The concept for Hazards has been around since the late 80's (I first read about them on Aaron Fuegi's site). Hazards were a separate deck of cards that the offensive player had to draw from at the start of every encounter (before retrieving a ship from the warp). The cards typically affected the offensive player, but sometimes anyone was targeted. Most of the effects were not good. I'm going to credit Matt Stone with the idea (if I'm wrong, I'm sure he'll set me straight).
There was a list of effects that corresponded to a standard deck of playing cards, so you could use those and look up what happens (like Eon's moons). Actually, there were two lists, so you could vary which deck to use, or use them both to double your pleasure (or pain, as the case may be).
Below are some examples of card effects.
4 of Clubs. COME ON SEVEN, COME ELEVEN. WILL YOU GET LUCKY OR WILL YOU CRAP OUT? ROLL THE DICE AND HOPE YOUR TOKENS DON'T HAVE SNAKE EYES. If you have 11 or more tokens in the warp, take 7 out to bases; if you have 11 or more tokens out of the warp, put 7 in.
3 of Diamonds. WHILE TRYING TO FIND THEIR WAY OUT OF THE WARP, TWO OF YOUR TOKENS DISCOVERED WHAT THEY THOUGHT TO BE AN EXIT. IT WASN'T. THEY HAVEN'T BEEN SEEN SINCE. Remove two of your tokens in the warp from the game.
King of Spades. SO YOU THINK YOU CAN RULE THE GALAXY? YOU HAVE BEEN THE OPPRESSOR, DESTROYING WEAK AND DEFENSELESS PLANETS. NOW SEE WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE OPPRESSED. If you have a base on another player's system and he has none on yours, vacate a home base and he occupies it. Your tokens disperse. You must give a base to each player these conditions apply to, and must vacate a different base for each player.
I found the concept of Hazards to be pretty awesome- I loved having a way to alter the course of an encounter in a small and random way. However, after a few games with the original Hazards, my group found them to be a little too brutal. And having them every encounter was also "too much of a muchness".
I created a new deck that had a lot of the effects toned down. I also tried to create scenarios where something would happen unless the offensive player did something specific. So it became less about an event that has happened and now you're suffering the consequences, and more about a "hazardous" situation you found yourself in, but you could get out of it or simply give in to it.
Here are some examples of version 2:
3 of Clubs. Your Alien Powers have been selected by "The Powers That Be" for spontaneous reincarnation, unless you demonstrate your worth by winning this next challenge. You must defeat your opponent (a deal will not sufficiently impress them) in this challenge, or replace your powers with random ones from the unused power deck.
8 of Clubs. You made an error when making reservations with the Hyperspace cone. You informed them that there would be 12 tokens on your side. If you do not have exactly 12 tokens on your side by the time you are ready to play challenge cards, you must forfeit your turn.
3 of Diamonds. Your tokens will not suffer another humiliating defeat alone. If you lose this challenge, the player on your left must lose an equal number of tokens (in addition to any normal losses).
9 of Hearts. The Black Market pays well for arms. You may trade any Reinforcements you hold for random Flares from the unused Flare deck.
I also wanted to change the frequency of Hazards, and put their use more in control by the offensive player. The new rule was you only drew from the Hazard deck when you wished to make a second encounter on your turn. Thus, you could avoid them altogether by giving up your second encounter.
When Fantasy Flight released the new edition of Cosmic Encounter, there was mention of Hazards in the rule book; one destiny card from each color had a special icon in the top left corner that refers to a future expansion.
Hazards were not part of Cosmic Incursion, but they should hopefully make their debut officially in CE with the release of the 2nd expansion.
A separate deck of cards seems likely, but who knows what the effects will be? The frequency of the Hazard deck has already been set (about one in every four encounters or so).
Since the fairly popular concept of "reverse cone challenges" has not been used, it may be an effect that will appear in the Hazard deck. It would be very easy to implement.
"Ally rewards are reversed for this encounter. Defensive allies land on the defensive planet if their side wins the encounter, coexisting with any ships already there. Offensive allies gain rewards of cards from the deck, ships from the warp, or cards from the reward deck if their side wins."
I'm hoping that there's a nice mix of encounter effects and conditional effects. What do you think?