The universe is dead! Long live the universe.
In Chaosmos, life as we all know it is over. Gone. Kaput. No more. The universe has reached its end.
But all is not lost! A new universe is about to form, and you’re in the perfect position to control its direction. Well, if you know how. Joey Vigour, the designer of the game from Mirror Box Games, was able to answer a few questions about the game and its ambitions.
Queuing For Oblivion
Cardboard Republic: Thanks for answering some questions for us. Chaosmos is doing really well on Kickstarter, so congrats! Tell us a little about your game.
The universe has reached its terminus, and the only way to prevent annihilation is to control the Ovoid: the seed of the new universe. You’ll assume the role of a covert agent of an alien race tasked with one critical mission – locate the Ovoid and possess it at the exact moment the universe collapses around you.
Chaosmos is a “hand building” game, in that you will be making choices about which cards to keep and which to give up. You’ll want to keep your hand fluid because other players are looking for cards that counter and disable your cards. Breathing gear and specialty equipment will have only situational uses, so you’ll need to protect these on planets for later access, since you won’t be able to carry everything at once.
You’ll activate traps, vaults, and planetary bases to lock planets, utilize weapons and other gadgets, as well as your alien’s unique racial powers, to locate the Ovoid card (hidden on a planet or in a player’s hand) and hold it when all the turns are played and the universe implodes. Despite the ‘hot potato’ sounding victory condition, the game is actually a very strategic game with a lot of innovative card interactions and a strong sense of building to a grand finale.
CR: What were your influences? What were you thinking of, or what did you pull from, when designing Chaosmos?
The theme was very much inspired by a teen sci-fi book called Interstellar Pig, which features aliens playing a board game starring themselves. I used to dream of traveling to space with a bunch of neural whips and laser guns, searching for the unknown.
The game mechanics were nearly all designed around the theme. We were lucky in that the mechanics are simple; even the rules exceptions make sense within the context of the theme. The Cosmic Pool (the drafting area above the board) was the only mechanic designed to improve a mechanical aspect, which was that there wasn’t enough public information (face-up cards), and the game was therefore too opaque for most players. The Cosmic Pool solved the problem, as it adds a lot of public information, and it fit the theme well, as it’s a space port that aliens can trade to from their home planet.
CR: What exactly is The Ovoid?
There’s some controversy amongst the alien races. A prophecy from Ob has claimed that when the old universe collapses, the Ovoid will hatch into the new universe. Each alien race has its own motivations for going after the Ovoid. In many ways the Ovoid is playing a cosmic joke on all of us, in that it may not have an explanation other than itself.
Actors On A Larger Stage
CR: There are eight different playable characters. Are they similar, or do they cater to different types of players?
Atturnuk is a bully. He’s the combat bonuses alien. Drusu is the “knowledge” alien. He can find the Ovoid much faster than other players, but at the expense of maneuverability. Clokknid is the sentient robot alien and has control over the vaults and traps– he’s perfect for players who like moving tactical gizmos around the board and surprising people with them. Haghouhen offers more control over the board, as he can escape home and build bases and attract other players to his planet. Vroon is the explorer alien and receives a movement bonus. He’s also good at chasing people down and running away! Haamflaagon has extra arms, so he can hold 9 cards instead of 7. This is great for players who have trouble deciding what cards to take from various planets.
CR: The game states 2-4 players. How do those 2 player games differ significantly in strategy from the 3-4 player games?
The dynamic is different, but the play experience is still great!
With two players, the game becomes a lot like a Cold War. It’s much less about combat and weapons, and much more about information and understanding your opponent’s moves. One player will know where the Ovoid is, so they try to keep it secreted away from the other, while that player is trying to figure out where the Ovoid has been left. Environment gear and planet toxicity also become very important, since it’s possible to nearly lock out an opponent from their toxic planet if you take all of their environment gear to it.
Details On The Apocalypse
CR: You’re using an interesting mechanic in this game. Each planet on the board has an envelope containing a stack of cards. When a player lands on the planet, they can take some of these cards, or leave cards from their hand in the envelope. Firstly, why use envelopes instead of having players leave the cards in face-down piles?
One of the mechanics in the game that I believe to be totally unique is the concept of having an area-specific locker of cards (an envelope) that isn’t just holding the cards; it’s preventing players from seeing how many cards are there, and whether there is a face-up card. Certain cards like traps, vaults, and bases have two states– active and inactive. Inactive cards are face-down in envelopes and can be taken into the hand and moved from planet to planet. They can be activated by secretly placing them face-up on top of the other cards in the envelope. Then other players must announce the face up card (and deal with its consequences) immediately upon reaching the planet.
CR: Secondly, then: What are some of the cards, or types of cards, that we can expect to see?
Most cards go back to your hand after playing, so if you hold onto them for a while, other players will start to adapt to your strategy. There’s several categories of card: Advanced Weapons, Advanced Defenses (countering Advanced Weapons and are great to surprise opponents with), tactical cards like traps, vaults, and bases, and special cards like Guerrilla Drop Capsule (which hijacks control of someone else’s controlled envelope). Enviro-gear must be revealed in order for each alien to land on his or her toxic planet (a planet they normally would be unable to visit). Finally, there’s the Temporal Displacer, which completely alters the ending of the game because it can move the Chaos Clock–the turn counter– forward or backwards up to 8 turns.
Our entire deck can be found in our print and play (a low ink version) download on our site.
CR: Chaosmos is primarily a card game, though it also includes minis. Miniatures can capture the attention of gamers, but a lot of crowdfunding campaigns only include them if certain funding thresholds are met. You decided to include them from the beginning. Can you expand on your reasoning?
The cards and envelopes in Chaosmos just provide a system for players to engage in a thematic experience. When playing an H.P. Lovecraft themed game, I prefer Cthulhu to be a sprawling tentacled monster, not a paper stand or a green pawn.
Chaosmos is a quality game with a lot of unique mechanics and play experiences. I wanted the components to live up to that standard of quality so players are proud to own the game. I wanted it to be something they will keep on their shelf and bring to the table for many years to come.
CR: Before we sign off I want to make sure I get all the practical info. Will your Kickstarter be available in retail stores, and do you have a rough timeline for how you expect the project to progress once the Kickstarter wraps up?
We have finished the design and we’ll submit the final design elements to the printer in the next two months. We have a major distributor that will place Chaosmos in retail stores by October, if not before. The manufacturer we are using is Panda GM, and I think they make some of the best quality components in the industry. The game is going to look and feel as amazing as it plays.
Time’s running out if you wish to ensure that you’re in charge when the universe reboots. To get a jump on your competition, you can head over to see more of Chaosmos live on Kickstarter.
Photo Credits: Chaosmos artwork by Mirror Box Games.