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Bios: Genesis» Forums » Rules

Subject: Parasite HGT suicide yes or no? If yes, what happens to diseased cubes? rss

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Franz Derphausen
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So we had a discussion in another thread http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1675874/moving-biont-microor... that sparked a few questions for which I cannot find answers anywhere in the rules nor in the forum.

Assuming a parasite can commit suicide with HGT, what happens to the chromosome/organ cubes it had previously stolen? Do they go back to the host, or are they also lost and take the host's mutations with them to the grave? If it is the latter, then parasite HGT-suicide is the top dick-move I can think of right now for competitive play. You cannot prevent a parasite from attaching and stealing your chromes. You cannot wanton-block its detachment, i.e. suicide, and you lose two mutations in the worst case unless you had the resources and were able to immediately steal them back.

edit:spelling
 
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Quote:
Extinction. Note that HGT allows you to commit suicide.


Quote:
Microorganism Extinction. Discard its Mutations to the bottom of the Mutation deck in its home row. All disks and cubes are lost to the soup.


That's enough rules justification for me, though you could argue if Phil intended for this to be possible.

As far as dick-moves go, I would much rather have him commit HGT suicide as opposed to remaining attached, spending all my catalysts, atrophying the stolen cubes, and replacing them by promoting himself. If a parasite is still feeling suicidal, they can use their yellow chromosomes to intentionally reroll for more errors.
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Franz Derphausen
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golden_cow2 wrote:
As far as dick-moves go, I would much rather have him commit HGT suicide as opposed to remaining attached, spending all my catalysts, atrophying the stolen cubes, and replacing them by promoting himself. If a parasite is still feeling suicidal, they can use their yellow chromosomes to intentionally reroll for more errors.


Oh, rest assured it will do that. Attachment comes first, then darwin rolls and atrophies, then purchases (with host's catalysts). Next turn it will commit suicide in phase E, possibly doing more damage. Then the other biont, still in phase E, will attach the same parasite to another or even the same victim. Rinse, repeat.
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Dom Rougier
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So, as stated on the other thread - parasites can't use their host's HGT abilities - that only applies to Foreign genes (the "or endosymbiont" caveat has been removed from the living rules, and is equally inapplicable here in any case).

Therefore the parasite needs to attach, purchase HGT via mutation, then on the next turn move their biont to suicide.

This does mean that the host needs to have sufficient catalysts, and have cubes available to disease. The parasite also needs to have access to a mutation with an available HGT icon, and the organism has to be in the home row of an existing organism, or that row has to be currently active.

This means that the parasite player needs to satisfy quite a few conditions, and commit two of their three bionts to attacking another player, with no direct benefit to themselves, since none of this earns victory points.


I suspect this is a really inefficient strategy, but it is extremely powerful - possibly too powerful. I don't think I've played enough to suggest a "fix" (if one is needed), but banning HGT for parasites is probably fine (atrophies still need to be cube-first without immunology, so intentional suicide through error is likely to be slow and awkward).


Thematically, intentional suicide is presumably modelling apoptosis - you could kill off one of your organisms to prevent your catalyst pool from being depleted for the others.

Parasites intentionally killing themselves makes less sense to me - I'm not sure of any good reason for that to happen, aside from purely as a game mechanic. If that's accurate, then banning HGT for parasites would be fine.
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Franz Derphausen
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Domfluff wrote:
So, as stated on the other thread - parasites can't use their host's HGT abilities - that only applies to Foreign genes (the "or endosymbiont" caveat has been removed from the living rules, and is equally inapplicable here in any case).

Therefore the parasite needs to attach, purchase HGT via mutation, then on the next turn move their biont to suicide.


According to E6, if you have a microorganism with HGT, then all your bionts have the HGT ability. The numer of HGT-icons equals the number of biont you can HGT-move per turn. So this strategy would require 2 HGT icons from the bacteria the third biont resides in. The other two bionts can then dick-HGT-move as they please.

Domfluff wrote:
This does mean that the host needs to have sufficient catalysts, and have cubes available to disease. The parasite also needs to have access to a mutation with an available HGT icon, and the organism has to be in the home row of an existing organism, or that row has to be currently active.

This means that the parasite player needs to satisfy quite a few conditions, and commit two of their three bionts to attacking another player, with no direct benefit to themselves, since none of this earns victory points.


The landform restriction is certainly inhibiting this strategy, at least for the first third of the game, but as soon as the player has HGT and spore, home-rows and active rows become irrelevant. Of course, the fact that you don't own anything, don't get VPs, should be unattractive enough for players to try it out.


Domfluff wrote:
Parasites intentionally killing themselves makes less sense to me - I'm not sure of any good reason for that to happen, aside from purely as a game mechanic. If that's accurate, then banning HGT for parasites would be fine.



I think banning would be too much. My main concern were the stolen cubes. If they are returned to the host, parasite suicide is just another way to get one's biont back, no harm done. But you are right, parasite suicide is strange, thematically.
 
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Dom Rougier
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Quote:
E6. MOVING BIONTS VIA HGT (Microorganisms only)
HGT is the ONLY way to move or reassign a Biont from or to a Microorganism. You have this Ability for all your Bionts if any of your Microorganisms, or Microorganisms you reside in (as a Foreign Gene or Endosymbiont), have the HGT icon.


From the current living rules - I read that as only being applicable if you control a microorganism with hgt - either your parasite or another microorganism - or you have a biont in someone else's organism as a foreign gene.

That's not entirely relevant to your point, but I'm pretty confident that's the correct interpretation of the rules as written.

Thematically, I don't know if giving diseased cubes back is actually appropriate. I'm not a biologist by any means, but I thought that viruses can end up changing the way their hosts metabolism works? Otherwise that's probably the neatest solution as a game mechanic.
 
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Rich James
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I wonder why, thematically, parasite death would cause the loss of its host's mutation cubes (and potentially mutations) and organs. Seems to me like parasite death is more like "curing" the disease that afflicted the host in the first place. How to cure an infected organ? Antibiotics kill the bacteria and the organ returns to health.
 
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Peter S.
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FWIW, nature does provide several examples of parasites causing host suicide for their own benefit.
 
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Dom Rougier
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I thought host suicide was mostly used as a method of reproduction though? (e.g., drowning the host to get access to water) - this example is the parasite intentionally killing itself.

Clearly there are potentially reasons (in the game or otherwise) for a host to kill itself to remove a parasite - if the host is currently low-scoring, with a more developed parasite, then it can be worth the effort to suicide, since you might be losing 0 VP (earning 1 for the extinction trophy) to kill 2+ VP of parasite.

Clearly there's an opportunity cost in terms of the actual creation of life, but that's not necessarily all that difficult if you're still fairly early in the game (before the refugia are smited away).

What I'm less clear about is whether there's much benefit in a parasite killing itself to remove the two diseased cubes (if indeed this is how this works). The parasite doesn't get compensation for the move, it seems to be inefficient, and the only real benefit is that it removes two VP from the host.

Obviously Red Queen icons can help prevent this - the parasite would attach, and the one-biont host could steal a cube back straight away, before suicide could happen. That would make this even less efficient.

So... I'm not sure whether the diseased cubes return to the host (or should). I'm starting to think that they probably should, both as a game mechanic and as a simulation, but I'm not sure. Could do with an official word, I think.
 
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Dom Rougier
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Asked Phil about this, he responded with:

Quote:

Your question on Parasites that are killed before they lose their diseased cubes is a bit of a corner case, I never saw parasite suicide during our playtests. This possibility is here because I wanted to increase the fluidity of Bionts during HGT, since the number of Bionts is so severely (and artificially) limited. Game component limits, such as the 3 Biont limit, are always a simulation problem in biology games because biology itself suffers no such time and component limits that a game does.

If a parasite is dissolved, presumably because its owner sees a better use for its precious Biont, the disease goes away and the diseased cubes should be returned to the host. This requires an addition to the Extinction rules as follows:


Extinction. An Organism goes extinct if it either loses all its Bionts (e.g. by Atrophy or HGT), or it is a Parasite whose Host goes extinct. A lost Bacteria placard or Macroorganism card is awarded to its owner as a trophy, worth a VP at the end of the game. A lost Parasite card is returned to its owner for possible reuse. Each Biont lost during Extinction is compensated (B4).

• Microorganism Extinction. Discard its Mutations to the bottom of the Mutation deck in its home row. All disks and cubes are lost to the soup, except a Parasite’s diseased cubes are returned to its Host.


Which solves the problem nicely. Now, the only reason for a parasite to commit suicide is to regain control of your biont.
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Franz Derphausen
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Great! And I am glad it was solved like this. Thank you Dom and Phil.
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