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Subject: Changeling Question rss

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Michael Marvosh
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My friend and I are having an argument over how to interpret Changeling's ability.

The card says something like "swap alien powers with your opponent." Note that it doesn't say you swap alien power cards. That is what's causing the problem.

I say that this means that you take their alien power card, they get yours, and both players keep the card in front of them until the new Changeling swaps with someone.

He thinks that it means you just trade powers for the duration of the encounter, after which everything is restored to normal. That is, the same player remains the Changeling for the whole game. I'm not positive I summarized his opinion right, so if I get further clarification from him, I'll post it below.

How do you interpret the text on this card and why?
 
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Ken H.
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According to the Warp, it says "swap alien sheets". Older versions of the power from earlier editions are even more explicit, and say to trade the "Alien Power Card". Either way, it's clear that you physically trade the piece of cardboard. It doesn't say the trade is permanent, but then nothing in CE says that -- it's just assumed. Like, when you take compensation from someone's hand, there is no question of whether you have to give it back later.

Your friend's interpretation might make an interesting alien, but it's not how Changeling works. (Edit: come to think of it, your friend's interpretation is an interesting alien, which is called Insect, though not published in the FFG set.)
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It says right on the Changelings card: "...When swapping alien sheets..."

It does not say to swap back at the end of the encounter.

You were correct.
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Sean Franco
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In a game with Changeling, it's very possible that each player might be playing with two or three alien cards (and therefore alien powers) in front of them in a single game.
 
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Jack Reda
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logopolys wrote:
In a game with Changeling, it's very possible that each player might be playing with two or three alien cards (and therefore alien powers) in front of them in a single game.


Not sure what you mean by this. If everyone starts with 1 alien each, they never have more than 1 each (unless you added an alien through technology). When Changeling swaps, he no longer has the Changeling alien (his opponent has it). Did you mean something else? Wha??
 
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Just a Bill
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You're all correct about how Changeling in supposed to work, but in defense of the OP's friend the alien sheet is ambiguous.

Jack does indeed have a version on The Warp that says "sheets", but that's not an accurate transcription. The Changeling alien power that came out of my box of Cosmic Conflict, at least, says "powers" — four times, in fact.

This is very poor wording, since there are other effects in the game that do cause "powers" to be loaned, stolen, substituted etc. without moving the physical sheets.

I think Michael's friend is perfectly reasonable in his interpretation, even though the intention was almost certainly to work the other way.
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Michael Marvosh
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The Warp wrote:
logopolys wrote:
In a game with Changeling, it's very possible that each player might be playing with two or three alien cards (and therefore alien powers) in front of them in a single game.


Not sure what you mean by this. If everyone starts with 1 alien each, they never have more than 1 each (unless you added an alien through technology). When Changeling swaps, he no longer has the Changeling alien (his opponent has it). Did you mean something else? Wha??


I think he meant two or three over the course of the game, one at a time.
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Sean Franco
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Drinkdrawers wrote:
The Warp wrote:
logopolys wrote:
In a game with Changeling, it's very possible that each player might be playing with two or three alien cards (and therefore alien powers) in front of them in a single game.


Not sure what you mean by this. If everyone starts with 1 alien each, they never have more than 1 each (unless you added an alien through technology). When Changeling swaps, he no longer has the Changeling alien (his opponent has it). Did you mean something else? Wha??


I think he meant two or three over the course of the game, one at a time.

That is indeed what I meant.
 
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Kevin Tibbs

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Hi everyone, I'm the troublemaker in question.

I don't have the game with me, so I'll have to rely on the internet for specific wordings. I hope the multiple editions don't bite me on this front.

My standpoint is that this seems to be a very similar power to the Reincarnator, but if we look at that card (click the image) it specifically tells you to "draw a [new] alien power card". However, the Changeling says "swap alien powers with your opponent" neglecting the word "card" entirely. Now comes the third alien race that is somewhat similar (in the power changing sense): the Plant. The Plant says that you "may steal the power" also neglecting the word "card". It seems intentional (and seems intentional on the basis of not impacting other players). My knowledge of the alien deck isn't very good, so any counter examples would be welcome.

Also, there are two small niggling gripes associated with these, that just convince me all the more: 1) It's a green card. 2) It denies my opponents an alien power during my attack.

1) Green cards impact on other players tend to be minimal(ish) and short in duration, but this is an impact until their next turn, which can be huge. Reincarnator is yellow, and Plant is red. I think the Reincarnator is yellow probably because what happens if it's power gets stolen or copied, and Plant is... well it's just bizarre enough to warrant being red.

2) I steal their card, they get mine. It specifically says that the power can't be used more than once an encounter, so not only did I steal their intact alien power (plus any improvements like Warrior's experience) I *also* Cosmic Zapped them. That just seems unfun. I don't normally like to use things like "fun" or "unfun" to interpret rules, but... it just is. Now, that being said, the Changeling has a two part power. Sure, it can swap powers, but it can also not swap powers and draw a new card. I would feel better about permanently stealing a power, if the card said this power can only be swapped once per encounter, allowing my opponent to draw a card into their hand. It's not much, but it's something.

edit:spelling
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Ken H.
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KBTibbs wrote:
Hi everyone, I'm the troublemaker in question.


My response above was based on the text of the power at The Warp, which according to Bill is apparently wrong.

In that case, your argument makes perfect sense. However, since I know how the power is supposed to work, based on previous editions, I still have to side with the OP.

KBTibbs wrote:
That just seems unfun. I don't normally like to use things like "fun" or "unfun" to interpret rules, but... it just is.


Some members of my play group in the 1980's vetoed this power. There were several powers that we didn't like, but this was the only one actively forbidden in games.

So, in other words, you're not the only one to think this interpretation of the power is unfun.
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Just a Bill
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KBTibbs wrote:
My standpoint is that this seems to be a very similar power to the Reincarnator, but if we look at that card (click the image) it specifically tells you to "draw a [new] alien power card". However, the Changeling says "swap alien powers with your opponent" neglecting the word "card" entirely. Now comes the third alien race that is somewhat similar (in the power changing sense): the Plant. The Plant says that you "may steal the power" also neglecting the word "card". It seems intentional (and seems intentional on the basis of not impacting other players). My knowledge of the alien deck isn't very good, so any counter examples would be welcome.

Seems like pretty good knowledge to me, and your logic is sound. Reinforcing your view is the fact that Wild Plant and Wild Philanthropist also steal and loan (respectively) a "power" rather than a card or sheet, and those too are temporary.

Changeling does not say "sheet" but it clearly should have, as evidenced by the fact that your (perfectly logical) interpretation is almost certainly not what the designers thought they were communicating to you.

KBTibbs wrote:
I *also* Cosmic Zapped them. ... I would feel better about permanently stealing a power, if the card said this power can only be swapped once per encounter, allowing my opponent to draw a card into their hand.

Oh man, good point. What a missed opportunity.

Rubric wrote:
My response above was based on the text of the power at The Warp, which according to Bill is apparently wrong.

Verified just now from the physical card: "Swaps Powers with Opponent ... swap alien powers with your opponent ... When swapping alien powers, you get all facets of that power." Nary a "sheet" on the sheet.

The original Eon version very clearly said "Alien Power Card" — so they had to actually go out of their way to break it. shake

Rubric wrote:
In that case, your argument makes perfect sense. However, since I know how the power is supposed to work, based on previous editions, I still have to side with the OP.

Agreed on both counts.

Rubric wrote:
So, in other words, you're not the only one to think this interpretation of the power is unfun.

Yeah, I've always pretty much despised Changeling. I was starting to like the new one because of the card-draw mechanic, but between the wording screwup and the missed opportunity to temper the zap ... ah well, easy come easy go.
 
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Mi Myma
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Bill Martinson wrote:
Verified just now from the physical card: "Swaps Powers with Opponent ... swap alien powers with your opponent ... When swapping alien powers, you get all facets of that power." Nary a "sheet" on the sheet.

Unless the sheet is one of the "facets" of the power.

I've always loved the Changeling. It's a great equalizer. And especially in multi-power games no one can count on their killer combo.
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Jakob Silk
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One interpretation would (unfairly) see a player never face a power yet always get to use a power, while the other interpretation adds an interesting wrinkle into the game.

I prefer the second interpretation as it would clearly be the more 'fun' choice.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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While we're on the topic of the Changeling, I'm curious how everyone plays it when you play with multiple powers. We almost exclusively play with 2 powers, and whenever the Changeling was in the game, the victim was always the decider on which power was traded. Is that how you play?

-shnar
 
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Geoff Speare
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We always played that Changeling chose which power to swap with. Similarly, Plant and Insect chose which power they stole/copied.

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shnar wrote:
While we're on the topic of the Changeling, I'm curious how everyone plays it when you play with multiple powers. We almost exclusively play with 2 powers, and whenever the Changeling was in the game, the victim was always the decider on which power was traded. Is that how you play?

-shnar


We usually play with duel powers as well, but do it the complete opposite way. The person playing the power or flare that targets a power gets to choose which of the aliens it effects. We figured the person playing the effect should have more priority over it's intention. Leting the victim choose would reduce the number of 'clever' things players could do with such powers/flares.
 
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KBTibbs wrote:
My standpoint is that this seems to be a very similar power to the Reincarnator, but if we look at that card (click the image) it specifically tells you to "draw a [new] alien power card". However, the Changeling says "swap alien powers with your opponent" neglecting the word "card" entirely.

We played with Changeling this past weekend and I interpreted the card exactly as you did, for exactly the same reason. (The rest of the group agreed with my interpretation but I have the most experience with the game so they may have just been assuming I knew what I was talking about.) Now that I'm reading the discussion I think the power's intended use makes sense but it's really not very clear in the way the card is worded.
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Mi Myma
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Usually, the Changeling gets to choose which power it swaps with in a multipower game.

Another possibility is to swap both (or all) powers when the Changeling swaps. This way, all the combos stay together. Red, the Filthy Changeling, draws Blue, the Philanthropic Miser. The swap powers. Now Red is the Philanthropic Miser, and Blue is the Filthy Changeling. I don't think this version is as interesting, but it's doable.
 
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Michael Marvosh
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KBTibbs wrote:
My standpoint is that this seems to be a very similar power to the Reincarnator, but if we look at that card (click the image) it specifically tells you to "draw a [new] alien power card". However, the Changeling says "swap alien powers with your opponent" neglecting the word "card" entirely. Now comes the third alien race that is somewhat similar (in the power changing sense): the Plant. The Plant says that you "may steal the power" also neglecting the word "card". It seems intentional (and seems intentional on the basis of not impacting other players). My knowledge of the alien deck isn't very good, so any counter examples would be welcome.

Also, there are two small niggling gripes associated with these, that just convince me all the more: 1) It's a green card. 2) It denies my opponents an alien power during my attack.

1) Green cards impact on other players tend to be minimal(ish) and short in duration, but this is an impact until their next turn, which can be huge. Reincarnator is yellow, and Plant is red. I think the Reincarnator is yellow probably because what happens if it's power gets stolen or copied, and Plant is... well it's just bizarre enough to warrant being red.

2) I steal their card, they get mine. It specifically says that the power can't be used more than once an encounter, so not only did I steal their intact alien power (plus any improvements like Warrior's experience) I *also* Cosmic Zapped them. That just seems unfun. I don't normally like to use things like "fun" or "unfun" to interpret rules, but... it just is. Now, that being said, the Changeling has a two part power. Sure, it can swap powers, but it can also not swap powers and draw a new card. I would feel better about permanently stealing a power, if the card said this power can only be swapped once per encounter, allowing my opponent to draw a card into their hand. It's not much, but it's something.

edit:spelling


I understand your argument really well now, and I think it's pretty solid. The language supports the cards not being swapped, and your point about it not being fun is totally valid. No one should play a game they think isn't fun, so if Changeling isn't fun...

I still don't think I'm clear on exactly how you would play it (and whether you would consider it a house-rule or just an interpretation of the card), or if you would just leave it out entirely.
 
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It seems to me that "facets" of the power always include the physical objects, like the Miser's hoard, the Saboteur's tokens, the Citadel's citadels, the Tick-Tick's tokens, the The Claw's claw, the Warrior's tokens, and the Industrialist's stack. So why shouldn't it include the power card as well?
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Ken H.
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
It seems to me that "facets" of the power always include the physical objects, like the Miser's hoard, the Saboteur's tokens, the Citadel's citadels, the Tick-Tick's tokens, the The Claw's claw, the Warrior's tokens, and the Industrialist's stack. So why shouldn't it include the power card as well?


Yeah, I agree. It would have been better to say "card" or "sheet", but even without it, it still seems to imply a permanent switch. "Swap" powers has no meaning for the opponent if he becomes Changeling for only this encounter. If that's the intent, it might as well say "take your opponent's power for this encounter."

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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
It seems to me that "facets" of the power always include the physical objects, like the Miser's hoard, the Saboteur's tokens, the Citadel's citadels, the Tick-Tick's tokens, the The Claw's claw, the Warrior's tokens, and the Industrialist's stack. So why shouldn't it include the power card as well?

I think the point is that "facets" isn't a defined game term. If it's supposed to include the power card, then it should specify the power card. It does after all give specific examples of what "facets" means, and if the power card is a "facet" then it would be the first and most obvious example.

I'm content knowing the intent of the power is a permanent switch. I think the wording is poor and inconsistent with other powers that work that way such as Reincarnator as already mentioned. In fact, I think the "facets" wording only complicates the issue, because if the power is intended as a permanent swap, then the whole "facets" question seems pretty superfluous - you wouldn't hand over the card and keep the tokens or other goodies, would you? On the whole FFG has done a good job with the wording of the alien powers but this one is just bad.
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Just a Bill
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The alien sheet isn't a "facet" of the power, it is the power. The scope of the actual facets is pretty well defined by example. Trying to include the sheet itself as a facet becomes self-referential (hand over the sheet, plus all of its facets, one of which is the sheet itself?), and throws away the ability to distinguish between the facets and the sheet should some future game effect want to do so.

To me, this kind of definitional "patch" seems to have value only if the goal is to find some way to excuse the inconsistent language. And why do we need that? We only need to know (a) what the design intent was (which has never been in doubt, really) and (b) whether that intent works acceptably within the game system; then we can infer what the wording should have been and go happily along our way.

I just don't see any value in turning a simple definition into something more complicated so we can pretend confusing text isn't confusing text.
 
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Bill Martinson wrote:
The alien sheet isn't a "facet" of the power, it is the power.

Well if it is the power then swapping powers must include swapping sheets.

The other clue is as Ken pointed out. If it's only for one encounter, then the word "swap" has no meaning. It means nothing for the other player to get the Changeling power for the duration of the one encounter, never being able to use it or do anything with it, and then give it back at the end of the encounter. They wouldn't have used the word "swap".
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Bill Martinson wrote:
...And why do we need that? We only need to know (a) what the design intent was (which has never been in doubt, really) and (b) whether that intent works acceptably within the game system; then we can infer what the wording should have been and go happily along our way.


It was very much in doubt for me, but then again I don't have access to previous editions of the game (which should be hardly necessary). Even if I did have access, however, I doubt I could come to that conclusion. The text on this card is substantially different than previous editions (which are specific and very clear in this regard) and that wording change didn't likely happen by accident (as if the printers had to recreate the card text from memory). How am I to decide that verbiage changed, but intent did not?

I guess the paragraph above might sound like I care more than I do. There's sound reasoning behind saying that the cards swap, it just rankles a bit as it counters my personal opinion of how I would have designed or wrote the power.

I guess that I'll just have to deal with that mechanic/wording that I don't particularly enjoy...

Thanks for the discussion everyone!
 
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