This section contains variant rules that players can incorporate into their games of Cosmic Encounter if they desire. The variants can be used individually, or they can be combined.
If players wish to play a shorter game of Cosmic Encounter, they play the game following all the normal rules with the following exceptions:
Players each have four planets instead of five.
Players start the game with 16 ships instead of 20, placing four ships on each planet.
The winner is the first player to establish four foreign colonies instead of five.
Players lose their alien power when having fewer than two home colonies instead of three.
To experience a variety of aliens quickly, it is recommended that players play multiple three-player games using the Four Planets variant.
In this variant, the offense is limited to a single encounter during their turn, even if they win the encounter or make a successful deal. This ensures that players take roughly the same number of turns throughout the game.
In this variant, each player keeps their chosen alien secret until they are ready to use its power.
During setup, the players do not reveal their chosen alien sheets to the other players-the sheets remain facedown and their flare cards are shuffled into the cosmic deck without being revealed.
While an alien sheet is facedown, its power cannot be used. A player may flip their alien sheet faceup at any time in order to use it. Once an alien sheet is flipped faceup, it remains faceup for the rest of the game.
Cosmic Combos and Flares
If players want to add flares to their game while still using cosmic combo cards, they simply create the cosmic deck with the flare cards matching the aliens on the cosmic combo card plus enough random flares to bring the total in the deck to 10.
The technology variant allows players to use the effects of tech cards during the game. Tech cards represent revolutionary technologies that players can research.
The text on each tech card describes the effect that each tech provides. Some techs provide players with single-use effects while other techs remain in play for the duration of the game.
If players are using the technology variant, after setup is completed, players shuffle the tech deck and deal two cards from the deck to each player. Then, each player selects one technology card to keep and discards the other faceup in the tech discard pile. The tech that each player selects is placed facedown in their play area.
Combining The Technology And Four-planet Variants
If players are using both the technology and four-planet variants during the same game, players must remove all tech from the tech deck that have a research number equal to or greater than eight. The removed tech cards are placed in the game box; they will not be used during the game.
Each player begins the game with one tech card, which is placed facedown in their play area. A player can look at their facedown tech card at any time, but before they can use a tech card, they must research it.
Each tech card has a research number, which indicates how much time is required to research that tech.
During the start of any player's Regroup Phase, before that player retrieves one of their ships from the warp, each player can choose to research, complete, or abandon a tech-a player can also choose to do none of these.
To research a tech, a player takes one of their ships from among their colonies and places it on the facedown tech card. That ship must remain on that tech card until the tech is completed.
If the number of ships on a tech card is greater than or equal to the card's research number, that player can complete the tech by flipping the card faceup and returning those ships to their colonies.
The player can now use that tech card's abilities as described on the card.
A player can abandon a tech by revealing the card and placing it in the tech discard pile. Then, they return any ships that were on the card to their colonies.
Like alien sheets and artifact cards, the bottom of each tech card has bars that indicate the role the player must have when using the effect on the card as well as the phase during which the card can be used.
After a player has completed a tech, they can use the tech by resolving the ability described on the card. The ability of some technology requires the use of specific tokens which are described on their corresponding tech cards.
Acquiring New Tech
If the first encounter is successful for the offense, and they still have an encounter card in their hand, instead of having a second encounter, that player may draw a number of tech cards equal to his or her current foreign colonies plus one.
Then, he or she selects one tech card to keep and discards the others. The selected tech card is placed facedown and can be researched as normal. There is no limit to the number of tech cards a player can have; however, a player can only research or complete one tech card during each Regroup Phase.
If the tech deck is ever depleted, players shuffle the tech discard pile to create a new tech deck.
Note: The Machine may give up their second or later encounter to acquire a new tech card, but doing so ends their turn, regardless of their alien power.