Category Archives: Cosmic Encounter

Game Camp 2017 Day 3: Frostgrave, extended, & Cosmic Encounters

Previous: Day Two-Frostgrave

Day Three dawned with a continuation of FROSTGRAVE by request of the campers.  The older kids love it; they like the super tactical feel, the way spells can totally mess up a plan, and the “spatial” feeling a three dimensional tactical game can be with miniatures.  You can’t get that same feeling on a flat screen.

Naturally, any game I can leave set up and not have to worry about setup times is a game I’m going to like, too.good

Right off the bat, both sides came on aggressively. The Good side got ensnared in the right corner with fending off the evil Sigilist and Elementalist (aka Johnny Flamehands). Our side was facing him with a good Soothsayer and a good Illusionist. The Illusionist somewhat dominated the right middle of the table. specatularly failing to cast a Poison Dart repeatedly so much that he was down 4 points. He redeemed himself when he was the second crew to visit the temple of Fundamental Evil in the dead center. Johnny Flamehands, the Elementalist, tried earlier in the game, and encountered a being so vile, so disgusting.. well, I’ll let the evidence speak for itself.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Anyway, there was indeed a Type III demon who was so messed up looking he caused everyone he came in close contact with had to check their Will at a big minus or run in fear. The Illusionist had a Transpose spell– he had tried it before with his Wizard and failed badly, so he tried it again with his apprentice and this time he rolled very high. By carefully placing himself to eyeball the contents within, he could see both the Type III demon blob and the Zombie that was standing behind it being controlled by the Elementalist.
Bam, ZIP! Guess what happens?

One EXTREMELY ANGRY, PEOPLE HATIN’ CRAZY DEMON who likes darkness transposed into the sunlight with a very confused zombie being blinked back into the temple! RUH ROH! Bad news for that Elementalist and his crew who happened to be standing right next to him, mouths gaping in shock and unspeakable horror!

We laughed for about 15 minutes.

That kind of changed the classification of the game from “Maximum Haul” to “Grab what we have and GIT!” Team Evil started leaving the left side of the board rapidly. Team Good had more distance and more leisure. We ended up calling the game and rolling up the treasure.. quickly, as the buses were coming. Team Evil won the day, but by less than ten points, surprisingly.

We also played the hands down, don’t argue with me BEST GAME IN THE UNIVERSE, Cosmic Encounter— you can tell I’m a bit biased. I sat in on this six hand game with Red Menace, Green Machine, Blue Meanies, Yellow Peril and Orange Crush. We create nicknames for our aliens by color (as you can see) so we had to settle on White Blight for me, since the cards came from an expansion set. I engineered a four way win (hey, I’m not ashamed) and it was a great time indeed.

and a little documentary evidence about how canny these little dealmakers were getting by end of game.

Day 3 was great!  A most satisfactory continuation of Frostgrave and an epic game of Cosmic!

All Frostgrave Photographs

All Cosmic Photographs

Tomorrow: Big Danged Boats, my own 15mm fantasy naval game.




Cosmic Connector on Kickstarter…. cancelled

Update: (No need to write another post) In a surprise move, Future Pastimes, aka, the Cosmic Encounter design team, cancelled this project two days after I funded it, on 25 October 2014.  Well, that was fast.

I’ve often thought how great it would be to play Cosmic Encounter, my favorite game ever, on the Ipad.  It would seem like a daunting task, so many of the Alien card powers would need to interact with each other seamlessly– I couldn’t see an artificial intelligence Cosmic Encounter player as being an easy task to program.

What might be possible, I’m guessing, would be a program to facilitate a “game in real time” app for remote games, or a helper app for asynchronous play.  Sort of like a VASSAL for only Cosmic. It would appear some level of this wish is in the process of being granted (with some help from a lot of Kickstarter backers). Or might be. I’m an eternal optimist.

Cosmic Connector is, in the words of Peter Olotka, a ‘connector app’ that he would like to get financed.  It will connect remote players of the game Cosmic Encounter:

“Our vision for the Connector App

Think of this project as building a collaboration tool for social board game players. The goal of this project isn’t to build a game app in the classic sense of an online or mobile interpretation of a board game. The goal of the Cosmic Encounter Connector Project is to create an environment where you can hear other players clearly and play Cosmic Encounter.

We want to replicate the social experience and fun of playing a physical board game in a digital game environment optimized first for mobile touchscreen devices and then for desktops. This is different from a digital version of a board game focused on game mechanics and special effects. The Connector is focused on you as a player and on enhancing your experience of interacting with other players. Everybody will be able to talk to each other and have everything they need to play Cosmic Encounter, right at their fingertips. Connect, talk and play!”  — from the Kickstarter Page

Now, that’s market-speak to be sure, but what I’m seeing in the mockups and in the video is a real time or asynchronous PBeM game app, and that might be worth my hard earned dollars.

I like the notion of being able to play CE online in RT or asynchronously.  I’m not AS crazy about their pricing scheme, which appears to be– “big hunk of aliens possible at lowest level, then about 1/4 of that more at the next level.. then 1/4 more at the next level, and if you donate 1000 dollars you’ll get the whole shooting match”  If it’s an in-game purchase to get more aliens later, then say that up front in so many words.   I’m a little confused on how this is going to work.  I do know my pledge level will give me enough aliens to play with for a long time.  What’s going to happen when I encounter a player with deeper pockets than me, who wants to start a game with an alien I don’t have?  I wish that was spelled out a little bit.

Oh well, it’s Cosmic Encounter, I know the game well enough to know I’m going to have a good time with this thing.  If you’re interested, see the Kickstarter Page here. One of my fantasy matchups would be to play Tom Vasel some day in Cosmic Encounter– its’ our mutual favorite game. Perhaps .. who knows.. it will now be possible?

Board Games for Kids’ events, 11-18 years old

What’s this all about?

Playing Cosmic Encounter at the 2014 Game Camp. Still a massive hit.

I’ve been running game camps for kids for a little under a decade now, and a big portion of what success I’ve had with them is due to adding board games to a mostly miniatures-based program. Board games, especially designer board games (or Family Board Games, or Hobby Board games, take your pick..) fill up the gaps in a program where I’m setting up some big miniatures game and need to keep kids occupied for an hour or more on one side of the room.

I’m going to start recording the board games we use at Camp to keep kids engaged and having fun, and the reasons why I choose them.  I envision this piece to be an ongoing narrative that I update on a semi-regular (quarterly) basis.  There’s just too many to try to create an all encompassing list; once I’ve compiled a few, I’ll move this up to a page tab.

Let’s get started with my FALL of 2014 Recommendations if you are looking to find games that will play well with a group of kids from about 11 to 18 years in age, with a few hours to kill here and there.  I’ll try to do another one in January 2015.


It’s no small secret that Cosmic Encounter is my favorite board game of all time.   I’ve mentioned it a few times here and there.   What was a surprise was just how readily younger kids take to this game.  There’s something about the Nomic quality of the changing Alien powers, the component mix from FFG, and the generally silly atmosphere.  I would recommend the FFG version over all others, for the artwork alone, but also the range of choices that add to the customization.  I think CE’s easy to perceive goal, plus ever-changing nature, makes it far more accessible to younger children than I gave it credit for before.



Get Bit was a charming little surprise I discovered through Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop web show.  It’s a simple positional race game not unlike GMT’s earlier Formula Motor Racing (which is another great candidate for a kid’s camp, but I’d play it with Matchbox cards).    Players put their cute plastic robots in a line in the water, followed by a shark with a taste for robots.   Single number cards (from a finite hand of cards) are played that move the robots around in order.   The last robot in line gets “chomped” and loses a limb.  When he loses all limbs, he’s out.  It’s no suprise WHY kids like this– it’s all about cartoon violence, of course, but there’s also some great decision making and strategy implied in the card play.  Immensely popular.


Tsuro is another one of those great discoveries that came into my radar through the Tabletop show.  I knew it existed, and I knew that it had been out since 2006, but I had never played it.  I already had Metro by Queen Games, which reminds me of it quite a bit.  Essentially this is a path-finding puzzle style game where the players try to keep their dragons on the maze-like path built by placing tiles.   It’s simple and easy to pick up, and very visual.  The theme is a little more exciting than Metro (which is about streetcars), so I would recommend Tsuro over Metro.



It’s a little too easy to call  The Resistance “a Werewolf/Mafia variant” but people often do.   Certain elements are very similar to Werewolf, to be sure– such as the day/night turn and turn-based mechanics. However, the addition of the cards and the “going on a mission” theme really gives this humble little game a great framework that (I think) forces the players into using deductive logic much more than Werewolf ever will.  Werewolf games can devolve into silliness rather quickly– which is why I don’t recommend them that highly for younger kids, they might take accusations too seriously and have their feelings hurt.   The Resistance takes a similar riff and adds the cards and mission element on top of it, which tends to distance the younger players from the J’accuse! flavor of Werewolf.  Notes to adults: don’t even attempt to run this if you don’t have at least six committed players, and do NOT take the sixth spot yourself.  You’ll need to be in charge for the first game, anyway.

CODE 777

Code 777 is a modern reworking of Mastermind (in some respects).  It is a good design for 2-5 players, and I suspect 4 is optimal.  Each player has a Scrabble style rack with three tiles on it– tiles are a certain color and number, or have a certain symbol behind them.  The players have a grasp of certain facts– there are only so many of this tile, or so many of that tile, or so many blue tiles, etc. etc.  Cards are played with questions on them that help the players deduce their own sequences.  That’s right, their own– the tiles face outward; so the other players know only what every player except themselves are displaying.  The players can glean a lot of knowledge to make deductions with from what they see in every tile rack except their own.  Code 777 is a much older design (from 1985 at least, and maybe older) but has recently been reprinted by Stronghold Games.  This is a great game for problem solving and deductive logic; it never fails to keep kids engaged.



Room 25 is a great maze style game where the maze starts built and flipped over and gradually is revealed by the player’s tokens exploring the map through trial and (often) deadly error;  the players assume a set series of roles (six, maximum) which are quite colorful but functionally identical (sadly; I think this could be improved upon in an expansion).  The game can be played cooperatively (boo!) or semi-treacherously (yay!) where some of the players have hidden traitor roles.  The theme of the game is very similar to a series of Canadian Horror/SF films called Cube/Hypercube etc.   Players have a limited series of actions, two per turn, which either affect their own player token or the token of whomever is on the current tile with them.  Room 25’s goofy imagery and characters, the changeable map, added to a soupçon of treachery makes this game a perennial favorite with younger teenagers.



Roll through the Ages is the game that got me started on the notion of adding board games to the miniature-heavy events I was running for camp.  For some reason, over the years, I have  had my share of children who suffer from Asperger syndrome and even high functioning Austism.  These are special cases– they want to be engaged but they sometimes can’t engage at the same level as other children.  Sometimes they quickly grow bored of the main activity.  I was in such a bind several years ago and on a whim, I pulled a copy of Roll Through The Ages, which I had bought that week on an enthusiastic recommendation from Tom Vasel.  RTTA is a great game– you are really playing yourself more than an opponent, so there isn’t a lot of social interaction to stress a kid out, and lots of challenges and decisions to make as you try to score high by rolling for civilization advantages and building great works.  It’s an elegant little dice game with great chunky components.  Anyway, to get back to my story, I had an Asperegers’ kid.  He was bored and being disruptive.  I handed him Roll Through The Ages and explained very quickly how to play it.  It took him all of 5 minutes to figure it out (all of my kids are smart!).  He was entranced.  He played RTTA non-stop, for the rest of the week.  I had half a pad of score pads after he was done.  I didn’t care, he was happy as a clam and said it was his best camp that Summer.  Go figure!  It was the success of this desperate experiment in board gaming (totally unplanned, I just happened to have it with me that day) that led me to include board games as a regular part of the curriculum.


This is a catchall for games that are all somewhat thematically similar, play fast and easy, and feature a series of specialized, thematic highly colorful dice that interact with each other in a specific way.

The granddaddy is Zombie Dice, where the players are playing the roles of the Zombies in a Zombie movie, looking for brains; there is also a very similar game where the players are playing the role of the Aliens in a UFO invasion called Martian dice.   You can play a Ninja on a special mission in Ninja Dice, Re-theme Zombie Dice with Hunting Dinosaurs and you have Dino Hunt Dice, and finally play a game of re-themed Put and Take with Cthulhu Dice.   The mechanics differ from game to game, but they all are rich in theme, very colorful, very simple and resolve and play very quickly.  This kind of game handles 3-4 kids comfortably.  The up side is they are all very affordable and you can probably buy all of them if you have a large crowd of kids.  Maybe even throw a dice game tournament, who knows?


I could go on and on with this post but I think I’m going to limit these to about 8-10 at a time so I don’t feel rushed.  The games in this posting have all been played at kid’s camps and although some games have failed to garner support, these have all done pretty well since I started.  I hope you find these suggestions useful

Game Camp 2014 Day Four: The End, CE, Room 25 and X-Wing!

The END! of BDB that is.


The Grand Finale of Big Danged Boats. Cedric (running O.R.C.), smashed through the front door but met up with a gigantic horde of Slithin and Mercenaries. He put up a valiant fight but in the end was overwhelmed by slashing Slithin blades. So Gordon won, more or less, but it was a great and epic game!! CLICK the PICTURE above to see a slideshow of the last hours of BDB 2014

Thursday was a fun day but very busy. BDB got voted in for a morning event to finish off the last remnants of the Day 3 battle. The morning session was basically to finish off some critical boarding actions and the final attempt at taking the Orbs. Needless to say, it did not go well for the Allies. Being young fellers with their bloodlust up, they concentrated on attacking each other while Gordon looked on in puzzlement. Cedric’s O.R.C. troopers finally got IN the tower but were overwhelmed by the Tower Guard. So Gordon “won” if it really matters. The session threw off my original schedule quite a bit, as BDB is a bear to put away– even with many little helpers. We managed, though, and it went faster with a lot of hands helping. I got things to a point where I could get the rest of it done quickly and Garrett set up and played Room 25 which was pretty much a group activity though not everyone played (It’s only for 6 players.. they need to make an expansion!).


We got BDB put and while I was grabbing a sandwich a spontaneous game of COSMIC ENCOUNTER started. I have no idea if the kids really KNOW how to play CE by the rules or not, but Gar knows it, and it seemed to be going well.

While that was going on more kids drifted away and started Painting with Mr. Chris Johnson, for which I was grateful for the visit.

We were very fortunate, as always, to have some donations from WARGAMES FACTORY to paint with. The kids loved them and EVERYTHING GOT USED! Don’t believe me? Check it out here:

Thanks, Dixie!

Our last event was running a game of X-Wing Miniatures. This was severely curtailed but played fast and furious like X-Wing does.

Perhaps unbalanced?

I tried to balance this one but I hadn’t played in a long while, and I suspect the Empire is truly doomed. No matter, we’ll run TWO simultaneous games tomorrow, but I suspect this might force me to cut out an Ice Cream party in the afternoon. Too much to get through!

Game Night Gibson

Having bumped into Steve and Jeff at the comic book shop for Free Comic Book Day (look elsewhere on here for reportage), we decided to hold a board game night at Steve’s house.  Steve purchased the last copy of ROOM 25 at Victory Comics due to the 25% off sale, so he aced me on that one.  The description reminded me strongly 0f the Canadian horror/suspense CUBE movies, and  we had to give this one a try based on the descriptive text.

“Trapped in a prison in which each room has four doors but apparently no exit, the players must try to find Room 25, the supposed exit to this nightmare. But some amongst them might be guardians of the prison, waiting for the right moment to strike. In the cooperative game Room 25, not everyone wants to escape from imprisonment – but who is the traitor? Each turn, the player moves are preprogrammed, requiring discussion, negotiation – and possibly betrayal.”
— From the Box Cover

ROOM 25:

There are three modes of play– solitaire, cooperative and semi-cooperative, where two players assume the role of mission saboteurs called “Security”.  Forget the other two, semi-cooperative is THE way to play this game.  Also, I wouldn’t suggest fewer than 5 players.

Setup is pretty simple, start with the center room card, put your figures on it and place tiles around the outside, face down, so you have no idea what is being placed. Tile deck consistency is based on number of players, so this is tailored in advance.

Once the “cube” is built, you take turns (using an innovative sliding turn scale) to program two actions from four possible actions, per each individual character. They are Peek (into a room), Push (some hapless sap into a room), Move (into a room), and Control (move the row up or down or side to side one square). Once you place your action tokens, just like RoboRally, your character has to do them.

There are six different characters that add a lot of color to the game (Bimbo, Dude, little Girl, Scientist, etc), but really, they are just for color– each character is functionally identical to the rest of them. Which is too bad, really.

Yes, I played the Bimbo. And I did a cracker-jack job of it, to boot.

The game got started and proceeded swiftly. Young Chris Gibson went for the edge immediately by moving without looking. The results were inevitable.



Sniff.. DON’T LOOK AT ME!!!

The game continued and slowly the map revealed itself as the layout slid back and forth and up and down.. cards were peeked at, people were shoved into rooms…


(that’s my bimbo being shoved into the Cold Room).

More rooms reveal themselves

Each tile does something… usually nasty. There’s a fire room that instantly annihilates a player. A water room that drowns a player, a Poison Gas room, a couple of Cold Rooms, etc. etc. The idea is to run for the exit tile which is the “Room 25” of the title. Two hidden security guards are also participating that wish to keep you from achieving the goal.

The Behemoth moves to the edge and then CONTROLS the row to make it slide. The Professor is in some deadly room…

I do like hidden traitor games and that is the only way to play this one– it was greatly entertaining. We were sabotaged by Andrew and Steve, but they had to be subtle about it. Well, Andrew was subtle, anyway.. Steve has a hard time processing that concept.


That’s right, see? It was ME, allll along! BWA HA HA HA HA!!!! I played you all for FOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLSSSSSSS!!!!

Steve’s such a good winner.


Second game of the evening was the best game in the world, COSMIC ENCOUNTER. I don’t have to have my arm twisted to play that one, but some of the group were whining about wanting to play STONE AGE (I’m looking at you, Jeff and Andrew). I gladly helped Steve browbeat the crowd into playing CE. Yippee! The old guilt trip works every time!

“Perhaps you may have heard of this game.. Cosmic Encounter…”

We started with a little video instruction for the newcomers from Tom “My Favorite Game in the Universe is Cosmic Encounter” Vasel, and discovered either we (and the rulebook) did something different or Tom does his challenges with the Cosmic Cone backward! We were baffled! Then we didn’t let it bother us and proceeded.

I drew THE PYGMY and something I’ve played before, and went with the Pygmy. Each planet counts as half for conquest purposes and only four counters can ever be on a planet, which limits offensive challenges. I loved this.. they say the Pygmy has the power of Half, but it’s really “The Power of Crappy Real Estate!!” YAY!!!

Why do I have ten, you say? It’s the Pygmy’s power. 2 per planet and you use an unused set of planets with your own tokens.

I forget the rest of the powers but I think there was THE BARBARIAN (gets extra compensation), FILCH (Steals cards), SORCERE (switches cards before being revealed), and couple I’m forgetting. I was at a serious deficit throughout the game. Nobody is that eager to align with the Pygmy, as it’s hard to offer anyone anything of value as compensation. Likewise, nobody was that eager to attack me either, and I was the only player who didn’t loose his power or have his home real estate invaded. Again, crappy real estate in action.

Close to end game. Yes, my position could be better. A mighty ONE ship is sent to the offensive

At the end of the game, Steve and his daughter Nicole shared the victory while Steve and I were the runners up with 3 bases. Any day you spend playing Cosmic Encounter beats a day when you didn’t play Cosmic Encounter. Huzzah, fun was had by all.

White had it far harder than I did.

Quarriors is hip, Cosmic Encounters rocks and so does the Shut up and Sit Down show

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2011, everyone!

The Shut Up and Sit Down! show is rapidly becoming a favorite gaming podcast/vidcast of mine. The show, a combination of blog and vimeo videos by Quintin Smith and Paul Dean, is funny, splendidly irreverent, clever and very well written. Even more interesting is that each episode of the video is acted.. It’s a story of sorts. You don’t usually get this kind of thing with other boardgame centric podcasts.. a narrative behind the subject of the show. Each Shut up and Sit Down show tries to have fun with the material, and Smith and Dean usually succeed. Episode 7, which aired just before Christmas 2011, reviewed QUARRIORS, a recent acquisition of mine (BGG Secret Santa 2011). The show had only lukewarm praise for the game (or perhaps it could better be described as a “split” between the two reviewers), a point of view I enjoy and respect. Podcasts can often be a little “cheerleadery” with their reviews. Smith and Dean aren’t negative for the sake of being negative, and with classic British dry wit, demonstrate what they like and don’t like without dwelling on pleasantries. And they are funny!

Here’s the most recent episode, which serves up QUARRIORS (is it a toy, or a game, or some sort of mutant?), PHANTOM LEADER (criticized for too much paperwork), a trio of print and play games (one was too hard, one was too lean, the last was roundly derided), and COSMIC ENCOUNTER (justifiably given best game ever status) were all reviewed in the show, in the midst of a story about two friends having a tiff on Christmas, going off to a sulk, and then reuniting again. What a great episode, and keep in mind it was about boardgames!

I’ll still listen to traditional shows where one or more people sit down in front of microphone and ramble on about boardgames, but I love the format of SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN. Highly recommended.

Cosmic Encounter: A Thorough Drubbing


Me playing as the Purple HATERS...

We had a chance to play one of my favorite games in the omniverse, Cosmic Encounter, at Steve’s house for his annual OMG it’s the weekend before GENCON frenetic Paint n’ Pack fest on Sunday. I brought my own painting projects, which I managed to complete:

Ironclads 1/600 Scale, mostly Thoroughbred Figures except for the Spartan Games models:

  • Detail work on the RalGard Heavy Cruiser
  • Water giant for Uncharted Seas
From Instant Upload
From Instant Upload
From Instant Upload

After we finished up painting and Steve’s frenetic last minute prep for selling a bunch of stuff at GENCON, we took a look at the giant FEZ BOX Steve and family made for NOVAG’s games at GENCON. Painted NOVAG fez green, with tassel included.

The Fez Box

The Fez Box!!

After that we pulled out Cosmic Encounters, playing the basic game plus a few encounter cards from the first expansion– no flares, lucre, moons or other silliness– just Encounters, Artifacts, Kickers and Morphs.

We selected aliens randomly, just like the good old days.  Here’s the spread:

Steve Gibson: The Chosen (yellow) Can Draw Extra Challenge Cards from the Deck & use them
Chris Gibson: The Vulch (green) Harvests Artifacts.
Jeff Molman: The Mutant (red) Can draw cards up to 8 if he is under.
Me: The Hate (Purple) Can force people to discard a card TYPE of his choice, and if the other players don’t have that card type, they lose three ships.

I had been in games with the Mutant and The Vulch before– they are reasonably balanced.  The Chosen was new to me and I found him a bit overwhelming. I used the Hate power judiciously as it didn’t win many friends– I still think it was no match for the Chosen.  But that’s life.

The Chosen

The Chosen: Yes, we ARE holier than thou.

The game started out in a series of defeats for THE HATE.  Purple was chosen two times in a row in the destiny pile and solicited Allies from the Vulch and the Mutant as depicted HERE. and THE CHOSEN’s  power to draw the first three cards from the encounter deck proved very difficult to counter in any meaningful way.  And nobody wants to ally against someone who could pick the top three cards of the draw deck, decide to add one of all of them to the final outcome  and there you go– you’ve been outnumbered.  In most cases, the power worked in the Chosen’s favor, and Steve played it aggressively.  He was only Cosmic Zapped once, and decisively.   Jeff played the Mutant as well as he could but the Mutant role is not as aggressive in this mix as the Chosen or Vulch proved to be.  THE VULCH was particularly effective, picking up artifacts every round.  Soon he had a hand to be feared, as most of us knew what was in it.

The Hate

Hatin' is for Haters

As the Cone passed to THE HATE, I drew THE VULCH in the Destiny Deck.     THE HATE drew in THE MUTANT to his attack, but the Vulch pulled a 30 attack card, and that was all she wrote.  Thus ended the great Hate offensive for the first time around the circle– and the Cosmic Cone passed to the Vulch.  The Vulch had a strong attack with all those artifact cards and understood the need to attack aggressively, but he vacillated in his turn, making a sweet arrangement with the Chosen as depicted HERE, and then moved on to attack the Mutant in half-hearted fashion, as depicted HERE.  The

Vulch.. doin' his vulchin thing... stripping the battlefield of artifacts.

Vulch’s assault stalled in the face of stiff resistance from the Mutant (with help from allies Hate and Chosen, who were happy to get a bunch of ships back from the Warp.  As his challenge failed,  so did the Cosmic Cone move on to the Mutant, not by nature a very aggressive player or perhaps he is just unlucky?  Who knows?      The Mutant proved he could prevail over the Chosen steamroller, and as he had stood by the Hate in the earlier round, Hate would stand with him now.

Numbers were finally playing in the favor of the anti-Chosen coalition– the higher cards had been played and the Chosen’s defenses were thin in his galaxy.   It was a gamble that payed off, Hey, you muties!  Get out of my cabbages!and the Hate jumped in with both feet.  Finally, no longer a Galactic loser!!!  The Cone passed on to the Chosen, who managed to encounter a stiff resistance from non other than the Hate (last Destiny card drawn). And then it was Hate’s turn once more.. one more time to try to turn the tide of fortunes around.  I had been keeping a weather eye on the Chosen all game long, as he seized an early lead and held on to it all game long.  However, I should have been paying closer attention to the Score wheel.  I had not noticed that the Vulch was now up to four victories after our last alliance, and when I invited him the last turn, naturally I didn’t count it.  Here I am rueing the day… and handing the victory to the Vulch!!  Oh well, losing track of who is the lead in a game of CE is also part of the game as a whole.   Even a solid loss in Cosmic Encounter is a fun time, and I think I can say a good time was had by all without fear of contradiction.  A fun day!

Life is a Cosmic Cone.. a Cosmic Encounter comic strip…

The idea for this came to me during a recent game of one of my favorite boardgames, Cosmic Encounter. My group has a certain dramatic way of presenting the game play which is echoed here in the names of the characters: the Green Machine, the Blue Meanies, the Red Menace, the Orange Crush, The Yellow Peril and the Purple People Eaters. In this episode, Red tries a time-honored trick.

Click on the cover to view

Life is a Cosmic Cone

Click the image to go to the comic

COSMIC ENCOUNTER is copyright Peter Olotka and Eon Games.

BAR WARS: Beer, Swill, Cosmic Encounters and Kung Fu Fighting

Saturday night witnessed my friends Mark Benedict and Rob Pryor back in town on some family business. Mark and Rob were jonesing for old fashioned “Guy’s Night” style fun from the good old days and asked me to set something up. Nothing evokes that more carefree era for me more than a game of either Illuminati or Cosmic Encounter. Since Illuminati plays a little long and I had to depart by 1130 to pick up Anne, I pulled the new version of Cosmic out (published by Fantasy Flight Games). I reckoned we MIGHT have time for two games if the BS factor didn’t catch up with us, but I was betting on only getting one in, and so it proved to be.

FFG Cosmic Encounter Bits

FFG Cosmic Encounter Bits

I grew up, as it were, playing the old Eon Version of Cosmic, which was not glamorous to look at but had literally hours and hours and hours of fun locked into its rather bland exterior. This was a game rarer than hen’s teeth to find after a while, even though it was busily being republished by Games Workshop, West End Games, Mayfair and even Avalon Hill not to mention in an assortment of other languages. I myself own two other versions– the Avalon Hill puzzling bits version and the Mayfair Two Box version (Cosmic Encounter and More Cosmic Encounter, basically the original Eon version in two boxes). Just as I was getting well heeled enough to afford the outrageous price of acquisition, my opportunities to actually play Cosmic pretty much dried up as my gaming group got older, fatter, and moved various places.

For more on Cosmic, check out these sites.  Some folks do their homework.

We had a way of playing this game– and highly ritualized it was. For one thing, you didn’t just “solicit allies”.. you had to stand up on your hind legs and proclaim it.. make a production of it.. “Join ME.. and we shall RULLLLE the Galaxy.. as Master and SLAVE!!! er.. what I meant to say.. as ALLIES!.. yes, that’s it.. ALLIES!” I always appreciated the rule-changing nature of the design, which led to a huge amount of variability and re-playability. If you are not familiar with the game, players play alien powers (of which there are many) Every alien’s special power changes the game just a little bit, but some make for epic combinations. The goal of the game is to plant five bases outside of your home system on enemy planets. To achieve this simple goal, you have to enter into alliances.. either to attack or to defend. The game has many nuances but simple mechanics.

game setup

Pour the beers, and lets get started...

The Passing of the Cosmic Cone

The Passing of the Cosmic Cone, another ritual of ours...

In our Saturday game, we played these powers:

Played by Mark Benedict.

Played by your humble narrator

Played by Bob Sargent

Played by Rob Pryor

This is a pretty decent combination, though not the most interactive. The Mutant can regenerate his hand quickly, so will have an edge in attacks. The Grudge can send ships into the warp from powers that don’t ally with him. The Healer can pull ships OUT of the warp, and thus will have the power to create alliances. The Parasite has the ability to enter into any alliance he wants, but it was never used in the game.

This being the first time we’ve played in ages, we stuck with pretty much the basic game.  Challenge Cards, artifacts, no Flares, no Technology Cards.  It was more than enough and very challenging.

As the pictures indicate, The Destiny Pile (erm, DECK) was seeing green early on in the game. They went for me (the Mutant) early on and hammered away at me.


An Unholy alliance!

I managed to avoid getting wiped out early and pretty soon the warp zone was filling up with exiled space fleets, including a surprising amount of ships from the Parasite (blue).

Bad Luck for someone!

Bad Luck for the Parasite and the Mutant...

Moment of truth

The Moment of Truth arrives.. countdown 1..2..3... FLIP!!!!

Life was starting to be pretty harsh for the Parasite and the Mutant.. we had both played an aggressive early game, and had experienced heavy losses, our fleets consigned to the otherwordly hell that is the Warp.

What shall we doooo?

Consigned to the Warp....

Surprisingly the Healer (Mark) was in a stable but not game winning position with only two bases at this point. That means plenty of fleets to expend on conquest.. this should have been his time to clean up. Instead, he did something entirely unanticipated.

Mobius Tubes

That card is the Mobius Tubes which releases all ships from the Warp simultaneously.

This gave the Parasite (Bob) and the Mutant (me) and the Grudge the chance to go up to full strength. I had promised the Healer that I would ally with him in the next challenge no matter what for playing the Mobius Tubes card. Even though I was at four bases, for some reason he invited me. The Parasite got up on his hind legs and gave an impressive soliloquy about how inviting the Mutant to ally would open the universe up for domination by the Mutants and blah blah blah.. The Mutants admired the common sense approach of the Parasite’s reasoning… but then fed him the Plague card for his troubles, causing him to lose three more fleets and further weakening him against the inevitable attack.

End Result: Mutant Victory.

Of course, the guys got a chance to kick my tail in the followup game, KUNG FU FIGHTING by Slugfest Games.

Kung Fu Fighting!

My Kung Fu was weak…

Kung Fu Fighting!

And several deadly combos knocked me down to almost no Chi

Kung Fu Fighting!

And no blocks, and no Chi Restoration cards.. Sigh..


Alas, one too many five dollar pitchers made us call a halt to the festivities.

Verdict: why the heck haven’t I played COSMIC ENCOUNTERS more than this?  The FFG version may have a lot of glitz and cool extra bits, but when you get down to it, it’s the same game we were playing in the 1980s.  I’m glad I own it!

And now, for a little dramatization…

And finally, a special treat… the designer of Cosmic Encounter, Peter Olotka, was interviewed on the LITTLE METAL DOG podcast recently. Here’s the podcast he appeared on:″

Cosmic Encounters for Fans Only!

Courtesy of Scott Nicholson’s vlog. I think I qualify as a fan.

Tom Vasel takes a look at the new Cosmic Encounter game

One of my favorite games of all time is COSMIC ENCOUNTER, which dates back to the 70s. The game has been reprinted many times by various publishers– Eon, Games Workshop, Mayfair, and Avalon Hill. The latest edition, by Fantasy Flight Games, gets high marks by Tom and now I’m TOTALLY JONESING to buy CE for myself, even if I have the Mayfair and Avalon Hill editions already! Sheesh! Such a dilemma!

Fantastic news: Eon Products get the Fantasy Flight Remake Treatment

Excellent news from Boardgame Geek! Aldie reports in a quick interview with Christian Petersen of FFG that DUNE (rethemed), COSMIC ENCOUNTER, and BORDERLANDS will soon be reprinted by Fantasy Flight Games! Fantastic!