The game that causes more feuds than Monopoly
Cosmic Encounter is one of those games I love because it proves structured chaos can be fun. It’s a game I describe as a bluffing/cooperative/deck building/betrayal game, with bonus jank. Each player selects a race with a superpower specifically designed to break the base rules of the game. From there, it’s a race to be the player(s) to colonize five worlds outside your own system. So simple!
Apparently, the first edition was released in 1977, making the game only a couple of years younger than I am! In this age of Cult of the New, that does make me feel very old. Also wouldn’t this make the 42 anniversary next year?
Cosmic Encounter is a game that people either love or hate. It is a game that surprises me constantly because it thrives on the same mechanics as Steve Jacksons Munchkin. It is a game of take that, deal breaking, and rules that make no sense.
Yet most Munchkin players I know don’t like Cosmic Encounter, and Cosmic Encounter players don’t like Munchkin. I play and enjoy both, but I am very careful who I play Munchkin with from past experience. I will try and pull everyone into a game of Cosmic Encounter.
The rules themselves really are simple and straightforward – it’s the races that bring the chaotic elements. Don’t want anyone to come with you as you attack the winning planet? Too bad, my race lets me join no matter what you say.
Oh, you don’t mind losing because it will cost me a heap of ships? Well, my ability is my ships don’t get blown up, they just go back to my home system.
And you think I am weak because I am a pacifist? Well if I want to negotiate and you attack, I automatically win.
Yes, you read those correctly – you can negotiate, and you can team up and joint win. Each game, as long as you choose different races, is all but guaranteed to be a different experience.
And I won’t sugarcoat it – this does sometimes mean one player has a super ability is completely overpowered. It’s rare, but it happens. If a new player is unlucky enough to be in a game with an experienced player and a runaway ability, it can sour them. But generally, because everyone has game-breaking abilities, I find it best to get players of similar experience together and let them have fun that way.
A new addition to the Cosmic Encounter 42nd Anniversary Edition is the Cosmic Combo cards. At the moment not too much is known about how they work, but from the Fantasy Flight website:
“These carefully assembled cards offer a list of alien species with a brief description of their powers to create themed matchups and explore different types of games.”
My thinking is these are pre-grouped races for more balanced gameplay meant to help against the runaway powers random configuration sometimes give you and is a great addition for new players.
The Cosmic Encounter 42nd Anniversary Edition is set to become the new standard game, essentially a fourth edition release.
As I already have all current Third Edition releases and expansions, the Cosmic Combo’s aren’t enough of a deal to get me to start buying everything again. But if you have been thinking about Cosmic Encounter, or know someone that has been, this is a great idea.
Possible Christmas present maybe? Fantasy Flight thinks so with a third-quarter 2018 release!
To see the full announcement on Fantasy Flights website, click here.
Until next time,