Zodiac


This is one of our more off-the-wall Cosmic Encounter expansions. It tends to increase (and complicate) player interaction and yield a lot of entertaining crisis situations (usually involving Nemesis, as you'll see) and new strategies.
While these rules should, theoretically, work in a two-player game, I don't recommend it. We haven't actually tried Zodiac cards in a two-player game, but playtesting suggests the more players, the better. No big surprise there.
Because Zodiac cards can be a substantial drain on tokens if you're not careful, I also recommend not mixing them with other "token-sucking" expansions (Praw [Eon] or Reverse Warp [Mayfair], Prisoners, etc.) at first, though they seem to work fine together once everyone gets the hang of it.

ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT:

Fifteen "Zodiac" cards--twelve "Zodiac Sign" cards (one each of "Aries", "Taurus", "Gemini", "Cancer", "Leo", "Virgo", "Libra", "Scorpio", "Sagittarius", "Capricorn", "Aquarius" and "Pisces"), two "Zodiac Cusp" cards, and one "Zodiac Nemesis" card. Zodiac cards are made from spare blank cards and added to the main deck.

One "Zodiac Chart"--a diagram showing the twelve signs arranged in a circle and in zodiacal order, as listed above (i.e., like a clock face, with Aries at the 1 o'clock position, Taurus at 2 o'clock, and so on to Pisces at 12 o'clock).

ADDITIONAL PREPARATION:

Shuffle the 12 Zodiac Sign cards and deal one face up in front of each player. Add the remaining Zodiac cards (Cusp, Nemesis, and undealt Sign cards) to the main deck, shuffle, and deal hands as usual. The face up Zodiac cards are not considered part of players' hands.
Each player places two of his tokens on the face up Zodiac card in front of him and distributes the remaining tokens among home planets as evenly as possible.
Place the Zodiac Chart in a convenient location, accessible to all players.

Zodiac Card [Art by Jack Reda]
PLAY:

Overview-- Zodiacal signs have "psychic relationships" to one another--called "Yin" and "Yang"--which affect game play. To determine the relationship between two signs, refer to the Zodiac Chart. The signs are "Yin" if they are less than three apart (measured around the circle in either direction, whichever is shorter) and "Yang" if they are more than three apart.
For example, Taurus is Yin to Aries, Cancer, Gemini, and Pisces, while Yang to Capricorn, Libra, Sagittarius, Scorpio, and Virgo. Taurus has no psychic relationship to Aquarius and Leo, which are exactly three from Taurus.
Your zodiacal sign is indicated by the face up Zodiac card in front of you. You begin with a particular sign, but it may change during the course of the game as other Zodiac cards are played on you. If the Zodiac card in front of you is a Cusp or Nemesis card, you have no sign and are instead "in cusp" or "Nemesis", respectively.
Tokens on your face up Zodiac card represent your "Karma". You begin with 2 Karma, and gain and lose Karma at various times throughout the game. Normally, Karma tokens are not available to you for other purposes (e.g., participation in a challenge) nor subject to any other game effects (e.g., The Plague).
Because Karma tokens are effectively (albeit temporarily) out of the game, you will usually try to keep your Karma as low as possible. However, if you manage to acquire more Karma than any other player, your inspiring display of self-sacrifice earns you the title of "Spiritual Leader", which brings with it certain privileges.

Playing Zodiac Cards-- As offensive main player, you may play one or more Zodiac cards from your hand before pointing the cone. Whenever you play a Zodiac card, draw two cards from the main deck into your hand.
You may play a Zodiac card on any player, including yourself, with the following restrictions:

  • 1) No Zodiac card can be played on the Spiritual Leader or Nemesis.
  • 2) A Sign card can only be played on a player Yin to it or in cusp.
  • 3) A Cusp card cannot be played on a player already in cusp.
  • 4) The Nemesis card cannot be played if there is a Spiritual Leader. That player then discards his current face up Zodiac card and replaces it with the one you played. He releases one of his Karma tokens, if any, to one of his bases and the rest are transferred to the new card.

    If you are the Spiritual Leader or Nemesis, you may play a Zodiac Sign card on ANY player, despite restrictions 1 and 2.

    Gaining and Losing Karma --

    You lose 1 Karma when a Zodiac card is played on you, as described above.
    Your psychic relationships to other players also affect how your Karma changes during the game. Your relationship to a particular player is defined as follows:

  • 1) If you are in cusp, the Spiritual Leader, or Nemesis, you have no psychic relationships.
  • 2) Otherwise, you are Yin to the Spiritual Leader (regardless of her sign or whether she is in cusp) and Yang to Nemesis.
  • 3) You have no psychic relationship to a player in cusp.
  • 4) For all other players, your psychic relationship is the same as that of your respective signs.

    For example, if your sign is Taurus, you are Yin to a player whose sign is Gemini, Yang to one whose sign is Scorpio, and have no psychic relationship to a player whose sign is Leo. If the Scorpio player happens to be the Spiritual Leader, however, you are Yin to her, not Yang.
    Once the outcome of any challenge is determined, all players (except those in cusp, the Spiritual Leader, and Nemesis) must adjust their Karma as follows:

  • 1) A main player who loses a challenge or successfully makes a deal gains 1 Karma. Players Yin to him also gain 1 Karma; players Yang to him lose 1 Karma.
  • 2) A main player who wins a challenge or fails to make a deal loses 1 Karma. Players Yin to him also lose 1 Karma; players Yang to him gain 1 Karma.

    To gain 1 Karma, take a token from any of your bases and place it on the face up Zodiac card in front of you. To lose 1 Karma, release a token from your face up Zodiac card to any of your bases.

  • Zodiac Chart [Art by Jack Reda]
    Note that you may gain or lose as many as 2 Karma because of the outcome of a challenge, depending on your psychic relationships with the main players. For example, if you are a main player and Yang to your opponent, and you win the challenge, you lose 2 Karma--1 for being the winning main player, and 1 for being Yang to the loser.
    If you must both gain and lose 1 Karma as a result of a challenge, they cancel each other out and your Karma is unaffected. For example, if you are Yin to one main player and Yang to the other, and they make a deal, your Karma does not change.
    Players in cusp, the Spiritual Leader, and Nemesis do not gain or lose Karma due to challenge outcomes (even when they are main players).

    The Spiritual Leader--

    The player with the most Karma at any given time is the Spiritual Leader. If two or more players are tied for that honor, there is no Spiritual Leader until the tie is broken.
    While you are the Spiritual Leader, you enjoy the following privileges:

  • 1) You may play a Zodiac Sign card on anyone, regardless of that player's current sign. You may also play a Sign card on Nemesis, thus eliminating her (her status as Nemesis, that is...she is not eliminated from the game).
  • 2) You do not gain or lose Karma as a result of challenge outcomes. Other players may gain or lose Karma when you are a main player, however, since everyone with a sign is Yin to you.
  • 3) You may place tokens on and take them from your face up Zodiac card as though it were a base, as long as you maintain enough Karma to remain Spiritual Leader. (It does not count AS a base, however.)
  • 4) You retain the use of your Alien Power(s) even if you fall below the required number of home bases.
  • 5) You win the game with one less than the required number of outside bases.

    In addition, no one can play the Zodiac Nemesis card while there is a Spiritual Leader.

    Nemesis--

    While you are Nemesis, you enjoy privileges complementary to those of the Spiritual Leader:

  • 1) You may play a Zodiac Sign card on anyone, regardless of that player's current sign, including the Spiritual Leader.
  • 2) You do not gain or lose Karma as a result of challenge outcomes. Other players may gain or lose Karma when you are a main player, however, since everyone with a sign (except the Spiritual Leader) is Yang to you.
  • 3) You may place tokens on and take them from your face up Zodiac card as though it were a base, as long as you do not make yourself the Spiritual Leader--or depose the current Spiritual Leader, if any--by doing so. (It does not count AS a base, however.)
  • 4) You retain the use of your Alien Power(s) even if you fall below the required number of home bases.
  • 5) You win the game with one less than the required number of outside bases.

    Although, as Nemesis, you cannot give yourself enough Karma to become the Spiritual Leader, it is possible for you to become the Spiritual Leader anyway if everyone else's Karma drops below yours. If this happens and you hold both positions, the game ends and you win!

    Other Details--

    If you must gain Karma and have no available tokens, or you must lose Karma and have none, or nowhere to place the returning token(s), your Karma remains unchanged.
    Powers, Flares, Edicts, Moons, etc., do not apply to or affect Karma tokens. For example, a Macron token on a face up Zodiac card counts as 1 Karma, not 4.
    Only a player's original set of 20 tokens can be used as Karma tokens. Others, such as Super Zombie's [Eon] and Vampire's [Mayfair] captives, Symbiote's [Mayfair] second set, and Moon Boon [Eon], cannot be taken as Karma. Fungus may take a fungoid stack as Karma, but only the top (i.e., Fungus's) token is placed on the Zodiac card; the rest are released to the Warp.
    "Spiritual Leader" and "Nemesis" are special positions, not Alien Powers. A Cosmic Zap, for instance, does not prevent either from using the privileges of her position (though it DOES stop her from using her Alien Power(s), as usual).


    Expansion by Bryan Bowe