Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mayfair's goofy icons: 1991-2008, R.I.P.

So long, ridiculous Mayfair timing icons. You had a good run, and you certainly have your fans, but Fantasy Flight's 50-times-better timing strip is pretty much putting an end to your alleged usefulness.

You didn't "save" Cosmic Encounter, just for the record; that's one of the biggest myths in gaming history. And your errata, if anyone had bothered to compile it, would have been a hefty document. Still, you weren't all bad, I suppose. Maybe you helped settle a rules argument or two. I wouldn't know; I was too busy fondling my Eon collection.

Godspeed, goofy timing icons. Go in peace.

0. It's officially less than 1

Well, it's not like Cosmic Encounter hasn't had rules ... uh, "discussions" ... since 1977, but there's legitimate issues and then there's arguing just for the sake of hearing yourself talk.

Zero is the "fewest" of anything, including CE ships. Really, it is. I promise. Consider it an official ruling.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bruno checks in with a mixed review

Bruno Faidutti is one of my all-time favorite game-designers, having caused me to go into brain-burn during many, many hours of games such as Citadels (my second-favorite variable-powers game ... and you guess the favorite) and Knightmare Chess. The "Ideal Game Library" feature at his website is mandatory reading for any fan of boardgames, and now it's been updated with a revised entry for Cosmic Encounter, reflecting the new Fantasy Flight Games edition.

The review, frankly, is mixed, with Bruno clearly longing for the complete chaos from the days of playing with the Eon aliens and throwing in flares, moons and lucre. Although he lauds the professionalism and overall design of the FFG edition, Bruno closes with an interesting thought:
Anyway, now that the FFG has proven, with this edition, that they can make their job seriously, I hope they will take it much less seriously in the expansion! And even in a slightly watered down version, it's still the second best edition of the very best game ever.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

FFG vs. Avalon Hill vs. Mayfair cage match!

Tom Vasel, the Man With 10,000 Games, has fired up his video camera again, producing a nice 10-minute summary of the differences between the last three editions of the Cosmic Encounter boardgame.

The video review also includes a late entry into the Understatement of the Year sweepstakes; while discussing the Mayfair aliens, Tom notes:

The person who drew the artwork for these wasn't very good.

Yeah, I'll have to agree with that one ...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's a Cosmic Encounter Online Christmas!

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the net,
Not an alien was stirring, at Cosmic just yet.

The browsers were cued on computers with care;
In hopes that an email soon would be there.

The players were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of game play danced in their heads.

And we at our keyboards 'bout ready to snap;
Been working long hours, keeled over to nap.

When down in the disc drive there arose such a clatter
I spun round in my chair to see what was the matter.

Away to the hard drive I flew to check FLASH;
Tore open the guts much fearing a crash.

The screen with the driver became all aglow,
Gave a luster of midday to flash objects below,

When then as my tiring eyes came a glower,
I saw miniature aliens and each with a power,

With a very bold player so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment I just had to click.

More rapid than saucers his aliens they came.
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

Now Macron! now Empath! now Zombie! and Warrior!
On Virus, on Oracle, on Pacifist and Sorcerer!

To the top of the planet, to the top of the game;
Now dash away dash away, bring me my fame.

As dry notes before the office fan fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up on the internet the aliens they flew,
With a game full of fun and the bold player too.

And then in a twinkle, I realized my goof,
By enhancing the drawing of each little proof.

As I drew back my head and was turning around,
Through the portal bold player came with a bound.

He was dressed all in sweats, a right portly old bloke
And his clothes were all tarnished with pizza and Coke.

A bundle of powers he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a coder, he took me aback.

His eyes how they squinted! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were quite sallow, his nose like a cherry.

His droll little mouth made him look wide awake,
And the beard on his chin was right flecked with cake.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his fist,
And the smoke, it encircled us both, like in Myst.

He had a broad face and a giant round belly
That shook, when he laughed as though full from the deli.

He was chubby and plump, and came forth quite near;
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of my fear.

A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went right to the game,
And filled all the planets frame after frame.

And laying a finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod up through the portal he rose.

He sprang to the ether, to his pals gave a whistleho,
And away they all flew like an unguided mistletoe.

But I heard him exclaim as he faded to black
Happy Holidays to all, you can bet I'll be back.

(received via mysterious email from Peter Olotka)

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Warp reviews all 50 FFG aliens

In an interesting take on the traditional review format, Cosmic guru** Jack Reda recently took the time to break down the strengths and weaknesses of all 50 aliens included in the Fantasy Flight Games version of Cosmic Encounter. It's a must-read for any CE fan or serious player.

**That's what it says on his business card. No, really.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Show your Xmas spirit with a nice table-flip

Many weeks later, this essay over at McSweeney's still makes me laugh (and, in gaming terms, it's not a huge stretch to replace "Risk" with "Cosmic Encounter."

My favorite passage:
I hate Risk. I have for many years now. I hate that you still like Risk. I hate that you guilt me into playing with you because no one else will. I hate that you do the accents of the countries you're attacking from.
And their "Hamlet: Facebook Edition" isn't bad, either ...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Origin(s) of species: the 50 FFG aliens

Here’s a breakdown of the initial Cosmic Encounter appearances for the 50 aliens included in the recently released Fantasy Flight Games version of the game:

31 were included in the Eon base set and expansions:
  • (12 from base set) Amoeba, Clone, Macron, Mind, Mutant, Oracle, Philanthropist, Trader, Virus, Void, Vulch, Zombie;
  • (4 from Expansion 1) Dictator, Grudge, Parasite, Will;
  • (7 from Expansion 2): Anti-Matter, Calculator, Filch, Gambler, Machine, Miser, Sorcerer
  • (5 from Expansion 3): Assassin (renamed to Shadow), Healer, Reincarnator, Vacuum, Warrior;
  • (3 from Expansion 7): Loser, Pacifist, Warpish.
4 are from the Mayfair base set and expansion:
Chosen, Mirror, Reserve, and Spiff.

2 are from Cosmic Encounter Online:
Mite and Tripler.

And 13 are new and have never before been published officially:
Barbarian, Citadel, Cudgel, Fido, Fodder, Hacker, Hate, Human, Kamikaze, Masochist, Observer, Remora, and Tick-Tock.

Instant analysis: overall, it's a very interesting mix. I’m particularly satisfied with FFG’s decision to search the cosmos for 13 essentially new aliens, and I’m also impressed by how many old-school aliens are still making the grade today. Eighty percent of the original base set from 1977 (12 of 15) is included in CE’s 2008 re-release, along with 70 percent (7 of 10) of Expansion 2.

My favorite line from the new CE rulebook

From page 7, right-hand column:
This has no effect on game play and will be used in a future expansion.
Sounds good to me! So ... when can we expect it? [wink-wink; nudge-nudge]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Plus, you can dance to it!

I've always loved this old Cosmic Encounter Online teaser video, especially the parts where everything — plagues, quashes, attacks, zaps, you name it — happens at once. And it's got that rockin' Mark Sutton-Smith soundtrack, too.

And that will about do it for the Amazon idea

A few weeks ago, over at the old address for this site, I posted the news that Amazon was offering a fairly substantial discount on the new Fantasy Flight Games version of Cosmic Encounter. At the time, I hesitated to post the information at all, knowing from painful experience that Amazon is not exactly a big player in boardgame distribution, but, in the end, I decided that the potential savings might be something that Blogmic readers would be interested in.

Interested or not, I now regret even bringing it up. Amazon is light years beyond useless when it comes to gaming: inaccurate listings, shipping dates that change on a whim, robotic replies for "customer service" ... these are just three of the problems with the typical Amazon game listing. And, sadly, many Cosmic Encounter fans are now caught up in Amazon's web of inaccuracies:

Horror stories I

Horror stories II

Horror stories III

Horror stories IV

So, yeah, I think that will about play a Quash on any further Amazon mentions from me. They are the best in the world at delivering books, CDs, and DVDs, but truly hopeless when it comes to games.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Full-length video review of CE posted

The indefatigable Scott Nicholson is at it again, this time following up his short teaser review of the new edition of the Cosmic Encounter boardgame with a half-hour dissertation on all things Cosmic.

BGWS 054 - Board Games with Scott 054 - Cosmic Encounter from Scott Nicholson on Vimeo.

I haven't even gotten all the way through it yet, but I already have a favorite line:
"Avalon Hill decided to strip out all of the awesome."

As usual, Scott does a fine job giving an overview of a game. His videos have led me to purchase a number of games I probably wouldn't have taken a chance on otherwise.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Alien artwork spotlight: Ryan Barger

Looking at talent such as this, I often wish I could draw more than stick figures. Or that I was smart enough to turn stick figures into a printing press that spits out $20 bills.

Ryan Barger is one of three artists credited with the alien artwork for the new Cosmic Encounter boardgame, and it's easy to see why FFG keeps him on speed-dial. It's no wonder the new edition looks as good as it does.

This is NOT a good Anti-Matter hand

I mean, you know, in case you were wondering.

(And there's even a 20 on the other side of that "more button ...)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

7 is the new 9, apparently ...

Um ... whoops.

Regarding the list of 2008 champions posted below, it should be noted that Tmax has won nine monthly titles at Cosmic Encounter Online, which would be the real record for most championships. I forgot to add the three he has won in this year, despite the fact that they were right there on the list I was posting.

I think the kids have an expression for this: duh.

From the archives: 1982 White Dwarf ad

Back when there were these things called gaming magazines — the kind that came off of printing presses, I mean — this was the sort of advertisement that often appeared. Some of the magazines, frankly, were worth it more for the interesting advertising than for their actual content, especially in the pre-interwebs days of never being quite sure what company was releasing which product when.

Anyway, this is from White Dwarf #29 (Feb./March 1982 issue), back before Games Workshop turned the magazine into a 12-times-a-year, 100-page advertisement for Borehammer. Click on the image for a larger version.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Catching up with the CE Online winners

We haven't done this sort of list in a while, and it's a nice thing to have for historical purposes. So take a look below and feel much envy for the winners of this year's monthly championships at Cosmic Encounter Online:
  • January: Sluggo
  • February: Aspracing
  • March: Tmax
  • April: NothingHealz
  • May: none (see note 1)
  • June: AP (see note 2)
  • July: Tmax
  • August: Anfauglir
  • September: Tmax
  • October: Williamson
  • November: Xav
1: There was no CE Online at all for this month; the server was eaten by Void.
2: AP's seventh monthly title, the most for any player.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cosmic Encounter unboxing photos! w00t!

Well, if a picture really is worth 1,000 words, be sure to check out the 9,000-word slideshow I just posted. Sorry, new-game smell not included.

Massive CE review lands at GameShark

The first of the legitimate reviews for the new edition of Comsic Encounter has landed — with a resounding three-page "boom!" — over at GameShark. Reviewer Michael Barnes does his usual thorough, engaging job in covering the game's history, importance, gameplay, and intangibles. It's certainly worth a read.

(Bonus! Michael also writes teaser text for his articles over at Fortress: Ameritrash ... and this one includes a nice shot of the impossible-to-find Cosmic Encounter T-shirts.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2/26/07: CE boardgame deal is "DOA"

Here's an interesting slice of history I came across while combing through the archives of the old site: in late February of last year, a potential deal for retailer FunAgain Games to become the new publisher of Cosmic Encounter was declared to be non-functioning by original CE designer Peter Olotka.

As disappointing as that announcement was, what we didn't know is that the near-future held some better news. It was about six months later that Fantasy Flight Games announced at GenCon that it had acquired the rights to publish a CE boardgame.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dune: More than just CE on steroids

There's been many times, both here and over at the old blog site, where I wished I could figure out a way to include more Dune content. It's such a fantastic game on a number of levels: faithfulness to the source material, unique and interesting mechanics, and — not least — entertainment value. And, of course, it bears some striking similarities to Cosmic Encounter, which is not a huge surprise when you really think about it.

I was reminded of all of this today when I finished an absolutely spectacular game of Dune that featured more twists and turns than the old Space Mountain ride. It probably helped that I ended up winning, too** — those are my black Harkonnen pieces on the map, poised to control Arrakis with their faithful Fremen sidekicks. Mere moments after that map image was posted, it was game-over-thank-you-for-playing-drive-home-safely. As The Man said: "Veni, vidi, vici, Dune-i."

In all seriousness, any Cosmic Encounter fan who just hasn't gotten around to checking out Dune yet would be doing themselves a favor if they rectified that oversight. Good places to start are here, here, and here. Tell them Baron Vladimir sent you.

**There was also some goofy-ass Bene Gesserit thing at the very end. I'm scoring it as a three-way win.

FINALLY, there's multiple CE listings at BGG

In a move that's at least three years overdue, the powers-what-is at BoardGameGeek have deigned to give Cosmic Encounter multiple entries in their database. The new Fantasy Flight Games edition has been split off into its own listing, although every other edition of CE ever produced — Eon, Mayfair, West End, all of the foreign editions, you name it — are still lumped together in one area. This means, among other things, that about half of the CE discussion regarding the "all-in-one" CE revolves around which edition is better.

This is a site that thinks nothing of having about 10,000 entries for Monopoly — even though 99 percent of those are exactly the same game with only the names of the spaces changed. It's also a site that didn't blink twice before immediately creating separate entries for new editions to games such as Britannia, Arkham Horror, and Fury of Dracula, to name just three (all of which are FFG properties now, interestingly enough).

This being BGG we're talking about, there is, of course, no guarantee that the various editions of CE will remain split. From the main page of the new CE listing:
This is the new entry for the Fantasy Flight printing of Cosmic Encounter. As the new game changes several mechanisms of the original, and is available in a much wider release, the two games should be regarded as separate entities. This is a tentative determination based on prospective information; If the games are deemed the same after release, then they will be merged.
Whatever, clowns. Go back to your Agricola-worship.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Video provides first look at the new Cosmic

The always-fun Scott Nicholson just updated his "Boardgames With Scott" series with a quick look at the new Cosmic Encounter boardgame. As usual, he does an excellent job of covering the basics in an engaging and enthusiastic manner.

This is just a teaser, though, according to Scott. He promises a full-length CE video in the near-future.

For those who have never visited, the BWS site is definitely worth a visit.

"The Galaxy Is Yours For The Taking"

It says so right there on the page officially announcing Cosmic Encounter is for sale.

December 9, 2008. Remember that date, CE fans. It's when a new era began.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cosmic Encounter listed as "in stock" at

I'm really not sure what I can add to that, other than this handy link.

Oh, yeah:


Cosmic Encounter is fifth-bestest game ever!

... at least according to well-known game reviewer, internet personality, and website-runner Tom Vasel, who is clearly a scholar and a gentleman when it comes to variable-power space-themed games. Or something.

The best part comes at about the 5:00 mark, when one of Tom's daughters starts popping pieces in her mouth. And, for those looking to scrub ahead to just the CE stuff, the words "Cosmic Encounter" are first mentioned at about the 4:40 mark.

Spy shots reveal some Cosmic goodies

Apparently, some guy in New Zealand stumbled over a copy of the new Cosmic Encounter the other day and has become, like, the first person in the world to see it. And he's posting images in very, very public settings— including some stuff that hasn't been officially announced yet by Fantasy Flight Games.

Don't hit that second link if you absolutely, positively want your CE box-opening experience to be totally spoiler-free. For everyone else, there's some interesting eye candy to look at while taking breaks from the hourly "Is it here yet?" calls to your local retailer.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cosmic Encounter strategy: Cudgel

I'm hoping this will be the first of a series of articles detailing possible strategies for playing the various alien races in Cosmic Encounter.

I'll start with an alien making his big-league debut in the upcoming Fantasy Flight Games edition. Here's how to play Cudgel:

That pretty much covers it.

Be sure to tune in next time, where I'll discuss the intricacies of playing Zombie.

Alien artwork spotlight: Felicia Cano

From the very first days that Cosmic Encounter developer Kevin Wilson began sending me the raw files for the new Fantasy Flight Games edition of the game, I was immediately struck by the wonderful (proposed) artwork for the alien cards. I think it's pretty safe to say that CE is receiving its best treatment ever in terms of art (although I'll always have a soft spot for Dean Morrissey and the other Eon-era artists).

I've had CE artist Felicia Cano's website bookmarked ever since Kevin told me she was working on the game, and it gives me great pleasure to finally be able to link to her site publicly. She's very talented, and she was a great pick for the new edition of Cosmic.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hey, it got 22 comments the first time ...

Back in November of 2006 — the days of the original Blogmic Encounter site — I posted the photo above in one of those "I really feel like I should post something moments." I figured it would generate maybe a few chuckles and one or two comments. "Hey, look! Beer and Cosmic Encounter!" I never gave it a second thought.

Instead, it turned out to be one of the most popular things I ever posted in roughly 30 months of Cosmic Encounter-related writing. I still have no idea why, although it is sort of a cool image.

Who the hell knows, as the kids say.

New Cosmic falls into The Warp, gets reviewed

The first detailed review of the new Fantasy Flight Games edition of Cosmic Encounter has been posted, and, not too surprisingly, it comes forth from The Warp.

Bang it here to read all about the new edition and how it compares to previous CE releases.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cosmic Encounter on shelves next week!

Let's just get right down to brass tacks here: we might be unwrapping the new edition of the Cosmic Encounter boardgame as early as Tuesday.

For proof, I offer an established retailer saying he expects to have it on his shelves by then, and an FFG employee later chiming in and pretty much agreeing with that assessment.

Sounds good to me; let's do this thing.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

CEO team tinkering under the hood

If I knew anything at all about coding — I can make pretty italics, but that's about it — I'd be able to explain what the Cosmic Encounter Online team was doing with the bug fixes announced here.

But I don't. So I can't.

Mean green fighting machine ready for action

The roll-out of interesting aliens continues at Fantasy Flight Games, where the recent debut of Cudgel (see note below) was followed by the first appearance of the new, improved Macron.

Now, normally, "Macron" and "interesting" aren't often found in the same sentence, but this is not your old-school Big Green Dude. No, this is Macron Mark II, brother, and he's here to turn your puny skeleton into pulp. And to take more cards, too: check out the one very key change to Big Mac's power.

(Fun note for CE Online players who have been around for a while: remember GodOfAtheism ... ?)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cudgel strikes a blow for homebrews everywhere

Fantasy Flight Games recently unveiled the new Cudgel alien for the upcoming Cosmic Encounter boardgame, making it the first true homebrewed alien creation to be featured as part of the new game. You can check out what Cudgel is all about right here.

A number of aliens have been featured at as the build-up to the new edition of CE continues, but none have been what I would consider true homebrews. Tripler will be new to many players, but he's been played about 25,000 times at Cosmic Encounter Online. Human is new, too, but I never published the idea anywhere for anyone else to see (not to mention that the original idea was later modified), so no one ever got a chance to play it for themselves. Remora is new, but I don't think CE designer Kevin Wilson would argue too hard that his alien creation would qualify as a homebrew.

So congratulations to Cudgel and creator Ken Hubbard. It's no longer a homebrew; it's an official alien!

Blogmic, meet Blogger. Blogger, Blogmic

After 30 months, 399 posts**, roughly 10,000 tries at getting standings to look good in league updates, and more than a few headaches, Blogmic Encounter has left TypePad for the greener (and free-er) pastures of Blogger.

All interested parties should update their bookmarks with the URL you see above. Also, anyone picking up any sort of RSS feed from the TypePad address will need to burn a new feed (sorry about that). The TypePad site — which is located here — will remain open for a few days, although it will not be updated.

And, best of all, once all the code is in place, Blogmic will be integrated into the front page of the new Cosmic Encounter Online portal! Can I get a "w00t!"?

**That's right, 399. I even had a "400th post!" idea for the next one, too ...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New alien previews aplenty at

You can't swing a dead cat over at Fantasy Flight Games without hitting a new alien preview for the upcoming release of the new Cosmic Encounter boardgame.

A great mix of aliens has been featured so far: classic Eon era, online-only, new creations, and even well-known homebrews have all been put under the spotlight. A complete listing, with links, is over there on your right. No, your other right.

Monday, December 1, 2008

GeorgeOTC schools pretenders, claims league title

I could have sworn I followed up on this ... but I guess not.

Anyway, GeorgeOTC, congratulations on winning the recent Double Trouble League at Cosmic Encounter Online. And by "recent," I mean, "It ended in October."

For the record, the finalists who were handed a big serving of beat-down were AP, Conchad, and Sarry. Full details here.