Imagine a board game that at first feels like one of the old classics (Monopoly, Risk, etc.). However, the games rules are crafted in such a way that you could win without ever actually having a turn.
Q: What? Not having a turn? So you take turns but you can also act when it’s not your turn?
Exactly. Just like any steriotypical conflict game you attack other players on your turn. However, on every turn, you form huge alliances that frequently involve (but need not) the entire table. Cards are thrown down, special abilities are triggered, and somebody will probably be blasted into the warp (“destroyed”).
Add to that aliens, special powers, more special powers, special cards that trigger special powers and you have: Rchard Garfield’s Cosmic Encounter.
Q: But won’t that just make the game incredibly long and boring?
No, Somehow, the game manages all of this while still being less than half the length of a full-length Monopoly or Risk game (for the lucky few who’ve managed to finish one of those).
Q: But if it has diplomacy, won’t it end up with people simply losing friends like in the notorious Diplomacy?
Well, no. Unlike Diplomacy, you don’t have to lie in this game to win. Additionally, because people form alliances, and the win conditions are fairly simple (colonise five foreign planets), it’s also possible to have multiple people winning at the same time. The whacky theme, artwork and colours also combine to make this game feel quite light and chaotic (despite the heavy level of strategy possible) which really helps the mood of the game.
Okay, so I only played this game properly recently with some friends (I did play it some years ago, but didn’t really understand what I was doing). I was skeptical about whether a game that sounds like such a mash-up could really work, but, so far, it seems to work really well.
The basic concept is simple: You have five planets, aliens and attack cards. But ontop of that is built a lovely layer of extra-crunch and diplomacy that makes the game incredibly engaging and fun!