Reviewer Chris Globus
Designer Jeff Chin, Andrew Nerger
Now is the time for mandatory fun.” – Chris Globus
There are a few words that generally make me shy away from forms of entertainment. If your show or movie is “wacky” or “zany”, you have almost guaranteed I won’t watch it. With games, that’s the word “party game”. When I see “party game” in the description, I think of 80s game ads, of a family with dramatic faces. What I don’t think of is something I want to spend a portion of my life doing. But there’s Cosmocracy.
Cosmocracy is light on rules. That can get many games in trouble, but in this case, rules are there to provide a framework, within which the players create a galaxy, with political machinations, a developing story, and fleshed out details.
There are four types of cards: Issues, Matters, Races, and Candidates. Each player chooses a Race, all the tropes are included, and the corresponding Candidate. Each round, two Candidates are flipped, which determines who will debate the current Issue. You then choose a moderator (my group house ruled that the player to the left of the first Candidate drawn is the moderator, so it moved around the table). The moderator reveals the Issue, which may have a Matter on it. Example: “Screening [Matter] from luggage at spaceports”. If it has a Matter, the moderator reveals the top Matter card. To continue the example, Evil Computers was drawn.
The first Candidate may now choose Pro, Con, or pass. If they choose pass, the second Candidate chooses Pro or Con. Once a position is chosen, the other Candidate gets the opposite position.
Each Candidate will now argue their position, with the Candidate that chose first arguing first. Each player gets thirty seconds to state why they are for or against, in our example, Screening Evil Computers from luggage at spaceports. After the thirty seconds has elapsed, the moderator starts clapping, indicating that the time is up.
The moderator can allow follow up questions, but they have absolute control. They can play loose, cut Candidates off, and they decide when it’s time to vote.
All players not debating then choose the Pro or Con side of their Race card, and reveal them simultaneously. Each Candidate then receives tokens equal to the number of people who voted with them.
All the tropes are here, with art work to match, whether it’s the Evil Computer from 2001, or the Space Wizards from Star Wars. The artwork is good, the Races diverse, and each Race card has two characteristics to help you get in their mindset.
Where the game truly excels is in the creation of the setting. Each vote creates a law, which determines how your galaxy is. Factions develop, players reference earlier laws in current debates, and the environment changes. Great moments come when players are forced to debate a position which is opposite to their desires. When my group played, I was the Brain Sucking Parasites, and had to support the legalized hunting of my race.
There are two flaws. The first is minor. The game should have come with a thirty second hourglass. This would have made it complete. We got by with our cell phones.
The second is that this game is not for everyone. While I personally feel that there is a lot to be said for being able to debate both sides of an argument, not everyone will feel that way. It can also be challenging to come up with an argument on the fly.
Overall, I consider this a Buy. It’s inexpensive, fun to play, and could even be used to create a galaxy for your next sci-fi roleplaying session. The box is small, so it’s easy to have available, and it requires little table space. It can be used as filler, or can be played several times over the course of the evening.
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