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Cosmic Pioneers

October 19th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

“Cosmic Pioneers” is a rather interesting area control game that unfortunately falls short in a few areas.  What impressed me the most, in all honesty, was how the game was set up.  That sounds strange, I know.  Most game set ups involve some sort of repetitive ritual that most people detest.  Here, the system of planets is different almost every time and is made up of the alien and scenario cards drawn for the game.  Once you get past setup, you’ll find the game to be a mix of strategy and luck with a lean more towards the latter.  I didn’t like the required “going on an adventure” roll, for example, as there was no way to avoid bad rolls.  Part of me wanted to play the game without that phase altogether to assist in keeping things somewhat less random.  Landing on another player also involves a die roll with the loser crash landing and unloading all cargo onto an adjacent viable planet.  Sure, you can offset the combat roll by upgrading your ship’s weapons, but you’re still at the mercy of the die gods.

 

Cosmic Pioneers: 2-4 Players, Ages 13+, Average Play Time = 40-60 Minutes

Cosmic Pioneers: 2-4 Players, Ages 13+, Average Play Time = 40-60 Minutes

 

With that said, the aliens and their abilities made for an interesting time.  You see, players earn victory points at the end of the game for every colonist they have on a planet, for every planet they control, and how much money they have left over (money can be used during the game to upgrade your ship’s weapons, cargo, bombs, and engines).  Each alien does something different but in most cases, they kill colonists or prevent you from taking up space on the planet they occupy.  Each player also gets a player board with a unique ability which is nice (though nothing earth-shattering new).  The manual is short and somewhat of a mess.  While the core concepts are easy to grasp, the manual would have benefited from having a thorough FAQ section.

Some gameplay decisions also tend to not be very thematic.  For example, how is it that players can place colonists from their reserve (not their cargo) onto planets if they’re lucky enough to roll well during the adventure phase, but then must unload colonists from their cargo spaces during the deployment phase? How did the former colonists get there without needing to go through the process of being loaded via a jumpgate and being ferried?  Unless the manual text “reserves” also means “cargo spaces”…without an FAQ or clearer manual it’s hard to know.  This isn’t a bad game, don’t get me wrong, but it required us to house rule a few times because either we didn’t like the gameplay mechanics or because the manual wasn’t clear enough. While it isn’t the worst game I’ve ever played, it’s not the best either.  This game ended up falling into a “let’s play it when we’re tired of our other games” category, and only when we’ve come up with our own rule set to make it enjoyable.

“Cosmic Pioneers”, I feel, will appeal to gamers who don’t mind a little RNG…that is, random number generating.  Will you get credits or crash land?  Will you win combat or crash land?  If dice hate you as they do me, then you’ll find yourself on the losing side no matter how strategically you play.  As such, “Cosmic Pioneers” won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and in my opinion, needs more time in the oven.  The game also doesn’t come with enough baggies to properly hold all the little components. “Cosmic Pioneers” isn’t retailing yet (as of the date of this posting) so I have no idea what the price is going to be…though I’m assuming it’ll be around $40+ which was the pledge minimum to get the game on Kickstarter.  Honestly, I can think of better games that scratch that area-control itch within that price range.

Final Verdict: 4/10

Editor’s Note: Regardless of the score, special thanks goes to Project Manager Anastasios Grigoriadis for providing me with a press copy.

 

 

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