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Subject: MINER - Uses Ships to Create Attack Cards rss

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Just a Bill
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Wow, it's been dead around here lately. Let's see if this sparks any discussion.

In a recent Question about Merchant thread, Barney Bustoffson said,
Quote:
Merchant is ... very useful, powerful, and such a straight-forward concept. I'm surprised using cards as ships hadn't surfaced before.

This immediately made me want to do the opposite: use ships as cards. What I ended up with isn't exactly the opposite of Merchant, and it's a bit of an SMT, but I kinda like it.

MINER
USES SHIPS TO CREATE ATTACK CARDS


You have the power of Subspace Drilling. At the start of any regroup phase, you may take one of your ships from a colony and place it on this sheet to become an “energy drill.” Drills on this sheet are no longer considered ships.

As a main player, when selecting your encounter card, you may secretly select a non-encounter card (artifact, flare, etc.) as if it were an attack card. When that card is revealed, use this power to change it into an attack card whose value is the total of all whole numbers up to the drill count. For example, if you have 6 drills, the non-encounter card would become an attack 21 (1+2+3+4+5+6). The card becomes an attack 00 if you are zapped, lose your power, or have no drills.

If this power is zapped, lost, stolen, copied, or separated from your player color through any means, you may send any or all drills to the warp.

Toiling away underground for generations, the Miners quietly educated themselves while dreaming of a brighter future. Now their hard work and imagination have paid off as they begin to extract quantum energy directly from subspace. This previously untapped resource provides a fearsome advantage that, while somewhat predictable, is still beyond the grasp of their skydwelling foes.

(Main Player Only) (Mandatory) (Reveal)

WILD: As a main player or ally, after encounter cards are revealed, you may send up to four of your ships from any of your colonies to the warp. Add the square of their number (1²=1, 2²=4, 3²=9, 4²=16) to your side’s total.

(Main Player or Ally Only) (Reveal)

SUPER: During any planning phase, you may revert one or more drills on your sheet to ships again. Return them to colonies, send them to the warp, or add them to your side of the encounter (if appropriate, subject to normal limits) in any combination.

(As Any Player) (Planning)

I originally let the Super exceed gate limits, but that felt a bit too much like Amoeba so I changed it. But now I'm thinking it's too weak.

I also would have liked to have worked a subtle reference to triangular numbers into the history, but just didn't have the room. This is a very full alien sheet.
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Greg Filpus
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I see you're at a premium for space, but if you can fit a note about when the non-encounter card reverts to being what it actually is, that'd probably help with some interactions. (Industrialist is the obviously one. Might be able to get a Flare even more stuck then it is on Cyborg's sheet.)

Is there an alien/effect along the lines of "Draw X cards at the beginning of the encounter, then discard X cards at the end of the encounter?" It seems like that's the most straightforward counterpoint to Merchant, and is interesting enough even without tying it to ships.
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Just a Bill
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Greg, thanks for posting; the crickets were starting to get under my skin.

GregF wrote:
I see you're at a premium for space, but if you can fit a note about when the non-encounter card reverts to being what it actually is, that'd probably help with some interactions.

I thought about that, but I believe there is (or should be) a general rule about this sort of thing. The other card-changing effects (Emotion Control, Empath, and several others mentioned below) don't tell us when the cards become normal again. In particular, Reserve does not pinpoint an expiration date on its attack-turned-reinforcement, and in this case we need to know the answer for Reserve's very own Wild flare.

I assume the general rule is, "cards changed into other cards change back right after they hit the discard pile" (or right after they return to a player's hand, should it ever be appropriate for that to happen; I guess in rare cases Chronos could make it so).

Another (leaky) possibility is that perhaps these effects all carry an unstated "for purposes of normal encounter resolution only" (meaning meeting the requirement to play a valid encounter card, computing totals, determining a winner, triggering dealmaking, etc., but not other things like stacking/stealing/salvaging cards based on their characteristics). But this approach probably introduces too much ambiguity with things like Crystal and other stuff I'm not even thinking about yet.

GregF wrote:
(Industrialist is the obvious one. Might be able to get a Flare even more stuck than it is on Cyborg's sheet.)

I guess so, in the rare case that you are both Miner and Industrialist (or you are Miner, your opponent is Industrialist, and one of you is also Sorcerer [or somebody else is Super Sorcerer]). But if we're going to worry about multiple-power contexts (I never do, although my infatuation with my own Demagogue will probably force me to!), then we probably have bigger fish to fry, like replacing Miner with Gambler in these kinds of scenarios, making the final disposition of the changed card even more open to argument.

Anyway, this issue already existed (and with a higher likelihood of occurrence), at least to the extent that Industrialist will already get non-attack cards (negotiates) permanently stuck in his stack via things like Wild Human, Wild Mirror, Wild Pacifist, and Warhawk. Miner does up the ante by broadening the card types on the menu, but the leaky mechanic was already well established (and I'm not too interested in jamming errata onto all the existing effects that would cause this).

Another existing combination in need of the general rule is Reserve playing Wild General: does he get to play low attacks he draws as if they were reinforcements? (The question here will be, are those drawn cards momentarily in his hand? Seems to me that they have to be, in order for the actual printed reinforcements to be playable in the first place. "Play a card" always means from your hand unless otherwise specified.)

GregF wrote:
Is there an alien/effect along the lines of "Draw X cards at the beginning of the encounter, then discard X cards at the end of the encounter?" It seems like that's the most straightforward counterpoint to Merchant, and is interesting enough even without tying it to ships.

I guess I'm not seeing how that takes "use cards as ships" and flips it around to "use ships as cards."
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Jeremy Diachuk
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Bill Martinson wrote:
But if we're going to worry about multiple-power contexts (I never do, although my infatuation with my own Demagogue will probably force me to!), then we probably have bigger fish to fry, like replacing Miner with Gambler in these kinds of scenarios, making the final disposition of the changed card even more open to argument.


Actually, Super Industrialist can take his opponent's card instead of his own, so that isn't a multiple-power context.
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Roberta Yang
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My preferred interpretation has always been "When a card changes, it becomes what it changes into for all purposes, but changes back when it leaves play". That seems to make things simplest - I don't like the doublethink of a card counting as one thing for encounter resolution but a different thing for other card effects at the same time - and a generic "when it leaves play" trigger for changing back makes it clear that there's no way to preserve the changed value by hiding it in the Industrialist or whatever.

My concern for Miner is that it might not do enough. You're going to need to spend a good number of ships before its Attack values start being decent, so you'll be stretched very thin very quickly unless the Mobius Tubes come out at the perfect time. Even then, how much you get out of it is limited by how many non-encounter cards you draw. I've always been partial to effects that let me use weak cards as strong cards - Loser, Reserve, Industrialist, Pacifist, Warhawk, Philanthropist, etc. This lets me use strong cards as other strong cards - a much weaker proposition.

I'd have to test it out to be sure, but I'm concerned that the ship tax hurts this more than it deserves to be hurt.
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Jeremy Diachuk
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Well, with four drills you can turn your non-encounter cards into Attack 10, which is above average.

There is also an advantage in being able to continue playing with a particular Wild Flare in your hand - and if you run out of encounter cards, you will be forced to discard it. Unfortunately, you have to keep an actual encounter card in your hand to prevent the new hand trigger, but if you're dealt an Attack 04 and a hand of flares and artifacts, this power will be useful to keep the hand long enough to actually use those non-encounter cards.

I think it might be better if you could change encounter cards as well, since then you could turn low Attack cards into higher Attack cards, and also change your Negotiates into Attacks if you wanted.



One problem with this power that is always explicitly explained : since there's no way to retrieve ships from the sheet (except with the Super Flare, or if your power is lost), then with The Witness in effect, it would be possible to lose all of your ships to your own power. Normally, all effects that could cause you to permanently lose ships (namely, Void, Wild Guerrilla and Black Hole) say "A player cannot be reduced to fewer ships than the number of foreign colonies needed to win the game." And this seems to be a flat-out rule, although it's only ever listed within these effects.
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Roberta Yang
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taggedjc wrote:
Well, with four drills you can turn your non-encounter cards into Attack 10, which is above average.

So I can remove four of my own ships from the game (a more expensive cost than it costs the Kamikaze to draw a full 8 cards) in order to play one of my precious non-encounter cards as a middling Attack 10? That's pretty unimpressive. The humble Human transforms Attack 6's (common and much less valuable than non-encounter cards) into that same Attack 10, and comes with a bunch of other perks too (works as an ally, everyone wants you to ally with them, wins when zapped, buffs every Attack you play, etc).

taggedjc wrote:
And this seems to be a flat-out rule, although it's only ever listed within these effects.

It's actually not an absolute rule - since Super Masochist lacks that clause, the Masochist can reduce herself to fewer than 5 ships in the game, which is a serious problem if the Masochist then loses the Masochist power to an effect like Wild Reincarnator.

Since those clauses only ever apply to ships removed from the game and not captured ships, you can also be left shipless by Fungus, Wild Fungus, Remote, etc. The victim usually has little direct way of getting these ships back - and in the case of Remote, there's absolutely nothing that can be done, since captured ships can never be taken from the Remote's sheet until the Remote chooses to release them.

It's something that should have been a flat-out rule, but alas...
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Just a Bill
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salty53 wrote:
My preferred interpretation has always been "When a card changes, it becomes what it changes into for all purposes, but changes back when it leaves play". That seems to make things simplest - I don't like the doublethink of a card counting as one thing for encounter resolution but a different thing for other card effects at the same time

Agreed on the doublethink. But "leaves play" may not be an optimal term; it could get interpreted to mean anything from "I can't see it any more" to "it's in a hand or deck" to "it was removed from the game." The only in-game precedents I can think of for interpreting this term are all the tech cards that say "Once completed, this tech stays in play" and the few hazards that say things like "While The Cosmic Guardian is in play," which all seem to be saying don't discard this card right away. So I don't agree that this phrase would make things clear for Industrialist, since a card placed face-up on his stack, waiting to be activated, has not "left play" any more than a completed tech or a persistent hazard that is waiting to be activated has left play.

I'm assuming what you're getting at is some kind of concept like "in scope" or "actively being processed," meaning the effect is an active part of the current encounter or an action stack or something. Honestly, I'm not sure what would be a good, clear term for that. And it would take some research to determine if this solves the issue without raising new ones. It might be exactly the right approach; I just can't quite wrap my head around it yet.

salty53 wrote:
My concern for Miner is that it might not do enough. You're going to need to spend a good number of ships before its Attack values start being decent, so you'll be stretched very thin very quickly unless the Mobius Tubes come out at the perfect time. Even then, how much you get out of it is limited by how many non-encounter cards you draw. I've always been partial to effects that let me use weak cards as strong cards - Loser, Reserve, Industrialist, Pacifist, Warhawk, Philanthropist, etc. This lets me use strong cards as other strong cards - a much weaker proposition.

You might be right, and I've debated this internally quite a bit. I too really like effects that make crappy attack cards useful. However, we've got a good number of those, and I specifically wanted to do something different with this power. Its whole purpose, and the impetus for creating it in the first place, was to manufacture attack cards out of thin air. If it doesn't do that, it loses its raison d'être. Or rather, it has become something else entirely. I don't have anything against whatever the something else may become, but those were not the marching orders for this concept.

Regarding the actual strength, as already pointed out there is a non-trivial hand management benefit, as well as the intimidation factor you have once there is a critical mass of ships on your sheet. Also, in those games where you need to lose (or ostensibly lose) an encounter, you can manufacture a low card almost at will; Loser and Anti-Matter will not like playing against Miner. These latter examples are just roulette-wheel gravy, of course, and not a basis for evaluating the power's strength in general; but I do think this kind of flexibility tends to make itself valuable in a variety of unforeseen situations. Sometimes you just plain need to lose, such as when Parasite has joined you for his fifth colony or, more commonly, when you've invited a bunch of allies along specifically for a good backstabbing.

More to the point, though, the open-endedness can make it quite strong. For example, imagine a power that said "You get only 12 ships, but you may use any non-encounter card as an attack 36." That sounds pretty powerful to me, even with the fleet-size risk. Granted, it takes Miner eight encounters to become that alien, which makes me feel like my major concern with the power as written might be its "speed to market." I have wondered if it needs to start with some ships already on the sheet, or allow adding two per encounter, or keep it at one but allow you to place another one whenever you retrieve one or more ships from the warp ... or even something crazy like starting with one of your planets on the sheet and counting it as a drill or a double-drill, to take the A = f(s) attack-strength function and bump it up to A = f(s+1) or A = f(s+2). Or possibly let it also capture a few opposing ships and press them into service as drills. But I don't want to clunk it up to the point of inelegance.

Regardless, I like the fact that it's a risky proposition and a challenge for the player to decide just how far to push it. I'd like to see if that can be viable.

taggedjc wrote:
I think it might be better if you could change encounter cards as well, since then you could turn low Attack cards into higher Attack cards, and also change your Negotiates into Attacks if you wanted.

This would bring in a requirement for the player to declare the use of his power before cards are revealed, so he isn't deciding post-reveal which card he wants. I'd prefer to avoid that. I actually like the fact that I am secretly locking in my power quietly; then the reveal naturally makes it clear whether I used my power or not. But more importantly, as I said above, the design goal was to create an alien that fabricates an encounter card where there was not one a moment ago. I'd rather not corrupt it into just another Stupid Math Trick power that turns 06s into 28s.

taggedjc wrote:
One problem with this power that is always explicitly explained : since there's no way to retrieve ships from the sheet (except with the Super Flare, or if your power is lost), then with The Witness in effect, it would be possible to lose all of your ships to your own power. Normally, all effects that could cause you to permanently lose ships (namely, Void, Wild Guerrilla and Black Hole) say "A player cannot be reduced to fewer ships than the number of foreign colonies needed to win the game." And this seems to be a flat-out rule, although it's only ever listed within these effects.

Are you thinking that with The Witness in play, Miner's power would force the player to put all of his ships on his sheet? It doesn't; that part is optional by virtue of the word "may." (I guess FFG should have been more clear about how alien powers work; lately I've been noticing more and more players thinking that the icons at the bottom of the sheet apply to both the use and non-use portions of a power, even when FFG actually uses the correct icons.)

In any case, I will probably never create a homebrew text that includes the horrible "coddling phrase" about not going below five ships. Patchwork design like that is clunky and wasteful, and in this case unnecessary. Cosmic Encounter is a game where epic and dramatic and devastating things happen routinely, and that's part of the storyline and the fun. I don't like having a big, ugly patch that has to chew up a bunch of real estate on every single card that could raise the condition, especially for something that happens so rarely. Personally I would rather run out of planets or ships entirely than be kept dangling — artificially — on the cusp of theoretical viability with five ships and very likely no power, just because somebody got all frettish about the possibility of a player getting eliminated once every year or two. Getting actually wiped out is more merciful, and a much better story to tell later!

But my feelings on this are moot, as the precedent is clearly established (although not consistently enforced by FFG, as Roberta pointed out). This is one of the reasons I gave Miner the ability to lose his power to get his ships back, making the coddling phrase unnecessary even under strict FFG wording adherence. Yes, The Witness can make things difficult, but the player is still not technically out of the game since there are two other cards that cancel The Witness. And again, Miner is never forced to convert a ship into a drill.
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Just a Bill
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To address both The Witness and the strength/speed-to-market issue, how about this? Delete the final paragraph about power loss and change the first one as follows:
You have the power of Subspace Drilling. At the start of any regroup phase, or any time you retrieve one or more ships from the warp, you may take one of your ships from a colony and place it on this sheet to become an “energy drill.” Your drills are not considered ships while on this sheet, but you may send any of them to the warp at any time, even if this power is no longer accessible to you.

As a main player, when selecting your encounter card, you may secretly select a non-encounter card (artifact, flare, etc.) as if it were an attack card. When that card is revealed, use this power to change it into an attack card whose value is the total of all whole numbers up to the drill count. For example, if you have 6 drills, the non-encounter card would become an attack 21 (1+2+3+4+5+6). The card becomes an attack 00 if you are zapped, lose your power, or have no drills.

These two changes work together to make the power more fluid; the drill count is now more likely to fluctuate up and down throughout the game.
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Jeremy Diachuk
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What if, when using your power, you got to keep the non-encounter card?

However, to make it slightly more fair, you would return the non-encounter card to your hand before compensation (if any). That way, if you do get, say, nine ships on your sheet (which is as many as is required to research Precursor Seed, for example) you don't just have a permanent Attack 45 in your hand, effectively.
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Rob Burns
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Quote:
What if, when using your power, you got to keep the non-encounter card?

However, to make it slightly more fair, you would return the non-encounter card to your hand before compensation (if any). That way, if you do get, say, nine ships on your sheet (which is as many as is required to research Precursor Seed, for example) you don't just have a permanent Attack 45 in your hand, effectively.


This seems to me, on the surface, to be a fantastic idea. Roberta's point that the power is weak if it sacrifices the card is a valid one, and this would seem to address that concern pretty nicely.
 
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Just a Bill
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rjburns3 wrote:
Quote:
What if, when using your power, you got to keep the non-encounter card?
This seems to me, on the surface, to be a fantastic idea. Roberta's point that the power is weak if it sacrifices the card is a valid one, and this would seem to address that concern pretty nicely.

Sounds very powerful to me. Compare to Wild Human, which changes your encounter card into something huge and then must be given away or discarded.

My second concern would be that this takes the concept farther away from "make an encounter card from ships," since encounter cards are always discarded after use (unless you're Clone).

What if we were to address both of these whinges as follows?
You have the power of Subspace Drilling. At the start of any regroup phase, you may take one of your ships from a colony and place it on this sheet to become an “energy drill.” Your drills are not considered ships while on this sheet, but you may send any of them to the warp at any time, even if this power is no longer accessible to you.

As a main player, when selecting your encounter card, you may secretly select a non-encounter card (artifact, flare, etc.) as if it were an attack card. When that card is revealed, use this power to change it into an attack card whose value is the total of all whole numbers up to the drill count. For example, if you have 6 drills, the non-encounter card would become an attack 21 (1+2+3+4+5+6). The card becomes an attack 00 if you are zapped, lose your power, or have no drills. At the start of the resolution phase, you may return the non-encounter card to your hand unless you lose the encounter or your power is zapped or lost.


This doesn't really make it more of a counterpart of Merchant from a logical perspective, but it does superficially in that they both keep their cards if they win and lose them if they lose.

Anyway, this is still a powerhouse if you keep winning, but at least the other players can band together to take you down and make you lose the non-encounter card you've been recycling.
 
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Jeremy Diachuk
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Wild Human is a surprise effect (people can't plan on you using it, whereas they can do that with Miner) and doesn't turn into something huge until you have a huge bunch of ships to your sheet. Four ships is only an Attack 10, which is one of the most common Attack cards albeit a bit above average. Five ships is Attack 15, but again, you're putting down non-encounter cards which could then be stolen by your target through compensation.

I think losing the card if you lose the encounter is perfectly fine, so there's two ways to lose your non-encounter cards: having your opponent Negotiate (which the would do anyway if you had ten ships on your sheet, for example, but isn't guaranteed, of course) or losing the encounter (which would likely happen if you got Cosmic Zapped or someone used another alien power against you such as Pacifist).

Either way, it means you have to hold onto your non-encounter cards instead of using them (although low Reinforcements or weaker Flares make good targets for your power, since you normally can only use one Flare per encounter anyway).
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Has it been quiet here because I've been away? (No. It was quiet before I left.)

I agree with Roberta that the power is a bit weak. It reminds me of my Joker, which turns any non-encounter card into any encounter card in the game. Granted, this means you can't go over Attack 40, but you don't have to lose ships to use the power.

And it doesn't quite feel like you're really using ships as cards. You're just removing ships in order to change cards into other cards.

How 'bout something like this:

As a main player, before encounter cards are revealed you may use this power to return your played encounter card to your hand and place a ship from this sheet down in its place. In the Reveal Phase, this ship becomes a card of a value equal to the number of ships still on this sheet, squared. For example, if you have 6 ships on this sheet, you may place one as your encounter card, and it becomes an Attack 25. After the encounter the ship-card goes to the warp.
 
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