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Power to crash land
Receives colony as loser
Spiff (FFG)
As the defense, when you lose an encounter, you may leave one of your ships on the planet instead of sending it to the warp. It coexists with the offensive ships.
You may use your power to crash land if you lose by a total of 5 or more instead of 10.

Spiff is an alien who has the power to gain a foreign colony if he loses by 10 or more.


The Spiff makes for some interesting choices in play. One obvious feature is that the Spiff can lose in an attack (or even plan to do so), yet gain a base, hanging his offensive allies out to dry. Another consideration is for defensive allies - if there are too many defensive allies, they make it easier for the Spiff to get a base! So in general alliances have to be more carefully considered when the Spiff is attacking.

The Spiff should try to keep some low challenge cards as well as some high ones in his hand. One way to trick a defender as the Spiff is to attack with only a single token - he won't know if you're planning to "crash land" and not lose any extra tokens, or if it's a bluff.

A minor weakness of the Spiff is that his ability is only worthwhile in an offensive challenge.

The Spiff is notoriously weak against the Oracle.

Note that if the Spiff plays a Negotiate vs. an Attack card, this does not count as "losing by a total of 10 or more". It just loses.


The FFG FAQ contains the following clarifications for Spiff:

Spiff should read "...if both players revealed attack cards and you lose the encounter by 10 or more" rather than "...if both players revealed attack cards and your total was 10 or more less than the defense's". This allows Spiff to still use his power in encounters where the low total wins, as it originally did.


The Spiff originally appeared in a Mayfair expansion, More Cosmic Encounter.

The word "spiff" means a bonus payment for a sale, usually made by the manufacturer to the salesperson. That seems to have little to do with this power, however. Instead, this alien is almost certainly named for "Spacemen Spiff", an alter ego of the articulate six-year-old Calvin in the popular newspaper comic Calvin and Hobbes. Spaceman Spiff is in turn modeled after the 1930s-50s science-fiction archetype of a larger-than-life spacefaring adventurer like Flash Gordon. Hence, the Spiff's history is written in "excited" prose. In Calvin and Hobbes, Spaceman Spiff would very frequently crash land; his overcoming of "incredible odds" was more of a self-declared trait than one he would show.

In 1983, some years prior to Spiff, another "official" power involved benefiting from high-margin losses: the Wretch. The Wretch was introduced in the first issue of Encounter Magazine, and is definitely stronger than Spiff; the power can be used in both offense and defense, the margin is 8 instead of 10, it outright wins instead of establishing a next-door colony, and it does not lose any ships in order to use its power. Two other variations of Wretch exist. One of them (by a Framingham gaming group) causes both sides to lose the encounter if Wretch loses by 8; the other (by Jack Reda) is an alternate victory power that wins the game if it loses any 8 encounters (or rather, if its total is lower in 8 encounters).

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