Cosmic Eons is the sixth and latest expansion for the highly acclaimed Cosmic Encounter and is arguably the most important expansion to date. For those of you not familiar with Cosmic Encounter, you can learn more about it in my Have A Close Encounter of the Cosmic Kind article. For those of you who have played the game, whether or not you have played any of the expansions, allow me to tell you why this one is the must have expansion.
Like each of the expansions prior, Cosmic Eons provides you with a stack of brand new alien races — thirty to be exact — each with their own wacky effects. Unlike many of the alien races prior, Cosmic Eons’s aliens go out of their way to break the rules of the game, fortunately without damaging the balance or elegance of the core game. In the case of the Moocher, if they lose an encounter or fail a deal they get to put a couch token into another system with up to four of their ships. This couch counts as a planet which adds toward your victory condition, and you can forcefully become someone’s ally when they attack from that systems, allowing you to “mooch” of their war efforts.
Some of the new alien races take advantage of a new mechanic they call Essence cards. Each alien race has its own set of Essence cards that the player can use depending on when they are allowed to be played. In the case of the Sheriff, their Essence cards are called “Tickets” and they are given to players as they perform different actions. These tickets put restrictions on players or simply fine them for their actions, and while the Sheriff can be bought off, he can also punish you for bribing him.
Though probably the most important addition to the game are the Hidden Alliance dials. These simple dials and the rules to use them have almost single-handedly solved the greatest problems the game has — the alliance dynamic. The concept of allying with other players during Encounters is phenomenal, but because the decision making was done in turn order, many players would simply jump onto the winning side creating a generally underwhelming battle as one side stomped the other. The Hidden Alliance dials force the players to pick a side privately so that, even if they discuss which side they intend to join, no one knows for sure. This creates tense Encounters with far more “Ah-Ha” moments and betrayals. Even the negotiation for alliances has become more interesting as nothing is for sure until all the dials are revealed and battle resolves.
This expansion was created by some of the people who designed the original version of Cosmic Encounter, years before it was published by Fantasy Flight Games. Even the name of the expansion pays homage to the original publisher Eon Games. History aside, I and many other people have loved this game for years, and while it is one of my favorite games it only made its way to the table every couple of months. The addition of the Hidden Alliance dials has changed that, and now I try to bring it out at every gaming event I can. This seemingly simple change has revitalized the game for me and ultimately helps it play the way it always should have been. So, if you have been playing Cosmic Encounter for as many years as I have, or own the base game and are curious which expansion to buy first, I cannot recommend more that you buy Cosmic Eons.
Images Credits: Fantasy Flight Games and Bill Martison