There are plenty of games where you can push your luck for greater rewards at greater risk, but none have the funky feel of the dice game Cosmic Wimpout. None of them force you to keep pushing your luck the way this game does either.

Using special six-sided dice (pictured here), players roll and score to be the first to reach an agreed-upon goal, usually 300 or 500 points. (After someone reaches the goal, everyone else gets one last turn to catch up or overtake the winner.) If players roll three of the same symbol or number on the same throw, that's a flash and worth a lot of points. Five matching symbols or numbers are a freight train and worth a massive amount of points; heck, rolling five stars makes you an instant winner! (Rolling five tens is Too Many Points, which is a Supernova and makes you lose, though.) The Flaming Sun on the black die acts as any result you want. If you roll no fives, tens, flashes or freight trains you Wimpout and lose any points you had earned this turn. And you need at least 35 points to start scoring in the game, so no one can hope to win by playing it safe early.

Two rules really make Cosmic Wimpout a challenge. According to the rule You May Not Want To But You Must, if you score with all five dice you mark down your score so far that turn, then reroll all the dice. And The Futtless Rule says that if you score a flash, you have to clear it by rerolling the other dice until they score (and they can't be matched up with the flash). Combine these rules and you often wind up scoring a flash, rolling the other dice until fives and/or tens come up, then because you scored with all five dice you start rolling them all over. It's easy to get over 100 points in a turn -- or hope you don't get another flash so you can score what you have instead of risking a Wimpout.

Cosmic Wimpout apparently has quite a following among hippies and Deadheads, and it's easy to see why: This game has a mystical feel, simple rules, and a very quick playing time. While there's no real strategy beyond deciding (when you can) whether or not to keep going or score with what you have, the compulsory element makes every round a bit riskier by often forcing you to go on when you might not. Cosmic Wimpout is another fun little game, terrific for playing before a more complex, strategic, or time-consuming game. Or when you want a game that can literally fit in your pocket.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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