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Subject: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter (now with a Poll) rss

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Just a Bill
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So this idea was conceived when I realized that some bits I'd been saving for years — translucent "towers" from Clever Endeavor, an old thrift store find — were just the right colors for Cosmic Encounter.

EDIT: I'm now using JumboGems instead; see my update post in this thread.


This led to brainstorming what could be done if every player had exactly one weird-shaped piece in his own color, which resulted in a concept I gave the working title of "Colossus". The idea was that each player would draw a card at game start to determine what his Colossus represented and what its special ability was. Each one might be a mega-ship or a tower that defined a headquarters planet or some kind of alternate hyperspace transit cannon or ... whatever.

That then evolved into a more focused ship-based variant idea called Motherships at first, and then Flagships. I didn't set out to knock off (or replace) the Tech variant, but as we'll see shortly this variant does have some similarities. Tech has always been a bit of a disappointment for me. I do like the theme of adding new technology to your empire, but somehow I just don't quite feel like the payoff is worth the overhead. Flagships tries to bring in that idea of technological advancement, but in a way that is purposefully different from tech in some important ways:

• Whereas tech gives you a stream of new artifact-like cards without Card Zaps (well, there is one Tech Scrambler but it shows up less than once per game), Flagships is intentionally tactical. Its game effects are pushed from the abstract "player" level down to the in-world "ship" level, meaning you don't have to have a special card to zap an effect that's causing you trouble ... you can try to nuke the card by defeating the ship in an encounter, which may require talking other players into helping you. This to me is more interesting than "Bob plays a card and Linda zaps it."

• Tech is decidedly rich-get-richer: First, players who lose their initial encounter suffer the triple-whammy of losing a colony, losing ships, and losing the chance at a new tech. Second, the more foreign colonies you have, the better your new techs get. The Flagships variant, in contrast, provides multiple channels for acquiring new card effects: winning defensive encounters, foregoing offensive encounters, making trades, and others. If you lose the first encounter of your turn, you still get a card. So there are earned benefits, semi-automatic benefits, and compensatory benefits.

• When fiddling with homebrew concepts, I'm often looking for ways to differentiate planets as encounter venues. It always seems a bit boring when you draw somebody's color for destiny and see that three, four, or five of that player's planets are identical where your encounter is concerned; "aiming" the gate is sometimes no more a decision than is "aiming" a rock at the ocean. Flagships tries to move things in the direction of some planets having a decidedly different risk/reward balance than others.

Now I realize that almost none of us have a copy of Clever Endeavor handy, but fortunately you already have appropriately colored components in your game box that can work quite well as flagships: your colony markers. So if you're willing to print and cut the Upgrade cards (which I haven't uploaded yet), you'll have everything you need.

So enough of this boring origin-story; let's get to it...
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
FLAGSHIPS
A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter


The Flagships variant introduces a powerful, upgradeable "admiral's ship" or "mothership" for each player. These can play a central role in many encounters, and introduce some new tactical possibilities when choosing which planet to encounter or which ships to send through hyperspace.

COMPONENTS

• One flagship per player in that player's color.
• An "upgrade deck" comprising 32 upgrade cards that add capabilities to flagships.


FLAGSHIPS

At the start of the game, each player takes one flagship in his player color as a 21st (or 17th) ship, placing it on any of his home planets. Flagships are treated as normal ships and can launch in the hyperspace gate, establish and maintain colonies, go to the warp, etc. However, a few special rules apply. (These rules are presented with storyline rationale and are written very specifically to avoid gameplay leaks. A concise summary will be provided afterwards.)

1. Flagships are active. They cannot hide on the sidelines, but must always be part of a colony or involved in an encounter (except when in the warp). You cannot use your flagship to research tech or for any other purpose that would hide it from normal play. In short, other players must always be able to engage your flagship through encounters (unless it's in the warp, of course).

2. Flagships are hunted. They are high-priority military targets. When destiny indicates a particular player and system, you may encounter that player normally or you may encounter any opponent's colony in the indicated system that contains a flagship, regardless of that opponent's color. A Wild destiny allows targeting any opponent's colony anywhere if it contains his flagship. (If in the future some new game effect can make a colony hidden or inaccessible, the presence of the flagship would override that effect.)

3. Flagships are elusive. When another player has discretion to target individual ships of yours for a particular game effect, you may require him to choose your regular ships before choosing your flagship (to the extent possible). This means effects like Bully, Shadow, and Guerrilla will likely never harm your flagship, and Poison will usually get to the flagship only when it's the last remaining member of the colony. (Game effects that apply to all ships in a particular context, such as Super Guerrilla, still apply normally.) Also, a flagship cannot be captured, removed from the game, etc. When something like capturing or game-removal should happen to your flagship (unless mandated by an upgrade card), treat it as lost to the warp instead.

So, in a nutshell, your flagship can't be captured or destroyed, is largely immune to ship-killers, can't research tech, and can be a magnet for making you the defense on your foreign colony in the system indicated by destiny.


GAINING UPGRADES

Throughout the game, flagships gain and lose capabilites in the form of Upgrade cards. At the start of the game, the upgrade deck is shuffled and place face-down on the table. It will have its own discard pile, which gets reshuffled when the upgrade deck runs out.

Each player places all upgrade cards he acquires face-down in front of himself, to be deployed (turned face up) at a time of his choosing. There is no limit to the number of upgrade cards a player may have, and they are not part of his hand. You acquire upgrades in a variety of ways:

• At the start of the game, you are dealt one upgrade from the upgrade deck.

• As the offense, at the end of your turn, you may draw one upgrade if you began only one encounter that turn. (Whether or not you would have been allowed to begin a second encounter doesn't matter; this is different from the rule for techs.)

• As the defense, at the end of the encounter, you may draw one upgrade if you won the encounter and your flagship was not involved.

• When you receive rewards, you may forego all of your normal rewards for that encounter and instead draw one upgrade as a reward.

• When you collect compensation, you may forego all of your normal compensation from that player and instead take one of his upgrade cards as your compensation. Take one at random from either his face-up group or his face-down group.

• When you make a deal, you may agree to trade one or more upgrade cards, whether face-up or face-down, in addition to the normal card or colony exchange required for a valid deal.

(Yeah, I know, that's probably too many ways. But I'm still leaving all the possibilities on the table until I get more playtesting in.)

Regardless of the method of acquiring upgrades, place them face down in front of yourself.

USING UPGRADES

Each player chooses when to deploy (reveal) each of his upgrades. Upgrades may be deployed at any of three times: when first acquired, at the start of any Regroup phase, or as a surprise at the moment the player wishes to use them for their listed game effect. Two or more may be deployed at the same time if appropriate. Once deployed, an upgrade card remains face up and active until lost or traded away.

Deployed upgrades have three effects:

1. Each upgrade describes a unique benefit in its game text. The majority of these effects require your flagship to be involved in the encounter, as defined by a green (FLAGSHIP INVOLVED) bar near the bottom of the card. This bar takes the place of the normal blue prerequisite bar; whether the specific prerequisite would be Main Player or Ally Only, Offense Only, etc. is defined in the game text.

2. When your flagship is involved in an encounter, after encounter cards are revealed you may add 1 to your side's total for each deployed upgrade you have.

3. Deployed upgrades function as ablative shields or "hit points." Whenever your flagship should be sent to the warp for any reason (including in lieu of being captured or destroyed), you must discard one of your face-up upgrade cards at random instead, and then return your flagship to another of your colonies. (Conceptually, the enemy shot took out that part of the ship instead of hitting a critical component and blowing up the whole thing.) If you have no deployed upgrades, send your flagship to the warp normally. You may not deploy any upgrades at this time just for the purpose of manipulating the likelihood of which one is lost or to burn one up as a shield; upgrades may be deployed now only if they are actually being used for their listed game effect.

Some cards occur more than once in the upgrade deck, and their effects are cumulative. For example, if you have two deployed copies of Law Library you may add or subtract 2 from compensation; having two deployed Salvage Claws allows you to recover two discarded upgrades.
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
UPGRADE CARDS

These are a work in progress ... not really happy with all of them yet, but here they are for discussion. Once they are vetted and improved, I'll upload a set of playtest mockups.

Astropolis Infrastructure
At the start of your turn, you may discard this upgrade to expand your flagship into a space station. It is placed as, and counts as, a new planet in its current system, and also counts as a ship on that station-planet, forming a colony. Other ships may exist on and encounter the station-planet, but the flagship cannot separate from the station-planet unless it should actually go to the warp. If it does go to the warp, the station no longer exists and all other ships on or near it return to other colonies.
(Offense Only) (Start Turn)

Biolatency Laboratory
At the end of each encounter your flagship was not involved in, you may take one of your regular ships from your flagship’s colony and place it on this upgrade. When you have 4 or more ships on this upgrade, you may send them all to the warp; if any player possesses your Super flare in any way, or it is in the discard pile, it must be given to you.
(Not Main Player or Ally) (Resolution)

Consular Chambers
You may collect one reward if you made a deal or lose one ship fewer than normal if you failed to deal.
(Flagship Involved) (Resolution)

Countermeasures (x2)
If both main players reveal attack cards, you may subtract 2 from the other side's total.
(Flagship Involved) (Reveal)

Cultural Archive
After the end of any encounter in which you lost your power due to losing a home colony, you may discard this upgrade and send one of your other ships from the same colony as your flagship to regain the home colony you lost this encounter.
(As Any Player) (Resolution)

Damage Control Auto-Bypass
When you must discard one of your deployed upgrades at random, you may instead choose which of your deployed upgrades to discard.
(As Any Player) (Start Turn)(Regroup)(Destiny)(Launch)(Alliance)(Planning)(Reveal)(Resolution)


Deluxe Research Facilities
Instead of drawing a new upgrade card from the upgrade deck, you may either take one at random from the upgrade discard pile, or choose one from the upgrade discard pile and then discard this upgrade.
(As Any Player) (Start Turn)(Regroup)(Destiny)(Launch)(Alliance)(Planning)(Reveal)(Resolution)

Extendable Shields (x2)
If your side loses the encounter, you may protect one or two of your other involved ships from going to the warp. Those ship(s) return to your other colonies.
(Flagship Involved) (Resolution)

Experimental Timedrive
After encounter cards are revealed, you may draw and discard the top card of the deck. If you drew an attack card, your side’s main player may discard his or her revealed encounter card and replace it with a different one from his or her hand. If you drew a non-encounter card, discard this upgrade. Otherwise, discard all of your deployed upgrades and send your flagship to the warp.
(Flagship Involved) (Reveal)

Fighter Bay (x2)
After alliances are formed, you may send one or two more ships into the encounter from any of your colonies.
(Flagship Involved) (Alliance)

Genetics Laboratory
At the start of any encounter, if your flagship is in another player's system, you may send one of your other ships in that system to the warp to copy that player's alien power for the rest of the encounter. If there is a conflict between two players using the same power, the other player has priority.
(As Any Player) (Regroup)

Harmonic Shielding
After encounter cards are revealed, if you have an attack card in your hand with a value that is greater than or equal to the total number of ships on your side, you may discard that card to hide all ships on your side from the encounter. They return to other colonies.
(Flagship Involved) (Reveal)

Hyperdrive (x2)
As a main player or ally, after encounter cards are selected but before they are revealed, if your flagship is at a different planet you may discard a card at random from your hand to send your flagship into the encounter (even exceeding the normal maximum of four).
(Main Player or Ally Only) (Planning)

Law Library (x2)
You may add 1 to any compensation you collect or subtract 1 from any compensation you owe.
(Flagship Involved) (Resolution)

Long-Range Torpedoes (x2)
If your side reveals an attack card, you may immediately send any one opposing ship to the warp, or discard this upgrade to send any two opposing ships to the warp.
(Flagship Involved) (Reveal)

Matter Teleporter
If both main players reveal attack cards and your side wins the encounter, you may take one card at random from the opposing main player’s hand.
(Flagship Involved) (Resolution)

Mining Rig (x2)
You may add 1 to any rewards you receive.
(Flagship Involved) (Resolution)

Precision Targeting System (x2)
If your side wins the encounter, you may choose which deployed upgrade each losing flagship must discard instead of those upgrades being selected at random.
(Flagship Involved) (Resolution)

Repair Bay (x2)
During your regroup phase, if your flagship is not in the warp, you may retrieve one extra ship from the warp and add it to your flagship’s colony.
(Offense Only) (Regroup)

Salvage Claw (x2)
If both main players reveal attack cards and your side wins the encounter, you may take one upgrade card discarded by any losing player.
(Flagship Involved) (Resolution)

Self-Destruct
At any time, you may initiate a self-destruct by placing three or more tokens on this upgrade (if it has no tokens), or cancel the self-destruct by discarding its tokens. While this upgrade has tokens, you must discard one at the start of each phase. When the last one is discarded in this way, remove your flagship from the game. If it was on or near a planet, send all other ships there to the warp; any encounter there ends unsuccessfully. Discard all of your upgrades; you may not acquire any more in this game.
(As Any Player) (Start Turn)(Regroup)(Destiny)(Launch)(Alliance)(Planning)(Reveal)(Resolution)

Space-to-Surface Torpedoes
As the offense or an offensive ally, if your side reveals an attack card, you may discard this upgrade to send one bystander ship on the targeted planet to the warp.
(Flagship Involved) (Reveal)

Stolen Schematics (x2)
Before encounter cards are revealed, you may send up to three of your regular ships in the encounter on suicide runs against other flagship(s) in the encounter. Each sent ship goes to the warp, causing the flagship targeted to discard a deployed upgrade at random. If you send three to target the same flagship, alternatively you may discard exactly one of its deployed upgrades of your choice. In either case, Damage Control upgrades do not apply.
(Flagship Involved) (Reveal)
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
MINI-FAQ

Please don't be offended by the length of this section; these entries are just spelling out in detail the natural implications of the flagship rules, partly as a means of aiding the digestion of those rules.

Q. Can a flagship launch in the gate by itself, hold down a colony by itself, etc.?
A. Yes. It is a ship in every way, and does not need to be "escorted" by normal ships.

Q. When the defense's flagship should go to the warp but instead loses an upgrade and returns to a colony, can it remain on the colony it was on during the encounter?
A. No. In general, any time a ship is lost from a planet, it remains separated from that planet. This is why so many game effects specify that your ships "return to your other colonies".

Q. If Amoeba oozes his flagship out of an encounter as the defense, does he earn an upgrade card if he wins?
A. No, because the flagship was involved in the encounter, even if only briefly.

Q. Since ship-targeting effects can target flagships only if there's no other choice, does this mean that Bully is forced to leave a losing flagship in the encounter?
A. Yes, if he chooses to use his power. His other option is to not use his power, in which case the flagship would lose an upgrade (or go to the warp) normally.

Q. Do flagships stack for things like Fungus?
A. Depending on what physical items you use to represent your flagships, they might not be able to stack physically, but they are still stackable relationally (since they are ships in every way). Fungus can thus stack captured ships "under" his flagship, even though for practical reasons they may really be stacked next to it. (From a physical standpoint, the Clever Endeavor pyramids will stack on top of regular ships, and JumboGems will stack underneath.) Just keep in mind that Fungus cannot stack other players' flagships under his own, since flagships cannot be captured.

Q. Speaking of that, not every effect that takes other players' ships uses the specific word "capture". Can Wild Fungus "collect" flagships? Can Remote "turn" a flagship if it is that player's only ship in the encounter?
A. No and no. In spite of its poor wording, Wild Fungus is indeed a form of capturing (and has been revised to say so in the Cosmodex). Remote's text specifically says that to turn a ship into a remote you must remove it from the game. But really, the simple answer is that the rules say flagships can't ever be anywhere other than on a colony, in an encounter, or in the warp, so these situations would cause the flagship to be treated as lost to the warp.

Q. When a flagship should be lost to the warp but only loses an upgrade, does this still count as "lost" for effects like Fury gaining a token and Ghoul feasting?
A. Yes.

Q. If a flagship with a deployed upgrade is "lost" from a planet affected by Gorgon, does it still get to return to a different colony?
A. Yes. (Not just "gets to," but actually has to.)

Q. Does Healer heal flagships?
A. Yes, if the flagship actually goes to the warp. Healer heals all of a player's just-lost ships; it doesn't choose specific ones.

Q. When a player must lose ships of his own choice, say because of Plague or failing to deal, or when using his own effect such as Kamikaze, is he allowed to "lose" his flagship even if this just means losing an upgrade?
A. Yes, although he would still have to remove the flagship from its colony and send it to one of his other colonies.

Q. Can Locust devour a flagship that has converted itself into a space station/planet using Astropolis Infrastructure?
A. Nope. Although other effects like The Claw and Wild Leviathan can move the Astropolis normally (like any other planet), Locust tries to remove planets from the game ... and since flagships can't be removed from the game, an attempt to devour it would just make it lose an upgrade (or go to the warp if it had none left).

Q. Wait, so you mean to tell me that a flagship that has expanded into an Astropolis still gains and loses upgrades normally?
A. You betcha. It's still a ship; it still participates in defensive encounters at its own self-station-planet; it can still repair other ships in its Repair Bay and launch fighters from its Fighter Bay and improve itself with new upgrades. It just also happens to count as a planet now, and cannot separate itself from that planet except when it must be physically lost to the warp (which, as usual for flagships, would be a last resort).

Q. Does Machine have to not use his power if he wants to get an upgrade at the end of his turn?
A. Yes. Anything that causes you to begin more than one offensive encounter on your turn, including also Lightning, Infinity Drive, and Wild Machine, makes you ineligible to draw an upgrade at the end of that turn. (Fortunately, Lightning and Machine are strong powers and there are plenty of other ways to get upgrades.)

Q. What if I start a second encounter but it's immediately canceled, or transferred to someone else using Wild Butler?
A. You may not draw an upgrade, because you began more than one encounter; the fact that the second encounter was then canceled or modified is irrelevant. (The rule is defined this way to eliminate arguing about gray areas among the various effects that modify or cancel encounters at different times.)

Q. Does Macron's flagship count as 4 toward his side's total and earn double compensation or rewards? Can Super Merchant replace a hired ship with his flagship from the warp? Does Observer protect flagships? Will Sadist count fla—
A. Yes, yes, yes ... flagships are ships!

Q. Okay, I know I'm trying your patience, but does Masochist have to have his flagship actually in the warp to win using his power?
A. Of course ... but remember that deploying upgrades is optional, so he doesn't have to make his flagship hard to kill. (Are you really still playing with Masochist??)

Q. Shouldn't Shadow get to target a flagship if it's the only ship on that colony? Isn't he really targeting the colony first, and then picking one of the ships from that colony?
A. No. He is actually choosing any one of that player's ships from among the various systems. The explicit colony reference is there to prevent him from picking ships that are captured, researching tech, etc.; it does not mean he first "targets a colony." The target-flagships-last rule basically means that I can't specifically choose your flagship unless it is my only option. (Keep in mind that this restriction is activated by the ship's owner, so if you actually want me to target your flagship for some reason, you can let me do it.)

Q. When a flagship saved by something like Zombie or Observer is lost-but-not-lost to the warp, does it still lose a deployed upgrade?
A. Yes. (And P.S., Zombie should get compensation!)


Q. Wow, Black is really getting his butt handed to him. Who is that terrible player?
A. Sorry, that is not a proper FAQ question and I refuse to answer it.
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Just a Bill
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
(this space reserved for whatever I forgot)
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
This Kickstarter ends in just under a week, and the 'primary' sheet provides 8 colors which match Cosmic Encounter's.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/276266606/pennygems-ii-a...
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Asmor wrote:
This Kickstarter ends in just under a week, and the 'primary' sheet provides 8 colors which match Cosmic Encounter's.

Looks like it would be best to go with the JumboGems, which would be about the same size as a Cosmic ship (and presumably less expensive than the PennyGems). Unfortunately his web store is currently closed so I can't find out the price on the JumboGems.
 
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Whoops, I forgot a few Upgrade cards. Just added the missing Biolatency Laboratory, Fighter Bay, and Stolen Schematics cards (these were added after the playtest session).

While I've got the hood up, I'm adding Deluxe Research Facilities and bringing back one of the Colossus concepts in the form of the ridiculous Astropolis Infrastructure upgrade.
 
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
You say that the Flagship can't be removed from the game, but Self-Destruct says you should do exactly that. What's going on?

Salvage Claw refers to "an encounter in which both sides revealed encounter cards". Was this intentional? It refers to a good 95% of encounters in the game, and probably an even higher percentage of encounters in which an upgrade would be lost.
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Azeltir wrote:
You say that the Flagship can't be removed from the game, but Self-Destruct says you should do exactly that. What's going on?

Specific effects always override more general rules, just like there's a rule that says you can't attack red's colony on green's planet, but then Will says yes you can. I'll add "(unless mandated by an upgrade card)" to the rule if you think it's necessary.

Azeltir wrote:
Salvage Claw refers to "an encounter in which both sides revealed encounter cards".

Whoops, brain fart; it should say attack cards. Thanks for catching that!
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Perhaps the rule could be "unless the effect specifically says 'remove your flagship from the game'". That way, it is clear that effects that remove ships don't effect the flagship, but there's non-upgrade card space for flagship flagship removal.

I just felt it was weird that the Self-Destruct's exception to the remove-from-game rule wasn't noticeably different from non-exceptions' remove-from-game effects, so it seemed like a contradiction. We expect alien powers to "break the rules" - but a single consequence of a somewhat complex card triggers my "was that intentional?" nerve.
 
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Bill Martinson wrote:
Self-Destruct
...any encounter there ends unsuccessfully.

You're accelerating rapidly down a slippery slope here. In a month or two, you'll be posting aliens like this:


THE LEGOLAS
IS REALLY COOL


You have the power of Defeating Sith Lords Efficiently. Each time you receive defender rewards, use this power to also draw the top card of the discard pile.

Additionally, whenever you launch ships to attack an opponent's foreign colony as a main player or ally, you may use this power to launch one additional ship. If you do and you win the encounter, receive one defender reward.

As a defensive ally, if you have at least four ships on the gate, you may play Flares as Reinforcement +4's.

Also also also, if you lose an encounter defensively but play a Negotiate, your ships remain on the defeated planet and coexist with the invading ships unless another effect would prohibit coexistince in which case you don't coexist.

(Variable) (Various) (Launch)(Planning)(Resolution)

The The Legolas were once less cool, but now they are more cool. Their ultimate aim is to use their coolness to take over the entire galaxy.

WILD: Remove all attacking ships from the game. Deliver this card over to the The Legolas after use, or put it on top of the discard pile if no such alien exists.
(As Any Player) (Any Phase)

SUPER: Whenever you lose ships to the whirlpool circle, you must also discard a card.
(Main Player or Ally Only) (Any Phase)
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Yes, I think I should revisit all of my old interpretations. This is a good start, although according to FFG conventions, the Super flare should be "Ally or Main Player Only."

I might also base it not on Legolas, but on Katniss. I've been feeling like the Cosmic Encounter vibe is a bit too fresh and original, and think it should be taken down a peg with the infusion of some overexposed, mass-market, teen-girl literatrash. At first I was thinking about that comic-book arrow guy – Hawkman, Hawkeye, Hawkstar, whatever — but then I realized that those who would actually want superheroes in this game might miss out on the full Swiftian effect.
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Really neat concept! I like it a lot. Some of the specific upgrades might be a little off - some are far less useful than others. I'll (inevitably) post my ideas about other possible upgrades. Meanwhile, here are my questions:

Bill Martinson wrote:
Astropolis Infrastructure

Does this ship/planet still move like a ship? Can in be launched into the gate and sent as an ally, etc.?

Quote:
Biolatency Laboratory
At the end of each encounter your flagship was not involved in, you may take one of your regular ships from your flagship’s colony and place it on this upgrade. When you have 4 or more ships on this upgrade, you may send them all to the warp. If any player possesses your Super flare in any way, or it is in the discard pile, it must be given to you.

I'm not sure what the point of putting ships on this upgrade and then sending them to the ward is. Did you mean this:

At the end of each encounter your flagship was not involved in, you may take one of your regular ships from your flagship’s colony and place it on this upgrade. When you have 4 or more ships on this upgrade, you may send them all to the warp. If you do this, and any player possesses your Super flare in any way, or it is in the discard pile, it must be given to you.

Also this creates a bit of an immovable object/irresistible force contradiction if the Super flare is in the Miser's hoard.

Quote:
Experimental Timedrive
After encounter cards are revealed, you may draw and discard the top card of the deck. If you drew a non-encounter card, your side’s main player may discard his or her revealed encounter card and replace it with a different one from his or her hand. If you drew an attack card, discard this upgrade. Otherwise, discard all of your deployed upgrades and send your flagship to the warp.

Hardly seems worth it. Way to much risk for way too little reward. 27/82 = 32.9% chance of being able to replace your side's encounter card; 39/82 = 47.6% chance of losing the upgrade, and 16/82 = 19.5% chance of losing all upgrades and the flagship.

How does Precision Targeting System work with Damage Control Auto-Bypass?

Quote:
Repair Bay (x2)
During your regroup phase, if your flagship is on a colony, you may retrieve one extra ship from the warp and place it on the same colony.

The same colony as the flagship, or the same colony as the other retrieved ship?
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Some of the specific upgrades ... are far less useful than others.

Yeah, the rules have had a lot of work but some of the upgrade cards are still alpha-stage. Not all have even been playtested. I probably need to tone down some of the stronger ones rather than elevate the weak ones; a flagship is not supposed to have the strength of six alien powers in one, of course. (The design here is intended to allow for "very weak" upgrades because even a near-useless one still adds +1 to the encounter and functions as an ablative shield.)

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Quote:
Astropolis Infrastructure
Does this ship/planet still move like a ship? Can in be launched into the gate and sent as an ally, etc.?

No, because it can't be separated from the planet it represents without going to the warp. If you could take something that's both a planet and a ship into the gate, then you could end up with a planet landing on a planet — and that just can't be allowed. (Granted, Leviathan allows a ship into the gate, but it also has text trying to explain how that all works and what happens afterwards.) Obviously I'm trying to do a lot in the limited space on this one. I'd like it to be more obvious, but the text is straining against the walls.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Quote:
Biolatency Laboratory
... Did you mean this:

Yeah, that's the intent, but I hoped it would be clear without needing an "if you do so" (which always feels a bit awkward to me when FFG does it). I think I can probably accomplish the same thing by merging the sentences with a semicolon.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Also this creates a bit of an immovable object/irresistible force contradiction if the Super flare is in the Miser's hoard.

I thought about Miser, Cryo, Cyborg, and so on; that's why the upgrade has the absoluteness qualifier "possesses ... in any way". Like Extortionist saying "for any reason," it trumps other effects.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Quote:
Experimental Timedrive
Hardly seems worth it. Way to much risk for way too little reward. 27/82 = 32.9% chance of being able to replace your side's encounter card; 39/82 = 47.6% chance of losing the upgrade, and 16/82 = 19.5% chance of losing all upgrades and the flagship.

I worked through all those probabilities very carefully when choosing the card types. It's actually supposed to be a low-probability thing. This really shouldn't be happening multiple times a game; that would be poor pacing from a storytelling perspective. Maybe you'll have a reason to mash Go on the "Omega-13" device and maybe you won't. Again, the mechanic intentionally allows for upgrades that are low utility. Changing your encounter card after reveal is very powerful, so a third of a chance of success (and a fifth of a chance of disaster) is actually about what I want for dramatic purposes. You might not ever use it, but I know I would use it if in dire straits. It might just be an end-game desperation move, and I'm okay with that.

On the other hand, I guess I wouldn't be opposed to swapping the first two around so there's a 48% chance of success and a 33% chance of the flux capacitor breaking. Does that get it into the range of non-useless for you?

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
How does Precision Targeting System work with Damage Control Auto-Bypass?

Yeah, I still haven't resolved that one yet. I've been lazy about that because I'm not entirely sure I'll be keeping the Damage Control card in the set. It was one of those "obvious design matrix" things, but I'm thinking it's not actually good for gameplay: if the guy has an upgrade that's making everyone's life miserable, and another upgrade that protects the first one, you sort of lose your incentive to go attack him and try to knock out that device.

As this variant has evolved, to enhance its tactical nature I find myself wanting more ways to target and eliminate specific upgrades, not more ways to protect them. We should want to chase flagships, which means we should have a reasonable hope of being rewarded for defeating them. (Plus if I cut this card, then I can eliminate its clunky override on Stolen Schematics. The fact that I felt the need to even put that reference there in the first place should have been a clue that the Damage Control concept was counterproductive to the mechanic.)

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Quote:
Repair Bay
During your regroup phase, if your flagship is on a colony, you may retrieve one extra ship from the warp and place it on the same colony.
The same colony as the flagship, or the same colony as the other retrieved ship?

The same colony that was mentioned earlier in the game text.

How about this, then: "During your regroup phase, if your flagship is not in the warp, you may retrieve one extra ship from the warp and add it to your flagship’s colony."

Thanks for helping me improve these.
 
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Bill Martinson wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Quote:
Astropolis Infrastructure
Does this ship/planet still move like a ship? Can in be launched into the gate and sent as an ally, etc.?

No, because it can't be separated from the planet it represents without going to the warp.

That's what I figured, but I wasn't sure because of the way it was worded. Perhaps it could be worded to say something like: "it counts as a planet with a ship on it - in other words, a colony."

Quote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Also this creates a bit of an immovable object/irresistible force contradiction if the Super flare is in the Miser's hoard.

I thought about Miser, Cryo, Cyborg, and so on; that's why the upgrade has the absoluteness qualifier "possesses ... in any way". Like Extortionist saying "for any reason," it trumps other effects.

Yeah, but it always seemed to me that the whole idea of Miser was to be an absolute effect itself - *nothing* can mess with cards in the hoard - they can't be looked at by the Mind, taken by Trader, Hacker, Barbarian, etc. If the idea for flagship upgrades is to be far less powerful than powers, then it really shouldn't override a power.

Quote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Quote:
Experimental Timedrive
Hardly seems worth it. Way to much risk for way too little reward. 27/82 = 32.9% chance of being able to replace your side's encounter card; 39/82 = 47.6% chance of losing the upgrade, and 16/82 = 19.5% chance of losing all upgrades and the flagship.

I worked through all those probabilities very carefully when choosing the card types. ....

On the other hand, I guess I wouldn't be opposed to swapping the first two around so there's a 48% chance of success and a 33% chance of the flux capacitor breaking. Does that get it into the range of non-useless for you?

Well, maybe, but I'd prefer simply getting rid of that third possibility. Losing all of your upgrades seems like too big a cost to risk for a chance at gaining a one-time mini-Chronos power. If it was: Non-Encounter - replace the encounter card, Attack - lose the upgrade, Other - nothing happens; then I think it would be good.

Quote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
How does Precision Targeting System work with Damage Control Auto-Bypass?

Yeah, I still haven't resolved that one yet. I've been lazy about that because I'm not entirely sure I'll be keeping the Damage Control card in the set.

I've come up with a possible replacement for it. See my next post.

Quote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Quote:
Repair Bay
During your regroup phase, if your flagship is on a colony, you may retrieve one extra ship from the warp and place it on the same colony.
The same colony as the flagship, or the same colony as the other retrieved ship?

The same colony that was mentioned earlier in the game text.

How about this, then: "During your regroup phase, if your flagship is not in the warp, you may retrieve one extra ship from the warp and add it to your flagship’s colony."

Better, since the Regroup phase already involved retrieving a ship from the warp and placing it on a colony. So a colony has already been designated in the process of carrying out the normal Regroup.
 
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Here's a dozen ideas for other possible flagship upgrades:

Brig
Capture one defeated enemy ship when your side wins an encounter, and place it on this upgrade. If and when this upgrade is discarded, return any captured ships to their owners.
(Flagship Involved) (Resolution)

Cloaking Device
When your color is drawn in destiny, you may discard this upgrade to cause the destiny card to be discarded without effect. The offense must draw a new destiny card. This upgrade may not be used to discard a wild or special destiny card.
(As Any Player) (Destiny)

Diversion Tactics
After alliances are formed, you may return your flagship to another colony to send an opposing ally’s ships back to his other colonies.
(Flagship Involved) (Alliance)

Diplomatic Ship
A regular Negotiate you reveal is treated as a Negotiate (Crooked Deal).
(Flagship Involved) (Resolution)

Energy Damping Field
Discard this upgrade to cancel an Artifact.
(As Any Player) (Start Turn)(Regroup)(Destiny)(Launch)(Alliance)(Planning)(Reveal)(Resolution)

Fail-Safe Systems
When you would lose an upgrade, you may instead place a token on this upgrade. When you would gain an upgrade, you may instead discard a token from this upgrade. If this upgrade ever gets three tokens on it, discard this upgrade and the tokens.
(As Any Player) (Start Turn)(Regroup)(Destiny)(Launch)(Alliance)(Planning)(Reveal)(Resolution)

Reconnaissance Probe
When you draw destiny, draw two cards, look at them and select one to be your destiny card for the encounter. Reshuffle the other back into the destiny deck (without the destiny discard pile).
(Offense Only) (Destiny)

Reverse Maneuvering
If you wish, you may subtract one from your side‘s total for each upgrade you have, instead of adding.
(Flagship Involved) (Reveal)

Stealth
You may add 1 to your side’s total for each of your non-deployed upgrades, not just your deployed ones.
(Flagship Involved) (Resolution)

Thermal Shielding
Discard this upgrade to prevent a Wild flare from being played.
(As Any Player) (Start Turn)(Regroup)(Destiny)(Launch)(Alliance)(Planning)(Reveal)(Resolution)

Trash Compactor
When you earn rewards, you may discard cards instead of drawing them, for some or all of the rewards. When you earn compensation, instead of taking the compensation normally, you may give a card of your choice to your opponent.
(Flagship Involved) (Resolution)

Zap Intercept
You may take a “hit” on your flagship to cancel a zap of your power or a zap of your Super Flare. (As Any Player) (Start Turn)(Regroup)(Destiny)(Launch)(Alliance)(Planning)(Reveal)(Resolution)
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
There are some good ideas there, especially

* Brig (I love the idea of a capturing effect that doesn't require a special effect to rescue the ship back),
* Diversion Tactics, which I'd like to rename as a tangible thing rather than a command decision, and
* Reconnaissance Probe, which I'd like to figure out how to make locational so it ties more closely to the flagship.

I like your concept for Stealth, but would not want it to be indefinitely reusable. (There's dynamic tension, and an interesting decision point, inherent in whether or not you expose a contingency option in order to get the +1 and the shield; I'd rather not thwart that too much.) I'm thinking about the idea of a classic Star Trekian "divert all power to the forward phasers!" concept:
Power Diversion Shunts
If both main players reveal attack cards, you may discard any or all of your upgrades. For each deployed upgrade you discard (including this one), you may add or subtract 4 from your side’s total instead of adding 1. For each undeployed upgrade you discard, you may add or subtract 2 from your side’s total.
(Flagship Involved) (Reveal)


This also works in your subtraction idea from Reverse Maneuvering (which seems extremely situational as its own effect). So I guess this is two standard Trek-tropes in one: divert power to the weapons, and invert the main deflector dish.

A couple of things I'm struggling with story-wise:

* Cloaking Device doesn't cloak the flagship; it cloaks your entire civilization. (In fact, if the guy re-draws the color of the system your flagship is parked in, then this cloaks everything in your civilization except your flagship's colony!) Also, the rules are pretty emphatic that the flagship is always able to be engaged, and they even go so far as to say that if a future effect hides a planet, the flagship overrides that. So I probably won't have any cloaking/hiding effects (although escaping effects are okay).

* Diplomatic Ship, thematically, is basically the same as Consular Chambers. For the latter, I struggled to come up with a title that explained why the flagship is better at negotiations, and settled on an obscure Star Wars semi-reference. The game effect you suggest, however, would need its title to explain why a physical upgrade to the ship makes the people more treacherous, so I don't really see that particular effect as a flagship thing.

I guess I should post some of my goals/guidelines for upgrades:

* The concept should be implementable/believable as a physical upgrade to the ship itself. Instead of Seasoned Captain, Evasive Maneuvers, or Happy Crew, it might be (respectively) State-of-the-Art Bridge, Evasion Autocomputer, or Recreation Suite. (This is why Consular Chambers and Law Library, for example, are not called Shrewd Diplomats and Team of Lawyers.)

* The effect should occur "in story" at the ship level, rather than a player-level effect. It must in some way involve the ship itself and be relevant to the ship's location. Most upgrades will require you to have your "Flagship Involved" in the encounter.

* We should avoid effects that simply cancel other effects. I'd rather make cool things happen than prevent cool things from happening. If something needs to be canceled by a flagship, then maybe we should do it in an interesting/expensive/risky way. Consider that when FFG's CE debuted, it had two Card Zaps and one Emotion Control. Now there are four Card Zaps, but still only one Emotion Control (or one Finder, or one Force Field...). Zaps are just about the easiest thing in the Cosmos to create, so we should always guard against that by asking the question, do we actually need another zap?

* The more I think about it, the more I don't want any effects that let the flagship owner prevent or delay the loss of specific upgrades. It's hard enough for you to draw the right destiny color, win an encounter against my flagship, and be lucky enough that the random selection hits the upgrade you desperately want to kill; you don't need me pulling a rabbit out of my hat at the eleventh hour and thwarting your hard work. I want to encourage flagship hunting, not discourage it.
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Just tossing in my $0.02

Bill Martinson wrote:

* Diversion Tactics, which I'd like to rename as a tangible thing rather than a command decision

Something like Decoy or Countermeasures, perhaps?

Bill Martinson wrote:

* Reconnaissance Probe, which I'd like to figure out how to make locational so it ties more closely to the flagship.

Perhaps make this only applicable if your flagship is in your home system? This gives the flagship owner something to consider with a tradeoff between keeping the ship at home vs. putting it on the offensive.

Also, back on the original cards:

Bill Martinson wrote:

Astropolis Infrastructure
At the start of your turn, you may discard this upgrade to expand your flagship into a space station. It is placed as, and counts as, a new planet in its current system, and also counts as a ship on that station-planet, forming a colony. Other ships may exist on and encounter the station-planet, but the flagship cannot separate from the station-planet unless it should actually go to the warp. If it does go to the warp, the station no longer exists and all other ships on or near it return to other colonies.


Am I understanding this correctly to mean that if you have your flagship on a foreign colony, you could, in Start Turn, form an additional foreign colony for yourself? Just wanted to clarify that point in my head...

All in all, an interesting idea, unfortunately one I doubt I'd be able to get my typical playgroup to try out, though, at least for a while...
 
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
I like variant idea, because it is like all the other expansion variant add-ons: you can take it or leave it and it neither dominates the entire game nor is it useless and ignorable.

Now if only someone could come up with a working Lucre/Credits system....
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Bill Martinson wrote:
* Diversion Tactics, which I'd like to rename as a tangible thing rather than a command decision,

Me too, but I couldn't think of anything that would be a name of a physical device that distracts an enemy away from the battle.

Quote:
* Reconnaissance Probe, which I'd like to figure out how to make locational so it ties more closely to the flagship.

Well, since ships aren't involved yet during destiny, I don't know how the flagship location can factor in. Though you could make it's use dependent on something. Like making it usable only if the flagship is on a home colony, or only if it's on a foreign colony.

Quote:
I like your concept for Stealth, but would not want it to be indefinitely reusable. (There's dynamic tension, and an interesting decision point, inherent in whether or not you expose a contingency option in order to get the +1 and the shield; I'd rather not thwart that too much.)

Good point. How about: discard a card from your hand to use it.

Quote:
I'm thinking about the idea of a classic Star Trekian "divert all power to the forward phasers!" concept:
Power Diversion Shunts
If both main players reveal attack cards, you may discard any or all of your upgrades. For each deployed upgrade you discard (including this one), you may add or subtract 4 from your side’s total instead of adding 1. For each undeployed upgrade you discard, you may add or subtract 2 from your side’s total.
(Flagship Involved) (Reveal)

Not bad. It might be a little too much, though. Maybe it should be only 3 and 1 instead.

Quote:
A couple of things I'm struggling with story-wise:

* Cloaking Device doesn't cloak the flagship; it cloaks your entire civilization. (In fact, if the guy re-draws the color of the system your flagship is parked in, then this cloaks everything in your civilization except your flagship's colony!) Also, the rules are pretty emphatic that the flagship is always able to be engaged, and they even go so far as to say that if a future effect hides a planet, the flagship overrides that. So I probably won't have any cloaking/hiding effects (although escaping effects are okay).

Fair enough. It was just a few random ideas.
 
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Maybe some kind of informational ability. Like a mini-Mind/Oracle-type thing.

Tactical Computer/Scanner/Communication Interceptor - or something like that. Possible abilities, all with Flagship Involved, during Planning:

Main player opponent must show you his lowest Attack card.
Main player opponent must tell you how many Reinforcements he holds.
Name a specific Artifact, main player opponent must tell you if he has that Artifact.
Main player opponent must tell you how many Artifacts he holds.
Main player opponent must tell you how many Flares he holds.
Main player opponent must tell you how many Attack Cards he holds.
Main player opponent must tell you how many Negotiates he holds.
Main player opponent must show you his second highest Attack card (or tell you that he has fewer than 2).*
Main player opponent must tell you the first digit of the Attack card he will play. He is bound to this unless he chooses to play an N or M instead.*

* These more powerful effects might come with some cost to use them, such as having to discard a card.

Two other ideas:

Security Shredder - If you lose on the offensive side, your opponent's allies must retrieve ships from the warp for their Rewards, rather than cards. If they are entitled to more rewards than they have ships in the warp, they may take cards for the remainder.

And the opposite,

Booby-trap Bomb - If you lose on the offensive side, your opponent's allies may not retrieve ships from the warp for their Rewards. They may only take cards as their rewards.
 
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Rogue42 wrote:
Quote:
* Diversion Tactics, which I'd like to rename as a tangible thing
Something like Decoy or Countermeasures, perhaps?

I already have a Countermeasures card, but I've been fooling around with a theme-concept of a piece of electronics that fools the opposing ships into thinking they've been ordered to leave the encounter. Also, since the effect on encounter totals will often be negligible (indeed, the flagship you're sending away might be worth more than the opposing allies' ships), I also thought it would be interesting to make the opponent think carefully about where he returns his ships to. Something like this:

Recall Signal Fabricator
After alliances are formed, you may cancel the alliance of one opposing ally. His or her ships return to other colonies and your flagship must follow, landing on any one of the planets those ships return to.

Use this upgrade against each player only once per game.
(Flagship Involved) (Alliance)

Rogue42 wrote:
Perhaps make [Reconnaissance Probe] only applicable if your flagship is in your home system?

Maybe, although having the flagship on the other side of hyperspace from where the information is being gathered wouldn't be my first goal. I've been playing around with this revision:

Recon Drones
As the offense, if your flagship is in the foreign system indicated by the destiny draw, you may set that destiny card aside and draw another one. At the end of the destiny phase, shuffle the set-aside card(s) back into the destiny deck.
(Offense Only) (Destiny)

This version avoids problems with stuff like Dictator, and basically gives you a way to avoid having to encounter the one player you most desperately don't want to be sent to.

Rogue42 wrote:
Am I understanding [Astropolis Infrastructure] correctly to mean that if you have your flagship on a foreign colony, you could, in Start Turn, form an additional foreign colony for yourself?

Yes, that's correct (if you leave other ships behind to hold down the colony your flagship is leaving).

Here's my attempt to make Trash Compactor more locationally specific:

Trash Compactor
After you receive rewards or collect compensation, you may discard one of the acquired cards. If your flagship is in a foreign system, you may discard the card into the hand of that system’s owner instead of the discard pile.
(Flagship Involved) (Launch)(Alliance)(Planning)(Reveal)(Resolution)
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Thematic suggestion: What if instead of Elusive, flagships were protected.

Flagships are Protected. Any time a game effect or ability which affects a single ship would affect your Flagship, if you have another ship in the same location (e.g. in the same colony, defending the same planet, attacking the same planet, etc), you may force that effect or ability to target the other ship instead.

Thematically, this makes more sense to me; when I hear flagship, I think three things; first, huge, which makes it rather difficult to be elusive. Second, surrounded by a fleet, which this encourages. And third, important, which means other ships will sacrifice themselves to protect the flagship, which this ability emulates.

My $0.02.

Unrelated: I hope you don't mind if I post my own ideas for a flagship variant in a separate thread. The differences are significant enough from yours that I don't want to thread jack you...
 
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Re: FLAGSHIPS – A Tactical Variant for Cosmic Encounter
Asmor wrote:
Any time a game effect or ability which affects a single ship would affect your Flagship, if you have another ship in the same location (e.g. in the same colony, defending the same planet, attacking the same planet, etc), you may force that effect or ability to target the other ship instead.

I may be missing something, because I'm not sure I understand the point of this change, and I would be concerned about some negative consequences:

* This takes away the ship-targeting choice from the player who is initiating the effect and gives it to the flagship's owner, but I'm not sure this really changes anything: since the other player knows he will forfeit his choice should he target the flagship, he will just target another ship instead, leading to the same outcome as the original rule but in a less-straightforward way.

* Letting the flagship owner re-target to any ship at "the same location" creates the ability to change the scope of the targeting effect (e.g., killing a ship that is not part of a colony instead of one that is part of a colony, or vice versa), which has some potential to produce unintended consequences.

* The biggest issue I have is that this narrows the scope of the protection so that some of the nastier effects such as Bully and Hate are no longer constrained by this rule.
 
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