Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's official: Cosmic Encounter > Magic

So which is the better game: Cosmic Encounter or Magic, The Gathering?

That's easy: it's Cosmic, of course. For proof, look no further than the world-famous Trashdome, where two games enter ... but only one game leaves!

And, this time, the last game standing was Cosmic Encounter. All hail the champion!

(Warning: Fortress Ameritrash often features some ... uh ... "colorful" language and intense debate. If a few F-bombs are enough to make you uncomfortable, you might want to shield your eyes)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dune in 10-20 minutes. No, really

Well, here's an interesting take on the classic Dune boardgame: free, quick, and miniaturized. It's called Dune Express, and it's beginning to gain some traction on certain popular boardgaming sites.

I've yet to read through everything yet, although I hope to this weekend. But I'm definitely intrigued by what I've glanced at so far (although I'll be using one of the colored maps that can be found here).

Dune in 10 to 20 minutes? And without paying $125 for a nice copy on eBay? Is it possible?

(Shout-out to Massive-Melon Zeke for the heads-up)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Strategy series hits halfway point

With our in-depth look at Reincarnator — and, unless something has gone horribly wrong, you should see it right below this item — we've hit the halfway point in our 2009 Strategy Series, an attempt to feature each of the 50 aliens in the Fantasy Flight Games edition of Cosmic Encounter.

I'll be updating the submission list shortly, and I'm planning on having the list actually count down now ... it will list aliens we haven't featured, in other words.

My thanks to everyone who has contributed. Off the top of my head, that includes Jack Reda, Rob Burns, Zach Gaskins, Adam Rouse, Toomai Glittershine, David Montgomery, Gerald Katz, and Jordan Browne. Good work so far, everyone; take $5 out of Petty Cash.

CE alien survey #25: REINCARNATOR

First appearance: Eon Expansion #3

Plain-English power: After you lose any ships, drop your old power and get a new one.

Loved by: Cosmic fans who thrive on chaos and love to innovate.

Loathed by: Long-range strategy types. Insect and Plant should be wary of this alien power.

Three ways to win as Reincarnator:
  • A cardinal rule of Cosmic strategy is that your alien power is just a resource like any other: ships, cards, etc. Players get attached to their powers and often make irrational decisions because they're more focused on keeping their power rather than getting to 5 external colonies. You have no such sentimental attachment. You know that your current power is just a tool to get you to 5. Therefore, you are almost always going to want "combat" powers that get the challenge totals in your favor, such as Virus, Anti-Matter, Loser, or Pacifist. Lose until you get one, and then hold on to it.
  • You don't have time to mess around with indirect or subtle powers like Shadow, Gambler, Void, Hate, or Barbarian. If you get one of those, lose it — either throw a challenge as main player, or, better yet, ally with one ship with someone who's probably going to lose and is calling desperately for allies. As main player, Negotiates are your ticket to a new incarnation; do not despise them, but conserve them and use them wisely.
  • If you get a Cosmic Zap in your hand, keep it to use on youself ("self-zapulation"). Like Human, zapping yourself at the right moment can be key to the game. Unlike Human, you'll use it right after you lose a challenge and your current incarnation is Pacifist, Loser, or some other powerhouse. Your Cosmic Zap is for you, not others.
Three ways to win against Reincarnator:
  • If the Reincarnator player is not playing to get or hold a combat power, don't worry about his power. He's not using it. Just don't let him hold a combat power.
  • If he's playing strategically, then be very careful about alliances. Generally, you shouldn't do it if he doesn't have a combat power.
  • Also, if he's playing strategically, then you want to consider ganging up with the other players to remove his power by kicking him off his home planets. A smart Reincarnator is essentially playing with TWO powers.
At CE Online? Yes.

Anything else? The Wild Reincarnator is a crazy Flare, and most Cosmic. The game practically spirals into chaos as players reincarnate!

— Submitted by Rob Burns

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CE alien survey #24: VACUUM

First appearance: Eon expansion #3.

Plain-English power: Sends others' ships to the warp when it loses ships.

Loved by: Vengeful jerks; fans of street justice movies.

Loathed by: Cudgel; Macron; family dogs; people who invite allies without thinking; New Orleans and Florida residents.

Three ways to win as Vacuum:
  1. Exact righteous revenge! If someone gets you to ally and then loses (even worse, loses on purpose), punish them. Remind others not to anger you.
  2. Resist the urge to play Mobius Tubes to free your ships from the warp; use defensive rewards to keep your ship count up. If someone else plays Mobius Tubes and your ships in the warp are small compared to others, Card Zap the Tubes to maintain your advantage.
  3. Keep an eye on who is winning (both in colonies and ships), and punish them by default.

Monday, May 11, 2009

CE Online combos: back from the shop

The search function has been restored to the combo panel at Cosmic Encounter Online, returning full functionality to one of the site's best features. All of the pre-set combinations of aliens can now be searched for using alien name, combo name, or author name.

Can I get a "Woot!" from the congregation?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Reminder: new league is on Mondays

I'm not sure if I'll be posting again over the weekend, so I wanted to take a minute to remind all interested parties that the new Alphabetical Aliens League begins this Monday at Cosmic Encounter Online. That's a fairly rare day for CEO league action, so it's probably worth making a note of it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fantasy Flight's FAQ a fabulous first

While going over Fantasy Flight's official Cosmic Encounter FAQ today, it occurred to me that the document really is the first of its kind. Despite a 30-plus-year history, CE has never had an official** FAQ of any kind, with simple poor timing being a big part of the reason.

Consider the history:
  • Eon (1977): The concept of an "internet" was understood by about 23 people in the whole world when Cosmic was first published, all of whom worked for the Defense Department, so that wasn't exactly a big factor. The Future Pastimes gang was able to issue some rulings in their Encounter newsletter, which was nice, but that publication certainly didn't reach every CE player. Later, Expansion #9 cleared up a lot of issues — and, in its own way, was sort of FAQ-like — but that was it for CE in its original form. There would be no further Eon-branded items.
  • Mayfair (1991): I think Mayfair, had they kept the CE license a bit longer, likely would have eventually posted some sort of FAQ on their ultra-primitive website of the mid-90s. And we all would have gleefully paid AOL even more usage fees to dial up our 56K modems and have a look at it. Sadly, we'll never really know, though. By the time the concept of the fabled World Wide Web was familiar to more people than just the propeller-heads, Mayfair had long since ceased to actively support CE.
  • Avalon Hill (2000): This one is a no-brainer. There's no doubt at all that AH would have eventually released a FAQ ... of course, that would imply that they chose to support the game in the first place, which we all know didn't happen, for whatever reason. But had AH announced plans for, say, one or two expansions, they certainly would have also taken the time to add a FAQ to their support pages, which were actually pretty good for that time period.
(All of which reminds me: you know what other classic game from the same era could really use an official FAQ? Dune. Big-time. Not a bizarre Q&A session that many people have attempted to pass off as a FAQ over the years, but an honest-to-God real FAQ. Anyone who doubts this needs to poll 10 experienced Dune players and ask them exactly how Bene Gesserit co-existence works.)

Wait, I'm digressing. Where was I? Oh, yeah: welcome to the Cosmic family, Mr. Official FAQ Document. Now prepare to be picked apart.

**Official = a FAQ produced by the publisher. Unofficial = all other attempts at FAQs, no matter how well-researched or well-intentioned.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Official Cosmic Encounter FAQ available

Nine pages of Cosmic Encounter rulings from Fantasy Flight Games are available by simply following this link.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Do aliens know their ABCs? Let's find out

If you like a nice, relaxing, solo-wins-only game of Cosmic Encounter, then you're living in a fun time. Hot on the heels of the just-completed Much Madness League comes the announcement that an Alphabetical Aliens League will be starting on May 11.

Taking advantage of CE Online's ability to group aliens into pre-set combos, the league will feature eight specifically-themed evenings. Full details here; tell 'em Blogmic sent ya.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A bit of Cosmic flavor from Bruno?

I've got a firm radar-lock on Ad Astra, the new title from Bruno Faidutti that's due out this summer, and I'm really liking what I'm seeing so far. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Bruno — an official Friend of Cosmic — has included some Cosmic-like elements in Ad Astra, which will be distributed in the colonies by Fantasy Flight Games. Take a look at the page and judge for yourself.

Either way, this is a must-buy for me. Bruno has designed some wonderful asymmetric, variable-power games in the past — check out Citadels, especially, if you haven't played it yet — and by putting a nice space-exploration theme on Ad Astra, he's basically reaching into my wallet already. I'm okay with that, though, as long as I get to zoom around in spaceships and intimidate/bribe/exploit interesting alien races for fun and profit.

Come on, summer! I want to start playing now.

CE Online title returns to Louisiana

An exciting Cosmic Encounter Online league-championship round concluded Thursday night with the legendary AP — the fabled Bayou Assassin — claiming two of three games to clinch the title ahead of fellow finalists Bill, Sleepy Weasel, and Hadsil. AP is pictured above skating back to Louisiana with the trophy; not pictured is the $100,000 cash prize he also won.

The championship playoffs concluded a fun two-month league that featured a number of wild games, although no bounty was claimed. For historical purposes, the original league announcement can be found here; the final standings are located here.