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   - behind the cosmic curtain with Bill Eberle

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for thursday october 6, 2011

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Matthew Scrivner: I love recursion of any kind, though I realize it can break the whole system. I think it would be quite amusing to have an alien power that starts sub-games of Cosmic, or encounters within encounters, or alliances within alliances . . . etc. . . . Though I don't doubt there is probably something like this already in Jack [Reda]'s database. I would name the alien The Fibonacci. It would have to allow things to get really weird though - like the Super flare would allow encounters inside of encounters inside of encounters.

Matthew Scrivner: Or maybe some sort of Russian Doll effect - a power inside a power inside a power, etc. The alien would, of course, come from a world that rides on the back of turtles (that itself rides on the back of a turtle, etc.)

The Order Jefferson Krogh: As far the THE ORDER, it would be interesting if the permanent alliances are formed when this alien wins an encounter. The Order could offer his opponent to let him keep his colony (as defense), or gain a colony (as offense). If the opponent accepts, then The Order shares in any win that alien gets. You could let a Cosmic Zap break the pact, but only for the alien playing it.

The Multitude Alien Bill Eberle: Interesting, Matthew . . . we'll have to define some specific examples. For some reason, I'm imagining an alien that takes your recursion idea and uses another idea, the idea of putting something "on hold" to do later, and putting them together to create a new alien power called the Procrastinator. The Procrastinator can take any encounter up to the point just before cards are played and put it on hold, placing all ships on both sides on a pattern sheet that shows who had what on each side and point the pattern sheet at the same planet for all to ponder. Play would then progress; if it is the first encounter, the player would get a second encounter; if it is a second encounter the next player would start, or the machine could keep going, etc. The Procrastinator could do this again, and again, but could never have more than three (3) encounters on hold. At the beginning of any encounter, including one of its own encounters as the offense player, the Procrastinator could offer one of the encounters currently on hold as a replacement for a normal encounter, and the offense player could either take over the encounter replacing the offense ships with his or her own ships or just continuie normally if the player was the original offensive player. Replaced ships would return to bases. Arrghhh! Recursion wonderland plus nesting of a sort. How's that for a start?

Bill Eberle: You may be right Jefferson. I was thinking that it's possible that convincing people to join the ORDER might be too difficult; perhaps, it should be, as you say, a spoil of war. And, maybe also enforced for a successful Negotiation. It needs some play testing.

Jefferson Krogh: I'm a big fan of the "carrot and stick" approach to alien designs. It's why I love Pavlov a lot, even if it is an icky Mayfair power.

Bill Eberle: I agree that Pavlov is a good power. Both simple and subtle . . . but I'm doubting that there would be time to actually condition players to act in accord with your wishes in the course of a game. Perhaps if Pavlov was able to do apply its conditioning on every encounter involving a single (chosen at the start of the game) "subject" it would prove more interesting. But then there is also the issue of the observer effect - Observer effect (physics) - especially in an experiment of such short duration. What would become interesting, I suspect, for the more focused Pavlov power I'm imagining, is the effect one might see in the behavior of both the Pavlovian subject as well as the Pavlov from increased attention by other players to their antics.

Bill Eberle: An amendment to the Procrastinator idea above: If the offer of an on-hold encounter is rejected, that encounter is no longer on-hold and all ships can return to any colonies where their owner already has a ship.



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