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Subject: Won the game on my 2nd turn, assuming we did something wrong rss

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David Wishart
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Last night I played my first game of Cosmic Encounter. It was a 3 player game (first problem I noticed) and I was the traders (green), the player to my left was the Macron (yellow) and the player on my right was the clones (blue).

I went first, flipped over a green destiny card which was no good, so I flipped another and it was blue, I played the Plague artifact card on him and then attacked and won. So 1 foreign planet mine. I then flipped over the destiny deck again for my 2nd encounter. It was a special card that attacked the player with the most foreign planets other than me, so I attacked yellow since he was to my left to break the tie. He played a negotiate card, I played an encounter card, but had an artifact to switch mine to negotiate, which we did. He let me place 2 green ships on one of his planets and I let him place 2 yellow ships on the foreign blue planet I conquered the previous encounter. Now I have 2 foreign worlds.

Next Yellow goes, flips over his first ecounter, which was blue and wins that encounter by allying with me, letting me put a ship on the blue planet (I had an essential reinforcement card). Now I have 3 foreign planets. Next he attacks again and its a special which attacks me. I win on defense. Now blue takes his turn. Half his ships are already in the warp. He flips a yellow planet and the defender had no encounter cards, so drew a new hand. Then yellow successfully defended. At this point no one wanted me as an ally. So now it's my turn again. My first attack hits yellow and I win using one of my last 2 cards, the 20 encounter card, leaving me with just the 6 encounter card. I flip the destiny deck again, and it's another yellow due to a special card (least ships in the warp). I use my trader ability to give him my lowly 6 encounter card, take his 13, and even with an alliance from blue I can use the +5 reinforcement card to win the encounter handily. At this point I now have 5 foreign planets and win.

I got 2 turns, each other player only got 1. It was a pretty disappointing first play. Does it sounds like we got a rule or 2 wrong or was it just poor strategy from my opponents to let me bulldoze over them?

Thanks
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Adam Rouse
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I just skimmed over it, but no, I think the only thing wrong you did was play Cosmic with three players, but you can hardly be blamed for this since it was your first game. With three players, you have to be very cautious about inviting allies. With 4+ players, there's a much greater swing from allies to help block a win, more turns to gain rewards before someone attacks again, etc.
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Big Head Zach
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Here's a few comments:

* You played the Plague card after you flipped the Destiny card. Plague (according to FFG rules) can only be played during the Regroup phase (which still happens even though in the beginning of the game there are no ships to retrieve from the Warp).[1]

* This session demonstrates the first thing new Cosmic Encounter players learn: Only invite allies if you absolutely NEED them. Even if its on defense, you are potentially giving your allies a number of draws from the main deck which can give them better chances at winning encounters, plus a host of other artifacts and effects which they can use against you later.

* When you play with 3 players, the mechanic of alliances is a bit underwhelming - the odd man either joins one side or the other. With 4 or more the game takes on a lot better social dynamic, because you can choose who to bring in and who to leave out.

In short, minimum of 4 players if you want the ideal Cosmic experience. 3 is good if you want to play through the rules and understand how things work, but the real meat of the game is the hand management and poker-style diplomacy that emerges from having more players (think of ships as poker chips, and launching/allying as betting, and you'll see what I mean).

[1] Originally (in older editions) the Plague was a "Play at any time" card, so your play wasn't entirely invalid here - it just has the potential to cause issues with drawing new hands / not having a card to play later on. If you're wanting to play strictly by the rules, though, you should have played Plague BEFORE knowing who you were going to encounter.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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The only thing that sounds wrong is the title of your thread. It should probably read, "Won the game on my 2nd turn, assuming we did nothing wrong."

CE is a great game because of how random some games can be. You can win in the first few turns or it can take hours depending on player strategies, powers involved, cards drawn, etc. I've played in a couple games where it was over before I even had a turn (I was the 5th player and the 4th player won the game). It happens, especially with a lot of new players who tend to freely ask for allies a lot. That stops happening as players learn the powers and cards better.

When a game ends that quick, all the better, you have a plenty of time now to play a 2nd game!

-shnar
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Ken H.
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It's also worth mentioning that in a matchup between Trader, Macron, and Clone, I would expect Trader to have the advantage. It's a much stronger ability than Macron's. Clone has above-average power usually, but is completely nerfed by Trader, and in fact makes Trader stronger.

Bad matchups happen from time to time, and are possibly more common (or at least more noticeable) in a 3-player game. However, the game does work well with 3 most of the time. I actually like playing that way.

Rules-wise, it sounds like you did everything right. I'm curious how Macron lost his defensive encounter against you, since strong defense is really his only ability. Edit: never mind. I was confused between yellow and blue. I see now that Macron did win defensively, except against the 20.

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Just a Bill
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No, I said "oh, brother," not "go hover."
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I guess I just want to back up Zach here, since everyone else seems to be saying "everything" you did was correct. Interpret those comments as "everything except the Plague" and you'll be in great shape.
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Matthew Lock
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I was the yellow player in this game and I can attest to the speed of the game and the feeling of "what just happened" when it was over. But its good to know how this game can be and that we should try it with more players perhaps.
 
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Tim
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mlock wrote:
I was the yellow player in this game and I can attest to the speed of the game and the feeling of "what just happened" when it was over.


That was my experience after my first 2-3 plays... Keep playing, it gets better when you start to see the subtleties like inviting allies when you know you can't win the fight, just to send them to the warp with you and other mean-spirited, but hilarious things like that.

Like when you're playing Dictator (can choose the destiny card for other players) and you choose to make Grudge (can kill ships of players that refuse to ally with him) fight the Void (kills ships permanently when they win an encounter).

Hilarity ensues.
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Patrick G.
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Solubles wrote:

I got 2 turns, each other player only got 1. It was a pretty disappointing first play. Does it sounds like we got a rule or 2 wrong or was it just poor strategy from my opponents to let me bulldoze over them?

Thanks


If there is a lot of asking for allies this can happen. Even with more players.. in fact more so with more players.
My first game I played with 6 players I won my second turn as well.

You did most things right.. but your opponents asking you for help with attacking made mistakes of asking you.
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Add in the 2 power variant and you'll see a significant change in gameplay

-shnar
 
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Daniel Gorney
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Letting someone Ally with you always* helps them more than it helps you.

(*: Unless you are planning on losing and you're just trying to sucker them into losing some ships; or in another fairly rare case that I discuss below.)

This doesn't mean you shouldn't invite Allies; however, you should always be aware of the value of invitations when playing.

Offensive invitation:
Offense Wins: Both players gain colonies, but the Ally is gaining a colony during another player's encounter and will have two potential attempts on his own turn to conquer more; thus, the Ally ends up ahead.

It's important to note that a player can only reach 4 colonies maximum on their own by the 2nd turn; it is only possible to reach 5 colonies and win on the 2nd turn if a player benefits from being invited as an Offensive Ally. Offering no Offensive invitations at all guarantees that the game lasts more than 2 turns (assuming no miscellaneous game effects like Flares/Technologies/etc grant any colonies during that time.) Thus, the situation you described in the OP is only possible if Offensive invitations are given.

A general rule: Inviting a player to be an Offensive Ally, even one time, enables them to win the game one turn earlier than they could otherwise. That is very powerful; remember it the next time you are considering Alliance invitations.

Offense Loses: Both players lose ships. Both players come out equal here. (Unless one of the players has an extreme shortage of ships.)

As you can see, a Win benefits the Ally more, and a Loss hurts both players equally; thus, on the whole, an Offensive invitation is more beneficial to the Ally than it is to the Main Player.

Defensive invitation:
Defense wins: Main player gets to keep his Planet, which is not very valuable most of the time, and gains nothing else; the Ally gets up to 4 Defender Rewards, which are incredibly valuable, especially with the Reward Deck in play.

Generally speaking, a player does not really need to try very hard to defend his first two Planets that are attacked. Losing two planets is not as bad as it seems at first; in fact, it can often be slightly beneficial. When a player loses a Home Planet, he can expect that same Home Planet to be attacked again any time he is targeted in the future by a player who doesn't already have a colony on that empty Home Planet. Any smart Offensive player who is attacking him will realize that it is in their best interest to assault the empty Home Planet; thus, a large majority of attacks against him will be "funneled" onto a single Planet that he no longer even needs to care about defending. This allows him the luxury of routinely throwing away his worst cards on Defense, allowing for superior Hand Management --which is, arguably, the most important aspect of Cosmic.

This "funneling" phenomenon also ensures that the player probably will not lose a 2nd Home Planet for quite some time --if most Offensive players are attacking that same empty Home Planet, then your other Home Planets are safe. Eventually a 2nd Home Planet will be taken, which changes things slightly by opening up the threat of Alien Power loss, but the situation is still largely beneficial, as many players will realize that continuing to attack your empty Home Planets is still more beneficial to them (it is much easier and far less risky than attempting to take your 3rd Home Planet and cut off your Alien Power, because that 3rd Home Planet will usually be fiercely defended, at any cost, thus making it a very tough and risky target.)

Defense loses: Both players lose ships, but the Main Player also loses a Planet. The Main Player loses slightly more here, but, as discussed above, losing your first Planet is usually beneficial and losing your second Planet isn't really too bad.

Again, the risk to the Main Player escalates dramatically if they are at risk of losing their 3rd Planet, as that would result in the loss of their power. At that point, it is much more beneficial to the Main Player to invite Allies. You should remember this rule when considering whether or not to attack a player's 3rd Home Planet in an attempt to sever their Power; that player will be inviting as many allies as possible. If he doesn't invite anyone, that simply means he has an overwhelmingly powerful card in his hand he is planning on using to defeat you. Either way, you're in for a tough and highly risky battle --if he invites a ton of Allies and wins, then not only did you waste your chance to get a Foreign Colony, but all of your enemies who helped him are now immensely more powerful due to Defender Rewards; if he uses the powerful card to crush you then you still wasted your chance to get a Foreign Colony and indirectly helped your opponents by ensuring that none of them had to suffer the wrath of that powerful card. Either way, you lose big.

The point of all that is to prove this: The Defending Main Player does not benefit from Alliances as much as his Allies do, unless it comes down to defending his 3rd Home Planet.

So, as you can see, Allies benefit more from being invited than you do from inviting them. (Except in rare circumstances.)

In the games I play, alliances are, at a minimum, a reciprocal deal: I will invite you to ally but you have to invite me to ally later. (With Offensive invitations valued slightly higher than Defensive invitations.) It is understood that players are, of course, not required to honor the agreement, but routinely failing to fulfill such agreements will result in other players never inviting you to ally.
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Ken H.
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dgorney wrote:
Letting someone Ally with you always* helps them more than it helps you.


Nice write up!

One thing I would add is that you can be slightly more liberal with invitations if it's the first encounter of your turn. This is because you have your whole second encounter at risk if you lose.

Also, following on from your post, when you DO need to invite allies, it's a good idea to invite people who have fallen behind on offense (by losing one or more offensive encounters).

One other thing, sometimes you want to account for pre-emptive invitations, where you don't necessarily need an ally, but you hope to prevent the opponent from getting them. An invitation can be an 8 point swing potentially, if it means the player doesn't ally against you. This doesn't alter the above analysis of who benefits more, but it gives a different perspective on how much an ally is really helping.
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Jack Reda
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It may always help them more than you in the short term, but in my experience, anything that helps me win encounters is helping me in the long term. I am very liberal with my invitations in the early game (of course, depending on powers and combinations, but generally so). It's towards the end that I may change my ways- but again, depending on whether or not I think I can pull off a single win.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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The Warp wrote:
It may always help them more than you in the short term, but in my experience, anything that helps me win encounters is helping me in the long term. I am very liberal with my invitations in the early game (of course, depending on powers and combinations, but generally so). It's towards the end that I may change my ways- but again, depending on whether or not I think I can pull off a single win.


That's about how I play too. Invite till someone gets 4 bases, then the allies start to chill...

-shnar
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John Richert
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No, invite until someone gets three bases, then they are one turn away.
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Jefferson Krogh
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I'm more conservative. If one player is ahead, even by one colony, I won't invite him to ally unless I absolutely have to.
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Just a Bill
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No, I said "oh, brother," not "go hover."
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shnar wrote:
Invite till someone gets 4 bases
Warhammer wrote:
No, invite until someone gets three bases, then they are one turn away.

Man, you guys stand on the accelerator pedal right up until the stop sign, don't you?
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Big Head Zach
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The other half of smart alliances is not committing 4 ships unless you gain a clear advantage by doing so compared to 2-3. If cards truly have more weight than ships, and all you need is 1 ship to ally...

Commit fully when you intend to raid a hand, on defensive alliance when you need to get cards/ships, or when an ability makes full committment count more than those 3 extra points difference between minimum and full.

Otherwise, you're risking ships needlessly.

That's where aliens whose powers affect foreign colonies throw a monkey wrench into that part of the tactics. Disease, Shadow, etc.
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