Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some questions that pop up about Cosmic Encounter. Please also see Clarifications.
1. What is Cosmic Encounter?
Cosmic Encounter is a board game first developed by Eon Games, then
briefly distributed by West End Games and Games Workshop, Mayfair Games, and now being
distributed by Avalon Hill.
In it each player plays the part of an alien trying to conquer the
universe. Each player's alien has a power that allows it to break some
of the game's rules. The interaction of the powers during conflicts is
the basis of the enjoyment of the game.
2. How is the game played?
The game is rather simple: Each player has a "home system" with 5
planets in it, and 20 tokens (or "ship"s, if you are using the new Avalon Hill version), which start the game evenly distributed
across the 5 home planets. The object of the game is to establish bases
on 5 foreign planets. A base is any number of tokens on a single planet.
Any number of opposing players may have a base on the same planet.
Cards are dealt and the order of play is established. Then the first
player is directed by a colored card to the system in which s/he must
make her/his first attack. S/he designates which of the home bases there
s/he'll attack and deploys 1-4 free tokens to a cone representing the
attack field. The defending player (who is the owner of the system)
defends with whatever tokens are on the planet being attacked. Each side
in the challenge can ask other players to ally with 1-4 free tokens.
Each main player then plays a challenge card face down (challenge cards
include attack cards numbered from 1 to 40 and compromise cards). After
cards are revealed, the card number is added to the total of the main
player's and allies' tokens on that side of the challenge...higher total
wins. If a compromise card is played it indicates that that side loses,
but the player who played a compromise card takes consolation cards from
her/his opponent's hand. If both players play a compromise, they have 1
minute to make a deal which can include exchanging bases, cards or some
other immediate actions.
Winning tokens on the offense get to establish a base on the planet
attacked. Winning allied tokens on the defense gain their owner rewards,
either new cards or freed tokens. Winning main player tokens on the
defense get nothing. All losing tokens go to the "warp" where they're
not free for use.
Each player is entitled to a second challenge if their first challenge
is successful. Play then continues around the board.
In addition, each player has an alien power which lets her/him break a
rule in a particular way to her/his benefit. There are cards in players'
hands (called flares and edicts) that grant temporary or instantaneous
powers, such as freeing tokens from the warp, re-establishing home
bases, etc. There are cards that act to multiply an attack card played.
And many more game extensions that give CE it's character and it's
unpredictability. This unpredictability is what makes the game so
There are also many game extensions that add additional twists to the
game (e.g. moons, lucre, alternate hexes, praw, flares, ...) Many
additional powers and new game extensions have been invented by CE
players, some of which are available through the archive (see below).
3. What versions of CE are available?
The original Eon sets, West End, Games Workshop, and Mayfair
versions are long out of print. The only version that is available new
right now is the Avalon Hill one. There have also been versions made in several other countries, but these too are hard to find.
Mayfair published two sets: Cosmic Encounter and More Cosmic Encounter.
Cosmic Encounter is required to play with More Cosmic Encounter. The
basic set gives 48 aliens (and their flares), 6 hexes (with reverse
hexes), warp, cone, cards
Eon published the base set and nine expansions. The Eon editions do
occasionally get auctioned off either at cons or on the net, but they do
get expensive (a complete Eon set with all 9 expansions recently went
An online version exists at www.cosmicencounter.com.
4. What comes with the game?
The two Mayfair sets contain the following:
48 Alien powers (with flares):
Attack 40(1), 30(1), 20(2), 19(1), 18(1), 17(1), 16(1), 15(4),
14(2), 13(1), 12(5), 11(2), 10(6), 9(2), 8(8), 7(4), 6(8), 5(2),
4(2), 1(1). Compromise(17). Edicts(22).
6 Planet Hexes (with reverse hexes on the back)
6 Token sets: Red, Blue, Yellow, Purple, Light Blue, Orange.
1 Warp Hex
1 Hyper-Space Cone
1 Rule Book
More Cosmic Encounter
54 Alien powers (with flares):
Attack 20(1), 19(1), 18(1), 17(1), 16(1), 15(2), 14(1), 13(3),
12(2), 11(3), 10(3), 9(4), 8(3), 7(3), 6(3), 5(1), 4(3), 1(1),
0(2), -1(1), -4(1), -5(1), -6(1), -8(1). Compromise(11).
Kickers(9). Reinforcements(15). Edicts(10).
26 Destiny Cards (including 16 Comets)
100 Lucre counters
1 Rule Book covering the extra components
A parts list for the other versions is located at
5. What is Encounter and how can I get it?
Encounter was the support magazine for Eon's games and originally
published by Eon. The magazine contained rules questions and
clarifications, new powers and expansions for CE as well as things for
their other games. 6 issues were released while the game was produced by
After Mayfair began producing CE, it also revived Encounter. However,
after 3 issues they ceased publication.
Several issues are available here on The Warp in the Downloads section.
6. Where can I get additional stuff?
Welcome to The Warp.
7. General timing questions
When collecting consolation, the only card which is allowed to be played
from the hand of the collectee (the one from whom consolation is being
drawn), is Stellar Gas, which prevents collecting consolation.
8. Miscellaneous Questions
If someone plays a Plague on you (the one where you have to put three
tokens in the warp, discard a flare, edict, compromise and attack card)
can you play any edicts or flares with the infinity symbol on them before
the plague resolves?
Edict Zap, Filch wild [Mayfair], Mesmer super [Mayfair], or Void wild [Eon] are the only cards that can prevent Plague. Some groups play that you can play anything and everything within timing constaints in order to gain their effects before being forced to discard (or in cases on consolation). However, most groups subscribe to the concept of a "lien" on your hand (that is, if you are in a situation where you MUST lose cards from your hand, you may not play any of them until the cards are discarded or drawn). Only cards that cancel the lien (like Stellar Gas) can prevent this.
If I am Busybody, can I switch the Gambler's card after he declares what it is?
This is a situation that seems to want to invoke the timing rules (from Mayfair). However, it is generally agreed upon that the timing rules are designed for cases when a conflict arises (not as a preemptive measure). Therefore, a house ruling is required. The official Warp ruling on this case is that if Gambler declares his card, Busybody may make a switch. If Gambler asks Busybody to make a switch before declaring, and Busybody declines, then Busybody no longer has that opportunity to switch after the Gambler's declaration. In other words, if you remember to ask the other players if they are invoking optional powers beforehand, then they can't pull a fast one on you in this circumstance. But if you are too quick to act, they can use their power.
If one of your planets has tokens from 2 or more opponents, and you attack your own planet (through destiny deck) to gain your planet back, do you have to attack ALL of the opponents tokens to remove them from your planet or just one of the opponents? If you win do ALL of the opposing players tokens leave your planet, or do you just get to put a base there?
You must pick one opponent to challenge. The others are not involved unless they separately ally with one side or another. If you win the challenge, your tokens land and coexist with the other tokens that were not involved.
Since the "Sniveler" super flare enables the Sniveler to act AFTER the game has been won (the icon indicates that it occurs in the change of turn phase) does this mean that other edicts/flares/powers can be played/used after someone wins, up to and including the change of turn phase? One scenario is that someone can hand zap themselves after the victory in the hopes of getting a card which will enable them to steal victory back from the winner).
With the precedent of the Sniveler's flare description (If another player wins the game and you have just one base less, the
winner(s) must grant you a joint win or face one more challenge. If you win
the challenge, you and your allies win the game. If you lose, the first result
stands.), it stands to reason that this should be allowed for all other circumstances at this point in the game. We tend to allow anything anyone can try to pull off after someone has won the game... there is a sort of frozen time as everyone searches through their hands looking for that one card that will undo the win (yes, we are gluttons, and enjoy prolonging the game as long as we can). Other houses like to end it the moment someone has 5 bases (or whatever).
Is it possible to zap Anti-Matter between calculating total scores and the calculation of the winner. e.g. I attack AM with 2 tokens and play a 7. AM defends with 4 tokens and plays a 7. After cards are revealed I have 9, she has 3 so she wins. Can I zap her so that high score wins or will it also affect calculation of scores so she wins again 9-11?
Zapping Anti-Matter changes both aspects of the challenge (the way tokens and cards are added, and the object of the challenge). Therefore, you will lose in either case. If you know you may be playing a Cosmic Zap, you should try playing a higher card. Of course, if you don't have one, you're screwed.
When is the Sting considered to be losing tokens "voluntarily"?
Generally, the Sting is considered to be losing tokens voluntarily only
as a result of an agreement to do so to satisfy the Disease Wild flare.