Cosmic Hearts
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The WARP Cosmic Hearts

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Cosmic Hearts

Play:
Our standard game is four-player Hearts, passing three left, three right, three across, and hold, with the Jack of Diamonds worth -10 (that's 10 points in your favor), the first lead is the two of Clubs and no points on the first trick, Queen of Spades breaks Hearts, and Hearts can be led if you have only Hearts or only Hearts and the Queen of Spades.

The following might be a sample trick in CH:

Visionary leads the four of spades, and says to the player to his left, "You will play the king of spades." Sorcerer, the fellow to the left, plays the king: "I'll swap this with your four--have fun..." Visionary, staring at the king he just "played", curses his lack of foresight. Negator, the third player, drops the ace. Visionary heaves a sigh of relief. Terrorist, the fourth player, plays the queen of spades. "Don't play that," suggests Negator. Terrorist grumbles at Negator, and plays the six of spades instead. Negator takes the trick, as Visionary thanks Negator profusely, Negator accepts thanks modestly, but Terrorist grins evilly and reveals, "Oh, by the way, that four and six of spades you just took were both bombed..."

It's a real trip, but a LOT of fun. We may never play regular Hearts again. Here are the powers:

CHANGELING [Lead]

You have the power to change form. Before you lead, trade your power with that of any other player. You may use their power as well if appropriate.

CHRONOS [Play]

You have the power of time travel. When the player to your left plays a card after you, you may call "time travel". You each then take back your card and play again. You may play the same card again, but the other player may not.

CONNOISSEUR [Passing]

You have the power of refinement. During the passing phase, you are passed six cards, keep three of them, and return the other three to the player who passed them to you.

FILCH [Trick-taking]

You have the power of theft. After all cards are played, if you take the trick, you may steal a card played by one of the other players. Take it out of the trick into your hand, swapping it for a card of the same suit from your hand.

INSECT [Passing]

You have the power of metamorphosis. Each hand, you play as if you had the power of the person who passes you cards. On a hold hand, you choose before the first lead which player you will copy.

LASER [Lead]

You have the power to blind. Before you lead, you may name any one player to play blind during the next trick. When it is their turn to play, they must select a random card from among the legal cards in their hand. That is, if normally they could follow suit, then select randomly only from their cards in that suit.

LOSER [Lead]

You have the power of upset. Before you lead, you may call "upset". If you do so, the lowest card played (in the suit led) takes the trick.

MIND [Lead]

You have the power of knowledge. Before you lead, you may look at any other player's hand for five seconds.

NEGATOR [Play]

You have the power to negate. Once per trick, after any player has played a card, you may negate their decision. They must then take the card back into their hand, and play another.

ORACLE [Lead]

You have the power to foresee. Before you lead, name a suit, but do not play a card: other players must "follow" the suit you name. Once all others have played, you must follow suit as well.

PENTAFORM [Setup]

You have the power to evolve. At the start of the game, draw four additional powers at random. Order them as desired, and play each during one of the hands in a round of four.

PHILANTHROPIST [Lead]

You have the power of giving. Before you lead, you may name any other player to lead instead. They may lead any card, and play proceeds normally.

REINCARNATOR [Trick-taking]

You have the power of reincarnation. When you first take a trick with points, you draw a new power from those not in use, and play it until you take points again. At that point you redraw, discarding the old power. If you draw a "Setup", "Deal", or "Passing" power, you may discard and draw again.

SCHIZOID [Passing]

You have the power to alter reality. Each hand, before cards are passed, name a card which will be worth thirteen additional points (instead of the Queen of Spades) for that hand. You can not name the two of Clubs as the card to be worth thirteen points.

SEEKER [Lead]

You have the power of truth. Before you lead, you may ask any other player a yes/no question. You may ask about their hand or their intentions, and they must answer truthfully (or abide by their answer, if your question concerns their intentions). WARNING: Do not abuse!

SORCERER [Play]

You have the power of magic. After you play a card, you may swap it with a card played by any other player. They are then considered to have played your card, and you theirs. To swap with a player who has already played, your cards must be of the same suit.

TERRORIST [Passing]

You have the power to booby trap. Each hand, after cards are passed, write down three cards which will be "trapped". Each of these cards is worth three additional points at the end of the round to whoever takes it during play. "trapped" cards do no break hearts.

TRADER [Lead]

You have the power of transference. Before you lead, you may trade hands with another player.

VACUUM [Scoring]

You have the power of catharsis. At the end of the hand, you distribute among one or more players as many points as you took during the hand.

VISIONARY [Lead]

You have the power of perception. Before you lead, you may tell one other player to play a specific card. When it is their turn to play, if they have the card you named, and it is legal for them to play it, they must do so.

WILL [Play] You have the power of choice. After any trick has been taken, you may call "will". You then lead the next trick, and play proceeds normally.

Comments:

Changeling: A power which, as in CE, tends to be a complicating factor more than anything else. Even more disruptive than in CE, since in CH, a player's plans can be even more drastically altered by the sudden loss of their power.

Chronos: The net effect feels like something of a variation on Negator. You can force someone to play a different card, but only the player to your left. On the other hand, you get to take back your card as well if you like. This would be a more interesting power if the person to your left changed over the course of the game. Recommend that the Chronos player exchange seats with the player to his left after each hand.

Connoisseur: A useful power which can really mess with your opponents' heads. The person passing to you will seldom have six cards they don't want, which means you can give back the ones they don't, and keep the ones they do. What you return can often confuse or mislead them as well. This power is unfortunately worthless during a hold hand, and isn't as much fun to play, since it only does anything once per hand.

Filch: A very potent power, which shares with Sorcerer and Trader the potential to totally dominate the game. We originally left out the same-suit clause, but even with it included, Filch is almost too powerful compared to some of the milder powers. Being able to filch the Jack of Diamonds into the first diamond trick you take or filch the Queen of Spades out of a trick in which you take it gives you a terrifying safety margin. Still, players who are aware of Filch's potential will be able to act in some ways to neutralize it.

Insect: We haven't used Insect much, mostly because we've been focusing on playtesting the other powers. It seems like it would be fairly balanced, since on average, you end up with as good a power as everyone else in the game.

Laser: A good way to harass other players, but limited in its utility. Someone has occasionally been able to use it to get the Jack or avoid the Queen, but not with the regularity of something like Sorcerer or Filch. Still, it can definitely throw a wrench into the well-laid plans of your opponents and leave the extremely frustrated.

Loser: Powerful, though not as dominant as the big three. Loser makes it a lot easier to shoot, since your 2's and 3's can suddenly take tricks. Other people have to watch what they play early on: if you have an Ace-Queen and a 2-4 pair, discarding either the King or the 3 sets you up nicely. Additionally, if you get in trouble, it's easy to get rid of the lead as long as you have either high or low cards. People will eventually catch on to this and start passing you 8's and 9's, but even then, if you keep track of what's played, you can keep out of trouble.

Mind: A strong one if you can get the lead early and have a good memory. Trader mimics a lot of Mind's power, and thus is even stronger, but Mind can do very well with a judicious look or two. We put the five second limit in mostly keep Mind from taking notes or similar skullduggery.

Negator: A potent and very enjoyable power. Negator lets you frustrate your opponents while protecting yourself. It doesn't dominate the game like Sorcerer, but it comes close in potency. This is one of our favorite powers to play.

Oracle: Another powerful but not dominant one. Oracle has the net effect of letting you play last, but in a suit of your choice. This makes it easy to get rid of high spades safely (if you can get the lead), and also lets you set up suits in which you're missing a few cards by calling them to yourself. You can also shoot easily with Oracle and the A-Q-10-8-etc of Hearts.

Pentaform: Another one we haven't tested much. It seems mostly useful for providing some variation in the game.

Philanthropist: This power also suffers from the fact that people's seats don't change: since it's often most advantageous to play last, you end up giving the lead to the player to your left a lot. They will soon come to hate you intensely. There may or may not be anything they can do about it. This power is more subtle than many of the other strong ones, since it has a much less obvious influence on the results of a hand than something like Negator or Visionary. It often ends up being a little like a subtle version of Oracle.

Reincarnator: We have played this one a few times, and it gets pretty wild. Because your powers change in mid-hand, it's very hard for your opponents to predict what you're going to be up to. Of course, it's similarly hard for you to figure out what you should be doing, but at least you have fun in the meanwhile.

Schizoid: This hasn't seemed too powerful--since you call before cards are passed, it's hard to screw anyone over particularly well, and it's not a particularly strong offensive power, since you still need all the hearts to shoot even if you name something else as the Queen. Schizoid is most useful in a hold hand, when you can dramatically improve your hand by calling a card in a suit you have a lot of low length in. Otherwise, it's been popular because it's fun, but it's not as strong as some of the others.

Seeker: An extremely problematic power. Asking questions about someone's hand is fairly impotent next to someone like Mind, who can see the entire contents of a player's hand. Asking about intentions is the only way to go, yet Seeker players in our games have failed to do this much to date. This still needs some playtesting.

Sorcerer: My favorite power to play, Sorcerer dominates any game it is used in. Our original Sorcerer lacked the same-suit rule, and I totally controlled the two hands I played it in. I could effectively keep the player to my left leading, split the points at will, and guarantee myself the Jack, all without breathing hard. Even with the same-suit rule, this is a potent power, and wise players will do anything they can to harass Sorcerer from the very beginning. One use of the power that might not be apparent from the description: you can swap with someone who hasn't played yet, by playing a card in front of them--you then get whatever card they play. If you know that the Ace and King of Spades are gone, this is a good way to give the Queen to whoever you want. On the other hand, if the other player has one of these two, they'll play it for you, and you'll end up cursing your stupidity. A proposed modification which we haven't tried yet eliminates this ability, since Sorcerer is almost too strong even without it.

Terrorist: Another one which folks here have found fun, but which hasn't seemed that powerful. If you play well, you can avoid taking any of your bombs, effectively decreasing your score by three points per turn. On the other hand, sometimes you can't avoid getting stuck with a bomb or two, which really defeats the purpose. People seem to enjoy it, though, even if it isn't that strong. Note that terrorist bombs should be declared when they're taken, but they aren't considered "points" for purposes of breaking Hearts or shooting the moon. It might be simpler to just not announce them until the end of the round. It shouldn't make a whole lot of difference.

Trader: A much stronger power than it seems. Getting rid of a few key cards, and then passing your hand off to someone else can really kill them. It's hard to get stuck with the lead as Trader, since you can always just give your hand away. You can also do really nasty things like trade with Visionary, and then trade with someone else--now Visionary knows the entire contents of someone else's hand, and can abuse them into the ground. You can also interfere with shooting attempts, and shoot yourself if you play it right. I originally didn't think much of this power, but it turned out to be a real force in the games it's appeared in.

Vacuum: One of the more boring powers to play, unfortunately. It could as easily read "you reduce the number of points you take by 1/3" in terms of its advantage to you. Being able to assign the points around is fun, though, and you can also use your power to threaten people occasionally. In one game, Negator led the King of Spades, clearly planning to negate the Queen if it fell. I played the Ace immediately after her, saying "If the Queen falls, and you don't negate it, you're getting the points too..." This kind of thing can keep people from throwing points on you, but it still isn't as interesting to play as some of the others.

Visionary: Another fun power to play. Since you pass three cards in each of the first three rounds, you automatically have some information about at least one player's hand, and as you play, you should be able to ascertain more. You can also psych people out with your power: one hand, I led a spade, and told the player to my right (who I had passed to) to play the King of Spades. The fellow opposite me dropped the Queen, knowing the one to the right would be taking it with the King, but it occurred to me after the fact that I could have told him to play the Ace, and when he didn't have it, the other guy would have been stuck with the queen. Lucky guesses can also pay off in a big way. All in all, Visionary is a strong and fun power.

Will: The best use of Will is obviously for shooting the moon and getting the Jack of Diamonds. If you can set your hand up early, you don't need an entry, which really makes life a lot easier. You can also largely nullify dangerous people like Visionary, Trader, or Mind, by simply calling for the lead whenever they take a trick, but you have to have a lot of safe cards to lead yourself in order to keep this up for long.

[Being a big Hearts fan, I loved Josh's Cosmic Hearts powers. I came up with some more CH powers. I have not playtested these. - Mike Arms]

ARRANGER [Passing]

You have the power of order. You specify how many cards (0 to 5) all players will pass and the direction of passing. Also, after cards have been passed, you specify which non-point card must be the first lead.

ARISTOCRAT [Deal] You have the power of privilege. Before the deal, you choose one half (rounded up) of your hand. The remaining cards are shuffled and dealt, with you receiving only your remaining cards for your hand.

CALCULATOR [Play]

You have the power to equalize. When you play a card, you may declare that its value is two less than normal for purposes of determining whom takes the trick. If more than one card of the same suit and value was played in the trick, the first one has precedence when determining who took the trick.

CONNOISSEUR [Passing]

You have the power of refinement. Before you select your cards to pass, you are passed six cards. You then choose six cards from your hand (which now includes the cards you were passed) and pass them to the player who passed cards to you. In a hold hand, you are passed cards as above by the player of your choice.

CRYSTAL [Passing]

You have the power of arrangement. You may declare one suit that other players cannot pass. Or you may declare one suit that other players must pass at least two cards of (if they were dealt two or more of that suit).

DEUCE [Lead]

You have the power of two. Whenever you lead, you also lead to an extra trick. Each other player must play to follow the primary lead and then the extra lead. The winner of the primary trick also takes the extra trick.

DICTATOR [Lead]

You have the power of command. Whenever any other player leads, you may change the suit on his card to a different one that you can follow suit in. The new suit must be valid (e.g. cannot name Hearts if they have not been broken). If more than one card of the same suit and value was played in the trick, the first one has precedence when determining who took the trick.

DOPPLEGANGER [Play]

You have the power to haunt. You are not dealt a hand (your cards are dealt to other players as if playing a game with one less player). When you must play a card, you may name any other player. That player must give you his highest and lowest cards of the suit that was lead (or of the suit that you name if you are leading). If he only has one of that suit, he gives you that one and any other card he wishes. If he has none of that suit, he gives you any two cards that he wishes. You return the card that you do not play. If another player must lead but is out of cards, you get the lead. If another player is out of cards when he must play a card, he is considered out of the hand and cannot take any more tricks.

GAMBLER [Play]

You have the power to bluff. You play your card face down. After all have played, you declare what it is. You may lie about it. If all of your opponents accept your declaration, the trick is concluded as if you played what you declared. Not even the player taking the trick may look at the card until the end of the hand. If one or more players calls your bluff, you reveal your card. If you lied, you add one point to your score for each opponent that called your bluff. If you told the truth, each opponent that called your bluff adds three points to their scores.

GRUDGE [Lead]

You have the power of revenge. Whenever you lead a card, you may ask any or all other players to follow suit with a higher card. If you take the trick, you penalize all who did not do as you asked by adding two points to each of their scores.

HURTZ [Play]

You have the power to lease. You may lease cards from your hand when any other player must play. To attempt a deal, another player shows you a card from his hand that he is willing to give you in exchange for a card in a suit he names. He may request a particular card. You may show him which card you are willing to trade to him and the number of points from your score he must take. If the terms are agreeable to both, you trade the cards and your score is decreased by that many points while his is increased by that many points.

JUDGE [Lead]

You have the power of fiat. Just after another player leads, you may assign one to three extra point gains or losses to whomever takes the trick.

LLOYD [Lead]

You have the power to insure. You may, for a fee, insure other players against taking the trick. He pays the "fee" by adding that many points to his score and decreasing your score by that same amount. If an insured player takes the trick, he may give you any points taken in the trick.

MACHINE [Lead]

You have the power of continuity. You may keep the lead until you fail to take two of the tricks that you lead.

MACRON [Play]

You have the power of mass. Whenever you play a number card (2-10), you may declare it to be equivalent in value to a Jack of that same suit (although does not count as such for points). If more than one card of the same suit and value was played in the trick, the first one has precedence when determining who took the trick.

MESMER [Play]

You have the power of mass hypnosis. You may play any 7-9 number card as if it were any card that you declare (suit & value). It has the effect of that new card when determining who takes the trick but not for scoring. If more than one card of the same suit and value was played in the trick, the first one has precedence when determining who took the trick.

MISER [Deal]

You have the power to hoard. When cards are dealt, each player receives one less card which is instead dealt into your "hoard". You may play out of your hoard to follow suit or when you cannot follow suit from you regular hand. Any cards that you retain in you hand or hoard after all other players are out of cards are considered to be part of your tricks.

PACIFIST [Play]

You have the power of peace. When you play an Ace or King, you may declare it to be "low". It will then be treated as lower than a 2 card of the same suit for purposes of determining whom takes the trick.

PROPHET [Lead]

You have the power to predict. Just before any other player leads, you may predict which player will take the trick. If you are correct, the player that you predicted's score is increased by 2 points and your score is decreased by 2 points. If you are incorrect, your score is increased by one point.

SCHIZOID [Passing]

You have the power to alter reality. Each hand, before cards are passed, write down a card which will be worth thirteen additional points (instead of the Queen of Spades) for that hand. Whenever another player leads, he may ask you one "yes" or "no" question about the 13 point card. You must answer truthfully, aloud. Whenever that card is taken in a trick, you announce which card it was.

WITCH [Trick-taking]

You have the power to curse. Whenever you take points in a trick, you may cast a spell against all other players. This spell lasts for the next two tricks. Each spell can affect only one of the following game operations: alien powers, aces, face cards, number cards, suit equivalence, and suit lead. Each type may be used only once (in any order) until you manage to cast spells which affect all types. Then you may work through the list again. WARNING: Do not abuse!

Comments:

Arranger: This is the only non-CE related power that I came up with. The control over the amount of cards passed and direction seemed like such a natural. And choosing the initial lead can be very strategic. This power can really help put pressure on the very powerful powers.

Aristocrat: A little strange, as he doesn't know what his other cards will be or what he will be passed. But he can guarantee good protection in certain suits. Of course, this makes him a target for the Trader (just like in CE).

Connoisseur: I believe this fixes the concerns about Josh's Connoisseur. This one's power is increased considerably as he passes after getting the six cards that he is passed. And he has full power during hold hands (in fact it could be considered more power then as the other players will not be passing).

Deuce: Having a side trick at risk is an intriguing concept. This can be very useful when "running" or dumping big cards when sure that you wont win the primary trick.

Dictator: Very powerful. Another of the heavy-hitters.

Doppleganger: This one is pretty convoluted, but it does open the door for a rule mechanic for what happens when a player runs out of cards while two or more other players still have cards.

Gambler: This one is trickier than it may appear at first glance. Since all of the cards are dealt out, it is difficult to bluff about a card that you did not start with as someone else will know better. But you can try some imaginative manipulation of your own cards.

Hurtz: This one is very rough, but I wanted to show how points could work as a Lucre-like commodity.

Judge: I'm not real trilled with this one. But if he could use this power on his own leads, it would be very powerful as he would have much more control.

Mesmer: You knew there had to be some way to work in a "wild card" type power. But on average, he will only get 3 of these cards in his hand as no sane player would pass him any. The wild cards can be critical when running, breaking someone else's run, or just avoiding big batches of points.

Schizoid: This is a slight modification to Josh's Schizoid. I wanted to retain that hidden game info idea from the CE Schizoid.

Witch: This one could be devastating if the player tries to abuse the power. Just try to be reasonable with the curses.


Expansion by Josh Smith, Jeff Hildebrand, Melissa Shaner, Jeremy Thorpe, and Mike Arms.