Below are links to PDFs for the rules to Fantasy Flight's version of Cosmic Encounter, as well as for each expansion.
Cosmic Encounter Rules
Cosmic Incursion Rules
Cosmic Conflict Rules
Cosmic Alliance Rules
Cosmic Storm Rules
Cosmic Dominion Rules
Cosmic Eons Rules
The following is a description of the basic rules for Cosmic Encounter using the Mayfair format.
Cosmic Encounter is a highly social, science fiction game for two or
more players. Three factors set this game apart from others: intense
interaction among the players, different strategies for each player, and
In Cosmic Encounter, each player represents a different race of alien
beings seeking to gain control of the universe. As a Cosmic Encounter
Player, you must try to defend your native planetary system while
sending your forces through hyperspace to encounter alien beings from
other worlds. You may make alliances with other players, sharing the
risks in hopes of greater gains, or you may choose to go it alone.
Aiding you in your hopes for cosmic supremacy is a special power which
is unique to your race that may give you an edge. But beware, your
opponents have powers of their own, making them equally dangerous and
Place the Warp hex in the center of the table. You should now attach
the planetary system hexes to the Warp. Next, take the 20 tokens of each
color and place four of these tokens on each of the five planets of the
corresponding planetary system hex. A planet is one of the five colored
circles in a planetary system hex. Each player now chooses a color to
Separate the Destiny Cards from the rest of the
deck. If you are playing with fewer than four players, remove all
Destiny Cards with the name of the colors that are not being played
written on them. Shuffle the remaining Destiny Cards and place them face
down as the destiny pile.
Shuffle the Alien Power Cards and give one at
random to each player. After reading your Alien Power Card, stand it up
behind your planetary system hex, with the picture facing the Warp and
the description facing you. Before play begins, you should describe to
the other players what your Alien Power does.
The rest of the cards make up the Challenge Deck. Shuffle these cards and deal 7 cards to each player.
Cut the Destiny pile. The color that comes up
determines who plays first. If a wild card, comet or instructional
destiny comes up, cut the destiny pile again. Play proceeds clockwise
around the Warp.
Description of Alien Power Cards
Each player takes the role of an alien race determined to gain control
of the universe. The Alien Power Card describes the unique power that
each race possesses. Players can use the unique power of their race to
break certain rules in the game. Exactly how and when the alien powers
can be used is described on each of the Alien Power Cards. These powers
may contradict existing rules. That's OK; the text of the Alien Power
Card takes precedence over the rulebook.
Some powers are automatic and are triggered by specific situations.
Other powers are optional allowing their player to decide when they
should be used. Optional powers say "may" or "can" to indicate that
their use is at the player's discretion.
How To Win
The object of the game is to establish bases on
other players' planets, called external bases. A base consists of one or
more of your tokens on a planet. You win by being the first player to
have five bases outside your own planetary system. If two or more
players gain a fifth external base simultaneously, then a joint win is
declared for those players that have five external bases.
Overview of Play
A player's turn consists of two phases. These phases are called the
pre-challenge phase and the challenge phase. The challenge phase may
consist of either one or two challenges. A challenge consists of several
stages which include retrieving tokens from the warp, determining your
opponent, asking for allies, and playing Challenge Cards.
Description of Icons
To make it clear when the many different actions and powers may be used
during the game, each is assigned one or more icons. These icons
correspond to specific game phases or stages. These icons appear on
Flare, Edict, and Alien Power Cards indicating when those cards or
abilities can be used. These icons also are pictured in the Challenge
There are two icons found on some Alien Power,
Edict, and Flare Cards that are not linked to a specific phase or stage
of a challenge. The first icon, an infinity symbol, indicates that the
card or power can be used at any time. The second one, showing a
miniature planetary system hex, indicates that your power is used during
the setup at the beginning of the game.
Description of the Warp
The black space in the central hexagon is called the Warp. Whenever tokens are lost, they are placed in the Warp.
Tokens in the Warp cannot be used in challenges.
These tokens are out of the game until you retrieve them and return them
to your bases.
A Player's Cards
You can have an unlimited number of cards in your hand You may not discard cards unless specifically required to.
Description of Flares and Edicts
Flares and Edicts are cards found in the
Challenge Deck. They can be used by any player (not just the players
involved in the challenge) unless otherwise specified. Flares and Edicts
can be played anytime during the phase or stage represented by the
icons on the card. They are played face up and take effect immediately.
Discard Flares and Edicts after they are played.
Flares are cards that correspond to the Alien
Powers found in the game. If you have a Flare Card that is different
from your Alien Power or you have lost the use of your Alien Power, you
can use the effect described under "Wild". If you have the Flare Card
that corresponds to your Alien Power, you can use the effect described
Edict cards are played like Flares, but do not
correspond to an Alien Power. Each Edict card indicates when and how it
can be played.
Description of the Pre-Challenge Phase
On your turn, you are the offensive main player.
During the pre-challenge phase, all players may play any prechallenge
phase cards that they want. Cards that say "at the start of a challenge"
can be used during this phase. The icon for this phase is the same as
the icon for Challenge Stage 10.
Then examine your hand. If you have one or more
Challenge Cards (Attack or Compromise Cards), you begin the challenge
phase. If you have no Challenge Cards in your hand, discard your hand,
draw seven new cards and return to the beginning of the pre-challenge
phase. You may not draw a new hand except during the pre-challenge
phase, and if you run out of Challenge Cards prior to playing a
Challenge Card in Challenge Stage 7, your turn ends immediately with all
tokens on the hyperspace cone returning to their owners' bases, and
play passing to the left.
Description of a Challenge
As the offensive main player, if you have any tokens in the Warp you may
take one of your tokens from the Warp and put it on any of your bases,
either in your home system where you currently have tokens or on a
planet in an opposing system where you have tokens. If you do not have
any bases, you may place a token from the Warp directly onto the
Retrieve a token from the Warp.
The offensive main player is assigned an
opponent to challenge based on which Destiny card is drawn from the
destiny pile. Used cards form a discard pile beside the destiny pile.
Determine who the offensive main player will be challenging.
There are five types of destiny cards which can be drawn:
Regular Destiny Cards, Reverse Destiny Cards, Wild Destiny Cards, Instructional Destiny Cards, and Comets.
Regular Destiny Card
A Regular Destiny Card displays a single color.
This color indicates both the player and the planetary system in which
the offensive main player must make a challenge. For example, if you are
pink, and you draw a tan Destiny Card, you must make a challenge
against the tan player somewhere in the tan player's planetary system.
You can either challenge a tan player's base directly, challenge an
empty planet in the tan system, or challenge a planet that contains
other players' tokens but none of tan's tokens. Tan would always be the
defensive player, simply defending with zero tokens if there no tan
tokens there. Other players' tokens on the planet are not at risk and
are not involved in the challenge.
If you turn up your own color from the Destiny
pile, you have a choice. You may turn over the next destiny card and
ignore this one, you may attempt to regain a base in your own planetary
system, or you may attempt to eliminate another player's base in your
system where have a base. To regain once of your lost bases, you must
challenge another player's base in your system where you do not have a
base. If you chose to challenge a player in your system, announce who
you are attacking, and that player becomes the defensive player.
If you draw your own color and one of your home
planets has no tokens of any color on it, you can regain a base simply
by placing one or more of your tokens on the planet. This counts as one
of the two challenges for your turn and is considered a successful
challenge. Go directly to Challenge Stage 10 at this point.
Reverse Destiny Card
The Reverse Destiny Card has a black picture of
the hyperspace cone on it with the color of the player to be challenged
on the outside. If this card is drawn, turn over the hyperspace cone so
that the reverse side is up. This will reverse the rewards that allies
receive for being involved in a challenge. Offensive allies will receive
rewards as if they were defensive allies and defensive allies will
receive rewards as if they were offensive allies. The main players will
get the same benefits for winning as with the regular hyperspace cone.
Wild Destiny Card
Two of the Destiny Cards are Wild Destiny cards
which contain all four colors and do not have the name of a color
written on them. These cards allow the offensive main player to select
any planetary system to attack, as if that color had appeared on the
destiny card. There is a Regular and a Reverse Wild Destiny Card.
Instructional Destiny Card
An Instructional Destiny Card does not indicate a
color to challenge but has instructions instead. The instructions tell
you whom to challenge. If more than one player meets the conditions of
the Instructional Destiny Card, then you may choose any player who meets
the specified conditions to challenge in that player's planetary
Comets modify the rules of the coming challenge.
Simply note the effect and draw another Destiny Card to determine who
the offensive main player will challenge. If more than one Comet
appears on the same challenge, use only the first Comet drawn, ignoring
Defensive Main Player
If you have been chosen as the defensive main
player, you must determine whether or not you have any Challenge Cards.
If you have no Challenge Cards (either Attack or Compromise Cards), play
any legal cards that you want, and then discard your hand and draw
seven new cards. As the defensive main player, you continue to play,
discard and draw a new hand until you have one or more Challenge Cards.
Take from one to four of your tokens from any of your bases and place
them on the offensive (oval) end of the cone. You may take tokens from
your home planets, from bases you have established elsewhere, or from
any combination of both. Removing all tokens from a planet means that
you no longer have a base on that planet and your tokens cannot be
returned to that planet. After you have selected which tokens you will
use in the challenge, point the cone at the planet you want to
challenge. The defensive main player must defend the planet with all of
the defensive main player's tokens on the planet (even if this number is
zero). Tokens that are on the challenged planet that do not belong to
the defensive main player do not count toward either side's total and
are not affected by the outcome of the challenge.
Place tokens on the hyperspace cone and select the planet to be challenged.
If you want help, you can now invite other
players to become your allies in the challenge. Such an alliance lasts
only for the duration of the current challenge.
Offensive main player asks for allies.
While it may seem as though you would always want
allies, you may want to exclude one or more players or may want no
allies at all. This is because allies stand to gain for their support. A
winning offensive ally gains a base along with the winning offensive
main player. You can specify which players you are inviting to become
your allies. The players respond to this invitation in Challenge Stage
When you are the defensive main player, you
may also seek allies. Like the offensive main player, you can choose
which players to invite, including those already invited by your
adversary. These allies also stand to gain for their support. Each
winning defensive ally receives rewards based on the number of tokens
committed in support of the defensive main player. A winning defensive
ally receives one card from the Challenge Deck or one token from the
Warp for each token committed to the challenge. The reward can be a
combination of cards and tokens. For example, a winning defensive ally
who committed two tokens in support could receive two cards from the
Challenge Deck, two tokens from the Warp or one card from the Challenge
Deck and one token from the Warp.
Defensive main player asks for allies.
Starting with the player to the left of the
offensive main player and proceeding clockwise, each player decides
whether or not to ally with one of the main players. A player may not
ally with both of the main players in the same challenge and also may
not ally unless invited. To accept an alliance invitation, place one to
four of your tokens, taken from any of your bases, onto the cone.
Offensive allies place their tokens on the oval end of the cone along
with the offensive main player's tokens, while defensive allies place
their tokens on the ring around the pointed end. Defensive allies do not
place their tokens on the challenged planet itself. All tokens in the
offensive end or on the defensive ring are considered to be on the cone.
Players accept or decline alliance invitations.
Once all tokens are in place, each of the main players chooses a single
Challenge Card and places it face down on the table. There are two types
of Challenge cards: Attack and Compromise cards. Attack cards have a
number on them indicating the value of the card. Compromise cards have
"Compromise" written on them and are used to attempt to make a favorable
deal with another player. Once both Challenge Cards are played face
down, neither of them may be changed.
Main players play Challenge Cards face down.
Only Attack and Compromise Challenge cards are
played face down in a challenge. Edict, Flares and Reinforcements are
never played face down during a challenge.
If you are the defensive main player and do not have a Challenge Card at
the beginning of this stage, play any legal cards that you want,
discard your hand, and draw seven new cards. Repeat this procedure until
you have a Challenge Card.
After both cards are played, the main players
reveal their Challenge Cards simultaneously. Determine the results of
the challenge as described below:
Reveal Challenge Cards simultaneously. resolve the challenge. and apply results.
Situation A. Both Main Players Played Attack Cards
If both main players played Attack Cards, you
each add the number on your Attack card to the number of tokens on your
side (your own plus your allies'). The player with the higher total wins
(in case of a tie, the Defending player wins). At this time, players
may play Flares, Edicts and Reinforcements which may affect the results.
The challenge is resolved and the winner determined only after all
players have finished playing Flares, Edicts, and Reinforcements.
If you win as the offensive main player, move all
tokens from the oval end of the cone to the planet, establishing a base
for yourself and for each of your allies. Defensive tokens on the
planet and defensive allies' tokens on the cone's ring go to the Warp.
If you win as the defensive main player, keep
your tokens (if any) on the planet. All the tokens on the oval end of
the cone go to the Warp. Defensive allies return their tokens from the
cone to any of their bases. The defensive allies receive one card from
the Challenge Deck or one token from the Warp for each token committed
to the challenge. The reward can be a combination of cards and tokens.
Any tokens retrieved from the Warp must be placed on one of the player's
Reinforcement Cards add to one side's total in a
challenge after cards are revealed and all other effects are computed.
If both players play Attack cards, any player involved in the challenge
can play Reinforcements to raise their own side's total or to raise the
opposing side's total. Players can play any number of Reinforcements in a
Situation B. One Player Plays a Compromise Card and the Other Player Plays an Attack Card
If one player plays an Attack Card and the other
player plays a Compromise Card, the player who played the Attack Card
wins, with all the same effects as if both players had played Attack
Cards. All of the losing side's tokens still go to the Warp. If you
played the Compromise Card and were willing to compromise you get
consolation because your opponent attacked you while you attempted to
As Consolation, draw one card from your
opponent's hand for each of your tokens lost in the challenge, not
counting your allies' tokens. (Zombie receives consolation for each
Zombie token involved in the challenge). The allies get nothing. If your
opponent does not have enough cards for full consolation, you get your
opponent's entire hand.
Situation C. Both Players Play Compromise Cards
If both players play Compromise Cards, they have
one minute to make a deal. All tokens on the cone return to their
owner's bases before the deal is made.
You can give your opponent cards or a base as
part of a deal. To give your opponent a base, you allow your opponent to
move tokens to a planet where you already have a base, thus forming a
new base for that player. You can never gain more than one base as part
of a deal. Deals can also involve any number or type of cards. The deal
can be for a specific card, such as a Warp Break, or a specific type of
card, such as an Attack Card greater than 12.
In addition, deals can include promises to
perform any action that a player can normally perform. These promises
are not binding; you can refuse to perform the action.
In all deals, at least one player must receive
something beyond the promise to perform an action. The deal need not be
equitable; one player could gain nothing.
If the players cannot reach an agreement within
one minute, each of the main players loses three tokens of their choice
to the Warp. The reverse cone has no effect on a deal, and allies are
not affected by any deal.
When the reverse cone is face up, determine the
winner of the challenge in the normal way. The main players get the same
benefits for winning, but their allies' rewards are reversed. If the
defensive main player wins, defensive allies get a base on the defensive
main player's planet. If the offensive main player wins, offensive
allies return their tokens to their bases and receive rewards of card or
tokens from the Warp for each token committed to the challenge. All
losing allies still go to the Warp.
Loss of an Alien Power
If you have fewer than three bases in your own
planetary system, you can no longer use your Alien Power. If you lose
the use of your Alien Power, you must turn your Alien Power Card face
down and continue to play in the normal manner but cannot use your
power, even if its use is otherwise automatic. If you later re-establish
a base and thus have at least three bases in your own planetary system,
you regain the use of your Alien Power, and may stand the card up.
Cards played by the main players and all Reinforcement cards that were played are discarded.
Discard the Challenge Cards and Reinforcements that were played
The last stage in a challenge occurs after the
winner has been determined and before the offensive main player's
second challenge or the beginning of the next player's turn. This is the
stage to use cards that say "at the start of the challenge"; such cards
cannot be used after the offensive main player begins the challenge by
removing a token from the Warp (Challenge Stage 1). The icon for this
stage is the same as the icon for the prechallenge phase of a player's
End of challenge.
If you win an attack or successfully make a deal
on the first challenge of your turn, you may choose to make a second
challenge or you may pass. If you have no more Challenge Cards, you may
not draw a new hand, you may not make a second challenge, and your turn
ends. If you still have Challenge Cards and want to make a second
challenge, you start the second challenge at Challenge Stage 1 and
remove a token from the Warp.
When you, as the offensive main player, lose your
initial challenge, fail to make a deal, or complete your second
challenge, your turn ends. The player to your left becomes the next
offensive main player and that player's turn begins with the
In all cases of timing conflicts (when two
players invoke contradictory special effects simultaneously) between
Alien Powers, Flares, Edicts, or so on, resolution takes place as
follows: Any players who are not main players go first, starting with
the player to the left of the offensive main player and proceeding
clockwise, then the offensive main player, and finally the defensive
main player, if one exists at that time.
Eon rules are available as PDF files (courtesy of Michael Miller)
Complete Eon Rules
Punt Option - Rather than taking a turn, discard your hand and draw seven new cards. Also collect Lucre (is applicable).
Multiple Powers - Deal each player two Alien Power Cards and play with both powers in operation.
Honeymoon rules - When playing with two players, you may wish
to not use the destiny pile and instead just challenge the other
player. You may also wish to not lose the use of your alien power until
you have fewer than 4 of your home bases instead of when you have fewer
than 3 of your home bases.