Friday, February 13, 2009

Equal time: Let's talk about GOOD homebrews

After touching on some of the negatives I'm seeing lately in the world of Cosmic Encounter homebrewed-alien creation — namely, it's not 1996 any more; let's see something new — it seems only fair to acknowledge that there really are a lot of quality fan-created aliens out there. No further proof is needed than just a cursory glance at the new Fantasy Flight Games edition, which features a number of fan-created aliens that are now official elements of the game. It's not like Kevin Wilson and the gang at FFG had some some of mandate where they had to use these newcomers; there's a lot of other already-published aliens they could have picked.

Anyway, I can think of two good places to start, both internet discussions. I'm sure there's probably quite a few of these types of conversations out there, but these are the two that I can find quickly:

BGG thread from 2004:

and a current BGG discussion.

(That second one is pretty interesting; a few people have essentially posted short lists of their favorite homebrews.)

So what do you think? Is Fido really all that and a side of fries? (he seems to appear on every one of these sorts of lists). Are there any real losers in those discussions? And what are some that should be added?

Like everyone else, I've got my favorites, but I'll hold off for now. Actually, anyone who can remember the old "Homebrew Hall of Fame" series at this site's old location already knows a few of my personal picks.

11 comments:

TheDukester said...

First impressions (limiting myself to those I've never played even once):

Lunatic seems like something I'd play ... Conjurer I like, too ... Wastrel, though? Give me a break. I'm not seeing the point at all. If anything, I'd lean toward using Ramshackle, instead.

The Warp said...

I remember seeing Rob's list on rec.boardgames.ce some time back... I wasn't really in the habit of posting very many of my homebrews to the newsgroup, so I wasn't surprised to not really see any of mine there. Pisces was never one I was part of- I just posted it on The Warp. I do like my Scavenger better than the other one though.... heheh.

After creating about 20 aliens of my own I focused more on creating expansion aliens. I wanted at least 6 aliens for every expansion. I have a bunch of Moon powers, and some Lucre ones I like much better than the old Lucre powers. I created Subterfuge powers, Asteroid powers, Dimensional Shift powers, Prisoner powers, Bad powers, Bad Endowment powers, and on and on.

Since we play with multiple powers MOST of the time, it's fun to have a regular power and an expansion power together.

Before the FFG version came out, I had half a dozen Tech powers ready to go. I waited to post them until the game was released (I also doubled my Tech cards, since I love fiddling with everything in the game).

pgocosmic said...

One thing about critiquing powers is that BY DEFINITION Cosmic appeals to players for different reasons. So one players poison power is another's fav.

And of course, the mix of aliens is still what it is all about. Ranking powers individually, while interesting, can under rate many that in a multitude of situations send the game careening off in unexpected directions.

A great test would be to take a collection of allegedly awful aliens - lets call them triple A ranked just to be perverse (and to break a ranking custom) and play a bunch of games with just set of AAA.

Then evaluate the games to see if they were still fun.

TheDukester said...

That's a good point, Peter. It seems to be a part of human nature to read about a new homebrew alien and then think, "I like it/dislike it!" just in terms of a first reaction. It's like most of us think about that alien on its own, and not as part of larger picture.

The mix is, of course, vital (as are things like the opening card draw, the relative skill-level of the players, etc.).

forumite said...

Obviously I'm biased in liking my own powers, but I don't think I could clarify what it is in other people's powers I would like. I would be very interested in powers that aren't about encounter totals or outcomes, but I don't say no to powers that are about encounter totals or outcomes. It's always going to be subjective, but if upon reading a power I think/say "cool", I found a winner. Using new Fantasy Flight powers before they were official, while I liked Fido well enough I wasn't enthused about it as others were. I didn't not like it, I just wasn't really into it as were those who gave their thumbs-up commenting on it. (Good/Hooray for Brandon Freels it became an official power. :D ) Masochist, on the other hand, I did think "cool" when I first learned of it. There are going to be powers that everyone likes or everyone hates. Their cleverness or clunkiness will be obvious. However, for many others it will just come down to personal aethetic taste.

The Warp said...

About ten years ago, my group would play CE several times a week, and one night was dedicated to testing out new cards, powers, and other variants... I would very much like to get back into something like that. My problem is I have several gaming groups, and I can't commit to any one of them regularly enough to do this. I will have to form yet another group- gotta find some more CE fanatics.

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