Friday, August 2, 2013

Cosmic Storm of Cousins

Cosmic Encounter's fourth expansion from Fantasy Flight Games is imminent.  Unlike the previous three expansions, this one does not add a new player color, but does add five more aliens.  Out of the 25 aliens included, FFG has previewed ten of them, and the reception has been mixed.  Here's my initial thoughts on these first ten.

Brute
This is probably the most powerful alien previewed.  As a main player or ally, he can single out a player on the opposing side by kicking that player's ships out of the encounter unless Brute can look at his or her hand and take a card.  It's a Mind's mean cousin.  I would have edited the alien to take a card at random from a player for each ship in the encounter, if that player didn't leave the encounter altogether.  

Bulwark
This alien is essentially Zombie's cousin.  Instead of losing no aliens (like Zombie), Bulwark only loses one.  I guess the one-up over Zombie is collecting that one card in compensation.  On it's own, this is a relatively decent alien, but looking at the entire collection of aliens for CE, it doesn't bring anything new.

Converter
This one is a kissing cousin to Reborn, at least in that it's the opposite effects.  One can draw cards instead of raising ships, the other can discard cards when raising ships.  One can discard cards instead of losing ships, and the other can draws card when losing ships.  I don't want to think about having both at the same time.  Still, it's definitely a good alien to have. 

Dervish
This cousin to Trader gets to force everyone to swap hands clockwise or counterclockwise.  The upside is that you can potentially give your ally a better hand for winning an encounter (though it depends on where you're sitting).  You also lose your other good cards.   This might have made for a better Hazard effect. 

Grumpus
This geezer forces players to lose a ship from the colony he just vacated (including if you just defeated him).  This means players will have to attack him with at least 2 ships apiece, which I don't think it useful for Grumpus.  It also means he can slightly weaken players that force him off of a foreign colony (something that I don't think will happen often, if at all).  This makes Grumpus a cousin to Guerrilla.  I don't see many people choosing this alien, when given a choice.  I would have made Grumpus penalize a player on every planet in the system where he lost his colony (or better yet, from every colony).  That would have given Grumpus some oomph.

Mouth
This alien is a third cousin to Filch (and probably a lot better).  Mouth gets to grab all of his opponents' discarded cards, putting them on his sheet.  When there's five or more, he gets to add one to his hand, and the rest are removed from the game.  It's more original than a lot of the other aliens in Storm so far, and does seem like it could make for interesting outcomes.  

Neighbor
The weaker cousin to Xenophile.  Neighbor gets to add his ships in the same system as the encounter to his total.  This is great on defense, but the opportunities to add more then 4 (ever) are few and far between.  Letting Neighbor count the ships of his ally in the encounter might have been a beefier choice.  

Outlaw
This one is pretty much the only alien not recognizably related to an existing alien.  While having yet another "add cards to your hand" alien is uninspiring, I do like the dynamic of players being hesitant to ally against Outlaw.  Those are the players he draws from.

Sloth
This alien gets to ally last.  I can see that being slightly useful, once in awhile.  Sure, the first players to ally usually set the tone.  If they both ally with the offense, chances are the remaining players will do likewise.  Sloth can wait and see.  He can also decide to send no ships at all, making him a cousin of Amoeba.  Sloth might have been given the option to ally with both sides (if invited), or to even leave his Sloth token in the gate until the next encounter (though this would make him Parasite's cousin).

Tide
Tide and his allies get to draw cards for winning, and Tide's opponents must discard cards of their choice if they win instead.  Drawing cards with your team makes Tide a cousin to Animal and General.  Forcing the other side to discard is new, though more often than not Tide may be letting those players prune the less useful cards from their hands.  Occasionally, they will have to toss something good, especially if Tide has been winning a lot as a main player (and adding the tokens that determine the number of cards drawn/discarded). 




Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hazard Icons

The FFG version of Cosmic has always included a subtle marking on 1 destiny card for each color. The rules made clear this was for the Hazard expansion to be released. Hazards are here, as part of Cosmic Conflict, the latest expansion.

However, there are other possible uses for that Hazard icon.

One I'm calling Hazard Aliens works like this:

Each player receives two aliens at start up. One is chosen as their Primary alien, which they reveal at the beginning of the game.

The second alien is the Hazard alien.

Whenever Destiny reveals a Hazard icon, players MAY switch to their Hazard alien. If they do so, it must be during the Destiny phase. At the end of the Resolution phase, players that switched to a Hazard alien must then switch back.

Players must consider that they may not always be a main player during a Hazard encounter. Aliens with Game Setup text should not be used as Hazard aliens. When you switch, your Primary alien is suspended. So, for example, if you are Macron, your ships are now worth only 1; if you are Fungus, the ships in your stack do not add; if you are Filth, everyone needs to watch out for what happens when you switch back.

Other variants for the Hazard symbol destiny cards we've been using so far:

-Offense may draw a card rather than retrieve a ship during regroup.
-Offense draws a Hazard and doesn't reveal it (even if it's his or her second encounter). That Hazard may be played immediately, or on ANY other encounter (even superseding another Hazard).
-Offense draws two Hazards (only if it's a second encounter) and gets to pick which one to play (the other is discarded).
-Only offense may research Tech.

More great ideas are part of this discussion: BoardGameGeek.

Friday, January 21, 2011

International Cosmic Encounter Day

This Feb 12th, 2011 is ICE Day. International Cosmic Encounter. Get yourself a game on somewhere, live or online.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cosmic Conflict

The second expansion for FFG's CE is here:

Cosmic Conflict

20 aliens, black ships and planets, Hazards!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Eclipse Variant

Over on BoardGameGeek, there's a cool new variant from Toomai Glittershine for use in the Reward deck.

Solar Eclipses have always acted as a distraction, causing temporary chaos. When played, they cause a phase to be skipped. They are played in the phase preceding the skipped one; for example a Solar Eclipse that skips Destiny is played at the end of the Regroup phase.

Lunar Eclipses usually cause weird stuff to happen. When played, they cause a phase to be repeated, after which the game resumes where it left off. They are played at the end of the phase to be repeated or any time after that; for example a Lunar Eclipse that repeats Launch can be played at the end of Launch or during Alliance, Planning, Reveal, or Resolution.
Here's a mockup of a card, created by Bill Martinson:

The cards would allow a player to affect a certain phase of the encounter in some way that hopefully gives him or her an advantage. There are a lot of interesting possibilities, and it's a good fit for the Reward deck.

Below are some examples of the cards:

Solar Eclipse (Regroup): Skips the Regroup Phase. The offense does not retrieve a ship from the warp. This effect may not be played if the offense has no available ships.

Solar Eclipse (Destiny): Skips the Destiny Phase. The hyperspace gate remains in the previously-attacked system; the defense is the same player as the previous encounter. This effect may not be played if the offense was defending in the previous encounter or there has been no previous encounter.

Solar Eclipse (Launch): Skips the Launch Phase. The defense points the hyperspace cone. The offense launches a single ship.

Lunar Eclipse (Launch): Repeats the Launch Phase. The offense may re-aim the hyperspace gate and launch an additional 1-4 ships.

Lunar Eclipse (Alliance): Repeats the Alliance Phase. All allied ships are returned to colonies before allies are re-invited.

Lunar Eclipse (Planning/Reveal): Repeats the Planning and Reveal Phases. Encounter cards are selected in addition to the ones already played; a new encounter card only interact with the opponent's new encounter card and vice versa. A negotiate card is ignored if a player's other encounter card is an attack.