Cosmic Encounters

This is a game you need to try whether you are new to board games or if you’re an established tabletop gamer

This is it. The ceasefire has gone on long enough. Sooner or later it was always going to come down to this. There was never going to be enough room in the galaxy for all these rapidly expanding species.

As two epic forces meet just on the edge of the solar system it’s time to try and negotiate before all out war breaks out.

Except you can’t negotiate because you’ve run out of negotiate cards (bit of a pain that actually). So you try to bluff.

They see right through you.

So….. anyone for some war?

Spaceships!

Spaceships

It's just so simple!

With 50 different characters you’d expect Cosmic Encounter to be a bit overwhelming. But it’s just not – in fact its super simple.

You are an alien species and you wish to land your spaceships on other players planets to create colonies. You can do this peacefully usually in the form of a 1 for 1 swap (this happens quite a lot at the start of the game), or you can fight (this will likely happen during the rest of the game).

If you fight you can choose to enlist the help of other players, you then send the number of ships you want and choose an attack card to play. These attack cards usually consist of a number and whoever has the highest number on the attack cards + number of ships will win and take control of the planet. Any allies that came along for the ride to help out will also be able to set up a colony (unless they were helping a defensive player!) and play continues until one player has successfully planted a ship on five enemy planets.

There’s some bluffing thrown in as instead of playing an attack card you can play a negotiate card and hope that your opponent has done the same. If a player chooses a negotiate card and the other player uses an attack card, all the negotiating players ships that were assigned to that combat will be destroyed and sent to the ominous warp.

You’ll also have to get to grips with the powers of your assigned alien species which can be a bit confusing during your first game if you don’t yet know the terminology i.e the difference between flare cards and encounter cards. But apart from that it really is straightforward to pick up and grasp.

Don’t for a moment think it’s an easy game though. There are tough choices to be made here and often the timing with which you choose to reveal the identity of your species (which is only revealed when you first use your ability) will shape the rest of your game and your relationships with other players.

It’s never the rules or mechanics that will confuse you in Cosmic Encounter it’ll be looking your fellow players in the eyes, reading the room and working out whether your opponent is bluffing or if one of your allies might be planning a bit of betrayal.

Despite this whole section on the game being simple to learn its worth saying that the rulebook is a bit cryptic and does its best to hide this relatively easy game through a lack of pictures and weird formatting.

An Average Round of Cosmic Encounter

So, you’re going have a space fight. You’ve been planning it for a while and today is the big day. It’s space fight day. For this particular battle you probably don’t want to bring any allies as it’ll edge them closer to victory – besides you’ve got that great card that does the thingy. What a great card! You know, you really are good at this who space battle thing-

Also, the Parasite is coming along for the ride. I mean, they definitely weren’t invited, but they’re coming anyway; because they’re a parasite who has the power to latch onto fights. It’s a bit rude, usually its common courtesy to wait for an invite before joining in on a space fight. Oh also the bride will be joining.

She kinda, wants to marry you and will be taking a bunch of your ships as a wedding present.

Fine….

Remember your recently engaged bride? Yeah well now she wants a divorce and is going to be taking half of your power cards – and now she wants to marry your opponent.

We’re Running out of Space!

The key to what makes Cosmic Encounter so special and the heart of the game is the fifty (yeah FIFTY) playable species included in the game each of whom have a unique set of abilities.

Take Macron for example; Macron has the power of mass. Basically, each of his ships are worth four spaceships in an offensive fight; Macron is a big boy who you want as your ally.

Or the Spiff, the whole point of Cosmic Encounter is to get your ships to land on planets of your opponents, and if the Spiff loses a fight spectacularly badly (by 10 or more points) they can crash land their ship onto the planet anyway and it will count towards their total. So, if you’re playing as the Spiff, your whole game plan is immediately the opposite of everyone else – you want to be annihilated. So, you’re going to be building a hand of weak cards, only sending one ship to fight for you and you definitely don’t want allies who will boost your score.

But wait, how do you fight opposite and defeat the Spiff? Well you don’t want to have too powerful cards or he’ll crash land, so you have to beat him but only just. Less of a nuke to his armada of ships plummeting them into the deadly warp and more a gust of wind that will push him slightly of course.

Hold on, what would then happen if the Parasite forced himself as an ally for the Spiff. The Spiffs chances of winning would then increase; so should the Parasite and Spiff work together to actually try and win?! What on earth is going on with the opposing player; you don’t even know which species they are yet!

The Spiff

The real joy of the game comes from the hilarious ways in which the various alien powers interact, overlap, cancel each other out, and occasionally, complement each other. Every game of Cosmic Encounter is guaranteed to be it’s own strange unpredictable beast.

Each of these species has such a clear and unique personality that really helps to shape your playstyle and the dynamics of the room. If you’re playing as the parasite, no-one around the table is going to like you as you’ll be weaselling your way onto missions with absolutely none of the loyalty that is usually required to be invited on a mission.

The game encourages this kind of roleplaying through its focus on negotiations and alliances as it’s impossible to win the game without the help of at least a few other players at some point.

This is a game you need to try whether you are new to board games or if you’re an established tabletop gamer. Some players might be put off by the “take that” elements of the game as depending on the alien powers used, losses can feel a bit harsh. Fundamentally though it’s a competitive board game and there is always going to be winners and losers.