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First Edition Balance Manager
By SirDan (Dan Hamman)
 - First Edition Balance Manager
 -  
1E Risa Regional Participant 2021
#562875
Hello 1E citizens. I'm Dan from the Balance team here with a weekly topic.

As always, we're looking at cards from the Ban list. Among others, our attention is on Smooth As an Android's Bottom? right now.

After discussion, we are considering giving this a go through testing without any changes. Most of the other Hexany cards are neutered, so this one may be let back into the card pool as-is.

So here's the question for this week:
Were you a hexany player? Did you rock more verbs than nouns in your competitive decks? Does verbal looping still see any play? Would you rebuild decks full of [1E-Int] if you could get your hands on this card back as written?

Thanks. And if you are interested in testing cards like this and sharing your opinion on a weekly basis, please consider becoming a playtester.
 
By patrick (Patrick Weijers)
 - Beta Quadrant
 -  
#562878
I though I'd make a list of all cards that allow you to manipulate the bottom of your (opponent's) draw deck. There are a lot more than I was expecting... I found the following cards:

Celebratory Toast examine top card of your draw deck, then place that card on the top or bottom of that deck
Masaka Transformations player must shuffle entire hand, place on bottom of draw dreck
Recreation Room when you play a unique [OS] card, you may draw a card and then place a card from hand on the bottom of your deck
Holoprogram: Historical Poker Game place bottom card of discard pile beneath draw deck
Data, Keep Dealing look at the top two and bottom two cards of your draw deck. Replace in any order, two on top and two on bottom
Process Ore place bottom card of discard pile beneath draw deck
Bajoran Shrine place bottom card of discard pile beneath draw deck
Temporal Conduit place a card from hand beneath draw deck
The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition place a [Rule] card beneath draw deck from hand
Bynars Data Transfer Glance at the top five cards of your draw deck. Place them in any order on top and/or beneath your draw deck, then place event beneath draw deck.
Military Assault Command Operations Reveal the top three cards of your deck. You may report for free any MACO personnel revealed; place all other cards revealed beneath draw deck.
Neuropressure Massage you may draw two cards and place one of them beneath draw deck
Redirected Effort you may place one card from hand beneath draw deck, then draw a card
Dig place any one card in your discard pile beneath your draw deck
HQ: Ferengi Credit Exchange place any one card from discard pile beneath draw deck
IDIC: Courage of the V'Shar place an Espionage card from hand beneath your deck
Learning Curve you may place this card and each card atop it beneath your draw deck
Nightmare choose one stored card to place beneath opponent's draw deck
Organian Annexation place an equipment, personnel, or ship from discard pile beneath draw deck
Q the Referee discard (or place beneath draw deck) one of your [Ref] cards from hand or in play
Sniper place probe card beneath draw deck
Scorched Hand cause each player who has more than 12 cards in hand to shuffle all but 6 (random selection) and place beneath draw deck
Prepare the Prisoner placing one capturing-related card from your hand beneath your draw deck
Guest Quarters draw two cards and place one of them beneath draw deck
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 - Beta Quadrant
 -  
#562880
The last time I really played 1E competitively was during the end of decipher period where hexany was common, or at least on the way.

I'm neutral on letting this back as is because I don't know the metagame well enough.

I am in favor of decks like it existing. The idea of decks with more verbs then nouns is something that should exist. It shouldn't be the automatic best beck, and there should be strong counters.
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First Edition Rules Master
By BCSWowbagger (James Heaney)
 - First Edition Rules Master
 -  
1E World Champion 2021
Architect
Community Contributor
#562892
If you're like me a few years ago, you may be sitting here asking yourself, "Wait, what's a hexany?"

This is a hexany: https://web.archive.org/web/20090626065 ... xany.shtml

:twocents: I've never seen a hexany, and I think the neutering of the rest of the hexany probably did the trick? This is a good FQ, to see if anyone can find anything still broken about Smooth, but I think it's great that Balance is looking at bringing it back with no changes. Assuming no problems are found, I think they oughta. (And if problems develop later, they can always ban it again!)

(Next please do Dixon Hill, who is harmless and was banned by a passionate minority, not a true consensus, and mainly because he wasn't printable. But now he's printable, and it's no fair to Carlos and Lily that he remains on ice all these years later.)
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First Edition Art Manager
By jjh (Johnny Holeva)
 - First Edition Art Manager
 -  
#562896
I always felt 1E Hexany was murder on the "1E Chess Clock." (All in favor of the Hexany Player)

For that reason alone I would hate to see 1E go back to that game direction.

2¢.
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Director of Organized Play
By LORE (Kris Sonsteby)
 - Director of Organized Play
 -  
1E World Semi-Finalist 2021
Alpha Hunter
1E Andoria Regional Champion 2021
2E The Neutral Zone Regional Champion 2021
W.C.T. Chairman's Trophy winner 2014-2015
#562898
The card itself is fine but as @jjh stated, we already have a game clock problem. Why bring back / add stuff that gives a player more options for mental masturbation instead of actually doing something in the game like, I dunno, attempting missions or battling an opponent?
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First Edition Rules Master
By BCSWowbagger (James Heaney)
 - First Edition Rules Master
 -  
1E World Champion 2021
Architect
Community Contributor
#562899
LORE wrote: Fri Sep 24, 2021 3:08 pm The card itself is fine but as @jjh stated, we already have a game clock problem. Why bring back / add stuff that gives a player more options for mental masturbation instead of actually doing something in the game like, I dunno, attempting missions or battling an opponent?
Would this be an argument for banning The Power and Kivas Fajo - Collector? (Or leaving them banned, if one or both of them already had been?)
 
By phaserihardlyknowher (Ben Daeuber)
 - Alpha Quadrant
 -  
1E Andoria Regional Participant 2021
#562910
BCSWowbagger wrote: Fri Sep 24, 2021 3:13 pm Would this be an argument for banning The Power and Kivas Fajo - Collector? (Or leaving them banned, if one or both of them already had been?)
I see the difference here as those "non-personnel cards". The two you list are draw engines of a sort, a way to get cards you need to solve your missions. I didn't play much in that era, but if I recall, Smooth was about getting more hexany cards into your hand, which was just... boring. I don't know if that's a reason to ban it, however, especially when card draw seems like a perpetual struggle in the speed of the current meta.
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 - The Center of the Galaxy
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
Community Contributor
#562927
BCSWowbagger wrote: Fri Sep 24, 2021 3:13 pm Would this be an argument for banning The Power and Kivas Fajo - Collector? (Or leaving them banned, if one or both of them already had been?)
No, because Hexany isn't a card drawing engine. It's a card *selection* engine. The goal isn't to get a giant hand, it's to get exactly the cards you need when you need them.

(For folks who don't know, Olav Rokne - the author of the above article - is an Alberta player, which means I had the "pleasure" of being on the other side of the table from Hexany many, many... many times.)

The six cards in Hexany were (* already have errata, using original text for this discussion):
Data, Keep Dealing* - put three cards from deck to discard, then *pick* three cards to put on top of deck.
All ThreesOnce per turn, reveal two sets of three cards. You get one set, rest go to discard.
Palor Toff - Alien Trader Swap this for a non-Personnel card in discard pile.
MutationOnce per turn, discard one card to draw two.
The PowerOnce per turn, draw 1 OR draw 2 keep 1 (your choice) OR draw 3 keep 2 (opp choice)
Beyond The Subatomic* Name a card type, dig through deck for that type. It goes to hand, discard the rest.

BTS lets you dig for a card you want, and puts a bunch of stuff in the discard pile. But that's OK because Palor and DKD let you get cards of your choice from discard to hand or deck, and the rest do some combination of drawing cards (which you've stacked with DKD ) and putting extra cards in the discard pile for you to find with a future DKD - that you can grab with other DKD or Palor.

There is no small amount of skill involved to doing it correctly - the proportions of cards is fairly precise as I recall, and piloting it is very Thinky - but that *also* means to play against it is a *lot* of sitting around while you wait for them to rearrange their deck, discard pile, and hand into the optimal configuration.

Now... I used the unerrata'ed versions in my explanation above, so this is my read on how the existing errata changes bits.

* DKD now requires a Data or Hollander, but I'm pretty sure you can grab one turn 1, so I suspect it's a minor issue at best.
* BTS now puts the cards you drill past out-of-play rather than discard, and I think knocks it out of the club entirely - it's role was to fill up your discard, and now it don't do that. So at a minimum players will need to figure out the new proportions.
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First Edition Rules Master
By BCSWowbagger (James Heaney)
 - First Edition Rules Master
 -  
1E World Champion 2021
Architect
Community Contributor
#562928
AllenGould wrote: Fri Sep 24, 2021 7:02 pm
BCSWowbagger wrote: Fri Sep 24, 2021 3:13 pm Would this be an argument for banning The Power and Kivas Fajo - Collector? (Or leaving them banned, if one or both of them already had been?)
No, because Hexany isn't a card drawing engine. It's a card *selection* engine. The goal isn't to get a giant hand, it's to get exactly the cards you need when you need them.
The six cards in Hexany were
Data, Keep Dealing* - put three cards from deck to discard, then *pick* three cards to put on top of deck.
All ThreesOnce per turn, reveal two sets of three cards. You get one set, rest go to discard.
Palor Toff - Alien Trader Swap this for a non-Personnel card in discard pile.
MutationOnce per turn, discard one card to draw two.
The PowerOnce per turn, draw 1 OR draw 2 keep 1 (your choice) OR draw 3 keep 2 (opp choice)
Beyond The Subatomic* Name a card type, dig through deck for that type. It goes to hand, discard the rest.
But The Power has been back for years without causing a problem. (It's mainly used as a card draw engine, not a card selection engine.) Do we have reason to believe the Smooth would be different, especially with Palor still banned?

Fair enough on Kivas, which is a straight draw engine, but I asked "Wouldn't this be a case for banning The Power?" and then to explain why The Power was different you gave an example listing... The Power. So you can perhaps understand my confusion!

Everything I know about hexany I learned from either Olav or from you or from other very old forum posts, so I acknowledge I could be missing something here. But I also don't think we should leave a card banned just because we have bad memories of something bad it used to do.
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Online OP Coordinator
By pfti (Jon Carter)
 - Online OP Coordinator
 -  
Praetor
1E American National Champion 2020
1E British National Champion 2020
2E The Neutral Zone Regional Champion 2021
#562929
Data Keep dealing and card drawing are they big keys.
All threes let you get the three cards you chose and fueld the discard pile.
Smooth is mostly just discard bait (plus some manupulaiton if you
 
 - Beta Quadrant
 -  
#562968
Short answer: I don't foresee an issue with bringing back Smooth.

Longer answer: The main thing that made Hexany work is that "discarding" cards sounds bad, but often is not. This is for two reasons:

1. Discarding unseen cards from your draw deck really isn't much of a penalty at all. It feels like you are "losing cards," but it's not that bad. Discarding from your *hand* or *in play* hurts you because you lose resources you could use. But a card on top of your deck isn't one you could use -- and there is no mathematical difference between "X was placed in my discard pile from the top of my deck" and "X was shuffled to the bottom of my deck at the start of the game," until you exhaust your draw deck. All that happens is you draw other stuff sooner.

Note: downloads do affect this analysis a bit; if you are forced to discard something you might have downloaded you did genuinely lose a resource you might have accessed. Same with deck manipulation.

2. There are a lot of ways to access your discard pile; even OTF-legal things like Nanoprobe Resuscitation and Fal-tor-Pan. Palor Toff is the ultimate example; if you have a huge discard pile, Palor is basically a "wild card" that can become anything you want at Interrupt speed. You have the resources of a giant hand without being vulnerable to Scorched Hand; and it's way easier to dump cards into your discard pile than to draw them, because draws are widely recognized as powerful; discards are actually thrown onto cards as a "penalty" or nerf!

As a result CCG designers habitually overestimate how bad a "cost" it is to discard cards off the top of your deck (Data, Keep Dealing is a Decipher-era example; Habit of Disappearing a more modern one). This isn't a STCCG-specific thing either; in MTG, witness Bazaar of Baghdad or Reanimator decks, for instance. In a lot of games the discard pile is a *resource.*

With this in mind, there were two linchpin cards that made Hexany work. Pre-errata Beyond the Subatomic can easily fill your discard pile (as a "cost" for getting a card you want), and Palor Toff let you use that discard pile as if it were part of your hand. As Allen mentioned, proportions were critical in Hexany decks. Olav's original article had twice as may BtS and Palors as the others; Franklin's 2002 Worlds deck had even more extreme ratios, 30 BtS and Palor and just a few copies of the others. As long as you have a BtS and Palor in your opening hand, you can throw enough cards into your discard pile that Palor can *become* whatever other Hexany card you want

Which brings us to the current day: BtS has been (wisely) errata-ed to remove cards from play, making its "cost" a genuine cost and not actually a powerful benefit. And Palor is OTF-banned. Which means the key parts of Hexany are gone -- the remaining cards either have a once-per-turn limitation and/or are OTF-banned themselves (All Threes is IMO still too powerful, it's an Interrupt-speed Kivas). So there's no easy way to guarantee access to whichever Hexany card you want at any given point. Without pre-errata BtS and Palor, Hexany as a deck concept is dead. You can still sprinkle in the individual cards, but there's no worry about sitting back and watching the opponent fiddle around with their deck ad nauseam.

Kris raises a good point about whether we *want* to bring back this kind of mechanism. Even though I agree it takes away time from the main game, I'm not super concerned -- it only takes a few seconds to resolve Smooth, it's once per turn, and without BtS/Palor you don't have constantly looping Hexany plays.
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 - The Center of the Galaxy
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
Community Contributor
#562999
BCSWowbagger wrote: Fri Sep 24, 2021 8:03 pm Everything I know about hexany I learned from either Olav or from you or from other very old forum posts, so I acknowledge I could be missing something here. But I also don't think we should leave a card banned just because we have bad memories of something bad it used to do.
Well, the trick is that any of the six aren't crazy on their own. Palor is Premiere, after all! It's when you hit that critical mass of an self-sustaining engine. That everything goes crazy-go-nuts.

Right now, only two of the original Hexany are legal (with two given errata, and two banned). So either those four aren't quite enough to keep things rolling, or folks just got bored with it. :)

One point, though - Smooth isn't actually one of the Hexany (at least, not Olav's version). Now, that could just be it wasn't good enough to make the cut compared to the other six, or it could be that getting things from the bottom of the deck is suboptimal - now that I've had time to dredge up those old nightmares memories, I could see how getting cards from the bottom wouldn't be as good - it doesn't synergize with other cards putting things on top, after all!

But if Balance is looking at pulling those cards off the list, I'd strongly recommend starting with Olav's old recipe from the article and seeing if enough pieces exist to make it live again. (Because honestly, that deck *sucked* to play against. At least Q-Bypass was quick.)
 
 - Beta Quadrant
 -  
#563000
AllenGould wrote:One point, though - Smooth isn't actually one of the Hexany (at least, not Olav's version). Now, that could just be it wasn't good enough to make the cut compared to the other six, or it could be that getting things from the bottom of the deck is suboptimal - now that I've had time to dredge up those old nightmares memories, I could see how getting cards from the bottom wouldn't be as good - it doesn't synergize with other cards putting things on top, after all!
Olav's article didn't include Smooth because it hadn't been released yet (he wrote the article in the Holodeck Adventures era). Post-TMP Hexany players used Smooth as well.
AllenGould wrote:Well, the trick is that any of the six aren't crazy on their own. Palor is Premiere, after all! It's when you hit that critical mass of an self-sustaining engine. That everything goes crazy-go-nuts.
I still maintain that BtS and Palor were the keys to making the engine go "critical." Without them, the ratios get really tricky, since almost all the remaining cards are once per turn
(except for DKD, but its errata makes it hard to use effectively multiple times in a turn)
, so it's very hard to guarantee you have the right ones at the right time without clogging up your deck with lots of unusable copies.

In the dark times, once you had a healthy-sized discard pile (trivial thanks to BtS), you didn't have to worry about ratios since Palor became whichever card you needed at the moment. It was essentially a wildcard for any of the other Hexany (or most any other non-Personnel, for that matter).

I'm skeptical you could get a self-sustaining engine without those two keys, but I'm happy to be proved wrong. It would have to play quite differently, in order to guarantee access to any of the Hexany at any time. Isomagnetic Disintegrator and Meditation are the obvious ways to get a big discard pile now, but they're Events, and you still don't have a Palor equivalent that can grab cards back at will. 2E Revised Doctor could have helped but that loophole was fixed in Metamorphosis.

Edit: you're right that Palor is an old card; in my view BtS is what broke Palor, it was the first card that made it super easy to dump a bunch of cards into the discard pile -- way easier than self-seeding an Iconian Computer Weapon or whatever. Palor becomes MUCH tamer without easy ways to feed the discard.
 
By phaserihardlyknowher (Ben Daeuber)
 - Alpha Quadrant
 -  
1E Andoria Regional Participant 2021
#563021
AllenGould wrote: No, because Hexany isn't a card drawing engine. It's a card *selection* engine. The goal isn't to get a giant hand, it's to get exactly the cards you need when you need them.
On the point of card selection, I'm curious if this strategy would even be that effective today? Compared to 2002, there are many more ways to download and draw cards now, so do most of these cards even represent an effective strategy when there's already many ways to get *exactly* the card you want out?

That's a genuine question, not really an argument one way or another.

EDIT: I probably should have phrased this as "would this strategy be overwhelmingly more effective than the many other ways we have of selecting cards." It being effective isn't really in and of itself a problem.

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