Part I-The Basics
These rules are written with the assumption you're playing the Mayfair edition of Cosmic Encounter and you have More Cosmic Encounter.
None, unless the stakes get so high the Bank (i.e., Lucre supply) dries up. Because the Bank is considered to hold an infinite amount of Lucre, it may become necessary to devise some clever and convenient substitute. A toothpick, for instance, might represent 10 Lucre.
None. Set up the game as usual. Before the starting player begins his first turn, however, one hand of New Cosmic Poker is played, after which the Cosmic Encounter game proceeds normally.
New Cosmic Poker is a game-within-a-game, quite separate from, yet intimately connected to, the Cosmic Encounter going on around it. While a New Cosmic Poker hand is in progress, all Cosmic Encounter rules and effects, including those of Alien Powers, Flares, Edicts, and Moons, are suspended. Powers cannot be used, cards cannot be played, Lucre cannot be spent, etc., except as defined herein, until the hand is finished.
One hand of New Cosmic Poker is played at the very beginning of the game. Then, throughout the rest of the game, every time any player needs a new hand, another New Cosmic Poker hand is played.
Like Draw Poker, the object of New Cosmic Poker is to gather the best combination of cards (see "Melds"), or to eliminate all competitors through guile and intimidation (see "Betting"). "Other Stuff", contains even more nonsense.
The player needing a new hand serves as the dealer, taking the deck and dealing himself seven cards. (At the beginning of the game, the starting player is the dealer, but does not receive seven new cards.) Note the dealer does not shuffle the deck; only when the deck is exhausted is the discard pile shuffled to form a new one, just as in Cosmic Encounter.
Then, starting to the dealer's left and proceeding clockwise around the Warp, each other player, in turn, must declare his intention to play the hand or not.
- A player who opts "in" must ante by paying 2 Lucre into the Warp to become an active player; if his hand
- contains fewer than seven cards, the dealer deals him enough cards to bring it up to seven.
- A player who opts "out" lays his cards face down in front of him, indicating he is not an active player.
The dealer himself must opt in, but does not ante. If, after everyone has declared, the dealer is the only active player, he takes 2 Lucre from the Bank; the hand is over, and normal Cosmic Encounter play resumes. If, on the other hand, there is at least one other active player, the betting begins.
In New Cosmic Poker, betting before the draw, the draw itself, and betting after the draw are almost identical to Draw Poker. These rules are provided in "betting" All bets are paid in Lucre, but players caught short may "pawn" their Cosmic Encounter assets to cover bets, or "tap out" to remain in the game without betting.
A player may pawn whether or not he has Lucre; if he does, he may (but does not have to) pay part of his bet and pawn for the difference. A player pawns his cards and tokens for Lucre at the following rates:
- Discard 1 Edict card = 2 Lucre
- Discard 1 Flare card = 3 Lucre
- Lose 1 token from base to Warp = 2 Lucre
- Permanently remove 1 token in Warp from game = 5 Lucre He disposes of card(s) and token(s) as indicated, takes the specified amount of Lucre from the Bank, and puts it into the Warp to cover any unpaid portion of his bet. Any number of cards and tokens may be pawned, but all Lucre received must be put into the Warp (a player may take fewer Lucre than he is entitled to, though).
A player may also pawn 1 token to the Warp (maximum) to ante.
A player who does not have enough Lucre to call a bet and cannot (or does not want to) pawn assets may remain in the hand by tapping out, provided he has at least one planet base outside his home system. To do this, he puts all his Lucre, if any, into the Warp, vacates an outside planet base (tokens return to other bases), and calls.
By tapping out, a player earns the right to call all bets for the remainder of the hand without paying (he may still check or fold, but is not allowed to open or raise). However, if he wins the showdown, any Lucre added to the Warp after he tapped out is returned to the Bank.
When a player taps out, any subsequent bet payments should be set aside in a separate pile for easy accounting.
A player cannot tap out to ante, open, or raise.
Assuming two or more active players survive the round of betting after the draw, the moment of truth arrives. Active players form melds by selecting one to five cards from their hands and placing them face down.
The player who last raised (or, if no one raised after the draw, the player who last opened) starts the showdown by exposing his meld. Then, starting to his left and proceeding clockwise around the Warp, each active player, in turn, exposes his meld.
The best meld, after all active players have exposed, wins the hand. If two or more tie for best, whichever of them was exposed first wins. The owner of the winning meld takes all the Lucre from the Warp (unless he tapped out, in which case he may have to return some to the Bank) and establishes a base anywhere. All exposed cards are returned to their owners' hands. The hand is over, and normal Cosmic Encounter play resumes where it left off.
That is, until the next poor schlep needs a new hand...
The key to winning New Cosmic Poker is collecting a good combination of cards, called a "meld", in your hand (or making everyone think that's what you're doing--see Part III, "Betting").
Keep in mind that once the hand is over, you'll have to play Cosmic Encounter with the cards in your hand. Getting a fistful of Compromise cards may be terrific for New Cosmic Poker, but you might regret it later (unless, of course, you're Pacifist, or Loser, or...). There may be times, too, when you don't play your best meld--even if it means losing the hand--to avoid revealing particularly good (or particularly bad) cards.
A meld is a group of one to five cards, and is evaluated based on its "rank" and its "strength".
The four meld ranks, from least to greatest, are "monad", "triad", "tetrad", and "pentad". A monad is a single Compromise or Attack card. A triad is a group of three Compromise cards, a group of three Attack cards of the same value, or a sequence of three Attack cards in which each value differs from the next by some constant amount (e.g., 4, 9, 14). Tetrad and pentad are similar to triad, except they consist of four and five cards, respectively, instead of three.
The strength of a meld is determined by its highest-valued Attack card. A meld consisting of Compromise cards has lowest strength (lower than zero or even negative strength).
Examples: Attack -4, Attack 0, Attack 4, and Attack 8 form a tetrad meld with a strength of 8, or "tetrad 8", for short. Attack 9, by itself, forms a monad 9. Three Attack 12's form a triad 12. Five Compromise cards form a "Compromise pentad".
A meld of greater rank beats any meld of lesser rank, regardless of strength. If two melds have the same rank, the one with higher strength beats the one with lower strength.
Examples: Monad 16 beats monad 10, Compromise triad beats monad 16, triad -4 (i.e., -6, -5, -4) beats Compromise triad, triad 9 (9, 9, 9) beats triad -4, triad 20 (0, 10, 20) beats triad 9, pentad 12 (4, 6, 8, 10, 12) beats triad 20.
Now comes the weird part. Kicker and Reinforcement cards may also be included in a meld. These do not improve a meld's rank (which is based only on the number of challenge cards), but may increase its strength or provide opportunities to form other, greater-ranking melds through "mutation". Remember, a meld can never contain more than five cards, and Kickers and Reinforcements do count toward the five-card limit.
A Kicker or Reinforcement may be applied to an Attack card to mutate (modify) its value when forming and determining the strength of a meld. A Kicker multiplies the value of the Attack card, a Reinforcement adds to it. An Attack card may be mutated by several Kickers and/or Reinforcements; the player forming the meld decides the order in which they are applied.
Kicker and Reinforcement cards cannot be used in Compromise melds.
Example: With an Attack 8, an Attack 17, and Attack 18, a Kicker 2, and a Reinforcement 3, you could form a monad 42 by applying first the Reinforcement, then the Kicker, to the Attack 18 ((18 + 3)x2 = 42), but you'd be better off mutating the Attack 8 into a 16 with the Kicker (8x2 =
16) to form a triad 16 (16, 17, 18). Better yet, make the 17 a 34 (17x2 =
34) and the 18 a 21 (18 + 3 = 21) for a triad 34 (8, 21, 34)!
Betting in New Cosmic Poker is virtually identical to that of standard Draw Poker. After the deal, there is a round of betting in which players can fold, check, open, call, or raise. If the high bettor is not called (i.e., everyone else folds), he wins the hand. If the high bettor is called, players may exchange up to three cards for new ones, and a final round of betting begins. The high bettor wins if not called; otherwise, the hand is won by whoever has the best combination of cards (see Part II--"Melds").
OPENING AFTER THE DEAL--
After the deal, if there are at least two active players (i.e., if one or more players anted), the first round of betting begins. Starting to the dealer's left and proceeding clockwise around the Warp, each active player, in turn, takes one of the following actions:
- "Folds" (drops out) by laying his cards face down in front of him, indicating he is no longer an active
- "Checks" (passes) to remain an active player without betting.
- "Opens" (makes the first be by paying one or more Lucre to the Warp. A player must have monad 15 or better (see Part II) to open).
This continues around the Warp until one of the following situations occurs:
- Everyone checks. Proceed to "The Draw" (see below).
- Everyone but the dealer folds. The dealer wins the hand! He takes all Lucre from the Warp and establishes a base anywhere; the hand is over, and Cosmic Encounter play resumes.
- Someone opens. The opening player may "split openers" if he wishes; that is, expose his opening meld (monad 15 or better), discard one or more of those cards, and be dealt an equal number of new ones. The opening player is now the "high bettor," and the next phase begins...
CONTINUING THE FIRST ROUND OF BETTING--
Once betting is opened in the first round, each active player, starting to the left of the opening player and proceeding clockwise around the Warp, takes one of the following actions in turn:
Note checking is not allowed once betting is opened. This continues, around and around the Warp, until one of the following situations occurs:
- "Calls" to remain an active player by paying an amount of Lucre to the Warp to make his total payment equal to that of the current high bettor.
- "Raises" to become the new high bettor by paying an amount of Lucre to the Warp to make his total payment greater than that of the current high bettor.
- Everyone but the high bettor folds. The high bettor wins the hand! He takes all Lucre from the Warp
- and establishes a base anywhere; the hand is over, and Cosmic Encounter play resumes.
- Everyone else calls the high bettor (i.e., once around the table with no new raises). Proceed to the draw...
Starting to the dealer's left and proceeding clockwise, once around the Warp, each active player may discard up to three cards and be dealt an equal number of new ones. Then the final round of betting begins...
BETTING AFTER THE DRAW--
Starting with the player who opened the first round of betting (or the first active player to the left of the dealer, if no one opened) and proceeding clockwise around the Warp, each active player, in turn, either folds, checks, or opens. As in the first round, this continues until everyone checks (proceed to the showdown--see Part I), everyone but the player who started this round folds (he wins the hand, taking all Lucre in the Warp and establishing a base anywhere; the hand is over, and Cosmic Encounter play resumes), or someone opens.
Once someone opens, betting continues as in the first round--each active player, in turn, either folds, calls, or raises--until everyone but the high bettor folds (he wins the hand, taking all Lucre in the Warp and establishing a base anywhere; the hand is over, and Cosmic Encounter play resumes) or everyone else calls the high bettor (proceed to the showdown).
All bets must be covered (i.e., paid in full). A player may pawn cards and tokens, as described in Part I, to pay for all or part of a bet.
A player may tap out (also described in Part I) to call the high bettor without betting. This can be an expensive option, but is an effective means of countering a particularly wealthy opponent, or a safety net when the betting gets crazy. Remember, if a tapped-out player wins the showdown, any Lucre added to the Warp after he tapped out must be returned to the Bank.
Part IV - Variations-
There are hundreds of Draw Poker variants, and many can be adapted to New Cosmic Poker. Before a Cosmic Encounter game begins, players should agree which alternate New Cosmic Poker rule(s), if any, are to be used. Some suggestions:
- Wild Cards--Choose some uncommon, low-value Attack card (such as 4, 5, or 7) to be "wild" (i.e., they
- can be used in place of any other Attack cards when forming a meld). Or, before the deal, the dealer deals one card to the discard pile; if it is an Attack card, any Attack cards of the same value are wild for that hand.
- Tame Cards--Disallow the use of Kickers and Reinforcements in melds.
- Spit Card--Before the deal, the dealer deals one card to the discard pile. If it is an Attack card, all players are considered to hold this card (until the end of the hand) and must use it in their melds.
- Pairs--Two Compromise cards, or two Attack cards of the same value, form a "pair" meld. Pair is greater in rank than monad, but lesser than triad.
- Combos--When playing with "Pairs", certain combination melds may also be allowed. A "two-pair" meld is between triad and tetrad in rank, a "full house" (pair and triad) is between tetrad and pentad. The strength of a combo is the same as the lower strength of its two constituents.
- Bet or Drop--Disallow checking. A player who cannot (or does not want to) open must fold.
- Blind Openers--A player does not need a monad 15 or better to open. Splitting openers is not allowed.
- Blind Betting--Players cannot look at any cards dealt them (including the dealer's new hand) until the end of the first round of betting.
- Showdown Straight--Skip the first betting round and the draw. After the deal, proceed directly to the second betting round ("Betting after The Draw", above). The first active player to the left of the dealer starts.
- Four (or more) Card Buy--Players may discard and replace up to four (or more) cards during the draw.
- One (or more) Card Flip--After the deal, active players must reveal one (or more) challenge cards from their hands to all other players. A player must use the card(s) he revealed in his meld.
- Six (or more) Card Show--Players may form melds of six (or more) cards.
- Lowball-- During the showdown, each active player must select five challenge cards (or as many as he has, if fewer than five). Each player then forms the best possible meld from his exposed cards. The worst meld wins.
- High-Low--Same as "Lowball", except the owner of the best meld during showdown gets a base anywhere, and the owner of the worst meld gets all the Lucre in the Warp.
- Dealer's Choice--Before dealing, the dealer may choose any one or more variations (or none) to be in effect during that hand.
- Pandora's Box--Allow the use and effects of Alien Powers, Edicts, Flares, Moons, etc., to extend into New Cosmic Poker, as applicable. I don't recommend this, since it raises all sorts of problems requiring volumes of house rules to resolve, but you aren't going to be able to sleep nights until you try it at least once, are you?
SCOPE OF COSMIC ENCOUNTER RULES:
Remember, Cosmic Encounter rules do not apply during a New Cosmic Poker hand; that includes both the use and effects of Alien Powers, Flares, Edicts, Moons, Comets, etc. Macron tokens are worth 1, Zombie tokens pawned from bases go to Warp, Silenced players may speak, and so on.
If a New Cosmic Poker hand takes place in the middle of a challenge, players may also pawn their tokens from the cone to Warp at the base-to-Warp rate.
The winner of a New Cosmic Poker hand earns a base anywhere. If he chooses a Moon, the current occupant of that Moon, if any, must leave (tokens return to other bases). The Moon takes effect immediately upon conclusion of the hand, before anything else. An unrevealed secret Moon takes effect only if its new owner elects to reveal it.
The Cosmic Encounter game cannot be won while a New Cosmic Poker hand is in progress. Anyone who meets the winning conditions must wait until the hand is over and the game resumes (and after any newly occupied Moon takes effect, as described above) to claim victory. Thus, players have a "critical instant" in which to use end-of-game items (e.g., Plant Super Flare [Mayfair] or Overtime Moon [Eon]), and Schizoid conditions do apply.
There are a few exceptions to the no-Cosmic-Encounter-rules rule--after all, what would Cosmic Encounter be without exceptions?
- Filth--The winner of the New Cosmic Poker hand cannot take his base on a planet occupied by Filth.
- He may, however, elect to fumigate any one planet or Moon (Filth's tokens return to other bases) in lieu of taking a base.
- Fungus--may pawn fungoid stacks from bases to Warp; each counts as 1 token and breaks apart in the Warp as usual. Note the Fungus Super Flare cannot be used to preserve pawned stacks in the Warp.
- Miser--New Cosmic Poker is played when Miser gets a new regular hand, but not when he gets a new hoard hand. Cards in the hoard are not available during New Cosmic Poker.
- Wraith [Mayfair]--may pawn tokens in reserve to Warp (at the base-to-Warp pawn rate). Also, tokens returning to bases during the hand (e.g., when tapping out) may go to the reserve instead.
Also, any special "additional" tokens a player may have beyond his original 20 (i.e., Moon Boon [Eon], Symbiote [Mayfair] second-color tokens, Vampire [Mayfair] enslaved tokens, Zombie Super [Eon] captured tokens) are treated as his per Cosmic Encounter rules, except they cannot be pawned.
SCOPE OF NEW COSMIC POKER RULES:
Pawning and tapping out are only allowed during a New Cosmic Poker hand, and only as described in Part I, "The Basics".
NEW COSMIC POKER IN NON-MAYFAIR/NON-LUCRE GAMES:
When playing with Eon Lucre, use the following:
- Ante = 1 Lucre
- Pass-out (no one antes) = dealer collects 1 Lucre
- Edict pawn rate = 1 Lucre
- Flare pawn rate = 2 Lucre
- Token (base-to-Warp) pawn rate = 1 Lucre
- Token (out of game) pawn rate = 3 Lucre
When playing Cosmic Encounter without Lucre, issue 10 Lucre to each player at the start of the game (if Lucre is unavailable, use paper clips, pennies, or some other convenient substitute). Use the Mayfair ante and pawn rates. Players do not receive Lucre at the start of their turns, nor can they spend Lucre (other than to ante or bet) or use Lucre powers. Lucre may be exchanged as part of a deal, however.
Expansion by Bryan Bowe