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Cosmic Encounter» Forums » Variants

Subject: Cultural Limitations - Minor weaknesses rss

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I came up with this variant a long time ago, but I can't find my old files describing it, so I've recreated it here as best as I can from memory.

The basic idea is that each player has one of the following cultural traits in addition to their power.

Divided
When you lose an encounter or fail to make a deal as a main player or ally, you must chose one additional ship of yours and send it to the warp. The additional loss is separate from the lost ships from the encounter itself for the purpose of other powers.

Description: These aliens display a notable lack of teamwork. Constantly fighting among themselves, whenever something goes wrong, instead of trying to solve the problem and do better next time, they simply look for a scapegoat to blame.

Far
You need one additional foreign colony to win the game.

Description: Emerging in a remote and isolated area of the galaxy, these aliens have farther to go if they want to gain supremacy.

Flighty
As a main player, you select two encounter cards and place them both face down. Your opponent then chooses one randomly to be the card you play for the encounter. If you only have one encounter card, you play it normally.

Description: In their quest to conquer known space, these flighty aliens find themselves easily distracted from their goal. A momentary whim will sometimes give their enemies an unexpected advantage.

Greedy
After another player collects compensation from you, he may give back any cards he doesn't want.

Description: These greedy aliens know what is theirs and they hang onto it as tightly as possible, whether it's valuable or not.

Lazy
When you draw your own color for your second encounter, you must have an encounter in your own system or end your turn immediately.

Description: Like most alien races, this species wants to rule, but sometimes they just don't feel like it and would rather stay home.

Ostentatious
You pay one extra Lucre for each purchase you make. That is, 4 for each ship retrieved from the warp, 5 for each card from the deck, etc.

Description: The ostentatious ones take great pride in their (self-defined) good taste. More concerned with fashion than function, they don't mind paying extra for the fancy designer label.

[Obviously, this one requires Lucre to be in the game. It's based on the Mayfair price list.]

Poor
Whenever you draw a new hand of cards, including at the beginning of the game, you draw only six cards.

Description: These aliens come from a home system that simply isn't as rich in natural resources as most other systems. It is understandable that they'd want to take over other systems.

Polluted
You start the game with four of your ships in the warp, and one of your home planets empty.

Description: These aliens neglected the environment of their home system until eventually one of their home planets became uninhabitable. If and when they re-establish that lost colony, will they learn from their mistake?

Resentful
You may not ally with a main player who was on the opposing side from you in the previous encounter. If you were not involved in the previous encounter, there is no restriction. If you are the main player, there is no restriction on whom you can invite as an ally.

Description: Having long memories, it takes a long time for these aliens to forgive and forget their past enemies.

Rigid
As the offensive player, you may only attack the leftmost planet in the target system where you do not already have a colony.

Description: While some see these aliens as obsessive, they see themselves as orderly. Whatever term you use, their tactics are often quite predictable (and exploitable) to their enemies.

Shoddy
Whenever you attempt to use your power, roll a six-sided die. If you roll a 1, your power fails and cannot be used at that time.

Description: Reliability was never a priority for these aliens. They only recognize the importance of quality testing when an unexpected malfunction turns a sure victory into a defeat.

Sparse
You have four fewer ships than the usual number. At the beginning of the game, distribute your ships on your home planets as evenly as possible.

Description: These aliens value wide open spaces and as few neighbors as possible. They want to conquer the galaxy just so they can spread out and have lots of elbow room, or tentacle room.

Unlucky
When you take compensation, your opponent chooses which cards to give you.

Description: Are these aliens truly unlucky? Or is the universe actively and willfully conspiring against them?

Violent
Whenever a deal situation arises between any two players, you immediately lose one ship to the warp (separate from any encounter losses), regardless of whether a deal is made. If you were an ally in the encounter, you lose an additional two ships.

Description: These aliens live for combat and decry negotiation as weak and boring. Not above making deals themselves, they hate having to return home without inflicting at least some mayhem.

Weak
As a main player, after all other attack total calculations are made, you subtract 2 from your total.

Description: An alien race much like any other, but with less advanced military technology. Perhaps they didn't realize until too late that it would one day be necessary.
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Here are some additional Cultural Limitations that I came up with only just recently, as I was recreating this. They were not part of my original list.

Boastful
When you return a flare to your hand after playing it, keep it face up for all to see. It is still part of your hand in every way except that it is public knowledge that you have it. If you owe compensation, pick any displayed flares up and mix up your cards. If any displayed flares aren't taken, put them back down face up, so that everyone knows you still have them.

Description: Self-aggrandizing to a fault, these aliens would rather show off their flare than keep any element of surprise.

Compulsive
When sending ships into an encounter as offense or ally, you must always send an even number of ships.

Description: Everything has to be an even number. It just does! Odd numbers are bad. They just are!

Delicate
You lose your alien power when you have fewer than four home colonies.

Description: The strange power of these aliens relies on a well-connected presence in their home system. It takes relatively little effort to remove the power they possess.

Inefficient
As offense, you must discard a card or send a ship to the warp at the beginning of the encounter.

Description: These aliens have similar space travel capabilities to other aliens, but their interstellar drives require much more in resources to be used.

Suspicious
You must lose one ship immediately after you play an Artifact.

Description: The strange artifacts that are found during space journeys seem dangerous to these aliens. They think long and hard before daring to use one. They'll load them onto an expendable test ship, just to make sure they're safe.

Sentimental
When you are entitled to rewards, you must retrieve ships first. You may not draw cards as rewards unless and until you have no ships in the warp.

Description: Lost ships are like lost friends to these aliens. Sure weapons and equipment may be more tactically useful, but the ships have real historical significance.
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Roberta Yang
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Interesting idea.

I'm not a big fan of Shoddy or Lazy, though. Strictly chance-based effects need to offer something very compelling for me to like them. Lazy, in many games, will do absolutely nothing at all - but in some games could screw you out of two encounters. There's nothing you can do about this, so it doesn't add anything interesting to the game. (Also, its wording even overrides the Will, which is just plain wrong.) Shoddy might not be quite so bad depending on the alien power in question, but it does seem like an unnecessary addition of a die. (It's also confusingly-written because it doesn't negate the power for the entire encounter like Cosmic Zap does. If I try to use the Miser to play Plague and fail due to Shoddy, can I immediately attempt to play Plague again?)

Since you're able to choose to discard any card you want, I don't see how Inefficient is a negative effect. I'd gladly take the drawback of being forced to occasionally sacrifice one measly ship if it means I'm allowed to usually discard my bad cards on my turn. It's much better to be Inefficient than to have no "weakness" at all.

This comment isn't really tied to any one specific weakness, but a LOT of these seem to involve losing ships.
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Yes, I agree with most of your comments. I was mainly trying to recreate it as I originally came up with it. Shoddy is not a particularly good one. I don't think Lazy is so bad - assuming your first encounter is successful, you may lose your second 1/(number of players) of the time. And you can always have an encounter in your home system.

And those new ones I came up with in the second post are just more brainstorms - any or all of them might be bad ideas.

I've occasionally seen a "Bad Powers" variant of CE, where players have "powers" that are actually weaknesses. One such collection was presented in Encounter magazine v2n3, but they were grossly unbalanced.
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How would this be for an improvement

Inefficient
When you send ships into an encounter as offense or an ally, you must discard a card or send a ship to the warp.

Description: These aliens have similar space travel capabilities to other aliens, but their interstellar drives require much more in resources to be used.

This means that you'll have to do it a lot more often. Sure, the first few times you can use it to dump bad cards, but you'll quickly run out of cards you're willing to part with. So you'll have to spend good cards or lose ships.
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I just came up with what might be a better idea for Shoddy:

Any player may use an Attack 10 as a Cosmic Zap against your power.

That seems roughly balanced to me, but if not, it can be adjusted, such as by making it Attack 04's, Attack 06's, or Attack 08's instead. Or some other card, or combination of cards.
 
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