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Subject: Cosmic Communion rss

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Jack Reda
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Updated: 10/10/12

We recently tried out some modifications to Communion.

1- Each player had a Sect Leader ship on each of his or her planets. So in a standard game, you start with 5 Sect Leaders. You have a card that indicates what Sect you are, and additional tokens off to one side.

2- Sect Markers start on the track at 5 (or, 4 in a 4 planet game).

3- You move the Sect Markers down the track as you spread your Sect's message outside of your system (the Warp does not count); each planet outside of your system. If you can manage to get the Sect Marker down to zero, you win the game.

4- When you win an encounter that has your Sect Leader with a Negotiate card against an Attack card, you transfer the Sect Leader token to one of the opposing main player's ships. If you are attacking, your ships return home, and all involved allies return home. Winning allies gain rewards/colony normally. If you are attacked on a planet that has one of your Sect Leaders, you can win with a Negotiate card. The offense does not lose ships, but returns to their colonies, and gains a Sect token of your Sect.

5- At the start of your turn, you add a Sect token to a ship on any of your home planets where you have ships, provided that planet does not already have a Sect token on one of your ships there.

6- Ships with Sect tokens can go to the Warp, where they retain their tokens.

7- If your opponent has ships in the encounter with your sect marker, none of his ships in the encounter add to the encounter (as a main player or ally). This is a rule we may be playing around with some more... should the player's power by nullified (maybe too strong), or some of other penalty?

What this did to the game:

- Negotiate became a very desirable card, as it gave players more options.

- Players had to pay more attention to ship movement and placement. If you had a Sect token of another player's Sect on one of your ships, you had to try to get that ship back into that player's system to adjust the "spread of the sect".

- Players took their ships with Sect Leaders into a lot of encounters, as a way to bluff. You might expect them to play a Negotiate and try to spread the sect, but they can simply play an Attack card and go for the traditional win. This felt very Cosmic to me.


The description below is the original text.

So this is an idea that I've been fiddling with for a little while- the notion of a religious component to CE. As Lucre introduced an economic aspect to the game, I wondered if there were other areas to explore.

At this untested stage, the concept is relatively simple. However, I'm also working on something called Advanced Cosmic Communion, where each individual Sect would have an ability.

In the simple version, they are all the same, but use different markers. I was inspired by Bill's ship token idea, and I think it would work well here.



I have 5 Sects, which I may or may not give official names, but the concept behind each image is:

Red's ship: Monotheism
Blue and Black's ships: Dualism
White's ship: Polytheism
Green's ship: Supratheism
Yellow's ship: Pantheism

Rules for Play

Everything is still conceptual at this time, but the idea I've started with is every player draws a Sect token at random. Some players may draw the same Sect (as shown above).

The Sect token is placed on one of your ships on a home colony (and any time you have to replace a Sect marker, it must go on a ship on a home colony, or else be placed on your alien sheet until such time that you have a home colony with a ship on it).

When the offense loads the Gate, he or she may use their Sect Leader as one of their 1-4 ships. Allies may not bring Sect Leaders into an encounter.

When a main player with a Sect Leader in an encounter plays a Negotiate card, the encounter results are modified as follows:

Opposed by attack: Negotiate wins (no compensation given to either player)
Opposed by negotiate: Players have 1 minute to deal, but the player with a Sect Leader gets compensation for a failed deal for each ship lose.

However, if both main players have Sect Leaders in the encounter, two Negotiates mean that both sides lose, and no compensation is collected by either player.

The Sect token itself cannot be captured or eradicated, and doesn't go to the warp. If that ship is lost, the maker is immediately placed on another of that player's ships on a home colony (or set aside until later).

Each Sect also has a Sect Marker on the Score track (along with each player's score marker). When a player wins an encounter with their Sect Leader, their Sect Marker advances up the track. This is true regardless of whether the player was offense or defense.

If a Sect reaches 5 on the scoring track, the player with the most foreign colonies of that Sect wins the game. This means you can win despite having fewer than 5 colonies.

----------------------------

It's all still raw, and I need to playtest everything (once I make some mockups of some kind). I wanted the variant to be easy enough to implement (provided one has the components), but still have room to expand more if desired. I think giving each Sect abilities is the obvious choice for advanced rules, but I haven't given it any thought as yet.

I toyed with having special Negotiate cards in the game (Negotiate: Jihad or some such thing), but I think this is simpler. I like the idea of an alternate path to victory, and having a new reason for players to want to attack someone in their own system (which very rarely happens in games we play).

Probably the one other thing I would add is when 2 players with the same Sect attack each other. If one side wins, the Sect Marker still advances, but if they both lose, the Sect Marker goes back one. Right now, there is NO WAY for the Sect Marker to go back a space (which I like).
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Adam McLean
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It would be an interesting sub-mechanic, probably make the games go a bit shorter since the sect marker could increase even when the defense wins, especially if a couple players have the same sect while others are all alone with theirs --- that might give them a slight advantage.

This would, however, be interesting in [from what we know of] Team Cosmic ... especially if players on the same team share the sect with player(s) on a different team, it could make for some very cosmic sessions.


On another note ... I would also like to find a way to encourage players to use their own color destiny more ... whether that means attacking player's colonies in their own system, moons, asteroids, etc.
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Just a Bill
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oatesatm wrote:
if a couple players have the same sect while others are all alone with theirs --- that might give them a slight advantage.

That was the first thing I noticed, and it seems like more than just a slight advantage (similar to letting you count all of another player's foreign colonies in your own colony count). But as Jack says, he's still working out the details and I'm sure this is already on his list.

oatesatm wrote:
On another note ... I would also like to find a way to encourage players to use their own color destiny more ... whether that means attacking player's colonies in their own system, moons, asteroids, etc.

Definitely. This is one of my standing goals for homebrews. Another is "make it dangerous to hold down foreign colonies with just one ship".
 
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Mi Myma
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A fascinating concept! But as you've written it above, it essentially is no different than just changing the standard win condition to "win five encounters, either as offense or defense."

The Warp wrote:
At this untested stage, the concept is relatively simple. However, I'm also working on something called Advanced Cosmic Communion, where each individual Sect would have an ability.

At first read, separate sect abilities seem necessary. I'm thinking of them sort of like the reverse planet hexes.

Quote:
In the simple version, they are all the same, but use different markers. I was inspired by Bill's ship token idea, and I think it would work well here.

What's really the point of the sect ship markers? It seems the same as just giving each player a sect-designating-thing, like a card, that is kept face up in front of them at all times. The only thing the ship-mounted token does is let you decide whether to make your encounter count towards sect advancement - however, since there seems to be no downside to doing this, why wouldn't you always want to include your sect leader?

Quote:
The Sect token is placed on one of your ships on a home colony (and any time you have to replace a Sect marker, it must go on a ship on a home colony, or else be placed on your alien sheet until such time that you have a home colony with a ship on it).

It seems this would almost never make any difference. Everyone always gets the benefit of belonging to a sect, except for the poor guy who has no home colonies, and has lost his sect leader in some other encounter.

Quote:
When a main player with a Sect Leader in an encounter plays a Negotiate card, the encounter results are modified as follows:

Opposed by attack: Negotiate wins (no compensation given to either player)
Opposed by negotiate: Players have 1 minute to deal, but the player with a Sect Leader gets compensation for a failed deal for each ship lose.

So there's no downside to risking your sect leader - except that no one else will want to ally with you unless they happen to be of the same sect as you. Another player who allies gains a colony, while you gain a colony and a point for your sect - and sect points are most likely to win the game.

Quote:
However, if both main players have Sect Leaders in the encounter, two Negotiates mean that both sides lose, and no compensation is collected by either player.

So there's no upside to attacking someone else's sect leader, so why would you ever do it? I suppose you might if he's the same sect as you, but since you both have an interest in advancing your sect, it won't make much difference.

Quote:
Probably the one other thing I would add is when 2 players with the same Sect attack each other. If one side wins, the Sect Marker still advances, but if they both lose, the Sect Marker goes back one. Right now, there is NO WAY for the Sect Marker to go back a space (which I like).

So now there's no reason to attack another player's sect leader, even if it's the *same* sect.

And the whole thing obsoletes the Pacifist and Empath. How does it work with Warhawk?
 
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Jack Reda
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I think Sect abilities are inevitable, but I do want to try to cobble together something that can work without them.

One of the ways I've been thinking of getting around just always having Sect encounters is making them key off of the Hazard icon, or some other indicator. I don't know if that is often enough, or if doing it the other way around is too often. Gotta play with it some to get a better idea.

And perhaps the markers themselves DO go to the warp, or some how get pulled out of play temporarily.

Many details to still think through.

It doesn't obsolete Pacifist or Empath in my opinion. First, Pacifist forces you to play an attack card if you have one, and if you don't, you were going to win with a negotiate anyway. Empath can still try to deal by turning an attack in a negotiate. Warhawk still does what he does- turns negotiates into attack 00s... so Sect Leaders have to Cosmic Zap him.

 
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James Alby
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I'm sorry if I don't understand the ideas here, but why not just simplify it down to the sects only giving abilities like Moons, but make it voluntary to choose which sect you want to be in, or even allow players to change sects during their turn? That way, you could have the blessings of whichever sect you want.
 
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Barney Bustoffson
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This is pretty fascinating, Jack. I think there's real potential here, some wrinkles notwithstanding. I also believe you could probably come up with a few more of the Sects (Atheism maybe), especially if they do end up having special abilities.

Should there be some way to "convert" another player's ships to your Sect? Would it entail having a lot of those tokens? That might get a bit unwieldy.

I'm going to think more on this, but I love the idea.
 
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The Warp wrote:
It doesn't obsolete Pacifist or Empath in my opinion. First, Pacifist forces you to play an attack card if you have one, and if you don't, you were going to win with a negotiate anyway.

What? No. Pacifist simply wins with an N against an Attack, just like a sect leader. The sect leader makes every player the Pacifist on offense.

Quote:
Empath can still try to deal by turning an attack in a negotiate.

But why would he do that? 99% of the time, you'd prefer to just win the encounter and get a foreign colony for yourself and your sect. Isn't that better at least 99% of the time than having to give something to your opponent to get the colony (without scoring a point for your sect), or getting compensation and losing three ships?
 
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Jack Reda
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Yeah sorry, had Loser on the brain there. Your point is certainly well made, though I think "obsolete" is too strong. Being able to sometimes do something another alien can do all the time doesn't really obsolete him. The Sect Leader gig definitely needs to have conditions on it.

I was toying with effects like War cards, where you not only beat the attack, but also gain compensation- but it seemed a bit much. And adding that to differentiate more from Pacifist isn't really worth it, I don't think.

As for Empath, if he plays an attack against his opponent's Sect Leader with a negotiate, I imagine 99% of the time he would use his power to change his own card into a negotiate. I'm not sure what you mean there.
 
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The Warp wrote:
Being able to sometimes do something another alien can do all the time doesn't really obsolete him.

Well, if everyone else gets to use Pacifist's power half the time, it's as if Pacifist has only half of a power.

Quote:
As for Empath, if he plays an attack against his opponent's Sect Leader with a negotiate, I imagine 99% of the time he would use his power to change his own card into a negotiate. I'm not sure what you mean there.

I meant Empath on offense. Since he can use his sect leader to win outright when he's offense, his power only gets used as defense - again half a power.

-----

When I was originally reading your first post, my immediate thought was that it would have something to do with conversion/proselytism. That religion might be a property of each individual ship - not all members of the species are the same religion.

So my thought was (and this would obviously require a lot more religion tokens to be created):

You may send your sect leader into an encounter normally.
No allies may send their sect leader.
If you win, you convert one ship belonging to each of your allies to your sect leader's religion.
Likewise, if the defense wins, and his sect leader is involved, he may convert one ship of each of his allies.
If you have no allies and win, you may convert all of your own ships - they essentially become additional sect leaders.
And maybe if a ship already belongs to another religion, you simply remove its token when you convert it. It becomes "neutral". Only neutral ships can have your religion's token placed on them.

And then some other stuff happens to make all this useful - such as on of these:

- No player may claim victory if there is another religion with more members.
- No player may claim victory unless a majority of your own ships belong to your religion.
- You may keep your alien power with only two home colonies if both of those colonies have your ships of your religion on them.
- You may keep your alien power with only one home colony as long as all the ships on that planet are your ships of your religion.
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With the conversion idea, instead of (or in addition to) individual religion abilities, you could have accumulating or increasing abilities depending on how many followers of that religion there are.

So everyone starts with one religious guy, and converts others by some means. When there are, say, 5 guys of your religion, you get some minor ability, like you only lose two ships on a failed deal. When you get 10 adherents, you get an extra card of compensation or an extra defensive reward. When there are 15 followers of your religion, you retrieve two ships during your Regroup. When your religion has 20 members, you draw a flare from the unused flare deck. With 25, each of your ships of the religion in an encounter adds or subtracts 2 (in addition to the base value of the ship) to the attack total. Having 30 counts as a foreign base for the purpose of victory.

Or something like that.
 
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It could be that having a certain number of adherents is required before your Sect Marker can advance up the track for the win.
 
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All of that stuff Phil has listed out sounds like great stuff to consider for Sect abilities. I would want to avoid adding in too many "lucre-y" effects for the simple version of this. I don't think anyone wants to need a reference sheet to track things.

It does feel like automatically advancing the sect marker up the scoring track right from the get-go would be too easy for a sect to win, The hazard icon is probably not often enough,

What if a player with a Sect Leader that has no allies gets to advance the marker if he or she wins the encounter? Makes it harder to win, but now you get a little something more for your efforts.
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Bustoffson wrote:
All of that stuff Phil has listed out sounds like great stuff to consider for Sect abilities. I would want to avoid adding in too many "lucre-y" effects for the simple version of this. I don't think anyone wants to need a reference sheet to track things.

Well, it certainly doesn't have to be as complicated as I made it. In fact, it could be a one-time benefit which might even be the same each time a threshold is reached. In fact, the benefits could be sect-specific (and maybe the thresholds as well, if necessary for balance). Like drawing a Reward card each time a threshold is crossed, or retrieving a ship from the warp, or discarding a card, etc.

Now that I think about it some more, the whole conversion thing could be eliminated in favor of a simplified system of "sect status", such as: Each player has just one sect token. Anyone involved in an encounter may put his sect token into the cone (or "near the defending planet" if we want to adhere to that nonsense) or not. A sect token in the encounter means that your sect's prestige is on the line. Any sects on the winning side gain prestige, and those on the losing side lose prestige. If a deal situation arises, the main players only gain prestige if they make a deal or lose prestige if they fail to make a deal. Prestige can be indicated by generic tokens which can then be spent for some benefit. And if you have to lose prestige and have no prestige tokens, you pay some severe penalty like losing X ships to the warp, or permanently losing your sect token (the whole sect is disbanded), or you lose a home colony, or a foreign colony, etc. And perhaps you start the game with some small number of prestige tokens, like maybe 3.
 
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The Warp wrote:
So this is an idea that I've been fiddling with for a little while- the notion of a religious component to CE. As Lucre introduced an economic aspect to the game, I wondered if there were other areas to explore.


Neat idea. I would personally encourage the beliefs to never be outright stated. £ucre, after all, can be any kind of unexplored financial value (unicorn tears, gold-pressed-latinum, arks of Covenants, warehouses full of infants-on-a-stick, et cetera), so I think the details of various faiths and anti-faiths don't need to be made explicit. Let the players feel free to call their primary believers the Transcendental Nihilists, or the Outer Centauran Reformed Anabaptist Treehuggers, or the Cosmic Crusade (for Cthulhu), or the Seekers of (Suicide-Singularity with) the Warp, or the Atheist Necromongers, or whatever.

Likewise, Organized Sect Powers, if invented, don't have to conform directly (or even remotely) to any underlying theology ... millions have been systematically butchered in the name of the Prince of Peace, after all. Organized institutions don't have to have anything other than Power.

Given that, I don't think the special tokens even need to be explicitly sect leaders. Joan of Arc wasn't a Pope, but she saved France. Faithful Protestant extremists like Harriet Beecher Stowe, who pushed abolitionism forward relentlessly, never had a solid electoral majority anywhere. Gandhi's nonviolent Hindu nationalism never saw him in charge of India.

Consequently, if the Cosmic Crusade (for Cthulhu) rules system is only going to give each player a single That One Token, then I believe That One Token should be a serious Badass.

With all that in mind, I think the best name for That One Religious Token isn't "the Leader" but rather "the Zealot". This also lets the token name work even for crusading secular materialists and anti-theists ... the recently departed Christopher Hitchens, for example, wasn't religious by any means, but he was without doubt a relentless Zealot about his opinions and worldview.

Ultimately, I am of the opinion that That One Token, right there, should be a serious hardcase so full of zeal that it simply cannot back down. That One Token is your Jihadi, your Martyr, your Paladin, your Preacher, your Saint, your Demon, or your Savior.

The Warp wrote:
It's all still raw, and I need to playtest everything (once I make some mockups of some kind). I wanted the variant to be easy enough to implement (provided one has the components), but still have room to expand more if desired. I think giving each Sect abilities is the obvious choice for advanced rules, but I haven't given it any thought as yet.


The rules you have so far are very thoughtful, but I'd like to put forward my Largest Hesitation about them: the Big Religion Token is completely thematically "meh".

The Big Religion Token goes in, flips some encounter parameters around, then goes right back away. Specifically: It doesn't count as power for either side, as all other ship tokens do. The Big Religion Token, moreover, doesn't go to the Warp, can be used repeatedly by everyone, and generally just doesn't behave at all like a token made from a ship. Flavor-wise, it feels like it's fighting very hard against its inherent "ship-token-osity".

Secondly, the Sect Variant-Win as the core mechanic of the Sect Rules feels, to me, a lot like the Tech rules ... which is to say, it feels like it will be fun to play with a few times, but when the novelty wears off it won't be a go-to variant that people get passionate about. Say what you will about Moons and £ucre, but both mechanics have die-hard passionate partisans (by contrast, Tech is ... kinda just there). Making the primary effect of the Big Religious Token to be an advance of a identical, faster alternate-win track doesn't feel enticing and impactful after the first several plays. Directly opposite Moons and £ucre, it doesn't feel like it will add zany chaos and bluffing intensity. If anything, it feels like it will make many encounters much more predictable and blasé.

Outside of nerfing Pacifist and Empath and every Stupid-Math-Power, I believe the primary effect of these proposed Sect Encounter Win rules would be to detrimentally smooth out the card-value variability in any given hand. Negotiates are suddenly almost always good cards to have on hand, even as one's last remaining encounter card. The average hand for every player suddenly has two more nearly-always-good cards and two fewer often-bad cards, which severely reduces the variation-of-effect of the average draw. By always affording all players a safe and powerful offensive outlet for Negotiate cards, I believe the level of hand-management skill needed is significantly reduced. (As but one example: the odds of Clone drawing the 40 are low, but the odds of Clone having an initial Negotiate on Offense are very, very high, and being able to replicate that as a win-or-tie condition all-game-long isn't particularly attractive).

(Sorry if this comes across as harshing on the idea, which I really like as a concept. I do like the idea of a Religion Variant Expansion, and I really, really like the idea of each player getting one Serious Badass Religious ship token. But I also play an awful lot of Magic: the Gathering, and I am very familiar with the effect of deck environments that reduce luck and risk and consequently devalue risk-assessment skill. Making the proposed Sect-encounter Negotiate effect so universal and repeatable will, I believe, become uninspiring after several rounds of playtesting, and I don't believe the method of use for the Sect tokens themselves, as presently proposed, will add in nearly enough thematic flavor to make up for that.)

All that said ...

Here's some brainstorming framework ideas I've kicked around at work today:

1) Make the Big Bad Religious Encounter options add strategic depth rather than reduce it. Make the encounter effects either a once-per-game for each player, or at least a much rarer use. This lets the effects be bigger and swingier, since they are a more finite resource. Rather than being a universally-powerful idea that is obviously good at all times, the effect could be very impressive, but weighed against the opportunity cost of burning it early versus saving it for later.

2) Make the Zealot ship-token add thematic ship flavor rather than working against it. Make the ship-token, once deployed on the board, behave more like a Promethean Super-Ship. This would make adoption of that portion of the Variant Expansion mentally easier, as existing ship-token knowledge and understanding can immediately be put to use. A token worth Three Ship-Tokens in all final encounter calculations is, all by itself, pretty dang awesome. Getting such a Super Token assassinated or captured or vacuumed immediately becomes more emotionally impactful - the history of the Zealot tokens matters, and there is a positive pressure to deploy them early and "get them in there"

3) Make the initial deployment of the Super-Token exciting. Let the initial deployment be a one-shot Deus Ex Tokena, a truly miraculous rescue or unholy devastation. Make it feel like some relevant Deity (or forceful refutation thereof) just laid some smack down. This should apply some mild negative pressure to not deploy them too hastily, because the deployment effect is a literal ace in the hole. On the other hand, the negative pressure shouldn't be *too* large, because ultimately they should see play and most people don't enjoy *not* playing their big gun.

Initial Implementation Thoughts for Cosmic Crusade (for Cthulhu) (not at all playtested, so take with relevant grains of salt):

1) Game Setup: All players place one bonus Zealot super-token onto their Alien Power sheet.

2) Zealot ships tokens count as only one ship token for deployment into an encounter or maintaining a colony, but are counted as three ship tokens when resolving encounter results and calculating compensation and rewards.

3) The initial deployment of a player's Zealot token from the Alien Power Sheet can only done be as a Reinforcement to an encounter where the player is one of the two Main Players. To accomplish this special Reinforcement, the player removes the Zealot ship from the Alien power sheet and adds it to the Player's side in the encounter. Then, for this initial deployment encounter only, all tokens on the newly-Reinforced side are counted twice when resolving the encounter's results and when calculating compensation and rewards.

(Yes, Virus can be multiplying by 14. Yes, Macron can have two tokens counting for a value of 32. Yes, the Amoeba can have 17 tokens counting for a value of 38. Once.)

4) After initial deployment, the Zealot behaves as a normal ship token at all times, except that it is counted as three tokens when calculating encounter results and compensation and rewards. It can be part of a colony, be sent as an ally, attack, go to the warp, be captured, be removed from the game, and so forth. It cannot return to the Alien Power sheet by any means other than being a Martyr (see below).

5) At any time the Zealot ship is controlled by its owner, is on the losing side of an encounter as a main player (or is involved in an encounter as a main player where a deal is not reached), and is consequently sent to the Warp, its owner may sacrifice it to accomplish an Act of Zeal, either returning it to the player's Alien Power sheet or removing it from the game to effect a powerful turn of events. A Zealot removed from the game instead of going to the warp cannot perform an act of Zeal, nor can a Zealot which is prevented from going to the Warp, nor can a Zealot which is sent to the Warp by any means other than being on the losing side as a main player of an encounter (or being one of the main players in an encounter where a deal is not reached, and going to the warp as a consequence).

As an Act of Zeal, the owner may choose one of the following effects:

* Vengeant. Before calculating all effects of loss (or a failed deal) and sending the relevant ships to the warp, remove the Zealot from the game. All ships on the opposed side are sent to the Warp, and gain no benefit if they were victorious: no colony may be established, nor are rewards given, nor any other potential benefit. Afterward, calculate the effects of the encounter loss (or failed deal) normally. (Adjust any potential compensation or reward accordingly for the lack of the Zealot).

* Savior. After calculating all effects of loss and sending all appropriate ships to the warp, remove the Zealot from the game. All other ships on the losing side that had been sent to the warp are freed from the warp, and all other ships of the Zealot's player in the warp are also freed from the warp. Freed ships may be returned to remaining colonies. If the Zealot's owner was the defending main player in the lost encounter, any of the owner's freed ships may reestablish a colony on the planet of the lost encounter.

* Martyr. After calculating all effects of loss and sending all appropriate ships to the warp, return the Zealot to the player's Alien Power sheet. The Zealot's player may then take rewards equal to the number of other ships sent to the Warp.

Absolutely not playtested at all, as I said ... but I think the Zealots will retain the interest of the players. Since the Acts of Zeal benefit losers of encounters, they mitigate somewhat against tendencies for those in the lead to compound their lead.

And the Amoeba should love having a Zealot token to slip around :-)
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This is great thinking. For the record, I was really thinking of warehouses full of infants-on-a-stick as the original name of the variant, but couldn't get a good acronym out of it.

I love the act of zeal effects. Perhaps each Sect has a specific effect for an Act of Zeal, and when you choose the Sect your alien race follows, you know which Act you can employ. This might make it so players can use the same Sect.

I'm going to think on this for a bit, but I appreciate the input from folks. It's just what I was hoping to get.
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The Warp wrote:
I was really thinking of warehouses full of infants-on-a-stick as the original name of the variant, but couldn't get a good acronym out of it.


Apple already has "iOS" trademarked, anyway.

The Warp wrote:
I love the act of zeal effects. Perhaps each Sect has a specific effect for an Act of Zeal, and when you choose the Sect your alien race follows, you know which Act you can employ. This might make it so players can use the same Sect.


Might be neat to have a Zeal deck everyone draws from at game start (and optionally when skipping second encounter) that bestows extra Acts of Zeal, or enhancements to the current ones. If the Zeal cards are mostly permanent Sect effects, let everyone draw two and keep one at game start (and for each skipped encounter), but if they are more generally big secret one-offs, maybe draw two and keep both cards at start (and for each skipped encounter).

I do think having multiple basic options is good, though, so there would always be bluffing options when a Zealot ship is in play. The player could mitigate losses and Warp Break or take everyone else down or recharge another Reinforcement brigade for later. The diverse options make attacking a Zealot ship (or a player with an undeployed Zealot) unpleasant and challenging, but makes attacking with a Zealot highly attractive - even a loss has a silver lining.

Thinking over the math of it more, the Zealot probably shouldn't be worth three ships, especially if going with the ship-kicker-x2-reinforcement-deployment effect. Giving everyone a recyclable +6-minimum reinforcement card is too good, devaluing actual reinforcement cards too much (and after reflecting, I think a three-value ship also devalues the Prometheus too much). Making a Zealot worth two ships in calculations reduces the Reinforcement surge, leaves the cool value for the Prometheus, and emphasizes the inspiring-the-allies value on the reinforcement surge over the sheer value of the Zealot itself.
 
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