Full disclosure: A review copy of Cosmic Run: Regeneration was provided by Dr. Finn’s Games.
More reviews this week! I’m super excited to hit up more space games, as someone who pretty consistently enjoys space games. And here they come, or at least, here comes this one, Cosmic Run: Regeneration! Let’s look into it.
So, in the future (they said 2123 but it seems like it’s gonna be sooner than that, so, thanks, Boomers), Earth has become inhospitable, which is a bummer. We’re trying to find a new planet to ruin, so we’ve formed competing groups to try and reach those planets first before meteors hit and devastate the planet that we were planning to settle. Thankfully, we also run into friendly aliens who are amused by our quest, so they offer to help us out if we hire them, as well. Will you be able to settle a new planet? Or will your opponents beat you there?
So, set out the board:
Give each player a player card in their color:
Along with some ships:
You can set all the scoring tokens on the 10:
Put the Infodere tokens on the indicated spaces on the board, randomly. You’ll have extras; set them off to the side:
The Honor Tokens can be set aside, as well:
Set aside the Meteor tokens, too:
Speaking of meteors, take the Meteor Cards:
These will form a deck. Add Miss Cards to the Meteor Deck; they look like Meteor Card backs, but empty fronts. You’ll want to use a different number based on your player count:
- 2 players: 2 Miss Cards
- 3 players: 6 Miss Cards
- 4 players: 12 Miss Cards
Shuffle the Starting Meteor Cards and add two to the main deck:
Place the remaining four on top of the now-shuffled Meteor Deck.
Shuffle the Alien Cards and reveal three in a row:
Give one player the dice:
Set aside the red one, though. Give that player one crystal, the next player two crystals, the third player three crystals, and so on.
You should be all ready to start!
So, your turn has a few steps, but your general goal is to get to planets and put up shields to score points before meteors destroy them. If you don’t make it in time, you still get some points, adding Cosmic Run: Regeneration to horseshoes and hand grenades for situations in which “so close” counts. Game ends when the planets are all shielded or destroyed, and the player with the most points wins!
Anyways, let’s talk about turns.
Reveal and discard the top card of the Meteor deck. If the topmost indicated planet doesn’t have a meteor token on it, place one, 1-side up. If it does, flip it to the 2-side. If it’s already on the 2-side, the meteor devastates the planet (bummer) and the ships score based on where they are on the track (or, in the case of Planet 6, they score for their position relative to other players). In a two-player game, the player furthest on the Planet 6 track scores 5 points + 1 point for each space ahead of the other player they are; the second player scores nothing.
If the topmost planet is already scored, check the next planet. If that one’s already scored, try the third planet. If all three planets on the Meteor card are scored already, nothing happens. Sometimes you’ll draw Miss cards; these have the same effect, basically.
For this one, you’ll roll all the dice (except the red one; that’s only unlocked via a specific alien). You must then assign at least one die to your player card (to gain crystals) to a planet (to move your ship closer) or to an alien (to recruit them). Planets 2-5 require sets of dice (2, 3, 4, and 5 of the same type, respectively), but you do not need to place them all at once. You can also spend crystals for a variety of effects, including rerolling dice, setting dice to certain faces, and adding additional dice, but you can only have 7 dice on a turn.
After assigning at least one die, reroll the rest (you must reroll all unassigned dice; no saving). Assign at least one die, reroll the rest. Continue doing this until you either have assigned all the dice or you assign a yellow die to Planet 6, and then this phase ends. Take actions, next.
Next up, you can take actions. Move your ships, collect crystals, and recruit aliens (max 5). You can also retire recruited aliens for bonus points based on sets (you can do this at any point during your turn, though). When you retire an alien set, place an Honor Token on the leftmost space on the board corresponding to that set (so they’re less valuable as players retire them).
If you reach a planet with your ship, score it as mentioned above. To reiterate, the ships score based on where they are on the track (or, in the case of Planet 6, they score for their position relative to other players). In a two-player game, the player furthest on the Planet 6 track scores 5 points + 1 point for each space ahead of the other player they are; the second player scores nothing. You cannot go below 0 points, also.
End of Game
The game ends as soon as the final planet is destroyed or at the end of the turn where the final planet is reached by a player. In turn order, each player may then retire one set of aliens.
Additional aliens and crystals score 1VP; the player with the highest score wins!
Player Count Differences
The major one is that scores will generally be a bit lower at higher player counts, since the number of turns any one player gets will be kind of low. This also means you’re more likely to see the game end with meteor strikes rather than player scoring planets (given that a player can’t make that many moves on a turn). That said, if I were to roll 5 1’s in a four-player game, I’d slam those on Planet 1 over Planet 5 (more bang for your buck). Either way, I don’t have a strong player count preference; it’s a very pleasant game either way.
- Make some progress on the ones. You really don’t want to take that -10 hit at any point in the game unless you’ve already lost points (since you can’t go below 0). Still wouldn’t recommend it?
- Also, hiring / retiring sets of aliens is a very easy way to earn a bunch of points. Technically I think the best points-per-card is three of the same, but, five unique is easier to do. Keeping that is helpful because players don’t necessarily notice that you have them and it’s easier to keep those faux-points (again, especially if you’re about to lose a lot of points). It means people might not try to race you for planets you want, which allows you to sneak in and take them (and later cash in your alien cards).
- Try to only cash in retired Alien cards, if you can. If you hire them and don’t use their ability, what was the point of having them around? Some exceptions apply since you can’t always use them usefully, sure, or you might need to cash in before another player does, but you should always try to utilize them, if you can do so practically.
- Planet Yahtzee isn’t always super worth it. I’d only go for it if it was guaranteed, and guaranteeing five-of-a-kind on a six-dice roll isn’t the most practical outcome. It’s a lot more practical with dice modification cards or an extra die or some crystals. Maybe don’t go for this particular planet in the early game? Up to you, though.
- You should probably count Miss cards. There are only so many at various player counts, so, once you’ve seen the last one, it’s Meteor-O-Clock for a while (until you have enough planets burnt).
- Don’t forget that crystals and Alien cards are still worth 1VP each at the end of the game. Really, crystals are just worth 1VP always, so, when you spend them for a reroll or something you better be getting your money’s worth. But this means that buying alien cards towards the end of the game might still be a perfectly legitimate move if you can’t do anything else better with the dice (say, if the five-of-a-kind planet is the only one left).
- If you roll a yellow six, try to use it on Planet 6. It’s really useful, especially if you can pick up some Infodere tokens, too. Just remember placing it means that you lock in your dice and can’t reroll them further, so, only do it if you have a consistent enough roll that it makes sense.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I like that you can’t do everything. There’s always a temptation in games like these to try and go down every route, and I think that’s not necessarily the best move (as opposed to focusing where you can). The design feels smart, and I appreciate it when I play.
- Art looks great. Like, don’t get me wrong, it’s just kinda … space, but I love that exact thing and it’s really well done, so, I’m 100% here for it. It’s a very vibrant board, too.
- Pretty quick to learn. Make sets of dice, use them to move on tracks, collect sets of aliens to turn in for even more points, and, you know, race to win the game. Not too much to take in.
- Plays quickly, too. The whole game is on an effective timer, which I appreciate, so that keeps it moving at a pretty good clip. There aren’t enough major decisions to make on a turn that AP starts to set in, either, which is nice.
- Tiny cards are still the bane of my existence. They’re just so itty. And hard to shuffle.
- It would be nice to have a token or something to indicate that a planet has been scored. We currently just move the meteor 2 token over the number, but, something more specific would be nice. I guess the rules say to stack the ships on it, but it looks a bit cooler with the ships on the path. Maybe it’s just an aesthetic thing. Who knows.
- Didn’t come with any bags. Mumble mumble it’s 2019. Just have some tiny baggies handy.
- I mean if you hate dice games you’ll likely hate this one. It’s not quite a roll-and-move, but it’s a fairly worthy successor to the genre, in my opinion. There’s still a decent amount of luck (and some good luck mitigation), but it’s hard to come back from a wasted turn if you go for the 5-of-a-kind and fall short (especially if you place 4 of them).
- There’s additional luck factors with less mitigation. The ordering of the meteor cards and the Alien cards can have a major impact on the game depending on when they come out, and there’s not much you can do about it. That said, the game’s not terribly long, so, worst case, it doesn’t shake out your way and you just play it again from the top. Not the biggest deal.
Overall: 7.5 / 10
Overall, I find Cosmic Run: Regeneration quite pleasant! Having reviewed it, now, I’m hyperaware of how many mistakes I’ve made trying to type “regeneration”, but, that’s a conversation I get to have with myself later. As far as the game goes, it’s a cute, solid dice game where you have pretty substantial decisions every round. It does the thing that I like in Catch the Moon where if a player has a really good / lucky roll you’re almost happy for them because it was such a clutch move, even if it costs you a lot of points, which I appreciate. Additionally, it has a cooperative mode, which I’m always into (didn’t get a chance to check it out before review), so that’s nice. Add in a solid production value and you’ve got yourself a nice little game, especially for families or fans of dice games (a group of which I am certainly a member). It’s not too tough to learn, but it’s a lot of fun, so if you’re looking for a solid dice game for your collection, Cosmic Run: Regeneration might be a good fit! I’ve enjoyed it.