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!)


David Montgomery said...

Thanks for linking the post. I'm honored to have my words receive such high praise.

Unknown said...

I love the game because I "invented" it. It's a long story. When I was very young I was really into geography. I loved looking at maps. I liked tracing them then make my own war stories to reflect changing boundaries. I liked tracing the maps in my social studies school book to note where cities are as the maps change. I once lamented that there will be a tv game show for kids about geography but by then I'd be too old to go on. Sure enough, when I was too old, "Where In The World is Carmen Sandiego" was on tv. Sigh!

Anyway, when I was at my grandmother's house one day, she had a terrific atlas, one of the best I've ever read. I traced all the countries with their major cities. Since the book also had information such as population, I decided to make a war game out of it. I called it "Chaos War" and each invidual country had its own victory condition. The big countries had to capture the world. Little countries just had to defeat their neighbor or merely remain independent when someone else won. I played it with neighborhood friends. I played it with high school friends.

After the high school game ended, while it was fun, no one was eager to play it again. Even I knew it wasn't the greatest game in the world. It was clunky. However, they were wiling to play the game after a tweak. I threw away the map. Instead, each player would be a sci-fi power, such as The United Federation Of Planets, The Gallifreyans, and the Zentraedi to satisy the Japanimation fans. There would be set rules, but each power would have an ability to break a rule. (Sound familiar?) I only remember the Gallifreyans. They had the power to change history by undoing a past event. The game was still "Chaos War", but reflected in this sci-fi theme and tweaking of rules.

When I went to college the science fiction club had a copy of Cosmic Encounter. When I finally learned what it was about I was floored. **THAT** was the game I created, or rather, was trying to create! It had better, different, and cleaner rules, but the concept of it was exactly what I had in mind when I tweaked "Chaos War". I could not help but be hooked on the game. I became a Cosmic Encounter junkie.

Adam said...

That's a great story, Hadsil.

I, too, had a fascination with maps as a child and would often draw new lines over them and create new continents or rename existing countries. Never made a game out of it, much less a game so reminiscent of Cosmic!

It's fascinating how a love of maps could lead to a geography game which in turn could lead to a sci-fi game (what a leap!) that happened to have the same premise as another sci-fi game.

Thanks for sharing!

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