Seattle Cosmic Game Night

(18 and 25 March, 2000)

BULLETIN: Cosmos, Europe Dominated; Victors, Vanquished Remain Friends

Hello again, Seattle Cosmic members!

On Saturday the 18th the Seattle Cosmic club had a special afternoon session to play Diplomacy at Karl Erickson's house in Auburn. Last Saturday (the 25th) we convened as usual at Marty and Ron's house to play Cosmic Encounter (and Icehouse).

Saturday, 18 March 2000

Here is the player list for the Diplomacy game:

Austria ....... Kam Yee
England ....... Ron Hale-Evans
France ........ John Braley
Germany ....... Marie Foltz
Italy ......... Paul Unwin
Russia ........ Meredith Wilson
Turkey ........ Tom Foltz
GAMEMASTER .... Karl Erickson

Early in the game we saw the following alliances: Russia (Mer) and Turkey (Tom); Austria (Kam) and Germany (Marie); England (Ron) and France (John). Nobody wanted to ally with Italy (Paul), but Italy is often left out in the cold, or so I hear.

The game went for over six hours. Toward the end of the game, Russia, Turkey, Austria, and Germany formed an Eastern bloc in hopes of smashing the Western bloc, consisting of France, Italy, and England. Come Fall 1905, when we had to quit, England (Ron) stabbed France (John) and won with 7 supply centers. Austria (Kam) and Russia (Mer) were tied for second with 6 centers each. Such was GM Karl's judgment, anyway.

However... Meredith said that she and the others in the Eastern bloc misunderstood Karl when he remarked earlier in the game that people sometimes play as teams when there is no time to play for 18 supply centers, the usual victory condition. She thought this was a GM ruling that we were playing for points in the Eastern bloc vs. the Western bloc, and that those were the points that should be counted. If you want to judge by that standard, the Eastern bloc won the game -- assuming they counted as an alliance; their alliance was never formally announced to the gamemaster.

However... Reading through the official rules the next day, I saw that by default, at least officially, if you cut the game short, everyone left on the board participates in a draw. By that standard, the game was a 7-way draw -- no one won. (Yawn...)

However... Reading through "Diplomacy A to Z", the online Diplomacy encyclopedia, I found another interpretation under the "DIAS" entry ("Draws Include All Survivors"): the official rules are as stated in the previous paragraph, but in practice, you should assume that unless stated otherwise, all players vote on the winner at the end of a short game. By that standard, since we did not vote, there was no winner.

However... I was at the Rusting TARDIS (a Seattle Anglophile video club) the following Wednesday, and the other fellow sitting at my table happened to be a seasoned Diplomacy player. He told me that locally (i.e. in the Pacific Northwest), Diplomacy players use Karl's "common sense" rule that the player with the most supply centers at the end of a short game is the winner. Since Karl grew up in Washington State, that may be where he got the rule. By that standard, I (Ron) won.

So here's the scorecard:

STANDARD                         WINNER
--------                         ------
GM's ruling                      Ron
Informal/de facto alliances      Mer/Kam/Tom/Marie
Official default                 nobody
Common practice (Dip. A to Z)    nobody
Pacific Northwest practice       Ron

Whew. Moral: Next time, let's be clear from the start what the victory conditions are. Gamemaster Karl, any comments?

Saturday, 25 March 2000

Apart from cosmic domination, our CE game was fairly uneventful. Present were Marty, Ron, Paul, and John Braley (his first time playing Cosmic with us). We played with double powers and flares, and the "take five powers, pass one left, pass one right, keep two" rule. Marty chose the Aristocrat as one of her powers and presented a serious threat early in the game, as she got to pick seven of whatever cards she wanted from the deck for her hand as part of setup. Paul chose the Loser (loser wins and winner loses) as one of his, and John chose the Vampire (keep defeated tokens as your own) and Mirror (reverse digits on Attack cards), which raised the question, "Are members of the Vampire/Mirror race invisible to each other?". I chose Machine -- which, like a GNU/Linux machine, just keeps plugging away as long as it has Challenge cards (Marty has a less flattering simile: the Energizer bunny), and for my other power, an old favourite, Dictator, which gets to dictate what the colour turned up in the Destiny pile "actually" is.

Boy, I was really obnoxious with Dictator too -- even worse than when I was Silencer, I'm told. Early in the game, I judged Paul and Marty were the strongest powers, so every time one of them flipped a Destiny card, I made the one attack the other. John, of course, got to attack whoever was stronger at the moment. When Paul and Marty were sufficiently weakened late in the game, I made everybody attack John, who had somehow quietly accumulated four foreign bases. (Hmm... better keep an eye on John in the future.) It was fun to make the Loser attack the Mirror and vice versa. Needless to say, nobody ever attacked little ol' me. O wot fun....

Machine was nearly useless, since my first hand was mostly Compromise and low Attack cards. I got to keep that hand most of the game, since no one ever attacked me. Finally, I got to spend it and drew a new hand -- ZOWIE! two Attack 17s! I was just about ready to dominate the Cosmos when my beloved wife Marty decided it would be a good time to play a flare that took away everyone's powers and gave them two new ones. Upset the whole game. Yeesh! I played a 17 and got my fourth base, then went up against Marty, who was now the Calculator (power = subtract twice the lower Attack card from the value of the higher one). Marty played an 18 and I played my other 17. Turns out that Marty, who can be an audacious and imaginative Cosmic player, but is not a rules lawyer by any stretch, misread the card and thought it said she should subtract twice her card from my card, or something. In fact, the totals were 18 - (2 x 17), or -16, vs. 17 (plus tokens on both sides). A slaughter. I won. Nobody was too darn pleased about this development, considering how visibly I had enjoyed my role as Dictator. Oh, well. I'll be less bloodthirsty next time, I promise.

At least Paul didn't win Cosmic this week...

We also played a game of Icehouse. Actually, 1 1/2. The first game was aborted because everyone was unclear about the rules. I've played the game 7 or 8 times, and even I was doing things that were blatantly illegal. Icehouse is a very different kind of game from what most of us are used to playing. The rules are simple, but the play is subtle and fast, and it is easy to get confused. I wrote to the Icehouse list for rules clarifications (more on a bit).

We played the second game legally. Marty and Paul got put in the Icehouse (IIRC), and I won -- but then, the only other person who'd played it before was Marty, and she played it only once. I'm hoping people will look at the Icehouse rules and strategy hints at www.wunderland.com and come back fighting mad for rematches in weeks to come.

Rules clarifications from the Icehouse list:

  1. Pieces ARE allowed to touch -- but can you make them touch without crashing, Grasshopper?
  2. Once someone is put in the Icehouse, they have ZERO points until the end of the game. PERIOD.


What do people think about playing Cosmic every other week, say, and focussing on new and unusual games in between? This was Marty's suggestion, and I kind of like it. I wanted to play New Eleusis last time, but there wasn't enough time after Cosmic for more than a 15-minute game of Icehouse. With alternate-week Cosmic we get to keep our focus on Cosmic and also get to try out new, unusual games that might take more than half an hour to play. Email me and let me know.

Final Thought:

It's a good thing I won the last three games we played, cos we were short on prizes. But I thought of some really, really good prizes to send away for today, so sharpen your talons, wax your fangs, and stay tuned...



1 April (oboyoboy) at Ron and Marty's in Kent.

Remember, game nights at Ron and Marty's are every Saturday at 8:00 PM. Come play for fun and FABULOUS PRIZES!

Seattle Cosmic Game Night Home | Center for Ludic Synergy home

Maintainer: Ron Hale-Evans, rwhe@apocalypse.org
Page last updated 29 May 2000.