Cosmic Voyage Preview
Disclaimer: I was supplied with a prototype copy of the game. All artwork and components are subject to change and may not be indicative of final production quality.
You’re stranded in deep space, your only hope to get home is a distant interstellar rift. To get there you have negotiate solar storms, wormholes and black holes, and try to survive using the wits and skills of you and your three crewmates, hoping the ship’s shields hold up long enough. Daunting, yes? It’s not the plotline to some blockbuster action film however, but a fun card game you can play on the table with your family, and its name is Cosmic Voyage.
This is the first physical game from Savania Games, who have previously created video games. It’s a co-operative game in the same style as the Forbidden series, where you’ll need to work together to overcome the hazards thrown your way and make it safely home. By completing missions in deep space you’ll earn items and bonuses, and by cleverly using your characters’ special skills, you might just make it back in one piece.
The game comes in a nice little box, and it’s just made up of a few decks of cards. It’s got a really small footprint once it’s set-up, which is perfect for this sort of game. It’s the sort of thing you should be able to play on a coffee table in the living room, or even on the floor, with everyone making a bit of space for their own cards. Production values, even on this prototype, are really good, and the iconography is really clear throughout.
Gameplay is really simple. You all grab a card from the display, and then roll two dice to see if you succeed at the task on the card. Once of the dice is a D8, the other a D6, and there’s a further D6 used for certain bonuses in the game. Succeed, and you’ll get something useful – hopefully moving the marker along the Advance track, and towards victory. Fail, however, and either you or the ship is likely to suffer damage. Carefully using your collected items and the special powers I mentioned before, are the key to doing well.
Cosmic Voyage is a quick, lightweight game. As I mentioned above, it really reminds me of Matt Leacock’s Forbidden series of games. In fact, if you’d told me this is Forbidden Space and hidden the logos, I’d probably have believed you. That’s high praise indeed in my opinion, because Matt is the king of co-op games. The back of the box suggests it’s for 14 years and older, but I had no trouble teaching my eight-year-old son to play, and I’d encourage you to get younger family members playing if they seem keen.
Much of the game revolves around the discussions around the table, as the team decide how and when to use their abilities. For example, the Medical Officer can prevent any player from taking one point of damage during a game round. But what if you have two players knocking on death’s door? You can help one of them, and the other will become incapacitated if they take a hit, meaning they’re unable to help unless you fix them up. The question is, which one is more useful for the mission, and who can you do without for now?
If this were a heavier game aimed at adult gaming groups, I’d have worries that it’s ripe for Quarterbacking. It’s that kind of game where everyone’s tasks and abilities are laid out in the open, and it’d be easy for someone to take charge. When that’s an option in family games however, I’m actually all in favour of it. If it’s done correctly. You can gently try to sway your child’s attention to something you know is the obvious best move. I say ‘try’, because if your kid is anything like mine, they’re as stubborn as a mule and there’s nothing on Earth that can change their mind once they’ve made a decision.
I really like Cosmic Voyage. I don’t know of many (any?) Indie video game developers who made the jump to make tabletop games so early in their history, but Savania Games have done just that, and they’ve done a really good job of it too. It’s not a heavy game by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a really engaging little puzzle for the 45 minutes or so it’ll take you to play. I really like this type of game, where it’s friendly and approachable for anyone and everyone, and it can easily help people see if co-operative games are the right games for them.
It could have been simpler, but I like the slightly thicker layer of complexity included. You’ve got multiple tracks to manage, and certain events like Solar Storms and Black Holes help solidify the idea of “we’re all in this together”. These events see players drop everything and try to clear the danger as fast as possible, and there’s a palpable moment of relief when you manage to clear one. It’s quite a feat for a little game. It was also a clever idea making the cards have two tasks each; one for the specialism of the matching character colour, one for everyone else.
You can play solo, taking on all four characters at once, and it’s a fun puzzle, but the game shines brightest when there are four of you playing. Watching peoples’ faces – young and old – when they succeed with an unlikely dice roll, is really satisfying. I’m over the moon with the quality of games coming out of small UK studios at the moment, and Cosmic Voyage is another to add to the list. Designer Andy Copsey might not have the same weight behind his name as the Matt Leacocks of this world, but I’d happily play this game as much as I would Forbidden Island, and I hope his Kickstarter campaign sees the success it deserves.
If you’ve got a young family, or want a lighter game to introduce your group to co-operative games, check it out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
A prototype copy of the game was provided to me by Savania Games. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
Cosmic Voyage (2021)
Designer: Andy Copsey
Publisher: Savania Games
Art: Andy Copsey
Playing time: 30-45 minutes