Cosmic Encounter is a crazily old game. Tremendously old against some other big hitters that are currently popular - it was originally released in 1977! It was then reprinted in 2000 and again in 2007 by Fantasy Flight Games. This is the one that has received expansion after expansion. One thing that had been consistent across its releases is that is has always been 3+ players. It's not a game for a duo. Trios and up are fine, and that's due to its alliance mechanic - without an extra body there is no alliance. Until now.
Fantasy Flight Games have recently announced their newest venture in the Cosmic Encounter universe. Cosmic Encounter Duel. This is a competitive standalone game for just two players. You'll still be a species of alien with a unique ability, and there will still be depth in tactics. But it runs differently. You're spanning a system and will travel across it. You distribute your ships as necessary to control five colonies in order to win.
To kick off, you or your opponent grab a destiny card - a system established in Cosmic Encounter. Because there is only one other player to fight, your destiny is more complicated. You may pull a Discovery card which will tell you where to fight. An event card will have you pitted against natural disasters and other challenges. Refresh allows you to retrieve lost ships, and from the sounds of it, it's an inevitability!
Pulling a Discovery card is what is going to trigger the duel. This will determine where it will take place! Duels are far more secretive than in its larger counter part's battles. You choose your ships in secret and call on the help of any befriended aliens too. Then you choose your Tactic - a stand with symbols to determine your attack style. Ships are then sent to the planet under siege until one player's ships are destroyed, a player retreats, or the duel ends. This continues until one player owns five colonies and claims their place in the Cosmic Council.
Cosmic Encounter Duel's aliens are not fighting for intergalactic power. They're more political than that. They're after a seat at the Cosmic Citizenship Council! Dominance over the stars might come later. Like in Cosmic Encounter, the aliens have abilities and are situationally advantageous. The difference? These aliens have two abilities. These will coincide with the aliens' forte and skills but one will be situationally superior over the other. In example, the Recoiler takes our ships when it loses ships and can pull back ships, store them, and then lash them back out.
Much like in its former, the aliens here are also colour coded based on their complexity. Green are simple. Red are complicated. The art of these aliens however is far more fun than in Cosmic Encounter. Cosmic Encounter Duel's theming screams fun and games. The art is much more pop art-esque over the former's more series artwork.
Are We Excited?
I am. I am incredibly excited! The dynamics and mixing of different aliens in Cosmic Encounter is always exciting, but this offers a new edge. It presents itself as fun and approachable - even as a preview to the game. Plus, being able to dominate the galaxy against two players opens up more playing opportunities! Cosmic Encounter Duel is set to release in April 2020 so keep your eyes peeled!