JeBuS wrote: ↑Mon Jun 12, 2023 12:12 am
1) Finally Ready to Swim is in play. T'Lar is played. Is the discard from FRtS a cost of playing her?
Yes. I don't know how to make "when you play" and "you must" less ambiguous than they are, but, as far as I can think, that is exactly what they must mean.
Must it occur before she's "in play"?
Yes. Costs must be paid before initiation is complete, which happens before responses, which happens before resolution, and she's only in play after resolution.
Is there a window for her to use her download for Fal-tor-pan before the discard?
Apologies to the Vulc in question.
So, question time.
• Does this seem out of whack? (I know you're Rules, not Balance, but you were a designer for the main enablers, right? Consider these questions for Designer James.)
Wearing my Designer Hat: Obsession is pretty good, but we aren't seeing it in every deck, or even most decks. We see it in decks that are well-suited to using it, decks that already have access to beefy boi ships for other reasons, which are already packing some degree of heat, and which therefore complement the Monster Hunter theme pretty well.
I'm perhaps not the least biased person in the world, since not only did I do a lot of design work on the Monster Hunter cards, but I also just did pretty well in the online regional with a deck that tries to kill Planet Killer early. On the other hand, that was the first deck I've put Obsession into in years
, and it only fit because I was running a TNG Romulans deck whose main goal was to pump out WEAPONS in order to prevent anyone from entering the Neutral Zone. It's got five warbirds and all five matching commanders in a 37-card deck that draws itself out by around Turn 8. That's a great fit for Monster Hunting! For my
deck, it would make a lot less sense, and so I don't put it in there.
There are some balancing elements that make Obsession (it seems to me) good but not out of whack:
* First and foremost, because of Intermix Ratio, the return on investment is limited and diminishes rapidly. Killing a Planet Killer makes a two-mission win possible if you can find another 5 points somewhere (and suffer zero point loss). Killing a second Planet Killer makes the two-mission win easier. Killing a third Planet Killer doesn't have much benefit. Killing a fourth or fifth has no meaningful impact at all, at first blush.
These kills aren't free. The resource investment, in terms of seeds, card plays, staffing, and committing an early ship (or two) to monster hunting, for perhaps several turns, all adds up to something substantial. Still worth it, to a lot of decks, but not cost-free.
Now, I know this doesn't matter to you much at all, because you are not mostly playing your games in order to win them, but just to make the combo go off. Go nuts with that! Score 111 bonus points and then True Tie at 0-0. But that's not unbalancing. It's just eccentric!
* Because of the diminishing returns, people aren't running a lot of Planet Killers (and, if they are, they're wasting precious seed slots on them). Urgent Warning sees play, but rarely. I personally think that playing It Must Be Destroyed is a bit of a trap, if you're trying to win; you give up having an actually good tactic simply to make it easier to kill the one or two
cards you actually need to kill. It's a security blanket (which many players need and will happily invest in) but not a winning strategy.
* Players shouldn't sleep on the risk that their
points will get stolen. This happens! The modal player response to seeing Obsession right now is "oh, I don't want to deal with that, stick it on your end." But I've had some top players say, "Please put that on my end," swiftly kill the Planet Killer, and now they've robbed me of 26 points while adding 10 of their own. It's like having a mission stolen, and Obsession / Urgent Warning players are openly inviting it!
Obviously, if you play against someone who cedes space supremacy to you right away, or who doesn't have enough WEAPONS to catch the Planet Killer quick on their end, then you're getting those points, pretty easily -- but if you can't
actually control the entire spaceline (and swiftly get anywhere on it, in force, which costs even more infrastructure), starting on Turn 1, then you really can't count on scoring any
(P.S. Correct meta response to seeing more monster hunting is to add more early WEAPONS to your deck. Design has been pushing that for a couple years now. I'm not sure whether it's conscious or not (if it is, I missed the memo), but The Dogs of War set, Staging Ground, HQ: Shipyards, the Scimitar -- it's all saying "you need to invest more in ships, because the game isn't just about facing dilemmas; it's also about getting to missions alive." So go steal your opponent's monster hunting points, and then enjoy having the extra WEAPONS against armada decks anyway.)
* ...or your opponent can just run Khan!
to make you a sad panda.
Again, Obsession is pretty darn good. But I don't think it's a game-breaker, by any means. Its recent tournament record seems to support that: relatively few people are using it, and they don't seem to be performing particularly well at events when they do.
My personal worry about Obsession is that it's an example of "fake interaction." It puts stuff on the spaceline and invites opponent to come mess with it, but, in practice, opponent only occasionally has means, motive, and opportunity to mess with it, so it degenerates into a kind of solitaire bonus point farming. This isn't unbalancing
; it's just bad gameplay
. I have often said that I really dislike Test For Weakness
for being a "bonus point farm" card doing "fake interaction," but you can at least make the argument that, despite its higher investment cost and the whole "opponent chooses the spaceline end" thing, Obsession is doing something pretty similar to Test For Weakness. I would like to see more people respond to Obsession by actually trying to steal the kills, and, if there were one change I could make to the card in retrospect, it is that I would allow both players
to score the points in order to incentivize that. If Obsession always functions as a bonus point farm, never as something contested by both players, it will have failed, in my view.
(Relatedly, point-scoring objectives that don't make you face dilemmas or other cards owned by your opponent are probably a bad idea? But this is probably fodder for a different post.)
• Should It Must Be Destroyed be tweaked so the +4 Attack only applies on battles you initiate? (This would have made it much more difficult to use a single ship to destroy PK in a single turn.)
• Should Urgent Warning be tweaked so you can't download a copy of a that's already been in play? (This would shave a few points off, and probably take a bit longer.)
• (Controversy Warning!) Should Neutral Outpost be banned in Modern? (I didn't come up with the idea, but... It's intriguing.)
Since I think this combo is currently not overpowered, my answer to all of these is "no."