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Author: unknown

Publisher: Avalon Hill 2001

Awards: none



Cosmic Encounter, the all-time evergreen which was published by Eon, West End Games and Games Workshop has finally founds its way again into the shelves of toystores all around the world. However, the game has been licensed to Hasbro, and under their new label for strategy games Avalon Hill they have produced a totally re-designed, new version of the game. The rules basically have remained the same, but the outer appearance was changed dramatically...

In Cosmic Encounter the players take up the roles of different space-faring civilizations, and these battle for predominance over the Universe. Each race starts with 5 planets in their home system and a total of 20 spaceships, and with these ships they must try to be the first player to establish colonies on 5 planets within the home systems of the other players.

In his turn, a player takes a random token depicting one of the participating players, and this token determines which home system may be the target of an attack for that turn. The active player now may dispatch a number of up to 4 spaceships to conquer a planet within this system, and before it comes to battle both attacker and defender may invite other players to lend assistance to their side. When all ships have been placed for the battle, the basic battle procedure is fairly easy: both the attacker and the defender play a battle card from their randomly drawn hand, and if it shows a number this number is added to the number of spaceships on side of the player who played this card. If the attacker reaches the higher total, he may place his spaceships and all ships from players who assisted his side in this battle onto the planet, thus establishing a colony. All defending ships are destroyed. If on the other hand the defender get the higher total or reaches a draw, his side wins the battle. He then destroys all attacking ships, and players who may have assisted the defender will have the opportunity to gain replacements for ships which they may have lost in previous battles. After a successful attack, the active player may decide to make a second attack following the same procedure, and afterwards his turn will come to an end.

In essence, the rules outlined above are all which is needed to make up the basic playing mechanism of the game. The rules are quite easy, but work effectively to ensure fluent gameplay. However, the entertaining part of the game are the special types of battle cards and furthermore the special abilities of each race. The cards showing battle power are not the only cards which can be played. If players are lucky when drawing cards, they might get powerful artefact-cards which they may use to turn the tide in certain situations of the game: The Cosmic Blockade can be used to cancel out the special ability of a race for one turn, the Plague decimates another player's forces etc. Even more important are the special abilities of each race which will have a constant impact on gameplay. At almost every instance the basic rules are somewhat twisted by the influence of the different special abilities, and this results in somewhat unpredictable, entertaining games. Since 20 different races are included, in almost every game a new combination of races meets for battle, which in turn means that each game will be quite different from others...

Although it has quite easy rules, Cosmic Encounter has developed into an evergreen and one of the most popular boardgames which were ever created. The entertainment factor of the game is quite high due to the high degree of player interaction. The new edition of the game under the Hasbro-label Avalon Hill offers a very nice design with plastic spaceships and some nice playing components. The only weakness perhaps lies in the fact that this new game is only designed for a maximum of 4 players. Older editions of Cosmic Encounter allowed the participation of 6 players - a fact which lead to an even higher entertainment factor in each game.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany