Cosmic Encounter World Wide Web Page


If you have any additions/corrections to this file, please email them to Kurt Adam (mage@arglebargle.com).


1. What is Cosmic Encounter?

Cosmic Encounter is a board game first developed by Eon Games, then briefly distributed by West End Games and Games Workshop, and finally by Mayfair Games. Cosmic Encounter is a trademark of Mayfair Games. Mayfair has been bought by Iron Crown Enterprises following a short period of inactivity. ICE has not stated whether the Cosmic Encounter line (or any of the previously announced expansions) will continue to be manufactured or not. Some of the old Mayfair employees have gone to Wargames West to open a production line. The most recent scuttlebutt is that the rights for Cosmic Encounter have reverted back to Future Pasttimes and that they are looking for a publisher who is more interested in getting the game into bigger stores rather than just in the niche game shops.

In the game, each player plays the part of an alien trying to conquer the universe. Each player's alien has a power that allows it to break some of the game's rules. The interaction of the powers during conflicts is the basis of the enjoyment of the game.


2. How is the game played?

The game is rather simple: Each player has a "home system" with 5 planets in it, and 20 tokens, which start the game evenly distributed across the 5 home planets. The object of the game is to establish bases on 5 foreign planets. A base is any number of tokens on a single planet. Any number of opposing players may have a base on the same planet.

Cards are dealt and the order of play is established. Then the first player is directed by a colored card to the system in which s/he must make her/his first attack. S/he designates which of the home bases there s/he'll attack and deploys 1-4 free tokens to a cone representing the attack field. The defending player (who is the owner of the system) defends with whatever tokens are on the planet being attacked. Each side in the challenge can ask other players to ally with 1-4 free tokens.

Each main player then plays a challenge card face down (challenge cards include attack cards numbered from 1 to 40 and compromise cards). After cards are revealed, the card number is added to the total of the main player's and allies' tokens on that side of the challenge...higher total wins. If a compromise card is played it indicates that that side loses, but the player who played a compromise card takes consolation cards from her/his opponent's hand. If both players play a compromise, they have 1 minute to make a deal which can include exchanging bases, cards or some other immediate actions.

Winning tokens on the offense get to establish a base on the planet attacked. Winning allied tokens on the defense gain their owner rewards, either new cards or freed tokens. Winning main player tokens on the defense get nothing. All losing tokens go to the "warp" where they're not free for use.

Each player is entitled to a second challenge if their first challenge is successful. Play then continues around the board.

In addition, each player has an alien power which lets her/him break a rule in a particular way to her/his benefit. There are cards in players' hands (called flares and edicts) that grant temporary or instantaneous powers, such as freeing tokens from the warp, re-establishing home bases, etc. There are cards that act to multiply an attack card played. And many more game extensions that give CE it's character and it's unpredictability. This unpredictability is what makes the game so exciting!

There are also many game extensions that add additional twists to the game (e.g. moons, lucre, alternate hexes, praw, flares, ...) Many additional powers and new game extensions have been invented by CE players, some of which are available through the archive (see below).


3. What versions of CE are available?

The original Eon sets as well as the West End and Games Workshop versions are long out of print. The only version that is available new right now is the Mayfair one.

Mayfair published three sets: Cosmic Encounter, More Cosmic Encounter and Simply Cosmic Encounter. Cosmic Encounter is required to play with More Cosmic Encounter. The basic set gives 48 aliens (and their flares), 6 hexes (with reverse hexes), warp, cone, cards

More Cosmic Encounter gives 54 more powers (and flares), Moons, Lucre, Special Destiny Cards, Comets and more.

Simply Cosmic Encounter is a stripped-down introductory set. It contains enough for four people to be introduced to the game. It includes 8 aliens (Filch, Grief, Laser, Loser, Mind, Sorcerer, Warpish, and Zombie), 4 sets of hexes and tokens (in different colors than the original basic set), warp, cone and cards.

Mayfair was working on a new expansion, tentatively titled A Bit More Cosmic. It was slated include 35 new powers with Flares and Novas and two sets of hexes and tokens (dark green and brown). Due to the changes within Mayfair it is unclear as to whether this and the Cosmic Novas expansion will ever see the light of day.

Cosmic Novas was to contain only cards that added Eon-style flares (called Novas) which are not discarded after use.

Mayfair's address is:

Mayfair Games
5211 W. 65th Street
Bedford Park, IL 60638
(708) 458-3900
(mayfair@aol.com)

Mayfair has a web site at http://www.coolgames.com/, but there's not much real info there.

Eon published the base set and nine expansions. The Eon editions do occasionally get auctioned off either at cons or on the net, but they do get expensive (a complete Eon set with all 9 expansions recently went for $200).

The West End sets have also been sighted (albeit less frequently).

I have never seen a Games Workshop version.

Also, there are foreign editions. Hexagames released one in Germany and Jeux Descartes still publishes one in France (that edition is called Recontre Cosmique). The French edition goes to six players and uses the original Eon art. Around 1980, Grow Jogos e Brinquedos released an edition in Brazil called Contatos Cosmicos. The set had 18 powers (including Warrior, Machine, Terrorist, Skeptic, Chronos, Worm, Zombie, Macron, Mutant, Reincarnator, Pacifist and 7 others). It had none of the expansions that we've come to know and love (not even Flares!).


4. What's this about an online version?

The Eon guys are working with Tim Macinta on an online version of Cosmic Encounter. The games are four players with a limited number of powers (although they're working on expanding the list of available powers). At this time there are no flares, reverse cones, etc. It's much like the original Eon basic set. Games are played with four home bases and four bases to win. Most other rules remain the same. The game is available for play 24 hours by going to http://www.cosmicencounter.com/. A Java-enabled browser is required. See the site for more details.

5. What comes with the game?

The two Mayfair sets contain the following:

Basic Set

48 Alien powers (with flares): Amoeba, Anti-Matter, Assassin, Aura, Cavalry, Changeling, Chosen, Chronos, Clone, Connoisseur, Deuce, Empath, Filch, Filth, Fungus, Gambler, Healer, Insect, Laser, Loser, Macron, Magnet, Mind, Mirror, Mutant, Oracle, Pacifist, Parasite, Pentaform, Phantom, Philanthropist, Reincarnator, Seeker, Sniveler, Sorcerer, Subversive, Symbiote, Terrorist, Trader, Vacuum, Vampire, Visionary, Void, Vulch, Will, Worm, Wrack, Zombie

94 Cards:
Attack 40(1), 30(1), 20(2), 19(1), 18(1), 17(1), 16(1), 15(4), 14(2), 13(1), 12(5), 11(2), 10(6), 9(2), 8(8), 7(4), 6(8), 5(2), 4(2), 1(1). Compromise(17). Edicts: Cosmic Zap(3), Edict Zap(1), Emotion Control(1), Finder(1), Flare Zap(2), Force Field(1), Hand Zap(1), Keeper(1), Mobius Tubes(2), Plague(1), Rebirth(1), Sanity(1), Space Junk(1), Stellar Gas(1), Timegash(1), Un Zap(1), Victory Boon(1), Warp Break(1). Destiny: Wild(1), Reverse Wild(1), 3 in each color(18), 1 Reverse of each color(6).

6 Planet Hexes (with reverse hexes on the back)

1 Warp Hex

6 Token sets: Red, Blue, Yellow, Purple, Light Blue, Orange.

1 Hyper-Space Cone

6 Reverse Hex Descriptions

1 Challenge Summary Card

1 Rule Book

More Cosmic Encounter

54 Alien powers (with flares): Anomaly, Aristocrat, Assessor, Berserker, Boomerang, Bully, Busybody, Butler, Calculator, Crystal, Delegator, Demon, Dictator, Diplomat, Disease, Doppelganger, Dragon, Entrepreneur, Ethic, Extortionist, Force, Ghost, Gnome, Gorgon, Grief, Grudge, Hurtz, Industrialist, Judge, Lloyd, Machine, Mesmer, Miser, Negator, Obverse, Pavlov, Pirate, Plant, Prolong, Prophet, Queue, Reserve, Schizoid, Serpent, Silencer, Siren, Skeptic, Spiff, Sting, Virus, Warpish, Warrior, Witch, Wraith

88 Cards:
Attack 20(1), 19(1), 18(1), 17(1), 16(1), 15(2), 14(1), 13(3), 12(2), 11(3), 10(3), 9(4), 8(3), 7(3), 6(3), 5(1), 4(3), 1(1), 0(2), -1(1), -4(1), -5(1), -6(1), -8(1). Compromise(11). Kickers: -2(1), -1(1), 0(1), 1(1), 2(4), 3(1). Reinforcements: +1(7), +2(4), +3(2), +4(1), +5(1). Edicts: Cosmic Zap(1), Breach(1), Cosmic Gas(1), Destiny Zap(1), Solar Wind(1), New Moon(1), Kicker Zap(1), Flare Zap(1), Un Zap(1), Mobius Tubes(1).

10 Special Destiny Cards

16 Comets(16)

100 Lucre counters: 1(55), 2(30), 5(10), 10(5)

100 Moons

1 Rule Book covering the extra components

Simply Cosmic

8 Alien powers (with flares):

76 Cards
Attack 40(1), 30(1), 20(1), 19(1), 17(1), 16(1), 15(2), 14(2), 13(3), 12(3), 11(3), 10(3), 9(4), 8(3), 7(2), 6(3), 5(1), 4(1), 1(1), 0(1), -1(1), -5(1). Compromise(12). Reinforcements(12). Edicts(12).

26 Destiny Cards (including 4 Comets and 4 instructional)

4 Planet Hexes

4 Token sets: Mint, Lavender, Pink, Tan (yes, those are the official names).

1 Warp Hex

1 Hyper-Space Cone

1 Rule Book

You can tell which cards have come from the More Cosmic Encounter set by the small numbers in the lower left corner.

A parts list for the other versions is located at http://www.gamecabinet.com/ruleComments/CosmicEncounterComponents.html.


6. What is Encounter and how can I get it?

Encounter was the support magazine for Eon's games and originally published by Eon. The magazine contained rules questions and clarifications, new powers and expansions for CE as well as things for their other games. 6 issues were released while the game was produced by Eon.

After Mayfair began producing CE, it also revived Encounter. However, after 3 issues they ceased publication. Mike Arms (marms@sandia.gov), the editor, is working on starting it up again, but right now it is officially "on hiatus".


7. Where can I get additional stuff?

Peter Olotka, one of the original designers, has a web site that lists info on this and other games that he's worked on. It also includes info on various foreign editions. The page can be found at http://www.vsj.cape.com/~olotka/.

Aaron Fuegi (aarondf@bu.edu) maintains a web page of all variants and expansions that have been posted the rec.games.board.ce or sent to him (including Bad Powers, Moons List, Zodiac, Quarks, Elementals, Skill Tokens and Rogues Power). They can be found at http://www.bu.edu/~aarondf/cosmic/.

Steve Staton (steve@deltos.com) has converted the complete rule book from Eon's ninth expansion set into Postscript. The two files (one for the main book and the other for the appendix listing all the powers, moons, etc.) can be found on the web at http://www.deltos.com/reference/encounters/Cosmic.html or by anonymous FTP at ftp://ftp.deltos.com/pub/

Jack Reda runs The Warp, which is a collection of variants and expansions from various sources. It can be found at http://members.aol.com/thewarp/.

Cedric Chin has many powers available at his site which can be found at http://members.aol.com/palo0303/cosmic/intro.htm.

The FTP site at alpha.gnu.ai.mit.edu is down at this time. I have a feeling that it won't be coming back. I'm leaving in the below instructions in case it comes back up at some point.

The FTP site has many interesting tidbits (listed below).

Those without web access can use anonymous FTP. The host is alpha.gnu.ai.mit.edu (128.52.46.13). To get a file from the archive follow this sequence:

1) ftp alpha.gnu.ai.mit.edu

2) At the login prompt enter: anonymous. Then at the password prompt enter your email address.

3) At the ftp> prompt enter: cd ce

4) Then use ftp commands to list (ls), download (get) and upload (put) files. A guide to using ftp is available in the "Anonymous FTP: Frequently Asked Questions" posting in news.answers.

Those without anonymous FTP access can use an e-mail to FTP server as outlined in the above-mentioned FAQ.

Archive Contents

MANIFEST
The original FAQ
CE-convert.sh
Shell archive containing the program that reads Cosmic Encounter powers and flares in a "raw text" format and produces alien power cards and flare cards in PostScript format
PS-headers.sh
PostScript files which print materials for Cosmic Encounter (card backs, cards, cones, hexes, lucre, moons, power cards)
PS-examples.sh
A set of prototype PostScript files demonstrating the use of the templates found in PS-headers.sh
PS-tutorial.sh
Introduction to (some of) the PostScript headers and their use. Takes the reader through the generation of a small CE set -- cone, hexes, destiny deck, challenge deck, and powers (the latter through ce-conv).
Hazards.zoo
Summary of Matt's add-on hazard cards
asteroids.sh
Rules and PostScript files to create the game extension "asteroids" created by Andrew Plotkin
Prisoners.zoo
Rules for playing CE with Prisoners, Prisoner-related powers, and a PostScript file to print prisoner rulings
RulesClar
Summary of rules clarifications
Digest1
Digest of the neatest stuff to come from the mailing list over its first 19 months, except the other stuff in the archives
cepowers
Consolidated CE Archive in CE Convert format as compiled by Mike Rizzo. This archive consolidates all non-Eon and non-Mayfair powers
cedpowers
384 Aliens from Cedric Chin in CE Convert format. These are not contained in the Consolidated CE Archive. The submission is in 8 files: chinaa - chinah.

8. General timing questions

When collecting consolation, the only card which is allowed to be played from the hand of the collectee (the one from whom consolation is being drawn), is Stellar Gas, which prevents collecting consolation.

9. Questions about powers

Due to the nature of the game and the rules breaking that occurs as a result, there are many interactions that can cause questions to arise. A lot of these can be resolved (and have been) within a particular group. House rulings are definitely de rigeur for CE. However, this section is intended to cover those rulings that seem to be consistently applied in most groups.

1. When is the Sting considered to be losing tokens "voluntarily"?

Generally, the Sting is considered to be losing tokens voluntarily only as a result of an agreement to do so to satisfy the Disease Wild flare.


Thanks:

This FAQ was developed by Kurt Adam (mage@arglebargle.com), with generous amounts of help from the original FAQ and the denizens of rec.games.board.ce.