The wonderful boardgame Cosmic Encounter allows for shared victories -- but now players can join together in teams with the new expansion Cosmic Alliance. And if this isn't enough (and for me, it isn't), there's also a new color (allowing for another player) and a collection of new aliens -- some of which aren't that new.

Normally in Cosmic Encounter, players who ally when attacking both get to go on the target planet if they win; and if multiple players get their fifth colony together, they all win! Cosmic Alliance allows players to form teams of two, working together to defend each other and go after their opponents. To me, this ongoing alliance from the outset is unnecessary: Part of the fun of Cosmic Encounter is persuading people to join you (for attacking or defending), and having an automatic ally from start to finish removes that element of the game.

Fortunately, there are 20 new/old aliens with Cosmic Alliance. This expansion introduces aliens from earlier editions of the game (like the Empath) into the current Fantasy Flight Games version -- and tosses in new ones as well. As with the previous expansions, the aliens here work extremely well, whether the paralysing Gorgon (virtually trapping ships on its planets or shared colonies), the scary Relic (which gets a free colony whenever another player draws a new hand of cards -- and gets its own ships out of the Warp when it draws a new hand), or the rules-changing Schizoid (which changes the victory conditions, leaving other players to win by accident or try and figure out what the new victory condition is). None of these are so overpowering that they'll be picked over the other aliens -- but they certainly have the potential to bring victory. There's also a pretty good sense of humor here: the hedonistic Animal has the summary "Throws a Hearty Party;" the Horde (shown below) looks like a marshmallow Peep with a sinister underside; and the Pacifist is once again the victim as it becomes controlled by the Remote.

The new color -- white -- gives more color options for the players. More significantly, when combines with the other expansions it allows for massive eight-player games! If you have the players, this will last a long time -- and be very fun (if long).

Cosmic Alliance is a nice expansion, except (ironically) for the new alliance rules. Even if you ignore them, you'll still have 20 new aliens, the option for an additional player -- and another great expansion for the terrific Cosmic Encounter.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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