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Subject: Session Report rss

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Kevin O'Brien
Australia
Fitzgibbon (Brisbane)
QLD
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COSMIC ENCOUNTER

Rob, Lindsay and Silvia expressed that they were rather taken with Cosmic Encounter last week and would be interested in giving it another go. Del and David were amenable to this and I'm always ready and willing to play Cosmic!

I will forego a description of how the game is played, as I detailed that in last week's report. This time, I was the Seeker (able to ask a question regarding future card plays; the other player must commit to his answer), Del was the Crystal (may determine how many tokens allies bring into the cone), Silvia was the Witch (another tricky power; if she loses as a main player, she can "curse" some element of game play for two turns for those who defeated her), Rob was the Visionary again (force the other player to play a particular Challenge card if he has it), Lindsay was the Spiff (if he is overwhelmed when attacking, he can send a single token to crash land and establish a base, anyway) and, most importantly, David was the Schizoid. (The Schizoid changes the victory conditions of the game. He picks a number of outside bases that are required AND determines some other condition that must be met. It has to be something that every player can do and is obvious when it occurs.)

The Schizoid has the power to alter reality, and it certainly did! The other players are able to ask yes-or-no questions of the Schizoid on their turns, in an effort to figure out the new conditions. We rapidly determined that the outside base requirement was 3. The other condition proved a bit more difficult. When you think about it, you realise that the Schizoid is able to come up with something really obscure - and narrowing down the possibilities in the near-infinite universe of Cosmic Encounter can be quite a challenge! The questioning process requires teamwork between the other players, and I decided that next time I would have to take notes to help my memory of previous answers.

In the meantime, it was crucial to NOT let David get his third base - as he would easily meet the condition (since he knew it) - and we were doing an admirable job of keeping him restrained. At the same time, some of us were overachieving. I was at 6 outside bases (!) and Silvia was at 5. All we had to do was Cosmic Zap him (a card that temporarily takes away an alien power) or get him down to less than three home bases (which would take away the use of his power) and the original victory conditions would be restored, granting us a mutual victory. I couldn't draw anything helpful. Silvia did, but David had the right card at the right time to counteract it.

It turned out that David had gone (appropriately) easy on us. His extra condition was reasonably straightforward: have 3 outside bases and none of your own tokens on the second planet (from the left) on your own system. We never did figure it out, but we were definitely getting closer. Rob, at 4 outside bases, was experimenting with possible actions and ended up removing his tokens from all of his home planets EXCEPT the second (from the left) - oh, the humanity! Eventually, David got a Wild Flare card that allowed him to sneak on to a third outside base and he won - well played!

There are two morals to this story: (1) This is why the Schizoid is consistently rated as one of the most powerful alien powers. (2) The Schizoid can significantly lengthen a game. We already had the possibility of a longer game with 6 players - as there are more possibilities for someone to have what's needed to stop someone else from winning. The Schizoid power added to this, as shown by the number of bases we all had. It was a fun enough game, but the ending came late and we all had to get up the next morning.

David won with 3 bases, Kevin had 6, Silvia had 5, and Lindsay, Rob and Del all had 4.

A rating of 10 after countless plays for "outstanding game, always want to play it and expect this will never change."

What's good about the game:
It's always different, full of surprises, and frequently pleasantly twisted.
With the alliances, everyone can be involved every turn.
No elimination of players; one can always be working toward winning.
Mutual victories are possible (though it's more fun to try and win solo!).
There are opportunities for fun "role-playing" of one's power.
It's easy to learn how to play and the game appeals to a wide variety of people.

Web links:
http://scv.bu.edu/~aarondf/cosmic/index.html
http://www.cosmicencounter.com/
http://faidutti.free.fr/jeux/articles/cosmic/cosmic.html
And, of course,
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/viewitem.php3?gameid=15
 
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