I love space and often waste away my afternoons thinking about what life forms exist in the universe. But I would never volunteer to hop on a space cruiser and whip around the galaxy. Sorry to break your hearts, NASA; I’m too scared to fly through a vacuum. Luckily for me, other space fanatics have fueled my imagination with fantastical stories of conquest and aliens without requiring me to leave the comfort of my Earth-home. Board games such as Twilight Imperium entrust me with my own planet(s) to rule and even honor me with a fleet of ships for war or exploration. I wish I could share this dramatic opera of space-conquest, space-politics, space-friendships, space-betrayals, space-etc with my creative-deficient friends. But the vastness of Twilight Imperium and other space games are difficult to summarize into a tiny box. Incredibly, TokArts have taken on this feat, and have created a space-exploration game that successfully packs a larger-than-life game into a deck of cards.
TokArts has announced Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest, a space opera themed trading card game. This science-fiction deck-building game pits players against each other in a race to explore and conquer the galaxy. Various factions make up each player’s arsenal and determines the thematic playstyle of that deck. Are you a pacifist society, who prefers exploration and scientific inquiries over war? Or do you revel in conquest through any violent and degradable means necessary? The various factions available yield a multitude of different play-styles, resulting in a complex and strategic game.
Though it contains many elements similar to Magic: The Gathering, Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest is no ordinary trading card game because it is played on a board. This novel concept presents unique gameplay with fresh replayability that propels in-the-moment strategizing. Unlike Magic where the player draws resources into their hand and play them as needed, in Multiverse the player will be exploring the galaxy – the board – to find the resources necessary to build their fleet. This novel mechanic prevents difficult situations in which an unlucky player fails to draw resources from their deck, thus inhibiting strategic maneuvering. Furthermore, the inclusion of a board containing resources creates a tension between the two players. “Is my opponent exploring just to look for resources? Or are they secretly planning to strike my homeland? GAH, this is why mom told me to stay home and not venture outside! Maybe I’ll just visit that neighboring space over there… Yeah, that looks saf- OH NO.”
But be aware, explorers, the galaxy is a scary place where dangers abound. Though exploring a majority of the galaxy can help you win the game, it can be risky to travel unprepared. The cards that make up the galaxy include not only planets, but also asteroid belts and nebulae which can critically damage your ships and slow down your travels. Again, having a board on which to play a trading card game implements an additional level of strategy that the player needs to plan for. The board feels like a third player who jumped in, decided to be the enemy of both of you, and wants to destroy the game (much like your little sibling who totally didn’t intentionally bump your arm during a game of Operation). But this enemy still seduces you to approach it with the promise of resources and conquest. It makes the game more complex, but in the case of Multiverse, this is a very good thing.
Playing Multiverse feels like you have entered a miniature “space opera.” The movements and actions you can take represent gigantic thematic decisions. Simply “hopping over” to the neighboring system is no easy feat, especially considering that we homo sapiens have barely managed to leave Earth! TokArts manages to summarize a feeling of expansion in a pocket-sized deck. Unlike other epic space exploration games such as Twilight Imperium or Firefly, this galaxy-trekking game can fit in your pocket or laptop. The current beta version of Multiverse lacks card art, but the concept drawings depicted below are captivating. Each faction comprises of different alien races, robots, and battle ships, and as I play my cards, I can’t help but wonder about the motivations behind these creatures. It’s as if the guests at the Cantina Bar from Star Wars: A New Hope challenged each other to a “King of the Hill” race. These thoroughly developed foundations of the theme present an exciting world to explore and entice me to collect more cards in hopes of glimpsing a peak into the worlds that TokArts has created.
Multiverse is currently available to playtest for free on the online virtual table top OCTGN. This application caters well to many different types of trading card games and living card games, such as Android: Netrunner. Though the interface can sometimes stutter and be a bit confusing to learn, this free platform provides a pleasingly static environment in which to play Multiverse online with friends. However, for those of you out there who can barely turn on a computer, there will be a physical copy of the game released as well.
In summary, Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest is a refreshing addition to collectible trading card games that I highly recommend. The Kickstarter for the game will start in November; check out TokArts’ website, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for updates. Feel free to download the rulebook here and check out the beta version on OCTGN!