Bill Eberle

For years, the most common grail game among gamers, the one game that was the most desired and unattainable, was the infamous Dune (1979) board game from publisher Avalon Hill and designers Bill Eberle, Jack Kitteredge, and Peter Olatka. This classic game involved negotiation, area control, asymmetric player factions in Frank Herbert’s Dune universe, and a hidden bid battle system. Dune had not seen a reprint since 1984, excepting a rare French release in 1993. Fantasy Flight released Rex (2012), capturing most of the elements of the Dune game, except for any actual Dune license or content. Last week all of this changed.

Dune had hit a lull of licensing, but recently things got exciting again. A new movie from Legendary Entertainment is due to hit in 2020, and last August, Gale Force 9 announced they had acquired a multi year licensing deal with the Frank Herbert Estate and Legendary Pictures to create Dune board games. Last week at the GAMA trade show, Gale Force 9 announced they were bringing back the classic game Dune, with later twitter confirmation by the designers.

The interesting part of the GF9 presentation was the slide used to show the game. For years, Dune has had an active print and play audience for people wanting to update the board, cards, and components of their old Dune copies. One of the most popular artists was boardgamegeek user Ilya, and it appears GF9 used this art in their presentation. If this is an indication that the official reprint will use this spectacular art, it would make many people very happy, but at this point it is highly speculative.

Fantasy Flight Games has announced plans to release a Cosmic Encounter 42nd Anniversary Edition the 3rd quarter of 2018. Tom Vasel’s favorite board game for six years in a row (2010 to 2015), could a new edition of the game cement the place on the top of Tom’s list?

The Cosmic Encounter 42nd Anniversary Edition will become the new standardized version of the game when it is released. The new edition of the game will be fully compatible with all existing Cosmic Encounter expansions.

In the far reaches of space, the aliens of the cosmos vie for control of the universe. Alliances are constantly forged and broken in the pursuit of power as starships journey from planet to planet, ready to build colonies and battle foreign powers, ensuring the survival of their people as they spread throughout the stars. 

Designed by Bill Eberle, Jack Kittredge, Bill Norton, Peter Olotka, and Kevin Wilson, the game was originally released by Eon in 1977. When a new edition of the game was released in 1992 it received the Origins Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Boardgame of 1991. It was inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame in 1997

In 2008 Fantasy Flight Games reprinted the game in 2008 and subsequently released 6 expansions full of additional alien factions and mechanics.

What’s New?

The Cosmic Encounter 42nd Anniversary Edition includes both a revised rulebook as well as an illustrated Quick-start Guide that aims to capture all of the nostalgia of the original game while making it easier for new players to learn the game. The Quick-start Guide is styled as a 1970s comic book style. The anniversary edition also includes translucent ship pieces factions will use while spreading their colonies across the galaxy.

While traditional favorite aliens will be included in set, the game will also include the ruthless Demon aliens. Previously only available at Cosmic Con, the new aliens will be included in the anniversary edition of the game. Having been exiled from earlier editions of the base game, they now seek cosmic vengeance and will use their power to possess other players’ hands, bolstering their strength while draining the strength of others.

Cosmic Encounter 42nd Anniversary Edition will also introduce new Cosmic Combo cards. These cards offer a list of alien species with a brief description of their powers to help curate themed matchups and explore different types of game strategies.

Diplomacy on a Cosmic Scale

Just like previous editions of the game, players will each take on the role as leader of their own alien species with unique abilities, seeking to expand their reach across cosmos. Players will take turns launching spaceships from their fleets through a Hyperspace Gate to reach planets beyond their home system, attempting to colonize on opponents plants.

Colonizing on other planets is not as easy as launching a ship. Each planet is already controlled by another player, and other factions may not let you place those colonies without a fight. Diplomacy will be just as important as military strategy. Once both offense and defensive players launch their spaceships, they can ask the other aliens for support in their campaign.

Other players might jump in, using their Alien Powers, Artifacts, Reinforcements, or Flares to tip the odds in one side’s favor or the other. Win the encounter and you can establish a colony, but lose and your ships will be trapped in the warp.

The first players to successfully establish colonies on five foreign planet will be the winner.

hoax

Hector Vargas built a glorious multibillion dollar empire on a string of shady business promotions and Ponzi schemes. His life ended rather ingloriously, however, when a champagne cork shot into his windpipe and he choked before anyone could provide aid. Now, you have a chance to inherit his unbelievably large fortune. All you have to do is prove yourself worthy by showing that you are as clever, ruthless, and deceitful as he was.

Fantasy Flight Games announces the upcoming release of a revised version of Hoax, the game of secret identities designed by Bill Eberle, Ned Horn, Jack Kittredge, and Peter Olotka.  In Hoax, players will possess a true, secret identity, and must weave a web of deceit amongst the other players in order to mask their own identity while catching their opponents in their own stream of fabrications.  By investing their own resources to investigate rivals, and by making timely and accurate accusations, players will work to eliminate their competitors and seize Hector Vargas’ amassed wealth.

hoax cards

Changes in this new version of Hoax include a seventh playable character, improved privileges and immunities, reference sheets to track assumed identities and past lies, and a new scoring system.

Hoax is a game for 3-6 players and plays in 45 minutes.  The scheduled release date is the fourth quarter of 2015.  For more information on this new version of Hoax, visit the game’s pages at FFG’s website here.

Cosmic Encounter Original Box

Cosmic Encounter is a board game that was originally published in 1977 by Eon games by designers Bill Eberle, Jack Kittredge, Bill Norton, and Peter Olotka, and is still being produced (currently by Fantasy Flight Games). If one has spent any amount of time listening to The Dice Tower podcast, watching videos from The Dice Tower channel, or paying any attention to The Dice Tower at all, he would know how passionate The Dice Tower founder, Tom Vasal, is about Cosmic Encounter. Tom has placed this game at the highest spot of his top 100 games of all time, listed it as a top ten most influential game of all time, and even included a video of the top ten aliens of Cosmic Encounter. He’s a big fan.

Boardgaming.com user, HaiKulture, recently posted an article entitled Foundation Gaming: Encountering the Cosmos, where she focuses mostly on the variable player power mechanic pioneered by Cosmic Encounter. Along with giving her observations of the game and its mechanics, HaiKulture interviews Bill Eberle and Peter Olotka. The interview gives great insight into the early stages of development, the designers’ mindset during creation, and their feelings about specific aliens.

Click here to read the full article.

cosmic encounter connector

Peter Olotka and Bill Eberle two of the three original designers of Cosmic Encounter have launched a Kickstarter project to work on the development of the Cosmic Encounter Connector.  I was very fortunate to be able to see the previews of this project during CosmicCon in September and talk with Mr Olotka and his son Greg who has been focusing on getting this project ready for launch since April.

This is a very innovative platform for playing the game on.  This is not simply an IOS version of the game.  Instead this is a cross platform gaming system that allows players to do all of the things that make Cosmic Encounter such a wonderful game to play.  Ranging from house rules like playing with multiple aliens to secret powers to whatever you could want.  In addition this game is meant to be played with live players and will have audio conferencing built into the game since one of the key aspects of Cosmic Encounter that makes it work so well is the negotiating and table talk.

cosmic encounter connector digital

In terms of graphics this one is very visually pleasing in regards to planets and also includes the beautiful Fantasy Flights Games Cosmic Encounter artwork for all of the various different expansions and the base game.  Peter Olotka has said that Fantasy Flight Games’ artwork is the best that has been produced for the game in all of the editions that have been released.  So you could tell that he was elated to be able to use the artwork for this.  They have the stretch goals set to open up all of the expansions being included with the game the first few months the game is available.

This is a fairly complex system that they are proposing.  In part that is why they have such a high goal for the project.  They are having to bring in specialty programmers but if this project works out it is possible you might be seeing this platform being utilizable by other designers for their games.

With an expected completion date of October 2015 they are being what appears to be somewhat realistic in their time frame for release.  Software like this can have technical delays that no one foresees but this seems to be a fairly realistic time frame in which to complete the project.

For all of the details head over to Kickstarter here.

cosmic con 2014

Fantasy Flight Games will be hosting CosmicCon September 19 – 21.

Load up and point that cone – CosmicCon will be at Fantasy Flight Games Center in Roseville, Minnesota and features everything Cosmic Encounter.  Do not forget to ask for allies because the game’s original designers, Bill Eberle and Peter Olotka, will be present to game with and answer questions about design, game ideas, and upcoming expansions.

In addition, Dice Tower’s Tom Vasel will be on site interviewing players and pointing people to the location of the restroom.

Check out the convention’s website, here, for more information on all celebrity guests and contests.