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Thematic Games» Forums » General

Subject: Cosmic encounter doesn't feel very thematic... rss

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Monopauly
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Why is cosmic Encounter in this subdomain? Maybe I'm not understanding the subdomain properly, but I find the theme no less pasted on than in some euros. I really like the game, but it seems pretty abstract to me.

What would be a defining characteristic? Or is there a definition somewhere I missed?

Edit: It seems the amerithrash subdomain was renamed, and that both amerithrash and thematic are the exact same group of games. So that explains it I guess.
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Guido Gloor
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Llarbal wrote:
It seems the amerithrash subdomain was renamed, and that both amerithrash and thematic are the exact same group of games. So that explains it I guess.

Indeed. I guess it'll take some time for the votes to adapt, when people get around to re-do theirs (which probably won't happen before they are confident that the subdomain names will stay as they are, naturally).
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Richard Irving
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That because cosmic Encounter is NOT AMERITRASH.

There is no element of the game that defines it as Ameritrash:
- No dice. Certainly not buckets of them.
- Compromise Cards. COMPROMISE!
- The combat system is completely abstract.
- Breaking rules in a specific way that others have to follow? Nothing like that in the Top 2 Eurogames (and 100's more outside the Top 2.)
- Simple Rules
- Player interaction? I can't even choose who I am going to fight! (unless I am the Will)

Cosmic Encounter is a classic no doubt about it proto-Euro!
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Richard Hutnik
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rri1 wrote:
That because cosmic Encounter is NOT AMERITRASH.

There is no element of the game that defines it as Ameritrash:
- No dice. Certainly not buckets of them.
- Compromise Cards. COMPROMISE!
- The combat system is completely abstract.
- Breaking rules in a specific way that others have to follow? Nothing like that in the Top 2 Eurogames (and 100's more outside the Top 2.)
- Simple Rules
- Player interaction? I can't even choose who I am going to fight! (unless I am the Will)

Cosmic Encounter is a classic no doubt about it proto-Euro!


Well, I wouldn't consider Cosmic an "abstract game" either. It is colored by theme to some degree, less than say Dune, but it is there. So, if one considers Euros sitting right between theme drive and abstract (play mechanics) driven, then Cosmic would likely be a proto-Euro as you stated. I would place Cosmic more in the themed than abstract camp, because it does involve alien races at war, and space conquest. Yes, play is abstracted out, but it does have that as the theme.
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Caleb
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I'm not sure how you would re-theme Cosmic Encounter and have it still make sense. So I'd say the theme is pretty integral to the design.
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Philip Thomas
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Look at Race for the Galaxy, especially in its full, expansion rich glory. There you have alien races at war (although this aspect is a subplot rather than the main theme), and yet everyone can tell Race for the Galaxy is a eurogame.

Perhaps its partly to do with ancestry- Race for the Galaxy uses very similar mechanisms to San Juan, which in turn has a similar theme to Puerto Rico, a classic eurogame. Cosmic Encounter came out well before Settlers and the like.

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Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist
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cannoneer wrote:
I'm not sure how you would re-theme Cosmic Encounter and have it still make sense. So I'd say the theme is pretty integral to the design.


The theme barely makes sense as it is now. You could easily do a fantasy swap, keeping everything the same except you have armies of different races conquering kingdoms. You could do something crazy like Ursuppe and have it be about different colonies of bacteria fighting for ecosystems, and you each have unique rule-breaking genes. There is nothing in the game that is intrinsically about interplanetary colonization and combat.
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Moshe Callen
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CE fundamentally works in the theme. Each player takes an alien race and plays with abilities based on that. The powers have a very fundamental effect on game play. What more do you want for theme?
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Monopauly
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I'll just add one thing: I haven't followed the AT subdomain renaming very closely, so when I looked at the games in the thematic subdomain this morning out of curiosity, CE seemed the odd one out. In my idea it didn't belong in a category named thematic because it seems highly abstract (though not exactly an abstract game).


Why when trying to name a subdivision of games anything but Amerithrash do we hold on to the category itself? It only means something to BoardGameGeeks. Why not shuffle everything and create new subdomains that have nothing to do with the terms AT/Eurogame?
 
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Llarbal wrote:
I'll just add one thing: I haven't followed the AT subdomain renaming very closely, so when I looked at the games in the thematic subdomain this morning out of curiosity, CE seemed the odd one out. In my idea it didn't belong in a category named thematic because it seems highly abstract (though not exactly an abstract game).


Why when trying to name a subdivision of games anything but Amerithrash do we hold on to the category itself? It only means something to BoardGameGeeks. Why not shuffle everything and create new subdomains that have nothing to do with the terms AT/Eurogame?



The geeks here have a vested interest in the board game hobby, and there's nothing wrong with their views shaping the organization of the site. Squeamish people might not like the Ameritrash name, but the category makes sense given the experiences of heavy users of the site. Many people who favor Ameritrash (now thematic) games have a history with Cosmic Encounter and find that its space combat theme fits well with the combat themes of many Ameritrash games.

People's experiences weigh heavily in how they talk about games, and thus in how the games are categorized, regardless of how the games look apart from their histories.
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Also, the special exceptions to the rules that are so central to CE are traditionally associated with Ameritrash, not Euros. Agricola and Race for the Galaxy depart from traditional Euro mechanics by introducing these elements.
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Eric Jome
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Because At fans have laid claim to Cosmic Encounter and euro fans couldn't be bothered to care... And the Thematic games domain isn't really about theme at all. It's a euphemism for AT.

Strictly speaking Cosmic Encounter is way more like euros mechanically. The only AT features are player powers and direct conflict - which is only more or less direct, a bit more than your average worker placement and a bit less than your average wargame...

Which begs the question why heavily themed conflict simulations are not Thematic Games...
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A Derk appears from the mists...
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For me, the answer is "HELL YEAH!" If I was to point to the major failing in the Subdomain approach (other than a minority of loud users takin' a major shit on it), it's the fact that so many of the hardcore Strategy game look down on chance as a valuable aspect of a game. Look at the game of Cosmic, you have a story. Compare it to Arkham Horror at its most basic level, and I think you'll realize it's not very much different...
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Chester
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People seem to make the assumption that every game fits in at least one sub-domain. But there is really no reason to think that. I think there are plenty of games that really don't fit that well in any of these categories.

The way things are set up, those games are probably even more likely to show up in multiple categories.

Cosmic Encounter? I don't know where it should go. It seems to appeal most to fans of Ameritrash, so I'd put it in there (and our substitute for that genre is "Thematic"). The sub-domains are most useful if they can capture a group of games that appeal to a common population. I think a lot of people are voting the way they think the games should end up groups...even if that doesn't exactly fit the terminology.

The shame of it would be if, for example, commonly accepted Ameritrash games (and you could do this with any of several groups) get split among numerous sub-domains. I think an effort to resist that outcome is why Cosmic Encounter shows up in "Thematic".

Its all just words.
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Mike Siggins
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Most games can tell a story. The quality and believability of that story varies.

I look forward to several billion words arguing the toss on which game fits which box!
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CE is definitelty not theme-driven. It's rules-driven. The aliens are based on different ways you can tweak the rules mechanics.

That said, it is definitely not a Euro. It's Ameri- all the way. It's got combat, direct conflict, luck of cards, plastic and cardboard, you aren't building anything or trying to win the favor of anybody. The game predates the whole Euro "genre".

Sure, you could call it a "proto-Euro" if you want to, but that's because just about *every* Ameri-game is a "proto-Euro."

Why is CE placed under "Thematic"? Because the admins creating these categories have no idea what they're doing (at least in this area).

The difference between Ameri- and Euro has nothing to do with Theme-vs-Mechanics or Strategy-vs-Luck-or-something-else. Theme and mechanics play a part in both Ameri- and Euro-. Strategy plays a part in both Ameri- and Euro-. The difference is in what kinds of themes and what kinds of mechanics and what kinds of strategy.

Ameri- has war, direct conflict, violence, explosions, weapons, aggression.

Euro- has building, indirect conflict, auctions, economics, favor, aggriculture.

Both have nukes - but in Ameri-, they're nuclear bombs, and in Euro- they're nuclear power plants. That's the difference.

Ameri- = Euro + Violence - extraneous stuff that you no longer need to keep the game interesting.
Euro- = Ameri - Violence + additional stuff you need to make the game interesting.

There is no greater depth to the difference than that.
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Mika R.
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sumo wrote:
Most games can tell a story. The quality and believability of that story varies.

I look forward to several billion words arguing the toss on which game fits which box!


Exactly, that's why I have been suggesting another definition for the thematic:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/527245/request-for-renam...

Perhaps a proper compromise for this category would eventually be:

Thematic and story driven games
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Cosmic Encounter is not thematic. Thematic is just a word derk dreamt about to replace Ameritrash. The choice was between that and R'lyeh or Fhtagn.

rri1 wrote:
That because cosmic Encounter is NOT AMERITRASH.
[...]
- Player interaction? I can't even choose who I am going to fight! (unless I am the Will)

Cosmic Encounter is a classic no doubt about it proto-Euro!

That is arguable. I like the following rule of thumb: "Do I have to talk to other players to win?" In CE this is most certainly the case. In other typical euros, it is not. (Unless you count bidding as talking..;) The destiny card also doesn't indicate the player to attack, only the system. After the first one or two turns there should be a choice which player to attack.

Of course CE compares much more to a game like Settlers instead of, say, Twilight Imperium. But even Settlers isn't considered a eurogame any more, now it's a "family game". So it's really an argument which definition of euro one follows. If euro means Settlers then CE could be considered "proto-euro", however, if euro means Caylus/Power Grid/Princes of Florence then it's most certainly not.

Currently "thematic games" is a synonym of Ameritrash. Over time this will likely change. I wouldn't be surprised if CE was a "strategy game" or even "family game" tomorrow.
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Ray
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Folks that weren't gaming throughout the 80's are going to have trouble understanding this niche (and you are right it isn't represented by what's been set up). It's cluster is actually closer to wargame than strategic/Euro or ameritrash/thematic. By clustering users and similar likes their group is games like:

Cosmic Encounter
Civilization
Titan
Dune
Kremlin
History of the World
Britannia
Empires in Arms
1830
1856
Up Front
Squad Leader
Republic of Rome
Ambush!
Here I Stand

note its vintage wargames that are social/interacting (i.e. kingmaking happens) yet emphasizing strategy, mostly multiplayer, and more mechanics driven (innovative or new mechanics -- less about theme/simulation).

I cant give you a nice one word label for it because our hobby doesn't have one. However the math of clustering clearly (and indisputably) sets it up and defines it.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/25229/item/507480#item...
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