Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 Hide
3 Posts

Chaosmos» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Chaosmos beta/prototype review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
TJ
United States
Burbank
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is a review based on a prototype of Chaosmos I got to play at SoCalGamesDay 54. I played a 3-player and 4-player game of this with the Vigour brothers, Joey (designer) and Danny (artist).

I had read about Chaosmos via BGG, seen lordrahvin's initial impressions of the game, and even checked out their website for the game before playing this game. It wasn't a blind playtest, I did have some familiarity with the overall goal/mechanics of the game before playing it for the first time.

GOAL OF THE GAME:

The goal is pretty simple: The galaxy is about to end, and all the players are scouts from various alien races that are searching for The Ovoid, the one item in the entire galaxy that can save them from destruction. The player with the one and only Ovoid card in their hand when the countdown clock reaches 0 is the winner. If nobody has it, everybody loses. There are no points in this game, so there is no concept of a runaway winner or loser in this game. Lucky players may be able to find/steal The Ovoid at the very end of the game and win, but more experienced players will do things to help mitigate lucky plays.

PLAYTIME:

The game plays over 60 turns total, so in a 2-player game each player gets 30 turns each, 3-player 20 turns each, 4-player 15 turns each. What's nice is that the playtime doesn't really lengthen based on player count, but the experience kind of does. The 4-player game I played did feel "shorter" since I only had 75% of the amount of turns I had in the 3-player game. Their BGG page says that it takes 90 minutes to play, and that's probably accurate. Turns go by quick, but there is some downtime with opening envelopes, looking at their contents, and deciding what to take/leave.

MECHANICS:

At it's core, the game is a hand management game. Each player starts the game with a hand of cards, and each planet on the board has a corresponding envelope that can contain cards. Throughout the game, players move to planets to retrieve/stash cards in an envelope for that planet, or attack other players to look at their hand and take cards from it. There is no draw pile in this game, and very few cards are discarded. It's almost a closed ecosystem of cards that get cycled between players and planets throughout the game, including The Ovoid. You can almost think of the cards in your hand as temporary upgrades, that give you combat bonuses and utility functionality, until you choose to trade them for something different on a planet you explore.

While there is a major focus in this game on hand management, it really didn't feel like there were cards that were noticeably better or worse than other cards. Most combat cards had a card that would counter it, and the utility cards were all great in certain situations, not so much in others. With only seven cards in your hand, it can be tough to decide which cards to keep, as you're leaving them behind on planets that other players can come in and take. These cards are very text-heavy, like Magic: The Gathering, so more experienced players have a slight advantage of knowing how all the cards work together (that said, I beat the designers of the game, and I honestly don't think they were holding back on me!)

No space game would be complete without combat, and the combat system in Chaosmos is relatively straightforward. As an action, a player may attack another player if they occupy the same space. They roll 2D6 each, and then play combat cards in their hands to modify their rolls. The person with the highest attack wins. The one catch is that instead of 6's on the dice, there is an egg symbol, which is basically a 2x multiplier for a single egg (so a 4 and an egg would be 8), and an automatic win if you roll double eggs. The winner can either look at the loser's hand (great for seeing what cards they have) and force them to trade a card (or just take a card if your current hand size is less than 7), or banish them to their home planet.

This isn't a totally comprehensive review of the mechanics, I am overlooking various minutia: the various races have special powers/immunities (but also can't visit certain planets without special gear cards), there is a "cosmic pool" of 5 face up cards that you can trade with at your home planet, you can booby trap envelopes ala ICE in Netrunner, you have three one-time-use tokens to jump to anywhere on the board, etc.

INTERACTIVITY

The other major aspect of this game is hidden information and bluffing. At any point, The Ovoid is either in a player's hand, or tucked away on a planet. Is the guy with a hand full of combat cards also secretly holding The Ovoid and hoping he never loses a battle? Or did the player stash The Ovoid on a planet that they built a base on with defenses or traps? Or did some other player just hide The Ovoid on a random planet nobody's been paying attention to and hope nobody finds it?

To me this is the real meat of the game, reading other players' actions to figure out what they're up to, what they have, and where they've hidden things. Good cardplay and good rolls in combat only get you so far in this game if you can't figure out where people are hiding the Ovoid.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

To say that Joey and Danny are passionate about this game is an understatement. They've spent years playing this game on their own, and you can tell they still love playing it. They've had a long time to smooth and refine the design of this game, and it's a very polished experience. Most of my suggestions to them about the game were very minor, and were mainly about components or card text, not so much about the actual gameplay itself.

This game isn't going to be for everybody. There's a fair amount of chaos in the game with all the hidden information, as well as players' hands and planets' contents constantly changing. With no concept of points, it's hard to tell if you're "winning" or "losing," and in many ways you're a little of both up until the very end of the game. People who prefer more minimal-luck point-optimization strategy games may not like this game. But hey, "Chaos" is in the name of the game, and that's what makes this game fun, as all this chaos is caused by the players' actions, not the game itself.

This is the kind of game you play because it's fun to play. Each game tells a little story about various aliens scrambling across the galaxy for The Ovoid, and the story plays out a little differently each time. Regardless of whether you win or lose, your character and your actions are an integral part of that story, and you will enjoy seeing how it all plays out, and how it ultimately ends.

I'd hate to compare this game to other games out there, because it's a pretty unique board game, but the closest thing that comes to mind is Cosmic Encounter, if you're looking for a point of reference. Partially because of the lighthearted space theme (at least that was my impression) and aliens having unique powers, but also the bluffing elements and card-based combat.

This game is expected to go up on Kickstarter in the next couple of months. I highly suggest checking it out when it does.

PS - Joey likes to hide The Ovoid on planets all other players have already been to, and also likes to attack his brother. Use that to your advantage, if you ever play them
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Bancroft
United States
Elk Grove
California
flag msg tools
badge
Durp
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
When is this going on kickstarter?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthew Austin
United States
Burbank
California
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Chaosmos Kickstarter launches January 2nd!
You can sign up to receive updates about the launch on our website:

www.mirrorboxgames.com

Also you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter to watch our progress:

www.facebook.com/mirrorboxgames
www.twitter.com/mirrorboxgames
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.