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The Big Crunch | A Cosmic Card Game Review from Thomas Shepherd

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Quick Look: The Big Crunch | A Cosmic Card Game


Designer: Alec Lewandowski
Publisher: ALEC.A.SAM Games
Year Published: 2024

No. of Players: 2-8
Ages: 8+
Playing Time: ~25 minutes.
Find more info HERE.
From the Publisher:

In astronomy, The Big Crunch is a hypothetical scenario for the ultimate end of the universe in which it dramatically collapses in on itself.

The Big Crunch is a card game focused on point collection and survival. Players either race to gather the most mass and complete a solar system, or to simply survive as they all get drawn into the black hole.

The goal is to possess the most mass upon the completion of a solar system. Any player may complete a solar system, however only the player with the most mass at that point in time will win.

Alternatively you may attack other players by overloading their system with mass, attracting the attention of the hungry black hole, forcing them to lose valuable mass. Mass simultaneously acts as both a life system and point scoring system.

Darkness is coming… Can you survive?

Disclaimer: The publisher provided the copy of The Big Crunch. The opinions expressed in the review are completely my own.


Review:


Overview:

Like probably most everyone else, growing up I wanted to be an astronaut. I still enjoy most things Space related. So, when I got a chance to review a space based game, I jumped at the chance. The Big Crunch is a card based game that puts you in charge of a solar system to protect it from the coming darkness in the form of a Black Hole or a White Hole. The game involves a bit of physics, how mass affects a solar system and Black/White Hole attraction/repulsion, and enough strategic decisions to make the game interactive for all players. My gaming group and I had a wonderful time playing the game and I believe this game will make it to the table on numerous occasions.

Rules & Setup:

The rule book is simple in its look, but explains the game very well, to include special situations and an expansion ruleset. The rules are fairly easy to understand and teach.

The setup is simple and not time consuming. Each player is dealt a hand of 5 cards and a single face-up card to start their solar system. A Black Hole is placed in the center of the table. A Start Player is determined and the game is ready to play.

 

Theme and Mechanics:

In The Big Crunch you are, for lack of a better term, a Supreme Being in charge of a single solar system that is being threatened by a Black Hole or White Hole. Throughout the game you are either increasing the value (mass) of your solar system, or affecting the value of the solar systems of your neighboring players. The goal is to make your solar system the most complete and the highest value (most mass) by the end of the game.

The mechanic of the game is simply card based actions. Each round players receive a new card and then may take up to 2 actions. A player may play a new card into their solar system, send a planet and/or asteroid from their solar system to a neighbor’s solar system, or change between a Black Hole and White Hole.

 

Gameplay:

The Big Crunch is played over an indeterminate number of rounds. After the game is set up, players take turns playing cards that affect their solar system, a neighbor’s solar system, or the Black Hole / White Hole at the center of the table. Play continues until one player has successfully created a solar system that includes a Sun and one of each of the planet types. The final score is tallied and the player with the highest score is the winner (may not be the player with a complete solar system).

At the start of a round, each player receives one card from the deck and the Start Player receives an additional card. Starting with the Start Player, each player may perform up to 2 actions. Possible actions include playing a card from their hand to their solar system, passing a card or set of cards to one of their neighbor’s solar system, exchanging a current planetary mass for another planetary mass currently in the event plane, or changing the center card to a While Hole or Black Hole (limited number of times).

When playing a card to a player’s solar system, the amount of mass may affect play. If a particular planet type reaches a mass of 5 or more (6 or more with a Sun) that planet type is either pulled toward the Black Hole or placed back in the player’s hand from a White Hole. If the solar system has 2 Suns the Suns run into each other and explode. If an asteroid enters a player’s solar system and matches the color of a current planet, the asteroid attaches to the planet and is negative points at the end of the game.

Players may send a planet (or planet with asteroid[s]), individual asteroids, or a Sun to one of their neighbors. Doing so may cause a reaction as described above.

There may be cards in the Event Plane that are circling the Black/White Hole. A player may exchange a card in their solar system for one anywhere on the Event Plane as long as the mass value of the card replacing the card in the Event Plane is larger than the card being replaced.

The game starts with a Black Hole at the center of the table which will draw mass toward the center of the table. Players may take an action to change it to a White Hole, which will repel mass away from the center of the table. Players may then take an action to change it back to a Black Hole. This shift may only occur twice for each during the game.

At the end of the round, all cards in the Event Plane are affected by the Black/White Hole. If it is a Black Hole, all cards in the Event Plane are sucked into the Black Hole. If it is a White Hole, all cards are pushed back into their associate player’s solar system. A mass check is then performed. If the card at the center of the table is a Black Hole, the player(s) with the greatest mass in their solar system must push one of the cards from their solar system into the Event Plane. If the card at the center of the table is a White Hole, the player(s) with the greatest mass in their solar system must place one of the cards from their solar system back into their hand.

The start player token is passed to the next player and another round begins. 

What is done well:

I really like the use of mass as an equalizer. Without this equalizer a player would be able to just keep adding mass to their solar system in order to have the most mass at the end of the game. Having mass limits causes a player to play strategically to maximize their planetary mass while still having to pay attention to other players’ solar system in order to not have the most mass in their solar system at the end of the round and losing mass. Having to maximize mass while minimizing impact is an interesting dilemma.

What some may find issue with:
Some of the card graphics extend to the edge of the card. Having graphics that reach the edge of a card may allow some players the capability to know what cards will be available and when. While a player cannot affect which cards are put into play at any given time, a player may be able to tell what cards other players have in their hand, which gives them an advantage.
 
Final Thoughts:

The Big Crunch is a wonderful, short-play card game. I wasn’t sure the game would provide enough gameplay given the small ruleset, but I was happily surprised by how the game plays. There is enough player interaction to make the game non-asymmetric, but not so much interaction for other players to easily knock another player out of the game. I also found it interesting that even though a player ended the game by creating a complete solar system does not guarantee them the win. All of the people with whom I played this game were very happy and wanted to play the game again and again. I’m happy to make this game a part of my game shelf and expect it to be there for years to come.

Players Who Like:Card games, space based games, tableau creation games, and race to the end games

After reading Thomas Shepherd’s review, if this sounds like a game for you at the time of this posting The Big Crunch | A Cosmic Card Game
is available for purchase. Check it out and get yours HERE.
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Thomas Shepherd- Reviewer

I grew up loving to solve puzzles, play games, and have fun.  In my younger years I had fun playing pencil games, enjoyed the creativity of playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, and generally hanging out with others. My favorite thing to do was to make puzzles of all kinds, mazes, word games, picture games, etc.

Sadly my career took me in a different direction, solving computer problems rather than gaming problems.

Gaming came back into my life, though, in a big way about 15 years ago, and I have held onto it since. I still enjoy designing games and have 9 published titles, which I did through my own game publishing company, Toresh Games, prior to the Covid pandemic. Sadly I was not able to sustain the company through the pandemic.

I highly encourage people to play games, make friends, and have fun. As a game enthusiast, I would love to see a return to games as the best social media platform for the masses.

All of Thomas Shepherd’s reviews can be found HERE.

 


 

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