Given that the game Cosmic Encounter is largely about alien races battling for control of the cosmos, I would have though "conflict" was a given. Nevertheless, that game's second expansion is Cosmic Conflict. It's familiar -- but that's a good thing.

Much like the previous expansion, Cosmic Incursion, Cosmic Conflict includes 20 new aliens (and Flare cards for them), a new color (black) of ships and planets (which, if combines with the last expansion, allow up to seven players), and a new type of cards.

As with the previous release, my favorite feature is the aliens (though a seven-player game is quite welcome). Quirky species include the Xenophile (which gets bonuses the more opponents successfully invade it), the disgusting Filth (too gross for any alien to share a planet with), and the Lunatic (which can join in on any attack on its own colonies -- more useful than it sounds). For sheer power, the Trickster can give any combat a 50% chance of victory, the Relic can gain a new colony whenever another player draws cards, and the Claw can snatch whole planets from opponents! Even the Empath returns, better than in the last edition of the game.

The Hazard cards -- a new feature -- add an additional element of randomness to the game. These come up at random encounters, and they do anything from give players more cards before the encounter to canceling the use of an alien power. Some folks may like them, but to me it's a little too random: They can obviate strategies and substantially change how the game is played -- especially for the ones that remain in play.

For me, Cosmic Conflict is an expansion with a lot of picking and choosing. I'll always use the new aliens and planets, but seldom will I opt to include the Hazard deck. But the former are more than fun enough to make this another fine expansion for the classic, varied, wonderful (and still unreviewed here -- for now) Cosmic Encounter.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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