Erik Twice
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So, I finally bought the game a couple weeks ago and I've been playing it a lot. I think some people would be very interested to have data, no matter how flawed, on win ratios and such and I think I'm in a position to provide it since I'm just starting and I'll play a lot.

So far I'm tracking it like this:

Win data

1/1 Masochist
1/1 Reincarnator
1/1 Trader
1/1 Symbiote
1/1 Loser
1/1 Merchant
1/1 Chosen
1/1 Macron
1/1 Mutant
1/1 Deuce
1/1 Mind
1/2 Amoeba
0/1 Calculator
0/1 Citadel
0/1 Mercenary
0/1 Triplicator
0/1 Philantrophist
0/1 Tahur
0/1 Kamikaze
0/1 Warrior
0/1 Tick-Tock
0/1 Healer
0/1 Pacifist
0/1 Hacker
0/1 Mirror
0/1 Parasite
0/2 Warpish

Yes, Masochist, Macron and Symbiote all won while Warpish is 0/2


What else should I add? What do you think could be useful or interesting to keep around? This kind of "win stats" are mostly useless but they are fun to read about, I think.
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Jefferson Krogh
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There are many variables you could track. One of the most important would be the number of players in the game. Another would be solo wins vs. shared wins.
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Joshua Kuhlmann
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Number of alternate wins would be useful.
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Nathan Kushner
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I'd even go so far as to say that these two stats would be interesting for different reasons...

Percentage of raw wins (instances of this alien sharing in a win, as I assume you've already been doing) and

Win shares, an evolving fraction where the numerator is a climbing total of the alien's shares of wins (solo = 1 point, share with 1 player = .5 point, share with 2 players = .3333 points, etc...), and the denominator is games the alien has played in.
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Ian Toltz
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If you're interested in this sort of thing, I used to have a regular group and I kept detailed stats, including a metagame with scoring and achievements.

http://asmor.com/cosmic/
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Steve Hatherley
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I did this years and years ago with the original 15 aliens.

What surprised me at the time (that was before I'd heard of "card advantage") was that Philanthropist was the strongest in that set - even beating Virus.

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Mil Myman
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While it would be a lot more work, it might be useful to keep track of which aliens beat which other aliens in the game. IOW, not to just say, "Loser won", but "Loser won against Chosen, Mind, Warrior, and Healer" or "Loser and Parasite shared the win against Trader, Citadel, and Mirror."

Some of this could be tracked in a grid. Like this:


Losers
Winners A B C D E
A x 1 1 1
B x 1 1
C 2 x 1 2
D 1 1 x
E 1 1 1 1 x


Which would indicate that alien A has won one game each against aliens B, D, and E. C has won twice against A and twice against E and once against D. And E has won once each against A, B, C, and D. etc.
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Peter Olotka
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Philanthropist has always been my favorite alien. No one fears it. It can make friends. It gets new hands more than others and others get less new hands having to accept "gifts". It can help out an ally in an emergency with a card. It can stop a player from getting a new hand with a timely gift. Whats not to love. Having favorite aliens is fine. But as for the practice of rating aliens and banning them from games - I reject it out of hand.

I see Cosmic Encounter as the interaction among vastly different alien species. To make the assumption that all such species be "good" by some arbitrary standards is to reject the premiss of the game. The combination of aliens is what the game is about. The best way to play Cosmic is to imagine these beings encountering each other for the first time. When at least one of them has established 5 colonies (or met some other condition) the interaction is over.

If a player frets that their alien was "no good" that player doesn't understand Cosmic Encounter. We did not design Cosmic to make every alien the best alien in the universe. We designed Cosmic to spawn different combinations of aliens which wrench the game in surprisingly unpredictable ways.

Many aliens are similar and many aliens have powers that are goofy or dull or marginal. But it makes for some very weird games when your combo has 8 kissing cousins in it. (A combo of dullard aliens could easily generate an epic game and a game with all block buster aliens might easily end with a whimper.) That's Cosmic.

Unfortunately, players who don't "get it" and have decided to NEVER HAVE THOSE SO-CALLED BAD ALIENS IN THEIR GAMES,they have short circuited cosmic's ability to surprise them with the unexpected. That said, Cosmic is your game to do with as you please. What nags at me is the presumption that other players should take up suggestions from players who don't really understand that its the combo that makes the game. There are aliens that I don't like to play. But I play them anyway because this game is about wrenching you out of your comfort zone. I like playing an alien that others may think to be worthless and winning anyway (instead of sulking and wanting to play only aliens that are seen as 'being good').

This is not the first time I've been on the combos-are-the-game not individual aliens bandwagon. Probably won't be the last.
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Just a Bill
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You make some good points, but they would probably reach a wider audience if they were not coupled with negative assessments of the emotions/intellect of players who view things a different way than you want them to. Not getting it, sulking ... dismissive labels like these can be detrimental to one's love of the game, especially when coming directly from the gods of the universe. As the final authority you're certainly entitled to drop in and tell players whatever you want them to understand, but when the message goes beyond "here's what we meant" into "here's why you are clueless and wrong to think that way," it's always felt a bit cringy to me. But then I've always been a bit of a wimp.

I realize it's difficult to always self-monitor the weight of our words, and I certainly am nowhere near sinless enough to cast the first, last, or any stone. If I were as wise as I wish I were, I would just be silent here. But this is something that has left me unsettled from time to time over the years. Perhaps I'm over-sensitive (very possible). But now that I rarely participate in this forum any more, I'm just going to say my piece, right or wrong, and then shut up about it. I can't really speak for anyone else, but this idea that we all must understand and appreciate Cosmic Encounter in the precise way its designers want, or else be heretics, has definitely played a part in my own falling out of love with Cosmic, or loss of wonder, or whatever the hell this vacuum is. Perhaps it's a good thing for those of us who don't "get it" to finally accept that and we need the kick in the ass from the gods. I really do not know. It feels lousy, but maybe that's an unavoidable step in getting healthier about this obsession.

Anyway, my point was that the loaded terms aren't helping the message. Consider this a parting editorial suggestion, or a heretic's last protest, or maybe both. Be benevolent gods ... enlighten your people, but don't bully them. When in doubt, pull back half a notch. (Ironic advice from somebody who's bad at that, I know. I'm a hypocrite. And yet it feels like good advice nonetheless.)
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Erik Twice
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pgocosmic wrote:
Having favorite aliens is fine. But as for the practice of rating aliens and banning them from games - I reject it out of hand.

Ah, don't worry Mr Olotka this is for fun, not really an attempt to ban aliens or rate them, just to be able to talk about them with a bit more backing. And, hey, it's fun!

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
While it would be a lot more work, it might be useful to keep track of which aliens beat which other aliens in the game. IOW, not to just say, "Loser won", but "Loser won against Chosen, Mind, Warrior, and Healer" or "Loser and Parasite shared the win against Trader, Citadel, and Mirror."

Some of this could be tracked in a grid. Like this:


Losers
Winners A B C D E
A x 1 1 1
B x 1 1
C 2 x 1 2
D 1 1 x
E 1 1 1 1 x


Which would indicate that alien A has won one game each against aliens B, D, and E. C has won twice against A and twice against E and once against D. And E has won once each against A, B, C, and D. etc.

Yeah, this is a good idea but it would require me to take notes. I can easily remember who won but who was on the table every time is much harder.

I'm also not sure of how useful it would be, because even if I play the game a lot chances are the same aliens won't be in the game more than 1-3 times.

As for shared vs single wins, I thought about it but I don't make that distinction during gameplay so I'm not sure it would be very useful. A win is a win, I think.
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Mil Myman
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Keeping track of statistics is something a lot of gamers like to do. No one was talking about "banning" aliens. No one implied anything about any aliens being just plain bad because of the stats in this particular game group's chart.

If there were only, say, 6 aliens in the game, you could probably keep track of the stats very easily and actually draw some conclusions from them. But even then, the stats aren't likely to be all that dramatic. If aliens A, B, C, D, and E each win 16.5% of the time, and alien F wins 17.5% of the time, I doubt anyone is going to suggest "banning" F as overpowered. Likewise, if alien A wins 15% of the time, and the rest win 17% of the time, that's not a big enough difference for anyone to ban alien A.

With all the aliens and variants and possible configurations of games and results, there's almost no way to draw any hard conclusions from win stats. You've got 195 aliens, anywhere from 3-8 players, anywhere from 1 to all players sharing victory, tech/no tech, hazards/no hazards, Reward Deck 1/2/both, alliance dials/foreign aid, special ships, turn order, luck of the card draws, etc.

However, when you look at individual powers themselves, you can draw some conclusions, especially when powers are similar to each other.

For example, if there was an alien that had the power "Whenever you would lose ships to the warp, use this power. You only lose one ship, and the rest return to your colonies." This is quite obviously a weaker version of Zombie. If you were given the choice of this power and the Zombie, you'd never take this one, assuming your goal is to win.

You can also reach some reasonable conclusions even when a comparison of two aliens isn't this obvious. For example, an alien that gets 10 extra ships (starting with 6 on each planet), is sort of like a weaker version of Symbiote. But if it can also send up to six ships into an encounter as offense or ally, it's still useful to compare it to Symbiote. Then you have to decide if the +2 ship limit is sufficient to make up for the fewer ships.

Stats can be an interesting thing to keep track of. And it may in fact *encourage* a more diverse selection of aliens played. As people look on the chart and see that many aliens have been played 10 times each, but this other alien has only been played 3 times during the same period. Someone may be very likely to say, "Hey, no one has played this alien in a long time, let's use it for this game!"

It may be perfectly legitimate to say that you should love all the aliens equally, or else you "just don't get it". But at some point, this crosses the line into lazy game design. All ideas are not equally good or worthy of inclusion. It takes disciplined design work to make a good game and good game elements. Just throwing up your hands and saying, "It's Cosmic! Anything goes! It doesn't matter if an alien is way more powerful or much weaker than most of the others! Anything can happen!" Nobody want to run a footrace where one guy gets to use a bicycle and one guy has a cinder block tied to one foot. "But think how cool it will be if the cinder block guy beats the bicycle guy!" Yes, that would be amazing, but still, no one wants to do that.

Hmmm... that was a longer rant than I intended. And somewhat off-topic. Sorry.
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Erik Twice
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So I've reached 20 plays of Cosmic Encounter, woo! Some of those plays were years ago and some of the most recent plays have no win ratios because I didn't track them. Still, I thought it would be cool to share:


1/1 Guerrilla
1/1 Masochist
1/1 Reincarnator
1/1 Trader
1/1 Symbiote
1/1 Loser
1/1 Merchant
1/1 Chosen
1/1 Macron
1/1 Mutant
1/1 Deuce
1/1 Mind
1/2 Amoeba
1/2 Fodder
1/2 Virus
0/1 Barbarian
0/1 Cryo
0/1 Fury
0/1 Ghoul
0/1 Mercenary
0/1 Philantrophist
0/1 Gambler
0/1 Kamikaze
0/1 Warrior
0/1 Tick-Tock
0/1 Healer
0/1 Pacifist
0/1 Hacker
0/1 Mirror
0/1 Oracle
0/1 Parasite
0/1 Zombie
0/2 Citadel
0/2 Genius
0/2 Calculator
0/2 Warpish
0/2 Triplicator


Genius was played wrong both times. A friend tried it, went all in with the drawing and threatened to win...only to lose his hand and his power to the coordinated efforts of other players. With no colonies and no power, he was out of the game.

And the same thing happened to me when I tried it. It's tempting to try to snowball into a win by getting cards because you can turn cards into more cards but it's not reliable. I think one should follow a mixed strategy with Genius, not just get cards. The ability to trade colonies for cards seems stronger to me than the alternaative win condition.

I've played Citadel twice. The first time I played them very poorly and ended up with a hand full of negotiates. The second, I paced myself much better but I made another mistake: I didn't defend losing player's bases but mine. You don't care much about your bases, as long as you don't lose your power you are fine. But you very much care about other bases because if you have a citadel there you can easily get called as an ally, win and draw four cards.

I think people are too hard on Calculator. Trying to be as close to the opponent's card as you can is fun and not as weak as it may seem.

Triplicator has the margin it needs. It's not as powerful as other combat aliens but it turns one of the most common cards into a 24 meaning that it has all the edge it needs against non-combat powers and can hold its own against the big guns. Its main strenght to me seems to be that it doesn't have the glaring weaknesses other powers have. It doesn't have a hard matchup against Antimatter, Magician, Loser or Sorcerer, for example. It's just not an standout.
 
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