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Subject: A hit with one group and a flop with the other... rss

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Steve Mccabe
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So after reading a bunch of reviews i thought this game would be a hit among my regular group of players. turns out i was wrong.

the first time i played it was with a group of people who dont normally play board games but were very open to the idea and were excited. we had 4 players, and the game went fairly well minus the minor botching of some alien powers. we had a good time and lots of laughs and surprises.

i then brought it to my regular crew (minus one) and it flopped. we only had 3 people, and maybe i didnt go over the rules well enough.. maybe i didnt indicate that bluffing and lying were kind of a part of the game? whatever the case may be, no one really enjoyed it that night including myself. no one invited any allies the whole game, and it seemed that 3 players made it much less interesting...

could i have introduced the rules/gameplay better? should i avoid playing the game with only 3 people? or is this game just a hit or miss with different groups of people? I'd like to think that we could try it again with 4 or 5 people and have a better experience, but it may be hard to convince them to play it again when we have so many other games they love.

what do you guys think? any suggestions?
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Andy Leber
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Could just be the group. Opinions seem pretty split on the quality of a 3 player Cosmic based on discussions I've seen here in the past. I think it's perfectly fun with 3, and I'm certainly not alone, but many want at least 4.
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David Stahler Jr.
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I've had similar experiences. I've introduced the game to several "non-gamer" groups over the years--family, friends, and especially students at the high school where I teach--and it's almost always a hit.

My gaming group, on the other hand, will play it once in a great while, but it never seems quite as fun, funny, or dynamic. I think they mostly agree to humor me because, well, they're my friends. (Thanks, guys!)

They're more wargamers than boardgamers, so maybe that's it. I suspect they find it too chaotic. Gamers can be jaded about certain kinds of games (I can be guilty of it myself) and prone to overanalyze and worry about things like "balance" (ha!). CE is not a game to be played with restraint or manners.
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Jonathan Piers
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Hi Steve,

I have not played very many games myself but I did notice the one time I played with 3 people, it was pretty bad. It was just not fun when in any given encounter there is only one person for the offence and the defence to fight over. 4 made a huge difference but personally I like an odd number of people in negotiation to avoid a split in players in two static alliances. I will play with four but 5 or more seems to be the sweet spot for me.
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Ben Goulding
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I've had a more-or-less similar experience since getting my own copy of CE.

My current gaming group at university is mostly my girlfriend and my housemates. The housemates are very quiet, quite analytical and not really ones for banter and deal-making during games which really stymies the interactive nature of Cosmic. My girlfriend on the other hand doesn't enjoy games where things can be taken out of her control, to use an example this would be something like her needing one colony to win, defeating her opponent by 1 point via a long chain of Reinforcement cards and clever use of alien powers, and then having someone play an Emotion Control to shut down the whole thing.

If I was to play with my friends from home though, a play like the one above wouldn't bother us, we'd get banter going, vow revenge on whoever played the card and just play on. For example, in one game before we selected cards my opponent told me he only had Negotiate cards left, and that if I played a Negotiate as well we could trade colonies and have a joint win. He played N, I played 00, beating his defenseless planet with a single ship. He called me all names under the sun while having a huge grin on his face and vowing to never trust me again. We reset the game immediately and played again.

Personally I found the game better with 4 or 5 people, but I have played a 3 player game where we all got quite into and it was a lot of fun. I think it can be quite a difficult game to explain because while the turn structure is simple, the way the different alien powers and cards interact can really complicate it.

I haven't played Cosmic as much as I thought I would when I bought it, but it's not like board games have an expiry date, I'm sure at some point we'll find groups who can enjoy the game to its full potential.

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Steve Mccabe
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glad to hear that what i experienced was nothing out of the ordinary. i personally like the game and hope my group comes around, but i'm pretty sure i wont be pulling it off the shelf if we only have 3 people from now on.

Thanks for the replies!
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Jordan S.
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For me personally, Cosmic loses a lot of its interest with only 3 players. Alliances and the nuances therein play such a big part in the flow of play and don't really function well with so few players. Again, it's only my experience but I don't even consider breaking out CE unless I have at least 4 players...and, even then, 5 is preferred.
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Mi Myma
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I have found that there are some gamers who are exclusively Euro-, and they tend not to like CE. They don't like the direct conflict - bluffs, threats, betrayals, lies, war, burning in space, taking away other peoples' stuff, etc.

There's no "resource generation" or "victory point engine" in CE. There's nothing to "build" in CE - except Technology. Hmmmm... maybe Eurogamers would like CE better with Technology. Worth a try.
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Adam McLean
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I also agree with some of the comments above that have had a better experience with more than 3 players, but as far as the gaming groups go ...

while this game does get many cross-over fans, it's really a hit with casual gamers who enjoy the randomness and light play. Not always as much with players who tend to gravitate towards heavy strategy games such as Diplomacy or A Game of Thrones, CE doesn't quite have the long term planning and manipulation they prefer. Although, there are those from that group (like myself) that really enjoy CE just as much as a 3-4 hour deep strategy game.
 
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Just a Bill
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Some of us are generalists, and some of us are specialists. I like rock, pop, a little country (Eaglesish), classical, opera (especially Puccini), hymns, and even barbershop quartet. I have friends who would gladly listen to some of those genres with me, and run screaming away from others.

So too it is with Cosmic. It appeals to casuals, chaos lovers, take-thatters, and eclectics, but not so much to those whose tastes are limited to "serious," respectable thinking-man's games.
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