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The Few, The Proud, the Best of Just_a_Bill's Homebrews


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#1 Just_a_Bill

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 02:48 AM

We've all written our share of crappy homebrews (at least I have), so here are the few that I think are closest to finished.

If anybody wants to copy and paste these powers, try copying the whole thing including the images. If the program you paste into can't handle the images, they should automatically get replaced by appropriate text like "(As Any Player)".



#2 Just_a_Bill

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 08:06 AM

GENIE (Red)
Grants Other Players’ Wishes

You have the power to Grant Wishes. At the start of every encounter, add two tokens to this sheet. As the defense, after encounter cards are revealed, use this power to add 1 to either side's total for each token on this sheet.

At any time except during your turn, any other player may make a wish – to retrieve his or her ships from the warp, draw cards from the cosmic and/or reward deck and then discard the same number, or increase either side’s total in the current encounter – up to the number of tokens on this sheet. Use this power to grant the wish. If there are more tokens than the number of ships available to retrieve or cards available to draw, the excess tokens are wasted. Afterwards, discard all tokens from this sheet and establish a colony in that player’s system with up to four of your ships taken from anywhere in the game. Each player is limited to three wishes per game.

Besought throughout the known galaxies, Genies make dreams come true. Rare indeed is the Genie who refuses to grant a wish; rarer still, the one who does not exact her fee.

(Not Offense)(Mandatory)
(All Phases)

Wild: When another player expresses a wish for the top card of the discard pile or the reward deck discard pile, you may give it to that player and collect up to three rewards. You may use this flare even if the player’s wish was coerced, sarcastic, etc.

(As Any Player)(Any Phase)

Super: You may use your power to add your tokens to either side's total even as the offense or an ally.

(Offense or Ally Only)(Reveal)

Design notes:

I didn't set out to rewrite Eon's old Force power, but once this thing started taking shape I did step back and say hmm, maybe that's a way to solve some of Force's issues.

Anyway, nobody likes a power that the other players have to let you use. Genie attempts to solve that problem by making the temptation to make a wish grow until it is practically irresistible after awhile — especially considering that you can wish for adding to your encounter total after cards have been revealed. Inevitably somebody ends up with a crapload of ships in the warp and waits agonizingly for Mobius Tubes; it's hard to imagine that player not begging Genie for help, especially if Genie is not in the lead.

An offensive player who draws Genie's color should be very tempted to make a wish so they don't have to face that stack of tokens as a giant reinforcement in the encounter. Get 14 ships out of the warp and remove Genie's "+14 reinforcement"? That's hard to say no to.

I think a smart Genie will use his weaker cards early in the game, letting himself fall a little behind on colonies while he purges his low attacks and negotiates, collecting compensation whenever possible. (Losing ships is not terribly painful, since the power lets you pull your own ships out of the warp when you establish your colony; so when you're losing on purpose you've got two advantages most other players don't have.) In this way, other players will be even more tempted to make wishes, since Genie is behind anyway. Later, Genie plays the better cards he has been hoarding to surge ahead on colonies in the late game.

Be gregarious and courteous. Appear to enjoy helping everyone. Take your time. Don't be aggressive early on. Always make suggestions on how you can help. Try to appear disinterested about keeping/losing your tokens, but never miss an opportunity to subtly sell your services.

Remember that the other players will generally have ongoing anxiety about their opponents making a wish, and use this to your advantage. They will worry about somebody else beating them to your big stack of tokens, and worry about the benefits their opponents might earn.

I love the thought of Wild Genie sneaking into the deck when Genie's not in the game, giving you the chance to point to a crappy discard, say "don'tcha wish ya had one of those in your hand?", and trick your victim into sarcastically agreeing!



#3 Just_a_Bill

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 08:09 AM

MEZRON (Green)
Each Ship is Worth 2

You have the power of Density. As a main player or ally, use this power after cards are revealed. Each of your ships counts as 2 toward your side’s total in the encounter instead of 1.

When collecting compensation or rewards, use this power to make each of your ships worth two ships.

The Mezrons grew up in the bloated shadow of the Macrons, whose massive homeworld their tiny moon orbits. Historically scoffed at by their gargantuan neighbors, these small and mild-mannered folk have long been regarded as red-hided stepcousins by other nearby intelligences. Taking advantage of their falsely perceived fragility, they move about freely and await opportune moments to use the surprisingly high natural density they developed under the Macrons’ relentless gravitational pull.

(Main Player or Ally Only)(Mandatory)
(Reveal)(Resolution)

Wild: When collecting compensation or rewards, you may count each of your ships as two ships.

(Main Player or Ally Only)(Resolution)

Super: As a main player, if you reveal an attack card you may double its value.

(Main Player Only)(Reveal)

Design notes:

This was an attempt to write a "pithy" or minimalist power that was conceptually very simple, yet competitive. On first blush Mezron appears a bit weak compared to Macron (and Symbiote as well), but what he can do that the others can't is add 8 to totals as a main player or ally, and his rewards-and-compensation engine makes Macron cry like a baby Sniveler. The history is probably too long for a "pithy power" but I left it intact because there are multiple references to Macron's history.



#4 Just_a_Bill

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 08:59 AM

DEMAGOGUE (Red)
Gathers Unwanted Aliens

Game Setup: You start out with extra alien powers equal to the number of players in the game. Take the unchosen alien sheet discarded by each player (including yourself). If any of these are not allowed in the current game, draw replacements at random.

You have the power to Take In. All of your extra alien powers are in play. If one of those extra powers is zapped, use this power to remove it from the game.

Masters of feigned empathy and rabble-rousing oration, the Demagogues excel at forging coalitions from the unwanted cast-offs of the Cosmos. A few words of hope and promise, well chosen and well timed, are often all that's needed to bring the dejected and lonely into the fold. Sadly, the euphoria of succor and solidarity soon gives way to bitter reality as those who fail to perform when called upon are summarily excommunicated.

(As Any Player)(Mandatory)
(All Phases)

Wild: Once per game, at the start of your turn, you may force your opponents to name undesirable aliens. Each must name a different alien that exists among the unused powers, is allowed in the current game, and does not have Game Setup text. If any players do not do so, you name aliens on their behalf. Take any one of the named aliens and use it as an additional power. Give this flare to any other player after use.

(Offense Only)(Start Turn)

Super: You may use this flare to zap any one of your powers (including your Demagogue power).

(As Any Player)(Any Phase)

Design notes:

Cosmic has always had a few powers that start out weak and get stronger over time. (Obvious examples are things like Warrior, Sapient, Disease, and Plant.) Lately I've become intrigued with powers that start out strong and gradually degrade over time (like my Drone). This one really goes from ridiculous riches to worse-than-rags, and was inspired by Phil Fleischmann's Sophisticate.

The thematic aspect of gathering a rag-tag fleet from the aliens nobody wanted is fun, and I like the fact that Demagogue will sometimes bring powers into the game that might be underutilized by your particular gaming group. Even if you get a pile of aliens that you generally consider weak, don't lose heart: all of your Super flares are in the cosmic deck!  (And look for opportunities to use your powers in combination together in unexpected ways.)

My original design called for just drawing n-1 extra aliens from the unused stack, but when it dawned on me that there were already n aliens sitting there on the table unloved, suddenly the theme became apparent and it all just seemed to click.



#5 Just_a_Bill

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 08:59 AM

POLTERGEIST (Yellow)
Moves Cards Around

You have the power of Mischief. Whenever one or more of your ships are lost to the warp or removed from the game, you may use this power. Pick one card at random from the hand of each other player, in any order, up to the number of ships lost. Look at these cards and add one more from your own hand (your choice) or from the top of the deck or discard pile. Place each of these cards in any player’s hand (even your own) or facedown under the appropriate deck, but do not place more than one in the same hand or deck. Any rift card you take does not detonate unless you keep it.

Some call them Poltergeists; others, Knocking Ghosts or Deadshifters. Whatever the name, these departed souls of an otherwise unremarkable race can, for a time, still manipulate objects on a small scale. In their unfettered postmortality, they play tricks on surviving adversaries: knocking on bulkheads during sleep shift, hiding a pilot’s keystrips, or nudging a fusion regulator just a microclick or two.

(As Any Player)(Optional)
(All Phases)

Wild: When you lose one or more ships to to the warp, you may pick one card at random from the hand of every other player. Look at these cards and add one more from your own hand (your choice) if possible. Give one of these cards to each player from whom you took one, and add the remaining one (if any) to your hand.

(As Any Player)(Any Phase)

Super: Once per encounter, if you have ship(s) in the warp, you may use your power as if any number of your ships in the warp had just been lost.

(As Any Player)(Any Phase)

Design notes:

Cosmic Encounter has wraiths and phantoms and ghosts, but no poltergeists — probably because they are generally more mischievous and thus less scary than their cousins. The 1982 film of the same name beefed them up for dramatic purposes, but your general historical poltergeists (or "noisy ghosts") were thought to mostly occupy themselves by making a racket and moving your stuff around. So this suggested a challenge: how to create a mischief effect that seems trifling but is actually competitive?  Hopefully the result achieves that goal: a dinner companion for Philanthropist at the Misunderestimated Bistro.



#6 Just_a_Bill

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 10:27 AM

AMBASSADOR (Yellow)
Negotiates to Build Embassies

You have the power of Embassies. As the offense, after aiming the hyperspace gate, you may use this power to establish a colony on the targeted planet. To do so, discard from your hand a number of negotiate cards that exceeds the number of colonies already on that planet. Your ships in the gate land on the planet (coexisting with any other ships there), the encounter ends, and this counts as a successful deal for both players.

If at any time the total number of all other players’ colonies in your home system equals or exceeds the number of foreign colonies needed to win the game, you immediately win the game. You do not lose this power because of having too few home colonies, and you may still win the game via the normal method.

The Ambassador race pursues peaceful coexistence above all else, seeking to unify the major powers in the Cosmos under a single United Worlds banner. Only then can the Ambassadors truly maintain universal peace through universal control.

(Offense Only)(Optional)
(Launch)

Wild: As the defense, after encounter cards are revealed, you may add 3 to your total for each foreign colony in your home system.

(Defense Only)(Reveal)

Super: You may use your power by discarding a number of negotiate cards that equals, rather than exceeds, the number of colonies on the targeted planet. (However, you must still discard at least one.)

(Offense Only)(Launch)

Design notes:

This power, which I wrote several months ago, has some similarities to the recently revealed Xenophile: it benefits from having other players' colonies in your system, it doesn't lose its power from losing home planets, and its Wild adds 3 for each invading colony. (I'm not claiming to have had anything to do with Xenophile; it's just an inevitable similarity.)

Like Pacifist, this power has a knack for turning negotiate cards into a new colony for itself but not its opponent. Ambassador generally needs more negotiate cards than Pacifist does, but isn't dependent upon your opponent playing an attack card and isn't scuttled by things like Loser and Emotion Control. I've always liked how Ambassador (like Xenophile) messes with your opponents' heads when they are trying to gain a new colony in your system.

To prevent the easy single-negotiate colony, other players will want to avoid leaving empty planets (and to colonize empty planets quickly). Ambassador loves having opponents in the game that produce uncolonized worlds, such as Shadow and Filth.

Although I'm not a big fan of alternate-win aliens, this seemed like such a natural fit for the theme that I couldn't resist.  So here's an alt-win power that still has value even if you never try for the alternate win.



#7 Just_a_Bill

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 10:28 AM

SULTAN (Green)
Dismisses Hand

You have the power of Ennui. When any other player ends his or her alliance phase, use this power to discard your entire hand.

Natural masters of ultradimensional conjuration and elemental transmutation, the jaded Sultans manifest fathomless riches on a whim. Accustomed to being granted their every wish, they dismiss even priceless artifacts with blasé nonchalance. Weary of bejeweling their own world, they yearn to make their mark on a Cosmos as yet ungilded.

(Not Offense)(Mandatory)
(Alliance)

Wild: During any other player's reveal phase, you may abandon any planet you are bored with by moving all of your ships on it to any empty planet in any system. Give this flare to the Sultan after use (or discard it, if the Sultan isn’t playing).

(Not Offense)(Reveal)

Super: Whenever you must discard your hand or give it entirely to another player, you may keep this flare and up to two other cards.

(As Any Player)(Any Phase)

Design notes:

I like powers that sound bad to a new player but actually turn out to be good (trying to mimic a little of the Philanthropist magic here). Ironically, some players initially mistook this power as one that gets a new hand almost every encounter, and saw it as overpowered. However, what Sultan really does is discard his hand almost every encounter; he only draws a hand at the start of his turn or when he is the defense. This means Sultan often has a new hand as a main player, but almost always has no hand as an ally, and it's hard for him to hang onto good non-encounter cards for very long.

Generally you aren't forced to play your "bad" encounter cards (except when you get stung by rewards or compensation on the encounter before your turn begins). These you can minimize, of course; unlike other players, you are rarely forced to negotiate (but may still want to for strategic reasons, such as flare denial -- and some players will be so accustomed to you only flashing your best attacks that they won't even see it coming).

On the other hand, you have to throw away a lot of good stuff, too. If you draw a hand that includes Attack 30, Attack 23, and a couple of good artifacts/flares, you're almost certainly going to be throwing away that 23 and you'll likely never get to use most of your non-encounter cards. Without your Super flare, it's difficult to hang onto zaps and other good effects until just the "right moment".

Back on the plus side, you do get to enjoy the groans and eyerolls of your opponents as you routinely throw away good stuff (and here is a Sniveleresque opportunity to ham it up a little with the boredom theme).

This power was originally called the Socialite; with Darth Thulhu's help the theme was greatly improved (the name, power word, and history are all from him).



#8 Just_a_Bill

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 04:13 PM

saving a little space here for another homebrew



#9 Just_a_Bill

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 04:13 PM

and just a little more



#10 Adam

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 02:21 AM

I think your thread broke the forum.  Every time I check the Cosmic board it says there are new posts, and when I check, it's this thread, even though I've read all your (very neat) aliens several times now.



#11 Just_a_Bill

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 06:53 AM

Yeah, I noticed that too. No idea how it happened or (more importantly) what do do about it.  Judging by the circumstantial evidence, it could be related to the images, or the fact that I've gone back in and edited my posts.  Weird.

EDIT: It seems our interaction may have broken the log jam.

EDIT AGAIN: It appears that when I edit one of the earlier posts, this causes the thread to appear perpetually "new".



#12 Adam

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 08:47 AM

That's what I'd hoped.  High five.



#13 Adam

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 03:01 PM

It's doing it again.  Buggiest forums ever.






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