Friday, June 11, 2010

Cosmic Encounter in the cloud: FAST!

The Thursday test of Cosmic Encounter Online running on a cloud-based server seemed to be a smashing success. With about 90-percent of the game totally functional (things such as Join In Progress were turned off), the site performed at top efficiency, supporting many rooms of players and a chatty lobby. At one point, in fact, players were encouraged to post as fast as they could in the lobby, which has often been a problem area in the past. The result: not even a minor hiccup.

To the best of my knowledge, no players reported any errors or issues with lag. I personally had one laggy moment, but I'm 99-percent sure the problem was on my end, as I've really been struggling with AT&T for the last couple of weeks. Other than that, I didn't hear of any other players having issues.

The hope is that this could lead to a better experience in all areas of the game. A faster experience, combined with some bug-fixes and new aliens, would also be just the ticket to draw in a new generation of players and entice some of the old-school veterans to return.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thursday testing for "Cosmic in the cloud"

Re-blogging from the official Cosmic Encounter Online blog:
We want to get a bunch of players in the game on the development server to try to replicate the LAG problem that’s been plaguing the game since we have been running on Network Solutions. Our goal is to fix up the current game and then add aliens from the new FFG set.
(Can I just add that I really love that last line?)

The test is scheduled for tomorrow, June 10. All of the details can be found right here.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dune Express: really digging it

(Get it? Digging? You know, sand? Desert? Bah, never mind ...)

I've been playing a lot of Dune Express lately, and my initial skepticism has been replaced with a healthy dose of respect. There's a lot of game there, man. And my biggest complaint — essentially, lack of movement — isn't nearly so important now that further plays have revealed more about the mechanics of the game (not to mention that the entire board only has six spaces; "movement" really isn't that necessary).

The game bills itself as a fast-playing version of the classic Dune boardgame from Avalon Hill, which is reasonably accurate. The only two major things that are missing are rules for leaders and storms, but both of those have been covered with fan-made variants. The basic game also doesn't include faction powers, but there's no shortage of variants for those, too.

I really heartily recommend Dune Express to fans of the original boardgame, those looking for a quick Dune-themed dicefest, fans of print-and-play games, or fans of the Dune series looking to play their first game with an Arrakis setting. And you can't beat the price; if you own a printer and some 6-sided dice, you're ready to go.
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

BoardgameGeek: always good for laughs

So it looks as if BoardgameGeek's relentless quest to turn every single aspect of gaming into a piece of quantifiable data has reached another milestone. In addition to the ongoing controversial attempt to marginalize all games that aren't brown-cube-shuffling, penguin-moving, bishop-influencing Euros, the site now features rankings broken down by mechanics. Jesus wept.

So did you know that Cosmic Encounter is, apparently, the 13th-best theme-driven game ev-AR? Did you realize that CE was, in fact, "theme-driven"? Yeah, neither did I.

That place is a real head-shaker, I swear. So much data ... so little thought.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I have thoughts. Often, on games

And here's the proof:

So ... anyone desperately bored enough to see what I'm thinking about the world of gaming — definitely including my perpetual favorites, Cosmic Encounter and Dune — is invited to follow along. I'll even provide a convenient link!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gamer cards? I'd buy some of those

Here's some classic gaming humor from RPG Blog II. (Sidebar: is there an RPG Blog I? I've never seen it ...)

My gamer card would list nothing but Cosmic Encounter from 2005 through 2007. I swear, it's all I played then. It's like I had a fever or something.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Twitter: power to tantalize

Check out that intriguing Twitter entry from Peter Olotka! Hokey smoke!

Maybe if we're nice, Peter will share. If we're nice ... and if we all agree to play lots of Cosmic Encounter Online.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Replace "Small World" with "Cosmic Encounter"

I'm back to dreaming of one day playing Cosmic Encounter on the Apple iPad.

Saturday's announcement that Days of Wonder's Small World boardgame was being released in a digital version in the iPad App Store ($4.99; here's a handy link) was a welcome surprise. Not only is Small World a pretty fun little game on its own, but it shares a number of features — light basic rule-set, races with variable powers, social aspect, etc. — with a game we have discussed quite a bit around here.

Small World serves as proof that interesting boardgames can be done for the iPad (and, peeking into the future, for whichever directions mobile computing takes in the next few years). This isn't yet another app for hearts, or poker, or a Yahtzee variant — it's a beautiful recreation of a very popular boardgame. It can be done, and it can be done well.

So why not Cosmic Encounter? Well, as Cosmic Encounter Online owner Peter Olotka is quick to point out, time and money are two big factors. But those are hurdles that can be overcome — they might not be easy, but they can be conquered. And, once they are, I really see no reason at all why we won't someday be playing CE on our iPads. Picture the following set-up:
  • Cosmic Encounter app: $4.99 for a base version with 10 to 16 aliens;
  • Alien expansion packs: $1.99 (or maybe 99 cents) for maybe four to six more aliens;
  • Large expansion packs: $3.99 or $4.99 for a major addition such as moons or lucre; $2.99 or $3.99 for a mega-pack of 15 aliens.
That's all off the top of my head. It seems like a win-win to me: the owners of the CE brand can generate some much-needed revenue beyond CE Online; veteran CE players will feel like they've died and gone to heaven; newcomers — and there would be hundreds, at least — will experience a classic game for the first time.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Update: Major slowdown; posts will be infrequent

No long speeches ... just a notice that maintaining a low-key gaming blog has been forced way, way, way down my priority list due to Real Life concerns.

I do not know when — or, frankly, if — this blog will be updated again. For now, I will leave it open for searching and archive purposes.

(Update 3/5/10: The blog, generally, is still a low priority, but I'm going to post interesting items if the seem worthy. For now, I'd guess that will mean no more than two or three posts per month. So, it's not "dead" ... just "slow.")

No one is dying or anything dramatic like that; it's just priorities.

May your Viruses always multiply by 4.

— Duke

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cosmic Encounter: the fifth game you MUST own

Seriously. It says so right here in this list of "The 10 Games Everyone Should Own."

The highlight:
It’s ripe for expansion, it’s rarely longer than 90 minutes, and the shifting, conditional alliances always make for some exciting table talk and good laughs. It’s everything a hobby game should be — fun, imaginative, challenging, and interactive.
The Dune boardgame also gets a shout-out as the "... best game ever published ..." (yikes!) but author Michael Barnes rightly doesn't include it in his list, which is focussed on games that are either still in print or else attainable with a minimum amount of effort.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mystery boxes revealed; zero relevant news

So that third mystery box over at Fantasy Flight Games turned out to be some sort of bizarre you-got-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter combination of BattleLore and A Game of Thrones.

Personally, it would be impossible for me to be less interested in this item. I mention it only because it serves as sort of an official end to the speculation: none of the three mystery boxes had the slightest thing to do with Twilight Dune: Dinosaur Ninjas, Borderlands, or Cosmic Encounter.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

My God ... Cosmic Encounter is full of stars!

It looks like the Cosmic Encounter creativity bug has bitten some of the usual suspects. Two major homebrew projects are currently getting a lot of reaction over at the self-proclaimed Leading Boardgames Site, and both are pretty neat (both are what might be called "planet-based," too, which is kind of interesting). Anyway, point that clicking thing at these links for Cosmic Stars and Planetary Profiles.

As an aside, I'll add that I really enjoy this direction for CE variants. As I've made clear elsewhere, I am pretty much over the whole "homebrew alien" thing; we just don't need a 37th variant of Pacifist. In fact, I'm actively boycotting any discussion at any site regarding homebrew aliens — I just literally skip right over those threads. Bleh. I've got your Macron variant right here, pal!

But adding entirely new concepts to the game — especially those that have been playtested at least a little bit — is definitely something TheDukester can support.

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's the player aid that ate Cincinnati

What's great about Toomai's Timing Sheet for Cosmic Encounter is that it's so ... extreme. In a very literal sense, it attempts to detail every possible action and reaction for every Cosmic Encounter alien, step by step, as the phases of every turn progress. In a more "meta" sense, though, it's a wonderful look at just how much "the game that breaks its own rules!" really does do just that.

The real comedy, of course, comes from the fact that anyone showing this sheet to a new CE player would cause that player to flee madly for the nearest exit (probably muttering something about CE being "10 times more complicated than Arkham Horror"). But, as we all know, Cosmic really isn't that bad, once a few simple rhythms are learned — and it's not like all 70 aliens are involved at once.

Anyway, be sure to click on the image here to see it a bigger, more readable size. It's worth admiring the sheer scope of the thing ...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quite possibly the world's geekiest shirt

(Not that such a thing stops me from wanting one, of course ...)

You've got to love getting two solid gaming references for the price of one shirt. And the "flow" line is bigger than just the Dune book: I've never played a single game of the Dune boardgame, FTF or online, where "The spice must flow" wasn't uttered by someone or other.

It's also nice that even the little details are right. For instance, that's a regulation-size Settlers of Catan board pictured.

(Tip of the fedora to Cosmic Encounter player Bioball for the heads-up)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

First look at our 20 new alien friends

As usual, a good starting point for all things Cosmic Encounter is The Warp — not the place where your lost ships go because you're playing like a bonehead, but the actual person. Much like he did when the Fantasy Flight Games base set arrived, Jack Reda has provided his initial thoughts on the 20 new aliens found in Cosmic Incursion.

It's well-written, it's got pretty formatting, and it's worth a read.

Friday, January 29, 2010

CE Online on the iPad? Why not?

And that's not just me talking crazy, either. Here's Cosmic Encounter designer Peter Olotka, commenting at this very blog:
Bill and I are committed to getting some of the new aliens online. And we are discussing the possibility of an IPad ce online. Our Cosmic flash guru Alan Queen did this little game in flash and ported it to the iphone:

Search the app store for
Star Match ABC
by DigiDood
Well, that would be enough to pretty much make my head explode in a tremendous spray of blood and gray matter. As a longtime member of both the Apple and Cosmic Encounter cults, playing CE Online — with some new aliens, too! — on Apple's shiny new gadget would be a clear case of Fanboy Overload for me. I will say right now, on the record, that I would gladly pay my CE Online Founder's fee again if it guaranteed I would be playing the game on my iPad by this date next year.

Seriously, where do I sign up?


One technical question: is getting CE Online to play in a non-Flash environment a feasible thing? Because Apple will not put Flash onto its mobile devices, and that includes the iPad.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

First look! All 20 Incursion aliens!

With the Cosmic Incursion expansion now in the hands of at least one eager player/consumer, it's fair to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the 20 aliens who made the cut for the first expansion to the Fantasy Flight Games edition. They are, in alphabetical order:
Bully, Chronos, Cryo, Deuce, Disease;
Ethic, Fungus, Fury, Genius, Ghoul;
Guerrilla, Leviathan, Locust, Magician, Mercenary;
Merchant, Plant, Seeker, Sniveler, Symbiote.
My first take: I'm seeing at least nine — maybe 10, depending on possible name-changes — that look like first-time appearances. It will be very interesting to see if that trend continues.

My second take: Disease and Fungus? ... Plant beats Insect onto the list of official FFG aliens ... Deuce is a personal favorite, so I'm happy with that ... and Bully? I would have lost that bet.

(Another shout-out goes to Kobold Curry Chef — that's two in a row. The rest of you better get with the program here)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Incursion: off the boat and on the truck

It appears that the news is all good for those of us eagerly anticipating the arrival of Cosmic Incursion: the official FFG Upcoming Products and Reprints page has changed CI's status from a boat icon to a truck icon.

In English words:
The product is being shipped from the FFG warehouse in Minnesota to stores and distributors. This process takes between 7-10 days for the US, or a few days longer in Canada.
(Tip of the hat to Kobold Curry Chef for the sharp eyes)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Celebrating 10 years of CE with food and fun

The fine folks involved with the Seattle Cosmic Game Night recently celebrated their 10th anniversary with a food-themed night of Cosmic Encounter.

The best part is that each alien power was backed up by a real-life snack. So, Amoeba is a Jell-o sculpture, Aristocrat has hoity-toity tiny sandwiches, and so on. It's all very clever and looks like it was great fun.

There might be more pictures available soon; if so, I'll update this post with where to find them.

Congratulations of 10 years, SCGN.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Have I been playing it wrong all this time?

Ah, yes, Cosmic Encounter: diplomacy, bluffing, variable powers, backstabbing ... hot alien sex?

Wait; what?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Oh, right, there's a rulebook, too


I totally forgot to mention this part in my excitement over yesterday's super-cool new alien: the rules for Cosmic Incursion are available at Fantasy Flight's CE support page.

I'm not sure why they sort of buried the news at the bottom of an alien preview, but, still, the important thing is that they are out there and available for immediate download.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cosmic Incursion: It's like magic!

That headline will seem a lot better once you head on over to Fantasy Flight Games and read the description for the newest Cosmic Incursion alien.

(And it's by Bruno Faidutti, too! That's just made of win.)

Quick take: it's my favorite of the CI aliens revealed so far.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dune: A love story in two acts


Well, it took a year, but at least the story has a happy ending. Follow the link to read the heart-warming story of Dune hatred becoming Dune love.

The author's conclusion is worth reading for any new-ish Dune players or anyone else who feels they'll never "get" the game:
This game is worth figuring out, and certainly it does take some figuring out. It's not readily apparent what you should do with each faction. Take your time learning, play with people that know the game, and read some strategy [articles].

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Here's where I'm playing my next game of CE


I figure I'll be comfortable enough with 8,000 square feet. Heck, that might even be big enough to accommodate The Warp's super-deck.

I must note, also, that Fantasy Flight's new Gamer Heaven is the first thing I've ever encountered that made me wish I lived in Minnesota.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Third FFG mystery box: Dungeonquest?

No matter how much I want it to be, I no longer even remotely believe the third of Fantasy Flight Games' three mystery boxes contains the new Twilight Dune: Dinosaur Imperium game.

I'm going with this rumor instead: it's a new version of Dungeonquest.

Which, frankly, is made of awesomesauce ... albeit an event unlikely to be detailed too much in this space.