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Subject: Alien Modifications for Enhanced Gameplay rss

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Riad A-A
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Not sure if I'll make too many friends with this post but here goes nothing. P.S I originally published this on Reddit but feel like it will get more traction here.

After playing Cosmic on countless occasions with many friends in games consisting of usually 5-6 people we found that some aliens don't quite cut it when it comes to how often you can use their powers, or just how much effect you have on your own game. I noticed that some aliens were never getting picked or that players had a negative experience after using them. So I came up with some buffs for some aliens. These aliens were selected based on how often you can use the power (i.e. offense only, if you win, etc) or the minimal effect it has (i.e alternate win aliens). My buffs took into consideration the defender rewards deck that comes with Cosmic Incursion and Dominion. I also kept them in theme with the alien as much as I could. A modified ability directly changes card text, an added ability is meant as an extra option to the original ability. To implement these changes I made direct alterations to the alien cards with index cards and scotch tape (this way I could remove them if I needed), it's not pretty but it works! One final note I do love the unbalanced aspect of cosmic encounter but if an alien is broken,has negligible effect, or just a lazy copy of another alien then why not
change it so that it plays a little better?

BASE SET

Barbarian

Buff: Offense Only Offense and Offensive Ally Only, Super Flare changed to Main Player or Ally Only (This suggestion was made by Patrick Davis on BGG).
Reason: Offense only powers are very rarely used in game. Couple it with the fact you have to win an encounter and now you have an almost useless ability in a large game. Defensive players are more likely to to invite you as an ally so they don't lose their hand if they lose.

Clone

Buff: Main Player Only As Any Player, added ability: When you are not the main player, after the encounter is resolved you may use this power to take one encounter card discarded that matches one in your hand or to discard one card from your hand that matches one that was already discarded.
Reason: Clone is a great power to use if you have an attack 15 or higher in your hand but most of the time you will probably not want the encounter cards in your hand. To make the Clone a more dynamic player the above ability was added to help the Clone keep strong cards and dispose of weaker ones.


Cudgel

Buff: Main Player Only Main Player or Ally Only, added ability: As an ally when your side wins the encounter use this power to force opposing allies to lose one extra ship of their choice, in addition to any ships they would normally lose.
Reason: Cudgel's power although powerful is very limited to winning encounters as a main player. This buff has the benefit of making you more likely to be invited as an ally as well as changing alliance dynamics.

Filch

Buff:Main Player Only As any Player, added ability: As any player when another player takes cards from you through compensation, deals, alien power or any other means you may use this power to look at the stolen cards and take one back.
Reason:From our experience Filch like clone showed limited use since most attack cards played are 15 or lower. Instead this simple added ability makes others think twice before trying to steal from the master thief.


Hacker

Buff: Main Player Only As any Player, added ability: Whenever any game effect causes you to draw a new hand you may use this power to take some or all of the cards from the rewards deck instead of the cosmic deck.
Reason: Compensation collection is a special and rare occurrence. No one I have played with has chosen hacker due to this reality. The rewards deck is awesome, a full hand of rewards is extra awesome. Now you are suddenly a very dangerous player.

Masochist

Buff: added ability: Whenever any other player uses Mobius Tubes or Rifts against you use this power to return only half of your ships (rounded down) from the warp to your colonies.
Reason: The masochist win condition is exponentially harder with rifts added to the game. This condition makes it a more viable option again.


Mite

Buff: Offense only Main Player or Ally Only, added ability: Whenever you collect rewards or compensation use this power to look at them, and add any or all of them to your hand, discarding the ones you don't want.
Reason: Mite is offense only, in a large player game this makes it hard to use. This is a small buff that gives the player a few added options. Managing hands is very important in cosmic after all. This alien is actually great in smaller games, its the bigger games where I find it struggles.


Spiff

Buff:Offense only Main Player Only, modified ability: As the offense main player, when you lose the encounter, if both players revealed attack cards and and you lost the encounter by 10 or more, you may use this power to land one of your ships that would otherwise be lost to the warp on the defense player's targeted planet.
Reason: Mostly because this is offense only but this buff actually makes more sense in my opinion since now spiff can crash land on defense too. Idea courtesy of the Cosmodex 2.0.


Tick-Tock

Buff: added ability: Every three tokens you discard causes a cosmic quake. All players discard their hands and the discard pile is shuffled to make a new deck, then eight cards are dealt to each player. Reason: Tick-Tock offers nothing for the player. The added chaos of cosmic quake can make the player more calculative of when to use cards as well as keeps everyone else on edge. We have actually had quite a bit of fun with this one. Also Do not use with Glutton if you have Cosmic Conflict.

Warrior

Buff:Main Player Only, Main Player or Ally Only, modified ability: After an encounter in which you were a main player main player or ally, add one token to this sheet if you won (or made a deal) or two tokens if you lost (or failed to make a deal). Reason: Warrior takes too long to accumulate tokens. Other aliens like Fury are much more effective much sooner. This buff helps warrior get much stronger quicker which helps in large player games. To balance it you still only use your power as a main player, unless you have your super .


Will

Buff:Offense Only Main Player Only, added ability: During any other player's destiny phase, if they draw your player color destiny card (excluding wild and special destiny cards), you may use this power to force the offense to draw a new card by discarding one ship of your choice from any one of your colonies. Reason: Offense only alien blah blah blah, but come on it only made sense to have more control control of your own destiny.


Void

Buff: Main Player Only Main Player or Ally Only, added ability: As an ally when your side wins the encounter use this power to remove one ship from each player on the loosing side from the game rather than sending them to the warp. Reason: Just like Cudgel, Void's power although powerful is very limited to winning encounters as a main player. This buff has the benefit of making you more likely to be invited as an ally as well as changing alliance dynamics.

COSMIC INCURSION

Bully

Buff: Main Player Only As any Player, added ability: When you are not the main player, after the main players have successfully negotiated a deal you may use this power to force one of the main players to give you all the gains of their deal (all cards and/or foreign colony). Reason: Winning as a main player is hard in a big game, this is an added bonus that really does make you a bully to look out for.

Ethic

Buff: Main Player Only Main Player or Ally Only, modified ability: As a main player main player or ally, after you lose an encounter... Reason: It's a small buff that makes Ethic more useful in bigger games and can make you an additional threat as an opposing ally.

Genius

Buff: added ability: After starting hands are dealt, whenever any game effect causes you to draw a new hand (hand zap, cosmic quake, etc.), you may use this power to keep four cards, set aside the cards you want, draw a new hand, then add the cards you kept to your new hand. Reason: With hand zap in the mix it makes it even harder for Genius to get to that big 20. This slight buff keeps you at 12 cards minimum improving your chances to get that alternate win condition.

Ghoul

Buff: Main Player Only As any Player, added ability: whenever any one other player collects rewards you may use this power to discard cards from your hand up to the number of rewards collected by that player. Reason: You can still only collect rewards winning as a main player but this added ability can help you get rid of crappy cards you'll build up in your hand.

Guerrilla

Main Player Only Main Player or Ally Only, modified ability: As a main player main player or ally, after you lose an encounter... Reason: Just like Ethic it's a small buff that makes Guerrilla more useful in bigger games and can make you an additional threat as an opposing ally.

Locust

Buff: added ability: Whenever a hazard is drawn from the destiny deck, if you have a shared foreign colony use this power to send all but one of your ships from that colony to an adjacent planet in that system. Your ships devour the same number of ships on that planet, sending both your ships and devoured ships to the warp. If you have any ships remaining immediately establish a colony. Reason: Locust is a non power essentially. This buff is intended to take the supposedly scary locust and make it an actually scary ability. If you can keep this newly acquired colony until the next regroup phase you can devour the planet thereby effectively using the original ability. This does make it slightly similar to disease except that you can still lose your ships if you are not careful (have too few ships on your foreign colony) or if the player who owns the system is wary (stacks ships on adjacent planets).

Seeker


Buff: Modified Ability: As a main player or ally, after alliances are formed but before encounter cards are selected, you may use this power to ask one "yes or no" question of one of the main players (your opponent, if you are a main player) or allies. Added ability: If the questioned player fails to abide by their answer they must immediately lose a foreign colony to the warp. Also your question can not contain the words (and) or (or). Reason: There is no obligation for a player to answer truthfully which didn't make sense to me. The loss of a foreign colony is meant to prevent this. Also the limit on (and) and (or) is to prevent long drawn out questions. The switch to include allies really adds more flexibility to the seekers questions.

And that's all for the Incursion aliens!

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Riad A-A
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Ido Abelman
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Personally I am someone that doesn't like to tinker with established designs, I like to play within the design and see what I can do with it. I see the appeal of some of your changes though. Many are geared towards larger games. I don't play a lot of larger games and when I do I usually try to avoid main player only powers. I guess it's nice to still have them as a good option in those games but then they might become a bit too much in the smaller games?

As you say mite is great in the lower player counts and IMO bully too. Void less so, it has been my opinion for a while that void is much less powerful than it is scary, and that it compares somewhat unfavorably to fungus (fungus captured ships can be released, but they also add to your strength). So I like that change even though I'll probably not use it.

Some of your buffs are adding basically unrelated effects to the power. Some are related thematically but I always liked powers that seem like packages of different effects a bit less. I guess with say clone there is not much way to buff the effect itself so you add an ability to get to better cards more easily, kind of like the clone super. But with say locust I'd much rather make the planet-eating part better than add a mostly unrelated disease-like part. Maybe bake the super flare into the main power? Hacker is also unrelated and also relies on the reward deck variant being in the game - no other power in FFG edition is variant specific.

The addition to tick-tock is IMO also not a good alien effect by itself - it is passive and basically adds an event that will happen a few times during the game, affecting everyone. Might as well be a hazard or something. Hurts all card hoarders and managers, which I guess some powers already do, but in a more interesting and manageable way.

Masochist - good addition I guess, the power is pretty weak even without rift. However I think it should refer to "any game effect that causes you to retrieve ships" instead of specifying mobius tubes and rifts, to keep it more generic for future effects. Even now it might have the added benefit of not being hosed as badly by healer.
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Riad A-A
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Thank you for your reply and I only posted these as suggestions and how my gaming group has adapted the aliens to be a bit more dynamic. I am always open to new suggestions.

CBpegasus wrote:
I guess it's nice to still have them as a good option in those games but then they might become a bit too much in the smaller games?


Actually yes! We had initially added that Warrior accumulated 3 tokens on a loss and 2 on a win as a main player or ally and had to remove that because it made Warrior an overpowered nightmare (read bad dream and not CE alien, ). We ended up removing that but keeping the ally part and it balanced perfectly. I know there is a human test to see if an alien really is any good, well we like to use the virus test to see if the alien is too overpowered after a change, if virus is till scarier then we accept the changes made.

CBpegasus wrote:
As you say mite is great in the lower player counts and IMO bully too. Void less so, it has been my opinion for a while that void is much less powerful than it is scary, and that it compares somewhat unfavorably to fungus (fungus captured ships can be released, but they also add to your strength). So I like that change even though I'll probably not use it.


Our thoughts exactly. The Void was not as scary as it should be :. Also even after changes to Mite and Bully were made they didn't really make them any more overpowered in a small game. Actually through experience the Bully added power gets better in larger games where more deals are being made.

CBpegasus wrote:
Some of your buffs are adding basically unrelated effects to the power. Some are related thematically but I always liked powers that seem like packages of different effects a bit less. I guess with say clone there is not much way to buff the effect itself so you add an ability to get to better cards more easily, kind of like the clone super. But with say locust I'd much rather make the planet-eating part better than add a mostly unrelated disease-like part. Maybe bake the super flare into the main power?


Actually the thematic aspect of these changes was the hardest to validate and I wholeheartedly agree that some shouldn't be considered for the sake of immersion. But upon closer inspection you might realize that a lot of these are just parts of the main ability, for example mites ability to make an opponent lose cards, I thought to myself how can we make this benefit Mite? And some actually make sense thematically, Bullies ability to steal one sides of a deal is akin to stealing someone's lunch money XD. The Locust ability is one I am not too happy about because it does step on Disease's toes, and that was one of main issues with some of these aliens to begin with (kind of hypocritical ammirite?). However when reviewing this underwhelming alien I thought to myself, what does the Locust do? Spread and consume! And thus this idea was born. I read in another thread some other variations on Locust and one in particular stood out. One user, Chris O, suggested Locust announce a 1 v 1 in destiny phase and have no allies join in that encounter. I think this one is also great and might even be better for some individuals.

CBpegasus wrote:
Hacker is also unrelated and also relies on the reward deck variant being in the game - no other power in FFG edition is variant specific.


I completely forgot the rewards deck is not from the base set, my gaming group never plays without it XD. Actually I'm open to suggestions on this one. In regards to relatedness I thought of it as hacking the game itself and taking cards you want from a particular deck as opposed to another players hand.

CBpegasus wrote:
The addition to tick-tock is IMO also not a good alien effect by itself - it is passive and basically adds an event that will happen a few times during the game, affecting everyone. Might as well be a hazard or something. Hurts all card hoarders and managers, which I guess some powers already do, but in a more interesting and manageable way.


Very fair points, this is a passive ability but that is part of the beauty (and the theme). Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock; time winds down and the inevitable loss of cards is triggered. The idea was to scare everyone into managing their hands more efficiently and reset the playing field. And the fact that it hurts card hoarders was completely intentional . Also any added abilities are meant to be played alongside original abilities so this effect is coupled with the alternate win condition.

CBpegasus wrote:
Masochist - good addition I guess, the power is pretty weak even without rift. However I think it should refer to "any game effect that causes you to retrieve ships" instead of specifying mobius tubes and rifts, to keep it more generic for future effects. Even now it might have the added benefit of not being hosed as badly by healer.


I actually love this suggestion , I will change it to this version when I get the chance! And with your permission in the original post.
 
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