Space colonies! Will we have them? Elon Musk says…yes! Normal people and actual scientists say…maybe! But while we all wait to see if we’ll actually get off this rock and explore brave new worlds, we can pass the time with imaginary colonies that are just as fun. From Floodgate Games (Bosk, Sagrada) comes Cosmic Colonies, a game of tile placement and drafting by Scot Almes. After a successful Kickstarter, this game shot to the stratosphere of 2020 board games and became a hit in the mini-board game boom brought on by COVID. But was all the love just as moonage daydream, or is there something to all of it? To help me find out, Floodgate was kind enough to send over a copy so I could take over my own space colony! Let’s hope I’m better at it than I was as a castle designer...
What’s In The Box?
- 96 Building Tiles
- 5 Score Markers
- 1 Wooden Round Marker
- 60 Plastic Resource Tokens (15 x 4 Types)
- 20 2 x Resource Tokens
- 20 Basic Worker Cards (63 x 88.5mm)
- 20 Advanced Worker Cards (63 x 88.5mm)
- Double-sided Main Board
- 5 Double-sided Asteroid Boards
- 5 Private Objective Cards (63 x 88.5mm)
- 1 Solo Mode Asteroid Board
- 14 Solo Mode Worker Cards (63 x 88.5mm)
Space games are a dime a dozen, and they all pull from a pretty limited pool of references when it comes to their visual design and aesthetic. The challenge most of these games face is differentiating themselves from the pack…and Cosmic Colonies acquits itself nicely while still playing things pretty safe. It’s got a neat “old school sci-fi” vibe to it, chunky and a little dirty while still being futuristic. Matt Bain and Tristam Rossin did a good job rendering the different characters and locations that make up the game. The components are awesome despite being mostly cardboard, though the extremely detailed rubber resource tokens are probably my favorites.
How’s It Play?
I love games that mix up different game elements rather than just sticking with one, and Cosmic Colonies is an excellent blend of of tile placement and card drafting with a bit of a twist added on to increase player interaction. In the game, you are the administrator of a space colony trying to build the best one you can on the desolate rock where you and your fellow builders have landed. There’s only a limited number of colonists and each of them has an ability that helps you gain a resource you need to build up your colony (water, minerals, organics, and power). Once resources are gathered, they’re used to build different buildings on your colony. They don’t all fit together perfectly, however, and not all of the land you have available is the best place for building either. In the end, the winner is the player who has the least visible terrain, the most buildings, and fulfilled their personal objective. Pretty straightforward, right?
Well, the issue is that the workers you have are transient, and each round you have to send some workers on to the next player while also acquiring new ones. It’s a really neat and thematic mechanic, one that mixes up the gameplay in a way that’s similar to the trading done in Between Two Castles. Your strategy has to be pretty fluid since your worker base changes a lot, and your best workers will most likely leave you after they’re used. Plus, it adds some player interaction as you plan for what you want your opponent to get, keeping them from getting too much of an edge if it can be avoided.
I think if you’re a fan of tile-placement games, Cosmic Colonies should already in your (ahem) orbit. Newbies will find that it’s a fun introduction to the genre that deepens the strategy without sacrificing fun or accessibility. It’s got strong theming and lots of unique and interesting powers for the different colonists, as well as plans and combos that, when executed, are deeply satisfying. You also don’t have to feel as “sucked in” to your strategy like in similar games, and adaptability is as vital as long-term planning. Alternative game options and a solo mode increases the replayability, meaning this can and should become a staple of game nights for a long time.
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Images via Floodgate Games
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