I ordered Cosmic Dominion because I love this game so much, and I just can't help myself. The expansions are fun, they're beautiful, and for a fan, they're addictive. Unfortunately, I think there are three minor problems with using them all. I'll outline them, and then elaborate:
- The addition, or absence of an expansion element can cause unexpected problems.
- The addition of several powerful cards from these expansions makes predictions very difficult.
- The addition of each expansion increases the time required to teach the game to a beginner.
1. The addition, or absence of an expansion element can cause unexpected problems.
Anyone familiar with Cosmic knows that the interactions between aliens can bewilder the best of us. It's part of the game, but expansions can add to the confusion further.
Example 1: Let's say that you add the Joker alien race, but don't play with the Reward deck. The R token should be taken out because it's no longer applicable. Will you remember? Are you sure?
Example 2: The Remora's ability allows the player to draw a card from "The Deck" when another player does. Including the Reward deck weakens the strength of the Remora because players can easily choose their rewards from the Reward deck instead of the standard deck.
These are just two examples from the top of my head. I'm sure there are more. In no way do I think that Fantasy Flight put out a shabby product. It's the nature of this amazing game. I'm just saying that more expansions can increase the odds of these problems arising.
2. The addition of several powerful cards from these expansions makes predictions very difficult.
Yes, I'm talking about card counting. When that 40 is gone, and a couple of card zaps are gone, you can start formulating safer bets when it comes to strategy. Now there are so many powerful cards out there that you can't narrow the options down at any point. This makes the game much more random. Yes, Cosmic is a very random game, but there is strategy to it. I feel like the addition of this many "game changer" cards is making it far too wild to create a solid strategy toward the end game.
3. The addition of each expansion increases the time required to teach the game to a beginner.
I can see arguments against my first two points, but I can't see any way around this. Adding expansions increases the amount of time it takes to teach the game to a beginner. We have techs, stations, rewards (several types), hazards, and flag ships. If you're playing with the same group all of the time, it's not an issue. Add one new player, and it's a lot to absorb.
Learning rules isn't the only issue either. Knowing what to expect is also part of the learning curve. That comes with time, but will the player stick around to try again after being beaten down?
Do I play with all of the aliens? Yes, they're all shuffled together. Do I often play with at least half of the other expansion materials? No, I don't, because I can't teach a new player everything at once, and not expect them to be overwhelmed.
I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't buy the expansion, but I do think that the inclusion of expansions requires a little thought. Am I the only one who thinks this way?
Edited by GrimJester, 29 August 2014 - 12:54 AM.