The WARP Rants Archive

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Cosmic Zapping Yourself

The practice of playing a Cosmic Zap on yourself stems largely from wanting to play a Wild Flare of your own power. Right off I just want to say that I find this to be pretty lame. The main reason you need to Cosmic Zap yourself to play your own Wild is that in many cases the Wild is better than the Super. This too seems a bit on the lame side.

Sticklers for the rules will also be happy to point out that in the Mayfair edition, the Cosmic Zap card clearly states "play when a player attempts to use his power". Does this then mean that if I want to use the Wild of my flare, I must first attempt to use my own power, and THEN Cosmic Zap myself? Many powers make this scenario impossible because of the timing icons -- when the Wild Flare is intended to be played earlier in the challenge than the power itself. Oh, what a dilemma.

Frankly, I think having to Cosmic Zap yourself to play the wild flare is pointless, and should be quickly done away with.

What solutions?

Our group began allowing players to use the Wild or Super if they held their own flare (but not both). We felt that Mayfair flares were too much like Edicts, since they were no longer retained (as in Eon style play). It was no secret that Eon Wild Flares were Very much more powerful than the Supers in most cases, and as a result, we typically preferred the Mayfair style (however, there is still something cool about retaining a card once you played it, making Flares unique and coveted).

This lead to the Lucre rule of being able to buy back Flares once played. There rub here was that we didn't use Lucre very often.

When I learned about Gerald Katz' Pulsar Cards (previously called Immunity Cards), I was intrigued with the idea of a retained card that gave a player protection from specific powers. This of course led to another problem we'd been encountering: too many cards in the Challenge Deck.

Yes, we had a big ol' can of worms to deal with... all seemingly related to Cosmic Zapping yourself -- in my mind anyway.

The ultimate solution: Nebula Cards. While the name was coined by Gerald Katz, what I basically developed was a Flare that also acted like a Pulsar. In effect, it is a card that is a one-shot AND a retained card. The key to this was having three headings rather than just Wild and Super. The heading of Con was added (right off the Pulsar Card). This was a retained effect that gave the card holder immunity to the power named on the card. The Super heading was just like a Flare Super, only it was retained (just like Eon Flares). This makes holding your own Flare an important and exciting thing. Having your own Mayfair Flare was no more exciting than having ANY flare, and in some cases, less so (see "Having to Cosmic Zap yourself to use a good Flare" above).

The interesting thing about the Nebula Card is the Wild heading. This is a one-shot effect that can be used by ANY player (including the power named on the card). Making it one-shot means you get the nice benefit, but have to sacrifice an otherwise retained card. It also gives you options when holding your Super (Do I use the enhanced Super effect that is retained, or get a one-time different effect, but have to discard?). Now we had Flares (in effect) that were cooler, could be retained, and didn't call for Cosmic Zapping oneself to really get the most out of it. Naturally, you don't need to Cosmic Zap yourself to use the Con on a Nebula, since it wouldn't apply anyway (no need to be immune from yourself).

Additionally, there were no extra cards in the deck (at least, no more than there would be when adding Flares). Finally, unlike Pulsar Cards, you can add extra Nebula Cards to the deck (for powers not in play) just like you would Flares, and your result is more Wilds that can be used by everyone in the game.

Are there problems with Nebulas? Well, some say that it's just too much text to fit on one card. In reality, it can be done, without sacrificing much in the way of gameplay. I did a few mock-ups of Nebulas when I first thought of it, and in fact, Gerald Katz went ahead and created a set on his word processor (complete with timing icons). It works out pretty well, and with some tweaking of cards here and there, this should prove to be a very playable and satisfying reworking of Flares.

It is my hope that Flares in general be completely replaced with the Nebula format (in which case you can just call them Flares again). I find it the best compromise between Eon and Mayfair styles of Flares, and of course, the best way to get out of having to waste a Cosmic Zap on yourself.

What do you think?

Marcus from Falls Church, VA USA said on 19:45:37 Jan/31/2000:

You say: "Naturally, you don't need to Cosmic Zap yourself to use the Con on a Nebula, since it wouldn't apply anyway (no need to be immune from yourself)." Leading me to wonder, "but can I if I want to?" What if I'm playing the insect or some other effect that copies my power? Can I zap myself then to get the con effect? Do I need to or do I get the con effect as well without doing so?

Jack from Mountain View, CA USA said on 20:06:38 Jan/31/2000:

Playing a CZ on yourself to stop the effects of a Pulsar or Nebula card will do no good. They only stop the effects of YOUR powers. Insect copying your power is not affected by YOUR Pulsar or Nebula.

Marcus from Falls Church, VA USA said on 00:10:34 Feb/01/2000:

I still can't help thinking that there might be some reason you might want to zap yourself but without seeing the cards I can't think of a good example.
In any case, I guess the real answer would be, "You can always cosmic zap yourself, but there really isn't any point with nebulas."

Which leads to my next question, do you have to have the use of your power to use the super? I assume yes, so if you lose your power, your nebula is just like any one elses.

What happens if you play a super and someone cosmic zaps you? Does the wild effect take place instead?

Since the wild effect may not be appropriate, can you just send it to the discard pile, or must you pick a target? i.e. you had a (fictional) card with the super effect "take 5 tokens from the warp" and a wild effect that said "send 5 tokens of any player to the warp". Would you have to:

  1. throw the card away?
  2. pick any player to target?
  3. loose 5 tokens since you were the original target?

Patrick from Campbell, CA USA said on 01:41:29 Feb/09/2000:

Other reasons to Cosmic Zap yourself: 1) You are Virus, Warpish, Warrior, Deuce, or Macron against Antimatter or Loser. 2) You are Changling and do not want to swap powers (especially those bad powers listed elsewhere on this site). 3) You are Empath against Zombie or Void, you play a compromise, and would rather take consolation than risk your opponent failing to deal. Well, okay, the last two are a stretch, but the first one is very important.

Jack from Mtn View, CA USA said on 12:36:48 Feb/09/2000:

Don't get me wrong... there ARE reasons to CZ yourself... but to do so in order to play a Flare, in my opinion, is lame. Especially when the Wild for your Flare is better than the Super.

Swanee from Newark, NJ USA said on 12:36:27 Feb/10/2000:

Reusable flares are best. Otherwise all cards are use play and discard. Reusable cards add to strategy. For example,buying cards. Should I by more attack cards to keep these flares, or should I run out so I can get a new hand. Another reason to zap yourself is so someone else can't. If you know your power isn't in effect you can play accordingly. Another example. Empath+Warpish as defensive main with everyone allying with him. Throw challange with a CZ to get consolation and allies into Warp.

Jim from Reading, PA USA said on 23:42:40 Feb/13/2000:

A lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Why go to all this trouble of re-working and making new cards because you don't like the idea of CZing yourself? It's a part of the game, and it makes sense. And, yes, it can only be used when someone is trying to use his power. It's just another intriguing aspect of the strategy in this game where doing the obvious is not always the best. There are all kinds of cards that pop up in someone's hand that he never gets to use. Why should wild flares be different? If he can CZ himself and use it,fine. If not, fine too. I think the rules are clear and appropriate as they are. I often Plague myself too, just to get rid of cards.

Jack from , USA said on 17:30:37 Feb/14/2000:

The reworking of the card has more to it than simply getting around the CZ rule... I also wanted to find a way to combine the two distinctly different flare styles, and was happy to include doing away with a facet of flare use that has always irked me... As with everything in CE, do it the way you like it at your house... at my house, we don't CZ ourselves to play Wilds.

Gregory from Southern, CA USA said on 17:13:57 Feb/21/2000:

Patrick mentioned Zapping yourself if you have a power that boosts your total (Warrior, Virus, Warpish) against Anti-Matter and Loser. That's kind of lame too. It'd be better to Zap him, wouldn't it? Unless you're really anxious to get rid of that low Attack.

Patrick from Campbell, CA USA said on 22:46:42 Feb/28/2000:

I created a long post, but it got lost in the ether, and I do not feel like writing it again, but I will rewrite the main point. Pretend you are Macron attacking with 1 token against Anti-Matter's 4 tokens. Your best and only attack card is a 4; Anti-Matter's plays a 10. Your total is 4+4=8. Anti-Matter's is 10-4=6. If you cosmic zap Anti-Matter, you lose 8 to 14. If you cosmic zap yourself, you win 5 to 6.

Peter Olotka from Centerville, MA USA said on 23:03:45 Mar/10/2000:

Playing the ZAP on your self is supposed to be part of the game, because that's how we designed it. In the original EON 15 alien basic game one could use such a move in a variety of situations - for example an anti-matter could surprise an opponent by self-zapping and winning with a high total. The fact that the self zap causes strange effects with Flares is part of the fun of CE. When one tries to micromanage a snapshot situation in Cosmic it tells me that they fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the game. Having played CE since 1972 when we first designed it, its my experience that when one says that move X is lame it is most often because the whiner WAS HOPING TO BECOME A WINNER and was surprised by a move they didn't see coming. They lost either face, the game or both. My advice is Let CE be. Tinkering around the margins leads to the insanity of trying to squeeze jello into a preconceived mistaken mental mold of what constitutes 'fair'. We designed the Sniveler for just such a player. (I'm one myself come to think of it.) I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH CARDS!!!!!

Sarry (Sarah) from Melbourne, VIC AUSTRALIA said on 02:58:55 Mar/16/2000:

I agree that zapping yourself is part of the fun. I am mainly an online player although I have played Westend. During my time online, I have Force Fielded myself (once allied when I relise I shouldn't have), Cosmic Zapped myself (to win attack/defence and zapping myself as anti like Peter mentioned) and Plagued myself (get rid of the rest of my hand). But I think being able to play the plague, force field and especially the zap just makes the game even more fun. I remember I was once the anti, someone else was the WarriorFor an anti, I played a reasonably high card because I though Warrior having experience points, couldn't win anyway. He zapped himself thinking he would win by a small margin (we had no allies - I thought I was too good!). He could've except then I zapped myself to win the attack!

Patrick Riley from Campbell, CA USA said on 10:18:37 Mar/16/2000:

To get back to Jacks' point (I think), he just doesn't like having to cosmic zap yourself to use the Wild Flare of your power. I object to Peter's objection that CE should be left alone and never subjected to tinkering. While I am unimpressed by 95% of all homebrew rules and powers (including the ones I make), this kind of tinkering is fun and should be encouraged.

Sarry (Sarry) Ryan from Melbourne, Vic AUSTRALIA said on 18:28:59 Mar/16/2000:

I don't know about the Wild Flare - I have only played the board game three times and excluding some of the additional packs and flares as I am not experienced enough with the board game yet, - although I love it, just that there is no one to play with usually! I guess tinkering with any game is fun although some home-brewed rules and variations are unimpressive, and maybe it should be encouraged to create creativity, but I can see Peter's point as well. Look at it from most game designers point of views, not only of Cosmic Encounter's. If a game is tinkered with too much, it may get to the point where 'Cosmic Encounter' no longer seems like 'Cosmic Encounter' totally, and loses its originality of how they created it in the first place. Or even Monopoly. I guess this is how so many variations come up (look at MTG) but there are too many variations of some games, and I think you can never beat the original. Another thing - when you play a game with fellow CE players (like my Uncle who is part of a group that has been together since the original EON release) and you go mucking around with the rules and home brewed stuff, it will only confuse anyone who comes into the group to play for example. Sure it can be fun to tinker but there are negatives to it all too. And yes, my Uncle (who lives with us) has created homebrewed rules and powers, but never uses them!

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