Please note that this review looks solely at Cosmic Run's co-operative game play mode. I have played the co-operative mode at least half a dozen times but I have yet to play the competitive mode at all so I am in no position to judge it. It may be that everything I am about to say about the co-operative mode is completely irrelevant when it comes to the competitive mode – but then again, maybe not, I really don't know! I leave it to other reviewers more versed in the competitive mode to talk about that side of the game.
So just to reiterate one final time … this review looks ONLY AT THE CO-OPERATIVE MODE OF COSMIC RUN. OK?
Humanity is attempting to colonise five different planets. The problem is that each of these planets is being bombarded with meteors, three strikes of which will destroy any one of the potential colonies. So what you have to do is get to each of the desired locations as fast as you can before even one of them is destroyed. This involves a lot of dice rolling and even more luck.
Cosmic Run is a dice game. Everything, from the meteor strikes to your ships flying through space to acquiring temporary abilities, relies on the luck of the roll. Sure, there is a little bit of thought required here and there but mostly it comes down to luck. And no where is this more apparent than in the opening few turns of the game.
In most co-operative games, one of two things happen. Either you start strongly and get weaker as the game gets tougher (e.g. Ghost Stories), or you start weak and you get stronger as the game gets tougher (e.g. A Touch Of Evil). Bizarrely, in Cosmic Run, you start weak and get stronger as the game gets easier!
There are five planets in play at the start of the game and you roll dice each turn to determine which gets hit with a meteor, three strikes and a planet is destroyed for good. If even one gets destroyed, the game ends. But once a planet is secured, rolling that planet on a later turn's meteor strike roll does nothing. So while you start with 5 potential targets in play, the number decreases as you secure the planets. Rolling planet 2 on the first three turns will end the game; but rolling planet 2 fifty times in a row after planet 2 is secured, does nothing!
Decreasing the number of planets still in play makes the game easier as it makes it harder and harder for the meteors to strike anywhere. And while you are busy trying to secure the planets, you can also earn cards to help you that let you do such things as re-roll some of your dice, change the value of a die up or down one, or even turn a die in to any result you like. You don't start with any of these toys, meaning the opening meteor strikes will fall purely on the roll of the dice. But later on, when there are fewer targets in play anyway, it becomes easier to protect them with your new abilities and other toys.
I find this incredibly peculiar. Most of your games will end before you can secure one or two planets because you don't have the means to protect their incredibly likely destruction. But by the time the destruction of a planet becomes more unlikely, it's easier to save them anyway. So games will last either a few turns or a lot of turns – no in-between. Survive when the odds are stacked against you and if you do then the odds will be so in your favour that you'll be laughing.
Am I alone in thinking it should be the other way around? Make it harder for the meteors to strike in the beginning of the game but make them more likely as game progresses would have produced a much more logical flow to the game.
The rest of the game is fun. It plays well and while there isn't much co-operation (you're more a collecting of individuals all working for a common goal more than a team) you do all live or die together. Think of the rest of the game as Yahtzee With Add-Ons - to get new abilities or have your ships fly through space requires you to roll specific combinations (usually multiples of the same number) and you can put dice aside after each roll and roll your remaining dice as well as use your various abilities to change your result or even re-roll. So you have a lot of options and the odds are mostly in your favour. If you get that far, that is ...
The rules and the cards all like fine. There is a strong reliance on icons on some of the cards that will have you thumbing through the rulebook for the first few games but no more than usual.
As it stands, it's just too random – even for a dice game – for more than a game or two. Die in flames in the first few turns, or have a long game – those are your only options.
5 out of 10.
Note 1: I have learned from bitter experience with this site that I need to stress that all reviews – including this one – are entirely matters of opinion. I am not claiming that anything I have said in this review is fact, it is all entirely my opinion and I am sure that many others have different opinions. If you wish to reply with yours, I welcome it. I enjoy discussion but will not respond kindly to aggressive replies.
Note 2: Yes, of course you can house rule it to give it less of an insane opening. You can even house rule it to make it more insane if you want! But for all my reviews I look purely at a game “as is”, as it comes out of the box, as it's intended to be played. I think anything else is unfair on both the game itself and on people reading my review trying to decide whether to get the game or not.
I can't really disagree with your review. We played mostly competitive and tried the co-op once, and thought it really didn't work well, although I don't really recall it well enough to articulate why.
I would say that in competitive play, the tightening of the planets as the game progresses doesn't really effect making it easier or harder, but can cause a player who invested heavily in reaching a now-destroyed planet suffer a bigger setback than a player focusing on a still-okay planet. But of course, which planet gets hit is completely random.
And the luck of the dice is part of the game, and effects all competitive players equally and forces a decision of when to use the mitigation powers. It's not super strategic, and only mildly tactical, but can be a lot of fun if you're in the mood for a lighter game. Somehow when to use the dice mitigation feels less like a tough decision when you're all working together.
I don't really know if you'd like it better competitive, but I agree that co-op isn't where the game shines for me. The spouse and I do like to pull it out for a quick game after work. Not too thinky, and no hard feelings with the randomness clinching a win.
- Last edited Sun Oct 9, 2016 5:44 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sun Oct 9, 2016 5:43 pm
I've not played the co-op game yet but after having played a number of solo games I think that it suffers from the same problem; If you can get past the first few rounds and save a few planets, the game gets easier since it gets easier to avoid meteor hits.
Maybe it needs a tweak? With 2 planets left there's a 1 in 3 chance of a planet being hit which I think is okay but it falls to 1 in 6 when there's only one planet left. It's too easy then to just stock up on Aliens, spending five points if needed to protect the last planet, until have enough help to get up the last planet track. Maybe increasing those odds to 1 in 3 or even 1 in 2 would be all it needed to keep the challenge there in that last part of the game...
- Last edited Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:38 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Sun Jan 15, 2017 6:17 pm