Player Avatar
My First Heart


gamer level 1
230 xp

Use my invite URL to register (this will give me kudos)
profile badges
recent achievements
My First Wish!
My First Wish!
Add a game to your Wish List by clicking the "Want It" button on a game page.
Gave My First Grade
Gave My First Grade
Grade a gamer's review or tip by clicking "Yes" or "No" in response to the question "Was this helpful?"
I'm a Player!
I'm a Player!
Claim that you have played a game today by clicking the "Played Today!" button on a game page.
Rated 5 Games
Rated 5 Games
Rate 5 games you have played.
Go to the Ascension page
Go to the Cosmic Encounter page
Go to the The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game page
Go to the Nightfall page
Go to the Cosmic Encounter page

Cosmic Encounter

61 out of 69 gamers thought this was helpful

Gamers who graduate from the Monopoly and Sorry phase tend to share a similar preference with one another. They tend to look for games that have the layout changed each game. They also want games that force them to make tough decisions, yet have rules that are simple enough to fit into one page. The biggest feature they want, or lack of it, is luck. In fact, having a game that has a roll and move mechanic in these great times is a legal reason to commit arson. This doesn’t mean luck doesn’t exist in these modern board games, but it’s not longer the dominating factor on whether or not you win.

When Fantasy Flight Games, the boys behind the most overproduced games in existence, announced a reprint of Cosmic Encounter, I was expecting the very reality I know to collapse. After all, we’re hardcore gamers now and things like luck-based games are beneath us.

So why didn’t the world end? Because gamers actually wanted this game. These same gamers that love Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Carcassone are suddenly interested in a game that is entirely driven by the heart of the cards. You can’t even choose your own target when it is your turn to attack; it’s all done by the Destiny deck which tells you who you are going to strike. In other words, don’t get friendly with your “allies”, because you might be forced to vaporize their entire race with your death cannons because the cards told you too.

But why would you vaporize your friends, you may ask? Because the entire point of this game is to get 5 foreign colonies and you can do this in a diplomatic fashion or by committing several genocide attempts. Since this game does take place in Space, you have alien powers to work with. These alien powers have a way to break the game apart and cause problems for both you and your “friends.” For example, those Zombies? They can’t die. What about that Loser? He wins by losing the fight. Everyone gets one alien power that does all sorts of wackiness and there are fifty alien powers that come with this game.

As for the game play itself, it’s quite simple. Each turn, you draw from the destiny deck and it will tell you who your target is. So you pick a planet to invade, throw in 1 to 4 ships, and ask people to come join in the invading party. The victim asks for allies as well, in attempts to save his hide. The other players then decide who they want join by sending 1 to 4 ships, or they can just say “screw you guys, I’m going home.” Once everyone has decided who to join or bow out, both the offensive and defensive player put an Encounter card face down. These cards have a fancy big black number on it and once both sides put the cards face down, they are revealed. The winner is the side who has the bigger number after adding all the ships on their side plus the Encounter card.

That’s pretty much the game right there. There are other cards, like Artifact cards that fudge the rules even further and Reinforcement cards that can change the outcome of close battles. Otherwise, the game is literally just “draw a card for your target, throw in ships, invite allies, and get the highest number.” Why does this work?

Because the entire game is about diplomacy. There are many ways to screw around with your neighbor’s heads and with the alien powers in play, people might either ignore, hate, or like you. In fact, being a game made in the 70s, Cosmic Encounter is a very good early example of abusing the metagame.

The other key factor of Cosmic Encounter’s greatness is the opportunity cost and decision making. Your encounter cards, much like the rest of the game, is entirely random. Sometimes you need to figure out on whether or not you should play your strongest card, and get into your opponent’s head if they have strong cards as well. Sometimes you might not even think about your opponent at all, since you have a terrible hand but must use these cards. You can try to take advantage of your terrible cards by inviting allies and sabotage them, but they’ll hold a grudge for the rest of the game. Do you do it, or just play it safe?

It’s these type of diplomatic situations and bluffing that makes Cosmic Encounter such a great game. It’s quite easy to learn if you are a veteran gamer (especially if you are from hail from the CCG) and the alien powers make the game have an incredible amount of replayability. The base game alone comes with fifty alien, which is more than enough to keep you occupied for a very long time.

– Nice artwork
– Easy to learn rules
– Tons of replayability
– Screwing over your friends is encouraged

– Don’t play this with three people
– You will hate this game if you loathe luck

Go to the Ascension page


37 out of 42 gamers thought this was helpful

Deckbuilding games and I have a very awkward relationship. When I was first introduced to the genre by the inevitable Dominion, I hated deckbuilding games. Sadly, my criticisms of Dominion aren’t unique. Like a lot of naysayers, I hated the lack of theme, I hated the one-way street metagame strategy, and I hated the lack of player interaction. A friend of mine tried another attempt into deckbuilding games with Thunderstone and that game just drove me further away from the genre with its clunky system and AEG’s terrible rule writers.

It wasn’t until recently that I started getting into deckbuilding games with my purchase of both Ascension and Nightfall. Since this is an Ascension review, we will stick to Ascension.

My first words when I opened up the box? “What the*?” The card stock was thick and almost ready to cracked, and the board itself (which is thankfully not needed) came in warped. For the price I paid for Ascension, this was an equivalent of a rip off and a half.

After card sleeving, I also realized another problem: The sleeved cards wouldn’t fit into the box. Not only this, but if I try to stuff ‘em in, there is a good chance that the cards would warp over time. I had to take the alternative route: Get those infamous white card boxes and stuff the cards in there. It worked, and made the game more portable. Since there was no need for the board, I decided to follow this alternative.

And finally, I decided to conquer the final territory: The rulebook. While the rulebook has very good graphics and an extremely nice layout that is easy on the eyes, it does miss one important feature: What do you with the center row after nabbing a card?

It was at this point where I practically regret purchasing this game. The components were something I expected from a garage-born publisher, not a professional company. The board coming in warped? Some of my cards already chipped on the front side? While not essential to the game, I certainly did pay for it.

But whatever, I am not going to stop myself from actually trying the game due to a lousy choice of components. This isn’t the first game that I have played where I had to deal crappy components, and it sure as* won’t be the last.

So I played with two friends of mine to see if this game was worth the price tag. The first thing they complimented was how badass the artwork was. I didn’t take a good look at it, but after their words, I did and I agreed. The artwork in Ascension is top of the line. The style seems to be along the lines of something I would find in an old book or the walls of a church. In fact, one of my more beloved (although aged horribly) animated series is Redwall which made extensive use of this type of art style. Ascension pulled this off very well and Sabee is definitely someone who should be getting more employment.

After a quick look at the cards, we finally decided to actually set the game up, since we actually wanted to play the * thing. So we did, and it didn’t even take five minutes. This is something I already loved, because every deck building on the planet takes far too long to set up. Here? You have a giant Portal Deck, give everyone their starter decks, put two separate “always available cards”, and the Hobo card (Cultist card for you naturalists out there). That’s it. No draft cards needed nor did you have to jump through dividers to get your cards. Just shuffle the Portal Deck, draw out 6 to create the center row, done.

So my friends and I were playing and 30 minutes later, we are done with our first game. We played again…for another 2 hours. One of our friends had to go and so it became a 1v1. We did this for another 3 hours, with beer/pizza breaks in between. After much carb and alcohol consumption later, we started discussing our tactics and our minds when we did key critical moves in the game.

Yep, we liked it, a lot. Ascension is probably one of the best games I have in my collection despite the oh-so-horrible components. It is definitely an overpriced game for the components, but the game was addicting and fun. Why? It’s a very simple game to setup, but the simplicity is such a huge deception to the game’s depth. It’s almost like Chess where Chess isn’t exactly hard to play, but becoming good at it is another story.

So what made it so good? For starters, it’s more a tactical game as opposed to a grand strategy game. The problem I had with Dominion is you had to stick to a script and get certain cards in the right order to win (e.g. Get the Witch ASAP if she shows up). It felt like a long puzzle game and there was barely any player interaction and it simply boiled down to “Who was better at solving out the riddle” as opposed to a card game involving players trying to do outdo and screw each other over.

Ascension fixes this problem with the center row. Basically the center row is a 6 card draw from the Portal Deck and acts as a “marketplace” for you to build your deck. This small dynamic alone changes the pace of the game. Instead of having a script at the start of the game, each turn requires you to change gear since whatever you can buy is always changing. Because there is also a limited quantity of cards of a certain type (with the strong cards being only one copy), therefore buying cards becomes a bigger problem since you don’t want your opponents to have the edge. The best part is these dynamics play in everyone’s turn, and because of the small selection of cards to buy, the process time isn’t long so you don’t have a lot of downtime even in four player games.

As for the depth of the game, it’s quite deep but certainly not as complex as other deck building games. I would say the good portion of the game’s depth is not only how certain card combinations will work, but also understanding the value of the cards during certain time frames of the game. For example, having an expensive card or a powerful monster early means the monster isn’t likely to be touched for a while. However, when players have a competent deck, then these powerful but expensive cards start playing a role in the game as being key components and the players must decide what to do when people reach that level (or perhaps reach that level before everyone else to take advantage?)

However, the game itself isn’t flawless. Ascension doesn’t scale well at all because of the center row. No matter how many players there are, 6 cards will always remain in the center row. What this means is in a 4 player game, the row is going to look much different when it comes back to you, thereby making the game less tactical and more on luck. Fortunately the official team variant in the Ascension: Return of the Fallen remedies this to some extent, but this game truly shines as a 1v1 game.

As for player interaction, it is certainly much more interesting than Dominion because of the abilities and tools available to thwart people’s plans. There are plenty of opportunities to mess around the centre row, thereby messing someone’s plans, and due to the limited copies of a certain card, sometimes buying the card is a form of an attack to another player. It certainly isn’t at the level of PvP as Nightfall, but a step-up from Thunderstone and Dominion.

With that being said, is it worth getting? It’s not for everyone due to the simplistic nature of the game and low-level playing being along the lines “grab the best card in the row and move on.” But for a simple game that is easy to understand but choke full of depth and easy to set up, it is worth getting despite the crappy components.

– Very easy to teach and play.
– Extremely short set up time.
– Plenty of depth despite the simple rules
– Amazing artwork.
– Awesome 1v1 game.

– Terrible card quality that should not see the light of day.
– My board came in warped…the*?
– Box insert does not enjoy sleeved cards.
– Rulebook forgets the talk about the center row?!

× Visit Your Profile