I played Cosmic Encounter last night with a couple of my friends. I was expecting a huge, involved, difficult-to-learn game. I was so surprised and delighted by how easy it was to learn to play. And we all enjoyed the game thoroughly. I’ll probably even buy the two expansion sets for it.
In Cosmic Encounter, you play an alien race that’s exploring and colonizing the universe. You have encounters with other alien races who are already settled on their home planets. You have the option of attacking those other races and forcibly setting up colonies on their planets, or you can negotiate with them.
The first player to set up five new colonies on five new planets is the winner.
Attacks are resolved via the playing cards from the game in your hand.
Simple enough so far. Results of combat are resolved very simply–you total the number of spaceships you’ve committed to the encounter (1-4) and so does your opponent. You add that to the number of the encounter card you played, and the higher total wins.
There are special rules for when you play a negotiate card versus an encounter card. You also have the option of allying with attackers and/or defenders when it isn’t your turn.
Each alien race has a special power that allows him to break the rules in some way. For example, when you play the Oracle race, you have precognition, so you’re allowed to see what card the opposing player is using before choosing your card. If you’re the Macron, each of your individual ships count as four ships in combat, and so on.
The great thing about the game is that there are enough special alien powers that the game is different every time you play. Cosmic Encounter has enough of a random element to keep things interesting, but it’s not so random that strategy doesn’t matter.
If you like science fiction, if you like card games, and if you like board games, you should give Cosmic Encounter a try. It’s a great game.