Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CE alien survey #29: RESERVE


First appearance: More Cosmic Encounter.

Plain-English power: Attack cards of 6 or less can be played as Reinforcements. Negotiates can cancel others' Reinforcements.

Loved by: Everyone (when he's allied with them); spammers; fans of the cavalry; World War II Russian tacticians.

Loathed by: Everyone (once he's in the lead); those who despise surprise attacks.

Three ways to win as Reserve:
  • With 15 applicable Attack cards in the deck, there's no reason you shouldn't win every encounter you're invited to ally with, more or less. Jump to an early shared lead by joining the offense. When they start to realize you'll only pull ahead more, they'll start to only invite you on defense. Use that to refuel your reinforcement hand. (Then they'll stop inviting you, period.)
  • Reinforce intelligently. Only play what you need to edge out your opponent. If you're dropping down an Attack 6 when you only need one more point to win, consider losing so that you can save the Attack 6 for when it really matters. If your opponent blew a big card (20-plus) to beat you, then you can be confident that his next card (and possibly others' cards) will be considerably less powerful.



  • Your power works as an ally on either side. Therefore, you may have even more control over the outcome than either main player. It doesn't matter which side invites you, as long as you're invited. Accept the invitation of the guy needing you for the joint win, then sabotage him by dumping Attack cards on the defensive side, and win on your turn instead!
Three ways to win against Reserve:
  • Reserve as an ally is potentially more dangerous and unstable than as a main player. Just because he joined on offense doesn't mean he's trying to get a colony; he just wants in so he can use his power for some purpose. Invite him only when you're absolutely sure he's going to actually fight for your side. If he limps in for one ship, beware!
  • Only 15 Attack cards are useful to Reserve. The more you see played/discarded, the more impotent he is, but remember he can always cancel real Reinforcements with one of the 15 Negotiates, as well.
  • Attack 1's and 2's can be used by him, but it doesn't mean they're that helpful. Look for him to use his power just to empty his hand fast (whether it helps or not) so he can re-draw for some powerful cards (unrevealed flares, or high Attacks that haven't surfaced).
At CE Online? No.

— Submitted by Zach Gaskins

10 comments:

The Warp said...

Reserve is the best alien that Mayfair released. Simple, elegant, powerful.

TheDukester said...

I would agree. Reserve is in my top list of Mayfair aliens; certainly no worse than third.

Rob Burns said...

You do have to like the concept of Reinforcements to like Reserve, though. For a long time I wasn't crazy about the concept, because I didn't like the idea of those cards changing the Attack totals at the end (I felt Artifacts, Flares, etc. should have that privilege).

However, there's not an excessive amount of Reinforcements in the FFG deck, and having played with Reinforcements in every FFG edition game and Reserve showing up in two of those, I'm no longer opposed to the concept. Reserve is indeed an elegant and tough power, and if we play a "Draw 3, pick 1" power selection game, and Reserve is one of the choices, I may just choose it.

Bill Martinson said...

I tend to agree with you, Rob. Reinforcements always struck me as kind of a brute-force "filler" mechanic: easy to design but not adding much to the game (and subtracting something for those who don't appreciate the retroactivity and randomness). They aren't significant enough to bother me, but I would not have missed them in the slightest had they been absent from the FFG edition.

Having said that, I do think that once one accepts Reinforcements as a tolerable mechanic, then Reserve emerges as a brilliant power. Its obvious benefit (letting me post-modify the Attack delta) actually takes a back seat to its wonderful hand-scrubbing effect. Even had it merely said "As a main player or ally, you may (a) discard any or all of your Attacks of 6 or less and/or (b) discard one Negotiate each time an opposing player plays a Reinforcement", this alien would still have been worthy of selection!

I note with some concern the revised FFG wording, which expands the potential scope of the effect from Mayfair's "absolute value of 6 or less" to simply "6 or less". This seems to imply a global design constraint on the magnitude of any future negative Attack cards.

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