Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 Hide
12 Posts

Cosmic Pioneers» Forums » Reviews

Subject: What Jenni Said About Cosmic Pioneers rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Jenni
United States
Alexandria
VA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

After chatting with the Vesuvius Media team at Gen Con 2016, Christopher and I selected Cosmic Pioneers as our first foray into this publisher’s game catalog. The artwork on the box is cute and cartoonish and it made me feel good about opening up the game to get a closer look at its components.



The game pieces are a mix of cardboard cutouts (player boards, round track, planets), cards (for scenarios and alien events), and sturdy wooden objects (cubes – for place markers and to represent colonists; and figures – to represent aliens). These components are visually appealing and they tie into the game’s theme very well.

Planets

Aliens

Round Marker and Alien Deck

The plotlines and game objectives for Cosmic Pioneers are simple and entertaining: all players are in a race to colonize the selected planets of the Tau Ceti system, accumulating victory points (by settling and controlling planets as well as hoarding cash reserves) along the way. Hostile alien species as well as our fellow players seek to thwart our goal. At the end of 12 rounds, the player with the most victory points wins the game. The game offers variability in the plot through an abundance of planets and aliens to select from in setting up each game as guided by the scenario cards, so there is a lot of replay ability built in.

So far so good – quirky playful artwork, well themed components, and engaging plotline. That’s why I was so sad to find that as soon as we got into the mechanics of the game, things started to fall apart.

Getting an adequate handle on game mechanics is usually achieved through reading a game’s rulebook and then referring to reminder/summary cards kept handy during play. Not possible with Cosmic Pioneers. There are no summary cards available and the rulebook is sparse therefore confusing in its lack of information. Here are just a few examples of unanswered questions we had during our play through:

1. When landing at the Jumpgate (think of this as a home base of sorts), a player may dispose of unwanted cargo from their ship’s cargo hold (be it aliens, opponent’s colonists, player’s colonists, or goods). Does the disposed cargo go onto the Jumpgate tile or back into reserves?

2. When landing at the Jumpgate, players may also load as many colonists onto their ship as they can fit into their available cargo slots. Are these colonists limited to the subset of what was dumped off on the Jumpgate before? Or do we pull from reserves so that even if none of our colonists were ever dropped off at the Jumpgate before we can still fill our cargo hold?

3. At the beginning of the game all players begin on the Jumpgate. Does this mean each player begins the game with colonists in their cargo?

4. The rules say when in the Adventure phase of the game, upon landing on a planet, if a player rolls a dice combo that allows for it they may place colonists from their reserves on the planet. This would imply they don’t need to come from the player’s ship cargo hold. In fact another separate phase of each round is the Deployment Phase within which players may unload/load ship cargo (which includes life forms) so it seems likely that taking colonists from the reserve pool (vs the cargo hold) is for initial planet settlement while taking colonists from the cargo hold is for moving colonists from one planet to another. But if this were true and planet settlement through the Adventure phase comes from the reserves, then why did they build in the step to load colonists onto our ships whenever we land on the Jumpgate?

5. The rulebook has no mention of players beginning the game with any cash yet the example picture on page four of the book shows each player starting with 300 in cash. It cannot be a result of the scenario card selected because the scenario card featured in the picture clearly says players begin this particular scenario with 500 in cash. So do players start the game with cash and if so how much?

6. During the Adventure phase, certain die rolls require a player to remove X number of colonists from a planet. For at least one of the planets, X is greater than the number of slots total on the planet making the action nonsensical. Are we missing something or did the designer not think this through? Here’s an example:


Notice that for a dice roll of 2 or 3, the player is supposed to remove five of their colonists from the planet. Five! On a planet that can only hold 3 lifeforms total (one slot is currently taken by an alien).

Already frustrated with these unanswered questions and die roll result nonsensical instructions, Christopher did a 1-800-NOPE out of this game halfway through when he found my character card to be too unfairly tilted in my favor. I had selected Captain Fraser, whose special ability is that she can kill off other player’s colonists and aliens taking up slots on a planet if the planet is full. Normally a player can only place their colonists on empty spots on a planet and so for a fully settled planet they’d need to attempt to bomb lifeforms off the planet first which involves dice rolling and luck). He grew pretty irritated watching me visit every planet he had fully colonized and removing his colonists and replacing them with my own.

I’m disappointed that Cosmic Pioneers is rather unplayable in its current configuration. The good news is that the game has some great foundations (nice artwork, good plot) and could probably be rendered playable pretty easily with some thoughtful editing of the game mechanics and rulebook by the designer. If that should happen in a future edition, I’d definitely be willing to take another shot at playing the game.
----------------------------
Publisher: Vesuvius Media
Players: 2-4 (We played with 2)
Actual Playing Time (vs the guideline on the box): About 30 minutes
Game type: Area Control
Rating:



Jenni’s rating scale:

OUI: I would play this game again; this game is ok. I probably would not buy this game myself but I would play it with those who own it and if someone gave it to me I would keep it.

OUI OUI: I would play this game again; this game is good. I would buy this game.

OUI OUI OUI: I LOVE THIS GAME. I MUST HAVE THIS GAME.

NON: I would not play this game again. I would return this game or give it away if it was given to me.





6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Vermont
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I might have missed it, but I haven't seen anyone else mention the character imbalance. Was there a different approach that would have offset the loss?

I know there is a FAQ. I'm wondering if there is a new rules book coming to clarify snags or gameplay?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthew Peckham
England
Dorking
Surrey
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I had the same experience with both this game and their previous game, Centauri Saga. Both are a mess of an experience with an unuseable rulebook and completely imbalanced, jolty play. Really disappointed in these Kickstarters, and won't be buying any more unfortuntely.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gerry Smit
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There is. In the FAQ thread, the new rulebook reverses the rule regarding losing colonists on a planet. Previously, any colonists lost thru the die roll were taken ONLY from the planet, those in your cargo hold were safe/immune/invulnerable. This rule is now reversed, meaning they can, and would, be removed from your ship.

In a 2 player game I was playing last weekend, my opponent and I stopped midgame, as it was just a simple cycle of shuttle to the Jumopgate, load colonists, dump them on a planet, repeat. There didn't seem to be anything we could do that would alter what was happening. So why bother. MAYBE it's a game of slow build up in the first half or two-thirds of the game, where you race around the last portion of the game hanging on and fighting alien "brush fires" to squeak out a win.

But I completely agree with the sentiment of "There's a good game here. But it's hiding in this rulebook, and we can't fight it!"
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jenni
United States
Alexandria
VA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I also wanted to add another note about the game- because after each round the first player token is passed, in a 2 player game this means players have double plays - one turn immediately following their last turn each time. It seems...odd.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Trueflight Silverwing
United States
Waverly
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sadly, this seems to be a reoccurring problem with Vesuvius Media and their Rule books. Very similar issues happened with their first title, Centauri Saga. Their game components are top notch and their ship models are very nice. The core game mechanics are even pretty solid for the most part, but the rule books themselves seem to be a huge mess. It is as if the people who wrote them already knew the game and the way it was supposed to be played, and just forgot to put a lot of that information into writing. A lot of the problems stem from the fact that without someone familiar with the game to answer questions and fill in the blanks, it is extremely difficult to learn even the basics of their games.

Disappointing results from what could be a solid game company. Hopefully they can improve over time, but so far it has been a rough start.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Thiel
United States
Champaign
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Unfortunately, I agree with all of this. The first time our group played this game, we had more than a dozen rules questions, including some of the same ones you mentioned. A few days later, I tried again with fresh players plus answers from the designer. It was a smoother experience, but the gameplay felt undercooked.

With only 12 turns and many punishing penalties, I found it difficult to do much exploring. Of the 25 planets, 14 offer negative Adventure effects at least half the time. And the five black planets only reward you on a roll of 6; much of the time you'll simply kill anyone already on the planet. It would help, I think, to have another ship upgrade: Sensors that would provide a bonus to Adventure rolls, similar to the Weapons upgrade.

I believe that there's a game buried in there somewhere, but that it needed a few more passes during the design process. The components and artwork are excellent; shame about the rest.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Thiel
United States
Champaign
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ender02 wrote:
It is as if the people who wrote them already knew the game and the way it was supposed to be played, and just forgot to put a lot of that information into writing.


This is something that's been pissing me off lately: the apparent lack of blind playtesting. Take a group of people completely unfamiliar with the game, give them the rulebook, then sit back and listen as they try to muddle through.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Thiel
United States
Champaign
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Desferous wrote:

I know there is a FAQ. I'm wondering if there is a new rules book coming to clarify snags or gameplay?


A V1.2 rulebook was posted today on the publisher's Hive site. It doesn't appear to have made its way to BGG.

Also, at least one clarification from the FAQ thread is not yet reflected in the book. A post from October 23 said a crashed ship DOES trigger an Adventure roll, but the rulebook still states that it occurs when your ship orbits a planet.

Furthermore, the V1.2 rulebook flatly contradicts previous FAQ answers on the Hive website. For example, I was told that the 300 Credit symbol in the final Weapons upgrade slot was a misprint related to a discarded variant that allowed you to steal from your opponent, but the new rulebook now states that Weapons Level 3 does indeed allow you to steal up to 300 Credits from a defeated opponent. Perhaps a new FAQ thread is in order?

Even now, the book could use a thorough proofreading. Missing punctuation, improper spacing and awkward sentence construction continue to be problems. Part of my job involves proofreading a monthly publication, and I would happily volunteer my services.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Constantine Kevorque
Canada
Halifax
Nova Scotia
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmb
Hi David,

the new rulebook is aimed to clarify and balance the game play between both "missing explanations" and "misprints". So:

a) As far as the Player Mat is concerned, we will be activating the original rule that says that you are allowed to steal 300 Credits from the loser. This makes the game a little bit more aggressive, but since the player mats have it, it is best to use it, rather than not.

b) In the new rulebook it is clearly stated at the beginning of a Phase, whether you skip it if you are crash landed. Since there is no such mention during "Adventure" you are allowed to execute it even if you just crash landed on the planet. Being "in orbit" is flavor text. I can understand the confusion this might create, so we will remove the said word from the rule book on the next version.

c) The rule book is available now in BGG. We submitted both at the same time, but as you know BGG needs to approve every file upload, that is why it took some time.

d) You can always send us your input directly at our email. We take pride in incorporating any input from our players to all our games (whether online or board games). So, if you have corrections for anything please send us either a message here in BGG, or an email (you can find it from our official website http://www.vesuviusmedia.com)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Thiel
United States
Champaign
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the clarifications. I actually think it makes more sense to have an adventure after crash landing. I don't recall if I've asked this before, but what would happen if you have crash landed on a planet, and the Adventure roll result is another crash landing? (Surely you don't crash land on a different, adjacent planet?)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Constantine Kevorque
Canada
Halifax
Nova Scotia
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmb
You are right, you do not Crash land again
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.