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Subject: Is there anything that can be done with this power? rss

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Roberta Yang
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UTILITY

You have the power of Versatility.
You may use this power to play a Rift or Reinforcement card from your hand as a Reinforcement or Rift card of the same rank, or as a Kicker card of rank 2 lower. (So a Reinforcement +5 could be played as a Kicker x3 or as a Rift 5.)

You may use this power to play a Kicker card from your hand as a Reinforcement or Rift card of rank 2 higher. (So a Kicker x2 could be played as a Reinforcement +4.)

When another player takes a Reinforcement or Kicker card from your hand, use this power to detonate it as if it were a Rift, discarding it and causing that player to lose ships to the Warp equal to its rank (plus two if the card was a Kicker).

Do Not Use Without Reward Deck

As Any Player / Any Phase



This power's been in my head for a while, but I'm not sure I particularly like it. Major problems:

* Only being usable with a certain variant seems like bad design.
* Since the power is pretty useless unless the player can draw Rewards (which require defensive invitations), it comes across to some extent as a permission power.
* Along the same lines, the power does nothing unless you have one of the three rare card types it works with (and even then a high-ranked copy of one of them is needed for it to be terribly useful), so it's easy for the power to do nothing all game. It's especially weak compared to Pacifist; where that converts common weak cards into very strong cards, this takes several rare decent cards and lets them be used as a couple of other rare decent cards of similar power level.
* Having the power be used when the virtual Kicker is played but before it is revealed seems silly, but having it be used when the virtual Kicker is revealed seems awkward.
* The concept here is very simple - "Reinforcements, Rifts, and Kickers can all be used in place of one another, and the conversion formula for their ranks is always the same: Reinforcement +X = Rift X = Kicker x(X-2)." - but I can't actually find a pithy way to write it.
* The name is terrible.
* It basically feels like a ripoff of the Mesmer, just with Everything Except Artifacts instead of Artifacts.
* And even if it's not a Mesmer clone, it also bears similarities to the Reserve.
* And even setting those two aside, it still feels obvious enough that something similar must have been proposed before.
* I have no idea what a good Super Flare would be - the only other card type with numerical ranks is Attack, and allowing even some of those to be used would infringe much too heavily on the Reserve's design space.

Is there anything salvageable (or even worth salvaging) here, or should I just move on?
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Jack Reda
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I'd been thinking of something in a similar vein- having to do with the 6 cards. The alien would be able to use a 6 as a kicker or a reinforcement (and why not a rift too- hadn't originally considered that, but definitely should). There's only 7 of them in the game, so they don't come up very often, but a x6 once in a while is pretty hefty, and being able to toss in a +6 as an ally might be worth using it if you stand to gain something. And now that I think on the 6 rift, it's a nice way to get a good number of ships out if you really need them, or punish someone for taking one of your magic 6 cards out of your hand.

But is it enough?
 
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Just a Bill
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First of all, I don't see this concept as Mesmer's knock-off, but as its complement, the way Filch and Clone complement each other, or Zombie and Observer. Mesmer allows you to roll your own word-cards, while this one allows you to roll your own number-cards. Same story with Reserve, just along a different axis (source material). I actually like having that kind of complementarity in the game.

The Warp wrote:
The alien would be able to use a 6 as a kicker or a reinforcement

The concern with a kicker x6 (or even x5) is the utter devastation it causes in a deal. 15 or 18 ships lost to the warp in a single encounter can really be Game Over for the opponent.

salty53 wrote:
Is there anything salvageable (or even worth salvaging) here?

I've been trying to make a concept similar to yours work for a long time. I've struggled with the same issues, including the lack of a good name/theme, and also the problem I just mentioned that anything with a rank of 5 or higher makes a too-lethal kicker. I finally addressed most of my issues-list by giving up on rank-equivalency and simply specifying the valid replacement values, as well as allowing any non-encounter card to be the raw material (so you aren't at the mercy of drawing one of the handful of reinforcements in a non-reward-deck game). This seems to have made it generally usable, kept things in balance, shortened the text quite a bit, and helped the concept evolve to something whose flexibility I found very desirable regardless of the variants in play (since it can allow you to have kickers and rifts when nobody else does).

I may or may not have posted some form of this somewhere as Engineer (can't remember now), but never liked any of my themes until I finally hit upon Kludge just a few weeks ago. I like that because it fits the alien and also sort of "hangs a lantern" on the fact that my implementation is actually kinda kludgy — but since that seems appropriate for this alien, my OCD is satisfied.

Anyway, here it is. The storyline is loosely based on people who came through the Great Depression and never threw away anything that could potentially be adapted for re-use. Note also how it attempts to answer questions regarding Plague, Hate, etc. However, I explicitly do not allow proxy rift detonation because it complexified things too much for my taste, and crossed a line I didn't want to cross with other steal/give situations.

KLUDGE
CONVERTS NON-ENCOUNTER CARDS


You have the power to Jury-Rig. Whenever appropriate, you may use this power to play, reveal, show, or discard any non-encounter card from your hand as if it were a kicker ×2, a rift 3, or a reinforcement +4. (When playing a card facedown, you need not announce the use of your power until that card is shown.) If you are zapped, return the card to your hand; otherwise discard it after use. Your power does not affect cards when they are taken, given, traded, etc.

In the age of the Great Impoverishment, the civilization known as the Affluati was nearly erased from existence, survived only by those few clever individuals who managed to cobble together a subsistence from the rubble around them. Their inbred, mutated descendants, now derisively called the Kludges, flourish once again but continue to adapt every scrap to the task at hand, wasting nothing lest they ever be overtaken by scarcity.

(As Any Player) (Optional) (Regroup) (Planning) (Reveal)

WILD: You may play this flare as if it were a kicker ×3, a rift 4, or a reinforcement +5. (If played as a kicker, do so secretly until it is revealed.) Give this flare to the Kludge after use (or discard it, if the Kludge isn't playing).

(As Any Player) (Any Phase)

SUPER: For the rest of this encounter, when using your power to play or reveal any flare (including this one) as if it were a kicker, rift, or reinforcement card, you may increase its value to ×3, 5, or +7, respectively, and may return it to your hand after use.

(As Any Player) (Any Phase)

Again, I know the flare is kludgy; normally I don't like laundry lists of arbitrary values. But I tried to make them non-arbitrary by following the most logical numeric sequences, and (again) the fact that the alien is the Kludge has allowed me to live with this psychologically.
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salty53 wrote:
UTILITY

Seems like a pretty good power to me. Maybe a tad weak. Maybe add this:

When you draw a new hand, including at the beginning of the game, you may use this power to draw up to X cards from the Reward deck instead of the regular deck.

X = 3 maybe? 4 seems too much.

Quote:
* Only being usable with a certain variant seems like bad design.

Not a problem at all. As I've said many times before, there's no need for a variant - or indeed any game element - if there isn't a power that makes use of it. There's no need for Lucre if there aren't going to be Lucre powers. There'd be no need for the warp if there weren't powers that dealt with it. There'd be no need for ships if there weren't powers that dealt with ships.

Quote:
* Since the power is pretty useless unless the player can draw Rewards (which require defensive invitations), it comes across to some extent as a permission power.

So give it some additional opportunity to draw Reward cards, such as the suggestion I gave above.

Quote:
* Along the same lines, the power does nothing unless you have one of the three rare card types it works with (and even then a high-ranked copy of one of them is needed for it to be terribly useful), so it's easy for the power to do nothing all game. It's especially weak compared to Pacifist; where that converts common weak cards into very strong cards, this takes several rare decent cards and lets them be used as a couple of other rare decent cards of similar power level.

You can always boost it's power level a little, if you want. Such as:

When you play an actual Rift card to retrieve ships from the warp, you retrieve one additional ship. When you play an actual Reinforcement card as a Reinforcement, it adds an additional 1.

Quote:
* Having the power be used when the virtual Kicker is played but before it is revealed seems silly, but having it be used when the virtual Kicker is revealed seems awkward.

That works just fine, as Bill's Kludge has it - just return the card to your hand if you're zapped.

Quote:
* The concept here is very simple - "Reinforcements, Rifts, and Kickers can all be used in place of one another, and the conversion formula for their ranks is always the same: Reinforcement +X = Rift X = Kicker x(X-2)." - but I can't actually find a pithy way to write it.

No problem. It's pithy enough.

Quote:
* The name is terrible.

If Bill doesn't mind, the name Kludge would be appropriate for yours. Part of the problem here is the ridiculously unthematically-named "Kicker".

Quote:
* It basically feels like a ripoff of the Mesmer, just with Everything Except Artifacts instead of Artifacts.

As Bill said, this is not a problem. A "Mesmer for Reinforcements, Kickers, and Rifts" is a fine concept. And it also suggests a possible name: Illusionist or Alchemist or something like that.

Quote:
* And even if it's not a Mesmer clone, it also bears similarities to the Reserve.

Not a problem. There are already plenty of powers that are similar to each other. This would be far less similarity than many that are already published.

Quote:
* And even setting those two aside, it still feels obvious enough that something similar must have been proposed before.

It reminds me a little of my power Cheerleader.

Quote:
* I have no idea what a good Super Flare would be - the only other card type with numerical ranks is Attack, and allowing even some of those to be used would infringe much too heavily on the Reserve's design space.

I'm sure we can come up with something:

You may take a Reinforcement, Kicker, or Rift into your hand after it is discarded by another player.

Or:

When you must draw a new hand for any reason, you may set aside this Flare and any Kickers, Reinforcements, and Rifts that you have, draw eight new cards and then return the set-aside cards to your hand.

Or:

You may use your power to play any negative-valued Attack card as a Rift or Reinforcement with its absolute value.
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Roberta Yang
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Bill Martinson wrote:
The concern with a kicker x6 (or even x5) is the utter devastation it causes in a deal. 15 or 18 ships lost to the warp in a single encounter can really be Game Over for the opponent.

Indeed, Kickers' value scaling very nonlinearly with their rank makes coming up with a balanced conversion formula difficult. (I'm not too keen on the current version, in which the Reinforcements in the main deck can be used as two generally bad Kickers x0, two pointless Kickers x1, and a single actually good Kicker x3.) In fact, it's still very worrying to me that my current version allows the Reinforcement +6 to be used with a Negotiate (Crooked Deal) to eat 16 of the victim's ships - another reason I think mine needs changing.

Bill Martinson wrote:
I finally addressed most of my issues-list by giving up on rank-equivalency and simply specifying the valid replacement values, as well as allowing any non-encounter card to be the raw material (so you aren't at the mercy of drawing one of the handful of reinforcements in a non-reward-deck game).

...

However, I explicitly do not allow proxy rift detonation because it complexified things too much for my taste, and crossed a line I didn't want to cross with other steal/give situations.

Hmmm, that definitely seems to be a workable solution, and one that gets around a lot of the major problems. But... I dunno, it doesn't really excite me that much. I liked having the card's printed rank determine the card's rank when used, so the effect would alter the card's use while keeping the card's power roughly the same (in theory), and while static values certainly make things work much more cleanly, they also lack some of the flavor I was hoping for. I'm also sad to see the virtual Rift detonation go; I like always-on soft effects, and that extra deterrent against opponents grabbing all the Reward cards this power draws in compensation seemed like a nice touch.

Don't get me wrong, this looks like a fine power that neatly does right everything my version did wrong. I just wish there was a way to salvage a bit more of it.

Bill Martinson wrote:
(If played as a kicker, do so secretly until it is revealed.) Give this flare to the Kludge after use (or discard it, if the Kludge isn't playing).

Not much of a secret given that this Flare is the only card in the game that other aliens can play as a Kicker without a Reward back.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Not a problem at all. As I've said many times before, there's no need for a variant - or indeed any game element - if there isn't a power that makes use of it. There's no need for Lucre if there aren't going to be Lucre powers. There'd be no need for the warp if there weren't powers that dealt with it. There'd be no need for ships if there weren't powers that dealt with ships.

That's a really good way of putting it, and it's kind of odd that I never thought of it that way (considering I've previously said that there's no point adding Lucre to the game without Lucre aliens to go with it). I actually like the Reward dependency now; it gives me some actual motivation to play with the Reward deck instead of letting it sit in the box along with the Techs and Hazards.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
So give it some additional opportunity to draw Reward cards, such as the suggestion I gave above.

Mmmm, that looks like a very nice fix. It solves both the "permission" problem and the "possibly too weak" problem at the same time.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
When you play an actual Rift card to retrieve ships from the warp, you retrieve one additional ship. When you play an actual Reinforcement card as a Reinforcement, it adds an additional 1.

Not so keen on this version, though - I like the power using cards as similar cards of different types, so rewarding players for not misusing the cards seems uninteresting to me. If anything, I'd rather reward players for changing the cards' types (e.g. a Reinforcement X counts as a Rift X+1 while a Rift X counts as a Reinforcement X+1), but that would just make the conversion even less clear.


Though on that note, looking at the conversion again I'm becoming less and less satisfied with how this deals with Kickers. A Kicker x4 seems like trouble with a power that will be trying to draw as many Rewards as possible and thus be likely to acquire Negotiate (Crooked Deal), while almost all of the main deck's Reinforcements being useless as Kickers (outside of the +2's Loser/Anti-Matter games, and even then the +3's still don't do anything). Outside of going with Bill's fixed values method, is there any better formula for converting between Kickers and Reinforcements/Rifts?

Everything I try seems to cause problems. X-2 has the Kicker x4 problem and the weak main deck Kickers. X-3 has even weaker main deck Kickers and raises the question of what exactly a Kicker x-1 is supposed to do (if played with a Negotiate, does my opponent collect compensation from me, and retrieve ships from the Warp if we fail to deal?), while X-1 has a completely unacceptable Kicker x5 as well as more Kicker x4's.

The most promising seems to be to make Kickers value as double their counterparts - i.e. X/2 (rounded up) to turn Reinforcements/Rifts into Kickers and 2X to turn Kickers into Reinforcements/Rifts might do the trick and seems to provide a somewhat healthy balance. But that means the Reinforcement +2's are still the silly Kicker x1's, and the Kicker x0 can't be meaningfully converted into anything at all (oh, good, I can retrieve 0 ships from the Warp or add 0 to my side's total!). Ideally, the Reinforcement +2's could become Kicker x0's (which would occasionally at least have some use) and the Kicker x0's could become Reinforcement +2's or Rift 2's instead, but tacking that on loses the elegance of having a nice clean conversion ratio. I'm also concerned that making the Kicker versions too much more attractive than the Rift/Reinforcement versions will lead to this power being used primarily to have loads of Kickers and end up as a Virus variant, which is far from the intention.
 
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You could add in a condition that the use as a kicker only works when you play an attack card.
 
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Roberta Yang
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The Warp wrote:
You could add in a condition that the use as a kicker only works when you play an attack card.

That seems a rather inelegant solution, leads to odd quirks (why can't I use my super-Kicker with my Morph that I know will become an Attack card because I'm also the Oracle or my opponent is the Warhawk?) and leaks (what if I'm also the Chosen or the Deuce, or an Emotion Control is played, or my opponent is the Sorcerer, so I end up with a Negotiate to go with my Kicker x6 after I played it with an Attack?).

Plus, the more restrictions are placed on what the power can do with its Attack 06's, the more it becomes a Pacifist clone that uses Attack 06's instead of Negotiates.
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salty53 wrote:
I'm also sad to see the virtual Rift detonation go; I like always-on soft effects, and that extra deterrent against opponents grabbing all the Reward cards this power draws in compensation seemed like a nice touch.

Yeah, I get that. What I didn't like (in my own earlier versions) was the ambiguities caused by always-on conversions: cards that can flip their identity while in the player's hand (not tied to a specific active use of the card) are problematic. You address this by making the rift detonation a specific, unique provision that does not extend to other situations.

(Hmmm, this spawns an interesting thought; more on that later.)

salty53 wrote:
Bill Martinson wrote:
(If played as a kicker, do so secretly until it is revealed.)
Not much of a secret given that this Flare is the only card in the game that other aliens can play as a Kicker without a Reward back.

In my house it can always be a secret because we have kickers in the main deck with normal cosmic backs. I realize that is not the norm, but the wording still is appropriate and necessary when the reward deck is in play, which I perceive to be reasonably often (in general) among players who own Incursion. In fact, I would say that any effect that plays a card face-down as something other than its true identity needs to clarify when the declaration of that effect's initiation really happens, because this affects response timing.

salty53 wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
there's no need for a variant - or indeed any game element - if there isn't a power that makes use of it..
That's a really good way of putting it

I must confess I don't follow this train of thought. If you're just saying that a variant is not truly required until something references it, then that is a true statement — axiomatic, but not terribly meaningful. Like saying a game doesn't need poker chips unless the rules or cards call for poker chips (duh).

For the statement to have any real meaning, then, I always assume you mean that a variant is not "worthwhile" or "legitimate" or "advisable" unless an alien power references it. And I can't think of any reason why that would have to be the case. Kickers are a bad idea because no alien references them? Hazards are useless until there's a hazard alien? Why?

Don't get me wrong, I like having aliens that tie into certain variants. But such aliens are not prerequisites for the existence of the variant. If a variant is fun and well designed, it should exist. If not, it shouldn't.

By those standards, I think the reward deck is good, hazards are okay, and tech is generally a waste of 20 cards, 3 tokens, 1 rule page, and some FAQ entries. Certainly, some tech-related aliens could increase this variant's reason for existence, and I would welcome that (if said aliens are fun and well-designed!). But this is not a requirement in general for variants. That would imply that we can never have, say, special systems or moons or Jack's suns unless there is at least one alien power that requires them. That seems like a completely unnecessary design constraint.

salty53 wrote:
Everything I try seems to cause problems. X-2 has the Kicker x4 problem and the weak main deck Kickers. X-3 has even weaker main deck Kickers and raises the question of what exactly a Kicker x-1 is supposed to do (if played with a Negotiate, does my opponent collect compensation from me, and retrieve ships from the Warp if we fail to deal?), while X-1 has a completely unacceptable Kicker x5 as well as more Kicker x4's.

The conversion approach just seems problematic to me in general. Even if you find the right formula, it will be difficult to make it elegant ... it starts to become less of a card-flexibility power and more of a Stupid Math Trick power (especially if you have to resort to rounding). But I'm probably the wrong person to ask, because I strongly dislike the negative kicker concept. So much rules baggage for something that so rarely has any value.

Although I'm not thrilled with the math conversion, I'm not trying to say you shouldn't keep after your original goal of flexibility among numeric non-encounter cards using their actual ranks. I wanted to do the same thing but just couldn't figure out how to make it work. The power I finally ended up with works for me now, but I still hope you can make yours work in a more organic way.
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Bill Martinson wrote:
(Hmmm, this spawns an interesting thought; more on that later.)

Okay, this is not intended as a solution for anything, but the discussion of always-on rift proxies sparked a spin-off idea:

VANDAL
PROGRAMS TROJAN HORSES


You have the power of Malware. At the start of any encounter, you may place one card from your hand facedown on this sheet as your "trojan." The trojan's card type is its "signature." This card is not part of your hand, but you may delete the trojan and return it to your hand at any time. You are limited to one trojan at a time.

When another player takes card(s) from your hand, if any of their card types match your trojan's signature, you may use this power and show the trojan to cause any one of the matching cards to detonate as if it were a rift 4. Afterwards, discard the trojan or return it to your hand.
 
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If this doesn't have enough oomph as a power, it would definitely work as a Tech.
 
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My Hulk power allows you to play Negotiates as x2 Kickers. Perhaps expand on that to also allow using Negotiates as +2 Reinforcement and if an opponent takes a Negotiate from your hand, he loses two ships to the warp for the Rift effect but keeps the Negotiate.
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salty53 wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
When you play an actual Rift card to retrieve ships from the warp, you retrieve one additional ship. When you play an actual Reinforcement card as a Reinforcement, it adds an additional 1.

Not so keen on this version, though - I like the power using cards as similar cards of different types, so rewarding players for not misusing the cards seems uninteresting to me. If anything, I'd rather reward players for changing the cards' types (e.g. a Reinforcement X counts as a Rift X+1 while a Rift X counts as a Reinforcement X+1), but that would just make the conversion even less clear.

Yeah, you're right. That idea isn't that good.

Quote:
The most promising seems to be to make Kickers value as double their counterparts - i.e. X/2 (rounded up) to turn Reinforcements/Rifts into Kickers and 2X to turn Kickers into Reinforcements/Rifts might do the trick and seems to provide a somewhat healthy balance.

This is what I would suggest, but don't round the halves. Go ahead and let there be a Kicker x1.5 and a Kicker x2.5. With a Negotiate, the lost ships can then be rounded up. So in a deal situation against a x1.5 Kicker, you'd lose 5 ships if the deal fails.

Quote:
But that means the Reinforcement +2's are still the silly Kicker x1's, and the Kicker x0 can't be meaningfully converted into anything at all (oh, good, I can retrieve 0 ships from the Warp or add 0 to my side's total!).

Those are still useful for bluffing. And if you really don't want to bluff that way, you can use the +2 as a Rift 2. And the Kicker x0 is always useful against Loser or Anti-Matter, or with an N when you don't want compensation.
 
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Bill Martinson wrote:
salty53 wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
there's no need for a variant - or indeed any game element - if there isn't a power that makes use of it..
That's a really good way of putting it

I must confess I don't follow this train of thought. ....

For the statement to have any real meaning, then, I always assume you mean that a variant is not "worthwhile" or "legitimate" or "advisable" unless an alien power references it. And I can't think of any reason why that would have to be the case. Kickers are a bad idea because no alien references them? Hazards are useless until there's a hazard alien? Why?

Yes. Kickers are a bad idea - that is, they aren't worthwhile. They aren't interesting, they're just a little extra math to do. Hazards and Tech at least have some varied effects that can make them somewhat interesting, but they really don't add much to the game. But the bottom line is that the powers are really the "stars of the show".

The whole game system (the "basic" rules of the steps of an encounter/turn) is not very interesting in and of itself. It exists only as an environment for the powers to exist in. There's no point in adding to that environment if the powers don't go to that part of the environment. There's no point adding a new area to an amusement park if there isn't anything to see or do in that section. There's no sense in adding a room onto your house if you aren't going to use it for anything. There's no reason to make costumes for a movie that none of the actors are going to wear.

Quote:
Don't get me wrong, I like having aliens that tie into certain variants. But such aliens are not prerequisites for the existence of the variant. If a variant is fun and well designed, it should exist. If not, it shouldn't.

Fair enough. I just don't think Kickers and Reinforcements are particularly fun. This isn't a game for teaching little kids how to do simple arithmetic.
 
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
I just don't think Kickers and Reinforcements are particularly fun.

I agree with you on the Reinforcements ... never really saw much need for those. Back when I was first introduced to Mayfair, they felt sort of "cheap" to me because they could be played post-reveal. (I did start accepting them more when I took a liking to Reserve ... which ironically supports your position that such things are better when there are aliens that reference them.)

However, I have always thought from day one that Kickers were quite interesting all by themselves. For starters, due to being played face-down, they add tension, and I'm always in favor of more of that. Doubling an attack card isn't all that earth-shaking, but the way Kickers enhance compensation and increase your leverage during deals is great gameplay. (Perhaps you and I don't assign quite the same value to compensation due to its different level of importance in Eon vs. Mayfair?)

Anyway, I see Kickers as far more consequential and "foundational" than reinforcements, tech, hazards, etc. and this is why I have copies of them (on cosmic backs) in my main deck.
 
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Bill Martinson wrote:
Yeah, I get that. What I didn't like (in my own earlier versions) was the ambiguities caused by always-on conversions: cards that can flip their identity while in the player's hand (not tied to a specific active use of the card) are problematic. You address this by making the rift detonation a specific, unique provision that does not extend to other situations.

Ah, indeed, that is something I definitely don't want to see. I have no interest in questions like, "If Plague is played, can I pretend all my Kickers and Rifts are Reinforcements so I only need to discard one card?" or "What happens if I'm also the Hate and I discard a Reinforcement, can I pretend that's a Rift? Can I pretend it's a Reinforcement-Rift hybrid that nobody else can possibly have?" or "How does this interact with Wild Disease?" Cards should only have one value at a time, and that value should only be changed at specific times while the card is in active use.

And yet, I'm about to break this rule at the bottom of this post, with cards that flip their identity when a different card is played.

Bill Martinson wrote:
In my house it can always be a secret because we have kickers in the main deck with normal cosmic backs. I realize that is not the norm, but the wording still is appropriate and necessary when the reward deck is in play, which I perceive to be reasonably often (in general) among players who own Incursion. In fact, I would say that any effect that plays a card face-down as something other than its true identity needs to clarify when the declaration of that effect's initiation really happens, because this affects response timing.

Makes sense. (If nothing else, failing to make that specification unnecessarily limits design space by creating rules conflicts with anything else that can play normal cosmic-backed cards as Kickers.)

Bill Martinson wrote:
The conversion approach just seems problematic to me in general. Even if you find the right formula, it will be difficult to make it elegant ... it starts to become less of a card-flexibility power and more of a Stupid Math Trick power (especially if you have to resort to rounding). But I'm probably the wrong person to ask, because I strongly dislike the negative kicker concept. So much rules baggage for something that so rarely has any value.

Oh, agreed on negative Kickers being a problem - anything that can create them is completely unacceptable.

I think as long as the conversion formula is kept very simple, though - just adding/subtracting one integer or multiplying/dividing by one integer, and having Reinforcements = Rifts - it can avoid becoming too Stupid Math Tricky. I'm basically using the Tripler as my guideline for what is and isn't acceptable - anything more complicated than it is right out, but less complicated things are permissible. Dividing/multiplying by 2 (and rounding up) seems simpler to me than dividing/multiplying by 3 (and rounding up), so I think the double/half ratio version should hopefully steer clear of being too SMTish.

Bill Martinson wrote:
You have the power of Malware. At the start of any encounter, you may place one card from your hand facedown on this sheet as your "trojan." The trojan's card type is its "signature." This card is not part of your hand, but you may delete the trojan and return it to your hand at any time. You are limited to one trojan at a time.

When another player takes card(s) from your hand, if any of their card types match your trojan's signature, you may use this power and show the trojan to cause any one of the matching cards to detonate as if it were a rift 4. Afterwards, discard the trojan or return it to your hand.

Hmmm. It's an interesting partial power, but it feels weak on its own. Since most of the time players can only take cards from your hand via compensation (there will be an occasional exception via a Flare or something like Trader, but that's the general rule), the power basically turns into "People don't like collecting compensation from you", which seems to make it a weaker Warhawk. If it can be strongly linked to some other effect, though, or can have a way to force players to take cards somehow tacked on or something, then that would be great. It seems like a fine basis for a power, just not strong enough to stand on its own.

hadsil wrote:
My Hulk power allows you to play Negotiates as x2 Kickers. Perhaps expand on that to also allow using Negotiates as +2 Reinforcement and if an opponent takes a Negotiate from your hand, he loses two ships to the warp for the Rift effect but keeps the Negotiate.

That sounds fine. I don't like the sound of something that can only play Negotiates as x2 Kickers (it just sounds like a weaker Pacifist), but with that bit of extra versatility it looks great.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
This is what I would suggest, but don't round the halves. Go ahead and let there be a Kicker x1.5 and a Kicker x2.5. With a Negotiate, the lost ships can then be rounded up. So in a deal situation against a x1.5 Kicker, you'd lose 5 ships if the deal fails.

I'd rather not go for half-Kickers. Specifying the rules for how they work seems like a pain, especially since they seem kind of arbitrary, and it feels inconsistent with Tripler's precedent of "all attack values must be integers".

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Those are still useful for bluffing. And if you really don't want to bluff that way, you can use the +2 as a Rift 2. And the Kicker x0 is always useful against Loser or Anti-Matter, or with an N when you don't want compensation.

True. Not being able to do anything useful with Kicker x0 (except I guess shed it from hand to prevent it from being taken as compensation?) is unfortunate, but hardly a deal-breaker. And I suppose using the Reinforcement +2's to bluff the +5 for a 3x Kicker is pretty cool.



Current version I'm leaning towards:



TINKERER - Advanced Level

Uses Reinforcements, Rifts, & Kickers Interchangeably

You have the power of Versatility.
Whenever you draw a new hand (including at game setup), you may draw up to three of those cards from the Rewards deck instead of the cosmic deck.

You may use this power to play a Rift or Reinforcement card from your hand as a Reinforcement or Rift card of the same rank, or to play a Kicker card from your hand as a Reinforcement or Rift card of twice its rank. (So a Kicker x2 could be used as a Reinforcement +4.) Additionally, you may use this power to reveal a Reinforcement or Rift card as a Kicker card of half its rank. (So a Rift 5 could be played as a Kicker x2.5.) If this power is zapped, return the card that would have been revealed to your hand.

When another player takes a Reinforcement or Kicker card from your hand, detonate it as if it were a Rift, discarding it and causing that player to lose ships to the Warp equal to its rank (times two if the card was a Kicker).

Do Not Use Without Reward Deck

Originating on a planet bombarded by debris from the wars of more advanced civilizations above, the Tinkerers quickly learned to adapt the pieces they could find into whatever was most necessary for survival. Seeing less flexibility in the stars beyond their system, they have set out to jury-rig the galaxy.

As Any Player / Optional / Regroup / Reveal

WILD: You may discard an Attack card of rank 08 or higher to retrieve ships from the Warp equal to a quarter of its rank (rounded up).
As Any Player / Any Phase

SUPER: For the rest of this encounter, all Artifacts and Flares are treated instead as Reinforcement +4's as long as they are in your hand (or being taken from your hand), and you may play or reveal them as such.
As Any Player / Any Phase


I've reordered the clauses to make them flow better (no sense separating playing Kickers as other cards from the rest - it's really playing other cards as Kickers that acts a bit funny, not the other way around), implemented Phil's suggestion re starting with Rewards cards, jotted down some tentative Wild and Super effects, and removed the use clause from detonating fake-Rifts because revealing that the opponent took a Reinforcement/Kicker from you would still be significant even if zapped and that information can't be rolled back, and, more importantly, I want to get rid of the mixed use and may use clauses out of sheer spite toward the Poison.

(The intent for the Super Flare is this: all Flares and Artifacts in your hand are Reinforcement +4's for all purposes for the rest of the turn as long as you have them - they cannot be played for their usual Flare/Artifact effects, they can be played as Kicker x2's or Rift 4's instead by the alien power, and they will be detonated by the alien power if taken. Any new Flares/Artifacts that enter your hand after the Super is played this turn still become Reinforcement +4's. If any of your Flares/Artifacts leave your hand and go to another player through some means that would not detonate Rifts, those Flares/Artifacts return to being Flares/Artifacts. If the wording here is poor, or the idea fundamentally flawed in some way I have overlooked, please tell me so.)

Still don't really like the name; it fits but sounds pretty awkward. Alchemist would have been perfect... except that Jack Reda's Incredible Power Thingie informs me that there are already four different aliens bearing that name. Engineer is also apparently taken twice.

EDIT: Just realized that the Wild Flare couldn't be used without the Reward deck, which was not desirable, since I don't want that to be banned from games without the Reward deck. Posted a new version instead.

ALSO EDIT: Updated following Phil's suggestions.
 
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Bill Martinson wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
I just don't think Kickers and Reinforcements are particularly fun.

I agree with you on the Reinforcements ... ...(I did start accepting them more when I took a liking to Reserve ... which ironically supports your position that such things are better when there are aliens that reference them.)

And wouldn't an alien or two that deals with Kickers also enhance the concept?

Quote:
However, I have always thought from day one that Kickers were quite interesting all by themselves. For starters, due to being played face-down, they add tension, and I'm always in favor of more of that. Doubling an attack card isn't all that earth-shaking, but the way Kickers enhance compensation and increase your leverage during deals is great gameplay. (Perhaps you and I don't assign quite the same value to compensation due to its different level of importance in Eon vs. Mayfair?)

Anyway, I see Kickers as far more consequential and "foundational" than reinforcements, tech, hazards, etc. and this is why I have copies of them (on cosmic backs) in my main deck.

Sure, compensation is very important [OT] That's why Zombie should be able to get it [/OT]. But all that "tension" and "leverage" and "great gameplay", things that are "consequential" and "foundational" should come from the *powers* - the stars of the show. And indeed there are a few powers that do this: Zombie, Vacuum, (formerly Void), Tick-Tock, Warpish, Fury, Sadist, Symbiote, Sniveler, Glutton, Prophet, Xenophile, even Warrior and Healer all add a little leverage to deal-making. Hacker, Cavalry, Amoeba, Merchant, Mutant, Genius, Relic, all add a little tweak to the value of compensation. And of course there are already plenty of powers that can affect Attack total similarly to the way kickers do with an attack card: Deuce, Chosen, Calculator, Leviathan, Macron, Tripler, Warpish, Xenophile, Citadel, Industrialist, Fodder, Warrior, and most obviously, Virus.
 
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salty53 wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
This is what I would suggest, but don't round the halves. Go ahead and let there be a Kicker x1.5 and a Kicker x2.5. With a Negotiate, the lost ships can then be rounded up. So in a deal situation against a x1.5 Kicker, you'd lose 5 ships if the deal fails.

I'd rather not go for half-Kickers. Specifying the rules for how they work seems like a pain, especially since they seem kind of arbitrary, and it feels inconsistent with Tripler's precedent of "all attack values must be integers".

The only rule that's needed is for how many ships are lost to a failed deal, which is easily specified: Round half-ships up to whole ships. (Or if you prefer, you can round them down.) Tripler is it's own power. It does not require that no other power be allowed to create non-integer Attack totals. (Tripler's rounding up strikes me as more of a way to keep what seems to me to be an already fairly weak power from being even weaker.)

Back when Mayfair sold black cards, a friend of mine added an Attack pi card. Nothing wrong with that. It creates no contradictions or rules conflicts.

Quote:
Current version I'm leaning towards:

REPURPOSER - Advanced Level

Uses Reinforcements, Rifts, & Kickers Interchangeably

I love it!

Quote:
You have the power of Versatility.[/b] Whenever you draw a new hand (including at game setup), you may draw three of those cards from the Rewards deck instead of the cosmic deck.

You might consider making it "up to three cards from the Rewards deck." Maybe.

Quote:
Still don't really like the name;

Yeah, me too. How about "Tinkerer"? I picture an alien version of Dick van Dyke from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, welding random parts together to make one object into a completely different object.
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
The only rule that's needed is for how many ships are lost to a failed deal, which is easily specified: Round half-ships up to whole ships. (Or if you prefer, you can round them down.) Tripler is it's own power. It does not require that no other power be allowed to create non-integer Attack totals. (Tripler's rounding up strikes me as more of a way to keep what seems to me to be an already fairly weak power from being even weaker.)

It seemed counterintuitive to me for, say, something like this to happen:

I play an Attack 20 with a Kicker x2.5. My opponent responds with Wild Tripler. My Attack 20 is divided by 3 and then rounded up to a 7... and then the Kicker does its thing and turns that into a 17.5 and doesn't round it. So we round to an integer but ultimately end up with a non-integer anyhow? (Notably, if Wild Tripler hadn't insisted on rounding in the first place, the result would have been less than 17.)

Then again, looking at it again, that seems to be more a result of the Tripler and Wild Tripler ham-fistedly insisting on rounding up immediately, and similar weirdness could result from a Kicker x3 (I start with 20, divide by 3, multiply by 3, and get... 21? Is that really how math works now?). So thinking about it some more, I don't really mind half-Kickers.

The only concern is that I don't want this power to define half-Kickers, so there would need to be some sort of general rule regarding half-Kickers in the rulebook for any power that would care to use them. That's fine by me, since there are a lot of general rules that should be in the rulebook but are written on several individual cards instead (like "no removing so many of a player's ships from the game that they have fewer ships left in the game than the number of foreign colonies needed to win"). Kicker x2 also seems often stronger to me than Reinforcement +3, so this seems to make the decision of what to use each card as more interesting too. Plus, it keeps the conversions consistent - no more of this "Reinforcement +3 = Kicker x2 = Reinforcement +4" ludicrousness.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Quote:
You have the power of Versatility.[/b] Whenever you draw a new hand (including at game setup), you may draw three of those cards from the Rewards deck instead of the cosmic deck.

You might consider making it "up to three cards from the Rewards deck." Maybe.

I considered it, but I was worried about giving the power too much flexibility with what it is allowed to do, just because it's already such a busy power. It gets to make Reinforcements, Rifts, and Kickers be played like each other, and it can detonate Reinforcements and Kickers when they're taken too, and now it gets to draw Rewards cards automatically? I think you could make an okay power out of "Any time (including game setup) you would draw a card, you may draw a Rewards card instead". Adding more options on which type of card to draw started to worry me.

But then again, if it's too powerful with the Rewards draw, then the solution is to reduce the maximum number of Rewards that can be drawn this way or rework the getting-extra-Rewards system entirely, not to ban it from drawing fewer Rewards cards in its new hands. In retrospect, that was rather poorly thought-out on my part. (And without playtesting I don't see any reason to think this is overpowered at all - it's a long effect to write out, but most of it is just formalizing an extremely pithy concept, and that concept doesn't seem anywhere near game-breaking.)

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Yeah, me too. How about "Tinkerer"?

Yes, that's perfect! I'm definitely going with that.
 
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
The only rule that's needed is for how many ships are lost to a failed deal

That's not really true. You also need a rule for half-card compensation, and any other situation where the result of a kicker is mapped to any tangible component, like tokens, Lucre, whatever.

You also need to clarify what happens when any other Math Trick comes into play that can also result in fractions, so the player knows when to apply the rounding. Bottom line: you will round at some point, no matter what. The rules need to say (a) when and (b) how.

None of this is a showstopper — but what is the actual benefit that justifies the baggage? I've never seen one.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
a friend of mine added an Attack pi card. ... It creates no contradictions or rules conflicts.

That may be true, but it also creates no real gameplay value.

I'd rather spend that card slot on something that does something relevant, and doesn't force the non-mathematically inclined to have to look up what it means and how to handle it.
 
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Bill Martinson wrote:
which ironically supports your position that such things are better when there are aliens that reference them.)
And wouldn't an alien or two that deals with Kickers also enhance the concept?

Sure, that's great and I have written such homebrews (obviously, since one of them is in this thread). But "enhancing the concept" is very different from your stated position, which is that such mechanics should not exist unless there are aliens that require them. That is what's driving my comments.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
But all that "tension" and "leverage" and "great gameplay", things that are "consequential" and "foundational" should come from the *powers*

That's your preference, not a design axiom. I would argue it's a counter-productive design paradigm: If all tension came only from alien powers, then in games that didn't happen to include any of the "tense" aliens there would be no tension at all.

I see no benefit to such a constraint, but its drawbacks are clear and personally I'm glad FFG doesn't wear such handcuffs.
 
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Bill Martinson wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
The only rule that's needed is for how many ships are lost to a failed deal

That's not really true. You also need a rule for half-card compensation, and any other situation where the result of a kicker is mapped to any tangible component, like tokens, Lucre, whatever.

Good catch on the compensation. What other situations are there?

Quote:
You also need to clarify what happens when any other Math Trick comes into play that can also result in fractions, so the player knows when to apply the rounding. Bottom line: you will round at some point, no matter what. The rules need to say (a) when and (b) how.

No you don't. You never need to round unless you're dealing with a "tangible component". The only such cases so far are cards of compensation and ships lost as a result of a failed deal.

Quote:
None of this is a showstopper — but what is the actual benefit that justifies the baggage? I've never seen one.

I don't consider it "baggage" at all. Or you could say that it's just as much baggage as Kickers normally bring. The benefit is that you have a new power with new values of Kickers. It's more interesting, IMO, to have Kicker values besides just x2 and x3. I'm just as glad that there are now Attack cards between 20 and 30.

Bill Martinson wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Bill Martinson wrote:
which ironically supports your position that such things are better when there are aliens that reference them.)
And wouldn't an alien or two that deals with Kickers also enhance the concept?

Sure, that's great and I have written such homebrews (obviously, since one of them is in this thread). But "enhancing the concept" is very different from your stated position, which is that such mechanics should not exist unless there are aliens that require them. That is what's driving my comments.

Right. My point is that there's no reason to add a new concept, unless you're going to have a power that enhances it. My point is that the powers are the stars of the show, and that every concept that is added to the game that the powers don't do anything with takes away some of the powers' stardom.

Quote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
But all that "tension" and "leverage" and "great gameplay", things that are "consequential" and "foundational" should come from the *powers*

That's your preference, not a design axiom.

Well I think it is a design axiom.

Quote:
I would argue it's a counter-productive design paradigm: If all tension came only from alien powers, then in games that didn't happen to include any of the "tense" aliens there would be no tension at all.

I don't understand what you mean by this statement.

Quote:
I see no benefit to such a constraint, but its drawbacks are clear and personally I'm glad FFG doesn't wear such handcuffs.

Fine. I do see a benefit to such a constraint, and the drawbacks may be clear to you, but I don't see any such drawbacks. Frankly, I think FFG deserves those handcuffs lately. Perhaps if they were more focused on the stars of the show, they wouldn't have let so much of the sloppiness they have, such as with the Hazards.
 
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Frankly, I think FFG deserves those handcuffs lately. Perhaps if they were more focused on the stars of the show, they wouldn't have let so much of the sloppiness they have, such as with the Hazards.

I'd be happy if they could just focus on writing aliens that work properly.
 
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