Mirror Box Games has just launched their Kickstarter campaign for Chaosmos, their new board game. In it, different alien races are trying to find The Ovoid card, a sort of Universe Egg. The player holding that card at the end of the game is the winner and their alien race will be the Elder Race in the new universe.
They sent me a prototype version of the game to try out and give you my thoughts on the subject.
So grab your hyperspace flight plan and get ready for another TGN review as we take a look at Chaosmos.
In Chaosmos, the universe is about to end. The race is on between the various alien species to find the Ovoid, a Universe Egg. When the current universe finally dies, the Ovoid will hatch, imprinting on whichever alien holds it, granting them status as the new elder race of the newly-formed universe. Players must use their cunning and bluffing skills to find and maintain the Ovoid in their control. The game is a bit of a mix between Clue and Old Maid.
As I mentioned, the version I got was a prototype version, so I won't talk about the quality of the pieces. It's not really fair to talk about that sort of stuff when I guarantee the components will change somewhat from what was sent.
To set up the game board, shuffle the 70 equipment cards and deal out 10 piles of 4, face-down. Then take those piles and place them in the 10 planetary envelopes. From there, deal out 6 of the remaining cards face-up to form the Cosmic Pool. Finally, take the remaining cards and deal them out evenly between the players.
Players choose one of the 8 alien races. Each race has a beginning home planet, plus special abilities and immunities that are explained on the alien's character sheet. Each alien also has a “Toxic” planet that they cannot land on without special equipment.
The final thing before the game gets going is to set the Chaos Clock to 48 and place it in the center of the board. At the end of each player's turn, they click the clock down by 1. When this clock reaches 0, the game is over and whichever player has the Ovoid card in their hand is the winner. If nobody has it, then nobody wins.
Players can spend 3 action points during their turn. Actions can be used to move one space, use one of their HyperTokens, control a planet's envelope, attack another player, or use a special ability on their character.
Spending an action to move around the board is the main way to get from planet to planet. Players spend a point to move a single space. You can even move to your Toxic planet, but you cannot interact with the planet unless you have the proper equipment.
A quicker way around the board is using a HyperToken. Players get a total of 3 for the game and they can be used to move to any space on the board for just a single action.
A player can also spend an action point to control a planet's envelope. When you control the envelope you can open it up and look at the cards inside. Players can exchange cards in their hand for cards in the envelope. You can exchange as many cards as you want, but the envelope must always have 4 cards in it. There are 3 types of cards that can keep a player from completing an exchange. The first are traps. If a player opens up the envelope and reveals a face-up trap, they are banished back to their home planet. The next are Vaults. Vaults allow a player to see what cards are in the envelope, but they can only be accessed if they have a vault key card. Finally are Bases. Bases are created by other players to protect the cards inside the envelope. To get through the base, the player must battle against it.
Attacking allows one player to steal cards from other players, gain control of the planetary envelope or banish them back to their home planet. To perform an attack, both players roll two special dice. The dice faces are much like normal d6s, but instead they are labeled 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, and Mirror. Mirrors copy whatever number is on the other die. So if you roll a 3 and a mirror, then your total is 6. If you roll two mirrors, then you win that particular combat, regardless of other modifiers. After dice are rolled, players can reveal cards from their hand that give them modifiers to their combat total. Going back and forth, players can continue to reveal cards until both players pass. The player with the higher total wins and can either steal a card from their enemy's hand or they can banish them to their home planet. Also, if the losing player had control of the planetary envelope, the winner can either gain control of it or return the envelope to the box.
The final way to spend action points is if your alien has a special ability. These are specific to those aliens and are explained on their character card.
As play progresses, players try to find and hang on to the Ovoid card. There are several strategies available. You could search for it and try and keep it in your hand the whole time. Or you could find it and place it behind a base on another planet to try and keep it safe. Or you could be nonchalant and keep it in a far-off envelope you don't think anyone else will find.
As I mentioned, the game is a mix of Clue and Old Maid. At the start of the game, players are trying to find the Ovoid as quickly as possible and feel out which cards their opponents might have. Then mid-game it slowly switches as people start to figure out more and more of where they feel the Ovoid might be and they hone in their search for it. In the late game, there's a good chance several players may know exactly where the Ovoid is and it's a race to get it before the Chaos Clock hits 0.
Mirror Box's Kickstarter is going on now and has made almost half their funding goal in their first day. Go and check it out and pledge if you think this might be a game for you.