Even though there's a great new edition of Cosmic Encounter available from Fantasy Flight Games, I am still a little partial to the home made version I did as a labor of love. I have 13 different published versions of the game (as far as I know, only my friend Dave Madison, a most capable CE player himself, has more versions of it). I had a low rent home made version in the mid nineties that used the old postscript files to print out cards, systems, aliens and expansions- and I worked with my friend Marcus to add more materials to it- these are all available on The Warp. But Michael Miller's CE project inspired me to create an all new and updated set- complete with new tokens and even more expansions.
I tend to have large games of Cosmic Encounter, so I wanted to be able to accommodate a lot of players. I settled on having 10 different system colors (Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Purple, Orange, White, Pink, Gray, and Brown). With the addition of the Zilch, Shark, and Rebellion aliens, I would have up to 13 players in one game. To date, the most I've had is 12 (but the great thing about Rebellion is that he's easy to add into a game already in progress, so if someone else had shown up...). One of the things I loved about the Avalon Hill edition of the game was the planet art, so I used it for 4 of my systems, and then I created similar planet art for the other 6 colors. In the image above, you can see the new planet art for Purple, and how I used the Yellow planet art from AH in a classic hex system configuration.
I also wanted to have Reverse System abilities. We don't use them often, but they are great for a radical change of pace. I used a mix of Reverse Hex rules from Eon, Mayfair, and a few of my own.
Gray= Pulsar (Eon)
Green= Oort Cloud (mine)
Pink= Nebula (mine)
Yellow= 6 Pact (Eon)
White= Spacedust (Eon/Mayfair)
Blue= Rings (Eon/Mayfair)
Red= Gas Giant (Eon/Mayfair)
Orange= Binary (Mayfair)
Purple= Worldships (Mayfair)
Brown= Spiral (Eon)
Warp + Praw (Eon)
Warp Fan (based on Mayfair, but my own variant)
I used the Mayfair art for many of the Reverse System art- created my own on some, and added player color to them all, so it was easier to figure out which player they belonged to.
I was always partial to the Praw (though we don't always use it), and there are some good Praw variants on my site. Mayfair's Fan idea was not great, so I came up with a different use for it (start the game by putting 0-4 tokes in your color's fan area, and any time there is a game effect where you must lose tokens, you can use these first).
The moons were printed on card stock, then laminated with my Xyron. I cut thick poster board into Hex shapes and spraymounted the laminated hexes to the boards. They are very sturdy and attractive. The Reverse Systems are spraymounted to the backs of the same color normal system.
Mike Miller details on his blog how he got some wooden tokens, and then painted with with paint markers to get the colors he needed. His tokens were a little wider and a bit thicker than Mayfair tokens. I almost went with this same approach, but balked at the idea of painting all those tokens. My solution was arguably more ridiculous.
I found a different site that had round wooded discs that were the exact same diameter as Mayfair tokens, and only a tiny bit thicker- so I ordered a few hundred of them. Then I set about making token art for all ten player colors. I remembered that the Swedish version of Cosmic has cool spaceship icons on their square tokens, and each color had different art. I also recalled a clever variant created by Brian Bowe called "Skill Tokens", where each player has 4 different types of tokens, each with a particular skill in an encounter. It makes for a very different CE experience, but it's worth using every once in a while.
So, I wanted to put 4 different spaceship icons on each player's set of tokens. That was 40 different icons in all- and I found this website that had a plethora of tiny spaceship icons... I divided them into sets, and then printed them out on colored pages. These were then put through a Xyron which turns the pages into sticker sheets. I used a round hole punch from Michael's and punched out all the ships into round stickers, which were affixed to the wooden tokens. Then I ran some white paper through the Xyron and punched out white circles which were put on the backs of ALL the tokens (200 player tokens, plus several spares, plus another 20 special Symbiote tokens I made just for that alien to use... remember, I might one day have 13 players wanting to play this game, so I needed to have some for the Rebellion... I should probably make a special set just for him).
In the picture above, you can see the Symbiote power, and the tokens that have its alien art on them. Also are the Skill tokens for each color. Additionally, I put a special "Nova" symbol (the large starburst shape on the red token) on the backs of four ships in each color (with a different skill token art on the front of each). The Nova variant is one of my favorite's, from Allen Varney- so I was able to use this, and player's could choose which of their skill tokens would actually be the secret Nova token (using only one in a game).
3. Destiny Cards
Again, taking a cue from Mike Miller, I wanted to have a nice, colorful Destiny deck for my 10 player set. Mike's cards were based loosely on the Mayfair design for Destiny cards (I definitely prefer cards over the discs of Eon and Avalon Hill.
Mike's idea was to have additional indicators about the color of the system (especially helpful to the colorblind- an issue that seems to occur quite often in Cosmic Encounter it would seem). He used an initial for the color, along with brightly colored art. I couldn't go with the initial route- it would be too confusing with Purple and Pink, Gray and Green, Blue and Brown... so, I just went ahead and put the whole color name on the card, with the cone pointing right at the color being challenged. It was pretty easy making cone shapes in Photoshop. Making some of the other cards in the Destiny deck was even more fun.
Each color had three regular cone challenge cards made for it, as well as a Reverse cone card. I also liked the expansion from Jeff Leggett in Encounter magazine for the Inverse Cone (you flip the card, and that player must attack you- hence the flipped cone with the "Blue" making the attack- whoever wins still gains a base). Ken Cox's Prisoner variant is very clever, so I put one of those in the deck for each color. A variant I created was the Reverse Hex cards, that worked like Flares in the destiny deck: use the Wild if you are attacking that system, and Super if it IS your system and you wish to make a challenge in it. Finally, there was the variant from Brian Hoare for Armistice cards (something that can come up in lieu of an encounter- if you flip the card you can use your encounter to take advantage of the Active effect, and the other players then may use the Passive effect. Another nifty alternative.
I also created a large deck of Comets and Special Destiny cards. The Comet are used images of real comets, which varied depending on the phase of the challenge the Comedy effected (I used Mayfair's icons, but made my own version of them all). Lots of new Comets and Special Destinies were added to the set.
4. Challenge Deck
I'm especially pleased with how the Challenge deck turned out. This was where I could create a uniform design for all the cards, and pay tribute to all the different versions of the game that have been published.
The Attack cards have flavor art at the bottom from the Avalon Hill edition. Compromise cards show art from the Games Workshop edition. Edicts have flavor art showing the West End Games art. Kickers have the Brazilian Contatos Cosmicos version, and Reinforcements show art from the big box from Eon. The Flare cards have a watermark of the alien art that goes with the card. I also opted to use the "Nebula card" style of Flares... using the Con heading that gives the cardholder an immunity (borrowed from Gerald Katz' many-named expansion) that is retained and not discarded, the Wild is a one-shot use (from Mayfair's Flare rules) that anyone, even the power owner can use (and then discard), and the Super is an Eon style retained card.
I also created a variant called the Rewards Deck, which lets me put in more challenge deck cards (and types of cards) without heavily affecting the main distribution to the normal challenge deck.
The Rewards deck has Attack cards, but there are more "good" ones in it. The Compromise cards have special rules, like the one above. Cosmic Skew cards are the one "bad" card you can get in the Rewards deck (so there's some risk in going there, but not a whole lot). The flavor art is from the German Hexagames version of CE. Elementals are special cards I came up with that have 1 of 4 possible uses, depending on how you are involved in an encounter. Most art Edicts, but every card also has a "Super Shot" (see below) effect, and sometimes other effects. There's also some Subterfuge cards (a way to capture the feel of the classic Eon Filch flare). Flavor art from the French version of CE.
I also created a special Hazard Deck (based on an idea from Matt Stone), with my own rules for how to use them.
All of the Challenge cards, Destiny cards, etc. were printed on cardstock, laminated, and cut with a paper cutter from Michael's.
5. Moons and Lucre
While I don't use Moons and Lucre very often, they are definitely utilized from time to time- so I went ahead and made my own. I created art for new Lucre, using the original symbol from Eon. I then gave each denomination of Lucre its own colored border, so it was easier to tell at a glace how much you had.
I also got to make Blue Moons, from an expansion that I created. These are moons that are designed to be occupied by more than one player at a time (breaking that normal rule), and in fact do not work if a player occupies them alone. The other moons resemble the Mayfair moons exactly, and I included in my set all the Eon moons that were never included in Mayfair's set, as well as many homebrewed moons effects.
Lucre was printed to thick cardstock. Moons were printed on white paper, and made into stickers with the Xyron. Then I got a special hole punch that is the same size as Mayfair moons (and lets you see exactly where the circle lines are for precise cutting). I stuck the stickers on some extra Mayfair moons I had (I had a lot of them- some guy on eBay sold me just his moons for whatever reason).
6. The Aliens
Running The Warp, I am pretty familiar with all of these variants and expansions on it, as well as about 2000 aliens in the database. Well over 200 of them are my own creation, and there are many other homebrew aliens in there that I like alot. This was my chance to make one set that had everything in it. I used all the Eon and Mayfair aliens, but used revised versions of several (Dictator, Chosen, Zombie, Demon, Worm, Force, Macron, Doppelganger, and others). I also added the best of the homebrews.
I modeled the design after the Eon aliens, but used a white background to save on printer ink. I never folded my alien cards, so these were not designed to be folded. They aren't too dissimilar from the new FFG version: Upside down short description, art, power line, and power description. I didn't have room for the histories (some of which are pretty long), and I don't really miss them. I did have room for restriction lines, and icons for aliens that are part of a special set- and finally some Phase icons at the bottom of the alien. Finally, I added the Super description for each alien's flare near the bottom, because I love Patrick Riley's idea for the Super Shots (which I also incorporated into a new card- see Elementals before). Super Shots are ways you can use the Super of your alien power, even if you don't have the Flare card (created because it is extremely rare you get your own Flare card, especially in my Challenge deck, which is comparable in size to the one Mayfair had in the game).
The artwork for the aliens is an amalgam of sources- the original Eon art for some of the very cool ones, some art from the Games Workshop version, the German art for a couple (like Chronos), some Avalon Hill art (though some of these are applied to totally different aliens, since most were ambiguous enough it didn't matter), and some art of my own, etc.
I had aliens for a lot of Cosmic Encounter gaming variants I came up with, like Cosmic Dune, Lovecraftian Encounter, Camelot Encounter, and others- changing how the game is played slightly, but taking advantage of the fun mechanics, like having unique powers, etc. Every set had its own icon that appears on the alien cards, as well as any challenge cards, so they are easy to identify.
I have printed about 300 alien powers. I also added new revisions to powers like Grudge (in light of the new version of CE), and the other new aliens.
And I created my own deck of Technology cards, using flavor art from the new FFG version of CE.
It's a huge set, but it fits into a giant bin I got at the Container store. I am using the Fantasy Flight edition a lot right now, but once my groups have gotten used to everything in that one (and until the expansions start coming out), we'll switch back to this one to take advantage of the expansiveness of it.