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Subject: When I finally decide to buy it... rss

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Chris Gallo
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Obviously I'll get the base game but how would you rank the expansions in order of what to get? I was thinking on getting Incursion first it after that I'm not sure. Any suggestions?
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I don't think it needs expansions honestly.
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Incursion, Dominion, Conflict.

Then someone can list all the dozens of threads with the previously 'correct' answer: Buy in the order of release.
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Chris Gallo
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Thanks for your honest opinion. If I were to get any right now it would look like Incursion and Conflixt would be my two choices. Any suggestions on that?
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Sean Franco
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a1bert wrote:
Incursion, Dominion, Conflict.

Then someone can list all the dozens of threads with the previously 'correct' answer: Buy in the order of release.
I would still say that release order is the best order, if you exclude Storm.
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Unless you play with 6 (in which case Incursion), you won't need any expansions for at least 10-20 games.
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Jerry Schippa
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I personally think Incursion is worth it just for the rewards deck, the 6th player and 20 extra races are bonus. But that rewards deck helps make defending early a bigger deal, and its always fun to play kickers.

I've never played with the Hazards though, but they seem a bit unnecessary to me.
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every time this quesiton ahs been asked the consensus has always been Incursion first.
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Just a Bill
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a1bert wrote:
the previously 'correct' answer: Buy in the order of release.
Yeah, it won't do any more to list the prior threads, since Dominion didn't follow the trend. I'm thinking maybe we could work together to build a consensus answer and just copy that. (Hmm, maybe I could add it to the Cosmodex.) Here are my thoughts on a possible starting point:

Which Expansion(s) to Buy First?

The answer is "it depends on your situation," but we can generalize a few common ones. Find the heading below that is closest to your situation and see if the recommended order might make sense for you. Each added set shows the highlights of what you gain, along with running totals for what you've accumulated up to that point.

Gameplay! Good aliens and the reward deck(s) are crucial. Alien quality is more important than quantity. I'd like to support 6 players right away, but getting to 7 or 8 doesn't have to happen quite as quickly.

Recommended Alien Maximum Cosmic Reward Hazard Space Alien Cosmic
Order Powers Players Deck Deck Deck Stations Quality +Reward
Base Game 50 5 72 - - - high 72

1. Incursion +20= 70 +1=6 72 +32=32 - - high 72+32=104
2. Dominion +30=100 6 72 +32=64 - - high 72+64=136
3. Conflict +20=120 +1=7 72 64 +28=28 - medium 136
4. Alliance +20=140 +1=8 +24=96 64 28 - medium 96+64=160
5. Storm +25=165 8 96 64 28 +10=10 low 160

Colors! I want maximum colors to choose from and/or support for 8 players. I can wait until the 8th player to expand the cosmic deck (we won't often have more than 6), so getting a couple of good variants earlier is nice.

Recommended Alien Maximum Cosmic Reward Hazard Space Alien Cosmic
Order Powers Players Deck Deck Deck Stations Quality +Reward
Base Game 50 5 72 - - - high 72

1. Incursion +20= 70 +1=6 72 +32=32 - - high 72+32=104
2. Conflict +20= 90 +1=7 72 32 +28=28 - medium 104
3. Alliance +20=110 +1=8 +24=96 32 28 - medium 96+32=128
4. Dominion +30=140 8 96 +32=64 28 - high 96+64=160
5. Storm +25=165 8 96 64 28 +10=10 low 160

Players! We will play with 6 to 8 a lot. We may not always want the reward deck, so I should probably expand the cosmic deck right away.

Recommended Alien Maximum Cosmic Reward Hazard Space Alien Cosmic
Order Powers Players Deck Deck Deck Stations Quality +Reward
Base Game 50 5 72 - - - high 72

1. Alliance +20= 70 +1=6 +24=96 - - - medium 96
2. Incursion +20= 90 +1=7 96 +32=32 - - high 96+32=128
3. Conflict +20=110 +1=8 96 32 +28=28 - medium 128
4. Dominion +30=140 8 96 +32=64 28 - high 96+64=160
5. Storm +25=165 8 96 64 28 +10=10 low 160

Aliens! I want as many different powers as possible. I don't really care about which sets supposedly have the "best" aliens, and we aren't bothered by similarities. The hazard deck is not a must-have, and I probably won't have more than 5 players.

Recommended Alien Maximum Cosmic Reward Hazard Space Alien Cosmic
Order Powers Players Deck Deck Deck Stations Quality +Reward
Base Game 50 5 72 - - - - 72

1. Dominion +30= 80 5 72 +32=32 - - - 72+32=104
2. Storm +25=105 5 72 32 - +10=10 - 104
3. Incursion +20=125 +1=6 72 +32=64 - 10 - 72+64=136
4. Conflict +20=145 +1=7 72 64 +28=28 10 - 136
5. Alliance +20=165 +1=8 +24=96 64 28 10 - 96+64=160


Comments on the format?

Other opinions on the set order for each scenario?

Did I miss any important scenarios?
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Just a Bill
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Made some formatting improvements, including color highlighting to more quickly show why the order is the way it is, and added a new column at the end to show the total available "hand cards" for those who expect to frequently have 6 or more players.
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Rob Burns
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Bill Martinson wrote:

Other opinions on the set order for each scenario?
Well, you already know that while almost all of the data you've compiled on the expansions is objective, the exception is of course the evaluations of alien quality, which is more subjective.

Of course, as we listen to players and observe PbF games, it is safe to say that the consensus is that alien quality for Incursion and Dominion is high, and that the quality for Storm is low, but I am not sure the consensus is as strong for the "medium" cases. I would actually argue that Conflict's alien quality is also high, and if I were to only have 1 expansion, it would be Conflict. This is partly due to the aliens, which for me beat Incursion's aliens by a nose, but also because thanks to your "Active Hazards" variant, I'd rather have Hazards than the Reward Deck (blasphemy, I know).

But I understand what you're trying to do, and I think it's great. It's just that "Rotten Tomatoes" for CE Aliens doesn't exist (yet).
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You've got indeed a lot of gameplay with the basegame. Incursion bring the reward deck and a lot of "other" cool aliens. Dominion has the most crazy powers and the most crazy reward deck ever but it's for cosmic enthusiasts, with a lot of experience under their belt. I don't care about the other expansions.
 
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Bill Martinson wrote:
Aliens! I want as many different powers as possible. I don't really care about which sets supposedly have the "best" aliens, and we aren't bothered by similarities. The hazard deck is not a must-have, and I probably won't have more than 5 players.
I think imagining a person who wants as many aliens as possible without regard to quality is unrealistic. I have no problem believing that someone would put quantity as a highest priority, but I think even the most extreme quantity lovers would still care deeply about quality.

Instead, I think if most people wanted to focus on adding "Aliens!" to the game, they would want as many quality aliens as possible, so quantity would matter to them but is not absolute. That'd pretty much make it Dominion, Incursion, Conflict, Alliance, Storm.

Yeah, it's subjective, but it kinda has to be, and I suspect many of us agree that there's some soft consensus here.

Maybe if you focus on # of quality aliens that's too much overlap with the "Gameplay!" category, which makes sense since "Fun Gameplay" and "Quality Aliens" are closely related.

But if there's too much overlap then maybe you may as well eliminate the "Alien Quantity" category altogether, since I just don't believe in a person who would say "I want 25 aliens who are mediocre quality on average over 20 aliens which are good quality on average!"

I really, really can't imagine any non-contrived person I would recommend Storm as a #2 buy to.
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Just a Bill
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Thanks for the feedback guys, I appreciate it. I do want to make this as meaningful as possible to the new player so it might become a useful resource.

rjburns3 wrote:
it is safe to say that the consensus is that alien quality for Incursion and Dominion is high, and that the quality for Storm is low, but I am not sure the consensus is as strong for the "medium" cases. I would actually argue that Conflict's alien quality is also high, and if I were to only have 1 expansion, it would be Conflict. This is partly due to the aliens, which for me beat Incursion's aliens by a nose, but also because thanks to your "Active Hazards" variant, I'd rather have Hazards than the Reward Deck (blasphemy, I know).
That's a fair point. One of my own biases is that I rate aliens not only on their fun factor but also the quality of their execution. Wording messes, ambiguous gameplay, and missed opportunities make it harder for me to appreciate a set. But I need to remember that most players are not so left-brained about such things.

I did want to be as objective as possible, but it's pretty hard to give a well-considered answer to the question without getting into alien quality at some point. Maybe better labels would help? Maybe instead of "quality," the faux-metric should be "popularity" and the labels, taking a page from the marketing industry, could be good, better, best? (Just brainstorming.)

In principle, I don't have a problem upgrading Conflict to the top tier, but then I probably lose the means to "objectively" sort between Conflict and Incursion in most if not all of the scenarios. The general consensus seems to me that players rank Incursion above Conflict. Your preference is different, and certainly just as valid, but I'm not trying to present new players with a lot of competing perspectives ... I'm just trying to give them an "averaged" or "most likely" answer based on whatever aspect they are trying to maximize.

And of course new players are not going to be using Active Hazards, so that wouldn't factor in at all.

So, how to accommodate your good points cleanly? I could create a fifth scenario that ranks Conflict higher, but what is the simple concept for that scenario? What is the one-word exclamation that encapsulates it? Help me get my head around it.

My goal is not to review each expansion, but to give a newbie who knows very little about the game some paths that could help them focus their thoughts on what they want to maximize first. (Or, more realistically, just a way to break the mental log-jam so they go out and start buying expansions!) If I can visualize a scenario where a player cares about XYZ the most, and that puts Conflict ahead of Incursion, I'm all for it. I just need help seeing it.
 
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SirHandsome wrote:
I think imagining a person who wants as many aliens as possible without regard to quality is unrealistic. I have no problem believing that someone would put quantity as a highest priority, but I think even the most extreme quantity lovers would still care deeply about quality.
I agree with you, but maybe I've miscommunicated that last scenario. I'm not trying to say the person is saying "quality be damned." It's more that they don't accept the same view of the quality chasm that you and I do. They measure quality in a different way. If I remember/understand correctly, Tom Vasel liked the aliens in Storm a bit better than the ones in Dominion because the Storm aliens are more accessible, simpler in concept, more whimsical, perhaps ... whereas the Dominion aliens are more involved, more mechanical, and tightly fine-tuned to give veterans things to chew on. I don't think Tom would say he prefers Storm even though the aliens are "lower quality"; I suspect he would say Storm is a better fit for what quality means to him.

There are definitely players out there who like Storm a whole lot better than I do. The Sit Up & Shut Down guys had this to say:
Matt: For my money the second must-have expansion is probably the fourth, 2013’s Cosmic Storm. Basically, everyone gets a space station ... for me the space stations represent a better alternative to the vanilla game’s Tech cards.

Quinns: I’m just looking at some of the aliens it came with now, and you’re right- this is a great box. The Sycophant can win by repeatedly flattering the player who goes on to win the encounter. The Swindler can perform a last-minute feat of identity theft, swapping EVERYTHING (including their alien, hand of cards and real-life seat) with a mark they chose at the start of the game, though the mark then wins if they can keep this identity thief from winning for just a few turns. The Tyrant can turn a player into a slave, but only by winning enough encounters with them first.

Matt: You also get 25 new aliens in Cosmic Storm, which is five more than the standard 20 from the first three ... it’s hard not to resist the temptation to skip some of the earlier expansions and pick up this. But then, the first three expansions also add a new colour of ship, which this doesn’t. Ack! Decisions! Being a consumer was never so torturously varied.

Quinns: If you’re enjoying [CE] we can recommend the utterly fantastic Cosmic Dominion to make this game all it can be, followed by the inventive Cosmic Storm.

If you fall in love, after those two you want Cosmic Conflict, Cosmic Incursion and Cosmic Alliance, in that order.


Ironically, there's another ranking of Conflict above Incursion, but I highly doubt Rob wants to see that distinction being made in the context of both being outranked by Cosmic Storm.

SirHandsome wrote:
Maybe if you focus on # of quality aliens that's too much overlap with the "Gameplay!" category
Right, that's what I was trying to avoid. My whole purpose in that case was to try to get out of the mindset of the veterans who see Storm as a joke, and make a legitimate scenario trying to figure out if some players would actually enjoy Storm sooner in the mix. Maybe I didn't do that very well.

SirHandsome wrote:
But if there's too much overlap then maybe you may as well eliminate the "Alien Quantity" category altogether, since I just don't believe in a person who would say "I want 25 aliens who are mediocre quality on average over 20 aliens which are good quality on average!"
No, of course not. But I can believe in a person who would say "these 25 aliens look really fun to me and I don't see a single dud among them," because that person exists, is a nice guy who loves Cosmic, and made a review about it. I'm trying to remind myself that not everyone plays Cosmic for the same reasons.

In recent years, I've had the opportunity to ooze outside the circle of the people I have normally played with and the BGG Cosmic community, and interact with a broader demographic via Facebook, CosmicCon, Tabletop Simulator, etc. I've even had the undeserved good fortune and pleasure to sit across the table from, and be schooled by, several Eon and FFG Cosmic designers whose names we all know. And I think – hope – I've developed a greater appreciation for the fact that not everyone plays Cosmic in the same way or for the same reasons.

With that in mind, I'm not trying to build a resource for people who think the same way I do; I'm trying to find a variety of basic conceptual paths that different players might take. And certainly some of those players are going to have Storm in the top two slots.

SirHandsome wrote:
I really, really can't imagine any non-contrived person I would recommend Storm as a #2 buy to.
Same here ... unless I listened to that person talk about their Cosmic experience for a bit, heard that they never play with more than five, and came to a realization that they would have a crapload of fun with those silly space stations.

Probably I'm not positioning that last scenario correctly. Maybe sheer number of aliens isn't the right concept. Maybe it's more like Aliens and Stations! or something. Those space stations are the one thing that Storm offers uniquely, so maybe I should focus on that.
 
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Bill Martinson wrote:
Did I miss any important scenarios?
Chaos! The crazier the game, the better. The Hazard deck is a must, followed by Reinforcements, Kickers, etc.
 
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Sam and Max wrote:
Chaos! The crazier the game, the better. The Hazard deck is a must, followed by Reinforcements, Kickers, etc.
My picks for Chaos would probably be: Dominion, Conflict. The Reward cards (Intimidation, Ship Zap, Omnizap et. al) and some pretty interaction-increasing aliens from Dominion, then Hazards from Conflict.
 
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You can also gauge this in a quick way on the Cosmic Encounter page entry here on BGG, down at "Linked Items". There you'll see all five expansions, and you can compare their Average Rating. According to how other BGG users rated the expansions, the order preference is Dominion, Incursion, Conflict, Alliance, and finally Storm. There's other data in this section that can help a player start making informed decisions.
 
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Sean Franco
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rjburns3 wrote:
But I understand what you're trying to do, and I think it's great. It's just that "Rotten Tomatoes" for CE Aliens doesn't exist (yet).
It does now.
 
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Get *ALL* the expansions. Even if you don't use any of the expansion-specific mechanics, the Aliens are worth it alone. I'm not being grandiose here either. The Aliens add more to the game than any expansion. Adding more aliens/possibilities to the base game itself is probably the biggest advantage to any of the expansions.

That being said, we almost always use the reward deck (as intended with no house rules) and the tech deck. We rarely use the freighters, space stations, and other weirdness, but we do enjoy it when we do.

So in a nutshell....if the expansions only came with extra aliens it would be worth it.

Second best reason to get the expansions would be for the extra ships/players possibilities. We find 6 players to be optimal. 7 or 8 gets a bit too nutty. The attack cards become a bit diluded when you have the potential to have 56 ships on your side including allies in an encounter. That almost rules out cards. ...it rarely happens, but it's possible and therefore does happen at times. lol

But - get the expnasions for the aliens first. Ships second. Everything else is pure frosting.
 
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