[Transferred over from the old forums.]
So, we've revealed 5 of the 50 aliens in the new edition of Cosmic Encounter so far in our previews. I worked with Peter Olotka (one of the game's original designers) in order to select the aliens that would go into the new edition. They each got a short write-up when revealed, but I'd like to discuss each one a bit more in-depth, specifically why I voted to include each alien, and what I like about each.
The things that I looked for in the aliens I was picking for the new edition were:
1. Simplicity - The fewer words on an alien, the more likely I am to like it, usually because its game effect is primal, interacting with the game mechanics on a very fundamental level. Also, simple is good. A simple alien brings home the concept of Cosmic Encounter to a new player much more effectively than a more complicated alien.
2. Splash - I like aliens with big, impressive effects, often referred to as 'splashy' effects in CCG circles. When a player reads his alien power and then his eyes get wide and he rubs his hands together in glee while chortling, that's probably a splashy effect. The best aliens in this category make an instant splash, but take awhile to truly 'get'.
3. Interactivity - Aliens that interact in interesting ways with each other make for an exciting play environment, so I wanted to pick a set of aliens that play well with each other. For that reason, I generally tried to avoid aliens that in the older editions wound up with text reading 'Do not use alien A with alien B.' Not entirely, but it felt like a good rule of thumb for now.
4. Strategy - I also greatly prefer aliens that create interesting decisions for the players. If an alien causes either its player or its opponent to break out in a sweat during the game, it's pretty likely to be a hit with me.
So, those were my main criteria, so let's start to look at the aliens that made the cut.
I'll take the aliens in the order they were revealed, so for my first alien, let me talk about...
I consider Clone to be one of the simplest aliens of Cosmic Encounter. When I was listing out aliens for the new set, it's actually the first name I wrote down. I didn't even have to think about it.
Why? Clone is one of those aliens that reaches right down into the very guts of the game and gives it a good twist. Clone has a super clean and elegant mechanic - put your encounter card back in your hand after playing it. This can also be incredibly splashy when the Clone gets hold of a good card. There's not much that's as terrifying as the Clone going on a rampage with an attack 40 in hand...again, and again, and again...
Besides its obvious cool elements, the Clone also causes an interesting mind game when it's in play. The Clone player selectively reveals cards in his hand as he uses his power. After all, everyone else just watched him play that 15 and put it back in his hand. In the hands of a weaker player, this simply leads to predictability, and ultimately, defeat. In a stronger player's hands, this just becomes one more way to bluff and destroy his opponents. When should the Clone reveal his biggest attack card? Should he slough off for a couple of encounters first to lull the other players? Should he hold off on using his power to let his hand shrink down to get a new hand? These are the kinds of decisions that galactic conquest are made of.
Now, looking at the new clone, you won't really see any surprises if you're a longtime fan of Cosmic. The timing is tidied up a touch to clarify that no, you can't take Clone's encounter card as part of compensation. (For folks new to Cosmic, compensation is cards you steal from your opponent's hand when you play a negotiate and he plays an attack during an encounter. You lose, but you collect compensation.)
As for its skill level, Clone is clearly a green alert alien, suitable for beginners. Although it has depths that can mature as a player grows more skilled at the give and take of Cosmic Encounter, it's still one of the easiest powers to learn and quickly make use of.
Fantasy Flight Games