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Subject: Best Home-brews series #2 - UMBRA - May Force Ships-Only Combat rss

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Chris O
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The 2nd power in the best of my home-brews series. This one focuses on a little-tried concept: ignoring encounter cards altogether in combat. Maybe it needs to be changed a bit to destroying enemy ships equal to how many your side has in the encounter before cards are revealed. Maybe its good as is. Is it a worthy power? You be the judge:




[_] UMBRA May Force Ships-Only Combat [_]

You have the power to Flank. As a main player, after cards have been played but before they are revealed you may use this power to force all played encounter cards to be discarded. The totals of each side are now factored without them. Reinforcements may be still be played.

Born with space-flight-capable wings, the ever-moving Umbra are nocturnal by nature. Hiding from the light of stars on the dark sides of their planets, they are able to move with the darkness and strike any their prey by surprise. Wary must the alien be who thinks the night holds nothing to be feared.

Main Player Only Optional[/COLOR]
[BGCOLOR=#009999]Start Turn Regroup Destiny Launch Alliance
Planning Reveal Resolution

Wild: After alliances are formed, force your opponent’s allies to reduce their allied ships to only 1, and they are prevented from using reinforcements this encounter.
Main Player Only Alliance

Super: When using your power, you may send any number of your ships not involved in the encounter to the warp to send an equal total of ships belonging to your opponent and/or his allies in the encounter to the warp. Recalculate the totals for both sides.
Main Player Only Planning




What's unique about it?: It is the only power I have ever seen that breaks the ships + cards = total formula. Now it is broken down to ships alone for the most part. This means it is a game where encounter cards don't matter so much compared to attack power via alien powers like Leviathan or Warrior, and Reinforcements become more important.

Why would I want to play it?: First off, you'd want to play this alien if there are a lot of high attack aliens in the game, and people will want to ally with you early on for free bases if the allied totals are overwhelmingly in your favor. Also the ability to back-stab with this alien is tremendous when people pile on. This power is pretty much a guaranteed win if other players allow you to have it. You may also find yourself having less ships on your side and knowing you opponent will play a better card in order to assure victory. You can upset them by using your power and making them discard their good card in order to use a bunch of reinforcements and win the encounter.

Useful against: Umbra is incredibly useful against aliens that capitalize on high attack totals due to their cards. Virus, Deuce, Anti-Matter are just a few that would be supremely disadvantaged by this power.

Countered by: Reserve is the greatest counter to this power, provided he has lots of cards to play as reinforcements, Umbra is no threat at all. Leviathan or Warrior would still have a chance against this alien since their power allows them for non-card attack power. This alien is also largely countered if everyone gangs up against him, as his power might hurt him more unless he has his super and some reinforcements, where he can gain a huge victory over incredible odds.
 
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Big Head Zach
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How would Umbra interact with Virus? Is this another vaccine for everyone's favorite whipping alien?

I guess in a broader sense, how does this power function against powers that also specifically change how totals are calculated?
 
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I don't think Anti-Matter would be disadvantaged by this power at all.

Without allies, Umbra would find it quite useless to activate this power against Anti-Matter, as there's no winning situation when Anti-Matter's tokens subtract and lower totals win. I'd put Anti-Matter in the "Countered by" category.

Virus, Deuce, Pacifist, etc would definitely be wary of Umbra.

In fact, with the ability of Umbra to force discards and thus cycle his hand of bad cards, it looks a little too powerful. I'd modify it to "return played cards to hands". Aside from reinforcements (which are few), there's really no reason why Umbra should lose most challenges, since there's no randomness left in the challenge step.

With the ability to count challenge totals ahead of time, he's a better Oracle than Oracle (not needing to actually *beat* the card played), and has the card-cycling ability of Philanthropist as well. Yow.
 
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Chris O
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Against Virus it would basically zap him since there is no card to multiply ships with. It would just be ships on his side + reinforcements = total. The normal revealing encounter cards and adding them or effecting them never happens when a Flank is called.

His being able to win encounters and cycle cards isn't as good as you think. First off, players would know how Umbra works, and if they really wanted to stop him then they'd all ally against him. At that point his power is useless unless the difference in ship totals is extremely little, where he can afford to use his power if he thinks he has enough reinforcements.

He can only cycle 1 card as a main player. Philanthropist cycles a card every single encounter AND screws someone else over (usually) by doing so.

The only way I could change this power to still maintain semblance of a "sneak attack" ability is to have him declare a flank at the beginning of the alliance phase, which would prevent all alliances with his opponent. That would eliminate the card cycling but would make him more likely to have 1 on 1 fights and win them with reinforcements.
 
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Big Head Zach
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That would add Parasite to the list of powers it has priority over.
 
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Chris O
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It would only have priority over Parasite if that change was needed, but I don't think it is.
 
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Chris O
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One of my fav powers, but needs some serious play testing. Any takers?
 
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Just a Bill
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Since the gameplay engine does not define how to resolve an encounter with no encounter cards, you probably need give a little more direction here. One possibility (that is very simple and eliminates rules questions) would be to say that both encounter cards become Attack 00s. This also helps get out of the situation where somebody has "revealed a negotiate card", because now they have (retroactively) revealed an Attack 00.
 
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