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Automated Player (Play Cosmic Encounter alone!)

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Cosmic Encounter is my favorite board game I've ever played. And in this game, there is a finite amount of choices one can make. What I've done is taken those choices and written a rudimentary "script" for an automated player- now you can play alone all you like. I call it the Automated Simulated Cosmic Encounter Player (ASCEP), or Ace for short. Feel free to tinker with it's "programming". As it is, it's more aggressive than it is defensive, it's willing to compromise on shared wins, and is a stone cold negotiator. After rigorous play testing, I believe it's at a point where it's able to make all of it's own decisions (though you may want to remain a little... editorial... in the reveal section). It's beaten me almost as many times as I've beaten it. I'm not proud to admit how many times I've settled for sharing a win with it. Playing a 3 player game with 2 of these bots is more of a challenge than I originally expected.

Because it's not a very "smart" AI, and to keep it fair and fun to play, no player should know what ASCEP has in it's hand (not even ASCEP does). To simulate strategy, I use a handicap system for my bot. It's explained in the planning and reveal sections below. If you end up using Ace in any games at home, I would love to hear how the experience goes! Feel free to play with these home-brew rules as you wish. If you tinker with any of the "script", I'd love to see what you come up with. Ace isn't able to play with every alien (yet). If you have a favorite alien you want to play with and it's not on Ace's list, feel free to write your own script for it. And hey- if you do, send it my way. I'd love to see it. Enjoy!


On the automated player’s turn, follow the statements below to see what choices it will make.

Starting Conditions:

Choose an alien from the legal ASCEP list (below). Deal the ASCEP player 8 cards. 

Start Turn/Regroup:

-Take one ship from the warp (if possible)

-Anytime ships are regained from the warp, send them to the colony with the least amount of ships. In a tie, prefer home colonies, then home colonies you share, then lone foreign colonies, then foreign colonies you share.

-Balance out ships among colonies following ship placement preference rules.


-If own color:

-Return to an abandoned planet (if possible), or

-If a player in your system has 4 foreign colonies, have an encounter with their colony.

-In a tie, choose the player who will have the next soonest turn.


-If wild:

-Choose player with least amount of points.

-In a tie, choose player with least amount of cards in total.

-In a tie, choose player with least amount of total ships. -In a tie, choose colony with least amount of ships.

-In a tie, choose player who will have furthest turn from yours



-Aim the gate towards the planet with least amount of defending ships where ASCEP does not already have a colony.

-In a tie, prefer colony with least amount of player colonies on it.


-When choosing ships to send, use reversed ship preference rules.


-Never abandon a colony to send ships to launch. -If ASCEP has 15 or more ships outside of the warp, send 4.

-If ASCEP has 10-14 ships outside of the warp, send 3.

-If ASCEP has 5-9 ships outside of the warp, send 2.

-If ASCEP has less than 5 ships outside of the warp, send 1.



-If ASCEP is the offensive main player, they will invite any player to ally with them if:

-player does not have more foreign colonies than ASCEP,

-ASCEP does not outnumber the attack of the defense before cards are played,

-and if the defense has 5 or more cards.


-If ASCEP is the defensive main player, they will invite any player to ally with them if:

-ASCEP will lose their alien power if they lose the encounter


-Offensive main player or ally will win the game if they win the encounter


-Offense has more points than ASCEP OR 3 foreign colonies AND is on their first encounter of their turn

-Player being invited does not have more foreign colonies than ASCEP


-As a main player, ASCEP will always ask for 4 ships. If unwilling, ASCEP will ask for ships from an ally according to it’s own ship launch rules. 


-If ASCEP is not the main player, it will accept an invitation as an offensive ally if:

-ASCEP will earn a new foreign colony if their side wins,

-Offensive main player will not win the game without ASCEP

-Offensive main player is sending more than 1 ship


-If ASCEP is not the main player, it will accept an invitation as a defensive ally if:

-A player on the offense will win the game if they win the encounter


-Offensive main player does not have 4+ more cards than the defensive main player

-Defense has their alien power


-As an ally, ASCEP will send as many as is asked for without abandoning colonies.

-If ASCEP is invited by both sides and is willing to accept either invitation, it will prefer the offensive invitation.



-If offensive or if opponent has 4 foreign colonies, choose a random reward deck card from ASCEP’s hand without looking at it.

-If ASCEP does not have any reward deck cards, choose a random card from it’s hand without looking at it.

-If defensive, choose a random standard card from it’s hand without looking at it.



-Reveal ASCEP’s randomly chosen card. If a non encounter card is played, set it aside and play another card until an encounter card is revealed.

-If the non encounter card is an artifact, flare, kicker, or rift, play as if card had been played in the correct phase.

-If cosmic zap, play against an opponent who used their power soonest to card being played. If no powers have been used, set aside and play when an opponent’s power is used. If no power is used, return to hand.

-If card zap, play against first artifact or flare played in that encounter. If no card has been played in current encounter, set card zap aside and play against first artifact or flare that is used. If no artifacts or flares are played in that encounter, return card zap to hand.

-If ship zap, attempt to remove an opponent’s foreign colony if possible. If not possible, zap one main player ship from the encounter.

-If Omni-zap, use to zap main players encounter card. If possible, send 3 ships to warp without abandoning a colony. If not possible, remove one ship from the game.

-If reinforcement, add to ASCEP’s encounter card only if that allows ASCEP to win. If ASCEP would win without the reinforcement or would not win even with the reinforcement, return the card to ASCEP’s hand.


-If card revealed is an attack card and ASCEP wins, move to resolution.

-If card revealed is a negotiate card, human player may take their revealed card back and replace it with a negotiate card if they have one in hand. 


-If ASCEP reveals an encounter card and loses the encounter, it will reveal one more random card.

-If ASCEP wins, play proceeds as if it played the winning card. Return first card to it’s hand.

-If both cards are attack cards and ASCEP loses, discard the lower attack card.

-If one attack card and one negotiate card is revealed and ASCEP loses, discard the attack card if it is lower than 11. If negotiate card is discarded, take compensation from opponents hand.


-As a main player or ally, if any player will win the game if they win this encounter, ASCEP will keep playing cards from it’s hand until it’s side wins the encounter (follow reveal rules for ASCEP playing cards as an ally).

-Discard the highest encounter card played when this happens, even if ASCEP does not win.


-If ASCEP does not reveal any encounter cards from it’s hand, reverse any effects from revealed cards, discard it’s hand, and draw it 8 new cards. Then proceed with reveal rules.


-When negotiating with ASCEP, see negotiation flow chart here: https://imgur.com/a/c1R9K



-When ASCEP must lose ships, use reverse launch rules for colony preference. If a colony must be abandoned, start with home colonies with other player’s ships on them, then home colonies that only have your ships.

-If possible, ASCEP will always attempt to have another encounter. 


Legal Aliens for ASCEP

These are aliens with automatic powers or mandatory powers that don’t rely on having secret knowledge. Theoretically any alien power would work, you would just need to write a “script” for ASCEP to know what choices to make with that power. 
















































Tick Tock















Negotiating With ASCEP-2.png

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I like this a lot! Played one 3-player game of this (me, Macron, and two ASCEPs, Sapient and Mercenary) earlier this evening and won 5-4-4. I really liked your rules and how they felt like they preserved all the strategic and tactical elements of Cosmic Encounter despite the removal of the social aspect. I was Macron and what usually ended up happening was that both ASECPs would ally with each other and charge headlong into my 16-defense home colonies with no regard for how many ships they would be losing. I think I will try to come up with a modification for the script for how AESCPs choose alliances when dealing with aliens that have direct visible combat bonuses such as Macron/Warrior/etc.

I had a few questions that came up during my game:

  • If an ASCEP is an ally, does it play any cards during an encounter? I played that they didn't. Maybe I will make it so that if an ASCEP reveals a reinforcement and ends up not using it then the reinforcement will stay revealed (to be used in a future encounter) until the ASCEP has to have cards randomly selected from its hand or has to draw a new hand. The same could apply to kickers. Maybe this could also be factored into how ASCEPs choose alliances.
  • If an ASCEP loses and has to reveal another card, does it just reveal one card or does it keep revealing until it reveals another encounter card? And does it follow its preference for reward/standard card selection (as it does during Planning) or does it simply reveal another card at random? I played that it only reveals one card but continues to show preference for reward/standard card selection.
  • If you reveal a non-encounter card for the ASCEP that has a condition on it (i.e. "if you win an encounter..."), do you wait to see if the condition occurs before applying the effect or do you apply the effect right away, ignoring the condition?
  • What happens in the event that two ASCEPs end up negotiating with each other? This didn't actually come up in my game, but I assume that what to do is follow the chart for both ASCEPs and count it as a success only if both ASCEPs get to a successful negotiation.
  • When ASCEPs are defensive allies, how do they select their rewards? I played that they simply drew reward cards but I think there should be a point at which they prioritize ships instead, maybe if they are below a certain number or would get enough so that they would reach the next multiple of 5 so that they would be able to launch more ships.
  • It never specifies in the rules that players get to tell their allies how many ships to send into an encounter. Is this a special rule for ASCEPs?

(Also, one more thing I couldn't help but notice is that you use "it's" a lot in your rules when you should be using "its.")

Edited by luiginumber1
added a question I forgot about concerning rewards

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Hey Luiginumber1! I’m so glad you liked it! Feedback is really important to me, so I appreciate the opinions. IT’S very helpful ;) 


Man 5-4-4 that sounds like a close game. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit of pride for my script.


Definitely feel free to modify it as you see fit. I don’t think ASCEP will ever be a perfect, airtight script. I think it will always rely at least a little on good player judgement and slight adjustment for every circumstance. For example, when using powers that would increase starting totals like Macron or Warrior, I would usually just figure those automatically for ASCEP’s starting calculation when it needs to determine if it’s outnumbered or not. 


Keep in mind: these are all suggestions and play with rules that work best for you. It’s all a work in process and honestly if someone says “I changed this and it’s way better”, that’s really helpful.


That said, when I’ve played I did not have an ASCEP ally or main player play extra cards from their hand unless it was to prevent a player from winning the game, OR if they would win the game should they win the current encounter. I really like that idea about setting aside reinforcements or kickers though. 


I would set the card aside and wait and see if conditions were fulfilled for it. If they were- I’d apply the card. If not- I’d shuffle it back into the ASCEPs hand. 


And yeah, unless there’s a scenario I haven’t come across/anticipated, I don’t think anything is stopping ASCEPs from negotiating with each other. It’s not a super likely event, but it’s certainly possible. 


You’re right- I missed specific reward preferences. Off the top of my head, I would say it always attempts to have 2 ships on every colony, then draws cards. See this is why we playtest. 


And yes, choosing how many ships an ASCEP must send as an ally is a special rule. More than anything it was for simplicity sake. The less a player has to refer to the ASCEP flow chart, the easier it is. I could or anyone could write a specific rule for sending ships but there’s a lot of factors to involve. 


Thanks again for the feedback! Should you test it again, I’d love to hear how it turns out.

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