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Cosmic Encounter» Forums » Variants

Subject: Is there a variant to prevent getting screwed? rss

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Ross Levine
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Just picked this game up last week and we are all having a lot of fun. However, it seems that sometimes people complain that if they start with a terrible hand, they have a really hard time doing well. I know that this game is supposed to be chaotic and has a lot of luck but I was wondering if anyone has some sort of house rule to address this a little.
 
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Bobby Warren
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Don't play ever again?
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Freelance Police
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Need to run, but if you have a bad hand:

* Ally with the defender. You draw cards this way, albeit randomly. But if you draw a flare, it can make all the difference to a bad hand. Also, the expansion set has the Rewards deck, which makes the cards drawn as a defensive ally better.

* Negotiate cards are NOT bad cards. Often, I will ask if my opponent has a Negotiate, then offer to play one as well. Not only do we both get bases, but, if my cards are "bad", I offer to give him all my cards as well!

* Cosmic *IS* a game with hand management. But if someone regularly complains of a "bad hand", let them play Trader!
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Jefferson Krogh
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It's not the cards, it's how you deal with them. Bad cards? There are several ways to get more, better cards -- use a Negotiate, ally as defense, get rid of all your cards and draw a new hand.

There are ways to get rid of your cards, too. If both sides play Negotiates, offer a lopsided deal -- "I'll give you a bunch of cards in exchange for a colony." Bluff your opponent, make him burn his best against against your lowest crap card. Even better, bluff your opponent into playing a Negotiate against you, and make him take your crappy cards!

Finally, considering that the encounter cards average out at about 10, never give up. If you're stuck with a 4, you can still win if you can cajole or entice everyone into allying with you. Offer them cookies if they'll ally with you. Or beer. Seriously -- be creative.
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Bonaparte
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Is there a variant to prevent getting screwed?

There are two:
The chastity belt and really bad acne.
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Steven
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rlbond86 wrote:
Just picked this game up last week and we are all having a lot of fun. However, it seems that sometimes people complain that if they start with a terrible hand, they have a really hard time doing well. I know that this game is supposed to be chaotic and has a lot of luck but I was wondering if anyone has some sort of house rule to address this a little.

One possible variant is to deal everybody 2 or 3 aliens (or more, even), then let them choose their alien only AFTER seeing the cards in their hand. That way if somebody has tons of low cards, they can pick the Loser or something.

As a more general matter, though, I find the powers much more significant than your initial hand!
 
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Gerald Katz
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Sam and Max wrote:
Need to run, but if you have a bad hand:

* Ally with the defender. You draw cards this way, albeit randomly. But if you draw a flare, it can make all the difference to a bad hand. Also, the expansion set has the Rewards deck, which makes the cards drawn as a defensive ally better.

* Negotiate cards are NOT bad cards. Often, I will ask if my opponent has a Negotiate, then offer to play one as well. Not only do we both get bases, but, if my cards are "bad", I offer to give him all my cards as well!

* Cosmic *IS* a game with hand management. But if someone regularly complains of a "bad hand", let them play Trader!


Asking your opponent if he has a Negotiate then offering to deal is considered "Table Talk" and usually frowned upon. There's no force. Your opponent could say yes then play an Attack anyway to your Negotiate, but it's still bad form to ask. You need a game reason to know about a player's hand, such as Seeker asking a question, Mind using his power, or the Finder Artifact. A legitimate way to let your opponent know you want to deal is to attack where you already have a colony.

As for the OP, if you're dealt a bad hand that's just part of the game, and you need to deal with it. Ally defensively to get cards that are hopefully better. Play a Negotiate to get compensation in hopes of getting your opponent's good cards. Maybe your opponent has a bad hand too. It's not unheard for one main player to play Attack 6 while the other plays Attack 4 and neither are Sorcerer, Anti-Matter, or Loser.
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mar hawkman
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Getting screwed is part of Cosmic. It's part of what makes the game fun!
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hadsil wrote:
Asking your opponent if he has a Negotiate then offering to deal is considered "Table Talk" and usually frowned upon. There's no force. Your opponent could say yes then play an Attack anyway to your Negotiate, but it's still bad form to ask.


I don't see it as bad form. It's no different than pointing out a bad move if you ally with such-and-such a person. I see CE as much a negotiation and deal-making game as anything else.

There is indeed *no* force. Telling your opponent that you have a Negotiate *does* give information that you might not want to give. And there's no reason they should listen to you. It's no different than other deal rules in Ameritrash games.

EDIT: I'll add that with CE, it's often essential to have good negotiation skills, because some players will start out with powers that are just plain weaker than others. That's why it's best played with four or more players. If Virus (multiplies Attack card instead of adds) is on the table and you're Philanthropist (gives card to either player in main challenge), you're going to need all the help you can get!

In any case, you are free to play the game with your group any way you want. IMO, "table talk" in CE adds a great deal of strategy to the game.
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Aaron Tubb
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hadsil wrote:
Asking your opponent if he has a Negotiate then offering to deal is considered "Table Talk" and usually frowned upon. There's no force. Your opponent could say yes then play an Attack anyway to your Negotiate, but it's still bad form to ask.

"Table talk" is frowned upon? It's part of the game! It's one of the things that makes face-to-face board gaming a unique social experience.
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Kobold Curry Chef wrote:
If both sides play Negotiates, offer a lopsided deal -- "I'll give you a bunch of cards in exchange for a colony."

Or even "I'll give you a colony if you take all these crappy cards off my hands."

Gerald Katz wrote:
Asking your opponent if he has a Negotiate then offering to deal is considered "Table Talk" and usually frowned upon.

Not in any group I've ever played CE in. Of course either side could be lying. "Sure! I'll play a Negotiate! Then we can make a deal! ... Whoops! That's not a Negotiate. Oh, well. I guess I win the challenge. So sad for you."
 
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Just a Bill
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hadsil wrote:
Asking your opponent if he has a Negotiate then offering to deal is considered "Table Talk" and usually frowned upon.

Wait, what? You like your aliens ambiguous so that arguments are practically guaranteed and you enjoy wide latitude in rules interpretation because it's "more cosmic", but you don't allow table talk? You, my friend, are a mystery to me. ;-)

Anyway, count me among those who say table talk is and always has been perfectly acceptable (perhaps even expected) in Cosmic Encounter. Seems to me the various designers have been pretty consistent about ruling that you can say whatever you want about whatever, but you aren't allowed to prove you're telling the truth by actually showing any cards (unless an effect allows it, of course).
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Gerald Katz
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Trying to convince people to ally or not to ally is fine. You can say "If you ally with me we'll win, definitely." You can ask an ally to play a Reinforcement after cards are revealed when you can't do anything more to increase your encounter total. However, there is that fine line limitation of not showing cards from your hand or saying what you have. You need some game component usage or permission to partake of that privileged information. "Permission" is for situations like Negotiate Deals where you can offer specific cards in your hand no one knew you had before. As long as the game gives you cassus belli, you can say or do what you want with your cards.


 
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Big Head Zach
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If your interpretation is correct, Gerald, then why does the Mind power have to state outright "You may not tell other players what you see," if the spirit of the rules forbids such talk in the first place?
 
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David Tolin
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Hmmm... That's really odd. I've always been under the impression that discussing your hand and verbally suggesting a negotiation was verboten--and not just from an etiquette standpoint. I could have sworn that the Mayfair rules said something about it... or maybe it's something I picked up from CE Online? I don't know.

At any rate, I've checked my FFG version and there doesn't seem to be anything prohibiting it. Seems like a strange way to play, though, and I imagine we'll probably continue treating it as forbidden. Part of the fun of the Negotiate card is figuring out a way to telegraph to the other player that you're about to play one (such as attacking with only a single ship and not calling for allies).

Saying, "Hey, I'll play Negotiate if you do" pretty much takes the teeth out of the whole dilemma.
 
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Douglas Lesavoy
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bhz1 wrote:
If your interpretation is correct, Gerald, then why does the Mind power have to state outright "You may not tell other players what you see," if the spirit of the rules forbids such talk in the first place?

I'm on the side that table talk is smiled upon (not frowned). As a player in this game I can say whatever I want, be it truthful or not, no one knows. As the mind, you know what everyone has and cannot definitively reveal it. When I end up as the mind I do like to hint at what other people have. I'll say, "Hey offense, ask me to ally, you're going to need a little help if you wanna win this one".

I guess it really all boils down to house rules or group preference. I know my group would find much less enjoyment in the game if we weren't constantly bluffing each other about how we're about to play the 40 card or "good thing I've got this morph card here..." only to end up playing a negotiate.

Kobold Curry Chef wrote:
There are ways to get rid of your cards, too. If both sides play Negotiates, offer a lopsided deal -- "I'll give you a bunch of cards in exchange for a colony." Bluff your opponent, make him burn his best against against your lowest crap card. Even better, bluff your opponent into playing a Negotiate against you, and make him take your crappy cards!


This is brilliant. I never thought of using the whole 'you take all my trash' move in a negotiation.
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Gerald Katz
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bhz1 wrote:
If your interpretation is correct, Gerald, then why does the Mind power have to state outright "You may not tell other players what you see," if the spirit of the rules forbids such talk in the first place?


Reinforcement.

 
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Daniel Kearns
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Anyone can play a kickass hand.

The game is in how you deal with a bad situation.

Tip #1: If you have a "bad" hand, don't let your opponents know.





 
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Just a Bill
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Hmm, I think my faulty memory has resulted in spreading misinformation. I went back through some old Encounter magazine issues to see if I could look up some "tell but don't show" statements, but all I found was an answer from Jack Kittredge that seems to imply the opposite. Vol. 1, no. 4, p. 14:

4) Are allies in Cosmic Encounter allowed to openly communicate with each other and the main player they are allied with? Example: I'm the Seeker, and I have allied offensively. Can I ask the offensive player for a yes or no question to ask the defensive player?

Editor: Allies can communicate with each other generally, but not disclose specific cards they have or will play. Only more general comments and posturing is considered good form in our games.

Granted this isn't about communicating with the opponent, but I would assume the Future Pastimes guys probably applied similar "good form" boundaries to that situation as well. Interesting.
 
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Shane Is Board
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dkearns wrote:
Anyone can play a kickass hand.

The game is in how you deal with a bad situation.

Tip #1: If you have a "bad" hand, don't let your opponents know.


This, right here; nobody *knows* you have a bad hand, so act like you don't until you can either pawn them off or get new cards or some such; that and what everyone else says. This game has a lot of hand management going on as well, and a bad hand can be dealt with.
 
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Jefferson Krogh
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Bill Martinson wrote:

Editor: Allies can communicate with each other generally, but not disclose specific cards they have or will play. Only more general comments and posturing is considered good form in our games.

Granted this isn't about communicating with the opponent, but I would assume the Future Pastimes guys probably applied similar "good form" boundaries to that situation as well. Interesting.


These are the guidelines we follow. Hinting is fine, talking specifically about what we have in our hands is not allowed. Talking specifically about what we know other people have in their hands is not allowed, but hints are fine.

So I would say that I am in general agreement with Gerald on this one. That being said, I can see playing CE with more liberal table talk, with the right group of people.
 
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john plant
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Ahem,
A good hand is only two challenges away from being a rubbish hand(Could be more/could be less), if you have two cards above 10 then that has to be better than average, but you might waste them on home system defence before your turn to attack. Of course you could keep the high cards for your turn, but then you are one home base away from normality/ powerless. A good hand never remains good, and having easy initial challenges doesn't give you any ongoing card advantage. Once they have been played they are gone until recycled.Never give up hope.

There are ways to get new cards and you have to go down that route which can be quite entertaining when you pick up interesting cards as well.



I have always played that you cant tell people what you have in your hand or what you intend to play: how can you make a deal before the cards are played!

But that doesn't mean you cant sound optimistic when asking for allies, or suggest the likely hood of success.
 
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Just a Bill
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I think you should sound optimistic even when things go badly. When somebody takes your best cards as compensation, the natural reaction is to be miffed or frustrated. But instead, act like you barely even care because you have a handful of great cards (even though what you really have left is trash).

Him (drawing from your hand): "Booyah ...score!"
You (shrugging with a little snort): "You think that was my best attack?"
(or) "Play that against me; I'll still beat it."
(or, in feigned helplessness) "Oh no, now what will I play?"

Obviously a lot depends on who the other players are, how well you know each other, and your skill at being subtle and knowing when and how often to bluff (sometimes you need to display the negative emotions so the fake positives get some traction), but this can encourage others to play negotiates against you so they can get some good stuff before the mine runs dry. If you're convincing, you'll win your next encounter or two (and/or make some deals) and have a fresh hand in no time.

If you play with the same group and you're known for wearing your emotions on your sleeve, you have an opportunity to use this to your advantage. Just don't overdo it (and try not to get caught!) so you can fly under the radar for as long as possible. If everyone keeps thinking they can always read you but they really can't, that's as good as playing with an extra alien power!
 
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Just a Bill
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Dave Davies wrote:
Is there a variant to prevent getting screwed?

There are two:
The chastity belt and really bad acne.

Don't forget BCGs — Birth Control Glasses.

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