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Subject: Best Way to Play? rss

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Daniel Noteboom
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I just started playing Cosmic Encounter with my friends. We started playing a few weeks ago and we played five times this last week with 6 or 7 players in every game. I was just wondering what is everyone's favorite way to play. Do you like hidden powers, rotating powers, freewheeling flares, tech cards, hazard decks, and the defenders rewards deck or any combination of these? Also, do you like choosing powers rather than just randomly handing them out?

For me I didn't really like the tech cards. Someone used the tech card that gave them a fifth planet to get a really sneaky win.(I didn't even that card was in the deck). So far I haven't tried the variants in the game other than tech cards and the two expansions. I enjoyed the defenders reward deck, but the hazard deck seemed to barely affect the game because only two hazard cards came up the whole game. I actually think I enjoy Cosmic Encounter more with 4 or 5 players than with 6 or 7 because the game seems to go a lot slower with that many players(and decks build up since less people are involved in encounters and build up their hands by being defensive allies.) I thought the hidden powers and choosing powers would be better once everyone was familiar with all the powers.
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Cameron McKenzie
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ChickenKing wrote:

For me I didn't really like the tech cards. Someone used the tech card that gave them a fifth planet to get a really sneaky win.


To be fair, some of the flares enable sneaky fifth-colony wins. I suppose this is balanced by the fact that flares are a lot easier to cancel.
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K
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Default Power and Flare Rules etc.

I like 5+ players, I love any count from 5-7 (haven't gone above that yet). 4 can be fun too but I prefer 5+

Special Rewards Deck: yes, I think its fantastic

Hazard Deck: Yes. Just one of many aspects that help make every game of Cosmic different

Tech Cards: Just "OK" to me, not really a huge fan. I don't mind throwing them in for variety every once in a while but by default I don't use these
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Mil Myman
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Can you believe I *still* haven't played with Tech? Everyone I've talked to about it says that it isn't that great.

Freewheeling Flares - OK, but I prefer the standard one-per-encounter-per-player.

Reward Deck - Took a while to grow on my, but I really like it now.

Hazards - A fun extra twist to the game. I like it, but it's not that big a deal.*

Rotating Powers - Never tried it. Probably never will. Why bother? Adds a tremendous amount of luck to a game that already has enough. Removes most of the planning and strategy which, IMO, make the game interesting.

Hidden Powers - I really, really don't like hidden powers. For the most part, the powers are pretty well balanced as they are. Hidden powers throws this balance out of whack. Some powers benefit tremendously from being hidden, while others become useless.

Number of players - IMO, 5-6 is best, but with the team play rules coming in CA, more might be just fine. Of course, I probably would never turn down a game with 4 or 7 or 8 players, even without team play.

*I have more to say about Hazards, including a few simple variants that you might like, especially if you don't like the standard rules for Hazards. But I have to go now, so I'll post that later.
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Leonardo Miranda
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I usually play with techs and reward deck. I like the tech deck, but it never changed our game that much.

I never tried rotating powers and i'm probably not going to, I agree with Phil about this variant.

About hidden powers, we never tried it, but we're looking forward to it (next time if we don't have any beginners =p). For me it looks like an interesting variant that gives chance to some aliens win with their alternate methods, like genius or sadist. When we saw these aliens in play, they had no chance on their alternate winning conditions.
I played Genius twice, first time was a disaster. Second time I was doing good, won two encounters, had 14 cards in my hand. Then visionary came, asked me an eight and played an N. Greaat. Then I had 9 cards in my hand and no one was calling me for any alliances. Maybe my group is the problem? Doesn't matter, i'm off the topic=p lol

About hazard decks, we use it only every once in a while. There are some cards that can change the game drastically, and sometimes someone can get hurt more than others, but it's a fun deck.
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Just a Bill
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ChickenKing wrote:
Someone used the tech card that gave them a fifth planet to get a really sneaky win.

Do you mean Genesis Bomb? This creates an extra home planet, and generally wouldn't allow a sneaky win unless some really weird combination of effects was happening. Generally speaking, most players find that tech to be pretty weak.

Fozan wrote:
alternate methods ... When we saw these aliens in play, they had no chance on their alternate winning conditions.
...
Maybe my group is the problem?

No, it's not you, it's the aliens. Genius, Sadist, and Masochist are quite fragile. In many cases you effectively have no power, so if you ever win with one of them get in everyone else's faces and gloat about your skillful win without alien assistance!
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Geoff Speare
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I like Freewheeling Flares, plus a version of Hidden Powers in which powers are operative when hidden, but are only revealed when they have an effect on the game (or when the owner wishes to reveal them). This prevents some of the issues of hidden powers, but does require a bit more understanding of the game.

Oh, and multiple powers: dealt 5, pick 2 is my usual. We usually deal out the Flares, then everyone finds the corresponding powers and also chooses two of their Flares to go in the deck (which need not be the Flares for the powers they chose).

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Michael Marvosh
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I think the game is most fun with only yellow and green aliens, no tech, no hazards. I don't know that I like the rewards deck. Giving extra incentive to not ask people to ally is not something the game needs, IMO.

I like the game pretty stripped down. The mind games and fluctuating alliances are fun. Red powers just make it usually slow down.
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Jason S
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I like to mix the reward deck into the regular deck. I do like to play with the tech deck. Sometimes you get a not so powerfull alien and it adds another dimension. If you do pick the Masochist you really want the tech that blows up any planet. The hazard deck is also fun. Alien selection I like to change up.

Pick from only incursion or conflict aliens

Pick your favorite alien in the deck and your favorite flare...(i like the guerilla flare)

Pick from colors red, yellow or green.

I also take out aliens I don't like to much. Tripler, Calculator and Hacker have got to go.
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Fozan wrote:
About hidden powers, we never tried it, but we're looking forward to it (next time if we don't have any beginners =p).


I *HIGHLY* recommend hidden powers for beginners. Each player receives two hidden powers. Period.

Hidden powers aren't revealed at the beginning of the game (duh) which means that new players have *LESS INFORMATION* they need to process before the game starts.

Additionally, a new player can ignore his own hidden power while he's trying to understand the game. Once he does, *flip*, he puts his hidden power into play. IMO, Revealing a power at a random time during the game can have as much effect as a decently timed one.

I recommend two powers per player because some powers aren't used often during a game (eg. only as a main attacking player). No choice prevents new players from having to digest *more* information at the beginning of the game, and forces regular players to try new strategies.
 
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Jefferson Krogh
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When I'm not teaching new players, I like to use all of the extra decks and freewheeling flares. I very rarely use double powers, never use hidden powers ever, and never rotating powers. (I dislike effects that change alien powers, generally speaking.)

I prefer 6+ players, but will play with any number.
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Mil Myman
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Hazards are, in large measure, a revamping of Mayfair's Comets and the old Reverse Cone. For those who like certain of these effects, but may not like the randomness of the Hazards the way they are (particularly the way they can mess with someone's plans or power*), may I suggest this variant:

Standard Hazards

Pick one Hazard card and place it face up at the beginning of the game for all players to see. Whenever a Destiny card is drawn with the Hazard warning symbol, that Hazard is in effect. That's it!

Thus, if the Standard Hazard is Reverse Rewards, you create the old Reverse Cone game!

If one of The Witness, The Entropy Beast, or The Cosmic Guardian is the Standard Hazard, it should be in effect only for the one encounter when the Hazard indicator appears.

Alliance and Galactic Council should probably not be used as Standard Hazards. And you might want to avoid using Black Hole, Sargasso Web, and Mirror Universe as well.

*Such as when you're planning to draw a new hand and suddenly Energy Fields comes up. Or if Philanthropist or Cryo, or some other hand-improving power suddenly gets his hand destroyed by Cosmic Upheaval. etc.
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Chris O
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I prefer 5 or 6 players games.

I like Rewards Deck and Hazards.

Tech WOULD be better, but the rules for gaining new Tech are atrocious and taking a second encounter is almost always better. If I can invent a good enough house-rule way to fairly acquire additional Techs then I think my group would enjoy them more.

Since my group has only played CE under a dozen times or so, I haven't done anything but hand out 3 random flares to each to choose an alien from. Some day when they get to know the powers somewhere near as well as I do, we will probably have fun doing Draft Mode games where each player in clockwise order can "Ban" a certain alien from being played, and then can pick any alien we want by name in that same order.
 
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Sam and Max wrote:
I *HIGHLY* recommend hidden powers for beginners. Each player receives two hidden powers. Period.

Hidden powers aren't revealed at the beginning of the game (duh) which means that new players have *LESS INFORMATION* they need to process before the game starts.


Really? If its worked for you then its worked for you, but I find it curious that you'd recommend hidden powers for new players in particular.

Not just because hidden powers make it harder (impossible?) for me as the teacher to remind people about their powers or answer their questions, but also because the alien powers seem to be what makes the game interesting, even for new players. I've always seen it like the earlier the powers are interacting the better first impressions are made and the more interesting the game is to everyone
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Daniel Noteboom
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Bill Martinson wrote:
ChickenKing wrote:
Someone used the tech card that gave them a fifth planet to get a really sneaky win.

Do you mean Genesis Bomb? This creates an extra home planet, and generally wouldn't allow a sneaky win unless some really weird combination of effects was happening. Generally speaking, most players find that tech to be pretty weak.

Yes I did mean the genesis planet. I never actually checked the card so the person I was playing with shouldn't have won like that. Just a reminder to always check other players for their interpretation of things.

Fozan wrote:
alternate methods ... When we saw these aliens in play, they had no chance on their alternate winning conditions.
...
Maybe my group is the problem?

No, it's not you, it's the aliens. Genius, Sadist, and Masochist are quite fragile. In many cases you effectively have no power, so if you ever win with one of them get in everyone else's faces and gloat about your skillful win without alien assistance!


Yes I did mean the genesis planet. I never actually checked the card so the person I was playing with shouldn't have won like that. Just a reminder to always check other players for their interpretation of things.

I found playing as the masochist nearly impossible. Your only chance is to get the mobius tubes and/or card zaps. I was thinking it might be interesting to play a game where you only include cards that include alternate ways of winning( the three you mentioned and tick tock, and possibly the changeling? Although it seems that the changeling would have a huge advantage in this situation)
 
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Just a Bill
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SirHandsome wrote:
Not just because hidden powers make it harder (impossible?) for me as the teacher to remind people about their powers or answer their questions, but also because the alien powers seem to be what makes the game interesting

Also, needing to understand the game mechanics and your own power well enough to know the right time to reveal it seems like an extra burden to put on the new player,

If you're trying to save them the grief of having to pay attention to their own power until they are ready, why not just play a few sample encounters without any powers before beginning the actual game? I've found that to work quite well.

ChickenKing wrote:
I never actually checked the card so the person I was playing with shouldn't have won like that. Just a reminder to always check other players for their interpretation of things.

Don't feel too bad; illegitimate wins from people not understanding what they read are fairly common in this game.
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ChickenKing wrote:
Bill Martinson wrote:
ChickenKing wrote:
Someone used the tech card that gave them a fifth planet to get a really sneaky win.

Do you mean Genesis Bomb? This creates an extra home planet, and generally wouldn't allow a sneaky win unless some really weird combination of effects was happening. Generally speaking, most players find that tech to be pretty weak.

Yes I did mean the genesis planet. I never actually checked the card so the person I was playing with shouldn't have won like that. Just a reminder to always check other players for their interpretation of things.

Fozan wrote:
alternate methods ... When we saw these aliens in play, they had no chance on their alternate winning conditions.
...
Maybe my group is the problem?

No, it's not you, it's the aliens. Genius, Sadist, and Masochist are quite fragile. In many cases you effectively have no power, so if you ever win with one of them get in everyone else's faces and gloat about your skillful win without alien assistance!


Yes I did mean the genesis planet. I never actually checked the card so the person I was playing with shouldn't have won like that. Just a reminder to always check other players for their interpretation of things.

I found playing as the masochist nearly impossible. Your only chance is to get the mobius tubes and/or card zaps. I was thinking it might be interesting to play a game where you only include cards that include alternate ways of winning( the three you mentioned and tick tock, and possibly the changeling? Although it seems that the changeling would have a huge advantage in this situation)
Um, there's also "cold sleep ship" which is a tech that gives you a foreign colony. It costs 9 to research.
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Dave

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I prefer 5-6 players.
We play with tech about half the time, never with new players.
We shuffle the rewards deck into the cosmic deck. We found it didn't really encourage people to ally on defense, but there are some good cards in it!
Sometimes the hazard deck can be a game-changer! We like it. I made a more obvious "hazard" mark in the corner of the destiny cards. That little concentric circle is easy to miss!
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James Albright
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If you're playing a 7-player game with only a couple new players, it is not clunky at all. If you're playing with a lot of new players, you should probably keep it down to 4 or 5 players, 6 at most. New players slow down the game.

I play with three custom rules: 1. You can use mobius tubes during any regroup, not just your own. This adds a lot of strategy because of the added options of when you can use your Mobius Tubes.

2.Anytime you do not have a second encounter for any reason, you may take a Tech card.

3.No co-wins on a negotiate. That's under the idea that negotiating a win is really anti-climactic, and, as my friend put it, "It's just dumb."
 
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Darcy Dueck
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5 or 6 players is best. Rewards deck is an important addition because otherwise, the cosmic quake happens far to often. One flare per encounter. No techs, no hazards.

This combination gives the fastest moving game.
 
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greenpoe wrote:
1. You can use mobius tubes during any regroup, not just your own. This adds a lot of strategy because of the added options of when you can use your Mobius Tubes.

It's weird; two or three times I've caught myself thinking "I wonder why FFG changed this?" — but they didn't; the original Eon version also worked only at the start of your own challenge. Must be going senile. Maybe this card just feels like it should work on any encounter? Many times I've acquired it only to lose it again before my turn could come around. Not that that's necessarily bad; but somehow I guess a part of me wants it to work the way you house-rule it.
 
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SirHandsome wrote:
Not just because hidden powers make it harder (impossible?) for me as the teacher to remind people about their powers or answer their questions, but also because the alien powers seem to be what makes the game interesting, even for new players. I've always seen it like the earlier the powers are interacting the better first impressions are made and the more interesting the game is to everyone


My belief is that you teach new players the rules first, and the strategy second. (That's my belief. Anyone who's played Arkham Horror with me will think otherwise.) Some players don't even want to have another player tell them the strategy of the game.

As I said, with hidden powers, the n00bs have time to learn the basic rules, and can understand how their hidden powers interact with the basic rules at their leisure, rather than all at once at the beginning of the game. If they have questions about their hidden powers, sure, they can still ask them. But, frankly, I think it's better that they ask these questions as they learn the game, not front-loaded in the beginning before the first challenge has even started.

Additionally, CE is a simple enough game that, once a player understands the rules, knowing how their powers work isn't all that difficult.

CE is *not* a Eurogame where you *must* play your strategy perfectly before your turn even starts. A new player who whips out his power when he finally understands it can still pull an upset.

With revealed powers, veteran players have an advantage because they know before the game even starts how all the powers interact. N00bs who don't even know how the base game is played are at a disadvantage. With hidden powers, veterans don't know what powers they're up against. Furthermore, against a n00b with a hidden power, a veteran player will have a more difficult time deducing what the n00b's power is, because he is not likely to play it optimally ("Your deduction's fatal flaw is assuming I know what I'm doing.").

And then there are flares. Flare *are* essentially hidden powers.

As for powers interacting, in practice, you'll still see a few powers showing up early in the game. Some n00bs catch on quickly, and reveal their powers. Some veteran's powers work just fine when revealed at the beginning of the game. Some players just want to play with their new toys. Most importantly, powers are revealed *slowly* so their interactions are much more easily understood by n00bs than if all players introduced their powers at once.

My ulteriour motive, of course, is that many veteran players *like* two alien powers. It's really hard to go back to one alien power after playing two.
 
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I guess I just have no incentive to teach with hidden powers -- I don't care for the variant to begin with, and like you said Cosmic is a pretty simple game to teach... I haven't really experienced anyone having information overload so I don't see the need to slow down their learning by delaying powers

What I do like to do personally on games with first timers though is have open power selection (instead of blind), and then spend a few minutes going around the table and introducing the selected powers to everyone
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SirHandsome wrote:
What I do like to do personally on games with first timers though is have open power selection (instead of blind), and then spend a few minutes going around the table and introducing the selected powers to everyone


I've done that before, and the problem I encounter is the same "information overload". Much worse, introducing the powers *before* the game just makes it that much longer, even if it's a "few" minutes, the game.

Hidden powers is one of the oldest variants for CE, and doesn't require an expansion set. EDIT: As for the gasps of "no way" from n00bs Kobald Curry Chef mentions, with hidden powers you also get gasps, of a differnet kind.

Anyway, I'm posting here so anyone reading this knows what options they have in front of them. Whatever works with one's particular gaming group. Myself, I play in public events, so use a LCD approach that nonetheless keep veteran players interested.
 
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Heh yeah it does add to the overall playing time, but I really love hearing the astonished gasps and "no way!!!!"s from newbies when before the game they hear that Machine can take as many turns as he wants or Zombie is immortal or that Leviathan can attack with his planet devil

My first "real" game of this was with Jefferson (Kobold Curry Chef) so I probably do the meet-your-alien-neighbor thing following his example. When I'm teaching I usually am the one running down everyone's power for the whole table, but when I've played with him and new people are in the game I noticed he has everyone sum up their own power themselves -- seems like a great little ice breaker and probably also a good way to make sure people are "self-aware" of what they can do
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