as offense sure feels like one.

Except that ships go home instead of to the warp, which makes a big difference.

Quote:
Trickster: if there's no encounter card to take, Brigand can't get blood from a stone.

Can Trickster decide to use his power after the card is stolen, instead of playing a second one?

Quote:
All of these interactions are honestly very straightforward. It's not like this is the first alien ever designed that fiddles with encounter cards -- do you similarly believe that Sorcerer is confusing and ambiguously written?

Don't make it personal. I'm just trying to think through all the possible permutations, and seeing how they work, or if there are any problems.
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Just a Bill
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Can Trickster decide to use his power after the card is stolen, instead of playing a second one?

Trickster alien sheet; see opening sentence (after flavor sentence) or timing icon.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
I'm just trying to think through all the possible permutations

Seems like you're trying to make us think through them for you.
 
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My original idea for this alien was only usable when Brigand was not a main player. That'd be sufficiently different from Magician, but I thought it sounded annoying.
 
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It would be somewhat annoying, but you could maybe temper it by making it Not Main Player or Ally. Then it wouldn't happen as often and would have the soft advantage of getting more alliance invitations.

If you wanted to really make it juicy (and invasive), let it either keep the card or swap it back in as the opposite main player's card (returning that player's card to hand). That would be kind of an inside-out mashup of pre-Filch and Oracle, and give the alien a big dose of social interaction via the resulting coersion and collusion.

A big downside here is that this removes the risk of Brigand having to keep junk, and incentivizes him to use his power a lot. Is having to sit out the encounter worth it? Hard to say without testing. If it is too much, then perhaps you could start it out like Wild Sniveler: "When not a main player and not invited to ally at all, ...." But that runs the risk of making it a permission alien.

Having said all that, I still like what you published.
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