Cosmic Encounter

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.

cosmic cons

Cosmic Encounter, famously Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower’s favorite game of all time, is about to get its sixth Expansion. Fantasy Flight announced Cosmic Eons which adds all new aliens and features the Hidden Alliances variant. Using the included Alliance Dial, each player decides how many ships to commit to which side in secret. The discussion and negotiation is still a big part of the encounter, but players never know who is going to betray them until the dials are flipped and reveal the players true intention.

cosmic cons cards

Six of the new aliens are able to distribute Essence cards that affects the alien that receives them. One of these aliens is The Sheriff, who can force penalties triggered by actions that happen during the game. If a player has only on ship on a foreign colony, The Sheriff may cite them for Vagrancy and they must discard two cards.

In classic Cosmic form, there is something for everyone in this expansion. Forced negotiations, rewards for running from battle, and a new component that is just silly enough to get my attention: The Couch. If you are lucky enough to play the Moocher, you don’t have planets to defend, so you would be forced (or is it a life choice?) to camp out on couches across the galaxy.

Cosmic Eons is promised to be available in the fourth quarter this year. Read the full announcement from Fantasy Flight, and for more on the base game, check out the Cosmic Encounter minisite.

You got your Cosmic Encounter in my Games of Thrones!  You got your Game of Thrones in my Cosmic Encounter!  Maybe they will be better together?

Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne on the surface looks like a re-theme of Cosmic Encounter to the Game of Thrones theme, but once you get into it you see the theme change does make a difference.  Cosmic Encounter is a game of sci-fi negotiation where all you have to use are your negotiating skills and the cards in your hand to try and conquer five planets outside your own system.  The Iron Throne is much the same but instead of galactic conquest, you are trying to rule all of Westeros by spreading your influence to five other houses.  On a turn you will flip a card to determine which house you go against, it is at that point you make a decision.  Will you negotiate with your foe, or strike at them to take them by force?  If you negotiate then you decide whose influence will go where, if you fight then it’s time for everyone to get involved and pick sides.  From there you will play cards to bolster your side or weaken the other, and whoever comes out on top is the victor and gets to spread their influence to the losers.  First to spread their influence to five other houses is the winner, and shared victories I doubt will be uncommon.

The Iron Throne seems like a no-brainer of a creation with intrigue, alliances, and betrayal being common in Game of Thrones.  Look for this game to hit store shelves in the 4th quarter of 2016, until then you can check out the preview on the FFG site.

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.