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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > January 2018 (#14) > My Favourite Game

My Favourite Game

The quick-draw creator of Mangaka and Cartooner explains why Cosmic Encounter is out of this world

Cosmic Encounter, the world’s greatest science-fiction board game, is now more than 40 years old, but it doesn’t look it. For a game that was conceived in 1972 and published in 1977, when tactical wargames and their Gygaxian spawn ruled geek culture, Cosmic Encounter feels like an ancient alien, a visitor from some advanced civilisation bearing gaming insights that wouldn’t become commonplace for 30 years.

It’s the execution, not some high concept, that makes Cosmic Encounter so great. “Alien races compete for territory by taking over each other’s planets” could have been the pitch for any 1970s wargame. Even as late as 1988 Avalon Hill was still making crusty sci-fi games like Merchant of Venus, with preset maps, dice-based subsystems and hundreds of unique tokens; in contrast, Cosmic Encounter is a triumph of abstraction and minimalism. Each player’s starting territory consists of an identical star system with five identical planets. The territories slot together in a modular way, gathered around the central repository for dead tokens: the warp. Each planet starts with four identical tokens, which represent your troops, and the cone (a pointer) that represents where your troops are headed in any given round.

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About Tabletop Gaming

January’s issue of Tabletop Gaming includes an exclusive preview of post-apocalyptic miniatures game Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, a chat with Mice & Mystics creator Jerry Hawthorne about his latest tale Stuffed Fables, a delve into the dark world of fake board games – including tips on how to spot a counterfeit in your collection – and much, much more. Reviews include Azul, Pulsar 2849, Civilization: A New Dawn, Dungeons & Dragons: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Indian Summer, Clank! In! Space!, Queendomino, Raxxon, Hunt for the Ring, Photosynthesis, Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate and many more.