‘Cosmic Encounter’ board game review
By Ed Appleby, Illustrator
It is strange that aliens in most science fiction are pretty human. Xenomorphs, Klingons, and Hutts have two arms, teeth, and a healthy appetite for violence. Cosmic Encounter offers players the chance to play with some truly alien aliens.
Cosmic Encounter is a strategy game for 3–5 players published in 2008 by Fantasy Flight Games. In the game, players take turns attempting to settle on other players’ planets. Players can either attack or negotiate, as well as request assistance from other players. The first player to settle on five planets outside of their own star system wins.
The one major factor in this game is the wide variety of alien races that players can choose from. Each race has its own abilities that can break the game in new and interesting ways, which leads to a great challenge in a simple game as well as a huge amount of replay value. Most expansions for Cosmic Encounter add even more alien races to the mix, upping the challenge factor even further.
The one major downside of the game is that it suffers from the Munchkin paradox, wherein the latter stage of the game becomes about preventing any player from getting that last planet and winning the game. This can cause the endgame to drag on and make the players very bitter with each other. This makes the game more about psychology and playing the other players rather than gaming strategy.
Cosmic Encounter is for strategy players who are looking for a diplomatic sci-fi themed game with lots of depth and replayability. Casual players may be able to pick up the rules very easily, but they may also get turned off by the later stages of play.