Thursday, December 31, 2009

Virus and Zombie: switched at birth?

Not wanting to end the year on a negative note, I'll end it instead with this interesting thought: when you get right down to it, FFG's Virus sort of looks like Zombie, and Zombie sort of looks like Virus.

I won't got so far as to say there was a mistake — I can say with first-hand experience that CE designer Kevin Wilson really nurtured the game during its development phase — but I will say that it's a pretty interesting side-by-side comparison. My guess would be either, A) a last-minute switch in artwork, for reasons unknown; or B) everything is as it was meant to be, and the folks at FFG must be thinking we're all a bunch of conspiracy theorists.

Still ... just look at those pictures.

Uh, oh ... Incursion due date slipping?

Don't take this as the gospel truth, but at least one major gaming retailer has shifted Cosmic Incursion's due date back a month. Funagain Games, which I've always found to be a pretty reliable indicator of these sorts of things, now lists "March 2010" on its CI page.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

There's a Fungus among us!

And, yes, I've been just waiting to do that headline ...

To the point: the fourth alien preview for the upcoming Cosmic Incursion expansion has been announced over at Fantasy Flight Games, and it's a classic from the Eon expansions. It is my great pleasure to introduce Fungus.

Because I haven't done the eBay thing in a while

It's a beautiful set, no doubt about that. I'd love to have sealed copies of all nine Eon expansions for Cosmic Encounter.*

I just don't think it's going to sell at $730.

*I've got seven of them sealed, for those wondering. Which was probably no one.

Lawl! Cosmic rules "discussion" FTW!

Man, we've all been there. Sometimes, alien Q acting in phase V does not play well with player X attempting to play flare Z. But, still, it's funny to see someone actually take it public:
... wish I got to play that game of Cosmic Encounter with you guys. The argument after you left went on for another hour.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Locust ready to devour unwary players

The third alien preview for the upcoming Cosmic Incursion expansion has been posted, and it appears to be Cosmic Encounter's answer to Marvel Comics' Galactus.

Everyone say hello to Locust.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A late candidate for Best Line of Year

Bill Martinson, via BGG:
Mayfair's flares are Curly-Joes ...
For the full context, click upon this hyperlink. It's worth it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Yeah, I'm a rebel. That's how I roll

Inspired by this thought over at BGG ...
... why would I want to ask for allies? An extra point per ship is pretty weak and the reinforcement cards are rare.
... I'm going to repeat an experiment I did a couple of years ago. For my next 30 games at Cosmic Encounter Online, I am not going to invite a single ally, offensively or defensively.* I will track the results and post a summary.

Anyone thinking "playing the 'no-invite' guy should be an easy win' " should look for user ID TheDukester at CE Online.

* The obvious exception, as always, is asking for defensive allies when defending against a possible game-winning challenge. I won't play kingmaker just for the sake of an experiment.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Terrifically tantalizing Twitter tidbit

I try not to read too much into these sorts of things, but I did find the following Twitter tweet pretty interesting. Oh, who am I kidding? I love to read too much into stuff like this.

Cosmic Encounter designer Peter Olotka:
In the future (late 2010 + -) there will actually be an abstract connection between Cosmic Encounter and Twilight Imperium.
Let loose the hounds of rabid, uninformed gamer speculation!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

CE alien survey #30: GAMBLER

First appearance: Eon expansion #2. 

Plain-English power: Play an encounter card face down and just say what it is (often legally lying about it). 

Loved by: People with good poker faces. 

Loathed by: The insecure and the gullible. 

Three ways to win as Gambler:
  1. If you don't have that many ships in the warp, you can afford to bluff more freely. It helps if you attack with only 2 ships (then you'll only lose 2 more ships if your bluff is called).
  2. When your opponent reveals his or her card, take a moment to "do the math" before declaring what your card it (especially when you are NOT bluffing and your card is giving you a higher total). Your opponent may be more likely to call your bluff and suffer additional losses.
  3. When you play a negotiate, and your opponent reveals a decent attack card, look disappointed and then declare your card is a negotiate. You may be able to trick your opponent into calling your bluff this way as well. You'll still lose the encounter, but you'll at least sting your opponent.
I was bluffing about only three ways to win. Here's a fourth:
  1. Use negotiates early to get cards away from your opponents. It helps you if there are players that know about certain cards in your hand. If you get the 30 or the 40, you want players to know you have it. You can bluff about that for several encounters.

Friday, December 11, 2009

FFG's second big mystery box: not within the scope of this fine blog

Cutting right to the chase: it's a big-ass Warhammer 40K thing. I know zero about the setting and care even less.

What I do care about is that fans of the classic Dune boardgame are now down to just the remaining "small" mystery box if they're hoping to hear any news concerning Dune: Imperium / Twilight: Dune / Dune: Dinosaur Planet in 2009 or early 2010.

My gut feeling is that the small box will not be the new Dune game. Considering the original announcement came in the summer of 2007, I'm beginning to lose faith that FFG will ever get this game to market.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Incursion: It's a work of pure genius

A brand new alien known as Genius just became the second official Cosmic Incursion preview posted at Fantasy Flight Games. It joins Sniveler on the short-but-hopefully-getting-bigger-soon list.

First reaction: another clever alternate-win alien. And I'm a card-hoarder, so this one automatically gets my seal of approval.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Interesting review from a new CE "convert"

I somehow missed most of this discussion the first time around, but it's certainly worth a quick link. Click here for a solid Cosmic Encounter review from a new-ish player; there's some interesting perspectives.

The highlight for me:
The biggest miracle though, is that it's an absolute blast to play. The game feels untamed, as if it is bucking against the confines of its own design.
Well-said, brother.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Yeah, but WHICH twenty aliens ... ?

With the official announcement of Cosmic Incursion having now rebounded back and forth across the interwebs, it's time for the speculation to begin. Just which aliens will be included in the announced 20?

So far, some of the better discussions can be found here and here.

Anyone want to go on the record here? Just hit the "comments" button, yo.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dune Express keeps harvesting accolades

("Harvesting" ... see what I did there?)

Dune Express, mentioned briefly in this very space, has turned into quite the home-published phenomenon over the past few months, generating much praise and many player-created additions. The latest coup for the game — which shows some faint echoes of the Avalon Hill classic while still managing to go in an entirely new direction — was picking up a Golden Geek award for Best PnP Game of 2009. Pretty heady stuff for what clearly began as just "let's play a super-quick Dune using a bunch of beads we've got laying around."

For more on Dune Express, place your cursor upon this link and press once.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CE: Incursion due in February?

Boardgame News is reporting that the Cosmic Incursion expansion set is due in February of 2010, citing Fantasy Flight Games as a source. The FFG site itself, it should be noted, makes no mention of a release date that I can see.

So, for what it's worth: one site (albeit a usually reliable and professional one) is reporting an early 2010 release date. Make of it what you will.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Super-cool Founder news at CE Online

An interesting alien-gram recently landed in my in-box from Cosmic Encounter designer and CE Online owner Peter Olotka, who was celebrating a new Founder (lifetime subscription) at the online site:
Of note is wchaga's member ID of 101, having signed up on July 27, 2001 way back in the Java game days. By comparison, if you sign up today you will sport a number in the 90,000 range.*
It's always good to have an original player return to the mothership. And to return and decide to become a Founder is just made of pure awesomesauce.

*I've been playing since 2005, and my number is 38,309. I can't imagine having a three-digit number.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

FFG provides a first look at the rewards deck

Interesting stuff. A 32-card deck, available only to successful defensive allies.

Details are right here, my funny little meat-puppets.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pacifist is peaceful ... until it's not

The line of the week, via Twitter:
I think the Pacifists in Cosmic Encounter are inappropriately named.

CE alien survey update: 30 in, need more

I'm looking for more submissions in our ongoing project to post basic strategies for all 50 aliens from the Fantasy Flight Games base set. It's a simple, two-step process:
  1. Check the list below for availability;
  2. Write up a short entry (using the style seen in the ones already posted) and drop it off in my in-box.
Fame and fortune are sure to follow.

(Well, not fortune. And, actually, fame is pretty unlikely, too. So forget about that part.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Reminder: Halloween tournament at CE Online

What better way to relax before or after some trick-or-treating? Or, you know, while you're ignoring the doorbell because, honestly, you really don't even like those neighborhood kids ...

Get yer details right here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CE alien survey #29: RESERVE

First appearance: More Cosmic Encounter.

Plain-English power: Attack cards of 6 or less can be played as Reinforcements. Negotiates can cancel others' Reinforcements.

Loved by: Everyone (when he's allied with them); spammers; fans of the cavalry; World War II Russian tacticians.

Loathed by: Everyone (once he's in the lead); those who despise surprise attacks.

Three ways to win as Reserve:
  • With 15 applicable Attack cards in the deck, there's no reason you shouldn't win every encounter you're invited to ally with, more or less. Jump to an early shared lead by joining the offense. When they start to realize you'll only pull ahead more, they'll start to only invite you on defense. Use that to refuel your reinforcement hand. (Then they'll stop inviting you, period.)
  • Reinforce intelligently. Only play what you need to edge out your opponent. If you're dropping down an Attack 6 when you only need one more point to win, consider losing so that you can save the Attack 6 for when it really matters. If your opponent blew a big card (20-plus) to beat you, then you can be confident that his next card (and possibly others' cards) will be considerably less powerful.

The Cosmic Twitter madness continues

Ladies, gentlemen, and aliens: I give you ...

... Cosmic Encounter designer Peter Olotka's Twitter feed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


No release date yet, but Fantasy Flight Games has posted some information about Cosmic Incursion, the first expansion for the 2008 edition of the game.

No huge surprises so far: 20 aliens and pieces for a sixth player were very much expected; reward decks and "cosmic quakes" sound pretty interesting.

Suggested retail is $24.95. That sounds about right, from what I'm seeing. Hell, that cover is worth $10 all on its own.

Friday, October 23, 2009

And now even aliens have Twitter feeds

That Anti-Matter has always been a bit of a rebel. You know, with the whole "lowest total wins" thing and all that.

But now it's broken some entirely new ground. Anti-Matter is the first Cosmic Encounter alien to have its own Twitter feed. Oh, Anti, you crazy, nutty non-conformist.

My only question: how does it type without any hands?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You do NOT want to miss aliens in costume

Be sure to set aside some time on All Hallows Eve for a visit to Cosmic Encounter Online. There's nothing quite like seeing all of the aliens get dressed up.

All of the details can be found here. Be there or be relentlessly mocked.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wow, down to two already ...

It looks like the item below was posted just in time, as Fantasy Flight Games has already revealed the first of the three Big Black Mystery Boxes.

It's not Dune: Imperium. It's something called Runewars.

Actually, it looks kind of cool.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It'll be Twilight: Dune. Wait, no, it won't! Hmmm ... yes, it will! Gah! I can't decide

Some out there in gamer-land might remember that Fantasy Flight Games ended its annual GenCon "state of the nation" address with a mysterious graphic showing three large black boxes. These served as teases representing three larger products — apparently, two huge "coffin box" games and one game of "standard" FFG size — that the company had in production, but was not prepared to announce publicly.

Now, two months later, the boxes are back.

Pictured above is a screen capture from FFG's home page, heralding the return of the three black boxes and promising that details are forthcoming. Being basically the same person I was two months ago, I'm still wondering the same thing I was back in August: will we be seeing Twilight: Dune (or Dune: Imperium, or Dune with Dinosaurs, or whatever) in one of those boxes?

I think we might. Being a gamer has taught me that wishful thinking is often a disappointing road to travel, but there's a few reasons to believe that there might be a new Dune game announced soon. For one thing, the original announcement that FFG would use the Dune mechanics for a new Twilight: Imperium-themed game came in 2007, so they've had plenty of time to work on it. For another, FFG
has lately shown a willingness to go into stealth mode concerning some upcoming projects (Android, I'm looking at you), and I think Dune: Imperium would fit in with that concept quite nicely. Lastly, Twilight: Imperium will always be important to FFG and founder Christian Petersen — the first edition essentially launched the company — and I'm just having a gut feeling that it's time to announce something that involves the TI universe.

So, my official prediction: yes, there is a new Dune somewhere in one of those boxes. Some other guesses from throughout the interwebs can be found here and here.

Anyone else have any strong feelings? Hunches? Complete guesswork?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A quick note, then my favorite word

First, you've just to love a game that makes people want to say things — to potentially millions of other people — such as this:
I'm the ruler of the universe! MUWAHAHAHAHA!#@!#
Now, part II: it's time for a hiatus. What a wonderful word; it ranks right up there with "plethora" and "penultimate." Anyway, there's too much RL going on right now, so the 'ol blog is on hiatus until at least next Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CE alien survey #28: CHOSEN

First appearance: Mayfair base set.

Plain-English power: Draw three cards after Reveal; if any are Encounter cards, one may replace/add to the card you played.

Loved by: Slot machine enthusiasts; fans of the movie "Maverick"; top-decking SOBs.

Loathed by: People who play straightforward; unlucky saps.

Three ways to win as Chosen:
  • There are 15 Negotiates and 39 Attack Cards. Why get stuck with playing a low Attack? Go ahead and toss it out, and pray for a Negotiate; be sure to give thanks to Chosen's Higher Power for what ye are about to receive.
  • If the average value of Attack cards is 10.5, then the average value of any two random Attack cards is 21. That's the kind of advantage you have going into most encounters!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Catching up with the champions, part II

Following up on yesterday's post, it's a good time to examine the history of the prestigious monthly championships at Cosmic Encounter Online. With his just-completed August title, veteran player Tmax has now won 10 monthly championships, the most of any player.

Here's a list of everyone who has won five or more titles ... the players who can truly say, in other words, that they are, indeed, the champions:
  • 10: Tmax
  • 7: AP
  • 6: Barrok, Fiddler, Williamson
  • 5: Mystique
So, between them, this group has accounted for 53 percent (40 of 75) of all the monthly championships in CEO history.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Catching up with the champions, part I

It's been far too long since we've taken a look at who is taking over the most planets at Cosmic Encounter Online, so it's time to play catch-up. First up: here's the list of your monthly champions so far in 2009:
  • January: Williamson
  • February: Mailman
  • March: Toomai
  • April: Mailman
  • May: Mailman
  • June: Barrok
  • July: Mystique
  • August: Tmax
So, for a quick summary, it looks like Mailman has already won thrice, Tmax has added yet another monthly trophy, and July featured the return of old-school legend Mystique. Good stuff so far.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Crazy Cosmic-on-steroids list: a must-see

I'm not sure if this is just thinking aloud ... or a tease of some new features ... or maybe a combination of the two. But I do know that if even one-fifth of this list ever became reality, I'd never leave the house.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Word on the street: 20 new aliens coming

And this street is actually called "Olotka Avenue," so this is a level above your everyday rumor: 20 new aliens are coming for the first Cosmic Encounter expansion.

(No word yet if Human's friends Elf, Dwarf, Half-Orc, or Halfling made the cut ...)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Okay, now it just needs to stop

The "let's stretch the rules to the breaking point" game is great fun ... every so often. It's not meant to be a daily thing ...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Can EVERY player win? A theoretical challenge

I'm not completely sure that the example here follows the timing rules 100-percent correctly, but I'm totally confident that the author has forgotten more about Cosmic Encounter's rules than I'll ever know, so I'm willing to roll with it. The basic premise: it's possible to have a five-way win in a five-player game.

If pressed, I would have guessed "not possible." I've always thought that someone — the poor slob playing defense being the most obvious example — had to lose in any given game of CE. Now I'm not so sure.

What say you, rules gurus? Genius idea ... or does it all fall apart somewhere?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hypnotized by the silly Twitter widget

Although I'm not a Twitter user myself, I must admit that I'm enjoying the little widget I installed over there in the sidebar. It's sort of fascinating to see people around the world talking about Cosmic Encounter in real time.

A couple of my recent favorite entries (all due respect, Twitter, but I will never be able to say "tweets" with a straight face):
Taping together a 31 year old Cosmic Encounter box.
And ...
Cosmic encounter is a damn fine game.
Why, yes ... yes, it is!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

CE alien survey #27: MISER

First appearance: Eon Expansion #2.

Plain-English power: You have two hands of cards.

Loved by: Greedy guys, those who like a safety net.

Loathed by: Card-stealers, those who enjoy pounding their enemy's hand, Han Solo.

Three ways to win as Miser:
  • At the start of the game, pick your better hand as your hoard. Generally, this hand would include more Artifacts, more Flares, or just your best Attack.
  • Don't assume your hoard is only for emergencies. Treat the safe cards the same as your regular hand.
  • Miser is the best alien at storing cards until the best time, especially since he can keep a hoard without encounter cards. However, if you can't see how your hoarded Artifacts and Flares will have a significant effect, then get a new hoard.
Three ways to win against Miser:
  • Keep Miser's regular hand small. He already has twice as many cards as you, so cut him down to size a bit.
  • Try to force the good stuff out of Miser's hoard, especially at the beginning of the game. For example, make him play his best attack out of it. A hoard without good cards is more of a burden than an asset.
  • Watch how often the Miser player checks his hoard. If he checks it often, chances are he'll use it more often than someone who lets it sit for a few encounters at a time. Frequent checks can also mean he has a good stored card he doesn't want to miss using (although this is dependant on how good his memory is).
At CE Online? No.

Anything else? Miser appeared twice in major CE expansions, but never in a base set until the FFG edition.

— Submitted by Toomai Glittershine

Friday, August 21, 2009

Follow-up Friday: CE expansion still in warp

It's looking more and more likely that any possible Cosmic Encounter expansion is definitely not in Fantasy Flight Games' immediate post-GenCon plans. The company has released a very specific list of release dates for September and October, and there's no mention of the game to be found. FFG is also currently releasing rules and news for a number of their games at a very rapid clip — just take a look at the front page of the website and you'll see what I mean — and, again, there's not a "Cosmic" or an "Encounter" to be found anywhere.

It's still possible that the expansion could be a stealth release, of course; there's no rule that says FFG or any other gaming company has to do things in any specific order or has to announce their every move. But I'm leaning more and more toward a late fall or early 2010 release, after this current huge wave of post-GenCon products has been in the pipeline for awhile.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ummm ... then again, maybe not ...

So ... never mind on those posts below. Ignore them. I was only kidding; clearly, there won't be any Cosmic Encounter news coming out of GenCon.

Or at least not in this six-minute video, which appears to be a series of highlights from Fantasy Flight Games' annual "InFlight Report" state-of-the-company address. There's all kinds of cool stuff in the video — especially if you're into things such as Descent and Talisman — but the words "cosmic" and "encounter" are never mentioned.

Now, as much as I'm disappointed, I'm also going to add that I don't think there's anything sinister going on here. I suspect that the long-rumored CE expansion simply hasn't found a place yet on FFG's production schedule, which, in all the years I've been following the company, has never been so crowded.

Stay tuned to this channel. If my Bothan spies report back with any sort of update, it will be posted immediately.

(No Twilight: Dune news, either. With or without dinosaurs)

Play Cosmic on a $1,500 table! Why not?

Just revealed at GenCon: from the folks who brought you the $9,000 Sultan gaming table comes ... The Emissary! It's a fraction of the price, and you can eat off it!

I'm getting two.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My official CE: Incursion predictions

I figure we're almost exactly 24 hours from the expected announcement of the first Cosmic Encounter expansion — see post below — so here's a quick guess at what we'll be seeing:

Title: Cosmic Encounter: Incursion.
Size: No more than half the size of the big CE box. Thinner, like one of the Lords of the Rings expansions.
New aliens: 20 to 25.
New mechanics: Hazards is a definite, as its already mentioned in the original CE rulebook. Rules and pieces for a sixth player will be added. I also expect to see one totally new mechanic (much like Tech was completely new in the original edition).
Price: Either $29 or $39, depending on how much of the new stuff is printed on heavy stock.

CE expansion news coming on Friday?

The last couple of GenCons have been good ones for fans of Cosmic Encounter: the 2007 show brought us news of Fantasy Flight Games' upcoming new editions of Cosmic Encounter, Borderlands, and Twilight Imperium: Dune with Dinosaurs, while the 2008 show featured the actual first look at the new edition of CE.

Now, for this year's show, comes word that FFG will be hosting an "InFlight Report," where the company is expected to provide the gaming equivalent of a state-of-the-nation address. Here's the key part of the announcement (emphasis added):
... the 2009 InFlight Report will highlight FFG thoughts on its position in the marketplace, interesting anecdotes about FFG's operations, as well as a bundle of news and announcements.
Given that CE has been a runaway success for FFG (it completely sold out its first printing) and given that an expansion to the game seems to be about the worst-kept secret in all of gaming, I'm fairly optimistic we'll be seeing some news tomorrow. I'm pretty sure that deserves a "W00t!"

And, hey, FFG, if you're not too busy? Please, please, please announce something for Dune: Imperium. Enough with the wating game; let's hear something concrete.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Who's playing CE? Twitter will tell ya

So I've been noodling around a bit with Twitter, being the Web 2.0 god that I am, and one neat thing I've discovered is that its search function can provide what is essentially a real-time look at who out there might be discussing a certain topic (and how popular the topic is at any given time). It's really kind of fascinating to observe.

For instance, posted above are the results from a search for "Cosmic Encounter" that I did about 90 seconds ago. Now, I might know any of these people, but I can see where our shared love of the game might lead me to open a conversation with one of them, which might lead to making some sort of stronger connection down the road. Sometimes, I begin to understand why this social-media thing seems to be gaining so much traction.

Beyond possibly finding other CE fans out there in on the interwebs, though, it's really just sort of hypnotic to see what people are talking about in as close to real-time as we've got right now. We've come a long way since I first used a Macintosh SE at the campus computer lab.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Please play the DUNE boardgame today

On our national day of mourning, I think it would be great if we all tried to get in a game of the still-fantastic DUNE boardgame today.

(And when you're done with that, be sure to drop an email to Fantasy Flight Games inquiring about the status of DUNE: Imperium).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bill is the alpha player at Alpha league

The Alphabetical Aliens league is in the books at Cosmic Encounter Online, with Bill needing only three games to dispatch with pretenders Sleepy Weasel, Zxzxi, and BH Zach. I'll spare everyone the usual "he h/\xXz0rzd teh game!" comment. Full details can be found here.

That wraps up another CE Online league, and I'm hoping the next one is equally as entertaining. I didn't know what to think when the alphabet concept was announced, but it turns out that almost every one of the combos was a real blast to play.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Finals details announced for Alpha Aliens league

After starting at A (Anti-Matter) and ending at Z (Zombie), eight sessions of the Alphabetical Aliens league are in the history books, leaving only the final round to play. That little detail will be taken care of Monday at Cosmic Encounter Online when Zxzxi, Bill, Sleepy Weasel, and Zach of the Stupendous Hat-Rack meet to determine just who exactly is the greatest Cosmic Encounter player in the world.**

Full details can be found here. And here's a quick glance at the four finalists' records:
zxzxi: 6-13 (.315)
Bill: 5-6 (.454)
Sleepy Weasel: 4-9 (.307)
BigHeadZach: 2-6 (.250)
That's Monday at 8:30 E / 5:30 P. You won't want to miss it.

**"Greatest" until the next league, that is ...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Time for some heavy metal boardgames

Here's another laugh-out-loud entry from McSweeney's. I think my favorite is Hungry Hungry Skid Rows.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Yes, but WHY do you like Cosmic Encounter?"

Cosmic Encounter is often a tough game to put into words. There's a lot going on that's not always apparent until you've played quite a bit — negotiation, politics, diplomacy, back-stabbing, and alliances (often of convenience) are just a few parts of the Cosmic experience. And that doesn't even mention the variable alien powers, how they work together, and the other parts of the game that literally break the rules.

But putting it down into words is exactly what our friend David Montgomery did in this interesting post at a leading boardgames site. After playing more than 100 times with the new Fantasy Flight Games edition, DavidMont's got some interesting insights into the experience.

(Here's why I like it: it's teh r0xXz0RRz!!llone!11!)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cosmic Encounter gets Wiki-fied

No, not at Wikipedia — that farcical entry is still around, just as embarrassing and semi-useless as any other article at that place. No, I'm talking about an independent site with wiki-based software, written and maintained (presumably) by Cosmic Encounter fans for Cosmic Encounter fans.

It's just getting off the ground now; check it out and maybe think about contributing a thing or two.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Last-chance time in CE Online league

With no more letters remaining, tonight's eighth session of the Alphabetical Aliens league is the final one on the schedule. Anyone looking for wins will have to prove their mastery over Warpish, Warrior, Will, and Zombie.

The standings are still ridiculously tight, too: two players have four wins, two have three, and four have two. It's still anybody's ballgame.

That's tonight, 8E/5P; be there or be mocked.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Do you like V's? Then tonight is your night

It's all V all the time tonight (Monday, July 6) at the Alphabetical Aliens league, which will feature Virus, Vulch, Void, and Vacuum as a pre-set combo.

The standings are still absurdly close, with no single player able to break away after six weeks of competition. Here's a glance at the leaders; the full version of the standings can be found here:
  • Three wins: Bill, Peter, Sleepy Weasel, Zxzxi;
  • Two wins: IcarusInx, Subby, TheDukester.
It's still anybody's ballgame. Be there tonight (8E/5P) or you'll live to regret it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cosmic Online reaches 90K players

Since the site debuted in May of 2003, players at Cosmic Encounter Online have been identified through unique ID numbers (I am 38309; nice to meet you). Now, a little more than six years later, the 90,000th account has been created.

Be sure to note the clever user ID for player #90,000 ...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Get your league on tonight!

It's Monday — and that means it's Cosmic Encounter Online league time! Tonight's aliens in the Alphabetical Aliens league: Sapient, Sorcerer, Trader, Tripler.

Set those alarms: tonight, 8E/5P.

Who will be king of the Cosmic mountain?

Things are still very, very close at the ongoing Alphabetical Aliens league at Cosmic Encounter, where six players have at least two wins, but only one has at least three. The latest standings, heading into tonight's action, can be found here.

Interested parties should also note that a new qualifying procedure is in place. Rather than set an arbitrary number of minimum games played to be eligible for the finals, the number will be determined by computing an average number of games played for all players. This makes much more sense, and it will allow a greater degree of flexibility (busy leagues will have a higher minimum-games-played number than less-busy leagues, but both will be using a valid method to determine the finalists). I hope this new qualifying procedure remains in place for all future leagues.

Alien strategy series submissions report

(Updated: Monday, 6/29)

Here's your new-and-improved submissions list for our ongoing alien strategy series. It's even conveniently color-coded:
  • Soothing blue: submitted and posted;
  • Soothing yellow: a submission has been received and will be posted soon-ish;
  • Soothing red: I've been asked to reserve this alien (or, possibly, plan to write it up myself).

CE alien survey #26: FODDER

First appearance: Fantasy Flight Games.

Plain-English power: Play more attack cards under the value of your opponent’s card.

Loved by: People with a lot of lousy cards in their hands, Loser and Anti-Matter.

Loathed by: Aliens that like players who have a lot of cards in their hands, and anyone hoping to squeak by with a mid-range win (oh, and Spiff probably doesn’t like this cat).

Three ways to win as Fodder:

  1. Play a low attack card, but not necessarily your lowest. You may be able to win the encounter with the card you just played, or at worst only one or two attack cards extra.
  2. Use your negotiates in encounters you can afford to lose, especially against an opponent with lots of cards to choose from. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you have to play a negotiate when you don’t want to.
  3. Be careful about having too many allies. Chances are good you can win some encounters alone if you have a lot of low and mid-range cards, especially when you know your opponent hasn’t invited a lot of players to his side.

Three ways to win against Fodder:

  1. Be careful about playing attack 23 and 30. It’s easy for Fodder to stack up cards from his hand under those totals. Attack 40 is going to be a lot harder for him to match.
  2. Pay attention to when Fodder is low on encounter cards. If he hasn’t drawn a new hand when you encounter each other, he probably doesn’t have much he can do. Go ahead and play for the big win.
  3. A plethora of allies can make up the difference between your attack totals — just watch out for giving certain players too many gains.

At CE Online? No.

Anything else? This power was created by Jack Reda! Originally it was mandatory for Fodder to play his lowest card initially. FFG developer Kevin Wilson wisely decided that wasn’t really necessary.

— Submitted by Jack Reda

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bill leads at league; fix suspected

The ongoing Cosmic Encounter Online league is now halfway through the alphabet, with the standings still very tight.

(And, yes, another update will be coming soon; the fifth league session was scheduled for Monday night)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

2032 CE world champion says "Happy Father's Day"

Here's wishing a happy dad's day to all of us who have little aliens at home.

(Check out the cool bib!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A nice Cosmic shout-out from Bruno

I mentioned earlier that I was looking forward to Bruno Faidutti's upcoming Ad Astra boardgame, having long ago discovered that I generally enjoy his take on asymmetrical or variable-powers games (and thinking that AA had a bit of a Cosmic Encounter feel to it, too).

So I ended up with a pretty big smile today after reading Fantasy Flight Games' first preview of the game. In addition to discussing the basic engine of the game — which appears to be more Settlers than Cosmic — the article closes with the following statement from Bruno:
In the past twenty years, the board game I’ve played most is certainly Cosmic Encounter.
Booyah! Score another point for CE's legendary influence.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Monday league back to Monday-ing

After a couple of false-starts, the ongoing Alphabetical Aliens league at Cosmic Encounter Online completed its second session last week and is poised for another go-'round tomorrow, June 8. As a reminder: the new league is weekly and runs on Mondays.

Here's your early leaderboard:
  • Two wins: Bill, Subby;
  • One win: Amatecon, AP, Mesmer69, Zxzxi.
More detailed standings will be posted once a few more games are completed.

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.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Finals format formalized for four finalists

It looks like we're good to go with three of the four qualifiers being joined by one alternate for tonight's championship round of the Much Madness league. Details emerged in a super-secret communique sent out by Cosmic Encounter designer Peter Olotka:
Sleepy Weasel (alternate, playing in Peter's slot)

Time: 9E/6P
Date: Thursday April 30

Format: First player to win two games is declared the winner; solo wins only; April Fools Pods will be in play. A series of combos will be played, in order, until one player has won two games.
It sounds like an interesting finals format; I like it. Personally, I'm glad to see we've gotten away from one-game, winner-take-all championships.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Who did what in the Much Madness league

Pictured below are the final standings for the Much Madness league at Cosmic Encounter Online. Congratulations to our four finalists; now, let's just hope that most of them can attend the all-important championship round.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

CE alien survey #23: VIRUS

First appearance: Eon base set

Plain-English power: Multiply your ships by your card (and then add allies).

Loved by: Low-total-wins powers, math nerds.

Loathed by: The rest of the cosmos.

Three ways to win as Virus:

  1. Don't be a bully. Virus is naturally an "outcast" power - everyone will hate you as soon as its sheet is turned face-up. Being nice in the early going (such as not blowing people up with four ships and a 15) will stop it from getting any worse.
  2. Your ships are valuable. Risk as few as you can in the opening so you'll have more left over in the end-game, where most good cards (such as the Zaps) are gone and you can really blow people away.
  3. If Anti-Matter or Loser is in the game, do what it takes to get the 00 card. Zero times anything is zero. (With that in mind, be very careful about having one of your home colonies vaccinated.)

Three ways to win against Virus:

  1. Deplete his resources. Use the Plague. Play N's. Target him as Vacuum or Hacker. Ionic Gas him. Virus can still bring it with few ships and low cards, so destroy as many as you can.
  2. Don't invite him. Virus generally doesn't need help getting a colony, and you don't want him to get more stuff (see #1).
  3. If you must go toe-to-toe with Virus (such as when he's going for the win), then just Zap him. Power-wise, Anti-Matter and Loser have an easy time dealing with him, while other powerhouses such as Warrior have a decent chance.

At CE Online? Yes.

Anything else? While a number of aliens have been in every released version of CE, Virus is one of the "Original Six," having appeared in the game's first prototype.

— Submitted by Toomai Glittershine

Friday, April 24, 2009

This just in: league finalists announced!

Details will follow soon-ish, but for now, here's your four survivors of the Much Madness league at Cosmic Encounter Online:
  • Hadsil
  • AP
  • Bill
  • Peter
Interesting ... looking at those last two names, I'd have to say that, clearly, the fix was in.

In any case, those four will meet for the league title, lots of m-rics, a Cosmic T-shirt, and everlasting fame and glory in a championship round to be played next week.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Picture clearing up (sort of) at CEO league

After a few weeks where it seemed like every player was more or less tied for first place, a few leaders are finally beginning to emerge at Cosmic Encounter Online's ongoing Much Madness league. The standings below reflect seven sessions of Thursday-night madness:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oh, no, Starlog ... say it isn't so!

Sad news recently for those of us who actually enjoy holding physical collections of words and pictures in our hands: Starlog is ceasing publication after more than 33 years of providing (mostly) great coverage of SF, fantasy, comics, and other genre-related items. From SciFi Wire:
Official word of Starlog's demise came in a posting last week on the site, buried five paragraphs deep in an update informing readers that had relaunched in beta as part of a "massive digital initiative" and touting the fact that a "Digital store," to launch next month, will feature digital editions of the entire Starlog catalog.
Yeah, that's just what the world needs: yet another "web portal" that tries to do too many things at once and fails at most of them. Epic fail.

And, yes, there is a Cosmic Encounter connection here. I'm almost positive that Future Pastimes used to run ads in Starlog, circa 1979 or 1980. I'm going to leaf through my back issues* to see if I can find one, scan it, and post it here.

(The video, BTW, is from 1984, and was an actual commercial from back in the days when we all got very few channels and didn't get to see any boobies on TV. That's how cool Starlog used to be; it had it's own frickin' commercial)

* I have the first 225 issues, all bagged and boarded. Because I'm awesome.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

An even 100 new aliens from The Warp

For those looking for some solid examples of homebrew alien construction, I offer up The Warp's 10-part series of new aliens, which recently concluded with this entry. Be sure to look at the notation for year introduced and the various comments sections, as they give an indication of the general idea and timeline for each alien.

(Sidebar: I considered posting the link to the relevant Fantasy Flight Games page, which has the same information contained in one thread. In theory, this would be easier, right? Everything would be in one place. Here's an indication, though, of how brutally unreadable and user-unfriendly the FFG forums are: I don't want to subject anyone to having to read all of that white-on-gray text, and I don't want to be responsible for the interface-induced frustration that would be felt by anyone attempting to actually respond to the post. Sorry, FFG fans, but those forums are just plain awful.)

Okay, be that as it may, let's focus on the good stuff. Once again, here's 100 new aliens to play with, including quite a few that are intended for use with the new FFG edition. Go crazy, yo.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Get yer standings right here

The ongoing Much Madness league could have been renamed "Much Goodness" last night for Cosmic Encounter legend Bill, who won the first three games he played to tie for the top spot in the standings. Rumors of Bill manipulating the code while he played are, of course, entirely unfounded. I think.

Either way, here's your latest update, my funny little lobby lizards:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Shared wins: Okay, or spawn of the devil?

I haven't checked in for a while over at the World's Leading Boardgames Site™, so I missed this item when it first appeared. It's a poll subject I've thought of posting here, but I'll just piggy-back onto theirs (and they'll get more responses over there, anyway): shared wins in Cosmic Encounter. Are they acceptable or just one step removed from kicking puppies?

For once, my feelings are lining up with the popular vote. Depending on the situation, I'll take my wins where I can get them, especially against top-level opponents.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

League gets new name, crowded leaderboard

The ongoing league action at Cosmic Encounter Online has been re-branded from "March Madness" to "Much Madness," in large part because plans now call for the tournament to extend into April. (Additional trivia, free of charge: March Madness is also a registered trademark).

Dates and times remain the same (Thursdays, 8E/5P), as does the format, which is the basic solo-wins-only variety used for most CEO leagues.

The top of the standings is crowded, with no single player able to take charge yet. Here's the updated standings:

Friday, March 20, 2009

CE alien survey #22: SHADOW

First appearance: Eon Expansion #3 (as "Assassin").

Plain-English power: After Destiny is flipped, send a ship of that color to the Warp.

Loved by: Healer (easy healing), Zombie, Warpish. Vacuum can spread the hurt around to others. Masochist, of course.

Loathed by: Macron, most of all. Kamikaze is no fan of Shadow, either, but Macron is truly hosed by Shadow.

Three ways to win as Shadow:
  • Bide your time. Your power is going to matter more as the game goes on, as the Warp gets full. Cudgel and Vacuum speed the game along towards that point, which is nice. Which leads to the second point ...
  • Manage your own ships well. Why? Because you want to be in a position where you don't need to play a Mobius Tubes. Got the Tubes? Play out your hand and let it end up in the discard pile.
  • Take out the right ships. Never randomly toss someone else's ship in the Warp. Always make sure it's a ship that the player hates to see go. Foreign colonies are almost always the best choice, but not always, so be mindful of what Destiny cards have been played. When a Wild is drawn, you've got a free choice — don't waste it. If Virus is in the game, you are part of the solution to de-bug him.
Three ways to win against Shadow:
  • Go big when you go for foreign colonies: three ships at the least and usually four ships on offense. Sorry if you don't like it, you simply must (super sorry if you're Macron).
  • Don't let the game drag on. If you are not playing a combat power, you may want to even consider a shared win if it becomes an option. A smart Shadow is going to be elminating foreign colonies left and right when the Warp is full, with his own ships safe.
  • If one Mobius Tubes has been played, watch for the next. You need it. Do what you have to do to get cards from the deck, both to get the second Tubes and to force the discards to be re-shuffled. That second Tubes needs to be played before Shadow can get the game to the exact place he wants it to be.
At CE Online? No.

Anything else? The Wild Shadow is an amazing Flare; it's positively nuclear. It says, "As the defense, when you lose an encounter and your opponent played an attack card, you may send one of your ships not in the encounter to the warp to take all opposing ships to the warp with you. In spite of winning, the opposing players do not receive colonies on your planet."

— Submitted by Rob Burns

Monday, March 16, 2009

All y'all should probably just give up now

There's a new sheriff in town over at the March Madness league. Let's take a long, loving look at the new leaderboard:

Two wins
  • TheDukester
One win
  • Praxis
  • AP
  • Peter
  • Toomai
  • Diseris
  • Hadsil
  • Zach of the Over-sized Dome
Odd note from last Thursday's action: Will was the winning alien in all three games in which it appeared. I would have lost money on that bet.

Complete standings here.

Cosmic Encounter hits the table at con

My spies tell me this shot from last weekend's MoMo Con in Atlanta was actually snapped by Greg Olotka, legendary Cosmic Encounter Online code-jockey and son of some guy who created some game once.

The image is a bit small-ish, so many important questions remain unanswered:
  • Who is winning?
  • Who is playing what alien?
  • Is Greg actually playing?
  • Would you let your sister date any of these guys?
Anyone have an AAR? Was the new CE a hit at the con?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Madness continues tonight at CEO

The second session of the March Madness league at Cosmic Encounter Online is scheduled for tonight (8E/5P), and it appears that last week's bugs have been squashed.

The early leaders are all tied at one win apiece. Here they are:
  • Toomai
  • Diseris
  • Hadsil
  • Large Melon Zeke

Monday, March 9, 2009

New league pods are go, yo!

It looks as if this Thursday's second March Madness league night will feature the new group of pods mentioned below.

Full details here.

Why I'm glad The Two Hacks aren't gamers

Winds of Dune, the upcoming new "Dune" book — and those quote-marks are there on purpose — is so bad that it causes computers to crash. Alleged "writer" Kevin J. Anderson says so right on his self-indulgent Twitter page.

So it's time to give thanks to Shai-Hulud, once again, that Hack One and his idiot friend Frank Herbert's Son had nothing whatsoever to do with the classic Dune boardgame. Nor will their input be needed for the upcoming Twilight: Dune.
Bless the Maker and all His Water. Bless the coming and going of Him, May His passing cleanse the world. May He keep the world for his people.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

New league at CE Online! It's madness!

Update (3/5): League play begins tonight! (8E/5P)

Update II (3/5): Interested parties should read Peter's comments below.


March Madness, that is. That's the name of the upcoming league at Cosmic Encounter Online, which begins on Thursday. There's even two bonuses:

Bonus #1: The league will be hosted by none other than Peter Olotka, designer of the original Cosmic Encounter boardgame.

Bonus #2: All kinds of new pods will be added to the deck. Here's the list:
101, 99, 65, 55, 33, 13, 13, 9 (x2), 7 (x3), 3, 1, -10, -20, N (x4);
Emotion Control, Stellar Gas, Plague (x2), Force Field, Zap.
Full details can be found at CosBlog.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bounty offered: $5 for a 505

I'm offering a $5 bounty** for the first player to record an encounter total of 505 or greater in any league game at the upcoming March Madness league.

And just how in the cosmos would one score a 505, you might ask? Easy!
  1. Play Virus;
  2. Develop a home planet with five or more ships;
  3. Play the 101 pod.
Voila! Instant crisp $5 bill for you!

Fiver.jpgNote also that the bounty would be payable for, say, having six ships and playing the 99 pod ... or even eight ships with the 65 pod. Any total of 505 or more is a winner.

Rules? There are two:
  1. The 505 or higher must come during an actual league game;
  2. A screenshot is required.
Keep in mind that I'm in my 12th year of using Photoshop. I will spot any attempts at fakery in far less time than it would take to construct them.

I'd prefer to pay the winner (if any) via PayPal, but it's not an absolute requirement.

**If the winner (if any) would prefer, I'll just buy them a month-long membership at CE Online, instead.

And speaking of tournaments ...

Here's what looks like a good one for anyone who might be in the Atlanta area for MomoCon on the weekend of March 14-15. This information comes from our own Big Head Zach, writer of many strategy articles and tweaker of much Cosmic Encounter Online code:
We'll be running games of C.E. all weekend, free to play, open to anyone who wants to jump in! However, if you want a shot at some cool prizes, you can purchase tickets to have the games you play count in a running competition that lasts until Sunday afternoon, where the top 5 players will square off in an Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny (tm) to see who is the Supreme Ruler Of The Universe, Bwahaha (tm).

The entry fee is $5 to have your games tracked. This fee is reduced to $3 if you are in a sci-fi themed costume (please, cosplayers, come have fun where I can see you!).

All games will use the 4-Planet variant (for quicker games), and feature 30 of the 50 aliens in the box (picked to allow variety but minimize newbie frustration). There are no other changes from the basic rules.

The plan is to have two copies of the game available to play (meaning 10 people can be playing at any given moment). If players cannot decide how to group themselves together to play, the staff will randomly seat people.
That's the basic version. For the full announcement, follow this link.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

So just what should Twilight: Dune look like?

I'd say that's a pretty fair question. And, being gamers, I'm sure we all have lots of ideas. To start things off, there's a bunch of interesting points in this discussion at the FFG boards.

I have a good starting point: if there's going to be the equivalent of the Bene Gesserit's co-existence rule, then just, for the love of all that is holy ... make ... it ... clear.

Monday, March 2, 2009

CE alien survey #21: WARPISH

First appearance: Eon expansion #7.

Plain-English power: Ships in the Warp add to your combat total.

Loved by: Necromongers; Warp fetishists; Jack Reda**; the win-inverters (Spiff / Loser / Anti-Matter) are fascinated. Zombie and Void tolerate Warpish because they will never contribute to his cause.

Loathed by: Virus and Citadel (competition, especially competition they end up creating), Chosen (necromancy is an abomination against the Divine), Shadow / Vacuum/ Cudgel (unwitting accomplices).

Three ways to win as Warpish:
  1. Your loss is still your gain. The only thing Warpish ever loses is board position. Knowing this, you can run a 4-ship offense a lot longer out of the gate than others, and can afford to be a bit more thin across all colonies. Keep three home colonies reasonably defended at all times.
  2. Card Zaps are for Mobius Tubes. Period. To a lesser extent, save Ionic Gas for when a lot of defensive allies are about to claim rewards (and have numerous ships in the Warp). If you get Mobius Tubes, keep it a big secret. Tubes should only leave your hand as a discard, not as compensation.
  3. Inviting allies on defense is shooting yourself in the foot. Never turn down an offer to ally on offense: you'll get a colony and prevent defensive rewards at best, and get more ships in the Warp at worst. Accept invitations to defend if you really need the cards, or if the odds are good that you'll defeat a significant offensive force (and add to your unholy fleet).
Three ways to win against Warpish:
  1. Warpish is weakest at the beginning of the game, or just after Mobius Tubes is played. If you have the means (i.e., choice) to rid him of colonies, choose him over other targets. A Warp full of ships does him no good if he is down to two or fewer home colonies.
  2. Go thin on offensive attacks. Consider launching ships in a fashion that doesn't favor Warpish in one direction or the other. If you are defeated, you want to give Warpish the least amount of bonus you can. Supplement with thoughtful card play.
  3. Mobius Tubes. Rather than hold out as long as you can, you should play the Tubes if the Warp ship count gets significantly higher than 10 — even if you have few ships in the Warp — to keep Warpish's advantage reasonably low. If you get a Card Zap, consider holding onto it, as it's likely Warpish will Card Zap the first Mobius Tubes to come out, and you can then Card Zap the Card Zap.
At CE Online? Yes.

Anything else? Warpish is one of the few aliens to theoretically get more powerful as its board position gets weaker. However, it's still common for Warpish to rely mostly on the suffering of others to fuel his undead fleet. Better them than him, right?

— Submitted by Zach Gaskins

**Message from Jack: "Not especially. Surprised?"