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#1 Unskium

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 12:17 AM

 Hi!

 

Me and my playing group have just recently shelled in the money for Cosmic Encounter after reading interesting reviews and getting hyped. Unfortunately, after our three games most people consider the game to be not so fun after all. This has made me worry if we're playing it wrong or are the scenarios that I'm about to list below really possible and if so, why:

 

On our first game we had an Amoeba which managed to gain its own Super Flare (we are thinking of playing without Flares now) and this enabled him, if I recall correctly, to move as many ships as he wanted to. Even when he was Allying, which then allowed him to send in, say, 10 or 20 ships and receive that many cards if the Defense won compensation. That made most other players feel that there was just no way to fight against the Amoeba anymore.

 

Our latest game had a similar situation as we had a Remora that had picked up the Clones Flare and now could recycle Artifacts back to his hand. This enabled him to play a card which let him sacrifice a single ship and then send all Attackers to Warp, win or lose. And since he was the Remora, at the beginning of the next players turn he even got that single ship back from the Warp. We thought that we could have tried to Card Zap that Artifact out of his hand until we realized that one of them was in the hands of the Remora and the other one had just been discarded, which meant that we'd have to play at least an hour until we could get it.

 

In both scenarios we had no viable way to combat such uneven odds and our Alien Powers did not really add in anything that could have reversed the situation.

 

My friends are now calling the game broken as it allows bizarre and uneven combos that totally out-plays all other players. I am not personally totally against this but most of my players seem to be. Are we doing something wrong, are we just lucky/unlucky to have situations like that or is this exactly as it's supposed to be?



#2 gogoapoxy

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 01:52 PM

First, I'd say both of those are correct in how they play. That being said, flares are an OPTIONAL component of the game, one which I enjoy.

In the case of the amoeba with his super, there are a few ways to attempt to stop him.

  1. If both draw and discard decks are empty, a cosmic quake happens (discard all cards from players hands, shuffle, and deal each player 8 cards),
  2. as you mentioned, you can cosmic zap his power, or card zap his flare (which would then discard the flare). Granted this would require someone to have these cards. 
  3. There's artifacts, and hazard I believe, that prevent ally rewards.
  4. Don't invite the player to ally (his flare allows for him to use his power as an ally, otherwise only as main player) , there's a hazard that forces you to ask, a tech that forces you to join, and the parasite that can join at will, otherwise you are never forced to ask for help (which would prevent him from drawing cards)
  5. If he's the main player (which won't get him cards), you can play a negotiate card to his attack, hopefully, and draw cards from his hand
  6. There's a tech that acts as a cosmic zap, but can't be card zapped as it's not an artifact (though it can be tech zapped by another tech)
  7. some other method I can't think of right now.

As for the second one, though not quite as powerful, unless he happened to end up with a lot of artifacts (which would mean he has less encounter cards):

  1. again, card zap to get rid of the flare
  2. don't put a bunch of ships in
  3. When attacking that player as a main, play negotiate to draw cards from his hand (thus trying to get that card, or at least reduce the number of encounter cards he has)
  4. Don't invite him to ally as defenders. No defending, no drawn cards
  5. If both play negotiate, negotiate for that flare.

 

The hardest part about CE, for me, is learning the subtle differences in play based on you racial power and cards you are dealt with. If you are dealt a bad hand, try and get rid of it as fast as you can. When in a negotiate, trade encounter cards for non-encounter cards. The faster you can get rid of all those pesky low valued and negotiates the better (unless of course you want to lose).

My first time playing was absolutely terrible. There was the zombies, who never lose ships to the war, and some race that, when he loses, can force any player to lose the same amount of ships, which just happened to be me 80% of the time…even if I wasn't in the battle.

I gave it a few more plays and started to learn the various strategies. Very rarely do I play the same way twice, simply because the racial power can heavily influence how you play.



#3 MarkHB

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 04:40 PM

One other idea is to pull back and just use the Green, or Green and Yellow, powers for a while.  Part of the reason the Red powers are in that category is that they can be harder for less-experienced players to face, just because they can call for a couple more levels of strategic thinking as gogoapoxy described.



#4 Unskium

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 07:01 AM

 Thanks for the feedback, guys

 

I think MarkHB is right in that we should stick to the green and yellow races for the beginning and drop Flares and work on from there, perhaps even later on including Techs into the game. Reading gogoapoxy's very helpful assertion, I think one mistake our group makes is to ally too eagerly and too often. We'll have to talk about that in the next game. I'll probably post the outcomes here once we get a few more games under our belt.



#5 gogoapoxy

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 02:08 PM

The larger the group the easier it is to be selective of who you invite to ally. In 3-4 player games, you almost always end up inviting everyone, however if it becomes clear someone has an advantage…stop inviting :)

Honestly, even though it's supposed to matter, I haven't found that green-yellow-red makes that much difference. The ONLY difference, imo, is that green powers tend to be pretty straight forward, whereas yellow and then red powers tend to be a little…different…in how they are played. It has very little effect on how OP the race is.

You might want to make sure to replace the Filch flare (classic) if your group doesn't like OP stuff…because that flare is just begging for arguments :) I've yet to play as the Filch and gotten that flare…but I'm so ready for it. The base game comes with 2 of them if you didn't notice, so just use the modern one.

But best of luck! hope you guys have a better time once you start to figure out the strategies.

 

/end of main post, below is just showing some of the powers I feel contain that "powerful" feel.

 

Loser, Parasite, Zombie, Warpish are in the green deck

  • Loser: If you lose you win (optional). This is especially helpful if you get low cards. Flare allows to be used as an ally I believe.
  • Parasite: You may join any side of any battle, even if not asked (optional)
  • Zombie: You never lose ships to the warp
  • Warpish (or maybe just Warp?): When you lose ships, make any other player lose the same amount of ships (might be different but that's the gist of it)
  • Human: Your side gains +4 to combat, if this power is zapped you win the battle.

Masochist, Tick-Tock are in red (I can't think of any others, maybe Fiflth?)

  • Filth: 2 part- if you're on a planet and are defeated, winners may not land on that planet (has to be attacked a 2nd time later). If win as an attacker, allies can't land on that planet, but may choose a different planet in the system
  • Masochist: Start of turn may lose a ship to the warp, If at the start of a regroup phase all your ships are in the warp, you win.
  • Tick-Tock: Each successfull defense gains 1 token on this card, if you get 12 tokens you win.

 

I picked randomly, but green I feel is waaaay more OP than the rest of the deck, but red and some yellow are more fun. Red also seems to have a lot more "Mandatory" powers, whereas green has more Optional.

 



#6 GrimJester

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 05:00 PM

The setup for Cosmic Encounter does nothing to prevent unfair scenarios, but that leads to one of the many strengths of its design.  When a player has an overwhelming advantage, the game becomes balanced when good players realize that they MUST work together to stop that powerful player.  It's for this reason that I try to avoid aliens which other players believe are too powerful. 

Gogoapoxy gave some solid responses to the Amoeba menace, but I think the primary tactic is the one that doesn't require a specific card or alien: Don't ally with the Amoeba!  This way, that player can only gain two colonies per turn, and that's all.  This should give the other players ample time to get powerful attack cards and zaps to combat the evil Amoeba.

Furthermore, as the game continues, the Amoeba becomes less powerful as ships must be left behind to maintain the alien power and won colonies.  With a strong allied defense, the Amoeba should have a tough time getting the last few colonies needed for the win.

As for the colors of the aliens, I don't know.  It certainly wouldn't hurt to limit it to green and yellow, I guess.

I posted my strategy guide for Cosmic Encounter a while ago.  Give it a read and pass it on to your friends.  It provides basic strategies that aren't alien specific.  I hope that you eventually enjoy the game with your friends.  It's one of the best in my collection.

Here's a link to the strategy guide:

http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_foros_discusion.asp?efid=50&efcid=1&efidt=562013&efpag=0#562926

 



#7 Bloody Sun Boy

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 10:35 AM

Unskium said:

On our first game we had an Amoeba which managed to gain its own Super Flare (we are thinking of playing without Flares now) and this enabled him, if I recall correctly, to move as many ships as he wanted to. Even when he was Allying, which then allowed him to send in, say, 10 or 20 ships and receive that many cards if the Defense won compensation. That made most other players feel that there was just no way to fight against the Amoeba anymore.

Technically, this seems to have been played correctly.  As others have mentioned, significant combos/advantages like these are the instances in which the *players* need to react appropriately in their own best interest.  Super Amoeba isn't nearly as powerful as it might seem, especially since the Super Flare really only gives the advantage while allying.  So, eventually players should just stop inviting him to ally.  There are other limitations to consider as well.  One is that if the Amoeba gets too excited and removes his last ship from a colony, he immediately loses that colony and has to wait to have an appropriate encounter to reclaim it.  So really, Amoeba only has a number of ships his disposal equal to "living ships" (not in the Warp) minus the number of colonies he has.  And if he pulls away from his home system, remember that less than 3 home colonies immediately nulls your alien power.

Also, his mobility makes Amoeba good on attack but can leave him sapped on defense if not careful.  His power lets him move ships either *into* our *out of* the current encounter but he can't otherwise redistribute his ships beyond the normal means.

And like all Flares, if the Super Amoeba is Card Zapped or if Amoeba runs out of Encounter cards, the Flare will leave play, making it a significant-but-short-lived advantage.  Also, after the first time it's played, everyone will know he has it…so react accordingly.

Unskium said:

Our latest game had a similar situation as we had a Remora that had picked up the Clones Flare and now could recycle Artifacts back to his hand. This enabled him to play a card which let him sacrifice a single ship and then send all Attackers to Warp, win or lose. And since he was the Remora, at the beginning of the next players turn he even got that single ship back from the Warp. We thought that we could have tried to Card Zap that Artifact out of his hand until we realized that one of them was in the hands of the Remora and the other one had just been discarded, which meant that we'd have to play at least an hour until we could get it.

This seems legitimately played as well, though I'm not recalling the exact Artifact that you are referring to at the moment.  Again, what keeps this from being too unstoppable is a) when Remora runs out of Encounter cards, he discards his hand (including Wild Clone and the Artifact) and b) after the first time, players and allies should hesitate to throw many defenders against Remora to mitigate potential losses.  Even better, play Negotiate against Remora and hopefully steal some of those cards from his hand…then use them against him as payback!

 

Unskium said:

 

My friends are now calling the game broken as it allows bizarre and uneven combos that totally out-plays all other players. I am not personally totally against this but most of my players seem to be. Are we doing something wrong, are we just lucky/unlucky to have situations like that or is this exactly as it's supposed to be?

The first reaction of one of my friends to Cosmic was a blunt, bold-faced "This game is broken!".  He may be right in a certain respect but the game is really more clever than that.  Cosmic Encounter is a game where the *unwritten* rules are the most important ones.  It's about the player more than the game.  By that I mean, it's not the cards and powers themselves that really light up the experience, it's knowing how, when, where and why to use them or not use them that drives the true strategy of play.  And that strategy is deep, tense and wonderfully engaging.  Knowing when to invite allies and exactly who to invite is a huge part.  Keeping careful track of the behaviors of your opponents and what cards have already hit the table.  It's true that new players have an overwhelming tendancy to invite too many and too often.  After you and your friends pick up on some of these subtler nuances, you'll see the real strategy that evolves from good game of Cosmic.

I'll say that the game does have a "learning curve".  Not regarding the rules but rather all the strategy that exists inbetween them.  If you can get your players to see this aspect of the game, you'll probably find much greater enjoyment.

Best of luck!



#8 Just_a_Bill

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 01:18 PM

Were you playing that players must maintain three home colonies to keep using their alien powers?  If Amoeba truly oozed 20 ships into an encounter to take massive amounts of compensation, then he should have immediately lost his power.  (Amoeba can look like a really strong power, but with experienced players it is not actually all that fearsome.)  Also, losing all of your cards is not the worst thing in the world, since you soon get a brand-new hand.

Cosmic Encounter is not exactly a game that you can really get the hang of in three plays or thirteen plays or thirty plays.  It takes time to learn the subtleties of how skilled play and clever negotiation can even out the role of chance.  It's true that sometimes you just get screwed by fate, but in most cases the players can work together to bring down the strong leader.  Often, success in this game requires thinking about unconventional strategies like helping somebody you hate or losing an encounter on purpose or tricking somebody into taking most or all of your cards … I would encourage you to give yourselves time to learn the unconventional dance moves before declaring it broken.






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