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Cosmic Run: Regeneration Review


Quick Look: Cosmic Run: Regeneration


Designer: Steve Finn, Seamus Finn
Artist: Sebastian Koziner, Lawrence van der Merwe
Publisher: Dr. Finn's Games
Year Published: 2015
No. of Players: 1-4
Ages: 8+
Playing Time: 30 min.

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com



Review:

tl;dr: Press-your-luck dice roller in space. Fans of Can't Stop will be right at home here.

Getting to the Game: Shuffle the alien and meteor decks, as well as the infodere (what?) tokens. Place 10 tokens on their respective spaces on the board, then add everyone's ship tokens to the beginning track of each planet, according to turn order. First player gets all the dice but the red, and one crystal. Next players in line get one additional crystal than the player before them. Let's protect the galaxy.



The goal of Cosmic Run is to quickly race to the planets and set up shields there, protecting them from the torrent of meteors present in the system. If you're the first one to reach a planet, you'll score the most points, with additional points being given to the other players based on how far they got. This is a nice benefit to not reaching the planet first, and softens the blow of losing the race. The game ends when all planets are either scored or destroyed.

Playing the Game: Cosmic Run is first and foremost a dice chucker. If you hate the random nature of dice, get thee gone-- you're going to hate this one. You can fudge your dice rolls a little bit, but not enough to negate what is essentially Can't Stop in space. Your turn starts with flipping over the top card of the meteor deck to find out which planet is bombarded. If the same planet gets hit a third time, it's destroyed and can no longer be shielded by you or your friends. Next, you roll all of the dice and decide which to keep and which to re-roll. At least one die must be assigned somewhere, but after that, what you roll again is entirely up to you, as is how many times you re-roll. Again, every time you roll the dice, at least one of them has to go somewhere. The goal here is to collect sets of matching dice. The higher-numbered the planet, the higher quantity of matching dice it takes to get there. Each set required by the planet will get you one step closer to being named its savior, and maybe even getting yourself a statue erected


So, around and around you'll go, trying to pick up the most points along the tracks, while also deciding which tracks are worth continuing your effort. There are a couple ways that Cosmic Run sets itself apart from the others in the genre: First of all, there's a built-in game timer. The meteor deck will eventually destroy all six planets if you turtle around and do nothing, so we are immediately avoiding the main problem with Can't Stop, which is that games can often take too long. Second, points are awarded both when a planet is saved via landing on it, or when it's destroyed by those meteors--to every ship along the track. That means that every step you move along the track will eventually be rewarded. There's no feel-bads when you lose the planet because the player right before you threw a Godroll to get there. Well, okay, there probably will be, but it's not nearly as bad as in other all-or-nothing games. Finally, the alien deck is a wonderful touch that solves many issues with games of this type.

Main complaints with random dice fests are: there's no way to improve a bad roll, random dice being the only way to gain points negates even good strategy, and dice that don't contribute to scoring are just wasted. The alien deck deals with all of these in increasingly satisfying ways. Some of the alien's powers allow you to re-roll or even directly influence dice that aren't helping you. They're gained by using one or two dice only, which means you've got a place to put dice that aren't doing you any good on your planet chase, and the outcome of those is more relevant than collecting crystals (yet another way to change your outcomes). And, perhaps most impactfully, they can be traded in sets for points. A lot of points, actually. A full set of one of each color alien can be dumped for 15 points, which is more than the first planet's scoring bonus, and equal to the second. This is a thematic and elegant solution to a lot of problems, and it single-handedly elevates this game above a lot of others in the genre.



Artwork and Components: The art in this game is just fine. The board is purple and black space, which is nice. There's a giant depiction of a space battle in the lower-right corner of the board, looking very out of place here, since there's no direct player interaction in this one (a minor complaint of the actual gameplay). The aliens look sort of generic humanoid with weird features, and the iconography across the game is clear without being outstanding. Overall, the board presence of this game is just ok. 


  

The chunky wooden ship tokens are an interesting choice that I ultimately don't understand. Nothing else in the game is wood (save the point markers, which are just extensions of your ships anyway), and they're bad--just blocks of wood with a white outline of a ship painted on it. The crystals are acrylic bits, which actually work pretty well. Most disappointingly, the dice themselves are just those generic white/red/yellow D6s you've seen everywhere else. Though, the cards overall have a nice linen finish, and feel like they'll last a while. 

The Good: Gameplay feels tight, perfect amount of interaction and press-your-pluck based on game length. 

The Bad: Art and components don't stand out in any way. Dice aren't special or interesting. 

Score: For my money, Cosmic Run is a decent-enough upgrade to Can't Stop that it might hit my table when I'm looking for a little more variation on that theme. That said, it's lacking even the base-level good-feels of the 1985 edition's interlocking plastic pieces. This game is completely saved by the sheer volume of gameplay decisions and hinges on the tension of needing to roll that perfect number. I'm giving Cosmic Run a score of Meteoric.



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Nicholas Leeman - Reviewer

Nicholas has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.

See Nicholas's reviews HERE.
Cosmic Run: Regeneration Review Cosmic Run: Regeneration Review Reviewed by The Madjai on January 23, 2019 Rating: 5

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