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During a game of Cosmic Encounter, each player becomes a unique alien life form occupying a solar system in deep space. The aliens are struggling for cosmic supremacy and attempting to colonize planets in foreign systems.

Each alien has a special power that can be used to its advantage as players balance diplomacy, alliances, and force to gain new colonies. The winner of the game is the first player to establish five colonies on foreign planets. If two or more players establish their fifth foreign colony at the same time, they win together!

While Cosmic Encounter is a competitive game, it is more importantly a social party game filled with wacky aliens and outrageous abilities. Experienced fans suggest that new players should expect surprising outcomes and focus on diplomacy instead of numerical strategy.

If players assume the roles of their aliens by reading their aliens' backstories and adopting their aliens' mindsets, Cosmic Encounter will be a game where losing is as much fun as winning!


  • 1 Warp
  • 25 Player Planets
  • 1 Quick-Start Guide
  • 1 Genesis Planet
  • 1 Hyperspace Gate
  • 5 Player Colony Markers
  • 100 Plastic Ships
  • 7 Grudge Tokens
  • 1 Prometheus Token
  • 1 Lunar Cannon Token
  • 42 Cosmic Tokens
  • 51 Alien Sheets
  • 51 Flare Cards
  • 55 Encounter Cards
  • 6 Reinforcement Cards
  • 11 Artifact Cards
  • 1 Alternate Filch Flare Card
  • 34 Cosmic Combo Cards
  • 20 Tech Cards
  • 20 Destiny Cards
  • Rulebook


To set up a game of Cosmic Encounter, players perform the following steps:

  1. Choose Player Color: Each player chooses a player color and takes the colony marker, five planets, and 20 ships of that color.

    The Red Player's Components

  2. Set Up Warp, Planets, Ships, and Colonies: Players place their planets in front of them, stacking four of their ships on each of their planets. Then, players place the warp in the center of the play area. Finally, players place their colony markers at "0" on the colony track.

    The Red Player's Starting Planets

    The Warp's Colony Track with Colony Markers

  3. Prepare Destiny Deck: Take the three destiny cards that correspond to the color that each player has chosen and shuffle them with the wild and special destiny cards to create the destiny deck.

    Any cards that correspond to a color that was not chosen are returned to the game box; they are not used during the game.

    For a four-player game in which no player chooses to be green,
    the destiny deck consists of destiny cards of all colors except green.

  4. Choose Aliens: Shuffle the cosmic combo cards and reveal the top card of the deck. Then, gather the alien sheets indicated for the appropriate number of players and deal one randomly to each player.

  5. Prepare Cosmic Deck and Deal Hands: Shuffle the encounter, reinforcement, and artifact cards to create the cosmic deck.

    The cosmic deck contains all encounter cards,
    all reinforcement cards, and all artifact cards.

  6. Deal Starting Hands: Deal a starting hand of eight cosmic cards to each player. Players may look at their cards but cannot show them to other players.

  7. Choose First Player: If this is the players' first game, the youngest player is the first player and takes the first turn when the game begins. Otherwise, reveal cards from the destiny deck until a card matching the color of one of the players is revealed; that player is the first player. Then, shuffle the destiny deck.

    The purple player is the first player

Basic Concepts

This section contains the basic concepts for Cosmic Encounter that players need to understand before learning how to play the game.


During the game, each player controls an alien that can alter the rules of the game. To understand how alien powers work, the players must first understand the basic mechanics of the game. Then, they will be ready to learn about aliens in the "Additional Rules" section.

Planets And Systems

Each player begins the game with five planets that match his or her player color. These planets are his or her home planets and compose his or her home system.

Any planets that do not match the color of a player's home planets are foreign planets to that player, and all foreign planets of one color are collectively a foreign system.

The red player's home system is composed of their five home planets.

These are foreign planets for the red player.

Ships And Colonies

Each player has 20 ships that match his or her player color. Ships of the same color are stacked on planets.

Each stack of one or more ships on a planet represents one colony. If a player has a colony on one of their home planets, it is a home colony. If a player has a colony on a foreign planet, it is a foreign colony.

Multiple players can have a colony on the same planet, but each player can only have one colony per planet.

A red planet with one home
colony and one foreign colony.

Moving Ships

During the game, players move their ships to and from their colonies. When a player moves their ships, that player chooses which colonies they move from or return to, and these colonies can be home, foreign, or a mixture of the two.

A player cannot return a ship to a planet where they do not already have a colony of at least one ship.

The Warp

The warp holds lost ships and tracks each player's progress toward victory. When a ship is sent to the warp, it is placed on the warp where it remains until a player is able to retrieve it.

The red, blue, and yellow players have
all lost ships and placed them on the warp.

The outer edge of the warp contains a track that indicates the number of foreign colonies each player has. Establishing foreign colonies is how players win the game.

Game Play

To play a game of Cosmic Encounter, players take turns in clockwise order starting with the first player, who is determined during setup. During a player's turn, they have an encounter. An encounter is an interaction between two or more players who are trying to either establish or defend a colony.

During an encounter, the player taking their turn is the offense. The primary goal of the offense is to either establish a colony on a foreign planet or remove a foreign colony from one of their home planets.

The player who opposes the offense during an encounter is the defense. The defense is determined by the destiny deck, which is described later. The offense and defense are each referred to as a main player.

An encounter consists of the following eight phases that players resolve in order:

  1. Start Turn
  2. Regroup
  3. Destiny
  4. Launch
  5. Alliance
  6. Planning
  7. Reveal
  8. Resolution

1. Start Turn Phase

During the Start Turn Phase, if the offense does not have any encounter cards, they must discard their hand and draw eight new cards. They repeat this process until they have an encounter card in their hand. Attack cards, negotiate cards, and morph cards are all encounter cards.

2. Regroup Phase

During the Regroup Phase, the offense retrieves one of their ships from the warp and places it on any of their home or foreign colonies, stacking it on top of another one of their ships.

The red player takes one ship from the warp and places
it on one of their established colonies.

3. Destiny Phase

During the Destiny Phase, the offense draws the top card of the destiny deck and follows its instructions. The destiny card determines which player the offense will have an encounter with. There are three types of destiny cards: color, wild, and special.

4. Launch Phase

During the Launch Phase, the offense chooses the planet where the encounter occurs and commits their ships to the encounter.

To choose a planet, the offense takes the hyperspace gate and points it at any planet in the home system that was indicated on their destiny card-that planet is the target planet. Planets with fewer of that player's ships are easier to defeat.

Since a yellow destiny card was revealed, the offense can point the
hyperspace gate at any planet in the yellow player's home system.

If the offense drew their own color destiny card, they may choose to point the hyperspace gate at a foreign colony on one of their own home planets, or they can discard the card and draw a new one.

After choosing a planet, the offense must decide how many of their ships to commit to the encounter. The offense must place one to four of their ships on the hyperspace gate-these ships are participating in the encounter.

Ships can be taken from home and foreign colonies and multiple ships can be taken from the same colony.

The red player commits three ships to the encounter, taking one ship
from a home colony and two ships from a foreign colony.

5. Alliance Phase

During the Alliance Phase, both the offense and the defense can form alliances with other players in an effort to sway the outcome of the encounter in their favor.

To resolve the Alliance Phase, players perform the following steps in order:

  1. Invite: The offense may invite other players to be allies. Then, the defense may invite other players to be allies. To invite a player, the offense or defense states out loud which player they are inviting. T

    he offense and defense can invite as many or as few allies as they like, and they can both invite the same player. However, main players cannot be allies themselves.

  2. Accept: Starting with the player to the left of the offense and proceeding in clockwise order, each player who was invited to be an ally chooses whether or not to accept the invitation and form an alliance.

    If a player accepts an invitation from the offense, that player becomes an offensive ally; if a player accepts an invitation from the defense, that player becomes a defensive ally.

When a player becomes an ally, they must commit one to four of their ships to the encounter. Similar to how the offense commits ships during the Launch Phase, an ally can take ships from any of their home or foreign colonies.

When an offensive ally commits ships, they place those ships in a stack on the hyperspace gate; when a defensive ally commits ships, they place those ships in a stack next to the planet that the hyperspace gate is pointing at.

There can be multiple offensive allies and multiple defensive allies, but players must remember to accept invitations to become allies in turn order, and each player must commit ships to the encounter before the next player either accepts or rejects any invitations they received.

Players cannot accept invitations from both the offense and the defense during the same encounter, and they can refuse any invitations they receive.

6. Planning Phase

During the Planning Phase, each main player simultaneously selects one encounter card from their hand and places it facedown in their play area.

The encounter cards that each player selects will be used to determine the outcome of the encounter. Encounter cards display the word "Encounter" at the top of the card.

This encounter card is an attack, which is placed facedown

If the defense has no encounter cards in hand, they must reveal all remaining cards in hand, discard them, and then draw a new eight-card hand before selecting a card during this phase.

If the offense has no encounter cards in hand, their turn ends immediately and they return any of their ships that are on the hyperspace gate to all of their home or foreign colonies. Allies must also return all of their committed ships to their colonies as well.

7. Reveal Phase

During the Reveal Phase, both the offense and the defense reveal the encounter card they selected during the Planning Phase. Then, they determine the outcome of the encounter according to the cards revealed, as follows:

Attack Versus Attack

If both players reveal an attack card, they calculate their totals. The offense's total is the value of their attack card plus the number of ships they and their offensive allies committed. The defense's total is the value of their attack card plus the number of ships they and their defensive allies committed.

The winner of the encounter is the player with the highest total. If the players tie, the defense wins the encounter.

Attack Versus Negotiate

If one player reveals an attack card and the other player reveals a negotiate card, the player who reveals the attack card wins the encounter.

However, the player who played the negotiate card collects compensation. Compensation is collected during the Resolution Phase.

Negotiate Versus Negotiate

If both players reveal a negotiate card, all offensive and defensive allies return the ships they committed to their colonies. Then, the offense and defense must attempt diplomacy by making a deal.

The main players may make a deal to trade cards and/or establish one colony as follows:

Trade: A player can give any number of cards from their hand to the other player. Players can trade specific cards, specific types of cards, or cards at random.

If players agree to a trade, they must trade the cards that were agreed upon (i.e., a player cannot agree to trade their highest-value attack card and then trade a different card). Players can discuss the cards they have, and a player can give cards without receiving any in return.

Establish Colony: A player can choose any planet where he or she has a colony (home or foreign) and allow the other player to establish a colony on that planet. When establishing a colony in this way, a player can take any of their ships from the hyperspace gate or from their colonies.

The offense and defense have one minute to make a successful deal. At minimum, a successful deal must result in either one card being traded or one colony being established. If after one minute, the players cannot negotiate a deal, that deal is unsuccessful, and both players must send three of their own ships to the warp.

Morph Versus Other Card

If either player reveals a morph card, that card becomes a duplicate of the other revealed encounter card.

If the other card is an attack card, players resolve the encounter as if two attack cards were revealed; if the other card is a negotiate, players resolve the encounter as if two negotiate cards were revealed.

This morph card functions as an
attack card with a value of 8.

This morph card functions
as a negotiate card.

8. Resolution Phase

During the Resolution Phase, players resolve the encounter according to its outcome-an offense win, a defense win, a successful deal, or an unsuccessful deal. Then, all encounter cards played during the encounter are discarded.

Offense Wins

If the offense is the winner of the encounter, the offense and any offensive allies place all of their ships from the hyperspace gate on the target planet. If a player does not have a colony on that planet, they place their ships on the planet in a stack, forming a new colony.

If a player already has a colony on the planet, they place their ships so they reinforce that colony, adding to the stack that is already there.

The green player won the encounter, so they move their
ships to the purple planet, establishing a foreign colony.

The defense sends to the warp all of their own participating ships and all participating ships belonging to defensive allies. Other ships on that planet that were not participating in the encounter are bystanders; they are not sent to the warp.

The purple player lost the encounter,
so they move their ships to the warp.

Each player that gains a new foreign colony advances their colony marker on the colony track so it matches the number of foreign colonies they have.

The green player establishes their first foreign colony, so they
advance their token one space on the foreign colony track.

Defense Wins

If the defense is the winner of the encounter, their colony survives and all ships on the hyperspace gate are sent to the warp. Then, each defensive ally gains defender rewards. For each ship a defensive ally committed to the encounter, that player can do one of the following:

  • Draw one card from the cosmic deck.
  • Take one of their ships from the warp and place it on one of their colonies of their choice.

After gaining defender rewards, the defensive allies return their ships to any of their colonies; they do not get to establish a colony on the planet they helped to defend. Only defensive allies receive defender rewards-the defense receives nothing.

The offense collects compensation if they played a negotiate card against an attack card (see "Compensation" below).

Successful Deal

The terms of the deal are carried out as agreed upon and the offense returns any of their ships on the hyperspace gate to their colonies.

Unsuccessful Deal

Each of the main players must place three of their ships in the warp. When placing ships in the warp, a player can take the ships from any of their colonies or from the hyperspace gate.


If a player loses an encounter by playing a negotiate card against an attack card, that player collects compensation. To collect compensation, the player takes a number of cards at random from the winner's hand.

The number of cards the player takes is equal to the number of ships that they sent to the warp as a result of losing the encounter. If the winner does not have enough cards to fully compensate the other player, that player takes as many cards from the winner as they can.

Second Encounter Rule

If the offense won or made a successful deal and if this was the first encounter of their turn, they can have a second encounter starting with the Regroup Phase. Otherwise, the next player in clockwise order takes their turn, becoming the offense.

The defense collects compensation if they played a negotiate card against an attack card.

End of the Game

Players win the game by establishing foreign colonies. The foreign colony track along the edge of the warp is used to indicate the number of foreign colonies each player has.

Both the yellow and red player have two foreign colonies,
and the blue player has four foreign colonies.

When a player establishes their fifth foreign colony, that player wins the game!

If two or more players establish their fifth foreign colony at the same time, all of those players win!

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