Cosmic Encounter is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. While not traditionally considered a card game, most of the gaming action takes place through card play.
Cosmic Encounter was first published by Eon Games in 1977. The backstory for the game is simple cosmic domination. You’re dealt a race and a set of cards as well as a common number of units, and then you go about trying to spread your race to the furthest reaches of the known universe. You’re competing again the other players, occasionally teaming up against a weaker opponent, or maybe even going so far as to ignore each other entirely.
But there’s no way to really describe the appeal of Cosmic Encounter until you’ve sat around and actually played the game. Imagine a traditional game of Risk only with game-assigned player personalities and specialties and a battlefield scene that encouraged participation by the other players. The game has many different species that affect the game’s outcome in a big way.
A new version of Cosmic Encounter that came out in 1992 is a big reason the game is still popular. Germans are probably the world’s number one board and card gaming public, and the game appeared thanks to a small German game company’s desire to revamp the title for today’s gaming crowd. They altered the rules of the game a little, added and deleted some of the alien races, and came up with a game good enough to be a finalist for the German Game Prize that year.
Wizards of the Coast designer Richard Garfield credited the original Cosmic Encounter with being the single biggest influence on Magic: the Gathering. Garfield says he has “no end of respect for” Cosmic Encounter.
There’s just something about the way this game plays out, human vs. human but also alien vs. alien, with a built-in combat style that encourages both bullying and defending your opponents, and the awesome retro 70s space glam graphics that makes this game a regular at game night at my house.
Thanks to the 90s rebuild, there are now 50 alien species in Cosmic Encounter, . I love the variety of aliens in the new game, and you can usually grab a copy of the new Cosmic Encounter for $50 or less on Amazon–when it’s in stock. It’s worth every penny. The game offers high replay value and cool illustrations.