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Subject: The 3 essential things that made me love the Chaosmos experience rss

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I love Chaosmos. In fact, it's probably my favourite game. In this review, I will try to explain why by highlighting the 3 elements that I think are central to the experience. I hope this will help you decide if Chaosmos is a game for you. I don't write reviews that often and appreciate any feedback!

I will not go over the game rules because other reviews have touched on those already.

1. Rock, Paper, Scissors

I love games that incorporate a true rock, paper, scissors-style system. By this I mean that strategy A beats strategy B beats strategy C beats strategy A (though the chain can be longer and more complex). Chaosmos does this in a way that makes every card potentially viable.

Take the combat for example: Basic weapons give you +1 attack power. Advanced weapons give you +2 so a strategy centered around advanced weapons will beat one centered around basic weapons. But there is a counter to every advanced weapon, negating it and giving your opponent +2 instead. So Advanced Counter beats Advanced Weapon beats Basic Weapon beats Advanced counter.

You can make many more of these cycles and they all interlink which means that players have to make careful choices about which strategy they will adopt, and even then it is unlikely they will be able to beat everyone in combat. Add to this the fact that people can change the cards in their hands many times during a game, and you get a chaotic situation where only those that manage to stay ahead of their rivals will be able to come out on top.

Why I love this mechanic: This mechanic means there is no singular best strategy that will beat all others and it forces player to adapt to their opponents. This generates epic interactions between players and creates a continuously evolving metagame, ensuring this game will never go stale.

Who might not like this mechanic: If you enjoy games where you can optimize and improve your game plan over the course of a couple of games, crafting a strategy that others will be powerless to stop, this might not be for you. Games with rock, paper, scissors-like mechanics prevent this, because as soon as someone knows what you're doing, they will be able to beat you! (assuming they find the right cards in time, of course)

2. Hidden information

The entire premise of the game is to find the Ovoid and this combined with people carrying around cards and moving them between planets makes for an interesting game where you're never entirely sure where you should go or what you should do. But the designers included a lot of fun little cards that ensure you will have to find more than just the Ovoid.

To give just a couple examples: Some planets are toxic for certain aliens, and to interact with it, they need to obtain the relevant space suits, there are suits for each pair of "opposite" planets and one general suit that works for everyone. This means hiding the suits other players need while simultaneously trying to find your own, adds another set of cards you would like to keep track of, in case you need them.

The vaults that let you lock cards on a planet, force people to look for the keys that open them. Imagine if your rival finally figured out that you hid the Ovoid on the planet that is toxic to them, and after they finally find the space suit they need, they run into your vault and see the ovoid in it, just beyond their grasp!

Why I love this mechanic: I love it when a hidden information mechanic allows me to set up a bluff. Will I do A or B? Have I hid the Ovoid on a planet or kept it on me? Likewise, it's awesome when you figure out someone else's bluff or get hoodwinked by them. This is another mechanic that generates great player interactions.

Who might not like this mechanic: There is a lot of hidden information in this game to keep track of, and this can get overwhelming. I can imagine that it's not fun either if you play against people that consistently stay one step ahead of you, because it will make you feel powerless.

3. Strategic Breadth

The cards in the game give players a lot of options and finding a creative strategy is very rewarding. One can try to wrestle the ovoid off others and try to keep it until the end using brute force. One can hide the Ovoid in a vault or under a trap or just on any random planet to pick it up when the time is right. One can let other players duke it out and try to steal it from them at the last moment.

As an example, let me recount how I won the last game I played: The Ovoid had changed hands several times during the game but never passed mine. The end of the game was nearing and based on the moves of the other players, I knew who had the Ovoid (the player that they all kept trying to beat in combat). I knew I would have the second-to-last turn with one player, let's call him X, having the last. I located the space suit that X would need to travel to his toxic planet, as well as the general one. I hid one of them and kept the other on me to prepare. X happened to control the Ovoid but had decided to hide it in the vault of the planet he was on, in order to have an extra card in his hand to fight of any rivals. This provided me with an opportunity.

In the last turn, I traveled to the planet X was on. Instead of fighting him, I used a card that let me steal one card from the planet, right under his nose. Of course, I took the Ovoid. Then I fled to his toxic planet and all he could do was fling insults at me from orbit while I was laughing my ass off.

Why I love this mechanic: I love games that give you multiple ways to win. The fact that every card in this game is useful at the right time is something the designers deserve a lot of credit for. It keeps the game interesting and allows for creativity, instead of just min-maxing their turns, players are constantly trying to find new ways to outsmart each other.

Who might not like this mechanic: This is another mechanic that can make the game feel overwhelming and some people will just be overwhelmed and not know what to do. I would probably not want to play this after a long day when I just want to relax because of this.

Conclusion

There are many more elements I like about Chaosmos, the fact that there are many more optional extra mechanics included to increase the replay value even more (especially the dark Ovoid is a great addition), the weird aliens, all with a weird and funny backstory and variable powers, the modular board and high quality of all the components. I could go on. There are also things that might turn people off. The fact that it's a bit fiddly sometimes, the overwhelming and chaotic experience it can deliver and the fact that you need the right kind of opponents to get the most out of this game.

However, I think the three mechanics outlined above are the essence of the game and if they sound appealing, you might love the game as much as I do! I hope this was useful to you, have a good one!
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Nice review! Chaosmos is a hidden gem, unique and fun! It definitely deserves more love.
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Dana R.
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lSweetJusticel wrote:
Nice review! Chaosmos is a hidden gem, unique and fun! It definitely deserves more love.
Agree, although own and played only a few times I so enjoy each play of it via the mechanics for one.
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Fluxquark wrote:


Who might not like this mechanic: There is a lot of hidden information in this game to keep track of, and this can get overwhelming.
I have the memory of a gnat, so my play group allows me to take
notes. I still lose though shake
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lSweetJusticel wrote:
Nice review! Chaosmos is a hidden gem, unique and fun! It definitely deserves more love.
Thank you! I agree, it scratches an itch that few other games do and should definitely get more buzz! I'm still anxiously awaiting an expansion!
 
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DanogNellows wrote:
Fluxquark wrote:


Who might not like this mechanic: There is a lot of hidden information in this game to keep track of, and this can get overwhelming.
I have the memory of a gnat, so my play group allows me to take
notes. I still lose though shake
My tip would be to only try to keep track of cards that are important for your strategy and make it as hard as possible for everyone else to track the rest devil And try to avoid fights unless you gain something significant from it, every fight potentially reveals your weapons to everyone. Hope you still enjoy the game though!
 
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Fluxquark wrote:
lSweetJusticel wrote:
Nice review! Chaosmos is a hidden gem, unique and fun! It definitely deserves more love.
Thank you! I agree, it scratches an itch that few other games do and should definitely get more buzz! I'm still anxiously awaiting an expansion!
Sorry for the lack of updates, but it IS coming.
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I'll post a link to this review on the KS page for the expansion if that is ok.

Launches on Tuesday!
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cannibalkid wrote:
I'll post a link to this review on the KS page for the expansion if that is ok.

Launches on Tuesday!
Of course! Can't wait!
 
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Fluxquark wrote:
To give just a couple examples: Some planets are toxic for certain aliens, and to interact with it, they need to obtain the relevant space suits, there are suits for each pair of "opposite" planets and one general suit that works for everyone. This means hiding the suits other players need while simultaneously trying to find your own, adds another set of cards you would like to keep track of, in case you need them.

The vaults that let you lock cards on a planet, force people to look for the keys that open them. Imagine if your rival finally figured out that you hid the Ovoid on the planet that is toxic to them, and after they finally find the space suit they need, they run into your vault and see the ovoid in it, just beyond their grasp!
My "favorite" situation is where the foils for my alien's toxicity are located inside the toxic planet with the Ovid... and I know it. Happened twice in three plays. Can you say trade pile?
 
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mcpranno wrote:

My "favorite" situation is where the foils for my alien's toxicity are located inside the toxic planet with the Ovid... and I know it. Happened twice in three plays. Can you say trade pile?
There's actually several ways around this; you can attack remotely onto the toxic planet using Assault Catapult or negotiate with a third party to retrieve it for you. Plus there's the universal enviro-gear.
The game works best at 3 or 4 players (or more), so if you've been playing at 2 players then I recommend the Capture the Ovoid variant in the rulebook.
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