The game Cosmic Encounter has had several expansions over the years.  Cosmic Storm is the latest one, and it lacks the consistency of the previous expansions.

While the previous expansions added new colors and ships to increase the number of potential players, Cosmic Storm consists of two things: Space Stations and aliens.  When playing with the Space Stations, each player puts a Space Station on one of their planets, and they get the Station's ability as long as they have a colony on that planet.  (Variant rules let someone conquering the planet with a Space Station to take control of the Station.)  Space Stations don't add much to the basic game: While they have different abilities, they become an immediate target for all other players, who have no reason not to try and neutralize (or control) them.

That leaves the 25 new aliens in Cosmic Storm.  While this is more than the previous expansions (which had 20 each), the quality of these new aliens is variable.  There are several good ones, such as: the "dangerously adorable" Squee, who can make an attacker either concede or lose three ships to Warp; the Phantasm, who draws a card from the deck after encounter cards are revealed, and if an encounter card is drawn, replaces one of the played card; the Sneak, who dealt with losing a colony by gaining a colony on one of the attacker's planet; and the Outlaw, who as a main player draws a card at random from each opponent and opponent's ally.

Then there are the aliens that are either too weak, too powerful, or too familiar.  The Neighbor's power only gives a slight advantage if defending someone else's colony where they already have one.  The Brute forces a player on the other side to either show their hand and give the Brute a card, or lose three ships to the Warp -- and the Brute can do this as a main player or ally.  The Roach's extra ships feel a lot like the Symbiote, while Sycophant is similar to Tik-Tok.

Cosmic Storm is a hit-or-miss expansion for a terrific game.  There are plenty of fun aliens that will be enjoyed and used well -- and others that will disappoint.  The next expansion, Cosmic Dominion, will be a fan-created series of aliens; lets hope they are more consistent.
Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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