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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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).